Motion made, and Question proposed,
That this House, at its rising on Tuesday 27th July, do adjourn until Monday 18th October.—[Mr. Arbuthnot.]
§ Mr. John Biffen (Shropshire, North)
A little earlier this afternoon, Madam Speaker, you advised us all to use moderate language. I am happy to begin the debate on the summer recess in a spirit of moderation and good will that I hope will secure a most accommodating response from my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House.
My right hon. Friend will not be surprised to know that I wish to refer to local authority finance. Although I wish to refer to the subject as it relates specifically to Shropshire, I will also touch upon more general areas. Taking a cue from events earlier, I realise that few subjects can generate such commitment as the distribution of national aid to either regions or local authorities. I hope that I will earn my right hon. Friend's good will by addressing my remarks in a spirit of calmness, rather than seeking unjustifiable demands.
There is continuing anxiety in Shropshire about the sparsity factor in the education funds that have been made available by the Government. The matter was raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Ludlow (Mr. Gill) on 13 July. I endorse his remarks and appeal again for proper and equitable regard to be paid to the sparsity factor in considering what may be made available to the county authorities in Shropshire.
I do not wish to make my main remarks about that subject, but to concentrate on the area cost adjustment. As my right hon. Friend will know from his experience before he became Leader of the House, that is a matter of concern as it relates to the distribution of the standard spending assessment. While my remarks will be brief, they carry with them the good will of my hon. Friend the Member for Shrewsbury and Atcham (Mr. Conway). He has now been seduced by the Trappist joys of the Whips' Office and cannot be here to add his voice of moderation.
My right hon. Friend will know that the area cost adjustment concerns the methodology of labour costs, and as a consequence has a premium for London and the south-east. The tenor of questions on the statement by my right hon. Friend the Minister for Industry was to try to offset a perceived disadvantage for the south from the north in terms of regional aid. I should like to point out to my right hon. Friend that local authority finances are not a seamless robe. There can be certain situations in one respect, and quite contrary situations in another. My remarks this afternoon contrast to some extent with what has been said this afternoon.
My interest is not related merely to the county of Shropshire. That county has been asked by 27 shire counties to carry out an investigation into the impact of the area cost adjustment. They have produced a study that has revealed that employment costs are higher in London, but are not obviously otherwise higher in the south-east. The report says:Research shows there are no regional pay variations outside London for most local government employees. This includes teachers, fire fighters and uniform policemen.The fact that the area cost allowance factor has been rising considerably faster than the standard spending assessment further emphasises the work that has been undertaken by 774 Shropshire on behalf of its sister shire counties. Considerable sums of money are now committed for an item which has been inequitably distributed.
I have three questions that I want to put to my right hon. Friend. I do not expect an answer at the conclusion of the debate, but I should be immensely grateful if he would write to me and gave a considered reply, which I might then make publicly available in Shropshire.
First, has the study undertaken by Shropshire on behalf of the shire counties been received by the Department of the Environment? Secondly, what is the initial reaction of the Department to that study? Thirdly, is it expected that any changes that might be consequential will be implemented in the 1994–95 standard spending assessment?
I shall leave those questions with my right hon. Friend. I believe that my tolerable brevity may encourage him to give a generous and merited reply, and I now leave the field to others.
§ Mr. Barry Jones (Alyn and Deeside)
I do not think that the House should rise before there has been an adequate explanation from the Minister who currently heads the Department of Trade and Industry of why my constituency should have been denuded of the prize of assisted area status.
I protest because 3,200 people are out of work in my constituency, of which more than 800 are officially designated as long-term unemployed. Moreover, Shotton steelworks in my constituency put into effect in 1980 the largest redundancy programme ever in western Europe. In a period between Christmas and Easter, more than 8,000 people lost their jobs. The job of reconstructing our local economy has a long way to go yet. My constituents and I have always thought that assisted area status was of prime importance in that reconstruction.
I have studied the decision that the Department of Trade and Industry has made about the boundaries of the areas to retain the status. I cannot see why the larger part of my constituency should have been denuded of the prize. I do know, when I look at the new map, that the people of Wales have had a raw deal. It appears that the status that some parts of Wales previously had has now been taken away and given to southern England. I should have liked the status previously given to Wales to be retained. I would then have said that the Government should give more aid and allow other areas of Britain to benefit from development area status.
On the other side of the River Dee, opposite my constituency, is the area called the Wirral. That area is represented here in the mother of Parliaments by the Secretary of State for Employment, whom we previously knew as Secretary of State for Wales. We note that, across the river, the prized development area status remains. I am not convinced that north-east Wales should lose while, across the river, development area status has been retained, or that the whole of Wales should be denuded of development area status while in southern England there has been an accretion in the areas covered. That cannot be right or just, and I wish to protest.
I want to see my country—Britain—made great again as an industrial power. That can happen only if the Government adopt a strategy which makes it possible for manufacturing industry to prosper. I want manufacturing 775 industry in Britain to be retained, strengthened and enhanced, but what has happened in the past 10 or 14 years has been virtually the opposite of that objective.
During the time that Her Majesty's Government have worn the colours of the Conservatives, more than 2.5 million manufacturing jobs have been lost. That cannot be good for the future. It has been a devastating blow for many communities, individuals, families and homes, not least in my country of Wales.
If we do not have manufacturing industries that prosper, we shall not have the wealth that underpins the welfare state. If we do not have a Government and a Cabinet who are prepared to make manufacturing the top priority, there can be no hope and no future in the next century, which is approaching us with gathering speed. Today, the Government have missed yet another opportunity to show that they care about the foundation of our industrial society—manufacturing.
An example is the steel industry. British Steel, which is lean, fit and productive and has previously been profitable, now faces hard times. It appears that the Government and the Cabinet are not prepared to help the foundation industry in Britain which the steel industry still represents. The one thing that eastern Europe does well is making bulk steel. The problem is that steel is virtually being dumped in western Europe and our markets.
The President of the United States and his Government are prepared to put savage high tariffs on British Steel's exports. I forecast major trouble for our steel industry if they are allowed to continue. Let us examine the details of how our steel industry is coping with the challenge from western Europe and inside the Community.
The British steel industry has made its sacrifices over and over again. Tens of thousands of jobs have been sacrificed in the past decade and earlier. Yet the Spanish and Italian nations are not playing fair. What did the Prime Minister say about that problem when he went to Tokyo recently? I should like to know before the House rises what the Prime Minister did on behalf of the British steel industry.
I have said that I want to see a strong and resurgent manufacturing sector. I cannot see how Britain can become a great industrial nation again unless that happens. Steel is the basis of Britain's manufacturing industry, and it is not receiving fair treatment. It has done all that has been asked of it. In 1980, 8,000 of my constituents were made jobless virtually overnight. They made their sacrifice. The British steel industry has made its sacrifice. We are entitled to ask the Government what They are prepared to do to assist British Steel.
Another good example is the aerospace industry. Redundancies have rained down on Alyn and Deeside. We have a magnificient factory at Broughton in my constituency, which makes the wing of the airbus and the whole of the executive jet. There have been 1,300 job losses in those two activities within one year. I want evidence that the Government are prepared to assist aerospace.
One good thing that has happened recently is the publication of a distinguished and detailed report by the Select Committee on Trade and Industry only last week. It said that the United Kingdom aerospace industry, which could still survive, develop and prosper, made a massive contribution to our balance of payments, employed and trained a highly skilled work force, was engaged in wealth creation through the high added value of its products, provided technological spin-offs for other sectors, created 776 work for other sectors such as machine tooling and computer software, and had the probability of growth in world markets.
That distinguished Committee said that, if the industry was to prosper, money must be made available for more research and technology. I support that fundamental proposal. I believe that a figure of £80 million was mentioned and that the Committee said that it should be delivered urgently.
I cannot see an industrial future for Great Britain unless our Government, our Cabinet and our nation invest in steel and aerospace. I urge the Leader of the House to take up the points that I have raised when he replies to the debate.
§ 5.7 pm
§ Mr. Roberts Hicks (Cornwall, South-East)
I wish to raise with Ministers two essentially west country issues before we rise for the summer recess—the future of our west country regional air link between Plymouth and Newquay and London Heathrow, and water and sewerage charges in Devon and Cornwall. The second subject has already been considered by the House several times.
Central to the current level of water charges is the enormous investment programme which South West Water is obliged to undertake to meet EC water quality and sewage treatment standards. The total figure involved is more than £1 billion, of which water quality represents £450 million, inland sewerage schemes represent £350 million and coastal sewerage represents more than £400 million of investment. Those staggering financial requirements reflect a neglect of investment in the past, and the fact that Devon and Cornwall have a long geographical coastline.
It is equally valid when considering the charges paid by the consumer to take it into account that almost 80 per cent. of the revenue obtained by South West Water from customers is used for investment purposes. Furthermore, the area is relatively sparsely populated. Apart from Plymouth and Exeter, there are no large cities and towns. Average earnings are significantly lower than the national average. In my constituency, average earnings are 14 per cent. below the national average. Demographically, the south-west has a large retired population—most of whom are dependent on fixed incomes of one kind or another. That is the geographical and demographic background to our problem.
In 1991–92, water charges in the south-west were the third highest in England and Wales, and as a consequence of increases over the past couple of years and the projected figure for next year, it will probably have the highest water charges in the country in 1994–95. Our K factor is 11.5 per cent., plus inflation. That is a genuinely worrying prospect for consumers, particularly when one considers the large number of retired people in the area and the average level of earnings.
I received only a couple of weeks ago Ofwat's report for July 1993, "Paying for Quality: The Political Perspective." It states that, if water authorities met all their obligations, £54 could be added to bills throughout England and Wales in the five years from 1995, and a further £23 in the following five years. That would amount to about 5 per cent. above inflation each year from 1995 till the year 2000.
777 The Director General of Water Services stated that, in some parts of the country, average bills could rise by more than £100 during that same period, and added:I do not believe that customers would want to see their water bills rising at this rate. Big increases in bills for low income households and for many pensioners would present real problems in affordability.The projected figures for Devon and Cornwall show that the increases there are likely to be higher than the average quoted by the director general.
What can and should be done? I immediately dismiss the options of delaying implementation, which would be wrong, and any suggestion of deliberately reducing standards—although I would not object to cutting out frills, niceties and extravagance. The most acceptable and sensible course for the south-west would be for the Government to acknowledge that our coastline is a national asset and to accept that the cost of improvements should in part be met by the Exchequer.
At the time of privatisation, South West Water received a green dowry of £266 million, which was most welcome, and that principle can and should be extended. The population of Devon and Cornwall are certainly looking for some assistance.
As to the future of our regional air link with London Heathrow, there is no doubt that its continuation is essential to regional policy and as a central element in our regional transport infrastructure. My right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade acknowledged that in a letter to me in March, when he confirmed the importance of good air links to businesses in the south-west:To this end, I wrote to John MacGregor on 25 February to pass on to him the strength of feeling held by people in Devon and Cornwall on the continued ability of Brymon Airways to operate its present services between Heathrow and Plymouth and Newquay. In my capacity as the Minister responsible for regional policy, I asked him to consider the detrimental effects that a reduction in these services could have on inward investment intentions to the Region and on the already high level of unemployment.It is not without significance that 70 per cent. of passengers using that service are interlining. The service is crucial to attracting inward investment. Devon and Cornwall have a creditable record in that respect, but the chief executive of the Devon and Cornwall Development Bureau has several times stated publicly that, unless that service is continued, the chances of building on that excellent record will be slim.
Devon and Cornwall are competing for inward investment from the United States, Japan and the far east, not only with other United Kingdom regions but with regions across Europe. Throughout the 1980s, we had an excellent regional air link operated by Brymon and felt reasonably secure. Brymon then amalgamated with Birmingham European Airways. Unfortunately, the atmosphere changed, and we grew apprehensive.
In May 1993, British Airways—which previously had a 40 per cent. shareholding in Brymon European—took over Brymon Aviation. I have no doubt that British Airways' assurance that it will continue the west country air link is genuine and sincere, but we all know that commercial circumstances can and do change—hence my continuing anxiety.
Brymon holds 56 valuable slots at London Heathrow, and the value of that asset is estimated at £56 million—£1 778 million per slot. It is only natural that any commercial undertaking such as British Airways should want to maximise valuable assets.
Parallel to those changes was the publication of a Civil Aviation Authority discussion document, initiated in January, to review access by regional services to congested airports. When the CAA published its conclusions in April, the south-west was disappointed, but not surprised, that the authority stuck resolutely to its refusal to comment on the merits of protecting slots as an aspect of regional economic policy—which it said was a matter for the Government.
At the same time, on 18 January there came into effect a European regulation entitled "Common Rules for the Allocation of Slots at Community airports", article 9 of which refers specifically to regional services. I believe that the west country air link is the only regional air link that satisfies that article's four criteria for the circumstances in which a national Government could reserve certain slots at a fully co-ordinated airport for domestic scheduled services.
Since the publication of the regulations, my west country colleagues and I have held a number of meetings with my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Transport. We have reminded them that the west country air link is the only United Kingdom regional air link that satisfies those criteria. If Ministers were to agree, they would not, I believe, be establishing a dangerous precedent but would be making a positive contribution towards safeguarding our regional air link and helping to develop the regional economy of the west country.
§ Mr. Malcolm Bruce (Gordon)
I want to raise two items of constituency interest and two national items that affect every constituency in the country.
Reference has already been made to Patricia Cahill and Karyn Smith having been pardoned and released from a Thai gaol and to the fact that they are now negotiating unsavoury commercial transactions to try to secure gain from an offence which they have admitted. I hope that the Prime Minister, having secured their pardon, will make his views known, perhaps privately, to them, for a specific reason. The parents of Sandra Gregory, who has just been put on trial in Thailand, live in my constituency and are naturally concerned that anything that may arise out of their actions may prejudice her trial, or any plea for mercy or pardon that may follow from that trial.
I hope that the advisers of the two girls in question, Patricia Cahill and Karyn Smith, will put it to them that they are fortunate to be free and that therefore they have a responsibility to respect the threat and the difficulties facing others in a similar situation. I should like to think that other hon. Members regard that as a message that could usefully go out from this place.
§ Mr. William Powell (Corby)
I associate myself with the hon. Gentleman's remarks. The mother of Robert Lock is one of my constituents. There is absolutely no doubt that what the hon. Gentleman has said is right.
§ Mr. Bruce
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman.
The other item of constituency interest arises out of the statement to which we have just listened. I made it clear when I asked a question that unemployment in the area 779 which I represent is low. We do not have assisted area status and do not directly seek it. However, the Minister for Industry referred to the procedures for objective 2 and objective 5(b) status. The Leader of the House may be aware of the fact—if he is not, I am about to make him aware—that the western part of my constituency is a candidate for 5(b) status. The important point to bear in mind is the one that I made earlier: much of that area is part of the Aberdeen travel-to-work area. That travel-to-work area may be administratively convenient, but in practical terms it is a nonsense.
The city of Aberdeen is an extremely prosperous and lively commercial centre. It is the centre of oil-related activities and many other services. The hinterland stretches as far as 70 miles away—right into the foothills of the Cairngorms. It suffers from the problems of rural depopulation and rural deprivation. That area is completely different from the rest of the Aberdeen travel-to-work area.
I have already made the point to Scottish Office Ministers—and I certainly hope to make it to Department of Trade and Industry Ministers—that the area faces serious difficulties. To the west, we have the highlands and islands, which have category I status. To the east, we have the booming economy of the city of Aberdeen. If this area does not obtain 5(b) status, it will be in danger of becoming a black hole. It will be denuded by the two compelling magnets on either side of it. These are important arguments and should be considered. Can the Leader of the House therefore give us any indication of the Government's timetable for the determination of 5(b) status and, obviously, of the European Commission's timetable?
As for the national issues that affect every constituency in the country, I refer first to the astonishing reaction to the Sheehy report on the future of policing. A point of clarification that would help me as a Scottish Member is exactly what status the report has north of the border. The police force there is in no doubt whatsoever that the Sheehy report has far-reaching implications and will be drawn on for any reforms of the police service there.
If the reforms are adopted and the Home Secretary appoints the chairmen of police authorities and their members, can the Leader of the House say whether appointments in Scotland will be by the Home Secretary or by the Secretary of State for Scotland? There does not seem to be a clear view of where the responsibility will lie. The demonstration at Wembley last week has, almost overnight and somewhat surprisingly, turned my hon. Friend the Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Mr. Maclennan) into something of a folk hero among the police. I witnessed that today when I attended a meeting with my hon. Friend, at which senior police officers went out of their way to comment on the quality of his speech and to say how much they appreciated my hon. Friend's support.
Without going into the details of the report, which will continue to be debated, there is real concern that its underlying philosophy is alien to the concept of a public service police force. I draw the attention of the House to Sir Patrick Sheehy's article in the Financial Times today. I thought that it was a rather offensive article. Nevertheless, I draw attention to a sentence that appears at the end of the first paragraph. Conservative Members may not agree with me, but I find it somewhat chilling. It reads: 780The federation's response to our report has been so long on emotion and so short on factual content that the shareholders (the public at large) must be confused.That kind of language, when we are talking about a police force, is, I believe, totally and utterly inappropriate. It reflects a philosophical approach to the reform of the police service that strikes no chord at all with those who are carrying out the job.
Part of the discussion has centred on the issue of performance-related pay and short-term contracts. Police officers ask how performance-related pay will encourage crime prevention, as opposed to crime detection: is there not a danger that it may encourage prosecutions or charges being brought simply to get the statistics up? Does it not also fail to take on board many aspects of a police officer's job that cannot easily be measured in simple terms, where measurement of performance will vary from force to force and from individual to individual? The Government will have to do a lot more explaining if they are to satisfy the police.
The same applies to short-term contracts. When one joins the police, it is not a question of going into a job for life. For most police officers, it is a mission that they expect to pursue during a full-term career. To be theatened with the possibility of the discontinuance of their contract every five years, on the basis of some criteria that the police do not yet know about and in which they do not have full confidence, will not raise the morale of the police force. I urge the Government, for their own sake as well as for the sake of the country, to take these points on board before they make a decision.
My final point on this issue relates to local accountability. There is deep-seated resistance to any suggestion that there should be a nationally co-ordinated police force. The tradition of the independence of police forces and their accountability to local communities is extremely strong. There is something sinister about the idea of co-ordinating police activities through a network of Home Secretary appointees, with an agenda of their own which might be differently driven from that of local communities.
I have highlighted the points of greatest concern about that issue. I do not necessarily expect the Leader of the House to respond to them today, other than to say that he is aware of them and that the Government will consider them.
The final issue that I wish to raise is the very contentious issue of VAT on fuel. It is very serious, and the amendment tabled by the hon. Member for Bradford, South (Mr. Cryer) is pertinent. The House is proposing to rise for the recess without a statement from the Government about how they will compensate those pensioners and others on benefit who are very worried about the impact of the extra charge of VAT on their fuel bills.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer has been hinting, or hints have been released on his behalf, that the Government may be about to think again or that there is some difficulty in finding a mechanism. However, in a sense, the Chancellor has simply set other hares running by suggesting that he might be more favourably disposed to VAT on food or children's clothes in respect of which he is known to have voted in favour in the past. That will not help the Government's cause and it is not healthy for many 781 people in the community to be worried about one tax which has been promised and then to be told that others may be on the way.
Will the Leader of the House make it categorically clear whether there is to be a rethink about VAT on fuel, its timetable of imposition and whether the full 17.5 per cent. will be adhered to? What measures are the Government likely to produce to provide compensation if they go ahead? If the Leader of the House cannot answer that, when are the Government likely to come forward with an idea of what will be done and who will benefit?
Before coming to the House today, I took the trouble of contacting one or two relevant groups to discover what measures they are looking for. In particular, I contacted Age Concern and Neighbourhood Energy Action. They told me that 8 million people on benefit are looking to the Government for an idea of what might be done.
The proportion of income that the poorest people spend on fuel is, by definition, disproportionately high. According to Age Concern, 15.3 per cent. of the income of single pensioners with an income of under £60 a week is spent on fuel. Even those retired households with incomes of £120 a week spend 9.7 per cent. of their income on fuel. That comprises a significant part of their income and they face a 2 to 3 per cent. increase in the burden on their income through the imposition of VAT on fuel.
The Government have said, "Don't worry. We are going to bring in mechanisms that will compensate you all." However, the two groups to which I have referred can see no way in which the Government can deliver that. The problem is logical to me. I am a Scottish Member and I represent a constituency in the north of Scotland. By definition, fuel bills for my constituents are higher on average than they are for people who live in the south-west of England. In winter, days are shorter and temperatures are lower. Therefore, my constituents' bills are disproportionately higher.
In addition, and this point applies throughout the country—although the colder the area, the more severe the problem—people who are more housebound and less mobile consume more heat. It is difficult to see how any measure can discriminate or identify those people in a flexible way.
The argument that putting VAT on fuel is a matter of encouraging energy efficiency is acceptable only if the Government come up with a comprehensive package to help people achieve more energy efficient housing. It is suggested that the Government might reassess the introduction of the hard-to-heat housing grants which used to operate. It would be helpful if the Government were prepared to provide greater home insulation grants and access to energy audits to enable people to identify the seriousness of their situation. The Government should recognise that they are unlikely to allay the cost of that to all the 8 million people on the lowest incomes.
I should be grateful if the Leader of the House could give us some idea about how that problem will be approached. There is a great deal of concern and worry and we can make any amount of political capital out of this issue. Indeed, the Leader of the House will be aware that we are making a great deal of political capital out of the issue in a particular community. However, there is a serious point, because it affects every constituency to a 782 greater or lesser degree. The people who are directly affected are genuinely and desperately anxious to know how they are going to make ends meet. They know that they will have to face bigger bills, but they do not know yet what measures are likely to be introduced to alleviate those bills or how they will be applied.
The agencies that know about these things do not believe that the Government can fulfil their own objectives of protecting everyone against the impact of the tax on fuel. If the Government are beginning to recognise that and are now prepared to modify their position, the sooner they say so, the better. If that means that they will have to bring in another tax in another area which is just as unpopular, I suppose that the Government will have to say that at the same time.
§ Mr. John Ward (Poole)
Before the House adjourns for the summer, I believe that we should take a little time to consider the state of nuclear power stations in central and eastern Europe. While I hope to show that a certain amount of work has already been carried out to make the more dangerous plants safe, there is insufficient awareness of the continuing danger from those nuclear power plants.
I should like to begin by complimenting Mr. Bassinet, a former Member of the French Parliament, who produced a report for the Council of Europe which was printed earlier this year. His report has provided much of the information for my speech today. At least Mr. Bassinet's report has increased the awareness of the dangers and problems of the nuclear power plants to which I have referred among the 40 nations that are members of the Council of Europe or special guests at its meetings.
The Soviet-designed nuclear power plants can be divided into two categories: RBMK graphite-moderated reactors of the Chernobyl type and VVER pressurised water reactors. At present, there are 57 reactors, including 15 of the graphite-moderated type, scattered in different countries and 15 reactors of the pressurised water type are still under construction.
The RBMK reactors do not have' a containment structure. Their design is old fashioned and has no equivalent in the west. Since the Chernobyl disaster, those reactors have been giving increasing cause for concern and it is recommended by many that they should be shut down within a reasonable time.
The VVER reactors can be broken down into three groups. The oldest, first-generation reactors have the most serious design faults with no containment structure, very little core cooling capacity, and, in the event of failure, they are very badly instrumented.
The second group of VVER reactors is rather better than the earlier models, but it still has many shortcomings. The third group of reactors, which are of recent design, come closest to matching western standards and do have containment structures. However, they suffer from inadequate supervision and remain a source of concern.
With all their inadequacies, many of those nuclear power plants were under strict surveillance and protection by, of all people, the KGB and there was little risk of insecurity as a result of terrorist attack. However, that appears no longer to be the case and some are inadequately protected from any form of forced entry.
783 Plants in the former Soviet socialist republics have a shortage of specialist personnel, partly through ill feeling against the Russian technicians and partly because some of them have been persuaded to move elsewhere by offers of much higher salaries and better working conditions.
As they have so many other problems, both economic and social, people living near the plants to which I have referred seem almost indifferent to the dangers on their doorstep, even though some of the plants are located close to cities such as St. Petersburg and Kiev. It is reported that plants in Hungary and Bulgaria are better supervised, but the inherent lack of safety in their design still gives cause for concern.
On 26 April, the Evening Standard published an excellent article that gave full details of sources of danger from power stations and other nuclear installations. If colleagues wish to seek further information on this subject, I recommend that they read that article.
Most people's immediate reaction is that we should shut down a large number of the reactors operating in eastern Europe. That is hardly a realistic option, given that 50 per cent. of power generation in some of those countries comes from nuclear power.
Given that those plants might have to be operated for some years, I can envisage several problems: first, the lack of containment against radiation leaks or accidents; secondly, inadequate instrumentation and control and brittleness in the reactor vessels; thirdly, the quality of some of the personnel now operating many of the plants; fourthly, pressure on operators to produce the maximum possible amount of electricity, which, in the case of Chernobyl, could lead to short cuts resulting in an accident; and, fifthly and by far the most important, the danger to life not just within the area of the power stations concerned but in Europe generally and possibly beyond, depending on weather conditions, if there were a repeat of the Chernobyl incident.
What is being done and what more can be done? The G7, the European Council and the international atomic energy conference on nuclear safety in 1991 accepted that each country must be responsible for regulating the safety of its own nuclear installations. Those are fine words, but, given the record of Chernobyl and economic conditions in the Soviet bloc, is that enough? At the G7 summit in March last year, steps were taken to set up an international programme to improve nuclear safety and agree new regulations to ensure the safe operation of as many plants as possible.
The United Kingdom Government are playing a significant part in addressing those issues. Apart from their financial contribution, they have made technical help and advice available through the nuclear installations inspectorate and our nuclear industry. Many international organisations are also allocating resources to the problem, but continued progress depends on the will and the finance being available in the countries concerned. I question whether either is available in sufficient quantities at present.
It has been said that it would be prohibitively expensive to bring the 60 or so reactors up to western safety standards and that neither national nor international funds would be available for such a step. We have to set against that the cost to all of us if there were another Chernobyl or an even worse accident. Time is not on the side of the operators of the nuclear plants to which I have referred. Pressure must be maintained to ensure that the 784 problem is solved as speedily as possible, even if international finance has to be diverted from other worthwhile causes.
I accept that we cannot rush into other countries and start organising their work or, indeed, carrying it out for them, but many international authorities have accepted that the oldest reactors represent a very high risk to the international community and that their continued operation would certainly not be accepted in any western country. As Lord Marshall of Goring pointed out in an interview in September, the Russians know their own systems best, and we should support them by supplying them with what they want, particularly the technology which they cannot afford because they have no hard currency. That must be done in close co-operation with the operators, because, if we supplied technology or equipment that they did not want, they would simply not use it. It is desperately important that the international community should focus on that dangerous matter.
I have concentrated on the problems associated with nuclear power plants, and that is where most of our efforts need to be concentrated, but we cannot ignore the many experimental and small reactors in the former Soviet Union which, although small, are equally dangerous. For instance, the former chief nuclear safety inspector for Russia has said that there are 50 such nuclear reactors in Moscow alone, together with a waste dump which is in a highly dangerous condition. I have no time to go into the detail, but that illustrates once again the need for urgent co-ordinated international action and serious consideration of how funds can be provided to raise the safety threshold of all nuclear installations in the former Soviet bloc.
It goes without saying that any funds that are made available from the west must be spent in such a way that they can be supervised by the west to ensure that they are used for the purpose for which they are intended, which is to improve safety for the whole of the former Soviet Union and the surrounding countries.
As I see it, there are two main ways of dealing with the problems that I have illustrated—first, the efficient co-ordination of international efforts, with access to the top levels in the countries concerned, and, secondly, finance which will be needed from outside the former Soviet bloc. One estimate is that the current flow of funds would need to be increased tenfold if we are to bring all nuclear plants in eastern and central Europe up to international standards. It will take a skilful combination of the technical options and what is politically possible to achieve the safety levels that we must insist on, even if, in some cases, it leads to the shutting down of the most dangerous reactors and their replacement by other forms of power generation.
An encouraging move in that direction has been made by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, by setting up within the bank a multilateral nuclear safety fund which would be available to achieve the objectives that I have set out today. But that fund will need resources that are specifically earmarked for nuclear safety and sufficient supervision to ensure that the funds are used for their intended purpose. We need to make it clear that large sums of money are involved.
At the G7 meeting in Munich, to which I have already referred, it was suggested that $20 billion would be needed to cover the power stations in Russia and Ukraine, and approximately the same amount for eastern and central 785 Europe and the other former Soviet republics. That is a long-term commitment, but, again, it has been estimated that $200 million needs to be spent on all first generation reactors and somewhat smaller sums spent on second and third generation reactors. We are talking vast sums, particularly when compared with the other needs of those countries. However, I believe that when hon. Members consider the figures that I have put to the House today and the potential danger to the whole of mankind, they will agree that the priority must be to establish safety in the nuclear power industry.
In summary, we need a careful analysis of all the problems, speedy discussions with the Governments of the relevant countries about the problems and proposed solutions, a respected international co-ordinating body —possibly the International Atomic Energy Agency—to oversee standards, and an international effort to provide the necessary funds and ensure that they are spent to achieve the standard of safety which we are entitled to expect.
I believe that there is much international acceptance of the problems, and there have been many calls at national and international level for progress. What we need now is action. Colleagues have only to read the national press to learn of one incident after another in which rules on nuclear safety have been broken either for experimental purposes or in an attempt to boost electricity production. I remind the House that, seven years after the Chernobyl incident, areas of the United Kingdom are still contaminated by radioactive fallout. We cannot let complacency or concentration on other matters of national and international importance lead us to ignore that huge danger to mankind. We are sitting on a powder keg of outdated nuclear installations.
The problems that I have described are just some of the challenges which the west has to face following the disintegration of the communist bloc, but those problems are potentially the most important and certainly the most dangerous that we have to deal with.
§ Mr. Tom Cox (Tooting)
I wish to speak about the present situation in Cyprus. Nineteen years ago, the island of Cyprus was brutually invaded by the Turkish army. That army is still in Cyprus and the island is still divided. The United Kingdom is one of the guarantor powers for Cyprus, and Cyprus is a member of the British Commonwealth.
Over the years, hon. Members have campaigned for an honourable settlement in Cyprus. We have always called for the rights of Greek and Turkish Cypriots to be fully honoured and respected in any settlement. We have always supported United Nations resolutions on Cyprus and we have supported the talks between the leaders of both communities. However, it is now 1993 and there has been no progress whatsoever in those talks over the years.
When one asks why there has been no progress, the answer is not hard to find. It is due, without doubt, to the attitude of Mr. Rauf Denktas, the self-styled leader of the Republic of Northern Cyprus. He is the man who, year after year, has presented every obstacle to progress in the talks that have taken place. Indeed, he is the man whom the Secretary-General of the United Nations indicted as 786 the person whose action, once again, caused the recent breakdown of the UN-sponsored talks in New York on Cyprus.
It is interesting to read the speech of Mr. Denktas, given in Ankara on 10 June, when he criticised the talks that were held under the auspices of the United Nations. Yet it was agreed by the three guarantor powers—the United Kingdom, Greece and Turkey—for the island of Cyprus and the representatives of the Greek and Turkish communities in Cyprus that those talks should be held under the auspices of the United Nations. It was hoped that progress would be made towards a settlement. What is the attitude of the British Government to yet another collapse of those talks, given that the Government are directly involved in them? In particular, what is Britain's attitude to Mr. Denktas? How much longer must we put up with his tantrums? There have been many since the invasion in 1974.
It would be interesting to discover exactly when the British Government propose to take an active role in the tragedy of Cyprus. It is my belief, and that of many hon. Members, including many Conservatives, that the Government have never taken an active role.
Many hon. Members have questioned the trade between northern Cyprus and this country and the kind of products involved. I firmly believe that many of the goods that now find their way into the United Kingdom are produced on land stolen from Greek Cypriots. Hon. Members have tried repeatedly to obtain information about that, but without success. Recent events concerning an individual who has fled to Cyprus to avoid British justice may cause the Government to consider more closely exactly where goods from northern Cyprus are produced and on whose land. Many would welcome that.
Turkish nationals who come to this country now may have dual nationality because they have, at one time, lived in northern Cyprus. Many travel from mainland Turkey to the occupied area of northern Cyprus. They are then given documents by the northern Cypriot Administration which allow them to travel to this country. They gain entry to the United Kingdom when they have no right to do so. They are not citizens of northern Cyprus, but citizens of Turkey. The Government must address that problem because there is ample evidence of abuse taking place.
For many years, Cyprus has sought to be involved in the European Community and it is now actively seeking membership of it. The per capita income of Cyprus is already greater than that of some of the Community member states and its economic growth has been much faster than that enjoyed by other member states. It would be interesting to discover whether the British Government support the entry of Cyprus into the Community, because that could offer hope to the people of Cyprus, be they Greek or Turkish.
Another issue which has involved a great deal of recent discussion and which many hon. Members do not want to see drift relates to the future of Famagusta and Varosha, because a decision on them would benefit both the communities on the island. There has been talk of the possibility that Famagusta could be open once again. It is important to remember that it was one of the most popular areas on the island; it could be again.
I accept that the Leader of the House is not in a position to reply specifically to the points I have raised, but, after previous debates, I am aware that, to his credit, he has always ensured that the points that I or other hon.
787 Members have raised have been conveyed to the appropriate Ministers. It would, therefore, be interesting to discover the Government's view on the possible reopening of Famagusta, because that would benefit the people of Cyprus.
In October, the Heads of State of the Commonwealth countries will meet in Cyprus. The United Kingdom will be represented by the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary. I have written to inquire whether it is their intention to ensure that the subject of Cyprus is discussed at that conference, especially given that that conference will be held in Cyprus. I shall be interested to know the answer.
It is 19 years since Cyprus was invaded. Greek Cypriots, whether they live in Cyprus or in the United Kingdom, have had enough. They have witnessed the division of their country, which is now partly occupied by a foreign army. They believe that the talks that have gone on for the past 19 years have achieved nothing. They look to the British Government, as one of the guarantor powers, to set in motion discussions that will lead to a meaningful settlement.
Young Greek Cypriots, whether they live in Cyprus or in the United Kingdom, as many do, are fed up with the lack of any meaningful progress in the past 19 years. I hope that that point, in particular, is conveyed to the Foreign Secretary. The time for excuses has now come to an end. The aim of those young people is shared by many hon. Members, irrespective of party, who have campaigned for the rights of Greek and Turkish Cypriots to be upheld in any settlement.
The time has come for meaningful action by the British Government. Any such action will be carefully scrutinised in the coming months. I hope that the Government appreciate that. I also hope that they will respond to the concerns I have expressed, which could have equally been expressed by Conservative Members, in a debate such as this.
§ Sir Fergus Montgomery (Altrincham and Sale)
I am glad that the hon. Member for Gordon (Mr. Bruce) is still here. I was rather amused to hear him say that his hon. Friend the Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Mr. Maclennan) had been hailed as a folk hero by the police. Some of us have long memories: the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland was a junior Minister in the pre-1979 Labour Government, when police numbers were dropping drastically because they were dissatisfied with their pay and conditions. It took the Conservative Government, elected in May 1979, to implement the Edmund-Davies report and to do something about police pay and conditions.
I am sorry that the hon. Member for Gordon was not present at business questions on Thursday, when he would have heard several of my hon. Friends ask the Leader of the House, about the Sheehy report. We know perfectly well that nothing will be done to implement it until it has been fully discussed in the House so that we can make the points that have been made to us by police officers. It is better to wait until we have had a full debate to see what the Government intend before indulging in any more conjecture.
I always regard these debates as useful. I apologise in advance for being repetitious. My right hon. Friend knows 788 well that, over the years, I have tried desperately hard to get a new community hospital in south Trafford. I shall continue to raise the matter in these debates until we have one. A community hospital in south Trafford is long overdue. If my right hon. Friend checks, he will find that since 1980 Trafford health authority has been the only district in the north-west not to have been given a large capital project.
When I last raised the matter in a debate on 18 May, I mentioned the disciples of gloom who make up the membership of the Broadheath Labour party in my constituency and who were pessimistic about our ever achieving a new community hospital. Because I chided them, they have had a go at me—perfectly fairly. A veteran party member and inveterate newspaper columnist attacked me. That, too, was perfectly fair, except that he misquoted me—although that is not unusual.
In my speech on 18 May I quoted a large chunk from a report by Trafford health authority, but my friend in the Broadheath Labour party attributed the words to me. He was not trying to be fair; he was trying to score cheap political points. That does not come well from a man who has twice stood in the ward and been soundly rejected by the electors of Broadheath.
It is sad that we cannot put up a united front on this issue, putting politics to one side and working as one to try to acheive something that would be a great asset to our area. The new community hospital would consist of 24 beds and 24 day places for the elderly mentally infirm. It would have 48 beds and 30 day places for the elderly and two 25-place mental illness day units. It would also have four out-patient clinic suites, two radiodiagnostic rooms, 10 investigation beds and one small pathology laboratory.
The community hospital, when we get it, will fill a desperate need in the constituency. We are all, regardless of party, well aware of the problems of an aging population. I therefore ask my right hon. Friend to warn our right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health that I am still on the warpath and will continue to be so until the hospital becomes a reality.
I have also raised my second issue before—I do not apologise for that. It concerns the worries expressed by housing associations because they are now the main providers of new rented housing. More help in this sector would be most welcome.
I should like to quote from a pamphlet just issued by the National Federation of Housing Associations, called "The case for housing: build homes and create jobs". It states:The problems new tenants have paying their rents can be seen from the increased dependency on housing benefit: more than 70 per cent. are eligible for full or partial benefit. The NFHA fears that Government proposals to reduce housing association grant to 55 per cent. would increase this figure to 89 per cent. and cause great hardship to many tenants who would be pushed deeper into the poverty trap. Ministers should take heed of the House of Commons Environment Committee which recommended that 'the Government consider very carefully the consequences of allowing rates of HAG to fall below 67 per cent"'.The construction industry has clearly suffered badly during the recession. It is estimated that about 500,000 construction workers have lost their jobs in the past three years. If it is true—the figure has been bandied about a great deal—that each unemployed worker costs the Government £9,000 a year in increased benefit payments 789 and lost income tax and national insurance contributions, any cut in the building programme would only make matters worse.
We desperately need more affordable homes; by building more, we reduce the number of unemployed and we rehouse people in urgent need, such as the homeless, young single people, people leaving institutions for care in the community, and the growing number of elderly people who need specialist housing.
To return to a problem that I have raised before, the system is a disincentive to thrift. Time and again I come across cases of people who have made no attempt to save. Then there are others who have scrimped and saved all their lives, only to find that their thrift is being penalised. Under our rules people with capital of between £3,000 and £16,000 find that interest is assumed at the rate of £1 a week for every £250 of capital. I only wish that someone would give me that rate of interest on my savings. It is, frankly, a ridiculous disincentive to save and it should be urgently re-examined.
My last issue is a local one. Earlier this year, Metrolink opened in our area. It is a great asset, giving us a marvellous system of transport from Bury in the north to Altrincham in the south. The system is widely used and it offers a convenient way of getting into Manchester. It also takes cars off the road, which is enormously helpful.
There are, however, plans to expand the system to the south Manchester and airport lines. The expansion is proposed by the Greater Manchester light rapid transport system. The new line, to be called the Olympic link, will connect Chorlton-cum-Hardy to Wythenshawe and, ultimately, Manchester airport. I question the suggested route that the line will take across the Mersey river valley. It is recognised that the plan seeks to use road corridors that have already been proposed in the urban development plans of Greater Manchester, Manchester and Trafford —that appears at first sight a logical step for the tram route.
What concerns me is the fact that in Trafford metropolitan borough council's urban development programme the Mersey valley is identified as an area of natural beauty and a recreational resource; a potential financial resource in the form of mining deposits; and the location for an eventual extension of Hardy lane as part of an orbital route into the city of Manchester. Permission for the proposed tram route will damage all three components of the UDP.
The current proposed route will also cut through a corner of Pimmcroft housing estate, an estate of homes built about five years ago. The plans would mean the demolition of eight houses that people have bought only recently. Originally the land was safeguarded for the western parkway road scheme, but it was abandoned some years ago. Its reservation is still largely intact and now forms the path of the proposed Metrolink line.
The developers of the estate will have bought the land for development with no idea of what the future held and will then have developed and sold the land in good faith. There are also problems to do with environmental damage. A couple of weeks ago, I met a group of local residents and I am due to meet the director-general of Greater Manchester passenger transport executive on Friday.
790 Local residents worry that their homes could be blighted. The housing market is difficult enough as it is without making it worse. Someone who suddenly finds that he has to move to another part of the country for work reasons and then discovers that his home is blighted is in a serious position. The local residents are asking for a public inquiry on the Metrolink extension and its viability. I should be grateful if my right hon. Friend could check the procedure and let me know.
Before the House rises for the summer recess, I hope that my right hon. Friend will be able to give me good news on the local community hospital, good news for housing associations and helpful information for residents of the Pimmcroft housing estate in my constituency.
§ 6.9 pm
§ Mr. Andrew F. Bennett (Denton and Reddish)
I am pleased to follow the hon. Member for Altrincham and Sale (Sir F. Montgomery), because this is one of the rare occasions on which I substantially agree with him. I am sure that he will agree that there are great possibilities for Greater Manchester in an extended Metrolink network but that, when the route leaves the old railway lines, it will cause problems.
I hope that Greater Manchester can negotiate with individual landowners to find a route that causes no disturbance. If not, as I understand it, any proposal for an extension of the line will have to go to a public inquiry. The Transport and Works Act 1992 removed the need for individual schemes to be promoted by private Bills, and gave local bodies the power to make representations to the Secretary of State, and gave the Secretary of State power then to arrange a public inquiry.
I also agree with the hon. Member's concern about grant levels for housing associations. I was a member of the Select Committee on the Environment which produced a good report, from which the hon. Gentleman quoted. I hope that the Government will soon issue a favourable response. The report emphasised that we are not building the 80,000 houses a year we need to build. By the turn of the century, 500,000 families who should be housed will not be housed because of the shortfall. As the hon. Gentleman said, about 500,000 building workers are out of work, so it is criminal that we are not building for the future.
I was not quite so happy with the hon. Gentleman's comments about the Sheehy report. He suggested that we could wait for a debate, but I believe that the Government should make it clear that they will shred or bin the report, and do so quickly, because it is already doing great damage to police morale. Until the Government state their views clearly, the issue will continue to fester within the police force.
What would be the attitude of the Leader of the House if he were a young constable, wondering whether to begin studying for his sergeant's exams? A constable takes perhaps 12 months to pass the tests, after which he has the opportunity to act as a sergeant for another 12 months. Now, he will be offered a new contract; instead of the security that he has now, he would have to ask himself whether he should risk accepting a short-term contract as proposed by Sheehy.
As long as such uncertainty rests in the back of a police officer's mind, he will wonder whether he should change jobs. That is not the way to ensure that crime is tackled.
791 The Government should be making it clear to the police force that they do not intend to put it through a continuous series of changes but want the force to be able to get on with the job.
The hon. Member for Gordon (Mr. Bruce) spoke of compensation to the poor when value added tax is levied on domestic fuel. We need a speedy solution to the problem; it could be a reason for the House to sit this week or to return early from the summer recess.
Clearly, part of the compensation can be granted through the benefits system, but it will be necessary for the Government to provide extra compensation to take into account the fact that some people live in properties that are hard to heat, or in cold parts of the country. The most logical solution is to provide insulation schemes for their dwellings, but such schemes will have to be implemented quickly in time for the first heating bills under the new system.
I stayed for this debate to express the disgust of people in the Manchester travel-to-work area about the removal of its intermediate area status. My right hon. Friends the Members for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman), for Salford, East (Mr. Orme) and for Ashton-under-Lyne (Mr. Sheldon) expressed considerable concern.
The Minister for Industry said glibly that unemployment in Manchester was not too bad. I remind him that one in 10 are still unemployed, but the much more serious figure for Manchester is that of the long-term unemployed. It is especially worrying for the people of Manchester that the Government seem to have washed their hands of the area and are no longer prepared to give any assistance to help it tackle the problem.
What effect will the loss of status have on Manchester's Olympic bid? As I understood it, some of the help for the bid was to come from grants which would be available as a result of the area's present status. If it loses that status, as the Government have decided it will, it will be that much harder for the area to get grants, and especially the passport to European Community money.
The Minister argued that there was not necessarily a link between EC grant status and intermediate status. It will be extremely difficult, however, to go cap in hand to the EC and ask whether an area can qualify for EC money when it does not qualify for assistance from our own Government. I should also be grateful for the Leader of the House's comments on the vast areas of east Manchester and the substantial part of Tameside which comprise derelict land. I should have thought that it was important to continue to assist in clearing those areas.
Apparently, the Government's thinking is that they will continue to give assistance to the Trafford Park area but not the rest of the Manchester travel-to-work area. I accept that, 30 years ago, 30,000 people worked at places such as Metro's in the centre of Trafford Park, which was the natural focus for people in the Manchester travel-to-work area. There were various works buses and a better rail network, and many people established car sharing systems to get to work.
With the destruction of Metrovicks and Trafford Park, the network for travelling into the area disappeared. Unless the Government can come up with new assistance for the area to make it easy for people to travel to Trafford Park—perhaps an extension of the metro system—it would be more logical to provide jobs near where people live than perpetuate a system under which people travel to Trafford Park.
792 I am very disappointed by the decision to remove the area's status, and I am sure that many people in the travel-to-work area will feel the same. We believe that the decision is simply political gerrymandering and that there is no logic in the Government's decision to remove intermediate status from the Manchester travel-to-work area.
Another issue that directly affects my constituents is the proposed closure of the Lancashire Hill post office. Many hon. Members have had a considerable number of letters from constituents who are worried about the long-term future of post offices after the Government's decision to encourage people to have benefits paid other than through post offices. It is ironic that the Government are encouraging people to have benefits paid through the banks, because banks have closed in Brinnington and in Haughton Green in my constituency, making it difficult for anyone foolish enough to ask for their money to be paid in that way rather than through the post office.
In advance of the general decline of post offices, which the Government are encouraging, it is proposed to close the Lancashire Hill post office in my constituency. It is in the centre of a council estate which was built in the 1960s. The estate consists of deck access flats and, although some flats are very attractive inside, some of the communal areas are appalling. The local authority, with much pressing from councillors and myself, suggested a regeneration scheme to the Government. The Government have given permission for the £12 million or so to be borrowed.
The authority is now halfway through the development scheme, but, because of the age of the postmaster, it has been proposed to close the post office. It would be crazy to close it, and I plead with the Government to use what influence they have with the Post Office. Although takings in the shop may be down because one half or one third of the estate is empty at present, within three years £12 million will have been spent on it, and the post office deserves to be kept open.
§ Mr. Newton
I cannot assure the hon. Gentleman that I will be able to get sufficient information to give him a detailed reply. I take it that he is referring to a sub-post office, not a Crown post office?
§ Mr. Bennett
I am referring to a sub-post office.
The usual argument by the Post Office is that there are other post offices relatively nearby. There is a Crown post office down the hill and another sub-post office some distance up the hill, but the Crown office, especially, does not offer the same service to pensioners as the one in the middle of the estate. I realise that it may be difficult, but I make a plea to the Government to assist me in persuading the Post Office to keep the existing post office open.
I wish to make two quick points before I end. First, I was in my constituency campaigning with Greenpeace recently to persuade people to boycott Norwegian goods. I hope that the Government will deliver a strong message to the Norwegian Government that we do not want them to begin whaling once more and that, if Norway wants to get into the EC, it must stop the practice. If only a small number of my constituents boycotted Norwegian products, the economic effect would outweigh the benefit that that country receives from whaling.
Secondly, the Norwegians could say that our environmeal record is not especially good, so will the 793 Leader of the House explain why it is not possible for a Defence Minister to come to the House and make a statement about Britain's intentions for nuclear testing?
I understand that it is a little embarrassing for the Government that the Americans have said that they do not want any more tests and that we have been saying, until recently, that they are essential for the security of the country, but the House deserves clear statements from the Government. Do they accept that nuclear tests are no longer necessary? If we are not to have any tests, do the Government have any intention of developing the tactical air-to-surface missiles or a new free-fall nuclear bomb system?
Instead of trying to slip such information out during the recess, it would have been far better if the Government had had the courage to say that nuclear proliferation is one of the most appalling problems in the world. Britain ought to be prepared to give a lead and hope that everyone else will give up testing. We ought to say that we are not prepared to develop any new systems, and thereby give some impetus to the non-nuclear proliferation treaty, so that we can make the world a safer place.
It is a long recess, and the topics that I have briefly mentioned are ones for which the Government could find more time. I understand that we return in October, and that there are another couple of weeks' holiday before the Queen's Speech. There is surely time to settle the question of Sheehy and tell people what will happen about proposed compensation for VAT, and there is certainly time for the Government to find an opportunity to announce that they are reversing their decision to take intermediate status from Greater Manchester.
§ Mr. David Amess (Basildon)
Before the House adjourns for the summer recess, there are three points that I wish to raise. The first will be of concern and interest to my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House, because it is to do with Essex county council.
He will know that, in May, the Conservatives lost control of that county council. The election resulted in 32 Conservative councillors, 33 Labour councillors and 32 Liberal councillors. For some while, a great deal of posturing went on about who was to control the council. Hey presto, the decision was made that Labour would jump into bed with the Liberals. I do not know whether there are arrangements to impeach county councillors, but, if there are not, perhaps the House would wish to consider that issue at another stage, because in the past three months the two socialist parties have reneged on their policies in an absolutely disgraceful fashion.
Before the county council elections, those parties made all sorts of promises, on which I am reliably informed they have gone back in a disgraceful way. We should continue to remind them of how they have let down the good people of Essex. They said that they were going to spend more money on education and deliver nursery education. At the county council meeting in the past week, it was discovered that there has been underspend of £4 million. A Conservative county councillor proposed that the money be spent on primary education, and that suggestion was voted down by the two socialist parties.
794 Also during the county council election campaign, it was said that something was to be done about Pitsea tip in my constituency, where there had been continual protest about the movements of dumping. The socialists said that it was a disgrace, and held a public meeting during the run-up to the May election. When it came up in committee, nothing was done.
Finally, during the county council elections, the socialists castigated the Conservative-controlled county council about the meals on wheels and social service policy generally. When it came up at a committee meeting two weeks ago, the Conservatives wanted to do more, but the two socialist parties voted them down and wanted to do less. We shall never let them forget their treachery and the way that they have let down the people of Essex.
Moving on to my second point, on 23 February I asked leave to introduce a Bill to stop sex selection. That grubby practice goes on in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Hendon, South (Mr. Marshall). It is basically a racket by which people come along, pay money and get roughly a 55 per cent. chance of correctly selecting the sex of their child.
I should have thought that the House would consider that such a grubby practice should be outlawed. Instead, my Bill was opposed, and it was opposed by feminists. Have you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, heard of anything so crazy as feminists opposing a Bill to outlaw sex selection, a practice which anyone with common sense realises works against women?
I was told during the debate that I should not have the arrogance to introduce such a Bill, that I should wait until the report of the committee overseeing those matters. Since then, that committee has reported, and it has recommended that sex selection should not be allowed in the country. Also, members of the British Medical Association are in favour of stopping sex selection.
I say to my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House that I and many other hon. Members are concerned about the cheapness of life, and that we cannot think of anything more degrading than choosing the sex of one's child. We want action from the Government, and we will not be fobbed off.
My final point concerns Pitsea post office—a serious matter that affects many of my constituents. I am outraged by the lack of courtesy of Post Office Counters Ltd. Up until now, it has not even had the good grace to telephone or write to me asking for my opinion about the threatened transfer of Pitsea post office.
Rumours started in my constituency on 19 June that Pitsea post office would be closing, that Post Office Counters Ltd. had done a deal with the Tesco superstore, and that the post office would be moved there. For 70 per cent. of the people who use the Pitsea Crown post office, that move would be wonderful, because the store would be open longer hours and that would be much more convenient. But I am concerned not about the people with cars, the young and middle-aged, but about the senior citizens who will have great difficulty in getting to the Tesco superstore in Pitsea.
I am concerned about the rumour of a fait accompli. Tesco has gone out to public consultation until 6 August, but I am told that it is a cosmetic exercise. Work has been done on building the new post office in the Tesco superstore. Counters are being installed and staff are being told that they will have jobs. It is a disgrace. More than 795 2,000 of my constituents have signed a petition to oppose the transfer, and many of them—elderly and disabled people—are outraged.
§ Mr. John Marshall (Hendon, South)
May I give some hope to the people of Pitsea? Post Office Counters Ltd. used a similar ploy in Cricklewood, by means of which it managed to unite the hon. Member for Brent, East (Mr. Livingstone) and myself. It decided that the union was so strange it should withdraw the proposal, and it may do so in my hon. Friend's constituency.
§ Mr. Amess
I am heartened by my hon. Friend's encouragement. Only this morning, as I opened Basildon playlink, one of the leaders of the protest group told me that training arrangements are appalling. Apparently, the training course used to last five weeks and the service was absolutely excellent, but now the proposal is for two seven-minute tests and only three week's training.
Hon. Members take their duties very seriously. I deprecate the lack of courtesy that seems to have crept in since the 1992 general election, because some hon. Members now visit other hon. Members' constituencies without dropping a note to inform them. That certainly is not the case with one Opposition Member, but I do not need the help of a Back-Bench Opposition Member who, I read from press cuttings, is holding a public meeting in my constituency. I am perfectly able to represent Basildon, as the chairman of Post Office Counters Ltd. and Tesco will find out next week.
§ Mr. Bob Cryer (Bradford, South)
May I deal, first, with the Minister's shocking excuse that the changes in assisted area status were presented so late in the parliamentary year because the Government had to consult an EC Commissioner about them? Are we so subservient to EC Commissioners that we cannot ask them to see our proposed changes at a date that suits the Government and that, if a highly paid bureaucrat on £130,000 a year plus expenses deems that he has not time to see a representative of the British Government, an order cannot be laid?
Parliament is entitled to 40 days in which to pray against the Assisted Areas Order 1993 during which the House could debate for an hour and a half the unfairness of removing Bradford's assisted area status, but if the House of Lords sits, even as the final court of appeal, our praying days are lost. If the House of Lords considers the Rees-Mogg case during the recess, we might lose as many as half of our praying days.
I hope that the Government will allocate sufficient time for debate. The number of hon. Members rising to put a question during this afternoon's statement showed widespread concern and deep suspicion of gerrymandering, on the basis not of need but of political convenience for the Government.
Bradford's removal from the list of assisted areas cannot be justified. There are 552 vacancies for 25,000 unemployed people in Bradford. Unemployment is almost 11 per cent. I mention that because of Bradford's heavy emphasis on manufacturing, particularly textiles and engineering, and because as a result of difficulties associated with the multi-fibre arrangement jobs are constantly being eroded.
796 Bradford has lost urban aid. The loss of section 11 grant from the Home Office particularly affects Bradford, which has a comparatively large ethnic minority population. Section 11 money was an important component of our assistance. I hope that the Minister will give an assurance that, if a prayer is tabled—rest assured that it will be—serious consideration will be given to providing more than one and a half hours to debate the issue after the recess.
I tabled an amendment to the Adjournment motion to allow an extra two days to debate changes in assisted area status. A debate would have been very valuable, and I hope that, if I decide to divide the House, hon. Members will join me in the Lobby.
We need time to debate the "Questions of Procedure for Ministers", paragraph 107 of which says:Ministers must resign any directorships they hold when they give up office. This applies whether the directorship is in a public or a private company and whether it carries remuneration or is honorary. The only exception to this rule is that directorships in private companies established in connection with private family estates may be retained subject to the condition that, if at any time the Minister feels that conflict is likely to arise between this private interest and public duty, the Minister should even in those cases resign the directorship.That is guidance from the Prime Minister. I believe that there should not be double standards between guidance from the Prime Minister to Ministers and legislation which the Government propose for the ordinary man or woman in the street. Tight rules apply to, for example, income support, social fund grants and loans. We should devote some time to debating those issues before the House rises. People who leave their employment without just cause can have their unemployment benefit cut by almost 20 per cent. for up to 26 weeks. The Bradford employment office —or unemployment office—invariably automatically chooses 26 weeks rather than one, two or three weeks, because the period for which it can deduct is up to 26 weeks and not a mandatory 26 weeks. Tight rules apply to ordinary people who are struggling to make ends meet week in, week out.
When I asked about four Ministers who were in breach of paragraph 107 of the "Questions of Procedure for Ministers", the Leader of the House told me that I was muck-raking—that I could not ask about Ministers, but Ministers could make rules to cut unemployment benefit for people who, for example, left their employment because of a dispute with their employer.
I take the view, and it should be on the record, that those rules should be kept. When the hon. Member for Richmond and Barnes (Mr. Hanley), as director of a company—he receives no remuneration—supplies the services of two members of his family as actresses, that is not part of the family estate. It is better if a Minister resigns the directorship. The Select Committee on Members' Interests says to all hon. Members that, if an hon. Member is in any doubt, he should declare a financial interest. On balance, it is better if Ministers resign.
I accept that that example could be regarded as a marginal case, but, on the other hand, the hon. Member for Suffolk, South (Mr. Yeo), who is also a Minister, is a director, not of one company but of several. I think that he is in breach of the rules. For example, he is a director of the Locana Corporation (London) Ltd., D'Arcy Stand Ltd., Tadworth Court Trust Ltd., Locana Nominees Ltd, General Securities Register Ltd. and Anacol Holdings Ltd.
797 Anacol Holdings Ltd. is a company that deals in securities. It may well be that the hon. Member has not received any remuneration, but he received a loan during 1992 of £75,000 by the Locana Corporation (London) Ltd., a subsidiary to TSK Yeo. The loan was repaid, but it has a value. The rules for Ministers—in paragraph 107 —are laid down to avoid any conflict when Ministers make decisions. It seems quite qrong that Ministers can avoid or bend the rules, but if ordinary people try to bend the rules that the Government produce, a different set of standards is imposed.
§ Mr. Andrew Mackinlay (Thurrock)
My hon. Friend referred to double standards for Ministers. Did he notice that when the right hon. Members for Kingston upon Thames (Mr. Lamont) and for Watford (Mr. Garel Jones) and others declined to stay in the Government they were entitled to generous severance payments despite the fact that they departed from the Government voluntarily, so we are told? When other people in the work force decide to give up their jobs, or are made redundant, they are not always entitled to the generous severance payments that are exclusively available to members of the Government.
§ Mr. Cryer
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for raising that point as it reinforces the question of double standards.
I shall now deal with Viscount Cranborne, who is also a member of the Government. He is a director of an organisation—a company limited by guarantee—called Stalbury Trustees. Its aims have nothing to do with private family estates. Its principal activity is the promotion of Conservative principles for the benefit of the Conservative cause or party.
Viscount Cranborne may regard the Conservative party as his private property, but not many others in the party do. It is not his family estate. It really should not be a matter for a Conservative Minister to be involved in a company that has investments valued in 1991 at just under £1 million, the interest of which goes towards the Conservative party. It seems to me that such a company could bring a Minister into conflict with some activities that he would undertake as a Minister.
The right hon. Member for Conwy (Sir W. Roberts) was a director of a company that provided secretarial and research services. He received remuneration. In 1992, when the turnover was £29,390, the profit on ordinary activities before taxation was £2,190. As the only two directors are the right hon. Member for Conwy and his wife, I assume that the surplus over activities, the profit before taxation, was distributed to the directors. It certainly was in 1991 because the dividend payable is listed as £4,500, and there was a distribution. In the provision of the services there, it is quite possible that, as a Minister, such company activity could come into conflict with his duty as a Minister.
I shall now deal with the hon. Member for Morecambe and Lunesdale (Mr. Lennox-Boyd). It is arguable that his extensive property interests could be counted as part of the family estates. The family estates include: Ince castle, Saltash; the ground floor flats, stable block; flats 1 to 8 Friary court, Saltash; flats 68a and 68b Fore street; flats 3 to 9 Regal court; flats in Culver road, Fore street and Tamar court, Saltash. The estate also includes shops at 67 798 and 67a, 67b and 68 Fore street, Saltash; shops 1 and 2 and a restaurant at Regal court; and shops at Fore street and Culver road, Saltash; and garages 1 to 8 at the rear; and a farm and estate properties at Ince estate, Saltash; Ince estate, woodlands; Ince farm; and Greeps, Saltash. With such an extensive estate, it is a straightforward property company involved in an ordinary commercial enterprise. It is not simply looking after the farm house with honeysuckle growing round the door.
When the Prime Minister—whom I know to be in some odium at the moment because of his off-the-cuff remarks —picks such people and gets them into the room at No. 10 and says, "Look, I want you to take up this job", they do not say, "I can't do it because of rule 107." They accept the document, as I did in 1976–78. Ministers have done much the same over the years. They accept the document "Questions of Procedure for Ministers".
In order to clarify the position, all those Ministers should be asked either to resign their directorships and get rid of their shareholdings or resign their posts and keep the company activity, if that is what they choose, although I do not take that view: Members of Parliament are paid well enough to enable them to rely entirely on a salary. Members should not have outside interests.
Ministers are in special position, and I hope that the Minister does not regard as muck-raking my defence of ordinary people facing difficult and stiff rules, which are imposed inflexibly on them, when I say that the standards for ordinary people should apply to Ministers.
§ Mr. William Powell (Corby)
There are some who think that these debates on the Adjournment are something of an acquired taste. My right hon. Friend the Leader of the House will be of the view that not only has the hon. Member for Altrincham and Sale (Sir F. Montgomery) acquired the taste, but I have as well.
I should like to reflect for a moment on the observations of my hon. Friend the Member for Basildon (Mr. Amess), who referred to some clearly appalling circumstances currently arising at Essex county council. He asked whether it would be possible to impeach a councillor. One disadvantage of the impeachment process is that it involves a trial by the House of Lords. In this day and age, that would be rather time consuming and possibly extremely expensive.
A better way to handle the difficulty that my hon. Friend identified would be to introduce a Bill of attainder, which, if it is enacted into law, instead of involving a trial, simply declares people to be guilty and imposes the penalty of Parliament as a consequence. An Act of attainder is a declaratory process and, if my hon. Friend would like to introduce a Bill that could have its First Reading, I shall be perfectly happy to join him as a sponsor of such legislation. It is several hundred years since it was last used, and the Bill may not make much progres on this occasion. However, it is a solution that I offer my hon. Friend.
§ Mr. Harry Cohen (Leyton)
The hon. Gentleman was saying that a Bill could be introduced that automatically declared people guilty. Does the hon. Gentleman believe in civil liberties?
§ Mr. Powell
The hon. Gentleman knows me better than to ask such absurd questions.
799 As always, a fascinating collection of subjects has been raised. Those who listened to my hon. Friend the Member for Poole (Mr. Ward), who raised one of the most important questions facing the world today and covered it in an immensely interesting and comprehensive way, will know that his speech deserves to be read widely.
My right hon. Friend the Leader of the House will not be surprised to hear me say that I wish to return to the question of the prosecution of persons who may be guilty of war crimes in the former Yugoslavia. I have raised that matter again and again, as I see that the hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, East (Mr. Brown) recognises. Since I last discussed the matter, there has been at least one item of good news. Under resolution 827, passed in June this year, the Security Council of the United Nations has voted to establish an ad hoc tribunal capable of trying those who can be brought before it for alleged war crimes.
Unfortunately, that is as far as the good news goes. No further progress has been made. When I raised that point not long ago with my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary—I asked him about the appointment of a special prosecutor, who is most urgently required, a point on which I shall base the substance of my remarks—he drew my attention to the undoubted fact that, until the special prosecutor was appointed, the special commissioners appointed last year under resolution 780 will continue with their work.
My right hon. Friend was absolutely right about that, but I am not sure that he understood how little work is being done by those special commissioners. There are five of them, from five different countries—Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, Senegal and the United States. They meet every month or two, perhaps for two or three days at a time. Over the past nine months, they have met for only 15 days, and the chairman of the commission, who comes from Holland, has managed to persuade the authorities of the United Nations that he can act entirely on a part-time basis.
As a result of all that, very little work is being done and there are virtually no resources. At the United Nations in Geneva, there are three offices, with two secretaries and three professional staffers, at least up until this month. All of the work that is worth while is being done in the DePaul university in Chicago, because the rapporteur from the United States, Professor M. Cherif Bassiouni, has made available the resources of his law department.
It is outrageous that matters as important as this are not being properly funded and financed by the United Nations. Even though the Security Council and all the members of it have willed the process, they have failed to provide the means.
Some $1.2 million has been set aside but nearly all of it is for administrative measures. No more than $26,900 has been made available so that the special commissioners can travel to Yugoslavia and uncover what are undoubtedly, in Europe, the greatest atrocities of the past decade. The commission has made attempts to get expert teams in Vukovar to exhume bodies from the terrible atrocity of Ovcara. It has not succeeded, but an advance team went in December. It hired a non-governmental organisation in Boston to do a survey of mass graves in Croatia. The group went to Croatia for three days and inspected the Ovcara mass grave. That grave was being protected by UNPROFOR troops from Russia and help was generally forthcoming from the United Nations.
800 Some 200 bodies were estimated to be in the Ovcara grave and some eight other mass graves have been reported in Croatia. Perhaps 12 are known about in Bosnia, so that is 21 mass graves already believed to exist in former Yugoslavia, either in Croatia or Bosnia. No work whatsoever has so far been done on exhuming the bodies, or on identifying who might be involved, because no resources have been made available.
In February, the Secretary-General of the United Nations opened a voluntary trust fund for Governments to subscribe to so that prosecution work could be prepared. Canada, bless its heart, gave $250,000 in February, the United States committed $500,000 three months later, the Netherlands gave $200,000, Norway $50,000, New Zealand $26,000 and Denmark $20,000—and that is as far as it has gone. We have just over $1 million to fund the work to discover what has been going on.
Meanwhile, despite the call for the appointment of a special prosecutor, and despite what I believe to be the desire of the Secretary-General to proceed—resolution 827 nominates him as the person to appoint the special prosecutor—we have been bereft of resources for the special commission set up by resolution 780 and no appointment has been made. One of the reasons why that has happened—I know that my right hon. Friend will draw my remarks to the attention of my right hon. Friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary—is the attitude of the British Government. I am afraid that I regard that as extremely regrettable.
As soon as resolution 827 had been passed, the non-aligned members and others in the United Nations advised the Secretary-General that the only suitable person in the world to do the job was the rapporteur of the commission set up by resolution 780, Professor Bassiouni. My right hon. Friend has heard me talk about his immense gifts. As the special rapporteur, and as the man who has made available all the resources of his university department, including computer facilities, he is the man who knows most of all about what is going on in Yugoslavia. He had been there to see for himself some of the matters that undoubtedly require investigation.
It has come to my attention that the Governments of Great Britain and Canada have been putting considerable pressure on the Secretary-General not to appoint Professor Bassiouni and instead to appoint somebody—a Canadian, as it so happens, which is why Canada is joining the United Kingdom—who is much less qualified for the job and who has no substantial experience as a prosecutor. As a Government official in Canada, he would return to his Government post as soon as was convenient thereafter. He is undoubtedly not the best qualified person.
The will of the world is that those matters should be prosecuted, which is why we have established the ad hoc tribunal. If the Secretary-General is now being told by a permanent member of the Security Council, Great Britain, that he should not appoint the most qualified person, that will undoubtedly lead to considerable delay in the necessary work that must take place.
§ Mr. Frank Cook (Stockton, North)
I am always intrigued by the hon. Gentleman's contributions and listen to them with great interest—even more so on this occasion. What possible motive could there be for the 801 collusion between Great Britain and Canada? Why do they want to appoint somebody other than the hon. Gentleman's preferred candidate?
§ Mr. Powell
Canada is anxious to secure the position of special prosecutor for itself and is seeking allies. There is, however, a more profound reason. Does the world community really want any cases to be brought before the tribunal? Having established the tribunal, might it not be the case that, the more deeply one goes into who might be prosecuted, the more embarrassing the names might become? Lord Owen, accompanied now by Mr. Stoltenberg, although he had Mr. Vance and others with him in the past, has said on a number of occasions that his mission would not be assisted if there were any question of putting Mr. Milosevic or any others on trial. War crimes become something of an embarrassment to those who are seeking a diplomatic solution.
The trouble is that serious crimes against humanity are being committed in the former Yugoslavia and diplomatic progress is slow. The situation is serious. Having established the tribunal, too many United Nations members do not wish to carry out what is implicit in its establishment—namely, to bring forward evidence so that indictments, where proper, can be laid.
The evidence that is being amassed in Chicago suggests that charges for serious crimes against humanity could not merely be brought forward against private soldiers and the small fry who have committed appalling crimes on the orders of others. Evidence is now emerging that increasingly involves the leadership of the Yugoslav army and the leadership of Serbia. We are rapidly reaching the point where evidence that would lead to charges against the leaders, not the foot soldiers, could be brought before an indicting chamber. That is the reason for war crimes tribunals. The more one brings charges against the leaders, the more one interferes in the work being done by people on the diplomatic front. I have referred to some of Lord Owen's comments.
A budget is being prepared for the work of the tribunal. About $35 million is sought, but $5 million only is being allowed for prosecutions. That is little short of outrageous. Resolution 827 mentions The Hague as being an appropriate site for the court, but leaves open the possibility that it may sit elsewhere. The Hague is not an appropriate site. It is too far away from the events. Witnesses would have to be brought too far and the plans that are being made for their protection amount to no more than bed-and-breakfast accommodation. That simply would not do. Those people have been the subject of the most fearsome and horrendous criminal acts. To offer them no more than bed-and-breakfast accommodation in Holland would be to make them extremely vulnerable to reprisals and much greater work to protect witnesses would have to be done.
The prosecution department has a planned budget of only $5 million. That will not take us very far. The special prosecutor will not only need a staff of trained lawyers, detective police officers and military policemen, but facilities that might have to last for more than two years, and $5 million simply would not cover that—$50 million would be a much more realistic sum. It is planned that most of the money will be spent to refurbish a building in The Hague. Nothing could be more inappropriate than 802 spending large sums of money on refurbishing an unsuitable building in The Hague simply because the Government of Holland wished it to be done in that way.
The time has come for a realistic political grip to be taken on proceedings. I ask my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House to draw that point to the attention of the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs. The United Nations General Assembly should be asked to vote on realistic budgets, not only for travelling expenses and long weekends for people who work for the United Nations, but for the necessary work to be undertaken.
I beg my right hon. Friends to stop the nonsense of trying to appoint someone whom the whole world knows is not the best person for the job. I beg them to allow the one person in the world who knows about the job to get on with it, and to appoint him now. Each day lost means that witnesses are lost, making it more difficult to examine the evidence, which is bound to disappear the longer that we delay. We cannot wait for the United Nations General Assembly in September, as some people wish. We cannot wait for the clanking processes of international justice to start to grind—perhaps next year or the year after.
Above all, the world community must do what it has been prepared to do until now: to say that what has been going on in Yugoslavia is wrong and that we cannot allow it to pass without enforcing the United Nations' moral sanction and bringing prosecutions before the tribunal.
§ 7.4 pm
§ Mr. Harry Cohen (Leyton)
I will not continue on the same tack as the hon. Member for Corby (Mr. Powell), although I think that he is right to pursue the subject of bringing more criminals to justice. They should have to face justice, however long that takes, so I support him in that sentiment.
This House should not leave for the recess until an Education Minister has made a statement about blind pupils and other disabled schoolchildren being refused places at opted-out schools. That new, obnoxious and discriminatory policy seems to have come about as a by-product of Government education policies rather than as a deliberate result of them. I raised the subject on a point of order earlier and Madam Speaker encouraged me to mention it in this debate.
I have notified the hon. Member for Chingford (Mr. Duncan Smith), as Highams Park school is in his constituency. The school has just ended its 20-year-old agreement with a special school nearby to teach blind and partially sighted children. Highams Park has only recently opted out of the local government system. In an article in The Guardian of 24 July 1993 Mr. Andrew Lockhart, the chief education officer of the London borough of Waltham Forest, described what is happening asa particularly nasty kind of selection.I shall quote from him again later. The article also stated:About 15 blind and partially-sighted children attended lessons and were integrated … into Highams Parkschool. The head teacher of the school has now said that that arrangement must be brought to an end, although he has imposed a couple of conditions, whereby he will continue the arrangement if he gets extra money—something like £26,000—from the local education authority, plus additional staff support from the special school that was feeding blind pupils into Highams Park. 803 To ask for money in those circumstances is to hold the authority, the parents of those children and the children up to ransom. Really it is blackmail.
The article goes on to say:The number of visually-handicapped pupils being integrated fell as Highams Park placed more emphasis on academic courses.It quotes Mr. Frank Smith, the head teacher of the special school whose pupils fed into Highams Park, who said:It was difficult to negotiate with the school at the top level. We believe things were made difficult to squeeze us out. Children with special educational needs are not welcome.That is a serious allegation. Indeed, a blind pupil who was integrated into Highams Park school has had to be taken out. The local authority has found her a place at Rush Croft school, another school with a good reputation in the Chingford area. I pay tribute to the local authority for preserving that blind girl's education within the main schooling sector—no thanks to the head teacher and the narrow-minded governors of Highams Park school.
The chief education officer of Waltham Forest, Mr. Andrew Lockhart, said:A grant-maintained school can refuse to accept a pupil with special educational needs. In the long term, it would seem to allow grant-maintained schools to select not to have pupils with special educational needs. It is a particularly nasty kind of selection.I endorse those comments and ask the Government to comment on this serious matter.
It seems that the governors of opt-out schools are trying to grab as much money as they can from the local education authorities at the expense of the schools run by those authorities and that is quite wrong.
The article made it clear that Highams Park school was choosing not to take blind children or children who need special education because it has an eye on the Government's league table policy, which places emphasis on examinations and a school's academic record. That policy is not working properly when it means that schools do not take such children. For a start, there is a false assumption that blind children will not gain academic qualifications and are not intelligent enough to be in the mainstream of education. The Government should not contemplate such an argument.
Secondly, league tables based purely on examinations do not reflect a school's qualities or its achievements. Part of its achievements should be to deal with children who need special education. Plainly, the policy has gone wrong when Highams Park school and other opt-out schools can exclude such children. It seems that schools such as Highams Park are getting ready to go fully private and when that happens they will not want those children. There should be a rule that private and opted-out schools have to take children with special educational needs.
A Lords amendment to the Education Bill would have given local education authorities the power to direct grant-maintained schools to accept such pupils. However, last week the Government turned that down without proper debate. They should think again about their policy. What is the Government's attitude to blind and disabled pupils? Do they want them ghettoised, out of the mainstream, or do they favour my policy, which is that they should be properly integrated in the mainstream education system? If the Government agree, they should require opted-out and private schools to take those pupils and give them a proper education. There should not be an obnoxious discriminatory system of policy. I hope that the Minister will deal with that.
§ Mr. Peter Temple-Morris (Leominster)
I want to add to the gallery, if not the galaxy, of subjects that my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House will have to address. The single subject of my speech is the BBC World Service, an issue that I have raised before. In an Adjournment debate a month ago, my hon. Friend the Member for Bexleyheath (Mr. Townsend) dealt with the matter in detail.
Early-day motion 1780 is by far the best supported motion this Session. It has 378 signatures, the number is increasing, and the motion has not been off the Order Paper since it was put down some months ago. The aim is to obtain 400 signatures. The motion is in the top 10 of all time and its support ranges from right to left across both major parties. Almost all Liberal Democrat Members, including the leader of that party, who does not usually sign early-day motions, have signed it.
I shall not do a complete roll call, but I can say that it is also supported by the right hon. Members for Islwyn (Mr. Kinnock) and for Lagan Valley (Mr. Molyneaux), the hon. Member for Foyle (Mr. Hume) and the leaders of the Scottish and Welsh National parties. The motion has almost unique cross-section support because the BBC World Service does an outstanding job for Britain. It carries out a function that Britain performs best and in these times of challenge and change we should hang on to such functions.
In national budgetary terms, the money involved is minimal and out of all proportion to the job that the World Service does. The service has already taken a considerable cut. The early-day motion does not argue against the cuts, but points out that there has already been one in the current year of some £5 million and that the service is threatened with a further cut of 2.5 or 5 per cent. The service could not absorb such costs and it will suffer.
The Government should adopt a flexible view in imposing the cuts that will have to be imposed, bearing in mind our financial situation. There must be flexibility in dealing with low-cost functions which Britain does well and which do for Britain an amount of good throughout the world quite incommensurate with the minimal cost that is involved. A deputation representing the signatories of that motion intends to seek a meeting with the Chief Secretary before the recess is out.
§ Mr. Harry Barnes (Derbyshire, North-East)
I remind the House of the terms of the motion:That this House, at its rising on Tuesday 27th July, do adjourn until Monday 18th October.That is 12 weeks less one day. The recess is excessive, and many problems arise because of that. My hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, South (Mr. Cryer) said that he was prepared to divide the House on his amendment to the motion. If he does, I shall certainly support him.
Who benefits from the 12-week recess? The main beneficiaries are obviously the Government, because any Executive benefits from not being harassed by a Parliament to which they are answerable. This Government particularly will benefit from such a recess in view of their difficulties and the fact that they had to force a vote of confidence on the House. Their only survival factor is the 12-week break, because they hope that in that time something will turn up to their benefit.
805 Perhaps some hon. Members benefit from such a long recess and some part-time Members with other jobs find it convenient. Perhaps overworked Members find it beneficial to get away from the Chamber and involve themselves in constituency and other work and have a change of scenery. However, our constituents do not benefit from Parliament being away for 12 weeks. Their only benefit is that the Government cannot press on us more anti-social legislation.
Hon. Members use the House to probe the Government on behalf of their constituents, but answers often come from civil servants rather than Ministers who may not particularly care about the issues that are being raised. Civil servants protect their Ministers. The well-understood avenues for hon. Members are written and oral questions, questions on statements, debates and early-day motions. The hon. Member for Leominister (Mr. Temple-Morris) spoke about an early-day motion that has been used in an excellent way because it has been fully extended and a campaign has been organised around it. Even with minor early-day motions, during business questions on a Thursday we can ask whether a particular early-day motion will be discussed. The PPS to the Leader of the House will pass to him details that have been prepared and in that way we can learn the official response.
Some hon. Members may have more access to information than others to pursue their constituents' interests. Various avenues are open to a Minister; a prominent Opposition Member will be listened to. But what happens to Opposition Back Benchers? What they have available to them is attempted contact with Ministers —through letters, telephone conversations and perhaps persuading their hon. Friends on the Opposition Front Bench to harry Ministers into a meeting to discuss a particular subject—but they do not have the ready responses that come from being able to conduct a campaign on the Floor of the House.
We should not have 12-week breaks. Parliament meets long enough over the year and half that 12-week period could be used throughout the year for early-day motions and the like. The absence of early-day motions and such options would not matter much for a week—people can survive that—but their absence for 12 weeks can leave many difficulties and many of the issues that constituents wish to raise are not seriously considered. Last year many hon. Members tried to telephone the Benefits Agency during the recess in order to push particular cases, but they did not have the avenues available in the House to supplement that activity.
We should oppose the motion for the sake of our constituents so that we can represent them better. I hope that, in time, the spread of business of the House will be organised in such a way as to enable us to serve our constituents more effectively.
§ Mr. Richard Page (Hertfordshire, South-West)
I should like to make a brief contribution before the recess and before hon. Members disappear with their buckets and spades to the seaside for 12 weeks minus one day.
The House knows that the size of the public sector borrowing requirement is huge and that the Government have the problem of addressing it. Currently, the 806 Government have the worst of both worlds: they must address both the deficit and the public perception that they have been cutting public expenditure for years. That incorrect public perception started in 1979, when the then Prime Minister, Baroness Thatcher, and her Ministers announced that they were going to be tough on spending. That misconception has grown over the past 14 years.
The truth is that, in real terms, public sector expenditure has soared, although the public believe that there have been cuts. Anyone who disbelieves that need only hold a survey on national health expenditure, which will show that the majority of the public think that there have been cuts. We know that there has been an increase, in real terms, of over 50 per cent.
The Government must deal with both expenditure and income. Cutting public expenditure will help, but I believe that it is easier to increase income. Perhaps that is not a fashionable view in the House. I have noticed that some hon. Members are very good spenders, but not good earners.
Let me draw my right hon. Friend's attention to an aspect of the legislation concerning property leasing which could be detrimental, in some cases, to industry and commerce, especially small businesses. That aspect—which is currently under scrutiny—is the growing practice of upwards-only rent reviews and the liability that remains with the original leaseholder of a property if subsequent leaseholders default.
I know that solicitors are supposed to be responsible and point out the pitfalls, especially to people entering such agreements for the first time, but that does not always happen. Many small business men starting their first business do so with starry eyes. We should remove some of the pitfalls, which I believe should not be there in the first place.
I am fully aware that the value of property has a particular niche in public consciousness, but I sometimes wonder whether we have an excessive obsession with property. Once property has been built, it is the use to which it can be put that is of value to the nation.
The two aspects that I have mentioned damage the mobility of companies, their growth and, in some cases, their very existence. If we have consistently high inflation, the upwards-only rent reviews do not matter so much; however, in a stable economy with low inflation—or even during recessions—true rents may drop. I do not see why rents should go for ever onwards and upwards. Companies face varying circumstances over the years. Some companies may want smaller premises—they may be losing money and want to get out of their larger premises —but they are locked in. Some companies may disagree with the rent review and want to move to cheaper premises. Too bad; they are locked in.
Arbitration can create further pressure on a business. Often a company has built up a successful business, it has grown and their customers know where it is; but the cost of location is high. The natural tendency when there is a rent review, if it goes to arbitration, is for the arbiters to say, "That is a successful business: it can afford an upward move." In that way, the rent can unfairly reflect the success of the company to the advantage of the landlord.
As for the liability of the original leaseholder when a lease is disposed of, again there is a locked-in element. If the landlord refuses to lift the liability, it is possible that, several years later, the original leaseholder will be liable for any defaults. The landlord can go back to a company or 807 person through, literally, several changes of ownership of the lease and receive payment, perhaps several years later. The original person or company will have no influence whatever on the management of the failed company. A limit on liability should be introduced to help such companies, perhaps based on time—for instance, the period to the next rent review.
I will not develop the ways in which the two aspects might be further improved, because of the time restrictions operating this evening. We make great play of the mobility of labour; I think, in turn, we should have a degree of flexibility as regards companies. Small businesses are affected and it is in small businesses that we will see a growth in employment and the profitability of our nation. We put that at risk at our peril. I hope that my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House will take this on board when reviewing the legislation for the forthcoming year.
§ Mr. Tony Banks (Newham, North-West)
I will be extraordinarily brief. I wish to raise the issue of Norwegian whaling. The cause is close to my heart, and is close also to the hearts of hon. Members on both sides of the House. It is quite outrageous that, since the ban on commercial whaling imposed in 1986 by the International Whaling Commission, the Norwegians—under the guise of scientific whaling—have slaughtered 1,000 minke whales. That is unacceptable. They have used the word "science" as a way of getting around the ban on commercial whaling.
They have now gone further. At the most recent IWC meeting in Kyoto, Japan, the Norwegians announced that they would completely ignore the renewal of the commercial whaling ban, and that they would resume commercial whaling. They have now done so, and have slaughttered 100 minke whales in the north Atlantic this year. They intend to slaugher another 200 of the whales.
The whales belong to all of us. They are migratory creatures, and are not the property of Norway. Mrs. Bro Harlem Brundtland calls herself a socialist, and goes around the world talking about her green credentials. She has acted like a stinking hypocrite in the way in which she has flouted an international agreement on whaling. This country, and indeed the Government, must take a strong lead: they must make it clear to the Norwegians that their behaviour is unacceptable and that, while they continue to slaughter those beautiful creatures, there is no place for them in any civilised family of nations.
The Government should tell the Norwegians that they should not be allowed to join the European Community until they give up whaling. This country should also take appropriate sanctions against Norwegian goods. If Norway continues whaling, I must say on behalf of many Londoners that the traditional Christmas tree erected in Trafalgar square will not be welcome. If the tree is erected, it will become the focal point of a number of demonstrations. Those demonstrations will, of course, be peaceful, as those of us who love and believe in the rights of co-existence of all living creatures believe in peaceful demonstrations.
I hope that the House and the Leader of the House will join me once again in utterly condemning the actions of the Norwegians.
§ Mr. Nicholas Brown (Newcastle upon Tyne, East)
I am happy to join my hon. Friend the Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks). I hope that we will be able to send a message to the Norwegians that we want to save the whale. Whales are beautiful creatures, and should not be hunted and killed.
There has been a range of calls during this short debate for statements and debates. If one thing is completely predictable, it is that the range of topics covered in our little debate this evening will be exceeded by the range of announcements that will come from the Government immediately after the beginning of the summer recess. My hon. Friend the Member for Derbyshire, North-East (Mr. Barnes) pointed out with uncharacteristic cynicism that the Government are convenienced by our removal from this place over the summer.
The Leader of the House's more usual role is to announce what is to happen in the next week or the week after. I wonder whether he could give us a list now of the statements that we can expect from the Executive in the next fortnight. Those statements will cover topics that the Government would be slightly more hesitant in covering were the House still in session. Experience suggests that there will be a range of statements. Can we expect, for example, a supplementary statement on assisted area status? A number of my right hon. and hon. Friends have expressed dissatisfaction with the announcement made earlier today.
My hon. Friend the Member for Alyn and Deeside (Mr. Jones) spoke of the hurt suffered by his former steel industry community. He felt that his area had been treated unfairly. A common theme in the speeches by Opposition Members was that, in making their decisions on assisted area status, the Government have concentrated on what they deem to be political advantage, rather than considering issues on their merits alone.
The hon. Member for Gordon (Mr. Bruce) mentioned the purchase of the stories of criminals by newspapers, and the hon. Member for Corby (Mr. Powell) agreed with that view. Both hon. Members should sign the early-day motion that has been tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Warley, West (Mr. Spellar), which addresses that question.
My hon. Friend the Member for Tooting (Mr. Cox) brought to our attention the continuing scandal of the lack of progress over Cyprus. He pinned the blame where it clearly belongs—with the leadership of the Republic of Northern Cyprus. That country is now acting as host to Mr. Asil Nadir. My hon. Friend hoped that Mr. Nadir's present position would focus attention on northern Cyprus. I do not think that it is likely that the Conservative party will pursue the issue with any vigour.
One of the saddest documents I have read in the past year was an article in the July/August issue of Business Age on the funding of the Conservative party. Among a number of major donors named in the article was Mr. Asil Nadir. [HON. MEMBERS: "You don't believe that"] Some hon. Members may say that I do not believe that. I have not, however, heard a convincing refutation of the points contained in the article. Were such a refutation of those thoroughly researched points ever produced, I would consider it in my usual fair-minded way.
I remind Conservative Members of the concluding words of the editor and publisher of the magazine: 809Britain's ruling party is riddled with corruption. It's time to clean up government. Now.That is a damning indictment of the Conservative party, and does not suggest any vigour in following the affairs of Mr. Asil Nadir.
The hon. Member for Altrincham and Sale (Sir F. Montgomery) expressed concern at the rising support for the Labour party in his constituency. Clearly, his rejection by the electorate of Newcastle, East has had a lasting and searing effect on him.
The hon. Gentleman then went on to make a Labour party speech. He advocated state intervention to revitalise the construction industry and public transport in the form of urban light railways. Both are sound Labour party policies, and I congratulate him on his belated conversion to some of the causes we favour. If that conversion has been produced by electoral pressure from the Labour party in Altrincham and Sale, the Conservative party is probably in even more trouble than the newspapers say.
The hon. Member for Basildon (Mr. Amess) followed an excellent speech by my hon. Friend the Member for Denton and Reddish (Mr. Bennet). My hon. Friend denounced the Sheehy report, spoke about the imposition of VAT on domestic fuel and regretted the loss of assisted area status for Manchester. He said that the outcome had been gerrymandered, which was a constant theme during the debate.
The hon. Member for Basildon spoke with some expertise about broken election promises. He could have referred to the promises to maintain the value of the currency, to retain membership of the ERM, not to impose tax increases and not to increase or extend VAT. Those were not, however, among the broken election promises to which he drew our attention.
My hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, South (Mr. Cryer) drew our attention to the guidance for Ministers in the declaration of their directorships. He compared that —helpfully, I thought—with the rules for those who claim state benefit. It did seem that those claiming state benefit are treated more harshly than the four Ministers that my hon. Friend mentioned. I hope that the Leader of the House will take note of the serious point in my hon. Friend's speech. If Ministers are in breach of the guidelines, that matter should be drawn to the Prime Minister's attention and rectified immediately. It is a serious matter, and should be treated as such.
The hon. Member for Corby echoed the hon. Member for Basildon in asking what control we have over local councillors. The subject is often raised in the House, but the truth is that hon. Members cannot exercise any direct control over councillors, either members of their own party or of others. The call to introduce a Bill of attainder or to impeach them seem to be rather wild remedies. They were not an appropriate trailer for the serious content of the hon. Gentleman's speech, dealing with war crimes.
My hon. Friend the Member for Leyton (Mr. Cohen) raised the disgraceful case of the blind pupil who has been refused a place at an opted-out school. That is a direct consequence of money following the pupil, which means that some pupils are more expensive. Therefore, schools sty that they cannot afford to have them unless they get extra money. According to my hon. Friend, the head 810 teacher has made it clear that the row is about money. That is a disgraceful state of affairs and one which I hope will be remedied quickly.
The hon. Member for Leominster (Mr. Temple-Morris) made a plea for the World Service. I agree with him: the BBC World Service is an institution much respected among hon. Members on both the Opposition and Conservative Benches. I, too, make a plea for the World Service. On that bipartisan note, I wish the Leader of the House a happy recess.
§ The Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. Tony Newton)
The speech of the hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, East (Mr. Brown) was a good deal more emollient than the speech that he made in our last such debate. I welcome the spirit in which he spoke. I noted his reference to Government announcements. All I can do is assure him that Her Majesty's Government remain as assiduous in their activities on behalf of the citizens of Britain when Parliament is not sitting as when it is.
The hon. Gentleman quoted Business Age. If I remember aright, the magazine to which he devotes so much credence described Brunei as a small desert kingdom. He also referred to Bills of attainder. Given the record of some Labour local authorities, I can well imagine that he does not believe that anyone should be in a position to take effective action against malpractice.
§ Mr. David Shaw (Dover)
Is my right hon. Friend aware that an excellent programme on Scottish Television tonight revealed some of the scandal of corruption and nepotism in Monklands district council? As a result of the investigations by Scottish Television, no fewer than four agencies are investigating the wrongdoing that has taken place in that council—the Inland Revenue, the fraud squad, the Comptroller and Auditor General and the Government.
§ Mr. Newton
If all those investigations are taking place, that is probably a good reason for me not to comment from the Dispatch Box. The investigations certainly conform with my hon. Friend's assiduous activities in raising the matter over the months. In due course, we shall undoubtedly see a report of the television programme.
I apologise for the fact that I shall not be able to comment in detail in the eight minutes remaining to me on all the speeches that have been made. In particular, I simply pick up the kind invitations of the hon. Member for Tooting (Mr. Cox) and of my hon. Friend the Member for Corby (Mr. Powell) to note their remarks and make sure that they are transmitted to the relevant Ministers for consideration. I shall certainly do so.
I also apologise to the one or two hon. Members whose speeches I was not able to hear. I had intended to mention the hon. Member for Derbyshire, North-East (Mr. Barnes), but as I understand that the main burden of his remarks was that the House should go on sitting and sitting, perhaps almost everyone else present in the Chamber is happy that I was not present to lend an ear to his plea, lest I should respond favourably.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Shropshire, North (Mr. Biffen) kindly warned me that he would not be able to stay for my reply. He made several important 811 points and asked me three specific questions about matters affecting the standard spending assessment of Shropshire and elsewhere.
He asked me whether the paper had been received. I can inform him that a representative from Shropshire presented a paper on behalf of the Association of County Councils on the area cost adjustment to the SSA sub-group and the settlement working group earlier this month—I hope that the House has digested all that. All the points that have been made will be taken into account by Ministers before they make their provisional decisions on the 1994–95 revenue support grant settlement later this year. I hope that my right hon. Friends in the Department of the Environment will write further, as need be, to my right hon. Friend the Member for Shropshire, North.
The hon. Member for Alyn and Deeside (Mr. Jones) made several points principally about what had happened to his constituency under the proposed new assisted areas map. I understand that the level of assistance has been reduced because the position has improved since the previous map was drawn. The intermediate area status takes into account the assisted area status of the neighbouring travel-to-work area. The hon. Gentleman also made some points about steel and the actions of the United States, which I shall draw to the attention of the relevant Minister.
My hon. Friend the Member for Cornwall, South-East (Mr. Hicks) made important points about water quality and cost, generally and in the south-west, and about the important link between Plymouth, Newquay and Heathrow. He described the way in which the link could best be protected. I know that he has corresponded with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport, who has said that he regards the acquisition by British Airways of Brymon Airways as a reassuring development. I shall make sure that the attention of my right hon. Friend is drawn to everything that my hon. Friend has said on the matter tonight. I shall also draw the attention of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment to what my hon. Friend said about water quality and costs.
The hon. Member for Gordon (Mr. Bruce) raised four important issues. The first concerned some reports about money that might be paid to Karyn Smith and Patricia Cahill following their return to Britain. I shall confine myself to saying that the hon. Gentleman is well aware that the Government deplore the exploitation of criminal activities for gain. I am sure that the feelings that the hon. Gentleman expressed will be shared by hon. Members from many parties. I shall draw his comments specifically to the attention of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister.
The hon. Gentleman also touched on objective 5 status for his constituency. The criteria for objective 2 and objective 5(b) status were agreed in the structural funds regulations adopted on 20 July. My right hon. Friend the Minister for Industry will announce in the near future the arrangements for drawing up the list of areas which Her Majesty's Government will propose to the Commission for that status, and the arrangements for any representations that regional and local bodies wish to make.
The hon. Gentleman will perhaps not expect me to comment in any depth on his remarks which trenched right into budgetary policy, especially in the immediate aftermath of my announcing the date of the next Budget.
He and several other hon. Members on both sides of the House also made extensive reference to the Sheehy report. 812 I emphasise, as I did in business questions, that it must be understood that the Sheehy report is a report not by the Government but to the Government, which the Government will consider. There will be full consultation with the police and other interests before any decisions are made on the implementation of the recommendations.
My hon. Friend the Member for Poole (Mr. Ward) raised the important issue of nuclear safety in the former Soviet Union. He will know that the Government share his anxieties and continue to play a full part in the multilateral action programme agreed at the Munich summit. He made a considered and extensive speech, to which I am sure my right hon. Friends will wish to reply more fully in other ways, as I have said about the speech of the hon. Member for Tooting.
My hon. Friend the Member for Altrincham and Sale (Sir F. Montgomery) must count as an Adjournment groupie. Few hospital projects can have been pursued more assiduously by a Member of Parliament for so long, certainly with this Leader of the House and, for all I know, with earlier ones, than the South Trafford community hospital.
As I am sure my hon. Friend is aware, North Western regional health authority will discuss tomorrow the desirability of a major refurbishment there. I am not sure whether it is proper for me to say from the Front Bench that my fingers will be crossed. I at least hope that my hon. Friend gets what he wants, even if only because it might cut by one the number of speeches in future Adjournment debates.
My hon. Friend made some other important points about housing associations and about the Metrolink. In that, he was supported by the hon. Member for Denton and Reddish (Mr. Bennett). I have taken those points on board.
The hon. Member for Denton and Reddish made other points about the Manchester travel-to-work area and the assisted areas map. The basis of the Government's thinking is that the TTWA as a whole is not in the worst third for current unemployment. We do not expect the Olympic bid to be affected by the new map. A great deal of other money is going into the area, including in connection with the Olympic bid. Up to £75 million of Government money has been promised.
I cannot add to my implicit comments about Lancashire Hill post office, although I am sure that the Post Office will carefully consider the hon. Gentleman's remarks. As Lancashire Hill is a sub-post office, it is in effect a private venture, and the Post Office cannot compel people to undertake it.
My hon. Friend the Member for Basildon (Mr. Amess) invited me to engage in Essex local political controversy on a scale that I am not sure would be proper, and for which there certainly is not time. I noted his remarks about Pitsea post office, and will draw them to the attention of the Post Office.
I will pass over the latter comments of the hon. Member for Bradford, South (Mr. Cryer), but as to assisted area status—
§ It being three hours after the commencement of proceedings on the motion, MADAM DEPUTY SPEAKER put the Question necessary to dispose of proceedings, pursuant to Standing Order No. 22 (Periodic adjournments).
§ The House divided: Ayes 136, Noes 52.814
|Division No. 362]||[7.50 pm|
|Alexander, Richard||Howell, Sir Ralph (N Norfolk)|
|Allason, Rupert (Torbay)||Jack, Michael|
|Amess, David||Jenkin, Bernard|
|Ancram, Michael||Kirkhope, Timothy|
|Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)||Knight, Greg (Derby N)|
|Arnold, Sir Thomas (Hazel Grv)||Kynoch, George (Kincardine)|
|Ashby, David||Lait, Mrs Jacqui|
|Atkinson, David (Bour'mouth E)||Lawrence, Sir Ivan|
|Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)||Legg, Barry|
|Banks, Robert (Harrogate)||Lennox-Boyd, Mark|
|Bates, Michael||Lester, Jim (Broxtowe)|
|Bellingham, Henry||Lidington, David|
|Beresford, Sir Paul||Lightbown, David|
|Blackburn, Dr John G.||MacKay, Andrew|
|Booth, Hartley||Maclean, David|
|Bottomley, Rt Hon Virginia||McLoughlin, Patrick|
|Bowis, John||Malone, Gerald|
|Brandreth, Gyles||Marshall, John (Hendon S)|
|Brazier, Julian||Martin, David (Portsmouth S)|
|Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thorpes)||Merchant, Piers|
|Browning, Mrs. Angela||Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)|
|Burt, Alistair||Mitchell, Sir David (Hants NW)|
|Butler, Peter||Molyneaux, Rt Hon James|
|Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)||Montgomery, Sir Fergus|
|Cash, William||Neubert, Sir Michael|
|Clappison, James||Newton, Rt Hon Tony|
|Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)||Nicholls, Patrick|
|Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey||Norris, Steve|
|Colvin, Michael||Page, Richard|
|Congdon, David||Patnick, Irvine|
|Conway, Derek||Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey|
|Coombs, Simon (Swindon)||Porter, Barry (Wirral S)|
|Cope, Rt Hon Sir John||Powell, William (Corby)|
|Cormack, Patrick||Rathbone, Tim|
|Couchman, James||Richards, Rod|
|Cran, James||Riddick, Graham|
|Davies, Quentin (Stamford)||Robertson, Raymond (Ab'd'n S)|
|Day, Stephen||Shaw, David (Dover)|
|Dover, Den||Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)|
|Duncan, Alan||Skeet, Sir Trevor|
|Dunn, Bob||Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)|
|Evans, Jonathan (Brecon)||Spink, Dr Robert|
|Evans, Nigel (Ribble Valley)||Sproat, Iain|
|Evans, Roger (Monmouth)||Steen, Anthony|
|Fabricant, Michael||Sweeney, Walter|
|Fenner, Dame Peggy||Taylor, Ian (Esher)|
|Forman, Nigel||Taylor, John M. (Solihull)|
|Forth, Eric||Temple-Morris, Peter|
|Fox, Dr Liam (Woodspring)||Thomason, Roy|
|Fox, Sir Marcus (Shipley)||Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)|
|Freeman, Rt Hon Roger||Thurnham, Peter|
|French, Douglas||Trend, Michael|
|Gallie, Phil||Twinn, Dr Ian|
|Gill, Christopher||Walker, A. Cecil (Belfast N)|
|Gillan, Cheryl||Waller, Gary|
|Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles||Ward, John|
|Gorst, John||Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)|
|Greenway, John (Ryedale)||Wells, Bowen|
|Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth, N)||Whitney, Ray|
|Hague, William||Whittingdale, John|
|Hamilton, Rt Hon Archie (Epsom)||Widdecombe, Ann|
|Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)||Wiggin, Sir Jerry|
|Hampson, Dr Keith||Wilkinson, John|
|Hawksley, Warren||Willetts. David|
|Heald, Oliver||Wolfson, Mark|
|Heathcoat-Amory, David||Wood, Timothy|
|Hicks, Robert||Tellers for the Ayes:|
|Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas (G'tham)||Mr. James Arbuthnot and Mr. Robert G. Hughes.|
|Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford)|
|Adams, Mrs Irene||Jones, Barry (Alyn and D'side)|
|Banks, Tony (Newham NW)||Jones, Lynne (B'ham S O)|
|Bayley, Hugh||Loyden, Eddie|
|Bermingham, Gerald||Lynne, Ms Liz|
|Boyes, Roland||McAllion, John|
|Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)||McAvoy, Thomas|
|Caborn, Richard||McKelvey, William|
|Callaghan, Jim||Mackinlay, Andrew|
|Campbell-Savours, D. N.||Madden, Max|
|Clapham, Michael||Mahon, Alice|
|Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)||Marshall, Jim (Leicester, S)|
|Clwyd, Mrs Ann||Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)|
|Cohen, Harry||Miller, Andrew|
|Cook, Frank (Stockton N)||Morris, Estelle (B'ham Yardley)|
|Corbyn, Jeremy||Mullin, Chris|
|Cox, Tom||Pendry, Tom|
|Dafis, Cynog||Pike, Peter L.|
|Dixon, Don||Powell, Ray (Ogmore)|
|Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth||Rogers, Allan|
|Eastham, Ken||Simpson, Alan|
|Godman, Dr Norman A.||Skinner, Dennis|
|Gunnell, John||Spearing, Nigel|
|Hall, Mike||Steel, Rt Hon Sir David|
|Hanson, David||Wareing, Robert N|
|Hughes, Simon (Southwark)||Tellers for the Noes:|
|Illsley, Eric||Mr. Bob Cryer and Mr. Harry Barnes.|
|Johnston, Sir Russell|
§ Question accordingly agreed to.
That this House, at its rising on Tuesday 27th July, do adjourn until Monday 18th October.