HC Deb 08 July 1999 vol 334 cc1191-201 1.35 pm
Sir George Young (North-West Hampshire)

Will the Leader of the House give us the business for next week?

The President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mrs. Margaret Beckett)

MONDAY 12 JULY—Motion to approve the Eighth Report of the Committee on Standards and Privileges.

Estimates Day [2nd Allotted Day].

There will be a debate on the office of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of schools in England, followed by a debate on transport policy. Details will be given in the Official Report.

At 10 o'clock, the House will be asked to agree all outstanding estimates.

Motion to approve Ways and Means resolution on the Food Standards Bill.

TUESDAY 13 JULY—Proceedings on the Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) (No 2) Bill.

Proceedings on the Northern Ireland Bill.

Motion on the Northern Ireland Act 1974 (Interim Period Extension) Order 1999.

WEDNESDAY 14 JULY—Until 2 o'clock, there will be debates on the motion for the Adjournment of the House.

Remaining stages of the Pollution Prevention and Control Bill[Lords].

Remaining stages of the Commonwealth Development Corporation Bill [Lords].

Remaining stages of the Trustee Delegation Bill [Lords].

The Chairman of Ways and Means is expected to name opposed private business for consideration at 7 o'clock.

THURSDAY 15 JULY—Opposition Day [18th Allotted Day]. There will be a debate on an Opposition motion. Subject to be announced.

FRIDAY 16 JULY—Motion on the Northern Ireland Act 1998 (Appointed Day) Order.

There will be a debate on policing of London on a motion for the Adjournment of the House.

The House may also be asked to consider any Lords messages which may be received.

The House will understand that there remains some uncertainty as to the business for the week commencing 19 July, but it will include:

MONDAY 19 JULY—Opposition Day [19th Allotted Day].

There will be a debate on an Opposition motion. Subject to be announced.

FRIDAY 23 JULY—Private Members' Bills.

The House will also wish to be reminded that on Monday 19 July, there will be a debate on sectors and activities excluded from the working time directive in European Standing Committee C. Details of the relevant documents will be given in the Official Report.

[Monday 19 July 1999:

European Standing Committee C—Relevant European Union documents: (a) 13526/98; (b) Unnumbered EM submitted by DTI dated 18 May 1999. Sectors and Activities excluded from the Working Time Directive; (c) Unnumbered EM. Submitted by DTI dated 21 June 1999. Relevant European Scrutiny Committee reports: HC 34-vi and HC 34-xxiv (1998–99)]

Sir George Young

The House is grateful for next week's business and for the hint as to business for the following week.

In view of the interest in the White Paper on Post Office reform, on which a statement has just been made, may we have a debate, in Government time, on the important reforms contained in that White Paper?

On Monday, when we debate the report of the Standards and Privileges Committee, will the Foreign Secretary be speaking, so that he can apologise to the Select Committee for the way in which its reports were treated, and so that he can respond to the section of the report that rejected his arguments? Will there be a Government response to the recommendations on the ministerial code, in order to avoid any recurrence of the unhappy events of last February?

On Wednesday, in Prime Minister's Question Time, may we now split the time between the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister so that the House can hear both sides of the arguments on the performance of those working in the public sector, on transport policy, on co-operation with the Liberal Democrats, and on all the other issues about which the two right hon. Gentlemen disagree?

The right hon. Lady has not announced the Second Reading of the Railways Bill, which was published yesterday, and which will now, presumably, hit the legislative buffers. Has she read today's Financial Times, which refers to the Railways Bill, which could become law before the Queen's Speech in November"? Will she dismiss that absurd piece of spinning by the Deputy Prime Minister's Department? Will she comment on the Financial Times statement that: The Bill is important to Mr Prescott's political credibility given his earlier failure to win legislative time."?

My right hon. Friend the Member for Richmond, Yorks (Mr. Hague) made it clear that we want to facilitate the passage of the Northern Ireland Bill, to be taken on Tuesday. Will the right hon. Lady tell the House when it will be published?

Friday's debate on the policing of London will be preceded by a motion on the Northern Ireland order. We understand the reasons for that, but may we have extra time for the debate so that it is not curtailed? Will the right hon. Lady confirm that the Home Secretary will be speaking for the Government?

The right hon. Lady has not announced a debate on public expenditure. Can she, however, confirm the undertaking that has been given that such a debate will take place before the House rises for the recess? May I also renew my plea for a debate on the report of the royal commission on long-term care?

Before the end of the Session, will we be able to debate the report of the Joint Committee on Parliamentary Privilege, which was published in March?

Finally, is the right hon. Lady able to give us a date for the state opening of Parliament?

Mrs. Beckett

I make that 10 questions, but I will do my best to answer them.

I cannot undertake to find time for a debate on the Post Office in the near future, but we have announced the provision of Opposition time, which could be used to discuss a number of the issues that the right hon. Gentleman raised.

The right hon. Gentleman asked whether my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary would speak in the debate on the motion to approve the eighth report of the Select Committee on Standards and Privileges. The answer is no. The Government have already made clear, and will make clear again, their response to the proposals on the ministerial code. That does not require any formal statement.

The right hon. Gentleman asked me to arrange for a "script" to be discussed by the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister. Let me simply tell him that, when the leader and deputy leader of the Labour party say—as they do—that they agree with each other and admire each other's progress, they go on working together. When that happens in the Tory party, one of those involved is sacked.

The Bill to set up the new Strategic Rail Authority has been published, and will no doubt be presented to the House in due course. I cannot account for the story in the Financial Times, but it does not sound to me as though that story was spun by anyone: it sounds as though someone got hold of the wrong end of the stick.

I think I am right in saying that we hope and anticipate that the Northern Ireland Bill will be published on Monday. As for Friday's debate, of course I appreciate the importance of the debate on policing in London, and I undertake to reflect its importance if the Northern Ireland order takes up time. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary will, in fact, be speaking in the debate.

I have not lost sight of the request for a day's debate on public expenditure. I shall endeavour to provide one before the recess, although I cannot undertake to provide a debate on long-term care. I note the right hon. Gentleman's request for a debate on the report of the Joint Committee on Parliamentary Privilege, and I will bear it in mind—although, as he will appreciate, we have much to deal with before the recess, and I can only undertake to bear his request in mind.

I apologise to the House: I hoped to be able to give a date for the state opening. Things are still in the melting pot, but I will give a date as soon as possible, and I hope that that will be shortly.

Mr. David Winnick (Walsall, North)

Is it intended that the Secretary of State for Health will make a statement next week on the ambiguity, or loophole, in the law relating to the donation of kidneys for transplant? Is it not totally unacceptable, in any circumstances, for racist conditions to be attached to such donations? What has occurred has caused a great deal of concern in the House and in the country. Moreover, it could lead to the imposing of religious conditions in, say, Northern Ireland, in regard to Catholics and Protestants. The Secretary of State has already expressed his dismay about what has happened. I hope that it will be possible for him to make a statement in the House very soon.

Mrs. Beckett

As my hon. Friend says, my right hon. Friend has already made clear how appalled he is—and I think the whole House is appalled—by what has been reported. An investigation into how this came about was launched immediately, and we intend to ensure that it never happens again. As everyone has said, the setting of such conditions is unacceptable. I fear that I cannot tell my hon. Friend how soon the results of the investigation will be available, or whether my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will be in a position to make a statement before the recess; but I can assure him that the matter is being looked into, with a view to ensuring that this does not happen again.

Mr. Paul Tyler (North Cornwall)

Before every recess, there tends to be a big build-up of potential statements to the House. That is understandable and it is right. Obviously, while the House is sitting it should be given information if that is possible. Madam Speaker has, on a number of occasions, expressed concern about the way in which information is given to the House by Ministers, and how often—sadly—it appears to be pre-empted by statements made through the media, press conferences or other means.

May I draw the attention of the Leader of the House to one specific example, which causes great concern? In yesterday's debate, the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry said: when an MMC report contains commercially sensitive information, it is not the subject of a statement to the House, since the City would have notice of such a statement's being made and that might not be appropriate. That practice has been adopted by successive Governments."—[Official Report, 7 July 1999; Vol. 334, c. 1091.] That is patent nonsense, because the City and everyone else was given notice that a statement was to be made by means of a planted question on the Order Paper on Tuesday, so they had far more notice that the report was to be released. The result of the present practice is that the City is given more information in advance than is necessary, because a statement is advertised to the House only at 1 o'clock, which gives us extremely short notice.

Will the Leader of the House urgently examine that practice, not only as it applies to Monopolies and Mergers Commission reports, but in the context of the general procedure for making statements to the House? Will she come back to the House within the next week to inform us of how she intends to ensure that the practice better serves the House, our constituents and the country?

Mrs. Beckett

No, I am afraid not. I certainly undertake to draw the hon. Gentleman's concerns to the attention of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, but, as he made clear yesterday, it is not merely a matter of a statement being made, but the content of the statement and the impact of it. As he also pointed out yesterday, the practice he followed is the one that has been identified by successive Governments as being the best way through that difficult area. Indeed, it has been followed by successive Governments for good reason.

Mr. Jim Marshall (Leicester, South)

As I am a delegate from this House to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Western European Union, may I ask my right hon. Friend to arrange an urgent debate—hopefully before the new Session of Parliament in November, if not before the recess—on the future of the WEU? She will be aware that the Cologne summit resulted in the suggestion that certain of the institutions of the WEU should be folded into the second pillar of the European Union in a way that foresees no continuing function for the Parliamentary Assembly. If that procedure is followed, it will lead to an increased democratic deficit, especially in foreign affairs, within the European Union, so will my right hon. Friend arrange an urgent debate on the matter?

Mrs. Beckett

I am aware of my hon. Friend's long and distinguished service with the WEU. As he says, an important proposal has been made that would have considerable future impact. I am not sure that I can undertake to find time for such a debate before the recess, although I hear what he says about wanting to explore the implications before the parliamentary Session closes. I shall certainly draw his remarks to the attention of my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, who I know will share my hon. Friend's concern.

Mr. Peter Brooke (Cities of London and Westminster)

Of the 37 questions for Question Time today, only one on higher education won through. Will the Leader of the House contemplate an early debate on higher education, so that we do not give that most important sector of our society the impression that the House is neglecting it?

Mrs. Beckett

I am not sure that I can find time for such a debate in the near future. I share the right hon. Gentleman's view—I am sure that the House does too—that it is a pity that, sometimes, the unintended effects of our random selection procedure mean that an area of discussion does not get its fair share of attention. However, he will have noted that we have identified time for Opposition days, so perhaps he will lobby his right hon. Friend the shadow Leader of the House on that subject.

Mrs. Alice Mahon (Halifax)

Will my right hon. Friend confirm that the Government have today announced a ban on the use of lindane, a powerful insecticide used in farming to treat seeds? She will be aware of the campaign against the use of that carcinogenic substance, which can cause all sorts of problems, including hormone disruption, nervous system damage and birth defects.

There is also growing evidence linking lindane exposure to increased incidence of breast cancer. I congratulate the Government on their action, but will the Secretary of State come to the House next week to make a formal announcement of the ban so that we can raise issues pertaining to it?

Mrs. Beckett

I know that my hon. Friend has taken a great interest in and campaigned on that matter, as have others in the House, for a very long time, and I shall certainly draw her remarks to the attention of my right hon. Friend. I do not anticipate that there will be, in the near future, a particular debate in which that issue can be aired. However, I am mindful that the pre-recess debates will take place, and my hon. Friend may be fortunate in catching the eye of the Chair on that occasion.

Rev. Martin Smyth (Belfast, South)

I appreciate that next week there will be a lot of business affecting Northern Ireland, but can we have an urgent debate on the role of the Parades Commission in Northern Ireland, where nationalists and Orange people have criticised it? I trust that the Government will not follow the silly middle argument that the commission must be all right because both sides are criticising it. The commission is the only semi-judicial body that I am aware of that changes its reasons for determinations and, perhaps following the House and the Government, leaks from the top down before determinations are made. Three days in advance of a determination, its agents are telling folk what is happening.

That is a serious matter and one that we are aware of in my constituency, where some years ago I offered an olive branch to those from the Lower Ormeau, as they call themselves, but it was immediately rejected. They constantly say that nobody wants to talk to them, but they, like those in Portadown, have also refused to talk.

Mrs. Beckett

I fear that I cannot undertake to find time for a special debate on that matter, although I know of the hon. Gentleman's concern about it. I recognise that there will always be difficulty about the role of the Parades Commission, which has an extremely difficult job that it strives to discharge impartially. It is, of course, a key part of its role to try to get both parties to reach an accommodation—I recognise that the hon. Gentleman referred to such efforts a moment ago—and it is only when they do not do so that the commission has to step in. When such a body operates in those circumstances, where there has already been a failure to agree, its role is bound to be a difficult one, and it is bound to come under criticism, as it does on occasion, from both sides.

Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover)

Was my right hon. Friend being deliberately vague about the Opposition day? I got the impression that the Tories have not been able to come up with a subject for their Opposition day.

Mr. John Bercow (Buckingham)


Dr. Julian Lewis (New Forest, East)

Spoilt for choice.

Mr. Skinner

I heard a cry of "Nonsense" from the hon. Member for Buckingham (Mr. Bercow), who is already in the gateway, but I have to tell him that in all my years in the House I have never heard of an Opposition being unable to say within two or three days of a debate what the subject of it will be. I would hazard a guess that if the Government were declaring that they were unable to tell us what was on the agenda next week, there would be an almighty row from the Tories. Are they unable to tell us about their debate because the Leader of the Opposition is away trying to deal with the problem whether to join the fascist group in Europe or the federal group and, if the latter group is chosen, trying to get an opt-out clause so that the Tories can join the federal group but not really be federal?

Mrs. Beckett

I fear that my hon. Friend has indeed identified the nub of the problem, as he so frequently does. I am unable to give the House details of what the Opposition will debate because they have not decided that. I have not explored the precise reason for that indecision, but as my hon. Friend says, it is extremely unusual, particularly for a party that is always alleging that people do not treat the House with enough respect. The fact that we do not know what the Conservative party intends to debate may even be unprecedented.

As for the issue of the Conservative's half in, half out membership of the European People's party, I suspect that it will be a rich seam of difficulty that my hon. Friend can mine in the future.

Mr. David Tredinnick (Bosworth)

Will the Leader of the House find time—perhaps in the autumn—for a debate on the hosiery and knitwear industry? Is she aware that it faces very severe difficulties at the moment, as the closure of mechanics' courses in my constituency testifies? Despite efforts to diversify and despite tremendous work, the industry faces a decline, and there is a general feeling among workers that although the Government are prepared to support the motor industry, they ignore petitions such as the one that I presented to Parliament recently on behalf of the hosiery and knitwear industry.

Mrs. Beckett

I certainly cannot undertake to find time before the recess for a debate, although I am aware of the great concern that exists in the hosiery and knitwear industry. No Member in the House likes to hear of employment being lost, or of companies in difficulty. The hon. Gentleman knows, however, that there have been long-standing problems in that industry, and the Government have striven to work with it to secure improved opportunities and prosperity.

We shall have pre-recess debates, and the hon. Gentleman may seek to raise the matter then. I fear that I cannot find time for a special debate in the near future and cannot undertake necessarily to be able to do so in the autumn.

Mr. Paul Flynn (Newport, West)

Will my right hon. Friend, as the person who was the first to foresee the scandal of pensions mis-selling in the early 1980s, support a call for a debate on a scandal of similar proportions—the scandal of mortgage mis-selling? The relevant Select Committee has called for regulation. There is a need to establish an independent advisory service for the public, perhaps fee-based but certainly separate from the need to earn commission. Is she aware that this morning's edition of Financial Adviser drew attention to the sacking of a man who wrote a publication known as "The Mortgage Bible", which gave invaluable advice to the public? Is there not a case for exposing the fact that the Council of Mortgage Lenders is very much a self-serving and self-interested organisation and is not serving its customers—those who borrow—who are being mis-sold mortgages on a huge scale?

Mrs. Beckett

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his kind remarks. I well recall—as he does—the warnings that were given to the previous Government and the degree to which we, and many outside the House, urged on them that there should be some precautionary supervision of the selling of pensions. I also recall that that advice was dismissed as being unnecessary. I acknowledge that similar concern is emerging regarding the handling of mortgages, although I was not aware of the detail that my hon. Friend gave in his question. I will certainly draw his concerns to the attention of my right hon. and hon. Friends who deal with these matters, who I know will take his suggestion very seriously.

Mr. Desmond Swayne (New Forest, West)

Will the right hon. Lady tell us who will deliver the business statement next week? May I express the sentiment widely felt on the Conservative Benches that neither she nor her deputy, the Parliamentary Secretary, should be victims of the Prime Minister's bid or bin directive?

Mrs. Beckett

I think that the second half of that question was meant to be friendly; if so, I appreciate it. None of us gets too excited about such stories—the silly season seems to have started early. The Prime Minister has gone to some pains to make it plain that all these stories about his close and dear and near allies are certainly not based on any conversations or any knowledge of his.

Mr. Phil Hope (Corby)

My right hon. Friend will be aware that, about three years ago, there was an outbreak of legionnaire's disease in my constituency. As a result, 21 people's health was badly affected and, tragically, one man died. Is she aware that, last week, the outbreak control team, which was responsible for dealing with that outbreak, published its report on the incident, which contains several important lessons for dealing with such outbreaks not only in Corby but throughout the country?

Will my right hon. Friend make time for a debate on the subject? This is not just a Corby issue; legionnaire's disease and its potential threat to people is a national problem. In my view, we do not yet have sufficient knowledge on how to prevent or control the disease. That issue deserves the full attention of the House.

Mrs. Beckett

My hon. Friend makes an important point. I know that he has taken a close interest in the matter. The House will share the sympathy and concern that he expressed, particularly for the family of the person who died. I entirely share his view that those are serious matters, and the Government will study the inquiry's findings carefully. I cannot undertake to find time for a debate in the near future, although my hon. Friend may seek to raise the matter in one of our Adjournment debates or in the pre-recess debates. I can certainly undertake to draw his remarks to the attention of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health, who I know will share his concern that we learn, for others, the lessons of the tragedy that was experienced in his constituency.

Mr. Bercow

May I echo the sentiments of my hon. Friend the Member for New Forest, West (Mr. Swayne)? I very much hope that the right hon. Lady will deliver the business statement not only next week, but for a long time to come. She has undoubtedly discharged her obligations with great charm, style and dexterity. If I have not damned her with that, it is difficult to imagine what would do the job.

On a serious and non-partisan note, may I request an early debate in Government time on the state of the national health service. Is the right hon. Lady aware that two of my constituents, Caroline Cripps from Westcott and Marc Smith from Buckingham, have the misfortune to suffer from the relapsing-remitting form of multiple sclerosis, and that both are anxious to be reassured urgently that they will be provided long into the future with the drug beta interferon? Does the Leader of the House accept that an early debate would afford hon. Members on both sides of the House an opportunity to express their concern that that drug should in future, in accordance with what we hope is sound guidance from the National Institute for Clinical Excellence, be ordinarily prescribed, where it is judged to be clinically appropriate?

Mrs. Beckett

I am extremely grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his kind remarks. I know that he will understand when I say that I am not sure whether they will do me good or harm, but I appreciate them, as does the Parliamentary Secretary, on whose behalf I forgot to thank the hon. Member for New Forest, West (Mr. Swayne).

The hon. Member for Buckingham (Mr. Bercow) raises an important issue, which as he says is non-partisan. He mentioned that NICE is considering the matter. I strongly share the view, as does my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health, that that is the right way to approach the issue. We have probably all had constituency cases that raised the matter and in which there is sometimes a dispute about whether that drug is clinically appropriate. I share entirely the hon. Gentleman's view that it is important for us to have sound advice in order to make good judgments on the matter, so that people can receive the care to which they are entitled under the NHS. I know that that view is shared by my right hon. Friend.

I fear that I cannot undertake to find time for a debate on the issue in the near future, but I shall draw the hon. Gentleman's remarks to the attention of my right hon. Friend.

Mr. Gareth R. Thomas (Harrow, West)

I welcome the news that the Chairman of Ways and Means may name the City of London (Ward Elections) Bill for further consideration next week. Is my right hon. Friend aware of the special report that the Bill's Standing Committee presented to the House, which concluded that while the Bill should proceed, neither it nor the additional assurances provided for the petitioners entirely remedied the problems of governance of the City? Does my right hon. Friend agree that prior to such a debate on the Bill, sensible consideration of the conclusions of the special report by the City of London Corporation would be helpful?

Mrs. Beckett

I know that my hon. Friend was one of those who served on the Committee, which did a good deal of careful and thoughtful work. It is a private Bill, and my hon. Friend will understand that it is a matter for the Chairman of Ways and Means when such a Bill comes before the House. I know that the Committee's special report identifies a number of areas of further concern, but I believe that I am right in saying that at least some of them are outside the scope of the current Bill anyway, although it is generally accepted that they provide a useful framework for further discussion about the work of the City. There will be an opportunity to air those matters when the Bill is debated.

Dr. Lewis

May I endorse the remarks of my hon. Friends the Members for New Forest, West (Mr. Swayne) and for Buckingham (Mr. Bercow)? There are many on the Opposition Benches who appreciate the professional, competent and courteous way in which the right hon. Lady discharges her present duties. We are well aware of the way in which some members of the Labour party go about internal party business, and we sincerely hope that she does not suffer the fate of the right hon. Member for South Shields (Dr. Clark), who was subjected to a similar campaign.

On a lighter note, may we have a debate next week on the application of the Government's third way to the public services? Such a debate could obviously be opened by the Prime Minister and wound up by the Deputy Prime Minister—that is, if the Deputy Prime Minister has not wound up the Prime Minister too much already and if the Prime Minister is not too busy running scarred.

Mrs. Beckett

You will recall, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that there was a Member of the House who made almost a profession of making the most dreadful puns. I hope that that did not act as a precedent. I am most grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his kind remarks; I am becoming slightly suspicious that they are a special means of trying to persuade me to give time for debates.

The hon. Gentleman proposes a debate on the third way in the public services. I am of course aware of the many press reports about what are supposed to be differences between the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister, but all I can say to him is that I should like to use the precise words said by the Prime Minister's official spokesman about the quality of those stories. Although those words would be in keeping with the atmosphere in which we endeavour to conduct our exchanges, were I to use them I fear that I would be not only out of order, but thrown out of the Chamber for using unparliamentary language.

Mr. Nick St. Aubyn (Guildford)

A statutory instrument on ministerial pay is due to be considered in Committee next week. In view of the evident fact that so many of the right hon. Lady's colleagues are not up to their job, would not it be more appropriate for the amount that they are paid to be considered by the whole House?

On behalf of a constituent with a serious immigration problem, I have written three times in three months to the Home Office. In response to all those letters, I received two replies, both of which had the same reference number and the same date. Both were signed by the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. O'Brien). One said: There is no trace of the receipt of an application from Mrs K". The other said, on the same day: Mrs K's application has been passed to a caseworker … who will make every effort to consider it as quickly as possible. In view of the evident incompetence of some of the right hon. Lady's colleagues, may we please have a debate on the matter without delay?

Mrs. Beckett

First, I entirely reject the hon. Gentleman's suggestion that members of the Government are incompetent. One reason for our election was the visible incompetence of many of those who served in the previous Government.

My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary is here, and he is prepared to assist the hon. Gentleman if he can, but it may not have occurred to him that it is often the practice in Ministers' offices to date letters as they are sent out. I may be mistaken about that, but it is entirely possible that those letters were signed on different days and that the same date was put on them when they were put in envelopes.

Mr. Christopher Chope (Christchurch)

May I ask the right hon. Lady what has happened to the electronic commerce Bill? Will she arrange time for a debate about the folly of regional development agency boundaries? They are being used increasingly by all Departments, but are resulting in extraordinary anomalies. For example, the new learning and skills councils will be set up on a sub-regional basis, which will mean that travel-to-work and travel-to-study areas in my constituency will be divided by an artificial regional boundary between the south-east and the south-west which bears no relationship to life on the ground.

Mrs. Beckett

On the e-commerce Bill, as the hon. Gentleman and the House are aware, discussions have been continuing on the matter and I anticipate that something will come forward in due course.

On boundaries, I think that I am right in saying that those matters have not been finally settled. However, I suspect that the Government would share some of the concern that the hon. Gentleman has expressed if it were not possible to achieve as much alignment as possible between boundaries. If he has not already done so, I suggest that he should take that up as a matter of urgency with the relevant Secretary of State.