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Business of the House

3.30 pm

Mr. Frank Dobson (Holborn and St. Pancras) : Will the Leader of the House tell us the business for next week?

The Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. John Wakeham) : The business for next week will be as follows :

Monday 12 December and Tuesday 13 December----Second Reading of the Electricity Bill.

At Ten o'clock on Tuesday the House will be asked to agree the Civil and Defence Votes on Account and the Winter Supplementary Estimates

Afterwards, motion relating to the Social Fund Cold Weather Payments (General) Amendment Regulations

Wednesday 14 December----Until Seven o'clock debate on a Government motion on British Shipbuilders.

Second Reading of the Transport (Scotland) Bill.

Thursday 15 December----Second Reading of the Security Service Bill.

Committee and remaining stages of the Petroleum Royalties (Relief) and Continental Shelf Bill.

Friday 16 December----Private Members motions.

Monday 19 December----Until Seven o'clock, Private Members motions. Motion for the Christmas Adjournment.

Proceedings on the Consolidated Fund Bill.

Mr. Speaker, the House will wish to know it will be proposed that, subject to the progress of business, the House should rise for the Christmas Adjournment on Thursday 22 December until Tuesday 10 January.

Mr. Dobson : I thank the Leader of the House for his statement. I welcome the Government's decision to provide two days of debate on the Bill to sell off the electricity supply industry, particularly as that will permit debate on the impact of the Bill on Scotland, although there should have been a separate Scottish Bill. While welcoming the provision of time to debate the closure of the shipyards at Sunderland, may I ask the Leader of the House to reconsider the proposal to hold the shipbuilding debate before the commencement of the Second Reading debate on the Transport (Scotland) Bill, which is of sufficient importance to the people of Scotland to merit its starting and finishing at the normal times?

While on the subject of Scottish affairs, may I ask the Leader of the House to tell us what is happening about the Select Committee on Scottish Affairs? As my hon. Friend the Member for Monklands, West (Mr. Clarke) said, 27 Tory Members have shown themselves to be so interested in Scottish affairs that they have put down questions for oral answer at the next Scottish Question Time. Surely this display of interest in Scottish affairs should lead at least a few of them to be willing to do their duty and serve on the Scottish Affairs Select Committee, which the Standing Orders of the House required us to bring into operation more than a year ago.

Will the Leader of the House tell us when the House will have an opportunity to debate the report of the Fennell inquiry into the King's Cross Underground fire, which has wide significance for the safety of passengers everywhere and for the respective

responsibilities of managers,

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regulatory inspectorates and the Government? I understand that the matter is to be debated in Government time in the House of Lords, and if the Government can find time for it in the other place, they ought to find time for it here.

Finally, will the Leader of the House confirm that any controversial Government legislation should, by tradition, be introduced in this House and not in the House of Lords? If so, can he guarantee that the Bill to introduce compulsory football club membership schemes will come before this House first? Some measures have gone through the other place first on the ground that their Lordships have special and direct experience of the topic in question. Surely the Government are not suggesting that the other place has special and direct experience of the shed at Stamford Bridge or the Stretford end at Old Trafford. This is an important measure and it should come first to the House of Commons, particularly because, as with many other Government measures, it impinges on the civil liberties of everybody, not just of those immediately concerned.

Mr. Wakeham : The hon. Gentleman asked me five questions about next week's business, and I shall do my best to give him five answers. I am grateful for what he said about the Electricity Bill. It is for the convenience of the House that there should be a two-day debate, and I am pleased that I was able to arrange it. I am also glad that I was able to arrange a debate on British Shipbuilders, which, as I announced, is to be held next Wednesday. I regret that that means that the Transport (Scotland) Bill debate will start later than we had originally intended, but I think that, through the usual channels, we shall arrange for the debate to go on past its normal hour of 10 o'clock. I shall look at the matter again, but I do not undertake to make any other arrangements.

As I have already informed the House, it is my intention to have a debate on the Scottish Affairs Select Committee before Christmas, and it may be for the convenience of the House if I say that the debate is likely to take place on Tuesday 20 December.

The hon. Gentleman is correct to say that there is to be a debate next week in the other place on the King's Cross fire. It is an extremely important issue and I know of the hon. Gentleman's constituency concern. I cannot undertake to find Government time before the Christmas recess, but the question of a debate can be discussed through the usual channels. There are several occasions when this matter could be raised ; for example, in the debate on Monday 19 December.

It must be for the Government to determine into which House a Bill is introduced. I do not accept the hon. Gentleman's general constitutional judgment on these matters. The Bill to which he refers--the football Bill-- has not yet been published and I am glad that he is anxious for us to make progress on this matter. I noted what he said, and I am happy for the matter to be discussed through the usual channels.

Sir Bernard Braine (Castle Point) : My right hon. Friend will be aware that this week marks the 40th anniversary of the United Nations universal declaration of human rights. However, gross violations of human rights continue in many countries. In view of the implications for foreign

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policy, and of the rising concern on both sides of the House about this abomination, will my right hon. Friend arrange an early debate on human rights?

Mr. Wakeham : I recognise my right hon. Friend's concern--which probably goes back further than 40 years--for human rights wherever he finds them not being maintained. His record is second to none in the House. There will be opportunities to raise this question before the House rises for the Christmas recess. I am sorry to say that I do not believe that it will be possible to find Government time for a debate. As my right hon. Friend will know, my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs has written to all hon. Members on this very important matter.

Mr. James Wallace (Orkney and Shetland) : I endorse the comments of the Father of the House, and I am disappointed by the right hon. Gentleman's reply.

The training White Paper announced this week said that training and enterprise councils would have large sums of money to dispose of and should have a clear framework for their operations. Will that involve a statutory framework, and do the Government propose to introduce legislation to implement this proposal?

s the nature of the motion that the Leader of the House will ask the House to debate on 20 December about the Scottish Select Committee? Mr. Wakeham : On the hon. Gentleman's second point, I amnot at present able to announce the terms of the motion on the Scottish Select Committee. I recognise the hon. Gentleman's concern and I shall do my best to table the motion in good time for hon. Gentlemen to study it before the debate.

There are a number of substantial issues in the training White Paper. There will be opportunities to debate many of the issues, especially on the Second Reading of the Employment Bill. Nevertheless, it may be possible to find time in the new year for a debate on the White Paper itself, but I would prefer to discuss that through the usual channels.

Sir Hal Miller (Bromsgrove) : Will my right hon. Friend consider making arrangements for a Minister from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food to make a statement to the House before the recess? I notice from the Order of Questions that there will be no opportunity to question a Minister from that Ministry on the subject of the damage being done to the egg industry. I regret that the matter was treated with some levity in the House during questions on Monday. The egg industry is in a serious position because of the ill-considered--if considered at all-- remarks of a junior Health Minister. Could a Minister from the Ministry explain to us the position of the nation's flock of poultry and the food value of the eggs that they produce?

Mr. Wakeham : I thought that when my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Health answered questions on Monday he was correct. He gave serious answers to serious questions. My hon. Friend must try to keep this matter in perspective. I recognise the seriousness of the matter for the egg industry, but there is a serious health risk. There have been 46 reported outbreaks associated with eggs, and 9 billion eggs are consumed each

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year. The problem must be put in that perspective. I shall, of course, refer the matter to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.

Mr. Michael Foot (Blaenau Gwent) : I reinforce what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) about the shocking proposal--if it has ever been a proposal--to start the football identity cards Bill in another place. Will the right hon. Gentleman take into account the fact that there was a debate in the House on that matter and that almost every speech, from both sides of the House, was against the Bill? The Bill infringes the civil liberties of British people, and the idea of introducing it in another place is absurd. Doing that will only add to the difficulties of getting any such measure through. Will the right hon. Gentleman, here and now, give us the undertaking that it will not be introduced in another place?

Mr. Wakeham : I am grateful for the right hon. Gentleman's assistance and guidance on how I can get my legislation through the House. I do not think that I can add to what I have said. If we look back to when the right hon. Gentleman was in government, we see that important legislation was started in the House of Lords. It is not constitutionally acceptable to say that that is not a proper thing to do. I have undertaken to have discussions through the usual channels, which I believe is the best way to proceed.

Dr. Alan Glyn (Windsor and Maidenhead) : In view of recent events, will my right hon. Friend consider having a debate on international terrorism and on how best countries can combine to combat this terrible threat?

Mr. Wakeham : My hon. Friend raises an important matter. There was a debate on some of the issues this week, and there will be further stages of that legislation, when my hon. Friend will be able to raise points which he believes to be important. There will also be one or two other opportunities shortly when these matters could be raised. I wish that I could be more forthcoming.

Mr. Greville Janner (Leicester, West) : May I associate myself with the plea by the Father of the House for a debate on human rights? I know that the Jewish community in this country would wish to associate itself with the expressions of sympathy for the people who are suffering in the Soviet Union. I know, too, that other hon. Members would wish to raise the problems that remain for refusniks who are not allowed to leave and to plead with President Gorbachev that by the time he visits London--which we hope will be soon--there will be no further refusniks, and the Jewish people, along with all other minorities, will be able to practise their religions in freedom in the USSR.

Mr. Wakeham : I am grateful to the hon. and learned Gentleman for what he has said and I recognise the considerable part of his life that he has devoted to that particular issue. I am sorry that I cannot be more forthcoming about a debate on such matters, but I have no doubt that we shall find ways to raise them, quite properly, in the House.

Sir Michael McNair-Wilson (Newbury) : As the Anglo-Irish Agreement has been in existence for approximately three years and is currently under review, can my right hon. Friend say when he expects to find time

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for the House to make a contribution to that review? As we shall consider the possibility of a setting up a Scottish Select Committee before Christmas, has he given any further thought to creating a Select Committee for Northern Ireland?

Mr. Wakeham : I have no specific proposals to put before the House for a Select Committee for Northern Ireland, but discussions are going on about other Northern Ireland matters and I am always willing to listen to any views that come from any part of the House. The Anglo-Irish Agreement has much potential to benefit all law-abiding people in both parts of Ireland and in Great Britain. As I have told the House before, my right hon. Friend is anxious to hear any views that hon. Members and others wish to put forward, and we accept that the House as a whole should have the opportunity to express its views. The review will continue over several months, and the best time for a debate is a matter of judgment.

Mr. Andrew Welsh (Angus, East) : Although I welcome the fulfilment, at long last, of the Leader of the House's promise for a debate on the Scottish Select Committee, I find it utterly objectionable that such an important Scottish matter should be treated in such a last-minute fashion by being debated just before the Christmas recess. Will the right hon. Gentleman assure us that the motion that he tables will be a positive one and that it will refer to the clear breach of Standing Orders by the failure to provide a Select Committee for Scotland.

Mr. Wakeham : I give the undertaking that it will be a positive motion, and I believe that it will be a suitable basis for debate, but I cannot go into the terms of it at the moment.

Mr. Bill Walker (Tayside, North) : When my right hon. Friend considers the terms of the motion--I know that he will give serious consideration to it--on the Scottish Affairs Select Committee, will he bear in mind that more than eight out of 10 taxpayers living in the United Kingdom live in England and that those taxpayers have an interest in what happens in all of the United Kingdom, as do the Members representing their constituencies? Will he also bear in mind that the vast majority of tourists who visit Scotland come from England and that we Scots want the terms of the motion to make it clear that the United Kingdom is an integral and important part of this unitary Parliament?

Mr. Wakeham : My hon. Friend makes some extremely valid points. I hope that he will be able to catch your eye, Mr. Speaker, and have the opportunity to develop them in the debate that will take place. I cannot give any further indication of the exact terms of the motion, but I shall bear in mind what my hon. Friend and the hon. Member for Angus, East (Mr. Welsh) have said.

Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow) : May I make a valid point on behalf of all Back Benchers of all parties? Can it possibly be true that Back-Bench rights have been eroded to the extent that the Consolidated Fund Bill debate now starts at 10 o'clock? There used to be a time when the Consolidated Fund debate was sancrosanct, other than when there were the most urgent statements, which Mr. Speaker approved, and it started at 3.30 pm. Our rights were then eroded by the Adjournment debate and now we

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have private Members' business and the Adjournment debate followed by the Consolidated Fund debate starting at 10 o'clock. Are Back-Bench rights to be upheld, or not?

Mr. Wakeham : Compared with some of the questions that the hon. Gentleman has asked me, that is a fair one and I shall do my best to give him an answer. It is not unprecedented for the Consolidated Fund debate to start at 10 pm. The business that I have announced has been arranged for the general convenience of the House. I am sure the hon. Gentleman appreciates that it is not always possible to satisfy the demands of each and every Member. I recognise that the present arrangement is not totally convenient.

Mr. Michael Latham (Rutland and Melton) : May I raise with my right hon. Friend a matter that I have raised on several occasions over the past two years and on which nothing discernible has been done? It is disgraceful that many of our constituents have to queue in the rain or in cold weather to get into the House. This happens day after day. It is their Parliament and they want to visit it. Will my right hon. Friend please read early-day motion 133, which is supported by hon. Members of both sides of the House?

[That this House is ashamed of the conditions in which parties of constituents visiting Parliament are required to wait ; notes that they often have to wait for lengthy periods unprotected from rain or cold at the Norman Porch ; recognises that a combination of lack of space at the Norman Porch and of the existence of only one security screening machine means that there is nothing that the staff on duty can do to alleviate these deplorable conditions and demands that an alternative system be introduced ; recommends that consideration be given to entry by the foot-gate to Westminster Hall at the car park end where there is space for our constituents to wait in the dry and where there is room for a better screening system ; and points out that many of these parties are of elderly people or school children who have to remain in wet clothes for the rest of the day.] Let us have no more procrastinating on this matter. If the other place will not do anything about it, let us start the line of route in Westminster Hall.

Mr. Wakeham : I am sorry that my hon. Friend is disappointed. I recognise that there has not been much progress to meet his point. Discussions are taking place between both Houses with the aim of arriving at mutually acceptable arrangements to improve admission to the line of route. I am sure that the possibility of reversing the route will be considered. I am aware that that is referred to in an early-day motion.

Mr. Martin Redmond (Don Valley) : Will the Leader of the House give an assurance that the football identity card that is being talked about will be discussed only in this Chamber as a provision in a hybrid Bill?

Mr. Wakeham : I cannot give any such undertaking to the hon. Gentleman. The rules of order are not primarily matters for me. I am sure that the Government will proceed in due order.

Mr. Harry Greenway (Ealing, North) : I ask my right hon. Friend for an early debate on local government finance. I wish to raise in the House the difficulties of several hundred of my constituents who have been summonsed by Ealing council to pay their rates, although

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they have been paid already. They include old people, disabled people and many extremely poor people. The fact that they are required to pay a £22 summons fee for rates that they have paid already is causing the greatest fury. There should be an early debate in the House in view of this injustice.

Mr. Wakeham : My hon. Friend will have noted that next Monday there will be two opportunities which, with his usual ingenuity, he could use to raise the matter that he has drawn to the attention of the House.

Mrs. Maria Fyfe (Glasgow, Maryhill) : Opposition Members cannot understand the difficulties of the Leader of the House in establishing a Select Committee on Scottish Affairs. Surely the past 18 months have provided sufficient time to frame an appropriate motion. When the right hon. Gentleman starts to find Conservative Members to serve on the Committee, will he take into account the nature of the questions that were tabled for this month's Scottish questions? It gave great offence to the people of Scotland that none of the questions tabled by Conservative Members related to the fiasco of the conditional benefit system, to low pay for the young, to the regrading of nurses, which was a disgrace to the Government in the eyes of those in Scotland, to mounting debt, whether in respect of mortgages or rents, and to all the other issues that are of genuine concern to the people of Scotland. Most of the questions by Conservative Members were about how they and their pals could get their snouts into the trough at the expense of the people of Scotland. Will the right hon. Gentleman take these factors into account when choosing Conservative Members to serve on the Committee?

Mr. Wakeham : The setting up of a Select Committee on Scottish Affairs is more complicated than the hon. Lady would have us believe. The Labour party was unable--I understand why--to accept the proposals that I put to it. If it had accepted them, the Committee would have been set up a long time ago. I cannot accept what the hon. Lady said about Scottish questions. It is in order for Members on both sides of the House to ask questions of any Minister. Some questions, such as those on the Forestry Commission, can be answered only by Scottish Ministers.

Mr. Hugo Summerson (Walthamstow) : Bearing in mind that London's streets are becoming more and more choked by traffic, we urgently need a clear policy statement by the Government on ways of dealing with the problem. Such a policy will have to prevent private cars from coming into London and provide for a huge increase in efficiency in public transport. Will my right hon. Friend find time for a debate on this matter as soon as possible before the streets of the capital become clogged completely and nothing can move?

Mr. Wakeham : I am sure that my hon. Friend could raise that matter during the Consolidated Fund debate or during the debate on the Adjournment motion on 19 December. I recognise the importance of the matter that he has raised, and I shall refer it to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport.

Several Hon. Members rose --

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Mr. Speaker : Order. I am always reluctant to curtail business questions. I shall call those hon. Members who have been seeking to intervene.

Mr. Dick Douglas (Dunfermline, West) : Will the Leader of the House give us an idea of his thinking on the motion that he is to table on Tuesday 20 December? It is extraordinary that, having gone through this great episode, we have not so far seen the terms of the motion. Will it be a positive motion, along the lines that the Leader of the House wants to set up a Select Committee? Will it be possible to amend it? Will he give us some straight talking rather than the obfuscations that we have embarked upon so far?

Mr. Wakeham : It will be a positive motion and it will be possible for it to be amended, as I understand it.

Mr. Ron Brown (Edinburgh, Leith) : As the Lord Advocate has made it clear that he will not say whether the poll tax, or community charge, is legal, in other words whether it contravenes the 1707 Treaty of Union, may we have a debate to discuss the issue, bearing in mind that that individual is not responsible to the House, and also that back home in Scotland working-class people, Socialists, trade unionists and others are fighting back against the Government and against a regressive tax which they do not accept?

Mr. Wakeham : I do not accept much of what the hon. Gentleman has said. His premise is not accepted for one minute. However, I shall refer the matter to my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland. If the hon. Gentleman's question needs an answer, he will get one.

Mr. Paul Boateng (Brent, South) : Now that the English rate support legislation has passed through the House at a cost of some £8.8 million to the hard-pressed ratepayers of Brent, will the Leader of the House ask his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment to make a statement in the House on the unique service of a section 114 notice by the director of finance of the London borough of Brent? Will he ask his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State to make a statement about Brent's financial crisis and whether he will meet the Members of Parliament of all parties who represent Brent, and also Brent's leadership, to resolve the crisis and return to the people of Brent some of the £52 million that the Government have taken from Brent since 1979?

Mr. Wakeham : I do not accept anything that the hon. Gentleman has said in his question. However, I understand why he asked it in that way. I shall refer the matter to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment. It is likely that he may wish to make a statement on the rate support settlement, but not necessarily on the point that the hon. Gentleman raised.

Mr. Richard Caborn (Sheffield, Central) : Will the Leader of the House ask the Prime Minister to make a statement next week on the Coventry Four? As the right hon. Gentleman will know, many Opposition Members were very concerned in 1984 and 1985 when that case went through the courts. Reports in yesterday's Guardian, and an article in today's Guardian headed

"Fresh facts support PM's critic",

contain serious allegations that the Government are breaking the United Nations arms embargo on South

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Africa. The allegations also state that daily reports were given to No. 10 by Her Majesty's Customs and Excise and that for diplomatic reasons the South Africans were aided and abetted to leave Britain. I am sure that the Prime Minister, because of her recent speeches about terrorism, should come to the House to clear her name by saying that the allegations are wrong.

Mr. Wakeham : I do not accept for a minute that there is any necessity for the Government to say anything more. I shall refer the hon. Gentleman's point to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister.

Mr. Robert N. Wareing (Liverpool, West Derby) : When the Leader of the House consults through the usual channels on the football identity card legislation, will he bear in mind that at a meeting of the all-party committee on football yesterday the crackpot idea of identity cards caused controversy between Labour Members and Conservative Members and was highly controversial among Conservative Members as well? Will he also bear in mind that that committee, which meets regularly and discusses the problem, is overwhelmingly composed of Members of this House? It would seem, therefore, that before the Bill is introduced in the other place, their Lordships should be suitably advised by those of us from this place who know what we are talking about on this issue.

Mr. Wakeham : I do not accept the constitutional point that is implied in the hon. Gentleman's question. Nor do I accept that just because a Bill is controversial the Government have got it wrong. The Government have introduced many highly controversial Bills, which have become Acts of Parliament which have brought great benefits to the country, but which have not necessarily been introduced in the House of Commons.

Mr. Frank Haynes (Ashfield) : The Leader of the House will be aware that tomorrow we are to have a debate on the multi-fibre arrangement. Can we really have such a debate when, for the Government, it will be no more than a talking shop? We want a debate and some action, because 1,200 jobs in Mansfield and Ashfield have been lost over a few weeks. We want to know what the Government will do about the hosiery and knitwear industry, which, since 1979, they have halved. We want hosiery and knitwear jobs in our constituencies. We want to save the industry. Let us have a debate during which the Government will make some promises to save the industry.

Mr. Wakeham : We are to have a debate tomorrow in which I hope the hon. Gentleman will take part, and, if possible, I shall listen to what he has to say. However, I can guarantee that a Minister will set out the Government's position, and that he will listen to and answer hon. Members' points.

Mr. Tony Lloyd (Stretford) : Will the Leader of the House return to the question of Mr. Haseldine, the Foreign Office official? May we have a statement from a Foreign Office Minister making clear whether proceedings under the Official Secrets Act are seriously contemplated against that individual? Will he at least pass on the message that such proceedings would be met with a sense of outrage by many Opposition Members?

Mr. Wakeham : I find that remark somewhat curious. Mr. Haseldine has been suspended on full pay from his

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duties and the Foreign Office is investigating the matter. If a disciplinary offence has been committed, the available disciplinary penalties range from admonition to dismissal, and it would not be proper for me to comment further at this stage.

Mr. Jimmy Hood (Clydesdale) : Will the Leader of the House ask his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment to give the House a report next week on the ballot rigging in the Nottinghamshire coalfield, where a branch secretary, Mr. Stephen Knowles, was found to be interfering in the ballot on the wages issue and has since been relieved of his job as the branch secretary?

Mr. Wakeham : I doubt whether my right hon. Friend will make a statement on that, because it is not a matter directly for him. Nevertheless, I shall refer it to my right hon. Friend.

Mr. Alan Meale (Mansfield) : Bearing in mind the needs of the elderly and the fact that thousands of pensioners die every month at this time of the year, will the Leader of the House find time for a debate before the recess on that subject so that we can try to find some solutions before more pensioners die?

Mr. Wakeham : On the face of it, I should have thought that the debate that I announced for Tuesday would be appropriate for the hon. Gentleman to make the points that he wishes.

Mr. Harry Ewing (Falkirk, East) : May I try to use my persuasive powers on the Leader of the House to encourage him to find time for a debate on an important subject--the offer made by Mr. Gorbachev on the reduction in troops and tanks? Can the House be given an opportunity soon to debate what the United Kingdom's response should be as part of the Western Alliance's response to the offer made by President Gorbachev? This is an historic and important matter and the House should be given an opportunity to express its view.

Mr. Wakeham : I recognise that this is an important matter. I cannot promise a debate in the immediate future, but the House will want to debate that and I shall bear the hon. Gentleman's point in mind.

Mr. Tony Banks (Newham, North-West) : While I would not describe the Leader of the House as the Vinny Jones of the Dispatch Box, he has gone right over the ball on the football identity card scheme. Surely the point is whether the legislation is controversial, not whether it is important, and this is controversial legislation. If the Leader of the House is not prepared to have the Government change their mind about introducing that legislation in this place, may we at least have a debate so that their Lordships will know how the House feels about the proposals?

Mr. Wakeham : When the hon. Gentleman wears that smart tie, he seems to be more aggressive than usual. I think that he calls himself an agency Whip these days. Surely I cannot be more friendly than to say that I shall have discussions through the usual channels. The hon. Gentleman is getting over-excited.

Mr. Max Madden (Bradford, West) : Will the Leader of the House arrange for the Secretary of State for Education and Science to make a statement revealing who will pay the running costs of any city technology college built in

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Bradford? Is the Leader of the House aware that yesterday the chairman of Dixons told me that he had no intention of paying the running costs, which will be more than £1 million a year? If it is to be taxpayers' money, it will mean £1 million a year less for renovation and repairs urgently needed by existing schools. If Bradford ratepayers are to be left to pick up the bill, it is monstrous that they should not be given an opportunity to say whether they want a college. Will the Leader of the House sort out that mess before next Tuesday's meeting of Bradford council, at which the matter is to be debated?

Mr. Wakeham : No, I cannot promise to do that. The hon. Gentleman, one of the Bradford Members, is also one of the bad losers in the House. I shall refer his serious point to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science, and if there is a need for a statement he will certainly make one.

Mr. Jeff Rooker (Birmingham, Perry Barr) : Will the Leader of the House ask the Secretary of State for Social Security to come to the House next week to make a statement on the Department's refusal to co-operate with Birmingham city council and the fire brigade following the disclosure a couple of weeks ago that two dozen men were living in what was alleged to be a hostel but was in fact a wooden and corrugated iron shed, the landlord of which was being paid £55 a week per person by the Department? The fire brigade has since closed down and condemned that hostel.

The investigators asked the Department, which was paying out more than £1,000 for the premises, for which other premises it was paying out such sums of money so that they could investigate their safety. They did not ask the claimants' names, only for addresses, but the Department refused to give that information. That hostel was located in Hay Mills in Birmingham and it is alleged that the social security office recommended the claimants to take a bed in a hut in a garden.

Mr. Wakeham : I am not in a position to confirm what the hon. Gentleman has said, but if the matter is as he puts it, it does not sound satisfactory. I shall refer the matter to my right hon. Friend. We shall then decide how best to proceed, and I shall be in touch with the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. D. N. Campbell-Savours (Workington) : Is the Leader of the House aware that, despite a procedural block, I have managed to table a series of questions relating to the Coventry Four? Will he assure me that Ministers will answer those questions in detail, if only because public opinion will want to know what happened, and the more the Government choose to equivocate in their answers, the more suspicion they will leave in the minds of the British people?

Mr. Wakeham : The hon. Gentleman puts his point of view, but my right hon. Friends will answer the questions in the way that is appropriate and right. I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his advice.

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