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Mr. Hardy : Will the rather expensive and perhaps hard-boiled Under- Secretary restrict her more extravagant comments to cold days since the heat of the anger that she usually arouses may produce more gigajoules than a woolly hat?
Mrs. Currie : The hon. Gentleman is being niggardly in his approach to the "Keep Warm, Keep Well" campaign, which is proving to be popular. We printed 750,000 leaflets on the subject and already demand has been sufficient for us to order a reprint. I am pleased with the way the campaign is going.
Mr. Bill Walker : Is my hon. Friend aware that in Scotland where we frequently have low temperatures, grandmother's remedies are often the best? Among the remedies that grandmothers in Scotland regularly suggest is that one should wear wool mittens, wool socks and wool hats. In cold weather that helps to keep the elderly warm.
Mrs. Currie : I am glad to receive that further advice. My right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland also has a campaign in Scotland for keeping warm in winter, and that is going very well.
Mrs. Margaret Ewing : Given that any attempts made by pensioners to assist themselves to guard against the cold must, of necessity, be cash- limited, is the Minister at least prepared to discuss the possibility of implementing a continuous cold climate allowance for the winter months?
Mrs. Currie : That question should be referred in some detail to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Security. There is no doubt that elderly people and others can keep their homes warmer if they have them
Column 763insulated. One organisation supporting the campaign is Neighbourhood Energy Action, which has already insulated over 500,000 homes and would like to do more.
Mr. Ian Bruce : Does my hon. Friend agree that she should add to the advice she gave about keeping warm in one's own home? The one thing from which pensioners have suffered most grievously--some of them are still suffering--is the inflation that ruined their savings back in Socialist days, and the best advice she could give is for them to ensure that we keep a Conservative Government.
Mrs. Currie : Yes, that is good advice. There is no doubt that whoever we are talking about, they would be well advised to ensure that they do not get cold in winter, especially when they go out. Chills can promote heart disease and may bring on strokes, and that is what causes most of the excess winter mortality.
Mr. Kenneth Clarke : We have received over 250 representations from hon. Members, organisations and members of the public about Sir Roy's recommendations. We are studying all of them carefully, as we frame our own proposals.
Mr. Patchett : Does the Secretary of State agree that the weight of opinion is with Sir Roy Griffiths in maintaining that the local authorities are best placed to assess local needs, set priorities and monitor performance? Will he make a categorical statement to that effect?
Mr. Clarke : I have just told the House that we are still considering our own proposals. We have had a variety of responses from all the representations I have described. Everyone agrees that there is a serious problem. We have to look at how best to provide care in the community and how best to arrange responsibility for it. We have to look at all the various models put before us before we can come to a definite conclusion.
Sir George Young : My right hon. and learned Friend will know how anxiously his decision on the Griffiths' report is awaited, not just by statutory bodies but by voluntary organisations. Can he tell the House when he hopes to reach a decision?
Mr. Clarke : I realise that it is essential that we reach conclusions as soon as we can. It is an important matter, and I believe that few people think that the status quo is highly satisfactory. It will be some time next year--I hope, early next year--before we can reach any final conclusions, because the reactions we have received are so varied and there are a number of options before us.
Mr. Tom Clarke : The Government have dilly-dallied over the Griffiths report, which was published the day after the Budget. Is not the Secretary of State worried that the growth of uncontrolled expenditure by the taxpayer on private residential homes that Sir Roy identified has now reached the £1 billion mark? Is it fair that the chaos in community care that so worried Sir Roy should continue,
Column 764particularly in view of the Government's clear opposition to a democratic role for local government, which Sir Roy himself accepted?
Mr. Clarke : There has been a huge increase in public expenditure of all kinds on care in the community, most of which reflects the increased priority that the Government have been giving it. I accept that we must look at the situation again, to ensure that there are clear responsibilities for delivering the care and that the right relationship exists between all the various agencies involved. We shall announce our conclusions as quickly as we can.
The Prime Minister : This morning I visited St. George's hospital in Tooting to visit some of those injured in yesterday's train crash, and to thank the hospital staff and the emergency services. In addition to my duties in the House, I shall be having meetings with ministerial colleagues and others later today. This evening I hope to have an audience of Her Majesty the Queen.
Dame Jill Knight : Will my right hon. Friend take this opportunity, in the aftermath of yesterday's appalling rail crash, to record the thanks of the whole House, first, to the emergency services and secondly, to the master and boys of Emanuel school who happened to be passing when the accident occurred?
As it is now emerging that rail passengers who have to stand appear to be most at risk, will my right hon. Friend ensure that that aspect is thoroughly considered in the Government inquiry?
The Prime Minister : Yes, I gladly respond to my hon. Friend's remarks, and the whole House will wish to record its congratulations and thanks to the emergency services and to the hospital staff for the excellent work that they did yesterday. I thank also those of Emanuel school who saw quickly what was happening, and who were thoughtful and swift in their reactions. They are a credit to the young people of our country.
I take note of my hon. Friend's third point concerning standing passengers. It is our purpose that all matters relating to the accident shall be considered in the public inquiry.
Mr. Kinnock : I join the Prime Minister in expressing my deep sorrow for the pain and grief suffered by those hurt in yesterday's accident, my sympathy for their loved ones, and my admiration for and thanks to those in various capacities who helped the injured. I am sure that the whole House will want to return to that question, which is one of deep public concern.
I wish to raise with the Prime Minister another matter of public concern. It is now clear that by her performance in the House and in Rhodes, the right hon. Lady threw away the possibility of securing the extradition of Patrick Ryan-- [Interruption.]
Column 765under the Criminal Law (Jurisdiction) Act 1976, especially since the Irish Attorney-General commented in his statement today that the charges are of a most serious kind and should be investigated by a court?
The Prime Minister : The Government utterly repudiate the assertion that Patrick Ryan would not receive a fair trial in this country. The effect of the Irish decision is that a person accused of very serious crimes will not now be brought to answer them in an English court of law. That underlines how right we were to say that the existing extradition arrangements are inadequate, and we look to the Irish Government to honour their pledge to re-examine them.
As to the possible trial of Patrick Ryan in the Republic of Ireland, we do not absolutely exclude that, but only two of the four charges are covered by the Criminal Law (Jurisdiction) Act. There would be problems over the security of witnesses, whom we could not compel to go to the Republic. If the case failed because of the absence of witnesses, we could not subsequently try Patrick Ryan in our own jurisdiction.
Mr. Kinnock : The Prime Minister can repudiate as much as she likes. She is faced with the fact that Patrick Ryan will not be extradited to Britain and it is primarily her fault. I understand that the Prime Minister is very disappointed ; that feeling is shared by many others, including myself. But she is also culpable. She blew the possibility of extraditing Patrick Ryan. May I ask whether she will ensure that both she and the Attorney-General will avoid making again the errors so far committed-- errors of judgment, fact and conduct?
The Prime Minister : Let me answer the right hon. Gentleman by pointing to the facts. The Irish Extradition (Amendment) Act 1987 itself requires the Irish Attorney-General to state that he is satisfied that the United Kingdom prosecuting authorities have sufficient evidence on which to prosecute. I understand that the Irish Attorney-General agrees that that is so. He made his decision on an entirely different ground.
In Ryan's case the extradition proceedings in Belgium were in public, and wide publicity had been given to the nature of the charges and the allegations on which they were based before extradition from Ireland was ever requested.
May I make a third point-- [Interruption.] Yes, because these points must be made. The extradition proceedings were held in public, with the allegations. Moreover, as the right hon. Gentleman is aware, the Irish Attorney-General could have backed the warrant within three days, which is the time for which his provisional warrant runs. He could have done that long before the question ever arose in the House.
Mr. Kinnock : All that the Prime Minister has said about Belgium and the conduct of affairs there was well known a fortnight ago. Why, then, was she so poisonous about the conduct of affairs by the Irish Government?
If the Prime Minister is quoting from the Irish Attorney-General why does she not draw attention to the fact that he also said that the matter does not end at extradition? He said :
"The charges which have been brought against Patrick Ryan are of a most serious kind, and they should be
Column 766investigated by a court. The Criminal Law (Jurisdiction) Act 1976 provides a means whereby certain serious offences committed outside this jurisdiction may be tried here."
that is, in Ireland.
"Such a trial may take place before a court of three judges Heavy penalties are prescribed by Irish law for those offences." Is it not still the case that because she cannot-- [Interruption.]
The Prime Minister : The fact is that the Irish Attorney has refused to back our warrant on grounds that do not arise from the 1987 Act. The result is that someone accused of very serious crimes will be at liberty in the Irish Republic. I notice that the right hon. Gentleman does not put his weight behind trying to secure the extradition of Ryan.
The Prime Minister : I am very pleased that some 60 per cent. of Post Office counter staff continued to work. That is very good news. However, I agree with my hon. Friend that if we continue to experience sporadic troubles the permanent monopoly of the Post Office will come under review, and, we shall have to consider a reduction in the present level of £1.
Dr. Owen : It is obviously a quite unacceptable insult to the people of this country to say that Patrick Ryan would not receive a fair trial in Britain. That belief should be conveyed to the Irish Government as coming from everyone-- [Interruption.]
The Prime Minister : I am very pleased that the right hon. Gentleman agrees with us in repudiating utterly the assertion that Patrick Ryan would not receive a fair trial in this country. Of course he would, but the arrest of anyone on charges of that nature inevitably will receive front- page treatment. It would be a matter for the courts if there were any prejudice to the trial which inevitably would be heard very far from the time that we had the problem. We must use the Anglo-Irish Agreement to make our point vigorously to the Irish Government on this matter. At the time, the Irish Government promised to review their 1987 extradition Act if it was not working satisfactorily. It is not working satisfactorily, so we shall call in that promise for them to honour.
Mr. Gow : Have we not conferred upon the Government of the Irish Republic, by treaty, a place of special privilege in relation to Northern Ireland? Since Northern Ireland has suffered more grievously than any other part of the United Kingdom at the hands of terrorists, is it not a signal irony that the Irish Government are presently the harbourer of a suspected terrorist?
The Prime Minister : My hon. Friend makes his point very cogently. Under the Anglo-Irish Agreement we can tackle the Republic of Ireland about matters of security just as much as they can tackle us. The difficulty is that the Republic of Ireland unilaterally passed a different extradition Act, when we already thought that arrangements had been agreed between us. That Act is not working properly, and the decision taken under that Act, not for any reasons within it, has caused the present trouble.
Mr. Mallon : Does the Prime Minister remember her elegant words in 1964 at the Conservative party conference when she said : "Any country or Government which wants to proceed towards tyranny starts to undermine legal rights and undermines its own law."? Does she agree that if the Irish Government tried to bypass their extradition laws, which exist to protect the rights of their nationals, they would be undermining their own law? When do her Government intend to sign the European convention on the suppression of terrorism?
The Prime Minister : The Act to which the hon. Gentleman refers gives two grounds for refusing extradition. Those are not the grounds which the Irish Attorney-General has used. He has used nothing related to those grounds. He has chosen something totally different, which is a great insult to all British people. We must make that very clear, and I hope that the hon. Gentleman will look at the Act and agree with us.
Mr. Marland : Is my right hon. Friend aware how widespread devastation in the egg industry has become? The Sunday papers tell us that 10,000 people will become redundant before Christmas and millions of egg- laying hens will be slaughtered prematurely. All this has occurred because of the ill-considered and negligent remarks of one of her junior Ministers. Does my right hon. Friend agree that one more redundancy should be added to that list, that of the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health, the hon. Member for Derbyshire, South (Mrs. Currie)?
The Prime Minister : So far this year 49 cases of salmonella affecting just over 1,000 people have been traced to eggs. That is why the Government have taken steps in conjunction with the industry to issue codes of practice. Those figures demonstrate that there is a problem.
The Chief Medical Officer has issued guidance, most recently on 5 December, stating that the risk to normally healthy people from eating cooked eggs was very small, although they should avoid eating food with raw egg in it. For vulnerable groups, such as babies, the elderly and pregnant women, eggs should be cooked until the white and yolk are hard. [Interruption.] It is our duty to give advice. That is what the Chief Medical Officer has said and it is my duty to repeat it. We shall continue to reassure-- [Interruption.]
Dr. Reid : The Prime Minister started her Question Time by congratulating hospital staff. Is she aware that many nursing staff in Lanarkshire and throughout the country have been denied fair grading because they have been deemed to be working under supervision, even when the supposed supervisor is off duty, asleep and at home? Does the right hon. Lady agree that there can be no adequate supervision when people are miles apart and completely out of touch with each other? Does not her relationship with the Chancellor of the Exchequer prove that very point?
The Prime Minister : The grading structure was agreed between the management side and the nursing staff and went before the review body. The review body added an amount necessary to implement that structure. That was not sufficient, so my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Health and my right hon. Friend the Chancellor provided an extra amount. Together, the sums came to nearly £1 billion. The structure and the money have to be applied through the regions and the districts. There is no way in which Government can undertake the regrading of 500,000 nurses. The overwhelming majority of nurses are more than satisfied with the extra that they have received, which is considerable--an average of 18 per cent., and the highest amount that they have ever had.
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