Mr. Peter Walker : The conclusions of my review of the National Health Service in Wales are included in the White Paper "Working for Patients", Cm. 555. I am confident that by increasing the responsibility and accountability of those working in the service, by increasing patient choice, and by ensuring appropriate rewards for those who deliver results, my proposals will lead to even better patient care for the people of Wales.
Mr. Livsey : Does the Secretary of State agree that there is great concern in rural Wales that the opt-out proposals in the review are totally unsuitable to that area and that the general practitioner services mentioned in the review are not properly structured to deliver the sort of services that should be provided in mid-Wales? Will the nurses' pay review in Wales be fully funded by the Government?
Mr. Walker : I can understand the hon. Gentleman expressing his concern about the opting-out of hospitals in rural Wales, having looked at some of the press comments on the proposals. When the hon. Gentleman sees the working papers he will discover that no hospital will be able to ask for trust status unless it agrees to carry out the whole range of services that must be undertaken in that area. Thereafter, it will be the responsibility of the Welsh Office to monitor those hospitals to ensure that they carry out all those services. I promise the hon. Gentleman that no trust hospitals will be created without those hospitals
Column 703first agreeing to the totality of their obligations and without their being monitored thereafter to see that they fulfil those obligations.
I agree with the hon. Gentleman that GP practices throughout Wales differ from one locality to another and that the considerations for the rural areas are wholly different.
Announcements will be made about the nurses' pay award, but I assure the hon. Gentleman that public and Government expenditure will be considerably increased throughout the Principality as a result of that award.
Mr. Raffan : As the review referred to a much higher incidence of heart disease, strokes and most forms of cancer in Wales compared to the rest of the United Kingdom, will my right hon. Friend assure the House that the Health Promotion Authority for Wales will have a much higher profile than it has had and a budget to match? Will my right hon. Friend confirm that the authority's detailed proposals will be published before the summer, and will those proposals include advertising campaigns on tobacco and alcohol abuse, which account for more than 100,000 deaths a year in the United Kingdom?
Mr. Walker : I share my hon. Friend's concern and that is why in the Welsh section of the White Paper I strongly stressed the importance of health promotion and the preventive side of health in Wales, which have an enormous contribution to make. At the moment I am examining a large number of detailed proposals that have been put to me. We have a meeting within the next couple of weeks to discuss those proposals and I assure my hon. Friend that we will publish the details as quickly as possible.
Mr. Michael : In the light of the White Paper, what importance should the public in Wales now place on the 10-year plans being prepared by health authorities and considered by his Department? Will the right hon. Gentleman exempt Wales from the opting-out schemes, which could make those plans meaningless?
Mr. Walker : No. The hon. Gentleman must give more careful thought to the detail of what he describes as the "opting-out schemes". Those schemes do not represent opting out, as hospitals will remain within the National Health Service. By opting out one decides to delegate some of the managerial decisions to a lower level. If that can be done with improved efficiency with the whole range of services continuing to be carried out, there is no reason why the Secretary of State for Wales should not give approval to such a scheme. Thereafter, however, the Secretary of State and the Welsh Office will have the duty to monitor such a scheme. Such schemes should be judged on their merits and improved efficiency and they should mean that, in total, the hospitals still carry out all the functions required in the district.
12. Mr. Wigley : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what is the latest percentage unemployed for (a) Wales and (b) each of the five employment areas with the highest level of unemployment in Wales at that date.
Column 704highest unemployment on 12 January 1989 were Pwllheli, 19.1 per cent.; Cardigan, 18.9 per cent.; south Pembrokeshire, 18.8 per cent.; Aberdare, 18.4 per cent.; and Holyhead, 18.3 per cent. I am pleased to say that unemployment in all these areas has fallen dramatically in the last 12 months--by 21 per cent. in Pwllheli ; by 22 per cent. in Cardigan ; by 25 per cent. in south Pembrokeshire ; by 13 per cent. in Aberdare and by 16 per cent. in Holyhead.
Mr. Wigley : Do not these figures of between 18 and 20 per cent. in unemployment black spots, when compared to the levels of 2 and 3 per cent. in Hertfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire, give the lie to the public relations exercise that the Secretary of State is undertaking which says that the economy of Wales is coming right? Will he now reconsider his advice that local initiative will solve all these problems, given that he has undermined local initiative in the example quoted earlier about people who have been willing to put up £1.7 million of locally raised money for a project which was undermined by the Welsh Office?
Mr. Walker : I think that he should explain that virtually all the money for that project was to be public expenditure. The local authority and central Government were asked to provide it all. I mentioned the reduction in unemployment that has taken place in Holyhead, and, while the decrease has not been as good there as in some other areas, the announcements that I made this morning gave a priority to Holyhead. I suggest that the hon. Gentleman goes to Holyhead and explains that in his view the priority should have been given to the television studios and not to Holyhead.
Mr. Michael Alison (Second Church Estates Commissioner, representing the Church Commissioners) : During 1989 the Church Commissioners will be producing a range of publications including their report and accounts for 1988, the 17th report of the central stipends authority, a series of leaflets describing the work of the Church Commissioners, and a brochure on commended entries for the parsonage design award competition.
Mr. Marshall : Does my right hon. Friend agree that the country yearns for a moral lead? Would the Church Commissioners consider using their publication budget to meet that moral need, especially as certain Church leaders are failing to give it?
Column 705question of a moral lead by the bishops and others, the overriding Christian message is not so much moral exhortation as justification by faith from moral failure. There can never be a surfeit of the propagation of that fundamental message of grace. My hon. Friend's message to the bishops will certainly be noted.
Mr. Frank Field : Following the suggestion of the hon. Member for Hendon, South (Mr. Marshall), does the right hon. Gentleman agree that last week's meeting of the ecclesiastical committee and the legislative committee might point to a useful moral lead to be given by the commissioners? We heard that some bishops had sent on training courses in preparation for ordination people who could not be ordained because they had been divorced and were remarried. Would not a moral lead to be to make sure that those people are paid while we come to a conclusion with the legislative committee about whether that piece of legislation was expedient?
Mr. Alison : The hon. Gentleman makes a fair and pertinent point. A more definitive response to him must await the time which will probably arrive when the clergy ordination Measure is taken on the Floor of the House. Then we shall all have an opportunity to raise such issues at length.
Mr. Gow : While recognising the undoubted right of all members of the General Synod to deeply held views for or against the policies of the present Government, would it be helpful if my right hon. Friend were to point out to the General Synod that its reputation would be enhanced if its members, when in Synod, devoted more time to matters spiritual than to matter political?
Mr. Alison : I certainly note what my hon. Friend says. He will know that there is a temptation in that lesser assembly to emulate the topics and methods of procedure of the greater assembly of which he and I are members. He will also know that the General Synod is a creature of Parliament and that it is fully in his hands, as a private Member, to introduce a Bill to abolish the General Synod of the Church of England if he so wishes.
Mr. Winnick : When the right hon. Gentleman attends the Synod, or well before then, will he take the opportunity to congratulate the Archbishop of Canterbury on his excellent statement today, which, while expressing concern--which I share--for any offence caused to the followers of the Islam religion, strongly protests against the sentence of death passed by religious leaders in Iran? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that that action is totally unacceptable to British people, including Moslems, who disapprove strongly of what has been said?
Mr. Alison : I take note and respond positively and warmly to what the hon. Gentleman has said, particularly about the Archbishop of Canterbury's statement. There could hardly be a more fundamental demonstration of the
Column 706difference between the Christian religion and Islam than the response of the Christian deity to those appalling and unthinkable attacks, which is the foundation of forgiveness in the Christian religion.
Mr. A. J. Beith (On behalf of the House of Commons Commission) : The Computer Officer, who has responsibility to both Houses for computer developments planned for Parliament as a whole, has a staff of two assistant computer officers, one of whom is on secondment to the House, and one full-time and one part-time secretary. In addition, there are 140 computer terminals throughout the Departments of the House which are available to a wide range of staff users.
Mr. Allen : Will the hon. Gentleman consider using some of the time of those operators for the installation of a fax machine which could be used collectively by right hon. and hon. Members rather than duplicating many times a facility that could be provided and serviced by one additional member of staff, or even by current members of staff?
Mr. Beith : That proposal has been considered by the Services Committee. The Accommodation and Administration Sub-Committee gave detailed consideration to the possibility of providing further centralised facilities in addition to those provided by the Post Office in the Central Lobby, for which a charge is levied. But the sub-committee concluded that the practical difficulties outweighted the advantages of a centralised service. As the hon. Gentleman said, several right hon. and hon. Members have purchased their own fax machines, the cost of which is reimbursable from the office costs allowances, and sufficient lines are available for all who wish to do so.
27. Mr. Harry Greenway : To ask the right hon. Member for Selby, as representing the Church Commissioners, how many churches within the commissioners' care were damaged by fire or by vandalism in the past year ; what were the comparable figures five, 10 and 15 years ago ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Michael Alison (Second Church Estates Commission, representing the Church Commissioners) : The limited information I have does not extend to most of those churches which are the responsibility of the incumbent and parochial church council, and the commissioners do not have information about fire and vandalism affecting them.
Mr. Greenway : Has my right hon. Friend seen the figures showing that at least one third of our churches and cathedrals have been vandalised by fire or in other ways in the past year? Does he share my worry about that and
Column 707about the fact that so many churches have to be locked as a result? Will he note that it is rare for a mosque to be locked and that people of the Islamic faith remain in their mosques to ensure that they are not vandalised. Will he encourage members of the Church of England to show the same fervour in their own churches and to keep them open by watching them and looking after them?
Mr. Alison Between 1977 and 1982, a total of 56 per cent. of churches suffered theft, and the figures are higher in inner city areas. I take note of what my hon. Friend says : it is a great pity if any parish church has to be locked at a time when members of the public may wish to enter it. A conceivable solution to the problem might be to redraft the guardian angels when they are made redundant from Underground trains and deploy them in parish churches. The Church Commissioners would willingly supply them with wings.
Mr. Jones : Although investment may be rising, surely the industrialists also made representations about the rise in interest rates and the cost of borrowing? I have certainly received representations from the farming industry in my constituency, whose members are worried about their income levels. One reason why they have low incomes is the rise in interest rates and the cost of borrowing.
Mr. Walker : I agree with the hon. Gentleman that rising interest rates present problems, particularly for the farming community, which has to borrow heavily. Inflation also brings problems and must be tackled.
In industry--as opposed to merely the farming industry--the range of facilities offered by the Welsh Development Agency, provided by way of regional selective assistance, makes Wales an attractive place in which to invest. That is why an all-time record for inward investment into Wales was achieved in 1988.
29. Mr. Harry Greenway : To ask the Lord President of the Council if he will estimate the average number of peers who use Peers' Gallery seats on each day of the week ; and if he will make a statement.
The Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. John Wakeham) : It is not possible to provide the information that my hon. Friend requests, as attendance by peers in their Gallery depends largely on the business of the House.
Column 708Prime Minister's Question Time. Will my right hon. Friend and those responsible soften their hearts and open those seats, formally reserved for peers, to members of the public, hundreds of whom are disappointed every day in their attempts to enter the House? Perhaps peers could be invited into the Special Galleries of the House which are also almost invariably empty?
Mr. Wakeham : My hon. Friend's specific proposal is a matter for the Accommodation and Administration Sub-Committee. On sitting days from Monday to Thursday, two rows, each of 12 seats, remain available for peers from 2.30 pm to 5.30 pm. If the 12 seats in the second row are not occupied by peers at 5.30 pm, they can be used by Members' guests. My hon. Friend should also remember that equally generous arrangements are made for Members of the House of Commons in the House of Lords.
Mr. Wakeham : The Refreshment Department retains the services of a qualified nutritional adviser on an ad hoc basis, whose fees are paid from the trading account. It is the continuing policy of the Department always to maintain and, where possible, to improve the nutritional content of food served in the House. However, no money has been allocated specifically for this purpose.
Ms. Walley : I thank the Lord President for that answer. Now that the Commission has turned down the unanimous decision of the Catering Sub- Committee to invite the London food commission to give advice on how healthy and nutritious the food in the Members' and Strangers' Cafeterias is, what will the Leader of the House do to improve the situation? Does he not realise that many Members on both sides of the House and many staff who work here have to eat morning, noon and night in those cafeterias, and that there is a desperate need to take on the services of people who are qualified and at the forefront of their field in this subject?
Mr. Wakeham : I am not sure that the hon. Lady's views are fully shared by all hon. Members or, indeed, by all members of the Sub-Committee. It is not the Commission's policy to disclose the reasons for its decisions, and I can only assume that the Commission prefer the Refreshment Department's current practices, which were designed to promote healthy and nutritious food in the House.
Mr. Wakeham : My hon. Friend's analysis is correct. As I understand it, the London food commission is a consumerist pressure group staffed by academics and investigative journalists. It has no expertise in advising on dietary matters. In addition, its future is uncertain, as the original funding from the GLC is known to be running short. As far as I know, the commission has not found any other source of funding so far.
Mr. Dobson : Setting aside the Lord President's snide references to the London food commission, which has done a considerable amount of good work, I ask him whether, instead of being so complacent, he would be prepared to undertake a thoughtful and organised survey of the views of hon. Members and of the other people who have to use the cafeterias in this place--
Mr. Wakeham : I do not accept what the hon. Gentleman says. I did not think my remarks were particularly snide ; I thought they were straightforward and factual. If there were a need for a review or anything of that sort the initiative would have to come first from the Catering Sub- Committee.
Mr. Allen : Does the Lord President accept that the Order Paper is our daily agenda? If he looks at today's agenda, he will see that it is almost one inch thick. That must represent a tremendous waste of time and paper every day. Will he ensure that parliamentary questions are listed by Department, and consider any other reforms that hon. Members suggest, rather than destroying a vast amount of Amazonian forest each day?
Mr. Wakeham : The Order Paper is designed primarily for the use of right hon. and hon. Members, and I am sure that many of us who have become familiar with its style and format would--contrary to the hon. Gentleman's belief--find the changes that he proposes considerably less convenient. The matter has been considered by the Services Committee ; the Order Paper is designed to be of greatest use to the House.
If the hon. Gentleman has suggestions, I advise him to bring them to the attention of the Accommodation and Administration Sub-Committee.
32. Mr. Teddy Taylor : To ask the Lord President of the Council if he will take steps to ensure that European documents are considered by the House of Commons before a common position has been arrived at by the Council of Ministers ; and if he will make a statement.
Column 710reaffirmed that they would endeavour to bring forward documents for debate at the earliest appropriate opportunity. That continues to be our objective. In the case of Community legislation subject to the co-operation procedure, it is the Government's aim that parliamentary scrutiny should be completed before a common position is agreed by the Council of Ministers.
Mr. Taylor : As many of the laws that used to be made in the House of Commons are now made by the Council of Ministers, and as we can discuss its decisions for only one and a half hours after 10 o'clock at night, does the Lord President agree that this makes nonsense of democracy and deprives the public of the knowledge of what is going on? Does he also agree that it is an insult to all that Parliament stands for if the House sits from 10 pm to 11.30 pm to discuss matters that have already been decided in Brussels?
Mr. Wakeham : I agree that the way in which the House has dealt with European matters in recent months has left something to be desired, and I am taking steps to try to improve it. However, I do not accept my hon. Friend's contention that some of these matters must be discussed after 10 pm, but I am afraid that they will continue to have to be so. My discussions show that it might be possible substantially to improve the way in which our debates are held.
Mr. Spearing : Is the Leader of the House aware that those who are concerned about this matter are grateful to him for referring to the Select Committee's report of two years ago and that we look forward to the Government implementing the intention that they stated at that time? Does he agree that it is becoming a matter of considerable importance that a common position is reached? A common position is, in effect, the last and combined word--perhaps on a majority vote--of the Council of Ministers, prior to possible amendment by the European Parliament at Strasbourg. Although debates may have to take place after 10 pm, the Leader of the House might care to bear in mind that debates at earlier times on major matters would be more appropriate.
Mr. Dykes : Does not the Lord President of the Council agree that all parts of the House are anxious to get this right, including those who are keen on our membership of the European Community? Does he agree that Jacques Delors' famous 80 per cent. utterance was taken out of context, and that he was advocating greater involvement by the national parliaments? I appreciate the difficulties that my right hon. Friend faces and I am not criticising him, but would it not be a good idea to consider a combination of more all-day European Supply days such as the one next Thursday, longer debates--late at night, if necessary--the sending of more business upstairs to Committee whenever a particular document makes that relevant and also, once a month, having a longer Friday afternoon session so that European enthusiasts, such as my hon. Friend the Member for Southend, East (Mr. Taylor), myself and others can take part?
Mr. Wakeham : I agree with my hon. Friend that most of his suggestions will form part of the solution , though I think that the House would be reluctant to depart from the view that it should rise at 2.30 on Fridays. However, his other suggestions are more helpful.
Mr. Murphy : On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. It arises out of Welsh questions and the Secretary of State for Wales' answer to the question that he was asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Cynon Valley (Mrs. Clwyd). [ Hon. Members-- : "Where is the Secretary of State?"] I see that the bird has flown. He said that there would be no time for a statement on the valleys initiative during Question Time and that he would place a copy of his speech in the Commons Library. Has he asked you for permission to make a statement to the House on the initiative or has he, as he did last week when he refused to make a statement to the House on the Welsh business rate, copped out once again? Is it right that the Secretary of State should hide behind English Tory Members of Parliament, who consistently seem to have their names at the front of the Order Paper when there are Welsh questions, thus denying Welsh Members the right to put their point of view on behalf of their constituents?
Mr. Wigley : Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. Is it not totally unacceptable that when only 13 questions were answered on Welsh matters, four of them should have been asked by hon. Members with English constituencies and that most of the questions were answered by a Member representing an English constituency? We have only one chance a month to cover a whole range of problems that are relevant to the people of Wales. When will you be in a position to defend the interests of Welsh Members in this Chamber?
Mr. Speaker : The hon. Gentleman ought to know, and I ought not to have to keep repeating it, that this is a United Kingdom Parliament. He reserves the right to take part in discussions on other matters. The only Member who was present in the Chamber today who sought to catch my eye and was not called--and I deeply regret it--was the hon. Member for Bridgend (Mr. Griffiths). However, the hon. Member for Caernarfon (Mr. Wigley) was called twice, so I do not think that he has any cause for complaint.
Mr. Peter Walker : Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. First, I should very much welcome any extension of Welsh Question Time, because that would be such an advantage to the Government side of the House. Secondly, I shall be making a speech tomorrow in Wales in which I shall review in detail the massive progress that has been made under the valleys initiative, and I hope that every hon. Member and everybody in Wales will read it.
Mr. Dickens : Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. I was not called at Question Time, nor did I stand to ask a question. However, as a matter of principle it annoys hon. Members to think that Welsh Members should adopt such an attitude, because millions of pounds of English taxpayers' money are directed towards Wales. We have given Wales one of the best Secretaries of State
Column 712in the Cabinet. It ill behoves Welsh Members to suggest that this is an English Parliament. We are entitled to look at how our money is being spent in Wales.
Mr. Alan Williams : On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. There is a very serious point involved here. You have always said that you think it important that this House should be given information first. You will remember that on the occasion of the first valleys initiative statement we had to raise many points with you in order to persuade the right hon. Gentleman to come here 24 hours after he had made a statement in Wales. During Question Time today--and this involves your position, Mr. Speaker-- the Secretary of State said that he could not deal adequately with the question on the Order Paper in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Cynon Valley (Mrs. Clwyd) because there was not enough time in a parliamentary answer. Yet he then stood up and said that he would be making a statement in the valleys tomorrow.
One might point out that this morning he issued to the press a 20-page document which he still has not come to the House to answer for. Is it not a fact that if the right hon. Gentleman was dissatisfied with the time that would be available by way of a normal parliamentary answer, he could have opted--as any Minister, with your permission, Mr. Speaker, could--to take that question at the end of Question Time and then face proper intensive questions, or he could have made a statement?
Mr. Peter Walker : Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. I understand the feelings of the right hon. Gentleman, who has been deposed from his position as shadow Secretary of State for Wales. The document that I issued this morning on urban aid has always been issued in that form by all Governments. Secondly, the speech that I shall be making tomorrow will give in great detail the marvellous progress made under the valleys initiative.
Mr. Peter Walker : The right hon. Gentleman says "Not here". When he was shadow Secretary of State and I challenged him to have this debate in the Select Committee on Welsh Affairs, he said, "We soon will." The Labour party has never chosen it as a subject.
Mr. Win Griffiths rose--
Mr. Win Griffiths : On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Further to the statement by the Secretary of State for Wales about the speech he is going to make, may I ask whether he can tell us if that speech will be included in the expenses of the Pontypridd by-election?
Mr. Dobson : On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. On a number of occasions you have said that it is your belief that any initiatives being announced by the Government by way of statement are best announced to the House. If the Secretary of State for Wales is indeed going to say anything new tomorrow, surely he should be saying it here. If his excuse is that he will not be saying anything new, I hope that the newspapers will note that he will just be churning out the same old stuff yet again. If he proposes to say something new, I hope that, as the guardian of the
Column 713interests of all parts of the House, you, Mr. Speaker, will make representations to try to make sure that he does it in the House rather than just making a speech or holding a press conference, even if it is in Wales.
Mr. Tony Favell, supported by Mr. David Harris, presented a Bill to remove from registers of common land
Column 714and registers of town or village greens dwellinghouses registered under the Commons Registration Act 1965 which had been used as dwellinghouses for a minimum of twenty years immediately prior to the commencement of that Act ; and for purposes connected therewith : And the same was read the First time ; and ordered to be read a Second time on Friday 24 February and to be printed. [Bill 79.]
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