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The Prime Minister : I am not sure from what the hon. Gentleman said whether he is for or against the view that I have taken. He was not exactly clear in his remarks. If anyone was kicking and screaming, that was not happening from this Dispatch Box but from the Opposition Benches.

I agree with the hon. Gentleman about a central bank. It is described briefly in the Delors report. It is not accountable to anyone, and that was precisely one of my great complaints. It has no democratic accountability, far

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less than the Bundesbank has at present, and I did not think that that would be acceptable to the British parliamentary system. So we are agreed on that.

When it comes to an intergovernmental conference, then I must say, as happened over the Single European Act, that one learns by experience that an intergovernmental conference can be called by a simple majority of countries there, and it can be called at any time that one can get a simple majority. Hence such a conference could be called.

Its conclusions would have to be agreed by unanimity, but before that happened the great effort that we made, and made successfully, was to throw enough doubt on the Delors report--in which we were assisted by many other colleagues--to make it clear that other ways forward must be considered. There are other ways of going progressively and steadily towards a different definition of monetary and economic union by, as Karl Otto Poehl says, consistently following similar policies but without direction.

Sir Anthony Meyer (Clwyd, North-West) : The Liverpool Daily Post on Monday carried a headline saying

"PM into battle with Europe."

Will my right hon. Friend take this opportunity to make it plain that it was not in that spirit that she set out in Madrid to advance British interests in the Community?

The Prime Minister : My right hon. Friends and I had spent a considerable time studying the Delors report. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had set out his views extremely clearly in two speeches, one at Chatham house and one to the Institute of Directors. We went there to do as much as we could to try to get our viewpoint over to others and to try to get them along with us. Right at the beginning we had some people with us, and between us we convinced others that it would not be right to accept stages 2 and 3 of the Delors report. Nor would it be right just to consider that as one way only towards monetary and economic union. It was by steady study of the report and by steady and consistent argument that we won the day, and we have, as a result, the communique .

Mrs. Ann Clwyd (Cynon Valley) : Given that one of the main aims of the treaty of Rome is to reduce the gap between the rich and the poor, and that the recently published Office of Population Censuses and Surveys study on population trends in Britain shows that the gap is substantial and getting bigger, is this one of the aims of the treaty that the Prime Minister would like to see amended? If not, what proposals has she to reduce the gap between the rich and the poor, both in Britain and in the Community?

The Prime Minister : There is only one way, and that is, as the communique puts it, by steady development and job creation. We do it not by speeches but by having a system of enterprise and incentive, which enables the creation of wealth, which enables much better and greatly improved social services. Many there were impressed by the social services that we have. The new report from the OPCS, shows that the statistics on infant mortality have again considerably improved all over the United Kingdom.

Mr. James Kilfedder (North Down) : As a committed European, I congratulate the Prime Minister on the skill and tenacity that she showed at the Madrid conference.

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This brought about a successful conclusion, which may lead to greater co-operation between European nations without further loss of national sovereignty. Are the other European leaders aware of the danger posed by terrorists using the freedom of movement of people between member states? What steps are being taken to deal with the issue?

The Prime Minister : My hon. Friend put it rightly when he said that we wish to have closer co-operation by voluntary means without surrendering national sovereignty to bodies that would not be democratically accountable. I notice that the 1971 White Paper, upon which the European Communities Act, through which we joined the Community, was founded, said :

"Like any other treaty, the Treaty of Rome commits its signatories to support agreed aims : but the commitment represents the voluntary undertaking of a sovereign state to observe policies which it has helped to form. There is no question of any erosion of essential national sovereignty".

As to frontiers, the removal of certain physical barriers, terrorism, drugs and criminal activity, I remind my hon. Friend that at the end of the Single European Act there is a general declaration, which all member states signed, saying :

"Nothing in these provisions shall affect the right of member states to take such measures as they consider necessary for the purpose of controlling immigration from third countries, and to combat terrorism, crime, the traffic in drugs and illicit trading in works of art and antiques."

Once again, I drew the attention of European colleagues to that solemn general declaration which was made at the same time as the Single European Act was passed.

Several Hon. Members rose--

Mr. Speaker : Order. I remind the House that after this we have a further statement--the business statement--the Second Reading of a Bill and then opposed private business at 7 o'clock. I shall take three more questions from each side and then we must move on.

Mr. Dick Douglas (Dunfermline, West) : We accept that what the Prime Minister has done has bought a little time in which she can learn some of the lessons of history. They show that, in the management of currency, any international organisation set up to do this will manage it in the interests of the dominant currency or country. For example, the gold standard was managed in the interests of sterling, Bretton Woods was managed in the interests of the dollar and the European monetary system is managed in the interests of the deutschmark. If we repeatedly stand on the side, we shall be held continuously at a competitive disadvantage. Will the Prime Minister accept that her strictures about democratic control in relation to macroeconomic policy and fiscal policy would carry much more weight if she showed greater respect for this institution, the House of Commons? Does she accept that her negotiating posture is a wasting asset in relation to Europe?

Mr. Speaker : Briefly, please.

Mr. Douglas : Will she give time in the coming recess to thinking of moving over and being replaced by somebody much more suitable?

The Prime Minister : I will not take lessons from anyone about respect for the House of Commons. I think that the hon. Gentleman will find that my record of attending on Tuesdays and Thursdays has exceeded that of any other

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Prime Minister. Also, if he looks throughout the Community, I think that he will find that there are not many who are making statements in their own Parliaments about what happened in Madrid. There is a statement in the Danish Parliament and possibly in the Netherlands Parliament, but others do not have their Prime Ministers under the kind of cross-examination that I welcome because it enables one to get several facts across to the Opposition.

Sir Peter Hordern (Horsham) : May I congratulate my right hon. Friend most warmly on her firm commitment to join the exchange rate mechanism? Is she aware that one of the conditions that she has set out lies not fully within our control--the abolition of exchange controls? Will she therefore have a word with Mr. Mitterrand and tell him that life in the Community without exchange controls is very agreeable and that it is most unlikely that there will be a flood of money leaving France as a result of abolishing exchange controls since the French people will pursue their timeless custom of keeping their gold under their beds no matter what Government are in power?

The Prime Minister : I thank my hon. Friend. The French are now committed to abolition of exchange controls in 1990. As my hon. Friend is aware, they tried to impose certain capital taxes on others before they would agree to abolition. We put up a tremendous fight, as did others, and we were successful. The French did not get the imposition of an extra capital tax or the withholding of tax on capital. They are now committed to 1990. I think that Spain is committed to 1992. It will be an important step when they take it, but I agree that it is a vital one for them to take.

Ms. Marjorie Mowlam (Redcar) : In view of the comments of the Prime Minister in the House this afternoon about the Delors report--that it is a way forward and that parts of it are now acceptable--will she tell us whether she still considers it to be Marxist, or has she mellowed since Madrid?

The Prime Minister : I do not think that anyone has ever said that it was Marxist. What we have said is that it transfers a fundamental part of the sovereignty of a sovereign Parliament to a group of people, which is a great centralising feature where there is no democratic control. That is totally and utterly wrong, whatever one calls it.

Mr. Jonathan Aitken (Thanet, South) : May I congratulate my right hon. Friend on her very nimble footwork in Madrid which seems to have led her to moving away from the previously preferred menu of Europe a la carte into serving up an interesting new dish of good old British fudge which will take the EC a very long time to digest? Can she confirm that none of the Delors proposals which survived into this superbly fudged Madrid communique is irresistible or irreversible?

The Prime Minister : I can only confirm that we did not accept stages 2 and 3, that they are to be considered along with other proposals, that it was clear from the speeches

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that were made that many other colleagues did not accept the details of stages 2 and 3 and did not like the very great transfer of sovereignty that would be involved in their Parliaments, and that those Parliaments that did not like it were those where the democratic process is at its most obvious. I do not think that it is necessarily a fudge. My hon. Friend is right that it has bought time to do a lot more work on how to co-operate on the next stage. That is the way that I would put it.

Mr. John P. Smith (Vale of Glamorgan) : Will the Prime Minister tell the House and the country precisely what it is in the social charter that she finds so objectionable? Is it the right to fair pay, the right to clean, safe and decent working conditions, equal rights for men and women, or what?

The Prime Minister : No. It is the imposition of many things upon which we already have our own national legislation or our own national policy, derived from our history and from our particular kind of law, which is very different from the law in the Community, and the feeling that if each and every country is to have imposed upon it some of the ways of other countries in addition to their own we shall have maximum costs on industry and finish up with a highly protected Europe which would suit some people, but not us.

Mr. Ian Taylor (Esher) : Will my right hon. Friend accept my congratulations on her positive statement this afternoon and on the fact that in Madrid 10 of our fellow partners in the EC were very much on our side in adopting our step-by-step approach to commitment to economic and monetary union--an approach which was well prepared by the Chancellor of the Exchequer at a meeting a few weeks earlier? During the period that we have to prepare for stage 1 of the Delors report, will the Government do their utmost to ensure that we meet the conditions that are imposed and that we put maximum pressure on our partners in the Community to meet the conditions that we believe should be imposed on them so that we are more than ready to join the exchange rate mechanism at the earliest possible date?

The Prime Minister : Yes. I hope that stage 1 will go well because the completion of the internal market on its own is in all our interests and was one of the things that we joined the Community for in the first place. We still have to meet some of the directives, some of which are the most difficult, but I hope that we shall get well ahead with that. I hope that the foreign exchange controls will be abolished in 1990 and that we shall see the steady removal of subsidies in industries across Europe because while they exist there cannot be fair competition. We shall attempt to carry out our part of the bargain and to persuade others to carry out theirs.

We have agreed to the progressive realisation of economic and monetary union. It is not a sudden thing. We shall go steadily towards it taking one step at a time and in that way achieve a much more certain future than we would if we were pressured into something in which we did not believe.

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Business of the House

4.33 pm

The Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. John Wakeham) : With permission, Mr. Speaker, I should like to make a statement about the business for next week. Monday --3 July---- Supplemental timetable motion on and progress on consideration of Lords amendments to the Water Bill.

Tuesday --4 July----Until seven o'clock, completion of consideration of Lords amendments to the Water Bill.

Second Reading of the Antarctic Minerals Bill [Lords]. Completion of remaining stages of the Road Traffic (Driver Licensing and Information Systems) Bill [Lords].

Wednesday --5 July----Opposition Day (17th Allotted Day). Until about seven o'clock there will be a debate entitled "The Crisis in Training". Afterwards there will be a debate entitled "The Immigration Rules and DNA Testing." Both debates will arise on Opposition motions.

Committee and remaining stages of the Representation of the People Bill.

Thursday --6 July----Estimates Day (2nd Allotted Day). There will be debates on common police services and expenditure on information technology. Details of the Estimates concerned and the relevant Select Committee reports will be given in the Official Report . Remaining stages of the Human Organ Transplants Bill.

Friday --7 July----Private Members' Bills.

Monday --10 July----Estimates Day (3rd Allotted Day). There will be debates on Department of Energy administration and civil aviation services. Details of the Estimates concerned and the relevant Select Committee reports will be given in the Official Report.

[Thursday 6 July

Estimate :

Class XI, Vote 3 (Home Office administration, immigration and police support services, England and Wales), so far as it relates to common police services.

Relevant Select Committee Reports :

Home Affairs Committee 1st Report, Session 1988-89 on the Forensic Science Service (HC 26) and the Government's response (CM 699). Home Affairs Committee 3rd Report, Session 1988-89 on Higher Police Training and the Police Staff College (HC 110).

Home Affairs Committee 4th Report, Session 1988-89 on Home Office Expenditure (HC 314).

Estimate :

Class V, Vote 2 (Department of Trade and Industry : support for industry), so far as it relates to expenditure on information technology.

Relevant Select Committee Reports :

Trade and Industry Committee 1st Report, Session 1988-89 on Information Technology (HC 25), and the Oral Evidence given on 26 April (HC 338).]

Mr. Frank Dobson (Holborn and St. Pancras) : I thank the Leader of the House for his statement. I start by thanking the Government for accepting the Opposition's arguments that the Antarctic Minerals Bill is of such significance, not just to us but to the future of the planet, that it is sensible to debate it at a reasonable hour.

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Having expressed my thanks, I must express my concern at the proposal to dispose of the Water Bill in a further day and a half. The Bill is currently 416 pages long and there are 55 pages of Lords amendments to be considered. I understand that the Government have put down a further 300 amendments, though they are not yet available in the Vote Office for anyone who wants to know what they are about. That means that, at best, each amendment will receive less than one minute's scrutiny.

In view of the importance that the Prime Minister said today she attaches to parliamentary scrutiny and sovereignty, does the Leader of the House agree that it would be better to devote a little more time to the Water Bill, particularly as to do so might relieve his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment of future appearances in the courts? Even his short measures usually end up with him losing cases in the High Court. We believe that it is right and proper that more than one and a half days should be devoted to that very important legislation.

I hope there is support from right hon. and hon. Members in all parts of the House for a debate before the recess on the situation in China and in Hong Kong, in the light of recent events and of the recent visits by the Foreign Secretary and by my right hon. Friend the shadow Foreign Secretary to Hong Kong.

Finally, I return to my two old chestnuts. When is there likely to be a statement by the Government on the Griffiths report "Care in the Community", and shall we have an opportunity to debate their response before the recess? When may we expect the long-promised debate on the proposal to substitute student grants by student loans? Will there be one before the recess, or will the right hon. Gentleman wait until the students return to their studies in the autumn?

Mr. Wakeham : The hon. Gentleman asked five questions in relation to next week's business. I thank him for his remark about the Antarctic Minerals Bill. That is an important measure, and I believe that the time we have found is satisfactory to all concerned. The time we have allocated to the Water Bill is more than adequate for dealing with the amendments, as the majority of them are technical. As to the hon. Gentleman's reference to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment, I seem to remember him winning court cases rather than losing them.

Mr. Dobson : He loses more than he wins.

Mr. Wakeham : My right hon. Friend has had a winning streak recently, which is more than can be said for the hon. Gentleman. As to the important question of China and Hong Kong, I recognise the need for at least a foreign affairs debate shortly. I hope to find time for one in the relatively near future, and that matter will be discussed through the usual channels.

The Government intend to make a statement about the Griffiths proposals before the summer recess, and there will be a debate in Government time at a suitable opportunity thereafter. I cannot promise exactly when that will be.

Although the hon. Gentleman asks me about student top-up loans every week, it seems that he still does not understand our proposals--which is a very good reason for a debate. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State

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for Education and Science and I have both made it clear already that we would welcome such a debate, but its timing is best discussed through the usual channels.

Sir Fergus Montgomery (Altrincham and Sale) : I draw my right hon. Friend's attention to early-day motion 1038.

[That this House deplores the remarks of the honourable Member for Brent, East during the adjournment debate on Tuesday 27th June in which he alleged that the late Airey Neave was involved in treason ; notes that Airey Neave had been decorated for gallantry on four occasions, and had served his country with honour in war and peace ; and calls on the honourable Member for Brent, East to apologise to the House and to withdraw his disgraceful remarks.]

That early-day motion concerns the Adjournment debate on 27 June and the remarks of the hon. Member for Brent, East (Mr. Livingstone), who said that the late Airey Neave was involved in terrorism. [ Hon. Members :-- "Treason."] Rather, that the late Airey Neave was involved in treason. If those remarks had been made about any existing right hon. or hon. Member, the hon. Member for Brent, East would have had to withdraw them immediately. Will my right hon. Friend consider whether there is any way to prevent such a thing happening again? Airey Neave had a war record of great bravery, gave great service to this House, and was killed by cowards. Surely there is some way of protecting his reputation from political pygmies.

Mr. Wakeham : The question of order is one for you, Mr. Speaker, not me--though I may say that I very much agree with your remarks last night. I agree also with the comments of my hon. Friend. I totally deprecate the remarks of the hon. Member for Brent, East (Mr. Livingstone) and believe that he should withdraw them.

Mr. James Wallace (Orkney and Shetland) : Does the Leader of the House intend to have a debate on the Procedure Committee's report on the ten-minute Bill procedure? We welcome the fact that there is to be an early debate on foreign affairs, but does not the Leader of the House accept that on both sides of the House there is considerable concern about the position in China, in particular about the plight of British passport holders in Hong Kong? Those matters should not be relegated to a general debate on foreign affairs. Could the Leader of the House not think again about holding a debate that relates specifically to Hong Kong and China?

Mr. Wakeham : I cannot promise an early debate on the ten-minute Bill procedure. Some of our new arrangements are working better than the previous arrangements, but we shall have to look into the matter again and I shall be in touch with the hon. Gentleman.

I agree that Hong Kong is a particularly important matter. The Foreign Affairs Select Committee report on Hong Kong is expected to be published tomorrow. I hope to be able to arrange a debate in due course after its publication, but we must await the report.

Mr. Michael Marshall (Arundel) : On the day that marks the centenary of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, and following the unveiling earlier today by you, Mr. Speaker, of the bust of the Back Bencher who founded the Inter- Parliamentary Union, may I ask my right hon. Friend, in view of what he said a moment or two ago, whether the foreign affairs debate that he has in mind might encompass--perhaps in terms of the motion that is

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tabled--recognition and appraisal of the work of the

Inter-Parliamentary Union, embodying, as it does, important contributions from both sides of the House?

Mr. Wakeham : I shall consider carefully my hon. Friend's suggestion which, if it could be incorporated, would be appropriate. I am sure that in its debate on foreign affairs the House would want to pay tribute to the work of the IPU.

Mr. Eric S. Heffer (Liverpool, Walton) : May we have a two-day debate on foreign affairs? Apart from the question of China and Hong Kong, there is also the confused situation in Europe. I have been a Member of this House for a long time and I have heard many of my hon. Friends talk about Europe. For example, my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) argued quite strongly when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer that we ought not to join the European monetary system, or rush into it. I have also heard my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Monklands, East (Mr. Smith) who now speaks on economic matters say recently on radio that we ought not to rush into the EMS. I am a little confused. We ought, therefore, to have a serious debate about Europe, when we could discuss the implications of a wider Europe rather than just the Common Market. Increasingly, the nation state is being discussed, even in the Soviet Union where it was not discussed before. There are so many serious issues of great importance--not yah-boo politics--that need to be properly debated here. The future of Europe and our position in Europe are among the matters that ought to be debated. I ask the right hon. Gentleman to take on board what I have said and to consider holding a two-day debate so that on one of those days we may discuss Europe seriously, not on the basis of yah-booism.

Mr. Wakeham : I agree with the hon. Gentleman that there are some serious issues to be discussed, but I hope that he recognises the difficulties I am in. I have already had requests for debates on foreign affairs and Hong Kong, and now I have had a request for a debate on Europe. With the best will in the world, it will be impossible to meet all those demands in the immediate future. May I ask the hon. Gentleman, who I know raises the matter seriously, to have a word with his right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition and see whether he can help me to find one of the three days.

Mr. Rupert Allason (Torbay) : Having had an involuntary swim in the River Thames yesterday during the course of the annual dinghy race between this House and another place, I can bear witness to the cleanliness of the water in the Thames. However, the same cannot be said of the state of cleanliness of the waters off our coastline, in particular off south Devon. Will my right hon. Friend assure the House that he will give full time for a debate that will cover not just the technical points in the Lords amendments to the Water Bill but the very important issue of pumping raw sewage into the English Channel?

Mr. Wakeham : I agree that these are important matters, and that we must make time to debate them and get across the message that, whatever shortcomings there may be, our record is considerably better than that of a great many other parts of Europe. Although I am

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responsible for finding the bulk of the time for the Lords amendments to the Water Bill, others will have a say in how best to allocate that time. No doubt, however, my hon. Friend's point will be borne in mind.

Mr. Jeff Rooker (Birmingham, Perry Barr) : I draw the attention of the Leader of the House to early-day motion 1003 about the crisis in Sylvan high school in Croydon.

[That this House deplores the proposal of Croydon Council to close Sylvan High School, an 11-16 years mixed comprehensive, and establish a city technology college in its place against the wishes of parents, school governors and staff ; notes that parents voted 97 per cent. against the proposal, on a 57 per cent. turnout, despite Croydon Council circulating 13,907 copies of a consultation document and refused the Save Sylvan Campaign facilities to circulate a one-page response ; believes Sir Phillip Harris, who heads the sponsors, is misguided in his desire to change the school and deeply regrets that the proposal has led to uncertainty which has gravely damaged the school, leading to the loss of staff which according to the Times Educational Supplement will mean that in September the school has the prospect of no drama, music or full-time commitment to humanities, and two-thirds of the craft design technology staff missing ; reminds the Secretary of State of his visit to Sylvan High School in 1986, following which he wrote to the school saying he found the dedication of the Head and staff to be impressive, was delighted to see so much enthusiasm by the pupils and was reassured to know of such worthwhile and rewarding work ; and therefore calls upon the Right honourable and honourable Members who constituencies are affected to make vigorous representations to the Secretary of State for Education and Science to take account of the vote of parents expressing parental choice, which should be paramount.]

Could we have an early debate before the Secretary of State reaches a decision on the application of that school to become a city technology college, bearing in mind that 97 per cent. of the parents, in a 57 per cent. turnout, voted against? In September, because of the massive loss of staff, it is likely that the children will be unable to take a whole range of courses. All Croydon Members have been asked to make representations. I know that parents of all political persuasions are extremely grateful for the action that you have taken, Mr. Speaker--the school is in your constituency, although it serves the borough--and they have asked me to say how grateful they are to you and to do so at as early an opportunity as possible. I met them, together with my hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw). However, the parents are not so keen on what the other three right hon. and hon. Members for Croydon have been doing. Before the school is damaged beyond recall, so that parents take their children away from it, it is crucial that we have an early debate so that the Secretary of State for Education and Science can get the real feelings of parents in Croydon, which he is unable to get in the House at present.

Mr. Wakeham : Let me put the record straight. Croydon council's proposal to close Sylvan high school is now before my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science. He will reach a decision on the proposal, strictly on its merits, and will take into account

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the views of those who have an interest in the matter. I do not believe that I should say anything in advance of his decision.

Sir Peter Hordern (Horsham) : May I ask my right hon. Friend to hold a two-day debate on foreign affairs? I support what was said by the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer). One of the days should be devoted to European affairs, perhaps with the co-operation of the Opposition. Is my right hon. Friend able to say what has happened to the debate which was to take place on parliamentary pensions?

Mr. Wakeham : It seemed to me that the time at which the debate on parliamentary pensions would have taken place the other night was sufficiently late to have made it difficult for hon. Members to grasp some of the complexities, and that the speeches might be better if we managed to hold the debate a little earlier in the evening. As for my hon. Friend's request for a two-day debate on foreign affairs, I know that he will have some sympathy for me at this time of the year. Seeking to find one day, let alone two days, for a foreign affairs debate is difficult enough. I shall do my best, but I really cannot give any firm undertaking.

Mr. Bob Cryer (Bradford, South) : I support the appeal of many hon. Members for sufficient time to be devoted to a foreign affairs debate so that some of us can express our very strong support for the Transport and General Workers Union in passing a resolution that Britain should get rid of nuclear weapons. We could then invite support for the United Nations nuclear non-proliferation treaty which is supported by 133 nations that have refused either to manufacture or deploy nuclear weapons. Then we could adopt a morally superior attitude which I hope would be more acceptable to my hon. Friends. It would be useful to have time to debate that matter.

Mr. Wakeham : I do not often get upset with the hon. Gentleman but he seems to have dished my ploy of trying to persuade the Leader of the Oppositon to find a day, if that is the basis on which he wants to have a debate. I shall have to struggle on as best I can.

Mr. Ivan Lawrence (Burton) : Now that the importance of Europe is beginning to dawn on Members of Parliament, even though it has not dawned upon the two out of three electors who stayed at home during the Euro- elections, and as it is becoming more and more obvious that this place will have to exercise a bit more parliamentary control over what the Government are doing in that connection, is it not time to consider the totally deplorable way in which the House considers European measures and to institute a review that leads to an improvement of the way in which we consider what goes on in Europe?

Mr. Wakeham : As my hon. and learned Friend knows, the Select Committee on Procedure is considering that matter. A number of people, including myself, have given evidence to it. We are still considering some of the issues. I hope that some further constructive proposals may be put to the Select Committee in the not-too-distant future so that we can find a better way of dealing with these important issues, which I fully agree with my hon. Friend are not dealt with adequately at present.

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Mr. Jack Ashley (Stoke-on-Trent, South) : Is the Leader of the House aware that a number of people, including me, have been infuriated by the refusal of an orange badge parking permit to a woman suffering from thalidomide who has no arms although she can walk? That decision is insensitive, stupid, unjustified and bureaucratic. Will he tell the Minister for the disabled that a deputation of Opposition Members wishes to see him next week to complain about that individual case and, because there is evidence that the Minister is now considering decisions which would rob thousands of disabled people of their orange badges, we want to talk to him before any decision is made? May we also have a debate next week?

Mr. Wakeham : The answer to the last part of the question is that I am sorry but I cannot find time for a debate next week. However, the answer to the first part of the right hon. Gentleman's question is that these are matters for my hon. Friend the Minister for Roads and Traffic and I shall refer them to him. As I understand it, the difficulty has been that there has been a very great increase in the number of parking permits given to people who have difficulty in walking. The parking concessions are primarily for those disabled people who have difficulty in walking. Other concessions and help may be more appropriate to people with other disabilities. I know that my hon. Friend is considering these matters and I have no doubt that he will find the best possible solution.

Mr. Michael Latham (Rutland and Melton) : As my right hon. Friend is shortly to bring the clergy ordination measure before the House, as it has been narrowly approved by the ecclesiastical committee, will he consider bringing before the House proposals to get rid of that committee altogether? Is he aware that some of us who have served on that committee for 15 years believe that that type of parliamentary control is completely out of date?

Mr. Wakeham : The measure to which my hon. Friend refers is now before another place. I shall await its passage there before bringing it forward here. I do not want to answer the wider question off the cuff. I have no views on the matter or on any changes, but if my hon. Friend would like to write to me or talk to me, I should be happy to discuss the matter further.

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