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Mr. John Hannam (Exeter) : Does my right hon. Friend recall that it was not long ago that the Labour party forecast price increases after privatisation in excess of 20 per cent.? Now Labour Members grumble that prices will increase at the level of inflation, something which the Labour Government did not achieve. Will he accept the thanks of consumers for the steps that he has taken to stabilise electricity prices after privatisation? Will he

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confirm that as competition brings itself to bear in the electricity supply industry there will be a downward presure on prices in the longer term?

Mr. Wakeham : My hon. Friend is absolutely right. In the last five years of the Labour Government, the price of electricity increased by 6 per cent. in real terms for industrial customers and 5 per cent. for domestic consumers. A stabilisation in real terms is a substantial improvement on the record of the Labour party. As competition is seen to work, there will be a downward pressure on all prices.

Mr. Peter Hardy (Wentworth) : Will the Secretary of State deny that for the past 12 months and for some time ahead every quarterly domestic electricity bill will be at least £10 higher as a result of the preparation for privatisation? Will he further deny that the sale price for the industry compared with its asset value will be so low as to make all other privatisations look responsible?

Mr. Wakeham : No, I do not accept that. On average, prices will not increase over the whole range. The electricity industry will be privatised at what will be seen to be a fair and proper price.

Mr. Malcolm Moss (Cambridgeshire, North-East) : Although I congratulate my right hon. Friend on his statement, which shows that privatisation is well on target to meet the proposed timetable, which is excellent news for domestic electricity customers, does he agree that heavy industrial users have short memories? In the past five years of this Government industrial electricity prices have decreased by 10 per cent., whereas in the last five years of the Labour Government they increased by 6 per cent.

Mr. Wakeham : I have provided a cap for large industrial users in the first year. Afterwards they will be able to negotiate prices in a competitive market. Many expect to benefit from price reductions.

Mr. Alexander Eadie (Midlothian) : Does the Secretary of State agree that his statement today is so important and significant for consumers and the electricity industry that it should be the subject not merely of a statement but of scrutiny and debate in the House? In his carefully worded statement he said that he would not expect prices to rise above the rate of inflation. Many consumers will see that as faith, hope and charity because he is not in a position to guarantee that that will happen. Many knowledgeable people in the industry believe that prices will increase substantially. Does the Secretary of State agree that many consumers see as most important, not the question of competition, but the security of supply? We do not want the lights to go out.

Mr. Wakeham : The hon. Gentleman can speculate about prices. I have given the House the information as best I can and the figures I gave are accurate. It is interesting to remember how wide of the mark previous speculation has been, and I am afraid that the hon. Gentleman is wide of the mark, too.

I recognise the importance of the security of supply. As I pointed out, the arrangements that we are making now are better than existing arrangements whereby the security of supply or the obligation to supply is a planning decision for the CEGB. Under the new arrangements the area boards must offer terms to the customers in their area. Those terms and the generation for which they have

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contracted is backed up by licences. It will be a licence condition that the suppliers contract for adequate supplies and there will be severe financial penalties if they get it wrong. That will provide the security of supply that we all want and expect to see at a better, more economic cost than previously.

Sir Trevor Skeet (Bedfordshire, North) : While I pay tribute to my right hon. Friend for his clear statement, may I refer to the non-fossil fuel obligation? It is important to bear in mind the size of the nuclear industry and not to wait until the review in 1994 when it may be too late. Nuclear power stations must be built and we must have an ongoing research and development programme. Unless that is done, the country could be in great difficulty with its electricity supply.

Mr. Wakeham : I appreciate my hon. Friend's long-term concern and interest in the nuclear industry. We have organised the industry with Nuclear Electric and a good level of management to ensure that our substantial nuclear capacity is used to best advantage in the interim period. Meantime, it is right to give a degree of certainty to what will happen in the short term. That is why I said that we shall review the prospects for nuclear power in 1994, but remain committed to a long-term role for competitive nuclear power. Between now and 1994 we shall be giving a considerable amount of thought, and, if necessary, devoting a considerable amount of research, to establishing the best way forward after that.

Dr. Dafydd Elis Thomas (Meirionnydd Nant Conwy) : As I am sure the Minister accepts, we welcome the identification of the role of renewables, which he has emphasised. Can he tell us more about how renewables projects will be assessed fairly and properly, as he said they would be? He referred to the dead hand of the public sector, but he has had to use that so-called dead hand to maintain the life of the nuclear industry. How does he propose to deal with the older Magnox stations in respect of which decisions may have to be made before 1994? Can he say precisely how he intends to undertake the review in 1994?

Mr. Wakeham : I do not know that I can say anything further in reply to the last part of the hon. Gentleman's question. However, the first two points that he makes are important. As I have said, about 300 renewables projects have been put forward for consideration. These extend right across the range of all the sorts of renewables that the hon. Gentleman and others will be aware of. They amount, in total, to a capacity of between 1GW and 2GW--a substantial improvement on what we have at the moment. It would be idle to pretend that they are all likely to be developed sufficiently to be included in the obligation. We want to see whether these projects, with the financial assistance of the obligation over the period, appear to have a viable future. If so, we shall give them every encouragement.

With regard to the Magnox stations, the position is quite simple. Subject to the overriding safety considerations of the nuclear inspectorate, the life of some Magnox stations may be extended somewhat. That is what we shall seek to do. It may be that in some cases additional expenditure will be necessary. The first consideration is safety, but if the life of a station can be extended we believe that that would be a good idea.

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Mr. Peter Rost (Erewash) : Now that my right hon. Friend, for very sensible reasons, has arranged a transition period, during which it will be necessary to restrict free competition, can he give us an assurance that he is satisfied that, with regard to investment intentions, new independent producers will have the same incentive during that period? If not, he will not get the benefit of diversity of supply and genuine competition at the end of the transition period.

Mr. Wakeham : My hon. Friend is absolutely right. We are very anxious indeed that a sufficiently large number of independent projects should come forward. We know of about 20 that are being considered at the moment. We believe that the publication of the licences, which will give potential investors in independent generation more detail about how to proceed, will bring forward further projects. It is important that potential investors should know that they will be very welcome to become suppliers. So long as they meet the technical requirements, there is no reason why they should not be part of a highly competitive and expanding generating business.

Mr. Peter L. Pike (Burnley) : Why does not the Secretary of State recognise that, in the private sector, energy conservation and the development of renewable sources of energy will always come second to the profit motive? Would not it be in our best interests, in terms of energy and environmentally, for this important industry to remain in the public sector?

Mr. Wakeham : I should expect the hon. Gentleman to say something like that, but it does not fit very well with the facts. We have a non- fossil fuel obligation. In particular, we are obliged to encourage renewable sources to play their part during the initial period--while they are being established. I think that that is the answer to the hon. Gentleman's question. We have set up the machinery, and it appears to be working even better than we thought it would. At some stage the hon. Gentleman will regret what he has just said.

Mr. Geoffrey Dickens (Littleborough and Saddleworth) : As the propaganda war about the privatisation of electricity gathers momentum, does my right hon. Friend agree not only that industrial users have benefited greatly from our management of electricity supply, but that domestic consumers, householders, can be grateful? Is it not the case that, over the past five years, they have benefited from an 8 per cent. decrease, in real terms, in their electricity bills, whereas during the last five years of the Labour Government they suffered an increase, in real terms, of 9 per cent.? Whom should the householder trust with the management of electricity--the present Government, or the Opposition, who, when in office, raised prices?

Mr. Wakeham : My hon. Friend makes his point extremely well. The privatised electricity supply industry will greatly benefit the consumer.

Dr. Kim Howells (Pontypridd) : Will the Secretary of State clarify whether the price increase, which he described as not being a real one, includes the nuclear or fossil-fuel levy, call it what one will? Can he assure the House that the nuclear levy will not increase when the first costs of decommissioning start to come through?

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Mr. Wakeham : The indications of the prices that I gave include the fossil fuel levy, which must be paid. The levy will put Nuclear Electric in a cash positive position for the first eight years of its operation and, during that time, fossil fuel will be on a declining path. The company will be able to meet all its obligations during that time, including decommissioning costs.

Mr. Michael Stern (Bristol, North-West) : Does my right hon. Friend recall that during the passage of the Electricity Bill the non-fossil fuel obligation was universally branded by the Opposition as a device for the perpetuation of nuclear power? Does he agree that the range of options for renewables that have now been introduced not represent only a direct contradiction of that belief, but an indication of the extent to which the process of increasing the supply of renewables has been helped by the privatisation process?

Mr. Wakeham : The process of privatisation appears to be working extremely well with regard to renewables and will be beneficial to the environment. In about two months' time I intend to lay the order about renewables, but I should make it clear that it will relate to the initial tranche of renewables. We have reserved an additional 600 MW for further renewable projects after that time. If that allocation does not appear to be enough in the light of experience, we shall give serious consideration to increasing it still further.

Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover) : Surely the truth of the matter is that when the Government decided to set forth on their privatisation of electricity after the general election the first thing they needed to do was to allow the industry to increase prices massively to fatten up the enterprise. The next thing the Government did was to allow the industry another 8 per cent. in accordance with the RPI and then to announce that they would allow the nuclear section of the industry to be subsidised to the tune of about £10 billion with the decommissioning of the Magnox nuclear reactors. Now the right hon. Gentleman has told us that the next price increase will be based on two variables--minus X plus Y. He has told us what Y is, but he has not told us what X is. My guess is that X represents the electoral factor in the run-up to the next general election.

Mr. Wakeham : The hon. Gentleman, as usual, goes wide of the point. I know that the hon. Gentleman watches such things carefully and I advise him to watch some of the statements made by his hon. Friends the Members for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) and for Dagenham (Mr. Gould) as to exactly what they would do to the coal industry should they ever have the opportunity. The hon. Gentleman should consider those statements carefully as that would be a more productive use of his time. Y equals input costs, X represents cost savings through efficiency. It is a minus figure.

Sir Peter Hordern (Horsham) : It is welcome to hear that price increases to the domestic consumer will be contained, at least in the next two years, within the rate of inflation. From the taxpayers' point of view, can my right hon. Friend tell us whether substantial sums will be required to write off assets before privatisation occurs, as they were for the water industry? If not, what will be the position?

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Mr. Wakeham : There may be some slight increase in domestic prices this year, but for the next two years after that they will be contained in real terms. For the figures for the privatisation of the company, my hon. Friend will have to wait until we produce the prospectus. We are in the process of producing balance sheets for the companies before privatisation. We shall ensure that the assets are sold at a proper and realistic figure.

Several Hon. Members rose --

Mr. Speaker : Order. The House knows that I have an obligation to protect private Members' business. I shall call three more Members from each side and then, I regret, we shall have to move on.

Mr. Charles Kennedy (Ross, Cromarty and Skye) : I echo the earlier plea for a separate Scottish statement. This is an extremely important matter, and I see that there is a Scottish Office Minister on the Treasury Bench. Will the Secretary of State obtain confirmation from the Scottish Office that such a statement is intended and thus avoid the suggestion that one hand does not know, or is not in tandem with, what the other is doing? Is not the truth of this afternoon's statement that all the tough political decisions are being postponed beyond the latest date of the next election? Why, in the transitional period, has the Secretary of State not found room for incentives for energy efficiency? Will he explain what he meant by this statement, which occurred among a lot of ministerial gobbledegook :

"The licences, therefore, contain corresponding transitional constraints on the premises which such competitors can supply." May we have that in English?

Mr. Wakeham : I shall pass on to my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland the request for a statement on Scotland. As the hon. Gentleman knows, that is not a matter for me. With regard to the juicy extract that the hon. Gentleman gave from my statement, I meant that, because there is an eight-year transitional period for the introduction of competition, for the first part of that period, customers with more than 1 MW of consumption will be free of all restraint. At the end of four years, the limit will be reduced to 10 kW. Thereafter, there will be no constraint. During that period, there must be a regulation to stop anybody supplying electricity to those areas that are the exclusive purview of the area boards. The regulations cover that.

Mr. Kevin Barron (Rother Valley) : A free market.

Mr. Wakeham : The hon. Gentleman says, "A free market". He should consider how this will benefit the coal industry during that period.

Mr. Michael Jack (Fylde) : In response to the remarks of those Opposition Members who wear their environmental credentials on their sleeve, will my right hon. Friend confirm that 34 per cent. of the principal greenhouse gas--carbon dioxide--comes from coal-fired power stations? Will he confirm that there is nothing in his statement to prevent the nuclear workers in my constituency from making their contribution to addressing this environmental problem?

Mr. Wakeham : My hon. Friend is right. A substantial amount of the greenhouse gases that are produced from

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power generation in this country come from fossil-burning power stations. Nuclear power stations have a substantial advantage over that. Nuclear power has one big disadvantage : it is required to pay the cost of disposal of its waste. The disposal of the wastes of the fossil fuel generators is part of the problem that we have to tackle in the near future.

Mr. D. N. Campbell-Savours (Workington) : I ask the Secretary of State a slightly hypothetical question : is it not fair to say that, if nuclear power were cheaper, the coal mining industry, and the mining industry generally, would be asking for a nuclear levy to help them in their difficulties?

Mr. Wakeham : I do not normally answer hypothetical questions, but I take the hon. Gentleman's point. We are dealing with the real world in which nuclear power is more expensive than fossil-generated power. It is possible to get the price down to a competitive rate, and I shall do everything that I can to deal with the problems.

Mr. Peter Thurnham (Bolton, North-East) : In seeking to achieve the lowest possible prices, especially for industrial consumers facing foreign competition, will my right hon. Friend ensure that there is no cross- subsidy between industrial and domestic consumers so that all consumers, large and small, can benefit from the welcome advantages of competition?

Mr. Wakeham : That is an important part of what we are seeking to achieve in the initial years, and further ahead. Cross-subsidisation would negate the purposes of the Act.

Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow) : In the formula RPI-X Y, what are the determinants of X? Those who use mathematical formulae had better be very precise.

Mr. Wakeham : I suggest that the hon. Gentleman has a look at the licences ; they are precisely all the costs incurred by the area boards other than the costs of electricity, which they have to buy from the generators.

Mr. Barry Field (Isle of Wight) : Can my right hon. Friend confirm that the non-fossil fuel obligation and the eventual right of large industrial producers of electricity--such as the Fawley oil refinery--to sell their excess capacity will make an outstanding contribution to the reduction of global warming and CO ?

Mr. Wakeham : My hon. Friend is right.

Mr. Alan W. Williams (Carmarthen) : Will the Minister give an accurate statement of what is to happen to the 12,000MW flue-gas desulphurisation programme? The Government were committed to that programme and to completing it by 1993, but it seems that in their enthusiasm to privatise the electricity industry that commitment has vanished. Does not that show that when there is a choice between helping the rich, which is what privatisation is, and cleaning up the environment, the environment always comes a very poor second under this Government?

Mr. Wakeham : The hon. Gentleman is cleverer than he sometimes pretends. He knows perfectly well that there is an EEC directive which requires us to reduce sulphur levels, and that the Government are committed to doing that. They are not, however, committed to doing it in a non- efficient way. We are looking at the best way of

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achieving it. Achieve it we will and we shall be seen to achieve it, but we shall not do it in a way that is not the most sensible--even the hon. Gentleman would not advocate that.

Mr. Barron : Is not the non-efficient way, as suggested in the right hon. Gentleman's statement, an expansion of the generation of electricity by nuclear means? As for the misnamed fossil fuel levy announced today, should not the right hon. Gentleman admit that nuclear generation is more than 40 per cent. dearer than fossil fuel generation?

Speaking of the quaintly named interim period, has not the right hon. Gentleman told everybody today that there will be little or no competition in electricity generation for the foreseeable future? Why has he not protected consumers, both industrial and domestic? He must be well aware that British Coal has reduced its prices to the electricity generators in the past three years by £850 million. That could have led to a cut of 4 per cent. in prices over the past three years, but instead they have increased by 15 per cent. in order to fatten the industry for privatisation.

How can the Minister tell industrial and domestic consumers that they must accept an increase of at least the rate of inflation--8 per cent.--when he knows full well that the major expense that the generators will face in the next three years lies with British Coal, which has provided them with a contract that will save them £450 million in that period? Why has he not protected consumers, instead of letting his friends in the City and everyone else get ready to run away with the profits at the consumers' expense?

Mr. Wakeham : The hon. Gentleman misunderstands the nuclear position, on which we have stated our policy. We shall review the prospects for nuclear power in 1994. In the meantime, we shall complete Sizewell B and make the most effective and efficient use of existing nuclear capacity. That seems a sensible policy.

As for the protection of the consumer, and of prices, a great chunk of my statement provided an indication of price levels which I believe are a good protection for consumers for the next few years--very much more so than was possible under the last Labour Government.

I know that the hon. Gentleman takes the coal industry very seriously. So do I. That is why we brought the Coal Industry Bill before Parliament--it represents a substantial improvement in British Coal's finances--and why it is necessary to continue. I would be the first to pay tribute to the efforts of the coal industry to improve productivity in recent years, but the hon. Gentleman's proposition that the coal industry's improvements in efficiency could all be passed on to the consumer was not sensible, given that they were largely paid for by the taxpayer in recent years. The great problem facing the coal industry is that it should not rest on its laurels but should continue the improvement, so that at the end of the three-year contract I believe it possible that coal will still be the prime choice of fuel for the British generation industry. The hon. Gentleman should be worried lest competition from oil, gas and imported coal takes a great share of the market and produces more unemployment in the coal industry. None of us wants that.

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T. W. Kempton Limited

4.45 pm

Mr. Greville Janner (Leicester, West) : I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 20, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration, namely,

"the closure on Friday of the long-established Leicester knitwear company T. W. Kempton Ltd, which has its headquarters and major plant at Burleys way in my constituency".

The matter is specific because it concerns Kempton, a fine, well-managed and long-established company and one of the largest privately owned knitwear companies in the United Kingdom. It used to employ 1,200 people, 840 of whom worked in Leicester. The company was put into the hands of receivers on 6 November, and immediately jobs were lost. On Friday last there was an announcement of closure with the immediate loss of a further 300 jobs. That is important in itself, but especially because it reflects a national advancing catastrophe.

Leicester's main industry is knitwear, which last year still employed about 33,000 people in the county, some 22,000 of whom worked in the city of Leicester. Between June 1988 and November 1989 there were 7,500 job losses in the industry, of which 4,000 were in Leicestershire. The knitwear and hosiery industries are heading for catastrophe. The Government are standing with their hands folded, and there should be an urgent debate on the matter.

Among other companies affected by redundancies are renowned names such as Corah, Ingram, Chilprufe, Strettons, Towles, Lesley Dee and Leofabs. Last week it was announced that the Paisley Hyer group, which employs 1,000 people in Leicestershire, had gone into receivership in conditions similar to those in which Kempton did. In Nottingham, the Response group, employing 3,500 people, has gone into the hands of receivers.

The Government have taken no action while this great industry, symbolised by Kempton, struggles to survive. With employers and unions united in their pleas for help, the Government have done no more than produce a research programme which is due to take effect and to become useful in about five years. How many people will still be employed in the industry by then? How many firms like Kempton will collapse before the Government act?

Mr. Speaker : The hon. and learned Gentleman asked leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 20, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that he believes should have urgent consideration, namely,

"the loss of 300 jobs resulting from the closure of T. W. Kempton Limited of Leicester".

As the House knows, under Standing Order No. 20, I have to announce my decision without giving my reasons to the House. I have listened with care and concern to what the hon. and learned Gentleman said. As he knows, my only decision is to decide whether the application should have precedence over the business set down for today or tomorrow. I regret that, in this case, I do not feel that the

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matter that the hon. and learned Member has raised meets the requirements of the Standing Order, and I cannot accept his application to the House.

Inshore Fishing Fleet

4.49 pm

Mr. D. N. Campbell-Savours (Workington) : I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 20, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration, namely,

"the threat to the nation's inshore fishing fleet arising from the recent bad weather conditions."

The appalling weather of recent weeks is causing grave damage to the livelihood of the nation's fishermen, in particular to the inshore fleet. The matter needs urgent debate in Parliament. The fishing press, fully supported by information from ports throughout the United Kingdom, is reporting extensive damage to boat-owning interests and the laying-off of a large number of people working in the industry. They call for immediate emergency aid to see them through a difficult period. They are calling for, and need, the kind of aid which has readily been made available to the farming community in the past.

The matter is important, as the position in the north-west of England is causing grave concern. In my constituency the problem is acute. The Maryport fleet of 25 boats, employing between 60 and 80 people, has been tied up for more than eight weeks.

A letter from local fisherman Harold Musgrave, explaining the plight of fishermen, says :

"The situation is now so desperate that we must appeal through you for emergency aid from the Government. If it is not forthcoming, the very important role that we play in providing jobs and support to the economy of our town and West Cumbria as a whole could go to the wall."

He goes on :

"Over the past 10 years, UK fishermen have been ignored. The Government's failure to introduce a comprehensive decommissioning scheme has made matters worse and the Government is now under attack within the EEC where money is available whether at sea or not, fishermen must pay overheads, whatever they be, high interest bank loans, insurance or the hire of equipment."

He says that bills have to be paid :

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"We are asking for your full support and that of all fair-minded MPs to gain for us emergency aid now. The position is desperate." He emphasises the word "now", and I know that the time of the House is precious, but could you spare us time for a debate please, Mr. Speaker?

Mr. Speaker : The hon. Member asks leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 20, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that he believes should have urgent consideration, namely,

"the threat to the nation's inshore fishing fleet arising from the recent bad weather conditions."

I have listened with concern and I do not underestimate the seriousness of the situation that the hon. Member has outlined, but, as he knows, I have to base my decision on whether the application should have precedence over today's business or business tomorrow. I regret that I have to give him the same answer as I gave to the hon. and learned Member for Leicester, West (Mr. Janner). I cannot submit his application to the House, but hope that the hon. Member will find other methods of bringing the matter before the House.


Public Records Act 1958 (Amendment) Bill

Mr. Alfred Morris, supported by Mr. Jack Ashley, Sir Richard Body, Sir Bernard Braine, Mr. Robin Corbett, Mrs. Margaret Ewing, Mr. Neil Hamilton, Mr. Denis Healey, Mr. Merlyn Rees, Rev. Martin Smyth, Sir David Steel and Mr. Dafydd Wigley, presented a Bill to amend the Public Records Act 1958 to permit the making of a permanent loan or a gift of a public record : And the same was read the First time ; and ordered to be read a Second time on Friday 2 March and to be printed. [Bill 70.]



That European Community Documents Nos. 9127/89, 10318/87 and 4406/88 on generalised system of preferences (Poland, Hungary and Korea) be referred to a Standing Committee on European Community Documents.-- [Mr. John M. Taylor.]

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Legal Services

4.53 pm

Mr. Keith Vaz (Leicester, East) : I beg to move,

That this House is shocked at the continued public feuding between the police and the Crown Prosecution Service which has developed into a crisis of confidence in two essential parts of the criminal justice system ; and notes that the public legal services are in a serious state of collapse, in particular in respect of the legal aid system, the duty solicitors' scheme, the funding crisis of law centres and the failure of the Government to make progress on the issue of family courts.

This is the first time in many years that the House has discussed the crucial issue of legal services. I am grateful to the Attorney-General for his presence in the House today, and I look forward to hearing his important contribution.

This debate is not just about lawyers talking about lawyers. At some time in his life, every citizen comes into contact with the legal services. I declare an interest as a former solicitor, who was employed at the north Leicester advice centre. I no longer practise. In the time available I want to cover several crucial areas where I assert that the legal system is in crisis, and where I believe that early and urgent Government action is required. I shall begin with the Crown prosecution service.

As the House knows, the Select Committee on Home Affairs is conducting an inquiry into the operation of the Crown prosecution service. Members of the Committee, apart from myself, are at present on a site visit to Manchester. Tomorrow I shall join them in north Wales. Had they been here, I am certain that they would have wished to contribute to the debate.

On 23 January 1989, I asked the Attorney-General whether he agreed that the operation of the Crown prosecution service was approaching a crisis. He did not agree, and he stated in his reply to my request for an inquiry that he felt that it was an unnecessary disruption for an inquiry to take place.

Judging by the evidence given to the Select Committee by the Director of Public Prosecutions, Mr. Allan Green, and by representatives of the Association of Chief Police Officers and the Police Federation, there is little doubt in my mind that a serious crisis is besetting the Crown prosecution service. The public feuding between two essential elements of the criminal justice system has been astonishing. I felt that it was important to bring the matter before the House at an early stage, to seek the Attorney-General's views. The only people who could have an interest in the continuation of this quarrel are the criminals themselves, who have watched the proceedings, and watched the police and the DPP acting as sworn enemies rather than partners, as we have watched them.

I pay tribute to the staff of the Crown prosecution service for the work that they do under enormous pressure. I am a friend of the service, and I strongly believe in the need for an independent prosecution service. I pay tribute especially to the CPS in Leicestershire, which I have found to be efficient, fair and independent. All people agree that, from birth, the CPS has suffered from gross under-resourcing and understaffing. There are numerous complaints about the way in which it was established.

I ask the Attorney-General--I gave him notice of this and of several other questions--whether, with hindsight, he accepts the criticism that the service was established too hastily by the Government and without sufficient

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planning. Does he agree with the statement by Mr. Green to the Select Committee, that "I think the service was brought in too hurriedly."?

The inability of the Crown prosecution service to keep and recruit lawyers is legendary. Since its creation it has been understaffed by 23 per cent., or by 430 posts. In a recent parliamentary reply, the Attorney-General told me that, in the three years since its creation, 334 lawyers have left--304 resigned, seven retired, four were dismissed, 16 were transferred and three died. A total of £619,580 has been spent, until 14 November last year, on an advertising campaign to recruit more staff.

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