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Column 12there remains concern about boundaries in particular? Equally, grave concern is growing daily throughout Wales about the general thrust of the White Paper on the proposed legislation, in terms of privatisation, reduced democracy and the lack of a Welsh assembly. Would it not be better if the Secretary of State and the Minister withdrew the proposals and included a further period of consultation, when he can get it right and achieve consensus rather than what he has at the moment, which is opposition?
Mr. Jones : There the hon. Gentleman points to it. He would take powers away from local government and give them to a remote quango of a regional assembly for Wales. We want to make local government more direct to the people of Wales. That is why our unitary authorities have been widely welcomed.
There are opportunities for consultation. We have asked for all consultations to be in by 30 June.I know that the hon. Gentleman has already seen my right hon. Friend. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that his representations and all of the others will be taken into account before we introduce legislation in the next Session.
Mr. Gwilym Jones : Following an extensive option appraisal, I am pleased to announce that a second cardiac centre is to be developed at Morriston hospital in Swansea. I have also endorsed the consultants' recommendations that the existing planning objective of 1,200 adult open- heart operations per annum should be increased to 1, 400 in the light of the latest estimates of need and the prevalence of the disease in south Wales. I am, therefore, inviting proposals to develop the centre.
Mr. Anderson : I assure the Minister that this long-awaited decision will be eagerly greeted at Morriston and the staff there will be ready to co-operate with the Welsh Office in its implementation. Is the Minister able to give an assurance to the House that the full revenue and capital costs of the decision are secure?
Mr. Jones : I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his welcome and assurance on behalf of the staff. I already know that they are looking forward to taking the decision forward. We have considered the proposal most carefully, not least the financial implications involved. I am anxious that the centre should come on stream as quickly as possible and I am urging the West Glamorgan health authority, the management of Morriston hospital and the Welsh Health Common Services Authority to initiate the proposals without delay.
Mr. Gareth Wardell : I very much welcome what the Minister has said, but I wish to check three things with him. First, can he confirm that the same situation will not be repeated at Morriston as happened at University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff, when evidence given to the Select Committee at the time he was a member showed that patients were dying on the wards because there were no dedicated intensive care beds? Will he ensure that those beds are in place? Secondly--
Mr. Gwilym Jones : We have already made arrangements to expand the activities of the University Hospital of Wales to 800 from April this year. I am fully satisfied that all that is necessary to do that has been put in place. In turn, we shall be working out the arrangements. I have invited the proposal to be submitted as quickly as possible. This will be a tremendous advance for the national health service in Wales. It will be a new facility for the NHS treating NHS patients in Wales and I am especially grateful that the hon. Gentleman welcomes it.
The Attorney-General (Sir Nicholas Lyell) : The aim of the Crown Prosecution Service is to undertake a fair and independent review of the evidence in criminal cases and, if proceedings are justified, to prosecute them effectively and efficiently.
Mr. Richards : Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that it is absolutely outrageous that Mr. Tony Evans, an elderly householder who had his home broken into on more than eight occasions and eventually resorted to defending himself and his property with a shotgun, was arrested and faces the possibility of being prosecuted for attempted murder?
The Attorney-General : I am happy to tell my hon. Friend that that is not the case. Any shooting incident must be carefully investigated. It is not for people to take the law into their own hands. The case of Mr. Evans showed the system working exactly as it should. There was a prompt review of the evidence by the Crown Prosecution Service, acting in close consultation with the police, which showed that Mr. Evans had acted only in self defence. The Crown Prosecution Service advised properly and correctly that no charge was appropriate.
Mr. Skinner : Is it one of the aims of the Crown Prosecution Service to ensure that, when people such as Asil Nadir, who have connections with the Tory party and who are likely to spill the beans if taken to court, somehow or other manage to get away from Britain to northern Cyprus--almost certainly with help from people in the Establishment--they receive a visit from the Lord Chancellor, who went straight off the Woolsack to see a man who had fled bail? Was the President of the Board of Trade in Venice to meet the ex-treasurer of the Tory party McAlpine?
The Attorney-General : The hon. Gentleman is wandering even more curiously than usual into the realms of fantasy. The notion that my noble and learned Friend the Lord Chancellor went to visit Asil Nadir is ridiculous. As I have said to the hon. Gentleman before, if he has the slightest evidence of criminality in relation to this matter against any person, he should tell the police.
Mr. Thurnham : Will my right hon. and learned Friend review the amount of time that the police have to spend on paperwork for the Crown Prosecution Service, especially in the case of guilty pleas, so that the police can spend their time out on the beat instead of stuck behind their desks?
The Attorney-General : My hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor- General will answer a question about that matter a little later. But I can tell my hon. Friend that the amount of paperwork was agreed between the police and the CPS when pre-trial issues were considered recently.
Mr. Fraser : As head of the Crown Prosecution Service, can the Attorney-General confirm that he has received up to about nine representations about Mr. Asil Nadir from Members of Parliament and from Ministers? Does not that demonstrate that there is one course of advocacy for those who are rich and donate to the Tory party and another course of conduct for others? I should like the Attorney-General to answer two questions. First, how many of the representations that he received contained declarations of interest in accordance with the practices of the House? Secondly, what advice does he have for Members of Parliament so that when representations are made on such matters they should be entirely above reproach?
The Attorney-General : I receive a large number of representations, sometimes made public and sometimes made in private, from right hon. and hon. Members or members of the public about many prosecutions from time to time. I have no reason to believe that any representations made to me about the case of Mr. Nadir were improperly made. I shall repeat for the hon. Gentleman what I have said many times. If any representation is made to me it will be carefully and dispassionately examined in the appropriate quarters. It is not my policy to publish, where the individual has chosen not to publish, the nature of the representations made.
The Solicitor-General (Sir Derek Spencer) : When the Crown Prosecution Service is deciding whether to continue proceedings, the interests of the victim are an important factor in determining the balance of the public interest.
Mr. Booth : In view of the complaints that have been aired in the press this morning about the Government's help for victims, will my hon. and learned Friend tell the House what help has been given to victims and especially to victim support schemes in the past five to 10 years? Is my hon. and learned Friend open to new policy suggestions that will also help victims?
The Solicitor-General : The Government are strongly committed to helping victims of crime. As my hon. Friend will know, the Government published their victims charter in 1990. Although it is a matter for the Home Office, I can tell my hon. Friend that funding for victim support has increased by 46 per cent. in the past two years, from £5.7 million to £8.4 million this year.
Column 15On my hon. Friend's more specific point about initiatives that the Crown Prosecution Service has under way, it is at present formulating a national operational service standard for victims and witnesses on which the views of victim support are being sought. In the near future the results of those consultations will be made public.
Mrs. Dunwoody : Is the Minister aware that the increase in the amount of money offered to victim support schemes is nothing like the increase in the number of crimes with which they have to deal? His Department could not only make life a great deal simpler by giving schemes sufficient money to fulfil the task that they have been given, but could examine the habit of not informing victims of any particular action taken and the timing of any action. That lack of information contributes to the feeling of great unease and, indeed, of neglect.
The Solicitor-General : I understand what the hon. Lady says. We sympathise with those victims who feel that they are not kept abreast of developments in their cases. It is, principally, a matter for the police to inform victims of the progress of their cases. It is not every victim who requires financial support, but the hon. Lady will be aware of the change that we made to the law in 1988, as a result of which, in appropriate cases, the CPS makes application to the court for compensation to be paid by defendants to victims. That is a welcome reform.
Mr. Brazier : Will my hon. and learned Friend accept from me that one way in which to release extra funds to victims would be by saving money on the scope and size of the CPS, which is involved in almost all criminal cases that the police handle? Since the CPS came into being, it has increased costs and delays and reduced the proportion of cases coming to court. The conviction rate of contested cases in Crown courts has also reduced.
The Solicitor-General : I always listen with interest to contributions from my hon. Friend on the subject of law and order, but I disagree with every statement of fact that he has just made. It is significant that one of the main ways in which the CPS is able to help victims results from a new form that it has introduced, which contains details of a victim's loss. That can be given to counsel in court to ensure that an application is made to the court for compensation. That surely is progress.
Mr. Hutton : Given the great interest in one of those cases--that against Mr. Asil Nadir--will the right hon. and learned Gentleman reconsider his decision not to reveal the identity of hon. Members who have made representations to him about that case? Does he further agree that the transparently politically motivated lobbying on behalf of Mr. Nadir has compromised the integrity and independence of the Serious Fraud Office?
In my view, it is an important part of our criminal justice system that it should be possible for people, whether in the House or elsewhere, to make representations to the Law Officers, in private if they think it appropriate, so that matters can be carefully and dispassionately examined. I have no reason to believe that any impropriety has been committed in relation to the case of Mr. Nadir ; nor can I think of any impropriety in relation to other cases. They are all carefully and properly reviewed.
33. Mr. Enright : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions have been held in the Development Council of the European Community on co-ordination procedures with other multilateral and bilateral donors.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Mark Lennox-Boyd) : The European CommunityDevelopment Council on 25 May 1993 discussed the co-ordination of development policies between the Community and its member states.
Mr. Enright : The Minister will be aware that, despite pious promises, there continue to be discrepancies, even in Lome countries, where there is a real opportunity for complementarity. Will he therefore examine urgently how the council, alongside the United Nations Development Programme, can achieve more successful co-ordination? In particular, will he consider the poorest countries which simply do not have the administration to cope with the vagaries of different administrations? I would also include in that non-governmental organisations.
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : It is early days. The new system must develop properly, but the hon. Gentleman, whose considerable expertise in this matter I recognise, should accept that there has been some progress. A resolution on family planning was passed at the meeting of the Development Council in November under our presidency. That has been taken forward in terms of co-ordination through regular expert meetings and meetings at the margins of other international conferences. Co-ordination has begun to develop.
Mr. Merchant : In view of the increasing proportion of British aid channelled through multilateral sources, is it not increasingly important for Britain to work closely with those agencies to ensure that our aid is given through the most effective means possible?
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : Yes, my hon. Friend must be right. I have just answered a question on co-ordination in the European Community of that element of our multilateral aid programme, so it must apply to the other elements of that programme. We maintain close liaison with the international financial institutions and with the World bank, particularly with regard to its special programme of assistance for sub-Saharan Africa. That has been an invaluable mechanism for the support of economic reform programmes.
35. Mr. William O'Brien : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will meet representatives of the World Development Movement to discuss overseas aid provision for non-governmental organisations ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. O'Brien : Will the Minister assure the House that, next time his colleague meets the World Development Movement, she will ensure that the Government's contribution towards the cessation of dumping of toxic waste and other materials in the developing countries and of using dangerous chemicals is maintained and that the Government will not reduce their contribution to protecting and helping the environment in developing countries?
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : As the hon. Gentleman knows, my right hon. and noble Friend the Minister has regular meetings with a whole range of NGOs, including the one on whose behalf he has asked the question. He will be aware that the ODA has published a manual of environmental appraisal, a copy of which is in the House. It was published in 1989 and has been regularly revised and updated. More than 1,800 copies of it are distributed to a wide range of organisations and to all ODA staff, who have also been given environmental training.
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : Yes, both our bilateral and multilateral aid programmes have considerable benefit for British industry. We estimate that the total identifiable spending in Britain from aid has approached about £2 billion a year in recent years and about three quarters of that derives directly from the British aid programme.
Column 18continue to provide humanitarian assistance to the people of Bosnia and to insist that all parties should allow humanitarian aid to pass without hindrance.
Mr. Watson : As that is clearly not happening, does not the shameful Washington agreement effectively represent a final sell-out of the Bosnian people by the United Nations? It is effectively impotent in the face of the Serbian advances through eastern Bosnia, and once Gorazde falls, as it seems that it soon must, what possibility will there be of delivering humanitarian aid to the Muslims of eastern Bosnia? Is it not time that the Minister put pressure on the Foreign Secretary and that he, in turn, put pressure on the other United Nations Security Council members to ensure that attempts are made to bring about peace by bringing direct pressure to bear on Serbia--and if that involves some form of military action, is that not what is now necessary to ensure that humanitarian aid can effectively be delivered?
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : These are aid questions, and we have discussed Bosnia at Foreign and Commonwealth Office Question Time on many occasions. I pay tribute to the dedication and bravery of all the civilian aid workers in Bosnia, many of whom are British, and to our armed forces for their tremendous achievements. I am delighted to see that those considerable efforts were reflected in the recent honours list.
The hon. Member makes a political point, and it is not for me, in this Question Time, to answer that. He is aware that Bosnia features high on the agenda at the European Council meeting taking place in Copenhagen. Lord Owen met Foreign Ministers yesterday. There will be Foreign Ministers' discussion about the various political matters and the way in which they could be concluded.
Mr. Meacher : Is not the Minister ashamed that the British Government have signed the Washington agreement, which is a despicable betrayal of the largest population group in Bosnia, the Muslims, who are now being denied both the arms to defend themselves and adequate United Nations protection to guarantee the delivery of humanitarian relief and safe havens?
Is not the hon. Gentleman also ashamed that nothing is being done to provide for the 2 million refugees who have been driven out of their homes, that atrocities continue at Gorazde and that the delivery of humanitarian relief is dependent on the consent of the Serbs, who are guilty of genocide? If Vance-Owen is now dead, will the Government at least press for the creation of a United Nations transitional authority as the only political framework that may still save the victims of that terrible war from complete annihilation?
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : The hon. Gentleman, like the right hon. Member for Copeland (Dr. Cunningham), who leads for the Opposition on foreign affairs, says that something must be done, but does not specify whether he wants British troops to be more at risk than they are. He should recognise that more than 2.3 million people in Bosnia depend on the international relief effort, under the co-ordination of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and that we have made a substantial contribution to that effort.
Column 19workers and the British troops? Indeed, we all echo them. Will he confirm that neither extra aid nor extra protection will be afforded by the Washington agreement?
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