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Column 1046

O'Neill, Martin

Orme, Rt Hon Stanley

Parry, Robert

Patchett, Terry

Pendry, Tom

Pickthall, Colin

Pike, Peter L.

Pope, Greg

Powell, Ray (Ogmore)

Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lew'm E)

Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)

Prescott, John

Primarolo, Dawn

Purchase, Ken

Quin, Ms Joyce

Radice, Giles

Randall, Stuart

Raynsford, Nick

Redmond, Martin

Reid, Dr John

Rendel, David

Robertson, George (Hamilton)

Robinson, Geoffrey (Co'try NW)

Roche, Mrs. Barbara

Rogers, Allan

Rooker, Jeff

Rooney, Terry

Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)

Rowlands, Ted

Ruddock, Joan

Salmond, Alex

Sedgemore, Brian

Sheerman, Barry

Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert

Short, Clare

Simpson, Alan

Skinner, Dennis

Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)

Smith, C. (Isl'ton S & F'sbury)

Smith, Rt Hon John (M'kl'ds E)

Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)

Snape, Peter

Soley, Clive

Spearing, Nigel

Spellar, John

Squire, Rachel (Dunfermline W)

Steinberg, Gerry

Stevenson, George

Strang, Dr. Gavin

Straw, Jack

Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)

Taylor, Matthew (Truro)

Thompson, Jack (Wansbeck)

Tyler, Paul

Vaz, Keith

Walker, Rt Hon Sir Harold

Wallace, James

Walley, Joan

Wardell, Gareth (Gower)

Wareing, Robert N

Watson, Mike

Welsh, Andrew

Wicks, Malcolm

Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Sw'n W)

Williams, Alan W (Carmarthen)

Wilson, Brian

Winnick, David

Wise, Audrey

Worthington, Tony

Wray, Jimmy

Wright, Dr Tony

Young, David (Bolton SE)

Tellers for the Noes :

Mr. Dennis Turner and

Mr. Jon Owen Jones.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Madam Speaker-- forthwith declared the main Question, as amended, to be agreed to.

Resolved,

That this House regrets that the Opposition persistently denigrates the achievements of United Kingdom companies ; recognises the importance of manufacturing to this country's economy ; congratulates Her Majesty's Government on its success in achieving the conditions for sustained non- inflationary growth, low interest rates, low inflation and good industrial relations ; and welcomes the fact that both the OECD and European Commission are forecasting that the United Kingdom will be the fastest growing major economy in the EC in 1994 and 1995.

ESTIMATES

Motion made, and Question put forthwith pursuant to Standing Order No. 131(2) (Liaison Committee).

That this House agrees with the Report [24th February] of the Liaison Committee.-- [Mr. Andrew Mitchell.]

Question agreed to.

Ordered,

That a half day not later than 18th March be allotted for the consideration of the following Supplementary Estimate for the financial year 1993-94 :

Class VII, Vote 1, Housing, England, in so far as it relates to grants in aid to the Housing Corporation.-- [Mr. Andrew Mitchell.]


Column 1047

"Back to Basics"

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.-- [Mr. Andrew Mitchell.]

10.30 pm

Mr. David Evans (Welwyn and Hatfield) : I regard it as a great honour that you, Madam Speaker, have decided to stay in the chair for this Adjournment debate.

Last October, I was present at the Conservative party conference in Blackpool to listen to a succession of Ministers, including the Prime Minister, make speeches based on the theme of "back to basics". Their speeches won rapturous applause and gained the widespread support of the public as this new, common sense approach instinctively appealed to the hearts and minds of all those present at the conference and the millions of people around the country who saw it on television, listened to it on the radio and read about it in the newspapers. "Back to basics" rekindles the spirit of the nation and the desire for traditional values, standards, discipline and order--the foundations of a peaceful, successful and stable society. It promises a return to common sense--something that that lot over there do not have a clue about.

In the past few months, a number of embarrassments and tragedies have shaken our party. The press has had a field day and has had great satisfaction in linking these individual and personal cases of misconduct and tragedy to the broad approach of "back to basics". This has made some of my colleagues go wobbly. Some have even turned into spineless jellies, wittering on about dropping this new approach. What has happened to the traditional Conservative values of principle, loyalty and courage? We had the strength and determination to face up to the chaos of 1979 and of five years of socialism, so surely we have the backbone and grit to put recent events behind us and concentrate on the central theme--"back to basics".

The media, urged on by the wriggler from Monklands, East, cynically dismissed "back to basics" by saying that the public have no idea what it means. What a load of rubbish. The people of Welwyn Hatfield and of Britain know exactly what it means. There is a line in the sand separating right and wrong that my constituents understand--yes, all of them.

Let me share with the House the ten commandments of Welwyn Hatfield. The people of Welwyn Hatfield know when to say please and thank you, and when to raise their hats to a lady--an example not followed by one Opposition Member, who instead of raising his cap pulls it down over his ears. The people of Welwyn Hatfield also know that when a lady needs a seat, they get up and offer theirs. Commandment Three : the people of Welwyn Hatfield know when to help an old lady or gentleman across the road. Four : they know how to wait their turn in the queue. Five : they know that drinking and driving is wrong. Six : they know that stealing is wrong. Seven : they know that rape is wrong. Eight : they know that murder is wrong. Nine : they know that adultery is wrong. Even you, Madam Speaker, told me to stick with Janice--and that is exactly what I intend to do.

My constituents want to know what has happened to the basic value of parental guidance and responsibility. In many of our cities some people have only to look out of their windows at night to see gangs of pint-sized Rambos thieving, raping or--even worse--murdering. Their parents have no idea, or simply do not care, where their


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children are and what they are up to. By adopting a negligent attitude towards the upbringing of their children, thousands of parents have walked away from all responsibility, leaving their children to face new experiences and challenges with no guidance, no assistance and no discipline.

Who do children have to look up to now? When I was a lad, I looked up to the village bobby, but today children no longer seem to have role models-- or if they have the models are wholly inappropriate. An unsupervised child can quickly fall under the disturbing influence of the televisual media, and before we know it the child is trying to emulate the blood-curdling acts of robocop, the exterminator or some other pathological video nightmare bent on death and destruction. Parental responsibility is such a basic value, but it is sadly lacking in many parents. So it is up to the Government to force parents to take an active role in the development of their children. I applaud the Home Secretary's recent announcement of £1,000 fines for parents whose children defy court orders. That might give them the incentive that they need to show a bit of responsibility and authority. I suggest that if that fails to work with the worst offenders, the Home Secretary should strengthen the law to place the parents of persistent offenders in gaol with their hooligan offspring. That would provide them with the perfect opportunity to spend a little quality time together, and it might just persuade those pathetic parents that bringing up a child is a privilege which involves parental duty and responsibility.

"Back to basics" applies not only to the home but to the school. In the 1960s, some trendy socialist intellectual with a breeze block for a brain came up with the idea that traditional teaching methods were out of date. Reading, writing and arithmetic were old hat, and discipline went out of the window, too. People said then--some people are still saying it now-- that what kids need is to read about lesbians and homosexuals. They could not read Shakespeare because he was an heterosexual oppressor.

I am glad to see the Government going flat out to give parents more control of schools, so that slowly but surely they will return to the basics. The national curriculum will mean a return to sensible and practical subjects.

Discipline, however, is still a problem. Since the abolition of corporal punishment schools no longer have effective means of controlling unruly children. There is no deterrent. We constantly hear horrific reports of classroom riots, but measures over a long period have diminished the power and the authority of the teacher to the point where they are scared even to touch a child for fear of being suspended. There are even more reports of teachers being subject to violent physical and sexual abuse by their pupils. What is going wrong? Are we all going crackers?

When I was at school, the class would stand to attention when the teacher entered the room and lessons were conducted in silence. If a child got out of line, he got the cane. The problem is now that children do not know when they are out of line because in the classroom there is no line. Let us get "back to basics", as they are in Welwyn Hatfield.

The breakdown of values in the home and schools has spilled into the streets. What has happened to neighbourliness, decency and courtesy? We now live in a country where millions of people do not even acknowledge their next-door neighbour. Pensioners can lie dead in their homes for days before they are discovered. The words


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