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Mr. Rifkind : The strategic background to the review is the essential requirement of concentrating defence resources on the fighting strength of the armed forces. Therefore, the redeployment that we have announced today is highly sensible for the very reasons that my hon. Friend has stated.
In answer to my hon. Friend's specific questions, we have no proposals to change the group structure of the Royal Air Force. I announced in my statement that both RAF Scampton and RAF Finningley would close. Flying training at the basic level is already in part provided by the private sector. There will be some increase in that provision.
I am conscious of the fact, however, that flying training, when it reaches the level required from military skills, can only be provided by those with military background and military capability ; therefore, we will be careful to ensure that those who provide the training are fully qualified to meet the needs of the Royal Air Force. In that respect, I am very much guided by the advice of the Air Force Board.
Ms Rachel Squire (Dunfermline, West) : Can the Secretary of State explain what strategic, economic or military reasons he has for moving minehunting and fishery protection from Rosyth naval base, when his own advisers have told him that Rosyth can do it better and more cheaply ? Does he agree that his statement on job losses involves 1,620 service personnel moving and 740 civilians losing their jobs, with the impact that that will have on the local economy ?
Can he further explain why, only last July, he announced that the rescue co -ordination centre for the United Kingdom would be at Pitreavie, yet today he announced that the maritime headquarters will be moving from Pitreavie ?
Finally, does he agree that his statement and his Government's defence policy amount to a betrayal of the trust, loyalty and commitment of the men and women who work at Rosyth, who have served their country so loyally for so many years ?
Mr. Rifkind : I understand the hon. Lady's strong feelings on this subject, which she naturally expresses, but she is misinformed. First, the advice that I received from the Royal Navy was unequivocally that there is no longer a strategic requirement for the ships to be based at Rosyth. If the hon. Lady considers the matter as objectively as possible, she will see the strength of that argument.
Of the two minehunter squadrons, one has the purpose of protecting the deterrent in the Clyde, and that is why it is more appropriate for it to be based at Faslane. The other minehunter squadron serves in the Gulf, the Atlantic or elsewhere, and there is no particular argument that points to one location or another as its base. As the hon. Lady must be well aware, the fishery protection service does not provide fishery protection for the waters around Scotland ;
Column 1182it provides protection for the waters around England, Wales and the south-west of England. She should bear that point in mind. The hon. Lady was right to point out that, in addition to the job losses, service personnel will be moving from Rosyth. It is not yet certain how many will move because, clearly, that will depend on a number of factors. [Interruption.] No, although they will not be working in Rosyth, it does not necessarily follow that all of them will leave, because 400 personnel will be working at Faslane, and it will be up to them to decide whether they wish to move.
As for Pitreavie, the announcement that we made some months ago related to the rescue co-ordination centre. That will be placed at RAF Leuchars in Fife. Although the hon. Lady is correct to point out that it will not be at Pitreavie, she will acknowledge that it will be in the same part of Scotland.
Mr. John Ward (Poole) : My right hon. and learned Friend will understand that the people of Poole will be dismayed by his announcement today that the 40-year association with the Royal Marines is to be broken. Is he aware that we should be careful to ensure that any savings are spent on weapons, and not on bricks and mortar to house the Royal Marines elsewhere ? In particular, will he consider what efforts the Government could make to compensate for job losses ? Can he tell us what is to happen to the joint warfare school, which was moved to Poole at considerable public expense only a few years ago ?
Mr. Rifkind : I can understand my hon. Friend's sadness at the move from Poole of the Royal Marines, but it will save some £12 million over the next 10 years ; therefore, sadly, it was difficult not to reach the decision that that was the right thing to do. As with any other closures, there will be a consultation period of some three months, and we will carefully examine any suggestions that come forward as a result of that. The relocation of the joint warfare school is the subject of a separate tri-service study, and we will announce the outcome of that as soon as we are able to.
Mr. Bruce George (Walsall, South) : Many Secretaries of State have appeared before the House--certainly since 1985--to announce cuts. In order to achieve the Government's target of reducing defence expenditure to under 3 per cent. of gross domestic product, will the right hon. and learned Gentleman answer the question that his hon Friend the Member for Upminster (Sir N. Bonsor) asked ? It was right to use a Nelsonian tactic against a descendant of Nelson. The Chairman of the Defence Select Committee asked, "Is this the end of the cuts ? Will there now be stability ?" The House would welcome an honest answer from the Secretary of State on the subject. Secondly, the future of the Ministry of Defence police was one of the subjects that the Secretary of State omitted from his very detailed presentation. One of the dafter suggestions of the Blelloch committee was that redundant soldiers should replace Ministry of Defence policemen who were to be made redundant. Has that idea been knocked on the head ?
Mr. Rifkind : On the Ministry of Defence police, a study published today identifies the need for further work before we can reach a conclusion on the Blelloch recommendations. I answered the earlier part of the hon.
Column 1183Gentleman's questions in my answer to the question asked by my right hon. Friend the Member for Bridgwater (Mr. King), when I emphasised that we must continue the search for efficiency. No Government Department will expect to be exempted from that. My announcement today gives total authority to my statement that the Government are committed to maintaining the fighting strength of our armed forces, and we are not going to depart from that.
Sir Nicholas Fairbairn (Perth and Kinross) : My right hon. and learned Friend will recall that he made a speech on 24 June 1993 in which he said that there would be a reduction of only 450 in the work force at Rosyth. He went on to say that there was every confidence that, if the work force applied themselves, they would increase their numbers, employment and benefits. That seems to have gone by the board. I have one simple question. Why ?
Mr. Rifkind : I can reassure my hon. and learned Friend : it has not gone by the board. The statement that he mentioned referred to the royal dockyard at Rosyth, and it is heavily involved in work at the moment and has good prospects, and its management are optimistic. I stand by the remarks I made.
Mr. Ken Maginnis (Fermanagh and South Tyrone) : May I welcome that part of the Secretary of State's statement that I hope finally removes the doubt about the future and role of the Territorial Army ? Will he clarify whether, as rumoured, there is to be a significant reduction in financial provision for travel to training ? Does he realise that that would affect Territorial Army units in Northern Ireland ? He must know that any impediment to better training would be disastrous, and likely to undermine the fitness for role of such units.
Mr. Rifkind : I thank the hon. Gentleman for his welcome for our conclusions on the Territorial Army. With regard to his question, we are examining the issue. I can assure him that I would not want to support any outcome that made it unreasonable or impossible for members of the TA in Northern Ireland to carry out their proper responsibilities.
Sir Archibald Hamilton (Epsom and Ewell) : Does my right hon. and learned Friend accept that the contention that the world is a more dangerous place is, to put it mildly, debatable ? There can be no argument about the fact that, since July 1990, when my right hon. Friend the Member for Bridgwater (Mr. King) announced "Options for Change", the threats to the United Kingdom have very much reduced. It is against that background that we must consider the desire, which is defensible, for savings in the defence budget.
My right hon. and learned Friend and his hon. Friend the Minister of State for Defence Procurement are to be congratulated on their achievements. It is in no small measure due to the fact that so many suggestions came from the services that quite radical reductions have been made without any effect on our front-line forces. That is a great achievement.
I have to confess that there were doubters--I was among them. We knew that the ground had been trawled over so many times, and we doubted whether the savings were there. My right hon. and learned Friend must be congratulated, as so much has been done, and the fighting effectiveness of our forces has been maintained.
Mr. Rifkind : I thank my right hon. Friend, and I emphasise that I attach enormous importance to involving the armed forces in a series of proposals which affect them more than anybody else. More than 3, 000 members of the armed forces and civil servants at the Ministry of Defence took the trouble to put their proposals to us, and many of those suggestions were found to be very sensible with regard to how we could deliver the same quality of product without having to use the same resources. It has been an enormously valuable exercise, and it is something on which we wish to build in the years to come so that we can maintain that confidence, relationship and trust. Several hon. Members rose
Madam Speaker : Order. I shall let questions on the statement run for a little longer, but not for too long. It has been a long and complex statement, and I want the House to keep in mind the fact that I anticipate a two-day debate on the matter immediately after we return from the summer recess.
Mr. John Hutton (Barrow and Furness) : I welcome the Secretary of State's announcement of replacements for HMS Fearless and HMS Intrepid, and also his statement that tenders will be invited for new batch 2 Trafalgar class submarines. Both announcements will be welcomed in my constituency.
Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman look again specifically at the contract for the batch 2 Trafalgars ? Will he make it clear that his policy is to maintain 16 SSNs in the Royal Navy ? If that is the case, why does the contract for the batch 2 Trafalgars specify an original order for five, and not the three plus two which I understand was the Government's proposal ?
May I also ask about the armed forces medical services ? On what basis does the Secretary of State classify the medical services as support services, and not as part of the front line ? How many of the 1,600 doctors and dentists who are currently in the regular armed forces will be made redundant as a result of his statement ?
Mr. Rifkind : I thank the hon. Gentleman for his welcome for the industrial orders which we have made. I cannot give precise details on the batch 2 Trafalgar submarines. That is essentially because we are entering into negotiations on price, and obviously there are matters which we will wish to discuss with those who are anxious to build the boats on our behalf.
As for the medical services, we must have military medical expertise available on the front line and in combat situations when required. The particular changes which we have announced are with regard to hospital establishments within the United Kingdom. Those are important, but they can be provided on a joint basis, rather than on a separate service basis, and together would provide military medical hospital annexes which will meet the requirements of the forces.
Mr. Ian Bruce (South Dorset) : My right hon. and learned Friend and my hon. Friends will know that I set them a challenge at the beginning of the cost reduction study, which I fully supported, of reducing costs and not having to build a grandiose office block north of Bristol. They have cut civil service jobs by 7,000, but are continuing with that ridiculous project.
Can my right hon. and learned Friend confirm to the House that, despite the four separate studies during the past
Column 1185five or six years into the air station at Portland moving to Yeovilton--each of which said that it would not be cost- effective--that move has now been proposed ? The total job losses in Dorset, including the marines, will be 2,250. That is a very large number when compared with anything that Rosyth is currently suffering. We will have an opportunity in Dorset to look at the figures which have been brought forward, particularly as there does not appear to be any consistency with reports which have come from people previously. Finally, what will be the effect of the third reconnaissance regiment within my constituency ?
Mr. Rifkind : I can understand my hon. Friend's regret about the proposal for Portland, and I acknowledge his point. It is unfortunately necessary to propose the measure, because it will provide savings of some £40 million over a 10-year period, without operational cost. The proposal is to relocate to Somerset, which is relatively close to Portland.
The employment implications for the local community are that about 150 local people employed at the establishment and about 250 contracted staff will be affected. I acknowledge that some 1,200 service personnel will also be leaving Portland as a consequence of the proposal.
Mrs. Irene Adams (Paisley, North) : In the light of the Secretary of State's statement, will he now tell the House whether there are any plans to reduce the number of MOD employees at Kentigern house in Glasgow ? Will the original target for the numbers now be met ?
Mr. Rifkind : As a result of the work that has been done, we have come to the conclusion that the proposal for the army personnel centre to be in Glasgow should be confirmed. As part of the overall changes in manpower, there is likely to be a reduction in the number of people who will work there, but we are still working on the precise figure. However, the work will go to Kentigern house.
Mr. Gary Streeter (Plymouth, Sutton) : Will my right hon. Friend accept my appreciation for his skill in taking the opportunity to boost the front-line services in his announcement today ? As he knows, the Royal Marines are a vital part of the cultural and economic life of the city of Plymouth. Will he assure me this afternoon that no hasty decision will be taken to relocate the Royal Marines to north Devon, and that not a single Royal Marine will relocate without the fullest possible consultation ?
Mr. Rifkind : I appreciate that this matter must be considered carefully, and we shall wish to take into account the views of the Royal Marines themselves. The issue is being considered because city-centre sites in any city, including Plymouth, are much more expensive. As we have spare capacity in Chivenor, the Royal Marines could benefit considerably by moving to that location. No final conclusion has yet been reached and we shall wish to take account of all the relevant circumstances.
Mrs. Margaret Ewing (Moray) : Does the Secretary of State realise that, far from portraying his announcement on Rosyth as a victory for himself, he should be thoroughly ashamed, because to most logical thinkers it is not a reprieve for Rosyth but a suspended sentence. A naval base without ships hardly fulfils the role envisaged.
Column 1186On the aspect of a fishery protection service, which is extremely important in Scotland, does he realise that the Scottish Office has a contract with the Royal Navy, and the Royal Navy supports the protection service when any major incident occurs ? What he has said today shows that he now intends to privatise that contract. The fishermen in my area and all maritime constituencies would like clarification on that.
Does the Secretary of State agree with Professor Greenwood, of the department of strategic studies at Aberdeen university, that, without a naval base at Rosyth, the oil and gas installations in the North sea will not be offered the full protection that they require ?
Mr. Rifkind : On the first question, Rosyth is to become a naval support establishment because the Ministry of Defence believes that all the other activities that currently take place on the base need to continue. That is the basis of my announcement.
On the fishery protection service, there is one fishery protection offshore patrol vessel which the Royal Navy provides for the Scottish fishery protection service. That will continue, and will not be affected in any way by today's announcement.
On Professor Greenwood's article, which I read yesterday, he is obviously unaware that, every day of the year, a minehunter--an official patrol vessel--is in the North sea and available on first call should an incident occur in the North sea, so the operational requirement is not affected by today's announcement.
Mr. Toby Jessel (Twickenham) : I welcome my right hon. Friend's enthusiastic acceptance of the military value of British Army bands, whose high standard of excellence is the envy of the entire world, and who are trained at the Royal Military School of Music at Kneller Hall, Twickenham. Why is it necessary to set up yet another long study on musician training, which could have been done over the past year ? Why cannot he now set up a joint services music college at Kneller Hall, which provides excellent value for money ?
Mr. Rifkind : My hon. Friend need not fear that it will be a long study. It is important to see whether some of the facilities used by, for instance, the Royal Air Force to train its musicians might be relevant to other services. We are not starting out with presuppositions. The matter needs to be looked at, and I hope to be able to reach a conclusion on it in the relatively near future.
Mr. Alan W. Williams (Carmarthen) : The Secretary of State will understand the deep disappointment in Pendine in my constituency, where 300 jobs will be lost in an area with no comparable alternative employment. There is also deep resentment that much of the work will move to Shoeburyness, despite the fact that Pendine has a long record as a centre of excellence and works efficiently and cost effectively. Why is there a bias for the south and against the regions ?
Mr. Rifkind : Of course I acknowledge the quality of the work force in Pendine. My hon. Friend the Minister of State for Defence Procurement visited Pendine and reported to me on that matter. It is always a sadness when any establishment is closed, but we have had to review the overall requirements of the Army for ranges. Sadly, we have come to the judgment that we have a current over-capacity, so it has been necessary
Column 1187to indicate certain closures--and I can assure the hon. Gentleman that they are not related to any one part of the country.
Rev. Ian Paisley (Antrim, North) : Although the cold war has finished, the hot war in Northern Ireland is heating up. I am sure that the Minister is well aware of that. This week, we have had a cruel spiral of a new departure, where politicians are to be on the receiving end of the gun and the bomb. Already, my colleague the hon. Member for Mid-Ulster (Rev. William McCrea) has had his home attacked, and it was only by the mercy and providence of God that he and 11 people in that home were not murdered.
Another politician was shot dead in Lisburn ; another councillor who has now finished his term and belonged to my party, in the Cookstown council, had his house bombed and destroyed ; and a large bomb has been found. Thank God that it was found, for one can only wonder at what devastation it would have caused here on the mainland.
In keeping with that, I ask the Secretary of State, what will be the results of his proposals for the armed forces in Northern Ireland ? Is it still his policy to do away with the full-time members of the Royal Irish Regiment ?
Mr. Rifkind : No proposals in the documents published today will in any way reduce the contribution made by the Army, or the other security forces, to the protection of the people of Northern Ireland and the battle against terrorism. That is part of the front line, and it is part of the role of our armed forces as long as there is a battle against terrorism to be waged. Therefore, the hon. Gentleman can assume that that will remain one of our highest priorities.
Mr. Peter Hardy (Wentworth) : Is the Secretary of State aware that today will be regarded as a black day in the history of the Royal Air Force, and that he will be inflicting more damage on it than Goering and the Luftwaffe sought to do in 1940 ?
Does he appreciate that his anxiety for the privatisation of flying training affects the maintenance of the ethos and traditions of the service ; that the quality of that training will be hard to match ; that, while Britain remains a member of the Security Council, he and his colleagues will wish to ensure that Britain fulfils its international obligations in response to the growing instability in the world ; and that, without an adequately sized Royal Air Force, our contribution cannot be guaranteed ?
Mr. Rifkind : The hon. Gentleman is totally out of touch with the current views of the Royal Air Force and of the Air Force Board. If he had listened to my statement, he would have heard that we have made a major announcement about the upgrading of the Tornado, one of the highest priorities of the Royal Air Force ; that we have brought a squadron of Harriers into the front line from the reserves ; and that we have announced important orders for laser-guided bombs, which is a very important priority at present. We have announced decisions about a number of other important related issues of that type. The hon. Gentleman should realise that the fighting capability of the Royal Air Force determines the contribution that it can make to our security and to our national interests, and that, if resources are not
Column 1188concentrated in the fighting and operational capability of the Royal Air Force, the kind of rather foolish prediction that the hon. Gentleman made would indeed come true.
Mr. David Shaw (Dover) : Why has music not been tackled on a combined school of music basis at Deal ? Does my right hon. and learned Friend not conclude, therefore, that the IRA has now bombed the Royal Marines out of Deal ? His quotation of a figure of £300,000 includes the security costs for three sites, when only one is needed for music training. Does he therefore accept that the Ministry of Defence figures are totally false and incorrect ? Will he visit Deal, and meet some of the 12,600 people who signed a petition in favour of a combined school of music in Deal ?
Does my right hon. and learned Friend recall that Margaret Thatcher told me in 1989 that removing the Royal Marines school of music from Deal would tear the heart out of Deal ? Will he also accept that unemployment is greater in Dover and Deal than in many regions of the country whose military establishments have been saved ?
Mr. Rifkind : I entirely understand my hon. Friend's strong feelings on that subject. Given the background in Deal, we have obviously considered that issue extremely carefully and tried to be as sensitive to those matters as possible. It is difficult to avoid coming to the conclusion that we have done.
My hon. Friend knows that the Royal Marines themselves believe that it is appropriate for them to move to another location. He knows that the cost of the Royal Marines school in Deal is about £6 million a year. He knows that only about 15 to 20 Royal Marine musicians are trained there each year. That position could not possibly continue indefinitely. Of course we have considered whether there were other options that would have allowed the Royal Marines to continue in Deal and make other uses of the excess capability there. We have not been able to identify any coherent or sensible alternative.
There is now a consultation period of about three months, and if my hon. Friend makes proposals that we have not considered, or can identify factors that we have not correctly assessed, we will wish to consider them. However, the subject has been considered very, very carefully. I do not believe that, if one is as objective as one has to be, it was possible to come to any alternative conclusion.
Mr. Frank Cook (Stockton, North) : With a son who has now served for some months in Gorajde in Bosnia, I should dearly like to be able to take the term "front line first" at face value, but front lines are dependent on reliable logistic supplies, and the Secretary of State has announced this afternoon that 17 depots are to close. If I may refer to one specific depot, which employs many of my constituents, I have the report which says that many millions of pounds have been spent on that establishment in the past five years, and several millions of pounds allocated to the next two years' expenditure, making it the most up-to-date component handling centre in Europe, if not the world.
Column 1189justify it ? I am speaking about Eaglescliffe. How can he justify having spent all that money in the past five years, and more to come, with that decision in mind ?
Mr. Rifkind : Those are also difficult and painful decisions, but once it was established that we could meet our requirements with far fewer supply depots and stores, we had to identify the basis on which they should be chosen, and the strong opinion of the Royal Navy was that depots should be retained that were on coastal sites rather than inland. From an operational point of view, for obvious reasons, that is more appropriate to their needs. It was on that basis that, in the cases of Eaglescliffe and of Exeter, the decisions that we have announced today have been taken.
Mr. Edward Leigh (Gainsborough and Horncastle) : Although the House as a whole will welcome this skilful package, will my right hon. and learned Friend accept that my constituents will be saddened at the closure of RAF Scampton, one of the RAF's most historic bases, currently the home of the Red Arrows, formerly that of the V bombers and of the Dambusters in the second world war ? Will he reconsider that decision and pursue that matter with me ?
My right hon. and learned Friend has told me in a letter today that he will retain the married quarters. If he has retained the married quarters, will the runway be retained ? If so, is there any chance that the Red Arrows can be left at RAF Scampton ? If the base is to close, will he pursue with me how as many jobs as possible, especially on the civilian side--the 250 contractor jobs, the 80 civilian jobs--can be saved and transferred to nearby RAF Waddington ?
Mr. Rifkind : The background to that decision is the overall rationalisation of flying training, which will provide savings of about £40 million a year. It has inevitably led to the requirement to close several establishments, such as RAF Scampton. I will wish to listen carefully to any representations that my hon. Friend might wish to make, and to seek to ensure that, if Scampton closes, the assets there will be used in the most constructive way that can help lessen the difficulties that are experienced there and elsewhere.
Mr. Terry Lewis (Worsley) : When will the Minister realise that the continual drive for cheaper civilian employees in the services has a deleterious effect on the service personnel left ? I have two small examples. In some military establishments, it is almost impossible to raise rugby and football teams. Guard duties have doubled and trebled, so that the personnel are on guard most of the time. What happened to esprit de corps, which is developed through such activities ?
Mr. Rifkind : Esprit de corps is overwhelmingly determined by the ability of the armed forces to carry out their primary role. That is why it is important to concentrate resources on that sector. If there are cheaper ways of providing some of the back-up
services--civilianisation often provides a cheaper way of meeting some of the needs--we would be neglecting our duty if we did not explore them.
Several hon. Members rose
The Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. Tony Newton) : Madam Speaker, with permission, I shouldlike to make a statement about the business for next week : Monday 18 July---- Debate on the economy on a Government motion. Motion on the Railways Pensions (Transfer and Miscellaneous Provisions) order.
At Ten o'clock, the House will be asked to agree the estimates and supplementary estimates for 1994-95.
Tuesday 19 July----Opposition Day (13th allotted day) (2nd part). Until Seven o'clock, there will be a debate on "The Water Industry" on an Opposition motion.
Motion on the Conservation (Natural Habitats, etc.) Regulations. Motion on the Education (Assisted Places) (Amendment) Regulations.
Motion on the Church of England (Legal Aid) Measure.
Wednesday 20 July----Motion for the Summer Adjournment.
Proceedings on the Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) (No.2) Bill. Thursday 21 July----Debates on the Adjournment.
The House may also be asked to consider any Lords messages which may be received.
The House will also wish to know that the following European Standing Committees will meet at 10.30 am on Tuesday, 19 July : European Standing Committee A, European Community Document 7073/94 relating to Development of the Trans-European Transport Network. European Standing Committee B, European Community Document 5744/94 relating to Voting and Candidacy Rights in Local Elections. [Tuesday 19 July
European Standing Committee A--Relevant European Community document : 7073/94, Trans-European Transport Networks : Guidelines ; relevant report of the European Legislation Committee : HC 48-xxiii (1993-94)
European Standing Committee B--Relevant European Community document : 5744/94, Local Government Elections ; relevant reports of the European Legislation Committee : HC 48-xvi (1993-94) HC 48-xx (1993-94).]
It may also be for the convenience of the House to know that the provisional business for the first week back after the summer Adjournment will be as follows :
Monday 17 October----There will be a debate on a Government motion to approve the Defence Estimates 1994.
Tuesday 18 October----There will be a debate on a Government motion to approve the Defence Estimates 1994.
Wednesday 19 October----Consideration of any Lords amendments which may be received to the Criminal Justice and Public Order Bill. Thursday 20 October ----Consideration of any Lords amendments which may be received to the Criminal Justice and Public Order Bill--there do appear to be a few.
Friday 21 October----Private Members' motions.
Column 1192particular for telling us the business that we can expect on our return from the summer recess. I also thank him for the Opposition day that he has announced.
The business that he has announced takes us up to the summer recess. This summer's heat makes air pollution, particularly in London, all the more unbearable. I think that hon. Members will be wondering what has happened to the Bill to take forward the environment protection agency promised in Her Majesty's Gracious Speech on 18 November last year. As this Session moves to a close, I ask the Leader of the House : what has happened to the Bill that was promised in Her Majesty's Gracious Speech last year ?
In his rush to pack us off for the summer, I hope that the Leader of the House has not overlooked important announcements that might come from his ministerial colleagues, which I am certain that hon. Members would like to hear. May we have an assurance from the Lord President that there will not be a flood of bad news announcements or any important announcements from Government Departments immediately after we have risen for the recess ?
Given the substantial pressure, both from the public and in the House, for reform of the Child Support Agency, is it possible for the Secretary of State for Social Security to make a statement on legislative changes and why they cannot take effect before 1996, before we depart for the summer recess ?
Finally, I am sure that I speak on behalf of the whole House in wishing the Lord President an enjoyable summer recess. I hope that he fares well in the forthcoming reshuffle.