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Column 786metro in Ankara fit in with our aid policy of helping the poorest of the poor? How can they possibly be the kind of projects that we should be supporting?
As many of my hon. Friends have rightly said, in the good old days, any Secretary of State caught red-handed, in the way in which this Secretary of State has been, would have done the honourable thing and would have gone back to writing novels, which the Foreign Secretary does so well. However, if the Foreign Secretary is not willing to do that, I assure him, on behalf of all Opposition Members, that his standing would rise immeasurably in the House if he would simply apologise for his mistake.
Mr. Hurd: On the hon. Gentleman's specific points, he has his chronology a bit wrong, but I do not complain about that. The reference to ATP stealing money simply does not wear, because the figures for the aid programme included ATP and the commitment to the Pergau dam. There was no secret about any of that. There was no question of filching money.
The total of the aid programme took into account the commitments that had been made. That is how the aid programme is constructed. This talk of filching or stealing money surreptitiously from the aid programme is completely wrong. As it is completely wrong, what the hon. Member for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley (Mr. Foulkes) followed up with is also completely wrong. [Hon. Members:-- "What about Indonesia?"] I will go into that. That is a programme of £9.3 million of support from the ATP. It was approved in 1986 by the then Minister of State.
In Bandung, it is designed to bring together a widely scattered community of poor people and make it possible for that community to function more effectively. If the hon. Member for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley thinks that that is a wrong use of money, I would not agree with him. I believe that it is a good use for the money and my right hon. Friend was right to approve it. We believe that it may fall outside the Overseas Development and Co-operation Act 1980. In order to be absolutely sure, it is being financed as I have said.
Madam Speaker: The House will be aware of press reports about an intrusion last Friday into the suite of offices of the Leader of the Opposition. I have made inquiries into this matter and I understand that the intruders concerned were two research assistants and a guest. I am satisfied that there was no malice whatsoever in their action, which resulted from an excess of seasonal spirit and a mischievous walkabout.
Nevertheless, it must be understood that it is a privilege to work in, and have access to, the Palace of Westminster and I do not expect that privilege to be abused. In this instance, it has been abused. I have therefore given instructions that the researchers concerned should have their passes withdrawn with immediate effect and until 1 February.
Mr. Max Madden (Bradford, West): On a point of order, Madam Speaker. This relates directly to your statement. I understand that the Administration Committee is currently reviewing the arrangements for the issuing of passes to the House of Commons. It appears that, at the moment, anyone who is nominated by a Member of the House for a pass is automatically issued with one unless anything is known on security grounds. In addition, there appears to be a very long list of organisations whose employees are issued with passes. Indeed, the list is so long that the Administration Committee has been unable to supply me with it.
My point of order is this: as it appears that virtually any Tom, Dick or Harry can be issued with a pass to this place, and undoubtedly a very large number of people have passes which give them access to the House, I wonder whether arrangements can be made to invite hon. Members to submit evidence to the Administration Committee so that more sensible criteria can be devised before passes are issued.
"Opprobrious reflections must not be cast in debate on heads of state or governments of independent Commonwealth territories or countries in amity with Her Majesty, or their representatives in this country"?
You will recall, Madam Speaker, that yesterday, in answer to questions on the recent European Union summit, the Prime Minister said:
"Indeed, I must say that some of my fellow Heads of Government could scarcely find their way to their Parliaments with a guide dog."--[ Official Report , 12 December 1994; Vol. 251, c. 625.] That is an opprobrious reflection on the Heads of Government of countries which are in amity with Her Majesty.
Is it little wonder, with the hon. Member for Teignbridge (Mr. Nicholls) referring to our partners as collaborators, warmongers and beggars, and with the Prime Minister now suggesting that some of his fellow Heads of Government are visually challenged, that the British Government are seen on the continent and in the
Column 788European Union as a bunch of exceedingly rude whingers? Would it not be appropriate for the Prime Minister to apologise and, perhaps, to offer a suitable donation to the appropriate guide dog charity?
Madam Speaker: The Prime Minister is responsible for his own remarks, as are all other members of the Government and Members of Parliament. I remind the House of the words of "Erskine May", and I add to them that not only good temper and moderation but tolerance of other people, whether in this country or abroad, are equal characteristics of parliamentary language.
Mr. D. N. Campbell-Savours (Workington): On a point of order, Madam Speaker. Will you authorise the House authorities to release the names of the three men who intruded into the office of the Leader of the Opposition? Can you establish why they were not searched when they left the office?
Many hon. Members find it difficult to understand--indeed, we do not believe that it is credible--that three men should walk the length of the Palace of Westminster and just happen to enter the Leader of the Opposition's office. It is not a credible story. We believe that their motive was deliberate--that is, to enter that office, knowing that they had no right to enter, and to do whatever they set out to do. We understand that no checks have been made.
Mr. David Winnick (Walsall, North): Further to that point of order, Madam Speaker. Our suspicions would not have been so great had it not been for the recent memorandum from the vice-chairman of the Conservative party, Mr. Maples. Bearing in mind the distance to the office of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, it seems almost incredible that those three people claim that it was simply a mistake on their part. What would have been the position if the person in charge of the office at the time did not take the necessary steps to identify the three concerned and to call in the authorities?
There is a feeling among Labour Members at least that this is a minor Westminstergate--a deliberate attempt unofficially to find out information from the office of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition. Therefore, I urge you, Madam Speaker, to consider it appropriate that further steps should be taken to look into the matter.
Madam Speaker: I have made extensive inquiries into the matter. I even went to the offices of the Leader of the Opposition very early this morning to refamiliarise myself with their geography. I am totally satisfied that, as I have said in my statement, no malice was intended. I gave my reasons why I thought that those three people--they were not all males; there were two males and one female--were there. A thorough police inquiry has been carried out, too. The police tell me that they are satisfied that nothing was taken and that nothing was disturbed. In all seriousness--we must be serious about such matters--I am sure that that would be the view of the Leader of the Opposition himself.
Several hon. Members rose--
Mr. Skinner: It is on security. During the past five years, and increasingly lately, there have been questions about the reduction in the number of police and security people positioned around this building. Most of the time the matter has been ignored, and we have been assured by Ministers that everything is all right. It is apparent to many people who are in this building on Fridays in particular and to the security people that there is not sufficient manning to cover all areas. I suggest that it is time that we looked at the number of people who have been removed from security and police positions, so that in future police and security officers are able to do their job effectively. I think you will find, Madam Speaker, that there has been a severe reduction in their number.
Madam Speaker: I am in touch with police and security figures not monthly but on a weekly basis. I do not discuss security matters across the Floor of the House, but if the hon. Gentleman would like some details about those matters I know that the Serjeant-at-Arms will be happy to place them in front of him.
Mr. Frank Cook (Stockton, North): On a point of order, Madam Speaker. Yesterday you heard my point of order about the promised deposition of the details of submissions made to the Local Government Commission in relation to the dismantling of Cleveland county council. I thank you, Madam Speaker, because your admonishment of the Treasury Bench yesterday resulted in the details being placed in the Library as your procession was passing it at 2.30 this afternoon. My point of order is that the summary, which has taken nine months and four days to deliver, is a single sheet of paper. It does not say how many submissions were made in favour of the recommendations and there is no detail of the submissions which opposed the recommendations--in fact, there is no total of submissions received. The summary is little more than a repeat of the recommendations of the Banham commission. My two-year-old grandson could have done better than that in half a morning.
Frankly, the Government are treating the House with contempt and preventing any hon. Member who wishes to oppose the order from receiving necessary information. We are told that the order has been laid down and that the matter may be discussed next Monday. The Government are treating the House with contempt, and that is unacceptable. I appeal to you, Madam Speaker, to use your powers to urge the Government to act decently for a change.
Madam Speaker: I am very pleased that I was able to help the hon. Gentleman yesterday, but I certainly cannot help him on this matter. I am not responsible for the quality of material that is provided by the Government--I have many responsibilities in other respects, but that is not one of them.
I can only suggest that the hon. Gentleman see the Minister concerned--I realise that it may be a little late if the matter is to be debated next week--and perhaps make some representations to obtain the information that he requires.
(1) The Value Added Tax Act 1994 shall be amended as follows. (2) In section 2 (rate of VAT) in subsection (1) the words "and paragraph 7 of Schedule 13" shall be omitted, and the following subsections shall be inserted after that subsection--
"(1A) VAT charged on--
(a) any supply for the time being falling within paragraph 1 of Schedule A1; or
(b) any equivalent acquisition or importation,
shall be charged at the rate of 8 per cent.
(1B) The reference in subsection (1A) above to an equivalent acquisition or importation, in relation to any supply for the time being falling within paragraph 1 of Schedule A1, is a reference (as the case may be) to--
(a) any acquisition from another member State of goods the supply of which would be such a supply; or
(b) any importation from a place outside the member States of any such goods.
(1C) The Treasury may by order vary Schedule A1 by adding to or deleting from it any description of supply for the time being specified in it or by varying any other provision for the time being contained in it."
(3) The following Schedule shall be inserted immediately before Schedule 1- -
Charge at Reduced Rate
1.--(1) The supplies falling within this paragraph are supplies for qualifying use of--
(a) coal, coke or other solid substances held out for sale solely as fuel;
(b) coal gas, water gas, producer gases or similar gases; (c) petroleum gases, or other gaseous hydrocarbons, whether in a gaseous or liquid state;
(d) fuel oil, gas oil or kerosene; or
(e) electricity, heat or air-conditioning.
(2) In this paragraph "qualifying use" means-- (a) domestic use; or
(b) use by a charity otherwise than in the course or furtherance of a business.
(3) Where there is a supply of goods partly for qualifying use and partly not--
(a) if at least 60 per cent. of the goods are supplied for qualifying use, the whole supply shall be treated as a supply for qualifying use; and
(b) in any other case, an apportionment shall be made to determine the extent to which the supply is a supply for qualifying use. Interpretation
2. For the purposes of this Schedule the following supplies are always for domestic use--
(a) a supply of not more than one tonne of coal or coke held out for sale as domestic fuel;
(b) a supply of wood, peat or charcoal not intended for sale by the recipient;
Column 791(c) a supply to a person at any premises of piped gas (that is, gas within paragraph 1(1)(b) above, or petroleum gas in a gaseous state, provided through pipes) where the gas (together with any other piped gas provided to him at the premises by the same supplier) was not provided at a rate exceeding 150 therms a month or, if the supplier charges for the gas by reference to the number of kilowatt hours supplied, 4397 kilowatt hours a month;
(d) a supply of petroleum gas in a liquid state where the gas is supplied in cylinders the net weight of each of which is less than 50 kilogrammes and either the number of cylinders supplied is 20 or fewer or the gas is not intended for sale by the recipient; (e) a supply of petroleum gas in a liquid state, otherwise than in cylinders, to a person at any premises at which he is not able to store more than two tonnes of such gas;
(f) a supply of not more than 2,300 litres of fuel oil, gas oil or kerosene;
(g) a supply of electricity to a person at any premises where the electricity (together with any other electricity provided to him at the premises by the same supplier) was not provided at a rate exceeding 1000 kilowatt hours a month.
3.--(1) For the purposes of this Schedule supplies not within paragraph 2 above are for domestic use if and only if the goods supplied are for use in --
(a) a building, or part of a building, which consists of a dwelling or number of dwellings;
(b) a building, or part of a building, used for a relevant residential purpose;
(c) self-catering holiday accommodation;
(d) a caravan; or
(e) a houseboat.
(2) For the purposes of this Schedule use for a relevant residential purpose means use as--
(a) a home or other institution providing residential accommodation for children;
(b) a home or other institution providing residential accommodation with personal care for persons in need of personal care by reason of old age, disablement, past or present dependence on alcohol or drugs or past or present mental disorder;
(c) a hospice;
(d) residential accommodation for students or school pupils; (e) residential accommodation for members of any of the armed forces;
(f) a monastery, nunnery or similar establishment; or
(g) an institution which is the sole or main residence of at least 90 per cent. of its residents,
except use as a hospital, a prison or similar institution or an hotel or inn or similar establishment.
(3) For the purposes of this Schedule self-catering holiday accommodation includes any accommodation advertised or held out as such.
(4) In this Schedule "houseboat" means a boat or other floating decked structure designed or adapted for use solely as a place of permanent habitation and not having means of, or capable of being readily adapted for, self-propulsion.
Column 7924.--(1) Paragraph 1(1)(a) above shall be deemed to include combustible materials put up for sale for kindling fires but shall not include matches.
(2) Paragraph 1(1)(b) and (c) above shall not include any road fuel gas (within the meaning of the Hydrocarbon Oil Duties Act 1979) on which a duty of excise has been charged or is chargeable. (3) Paragraph 1(1)(d) above shall not include hydrocarbon oil on which a duty of excise has been or is to be charged without relief from, or rebate of, such duty by virtue of the provisions of the Hydrocarbon Oil Duties Act 1979.
(4) In this Schedule "fuel oil" means heavy oil which contains in solution an amount of asphaltenes of not less than 0.5 per cent. or which contains less than 0.5 per cent. but not less than 0.1 per cent. of asphaltenes and has a closed flash point not exceeding 150 degreesC.
(5) In this Schedule "gas oil" means heavy oil of which not more than 50 per cent. by volume distils at a temperature not exceeding 240 degreesC and of which more than 50 per cent. by volume distils at a temperature not exceeding 340 degreesC.
(6) In this Schedule "kerosene" means heavy oil of which more than 50 per cent. by volume distils at a temperature not exceeding 240 degreesC.
(7) In this Schedule "heavy oil" shall have the same meaning as in the Hydrocarbon Oil Duties Act 1979."
(4) In section 97 (orders etc.) in subsection (4) (orders requiring approval) the following paragraph shall be inserted immediately before paragraph (a)--
"(aa) an order under section 2(1C);".
(5) In Schedule 13 (transitional provisions and savings) paragraph 7 (fuel and power) shall be omitted.
(6) This Resolution shall apply in relation to any supply made on or after 1st April 1995 and any acquisition or importation taking place on or after that date.
And it is hereby declared that it is expedient in the public interest that this Resolution should have statutory effect under the provisions of the Provisional Collection of Taxes Act 1968. This year's Budget is being debated on the Floor of the House rather frequently and at an earlier stage than usual. This debate should conclude our discussion of the tax measures that will take effect before the Finance Bill is introduced. It will also put in place, intact, the Budget judgment and keep the Government's economic policy on course.
A healthy economic recovery forms an essential background to the debate. The House is familiar with the Government's record of growth, rising industrial production, rising manufacturing production, falling unemployment and good records on productivity and inflation. We know that the recovery must be sustained and made stronger to deliver the prosperity and the increased number of jobs that are essential aims of all economic policy.
Keeping our recovery going and ensuring that it is one of the strongest and most effective in the developed world imposes certain duties and obligations on the Government and the House of Commons. In order to sustain our recovery and to keep it strong, we must keep inflation down so that high inflation does not halt recovery again, as it often has in the past. We must also ensure that we can deliver healthy public finances.
The Government have other obligations, such as supporting increased competitiveness in industry, but our two preconditions for a sustained and strong recovery are to deliver a macro-economic climate in which inflation is low and to deliver healthy public finances as quickly as we can upon emerging from the recession.