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Column 1586increase the use of public transport. But public transport is not generally available to those in rural areas--at least, not on the scale on which it is available to others.
The proposals to remove the tractor licence exemption facility will seriously affect many farmers, particularly those whose farms are divided by roadways. That is a practical point, which means that a farmer wishing to gain access to his own buildings and land across a road cannot do so legally without the purchase of a full tractor licence. Something must be done about that. The Budget also included proposals to reclassify the agricultural vehicle excise duty, and I appeal to my hon. Friend the Minister to look carefully at that in her discussions with the Treasury.
I now come to the vexed question of milk. I was selected for my constituency on the day that milk quotas were announced in May 1984, and I will not forget that in a hurry. I was not pleased when the Chancellor did a deal with the Italians, despite their fraudulent activities, regarding the milk quota. I will not go into that now, as I might have the Whip taken away.
On the black marketing of milk, the industry would support any action taken by the intervention board, but we must remember the serious problems which face the milk industry at present due to the price of additional milk quotas. In some cases, farmers are having to deal with quota at twice the value of production levels, and I shall be grateful if my hon. Friend the Minister will look at that. There are also the problems of pig farmers. I have written to my hon. Friend on a number of occasions regarding stalls and fairness for the British pig farmer in relation to those in the rest of Europe. Over and over again there are distortions and there is a lack of enforcement of the rules in other countries, whether in livestock, transport, milk quotas or environmental standards and pollution. This is not just Europhobic waffle--it is what is going on in other countries. People such as myself want the European Community to work effectively and have continually said so. We raise questions about what is going on, but sometimes we do so in language which is not thought to be entirely desirable. None the less, there is a fundamental dishonesty about the way in which European Community issues tend to get dealt with. It is not always deliberate, but it turns into a real problem because we get a mismatch between the promises and the performance. That makes people extremely unhappy. British farmers are suffering from the uneven playing field in comparison with their European counterparts. They feel strongly that we must take a more realistic approach, bearing in mind some of the unfair competition that is currently coming from Europe.
There is another, and final, point. Yes, we must reform the common agriculture policy, but the benefits of coming out of the exchange rate mechanism have led to an improvement in farming incomes in the past two years. We have a new opportunity with regard to the volume of meat which is apparently now being consumed by Brazil and the Asian countries. That is liable to increase, and it could completely distort the basis on which GATT was calculated with regard to beef production and exports. We should be wary--as in some other matters on the European scene--of getting ourselves locked into rules which have no regard to the reality of the movements in the marketplace.
Column 1587There are some useful papers coming out on the subject, which must be a good indication of the fact that people-- including my hon. Friend and the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food--are thinking through the problems in the light of the new circumstances. I am delighted, for example, with the constructive paper produced by the Country Landowners Association which said that we must make agriculture in Europe more competitive in world markets, bring supply and demand into better balance, be compatible with the single market and--in relation to the environment--improve the countryside to make it clean and attractive. It continued to say that we must support environmental programmes, develop rural communities, diversify the economies of rural areas and support the economic programmes where there is a market failure. Those are constructive ideas and I sincerely hope that my hon. Friend will take in good part the fact that I am not trying to criticise now or at any time but hoping desperately that somebody is listening.
The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mrs. Angela Browning): I am grateful for the opportunity provided by my hon. Friend the Member for Stafford (Mr. Cash) to have a debate on so important an issue. He began by outlining the importance of the rural economy in his constituency. I assure him that I, too, am familiar with Stafford, having canvassed for him at his by-election some years ago.
I shall touch on a few specific points which my hon. Friend mentioned before dealing with the general context of his speech. On difficulties with the live transportation of animals for export, I hope that he will be reassured that, having put at the top of our list the importance of animal welfare, which also concerns farmers and exporters, the Government will introduce new measures on 23 January to ensure that we cut out the cowboys in the trade who have done a grave disservice to a legitimate and legal trade. I hope that we can then continue to export animals with the highest standards of animal welfare and bring before the UK courts those who try to cheat and break the rules. That will greatly benefit the industry. My hon. Friend mentioned sheep quotas. When proposals for sheep quotas were put on the table, the UK Government opposed them because we had the experience of milk quotas and find quotas extremely inflexible. However, other member states disagreed and we have had to apply them. I sympathise with my hon. Friend, but sheep quotas have been allocated for this year, which means that some people who may have expected to receive a quota have not received one.
My hon. Friend also mentioned the pig industry. He may be aware that in a debate on the pig industry under the Consolidated Fund motion last week, I outlined to the House the measures taken by the UK Government in respect of the French, who have not played fair and have put our pig industry at a competitive disadvantage. We have already placed those measures before the Commission because matters such as the Staviporc scheme and interest-free loans in the French pig industry are not in line with regulations. We shall pursue those issues vigorously.
Column 1588Before looking at the relationship between farmers and the rest of the rural community, I shall expand a little on the rural community as a whole because the sweeping importance of rural communities formed the basis of my hon. Friend's speech. Some important changes have taken place in recent years in the jobs and life styles of people who make up the rural community and it is questionable whether, in many traditionally rural areas, there is a truly distinct community dependent entirely on the economy of its local village. In the period between 1981 and 1991, the population of rural areas in England increased by just over 7 per cent., with a corresponding decline in metropolitan areas of nearly 5 per cent. Those of us who have lived in rural areas for all or most of our lives understand why people wish to leave urban areas and enjoy the quality of life in rural areas. During the same period, the number of new businesses in England increased by 33 per cent. net and employment by 15 per cent. in rural areas.
Part of the influx to rural areas has resulted from greater access to cars, which enables people to work in towns yet live in the country. Improved mobility has also given rise to employment opportunities that have little connection with traditional village life, such as light industries or financial services, which we now find increasingly in rural areas.
It may not be surprising to find that agriculture accounts for only 2.2 per cent. of the total national work force and contributes only 1.4 per cent. to gross domestic product. Yet anybody visiting the countryside will not fail to appreciate how much--more than three quarters--of the landscape is still predominantly agricultural. It is essential, therefore, that our rural development policies take account of environmental and conservation concerns in an integrated approach--my hon. Friend touched on that, too-- while also recognising that rural areas are not homogeneous. For instance, in my home county of Devon, farming accounts for one fifth of the work force--above average for the United Kingdom. Although farming may account for only a small contribution to the rural economy, it still has an important part to play in the wider issues of countryside development. I am sure that my hon. Friend will have noted with interest the announcement made on 22 November regarding the rural White Paper. It is being produced jointly by my Department and the Department of the Environment, and will be drawn up in consultation with other Government Departments as well as a range of non-governmental organisations.
My hon. Friend mentioned several aspects of rural life that might not seem immediately relevant to agriculture but which are part of the rural culture. He mentioned difficulties with village halls, crime in rural areas, housing needs, village schools and leisure and rural sports. The aim of the White Paper is to produce a long-term strategic outlook for the future of rural areas, and it will be set in the context of the Government's sustainable development strategy. I agree with my hon. Friend that an area that needs urgent attention is the changing role of agriculture and the future of the common agricultural policy. In addition to the White Paper, the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food announced on 6 December that he is establishing a CAP policy group to provide advice to the Government on all aspects of United Kingdom policy on the CAP.
Column 1589The reform of the CAP is one of the most important challenges facing us, and I can assure my hon. Friend that we intend to press for a rational policy which better serves the UK's interests. It should also meet the needs of an expanding European Community; the countries of central Europe wish to join at the end of this century and that will have an important effect on CAP policy.
Although we are concerned to achieve a fairer CAP regime, we believe it important that other member states also recognise that, with other countries joining the Community, the CAP has to be resolved not just in this country but on an EC-wide basis. For instance, as part of the structural funding arrangements to aid structural readjustment, six predominantly rural areas in England have been designated under objective 5b, with the overall aim of improving socio-economic conditions.
The projects and schemes approved under these arrangements will be financed by a partnership between the Government, the European Commission and, when appropriate, the private sector. Funding will be limited, and it is intended that this assistance will enable businesses to become self- supporting by, for example, securing new markets for their goods or services.
My hon. Friend mentioned the importance of diversification by agricultural businesses. The agricultural component of this structural readjustment is aimed at moving away from traditional agricultural support to a wider economic base, providing a more market-based approach which can survive without the necessity for Government handouts in perpetuity.
Another area in which we have made progress in partnership with Brussels is with agri-environment measures, which were introduced as part of the 1992 CAP reform settlement. Under the EC agri-environment regulation, we have implemented a number of schemes that encourage environmentally friendly farming. As part
Column 1590of the CAP reforms, farmers are increasingly looking to diversify their businesses to supplement traditional agriculture. It is indefensible to continue growing food that is surplus to requirements and yet to support farmers for doing so. I hope that my hon. Friend agrees with that.
Structural adjustment, agri-environment measures and
diversification are therefore some of our key tools in the implementation of a more sensible, rational approach to agricultural support.
I have highlighted the development of reform in a European context, but we should not forget the other important contributions that the UK Government are making in their own right to improve structural matters, such as the proposed agricultural tenancy law reforms. A dynamic tenanted sector will be important if agriculture is to respond to market and policy changes. I hope that it will also be of help to the group that my hon. Friend mentioned--young farmers entering farming for the first time.
To tackle the decline in the amount of rented land available, the Government published their Agricultural Tenancies Bill on 18 November. The Bill has already started its progress through the House in another place.
It must also be remembered that there is a range of Government policies aimed at other aspects of rural areas, their economies and communities. Industrial, education, housing and transport policies all have special significance for rural areas. We want a vibrant rural economy, covering both agriculture and non-agricultural sectors, in which people work and live and make an invaluable contribution to the national economy.
I am grateful to my hon. Friend, who has introduced a wide-ranging debate, but I hope that I have convinced him that the new measures being taken, especially by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, will consider some of those issues in a much broader context.
Mr. Gordon Prentice (Pendle): I am grateful to be given the opportunity to raise this issue today. I want to focus specifically on the insider share dealings of Lord Archer, and I do so because he has chosen not to reply to any of the letters that I have sent him about his share dealing activities.
In September, I wrote a fairly lengthy letter to Lord Archer, posing detailed questions; he chose to ignore it. I followed that letter with others, and he also chose to ignore those. He has jumped into the undergrowth and is refusing to answer the questions that have been asked of him, legitimately, by Members of the House. I think that is an absolute disgrace for a Member of Parliament, albeit an unelected Member of Parliament--
Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Janet Fookes): Order. Before the hon. Gentleman continues, I remind him of our very important rule that criticisms are not offered to any Member, either in the House or in the other place, unless on a substantive motion. Such a motion is not before us today, so I must counsel caution in what the hon. Gentleman says.
When The Sunday Times broke the news of Lord Archer's share-dealing activities in August, there was astonishment in my constituency--a constituency that was represented, before I came here, by a Conservative Member of Parliament for 13 years. When my constituents read that Lord Archer had made £80,000 in share-dealing transactions in two days, there was outrage.
The very week that Lord Archer made--I say "made", not "earned"--£80, 000 in share-dealing activities, a job was advertised in the job centre in Nelson, which is in the heart of my constituency, for a kitchen assistant and cook, with pay of £2.92 an hour. That person would have had to work 27,397 hours or a 40-hour week for 13 years to make what Lord Archer made in his share-dealing activities in the space of four days last January.
As we approach the anniversary of that share-dealing activity, I invite the Minister to reject or perhaps tell the House whether he condones the activity of a man who was very close indeed to becoming chairman of the Conservative party. In fact, he was widely regarded in the press and among Conservative Members as being an heir apparent until that matter blew up.
The right hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield (Sir N. Fowler), who retired as chairman of the Conservative party, was succeeded by the right hon. Member for Richmond and Barnes (Mr. Hanley). He urged Lord Archer to speak out, as I have. In September, the right hon. Gentleman, speaking to the Financial Times , said:
"Geoffrey will find it probably better to speak out rather than not."
That is what I am urging the noble Lord to do--to speak out. When The Sunday Times broke the story in August, Lord Archer's reaction was astonishing. When the story first reached the public prints alleging that he had bought shares in Anglia Television--a company in which his wife, Mary, was a non-executive director--he said:
"It is completely untrue. I did not buy any shares. I am not going to make a statement. That sort of accusation is libellous."
Column 1592I will be guided by you, Madam Deputy Speaker, but there are people who would say that that was just a downright lie.
Madam Deputy Speaker: Order. I am giving guidance. I do not think that that is an appropriate comment to use in this context. I suggest that the hon. Gentleman does not pursue that line at all. I remind him that the topic that I read out before he spoke was simply "Insider Share Dealing". It makes no reference to any named person. I must therefore caution him again.
Mr. Prentice: I seek your further guidance, Madam Deputy Speaker, because when I applied for the debate to Madam Speaker, I recall that I linked the share-dealing activities of Lord Archer with insider trading. That was the specific issue that I sought to raise.
Madam Deputy Speaker: I am not party to what took place in any guidance that the hon. Gentleman may have received outside the Chamber, but I am very clear about what may or may not take place inside the Chamber now. It is important that he realises that comments that reflect upon the honour or integrity of a Member of the other place are not in order now, except on a substantive motion. I have made that point before, but I make it again. No such substantive motion is before us at this time.
Mr. Prentice: I shall try to weave my way through the thickets as best I can, Madam Deputy Speaker, given what you have just said, but is it in order for me to say that the quotation from Lord Archer which was carried in the national press in August was economical with the truth?
I shall, in conclusion, simply say that the country has not received all the answers that it requires about the share-dealing activities of Lord Archer in January. Many national newspapers across the political spectrum have highlighted the gaps where Lord Archer has not been forthcoming.
The editorial from The Guardian on 26 August this year said: "Lord Archer has admitted a `grave error' in buying shares in Anglia television and in causing `needless embarrassment' to his wife who is a director of the company. But he strongly denies that the transaction was carried out with the benefit of any insider information."
It seems to me that it is virtually impossible to secure any conviction under the Financial Services Act 1986, or the relevant legislation, if the parties to any insider dealing resolutely stick to their story. So if Mary Archer did not say anything to Lord Archer, and if he did not say anything to Mr. Broosk Saib, and Mr. Broosk Saib did not know what time of day it was--he hardly knew of the existence of Anglia Television--I invite the Minister to comment on the point that it is impossible to secure a conviction.
The editorial continues:
"There must therefore have been other reasons why he"-- Lord Archer--
"didn't use his normal stockbrokers, but chose instead"--
Madam Deputy Speaker: Order. I am concerned that this, too, is, in its own way, reflecting on Lord Archer's conduct in a way that is not suitable for this type of debate. I think that the hon. Gentleman would be wise to follow his own advice of concluding fairly rapidly.
Mr. Prentice: I will do so, but with great disappointment, because I thought that, in this forum--of all forums--it would have been possible to discuss in an unemotive way a matter of great controversy, which has triggered a response not just from the Conservative party but from the public prints. It is disappointing that I do not have an opportunity to raise these important issues in this forum, but I shall seek to do so in another way.
The Minister of State, Treasury (Mr. Anthony Nelson): I am answering a debate which, in a sense, has not happened, but I make no complaint about that, because my responsibility as a Treasury Minister is with policy relating to insider dealing, whereas the investigation thereof and, indeed, prosecution, is a matter for the Department of Trade and Industry.
It would be wholly improper of me, both in a departmental sense and as a matter of parliamentary privilege, to comment on many of the allegations that the hon. Member for Pendle (Mr. Prentice) has chosen to make this afternoon under the privilege of the House. If the hon. Gentleman had clearly said that the debate related to the noble Lord Archer, there might have been a different Minister at the Dispatch Box seeking to answer his debate, but the title of the hon. Gentleman's debate relates to insider share dealing, which is a serious and very important matter and so is a matter for me to deal with.
Insider dealing is not a victimless crime and the Government have, on a number of occasions, by introducing legislative change and prosecution thereunder, sought to deter, detect and, indeed, penalise wherever possible those activities, which do cause pecuniary loss to some and bring markets into disrepute as well.
With regard to the noble Lord Archer, all I can do this afternoon in response to the points that the hon. Gentleman has chosen to make is to reassert the position that has been put before. My right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade and his Department propose to take no further action in the matter, which has been thoroughly investigated by independent inspectors and subject to independent legal advice. As my right hon. Friend has also explained, there is no legal provision for the publication of the inspectors' report, and it would be quite improper for him to publish it. It is just possible, with the consent of all parties and with all the evidence concerned, that disclosure of a report could take place, but the clearest--
In February of this year, two independent inspectors--a Queen's counsel and a chartered accountant--were appointed to investigate possible insider dealing in the shares of Anglia Television, just before a bid for the
Column 1594company by MAI plc in January of this year. On 7 July, the Secretary of State confirmed that Lord Archer was one of several people subject to the investigation and also in July the inspectors submitted their report. They concluded that there was no basis on which to prosecute Lord Archer. However, the report was referred to independent counsel who also advised against prosecution. Accordingly, on 28 July, the President of the Board of Trade announced that, on the basis of the report and departmental and other legal advice, he had concluded that the DTI should take no further action against any of the parties under investigation. In those circumstances, as explained by my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade, I have nothing further to add to the facts that are already in the public domain.
However, I should like take this opportunity to comment a little further on insider dealing, which may be of interest to the hon. Gentleman, although he has not sought to use the precious opportunity afforded by this debate to raise such matters. They were, of course, of great interest to the House during the passage of the Criminal Justice Act 1993, previously during the passage of the consolidating Company Securities (Insider Dealing) Act 1985 and, originally, during that of the insider dealing legislation introduced in 1980. This Government were the first to make insider dealing a criminal offence. Therefore, we are fully aware of the serious consequences that insider dealing can have for the operation of the financial markets. The markets are the channels for a large proportion of individuals' savings, invested directly or on their behalf by institutions and on which individuals' future well-being depends. In turn, the financial markets channel those savings to companies on which our national prosperity ultimately depends.
To meet the objectives of investors and companies, the markets must operate efficiently and fairly. If market participants feel that there is a risk that they may be disadvantaged by insider dealing, they may be less willing to invest via the capital markets or may demand a higher return from companies for doing so. Either way, market liquidity could be damaged and the cost of raising capital increased. That effect would, of course, be in addition to any loss that an individual investor may suffer if insider dealing were unchecked.
The Government are therefore firmly committed to insider dealing legislation that allows people who take advantage of privileged information to be caught and punished. That is why the Government made insider dealing illegal in 1980 and why we extended the prohibition on 1 March this year to cover a broader range of misconduct than was previously the case. For example, it is now illegal for an employee of a company to sell a competitor's shares on the basis of the inside information that his employer has won an important contract that would prove detrimental to the competitor's business prospects.
The new legislation also covers a wider range of securities and applies to off-market transactions which involve a professional intermediary as well as to business transacted on investment exchanges.
Our approach to insider dealing has been to define in statute what constitutes the offence and what is meant by the terms "inside information" and "insiders". In doing so, we have recognised that there is always something of
Column 1595a trade-off between the degree of certainty that can be incorporated into the law and the avoidance of loopholes which would allow the real insider dealers to go about their wrecking business within the law.
We believe that the insider dealing provisions contained in the Criminal Justice Act 1993 draw the line in the right place. That should mean that the real insider dealers can be caught while the people engaged in legitimate activities are left to go about their business. The legislation does not, therefore, threaten legitimate communication between companies and their individual institutional shareholders and investment analysts. Nor does it jeopardise properly conducted corporate finance transactions.
Underpinning the legislation are the systems for detecting insider dealing. The Government greatly welcome the improvements in market surveillance which have been brought about through the introduction by the London stock exchange of the integrated monitoring and surveillance system. We also welcome the exchange's decision to consult on ways to curb disorderly markets. Although we recognise the fact that evidence of insider dealing can be difficult to obtain, the ability of the system to monitor the stock market on a real-time basis, stricter legislation and tougher procedures for handling disorderly markets will send a clear message that insider dealing will not be tolerated.
The Government believe that the seriousness of the offence justifies criminal sanctions, as it harms not only individuals' interests but the integrity of the financial markets, and affects the costs to companies of raising capital. We also believe that criminal sanctions have a considerable deterrent effect on would-be insider dealers, which helps to mitigate those harmful effects.
That is not to say, however, that civil sanctions do not exist to punish insider dealing; they certainly do. Civil remedies are available--for example, where there has been a breach of the rules of a self-regulatory organisation or of a contract of employment. In addition, there may be circumstances in which claims for compensation could be made.
The Government accept, of course, that the nature of the offence means that insider dealing can be difficult to establish. That would be true under any system of enforcement, and I assure the hon. Gentleman that the law against insider dealing is kept under review to ensure that it is as effective as possible.
I do not believe that the offence of insider dealing is a matter of bipartisan difference. It is a matter of great concern to those outside and inside the House because it affects the integrity and liquidity of the markets, and the respect for contractual arrangements. When insider dealing occurs there is undoubtedly pecuniary loss to those who may have been taken advantage of by others with inside information.
That is why it was the Conservative Government who made insider dealing a criminal offence. As the Minister responsible, I decided not to take the opportunity offered by the European Community directive to decriminalise the offence. That would have been possible and many, including some in the House, have urged the case for making insider dealing a civil offence because that may carry a lower burden of proof. They have argued that although the offence exists and the penalties are strong--
Column 1596limitless fines and up to seven years in prison--the number of prosecutions has not been substantial, and nor has the number of individuals convicted.
Nevertheless cases have been brought, people have been convicted and penalties have been imposed. Moreover, we cannot quantify the deterrent effect that that may have on the marketplace, preventing people who would otherwise have been tempted to do so from engaging in insider dealing.
Mr. Gordon Prentice: Does the Minister accept that there would be greater public confidence in the system that he has described if there were greater transparency? He said that it would be possible to release the DTI report on Lord Archer's share dealing if all the parties agreed. Will he urge his noble Friend to agree to that?
Mr. Nelson: No I would not, because the President of the Board of Trade has made it clear that not only did he obtain one set of legal advice from a chartered accountant and a Queen's counsel--that was the advice of the inspectors, given to him as the Secretary of State--but he then chose not simply to take that advice but to submit that report to a second opinion, as it were, by putting it to counsel. Both sets of advice were clear: no foundation existed for prosecution in that case.
Although under section 179(1) of the Financial Services Act 1986 the Secretary of State is allowed to disclose information collected by section 177 inspectors, provided that he has the permission of "the person from whom the primary recipient"--
that is, the inspectors--
"obtained the information and if different, the person to whom it relates",
the point is that that would require such permission from each separate person who gave a statement to the inspectors. Even if that were practicable, there is no express power for publication in the report itself. I am bound to observe that a more mischievous objective than a desire to ensure the integrity of the law or decisions of the Secretary of State prompts the hon. Gentleman to suggest that the matters have not been properly considered. There was a full debate about the confidentiality of submissions to inspectors in such cases in the House of Lords. Indeed, the ministerial undertakings that section 177 reports would normally never be published were made during the Lords Committee stage of the Financial Services Bill by Lord Lucas of Chilworth. That is the case in this instance. That may not be a decision that the hon. Gentleman likes, but it reflects the proper way of dealing with such cases. I assure the hon. Gentleman that such matters are considered carefully. I have not seen the report. That is also entirely proper. It is not for me, a Treasury Minister responsible for overall policy and the integrity of the financial markets as a whole, to second-guess reports, proposals and recommendations put to my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade.
My right hon. Friend has made his position clear. The hon. Gentleman is going over history. There is nothing new to elucidate and I have said nothing new in my remarks this afternoon which should encourage him to believe that there will be any change of mind on the matter. The points that he raised were more about pursuing an individual high-profile case and claim than a
Column 1597genuine attempt to improve the effectiveness of our insider dealing legislation. It is important legislation. It sends broader messages to the financial markets as a whole. Its aim is not served by dwelling on cases and making comments such as the hon. Gentleman has made this afternoon.
If the hon. Gentleman were really concerned about the wider implication of loss through insider dealing, he might have dealt with some of the issues surrounding how the new legislation was working out in practice and the new monitoring and surveillance systems of the London stock exchange. We heard nothing about that from the hon. Gentleman. I have no wish in the last moments of the proceedings of the House before we adjourn for Christmas to take the hon. Gentleman to
Column 1598task in this season of good will, but the Government attach great importance to the legislation, great seriousness to the crime of insider dealing and great precedence to the legislation and the cases that we have seen through.
The debate was an opportunity to have a more wide-ranging and important debate of interest to people outside the House. Having said that, it has provided me with an opportunity to set out the importance that the Government attach to the subject and some of the legislative history. I hope that that will be of reassurance to a wider audience outside the House, if not to the hon. Gentleman. It being two minutes to Three o'clock, the motion for the Adjournment of the House lapsed, without Question put, pursuant to resolution [16 December].
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