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Sir Peter Emery (Honiton): The whole House is pleased that my right hon. Friend has moved on the recommendations of the Procedure Committee and the Jopling Committee and has announced two weeks' business at the same time. He announced the business for Monday 13 March, when there will probably be a Division at 10 o'clock, and for Thursday 16 March, when there could be a Division at 7 o'clock, but he has left the 14th and the 15th blank. If possible, will he consider announcing what the business on particular days will be? If he has to adjust it later, the House will understand, but it would help hon. Members if my right hon. Friend could move in that direction.

Mr. Newton: I think that it is absolutely clear to everyone that I have been trying to move in that direction. I had hoped to move a little further today, but representations made to me led me to allow certain matters to be discussed further in accordance with the proper spirit of the usual channels.

Rev. Martin Smyth (Belfast, South): May I support the hon. and learned Member for Burton (Sir I. Lawrence) in his plea for a debate on the Commonwealth? Can the Leader of the House help us in regard to Tuesday's debate, which is on an Opposition Supply day? Is there a particular problem affecting women in England and Wales that does not affect those in Scotland and Northern Ireland, or is it a secret acknowledgement that the Labour party is supporting the independence of Scotland and Northern Ireland?

Mr. Newton: This is one of the occasions when I think that the hon. Member for Dewsbury (Mrs. Taylor) should be able to reply to questions. I am not sure whether she has even heard this one. I wonder whether the hon.

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Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr. Rooker) might draw her attention to the fact that a question has just been asked that is really for her and not for me. It related to why next Tuesday's debate is concerned only with the position of women in Britain, which has obviously caused some affront in Northern Ireland. I am not responsible for the debate or for its title. The hon. Gentleman's question, which is a fascinating one, should be directed to the hon. Lady.

Mr. Jacques Arnold (Gravesham): May we have a debate on youth provision, so that we can consider the decision of Labour-controlled Avon county council to cut its grants to the Avon Scout Association, the Boy's Brigade and to many other groups within the county, most of which are uniformed groups of youths? Perhaps we can contrast the fact that it is cutting grants to youth groups, yet introducing a grant to an organisation known as "Bristol Young Lesbian and Bisexual Women's Group". Why is Avon county council unable to fund proper youth organisations, but only loony- left nonsense?

Mr. Newton: You, Madam Speaker, will perhaps understand that, in anticipating a question from my hon. Friend, I had prepared for every possible question about Kent but not for a question about Avon.

Mr. Tony Banks (Newham, North-West): May we have a debate on football and the plight of football supporters? No one in the House will support hooliganism, but at the Bruges v. Chelsea match, many respectable and decent British citizens found themselves subject to some heavy police activity and prevented from going to the match. The House should condemn hooliganism but stand up for decent people who are badly treated at football matches at home and abroad. May we have a debate on the matter?

Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover): It is a pity that they did not lock up the Prime Minister and the right hon. and learned Member for Putney (Mr. Mellor) as well.

Mr. Newton: I am not surprised that the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) should be trying to divert attention. Just two weeks ago, in response to something that happened in Ireland, he was demanding more heavy -handed action than appeared to have taken place.

Mr. Skinner: No, I did not.

Mr. Newton: Perhaps that shows the difficulty of getting the balance right. Two weeks ago, everybody was asking, "Why has somebody not done more?" Today, someone is asking, "Why has somebody done so much?" It is an inherently difficult problem and we should acknowledge that.

Mr. Anthony Coombs (Wyre Forest): May we have a debate next week on local government to bring to the attention of the House the latest sad example of incompetence and waste by Labour-controlled Birmingham city council? I refer, in particular, to its intention to pursue a legal action against Sutton Coldfield college of further education and the College of Food from Birmingham. A lower court recently found that Birmingham city council had illegally transferred £13.6 million, which was intended for those colleges for training

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purposes, to prestige projects in the city. As legal action so far has cost about £200,000 and interest on the bill is £2,000 a week, is it not a matter for the district auditor?

Mr. Newton: I am not sure whether it would be a matter for the district auditor, who appears to have a growing amount on his plate from Birmingham, but my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education might wish to consider what my hon. Friend has described, especially in view of some of the observations at the start of business questions on the funding of further and higher education.

Madam Speaker: Business questions are getting long and convoluted and we have other business to conduct this afternoon and evening. I shall do my best to call hon. Members, but will they please ask brisk questions? I am sure that the Leader of the House will give brisk answers.

Mr. John Denham (Southampton, Itchen): May I remind the Leader of the House that a year ago I introduced a private Member's Bill designed to relieve the problems of council leaseholders who cannot sell their flats and who face huge bills? At the time, faced with a huge public lobby, the Government promised action; a year later, there has been no action. May we have a debate on the problems faced by council leaders and a promise of action that will be followed up by the Government?

Mr. Newton: The hon. Gentleman may have an opportunity to put that very question to the Secretary of State for the Environment, if he feels it appropriate, on Wednesday 15 March.

Mr. George Galloway (Glasgow, Hillhead): May I draw the attention of the Leader of the House to early-day motion 582?

[ That this House is gravely concerned at the unsolved murder, in a British military barracks in Germany, of Christina Menzies the 16 year old daughter of Staff Sergeant John Menzies and his wife Christine; is concerned at reports of poor police work by the Military Police investigating the murder and poor legal work by the Military Police Prosecutor; and, in the light of the acquittal of the accused, Corporal Fisher, and the statement by the Military Police that they were no longer looking for any other suspect, asks the obvious question whether the murderer of Christina Menzies is still at large within the British armed forces. ]

It deals with the bungling by the military police and the incompetence of the military prosecuting authorities who investigated the murder of my constituent, Christina Menzies. As a result of that bungling and incompetence, Corporal Darren Fisher, who killed my constituent, has literally got away with murder and is currently at large in a military establishment in Telford, Shropshire. Does the Leader of the House understand that British military justice and law is increasingly seen as an ass and many cases and issues are now backing up? We urgently need a debate, so that the system of courts martial and the way in which justice is dispensed in the armed forces, especially when crimes are committed against civilians, as in my constituent's case, can be brought under democratic control and modernised so that police and prosecuting work is up to standard, as it should be.

Mr. Newton: I shall obviously bring those remarks to the attention of my right hon. and learned Friend the

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Secretary of State for Defence, but I understand that the prosecuting officer in the case was a qualified lawyer who had experience of prosecuting charges of unlawful killing.

Mr. Cynog Dafis (Ceredigion and Pembroke, North): Will the Leader of the House arrange for a debate on the first conference on the climate change convention, which will be held towards the end of March, particularly in view of increasing anxiety and alarm and the accumulating evidence that global warming is occurring? Will he arrange for the Government to make a statement on how they plan to achieve carbon dioxide emission reductions by the end of the century and introduce further targets for reductions as soon as possible?

Mr. Newton: Those matters are under consideration at present, in relation not just to the conference in Berlin at the end of the month but to the Council of Environment Ministers next week. I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment will make the British Government's position clear as and when it is appropriate.

Mr. Jimmy Wray (Glasgow, Provan): Will the Leader of the House find time to debate the alarming boom in the economy of Colombia as 70 per cent. of its gross national product comes from the growth of coke, which has expanded from 1,000 hectares to 200,000 hectares in a very short time? That expansion has manifested itself in drug abuse and drug-related crime throughout Europe and the United Kingdom.

Mr. Newton: I think that the right course would be for me to ensure that my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary is made aware of the hon. Gentleman's remarks. As chairman of the Government's committee on drug misuse, I attach great importance to anything that can be done in Britain or abroad to reduce both the demand and the supply of drugs.

Mr. David Jamieson (Plymouth, Devonport): Has the Leader of the House seen the article in today's edition of Today , quoting Judge Stephen Tumim saying that Derek Lewis was not the first choice as director general of Her Majesty's prisons, but was appointed because of his support for the privatisation of prisons? May we expect a statement next week from the Home Secretary on why the

recommendations of the interviewing panel were turned down and why we did not have the best person for the job?

Mr. Newton: I must simply repeat what was said previously. The appointment of the director general was approved by the civil service commissioners in the normal way. Three candidates were assessed as being of an acceptable standard. They were then interviewed by the then Home Secretary and the board then reconvened.

Ms Glenda Jackson (Hampstead and Highgate): The Leader of the House will recall the Prime Minister's confirmation during Tuesday's Question Time that automatic train protection is being reconsidered. As the Government have given an absolute commitment to the installation of automatic train protection throughout the entire British Rail network for the past six years, will he ensure that there is a statement, or preferably a debate, on

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the matter, so that we can examine why the Government are reneging on yet another promise that impacts so strongly on the safety of the travelling public?

Mr. Newton: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport is considering advice from the Health and Safety Commission and from Railtrack on British Rail's report on automatic train protection. An announcement will be made in due course and that would be the appropriate time at which to consider a debate.

Mr. Peter Hain (Neath): May I press the Leader of the House again for a statement on the district auditor's report on Wandsworth council? The right hon. Gentleman failed to mention in reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Tooting (Mr. Cox) that in paragraph 6.9 the district auditor specifically states that the council had acted unlawfully in selling thousands of empty properties to Tory supporters and putting homeless families on the streets. How can the Minister with responsibility for housing in London remain in office when as leader of Wandsworth council he was responsible for that policy and escaped surcharge by the skin of his teeth? He must go, or is law breaking penetrating the heart of the Government?

Mr. Newton: I will not repeat what I said in my earlier answer. In the light of what I have already said, any suggestion that my hon. Friend should resign is quite nonsensical.

Mr. Michael Connarty (Falkirk, East): Will the Leader of the House arrange for the Secretaries of State for the various parts of the United Kingdom to make statements on the progress of clinical trials of beta interferon to treat some of the more virulent symptoms of multiple sclerosis? When I raised this matter before on behalf of my constituent, Kenneth Deering, I was promised that clinical trials would start, but my studies have shown that there seems to be sporadic individual prescription for beta interferon in one of its four forms to people who have multiple sclerosis. However, there is no indication of progress towards clinical trials that will allow it to be prescribed to the thousands of multiple sclerosis sufferers who are waiting for it to be made available.

Mr. Newton: As the quite active president of my local MS society, I certainly share the hon. Gentleman's interest in this matter. I shall bring his remarks to the attention of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health.

Mr. Derek Enright (Hemsworth): Is the Leader of the House aware that it is said that the six members of the Greenbury committee earn more than £4 million between them? Will he ask the Prime Minister to look urgently into that, set up an inquiry, and report back to the House?

Mr. Newton: I shall not add to what I said earlier. I do not accept the suggestion that members of the Greenbury committee are incapable of looking seriously and objectively at serious public issues.

Mr. Jeremy Corbyn (Islington, North): The Leader of the House must be aware that three times this week hon. Members have raised the question of the treatment of Sita Kamara, an asylum seeker in this country. Hon. Members

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make daily representations to the Home Office about the conditions under which asylum seekers are kept and about the fact that more than 700 are currently in custody in detention centres and prisons in this country. Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that it is necessary for the House to be able to debate the whole question of the treatment of asylum seekers, the refusal of asylum and the plight that those who are forcibly deported from this country face when they go back to the country from which they tried to flee in the first place?

Mr. Newton: As the hon. Gentleman says, the matter has been raised on a number of occasions. I have no doubt that a number of responses have been given and I certainly do not intend to add further to those.

Mr. Harry Barnes (Derbyshire, North-East): After tomorrow's business, two private Members' Bills are likely to be presented to the House. They are highly significant and have wide support in the House and throughout the country. They are the Wild Mammals (Protection) Bill and the Civil Rights (Disabled Persons) Bill. Given that support, should there not at least be discussions through the usual channels with the Leader of the House to see whether a second Committee can be set up to deal with private Members' Bills? They are not pushed for Government business and we need to make progress in the two areas covered by the Bills in accordance with the will of the House.

Mr. Newton: I realise that it will disappoint the hon. Gentleman when I tell him that I have no plans for changing the ordinary arrangements for dealing with private Members' Bills, which have applied for many years.

Mr. Kevin Barron (Rother Valley): Will the Leader of the House ask the Secretary of State for Employment to make a statement next week about an allegation in a newspaper today that the Department of Employment intends to withdraw one of the calculations of regional unemployment on the basis that it shows higher, more truthful unemployment than the calculation that it is proposed to replace?

Mr. Newton: My right hon. Friend will be here to answer questions on Tuesday and I shall give him advance notice of that one.

Mr. Tom Clarke (Monklands, West): Is the Leader of the House aware that his reassuring reply to the hon. Member for Rochdale (Ms Lynne) on the SCOPE report on carers and his reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Derbyshire, North-East (Mr. Barnes) are not consistent? Does he accept that the procedures of the House for private Members' Bills, to which he has just referred, were quite disgracefully abused last year by Conservative Members? In an effort to bring some sanity back to the situation, will he agree to allow appropriate time to the Government Bill on disability, which has just left Committee and which is based on reasonable exchanges on both sides? If necessary, will he grant two days for discussion, and ensure that the Bill presented by my hon. Friend the Member for Derbyshire, North-East, which did not have one vote against its Second Reading, and the Bill to be introduced tomorrow by my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, North-West (Mr. Wicks), will be given

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sufficient parliamentary time for reasonable debate? If that does not happen, the House will continue to be held in disrepute.

Mr. Newton: I cannot add to what I said to the hon. Member for Derbyshire, North-East (Mr. Barnes) in respect of procedures generally. The first part of the hon. Gentleman's question implies that he expects the Government to adopt an unconstructive approach to the Bill to be presented by the hon. Member for Croydon, North-West (Mr. Wicks). Perhaps he will examine with care what my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State will say if he gets the opportunity tomorrow.

Mr. Paul Flynn (Newport, West): When may we have a debate on early- day motion 685?

[ That this House calls for St. David's Day to be declared a bank holiday in Wales; notes that no other country in the British Isles or the European Union in 1995 will have fewer holidays than Wales (and England); congratulates the seven cities in the USA that will declare St. David's Day a special holiday; and believes that the ancient and popular celebrations of the Welsh national day should be honoured and elevated to the full status of a public holiday. ]

The motion calls for St. David's day to be made a bank holiday in Wales and states that Wales has fewer holidays than almost every country in the British Isles and the European Union. Has the right hon. Gentleman noticed that the early-day motion has been signed by 30 Welsh Members, which represents more than 90 per cent. of Welsh Members who are eligible to sign early-day motions? Is he not concerned that yesterday the Prime Minister in a one-word reply said that he would not act on this call from democratically elected Welsh Members? Is not that a contemptible way to treat the elected representatives of the Welsh nation?

Mr. Newton: I am afraid that I do not agree that it is. If we were to accede to the request and if that was followed by a request for Parliament to have a day off in consequence, which seems to be the natural concomitant, the hon. Gentleman would find himself in conflict with his hon. Friends the Members for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) and for Derbyshire, North-East (Mr. Barnes).

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Points of Order

5.16 pm

Mr. Tony Banks (Newham, North-West): On a point of order, Madam Speaker.

Madam Speaker: It would not be a normal day without a point of order from the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Banks: That is slightly unkind, but I shall have to stand here and take it.

Perhaps you could give the House guidance and direction, Madam Speaker. As my hon. Friend the Member for Derbyshire, North-East (Mr. Barnes) has reminded us, tomorrow we shall debate the Wild Mammals (Protection) Bill. It is possible that under our procedures someone from the pro-hunting lobby will attempt to talk it out. It will be necessary for us to have 100 hon. Members here, which is rather a large number for a Friday. Letters are circulating and advice is being given to hon. Members by those from the pro -hunting lobby that there will be no vote tomorrow. That is untrue. My hon. Friend the Member for Dumbarton (Mr. McFall) is quite insistent that there will be at least one and probably two votes. It seems that there is an element of dirty tricks and I hope that you will make it quite clear to all hon. Members that you would not approve or condone attempts to sabotage a private Members' Bill.

Madam Speaker: It is very difficult to sabotage private Members' Bills. As the hon. Gentleman may well know, that was not a point of order but a point of information and publicity, which he handled rather well. Perhaps we may now move to the Adjournment motion.

Mr. Michael Stephen (Shoreham): On a point of order, Madam Speaker. Has it ever been known for the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) to sabotage a private Member's Bill?

Madam Speaker: I am in the business not of sabotage but of getting on with the debate on Welsh affairs. The Welsh have waited a long time for that.

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Welsh Affairs

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

5.19 pm

The Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. John Redwood): Yesterday, we celebrated a great figure from Wales's past. St. David believed in being joyful. The Labour party would do well to heed him. I trust that it will break the habit of a lifetime and use the debate to spread some joy and hope.

Today, we herald a great future. In the past year, manufacturing output has surged; big urban renewal schemes are under way; and each manufacturing worker produced 6 per cent. more. Since the end of 1992, 25,000 people have come off the dole. We are leading Europe in exporting televisions and we are beating the world at producing steel. That is not a description of South Korea or Taiwan. That is Wales in 1994, and 1995 will be even better.

The television programme could ask, "How did they do that?" We did it by changing attitudes, by attracting investors, by cutting interest rates, and by believing in Wales. [Interruption.] We hear already how much Opposition Members dislike it. They know that Wales is on the move in the right direction and that Conservative policies are bringing economic success.

The pace of change is pulling the successful forward at an ever- accelerating speed. The danger is that we shall leave behind the less successful--some people, some towns, even some areas. I want to show that all of Wales and all of her people can benefit.

Mr. Donald Anderson (Swansea, East): Will the Secretary of State assist the House? Despite all those wonderful benefits that he and his Administration have brought to Wales, why do the wicked people of Wales refuse to give him the credit, and why, after two years of his rule, is the Conservative rating the lowest in history?

Mr. Redwood: It is real votes in the ballot box at a general election that count. I look forward to that challenge, as there is much more work to be done and more good news before we reach that happy occasion when more Conservative Members of Parliament are elected to represent Wales, to continue and to support the good work of their colleagues.

Mr. Peter Hain (Neath): The Secretary of State spoke of joy in Wales and of the upbeat view of the economy. How does that square with the report last week that more than 200 people queued through the night at Neath and Port Talbot jobcentres, not for actual jobs, but for application forms from British Steel for jobs that might arise? A 64-year-old woman, a constituent of mine, queued in the morning and found that the jobcentre had run out of application forms. We are going back to the 1930s; we are not going forward to the next century.

Mr. Redwood: The hon. Gentleman is right. There are still too many people without jobs. I have always accepted that and I have said that we need many more jobs. Today, I shall be sketching more ideas on how those jobs will arise, but the hon. Gentleman should recognise that Welsh unemployment overall is down to the United Kingdom average, that the UK average is well below the continental

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average, and that 25,000 families in Wales are much happier because one of their members has found a job since December 1992, when unemployment was unacceptably high.

Mr. David Hanson (Delyn): In his list, the Secretary of State did not mention wages. Does he accept that people in Wales are still paid far less than people in any other region in the UK? If he will not support the minimum wage that the Labour party wants, what other measures will he introduce today to ensure that wages rise in Wales?

Mr. Redwood: Of course we want higher wages, which have to be earned. They are earned by skills and by adapting to more sophisticated manufacturing techniques. That is happening in many parts of Wales, including in the hon. Gentleman's constituency. I shall outline some more measures that we are continuing with and that will help.

Mr. Alan Williams (Swansea, West): If we are doing so well, will the Secretary of State explain a simple situation? How is it that, 15 years into the life of this highly successful Government, unemployment is still 50,000 higher than it was when they came to office? How much longer will it be before they get unemployment back down to the 1979 level?

Mr. Redwood: Chronic overmanning and deep structural problems existed in some industries in Wales in 1979, but the good news is that we have done a much better job than many countries on the continent in reducing unemployment. Our relative performance is good, but I want more real jobs, just as the right hon. Gentleman does. New industry and new services need not pass any part of Wales by on the other side. If the Vale of Glamorgan can have a high living standard and low unemployment--as it does--so can Bridgend. If Caerphilly can, nothing is stopping Merthyr from doing so. It is not written in the stars that some places will do well and others badly. Holyhead has been a bustling port in the past. Merthyr was once the centre of new industry and new technology. Both have promising tomorrows. Today's equivalent of pioneering by puddling in the steel industry is messages by multi-media.

Mr. Ieuan Wyn Jones (Ynys Mo n): I am grateful to the Secretary of State for taking time to mention Holyhead, which clearly has a bright future. He will recognise the important development that is taking place at the port, with substantial investment, which I hope will be backed with European Union funding. Will he give the House an assurance that the Welsh Office will do everything possible both to facilitate the grant and to make strong representations to the European Commission that that grant should be approved?

Mr. Redwood: I am glad that the hon. Gentleman admits that a good future is in prospect for the port. I agree that more work needs to be done and that more investment needs to be made. Of course the Welsh Office will do anything in its power to assist in the way that he suggests and in other ways.

Mr. Allan Rogers (Rhondda): It is without any great pride that I represent one of the most deprived constituencies not just in Wales, but in the UK. We have

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had a lot of talk from a succession of Secretaries of State of this Government about inward investment and improvement, but the real fact is that unemployment in the Rhondda is still running at about 20 per cent. and that youth unemployment is as high as 80 or 90 per cent. What will the Secretary of State do about that? He said that the Rhondda can perform as well as the Vale of Glamorgan, but without practical investment in our valley communities, this downward spiral of depopulation will continue because of the lack of investment in the infrastructure.

Mr. Redwood: Of course we need more investment. There will be public investment and private investment. As the hon. Gentleman knows, I have taken action to encourage more of such investment and, like him, I am impatient to get on with the job.

It has taken the actions of the cyber cops in the United States of America to dramatise the Internet. Once a complex idea for computer super- literates, it has exploded into all too earthly life with stories of theft, fraud and pornography on that new ring main of world power. The net and its successors are ways of ensuring that no city, town or hamlet of Wales need be cut off from the next century. Geography does not debar Wales from economic success in a world shifting eastwards. History proves that false, and common sense confirms it.

Mr. Alex Carlile (Montgomery): I welcome what the Secretary of State has said. Does he mean that areas such as rural mid-Wales will gain assistance from the Welsh Office in attempts to include them in the information super-highway? If so, that is a welcome announcement.

Mr. Redwood: I have already said that if grant is needed I shall consider carefully how we could give that under the various powers that we have.

The cabling of Newport, Swansea and Cardiff is under way. Applications have been invited to cable the rest of the valleys and the Vale of Glamorgan. Before the year is out, I want to see a franchise for north Wales. Mid- Wales and west Wales should join in. British Telecom has always said that it wants to be able to offer a full range of services, using its existing cables where possible. It is more than welcome to offer to do that in any unlicensed area of Wales. Recently, I have been talking to cable companies. They are considering using radio links in less populated areas, which might solve the problem. I am told that it is possible to sling trunk fibre over pylons and maybe on to telegraph poles where routes are available. Between those methods, we must find a way to ensure that mid-Wales and west Wales are part of the system.

What matters just as much as installing the cable or making the links is the use that we make of that. Work is on hand to wire Celtic Lakes industrial park so that it can take the whole range of multi-media business services. I hope that other parks will follow. Cardiff bay can become a teleport.

This week, Super-JANET has become something of a new heroine in the House. A sum of £5.5 million is being spent this year by colleges in Wales to turn JANET into Super-JANET and to equip the colleges for the next century with multi-media technology.

Dr. Kim Howells (Pontypridd): I want to ask the Secretary of State not about "SuperTed" or Super-JANET

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but about equipping colleges. The biggest education institution in Wales is the university of Glamorgan. Will the Secretary of State ensure that the distribution of the millennium fund takes into account the university's dire need for new buildings and capital projects, which it wants now? I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman agrees that it fulfils a vital role in Welsh educational life and--if he wants to use super-highway terminology--in the interface between industry and education.

Mr. Redwood: In so far as it is proper for me to intervene in the millennium fund, I shall do everything in my power. I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for National Heritage, who has more influence than I have in these matters, will be shown the text of the hon. Gentleman's intervention and my response. I hope that Wales proposes many good projects for millennium funding, and I am sure that the hon. Gentleman is right when he says that education is one service that could benefit. He is also right to say that the university of Glamorgan is most important. I have stepped up capital investment in colleges in the past year or so and I intend to continue to do so as there is a backlog of work to be done. I want BT to offer enough cable capacity at a sensible and realistic price. I am looking into allegations that there are some difficulties with band width and pricing for some of the links in mid-Wales.

Mr. Hain: I apologise for intervening again and I am grateful to the Secretary of State for giving way. I find his remarks about BT interesting. I know that BT would be willing to offer fibre optic cabling in, for example, some of the Neath valleys but it is barred by Government regulation from offering entertainment as well as telephony. Will the Secretary of State consider restricted ring-fenced projects in unlicensed areas which would enable it to do so and thereby bring fibre optic super- highway opportunities to many remote areas?

Mr. Redwood: I regret to say that, geographically, much of Wales is still unlicensed, which is why I am trying to drive forward the work quickly. We are now close to a licence for a large new area in Wales. Yes, there is an offer to BT to offer the whole range of services to the unlicensed areas if it were the most sensible prospect on the table. I openly invite BT again to bid on that basis if it would like to do so. Let it not be said that there is a ban on BT operating well in Wales, other than in that small area of Wales which is already licensed under different terms.

Whereas St. David preached from a patch of grass and turned it into a hill, the modern Welsh academic will communicate across a phone line and will, I trust, broaden its band width into a range of new services. Today, I am also offering an additional £3 million for this year for books, equipment and new library space. Libraries are crucial and they, too, need more books and new equipment to carry them forward into the new era. It is time to turn up the lamps of learning.

What has all this to do with the job prospects of the teenager in Tredegar? The answer is, more than one might think. Getting the Welsh economy up to the speed of the new technology will raise the income level of the whole community. It will produce a host of new opportunities extending well beyond software and telephony. The cable investment entails excavating roads, making the cable and

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designing and manufacturing the switches and boosters. The system, once installed, needs maintaining and using: a host of businesses are growing and will grow on its foundations.

It should be as easy to entice the schoolboy in Mountain Ash as the schoolboy in Cardiff to make the journey from Nintendo and Gameboy to personal computer and multi-media link. A software generation is now growing up around the world comprising children who are used to writing essays on word processors and solving problems on computers. If English or Welsh is their first language, BASIC is their second. They have an entre e waiting to the world of technology. The Internet scarcely recognises political borders or language barriers. Ideas flash through the cable, cross the continents and are intolerant of Government control. The information revolution moves at the speed of light. No Government can "invest" in it with an eye to controlling it--that would be like trying to bet on the results of last Saturday's 3.40 at Chepstow when it is already Tuesday afternoon. The shadow Chancellor on the Internet would do to multi- media what successive British Governments did to British Leyland and British Steel in the 1960s and 1970s.

Mr. Donald Anderson: What the Secretary of State is telling the House is of great interest, but will he put himself in the position of an unemployed man in Cwmrhydyceirw or an unmarried mother in St. Mellons and ask how relevant what he is saying is to their needs?

Mr. Redwood: That, in a slightly different form, was the question that I was asked a little while ago, and which I am now answering. It is very relevant because the scheme will increase prosperity and job opportunities across Wales--in the valleys, north Wales, mid-Wales and west Wales. Many Opposition Members accept that it is a job generator in its own right and that it will serve to raise the incomes of the country. The hon. Gentleman must understand that, as incomes rise, people spend more on goods and services which, in turn, generates new jobs.

Across the Atlantic, Congress has stepped out on a legislative revolution. The Republicans have realised that in this fast-moving technological world, less rather than more government is what is needed. What people are looking for is leadership rather than the self-serving interests of politicians. More should be expected of individuals and families, and politicians should interfere less and be true to their word. The information revolution demands bright, articulate self-motivated people. Their demands of Government are different from those of 1950s factory workers.

The same process of change brings many more lower-paid jobs in services, requiring the remodelling of welfare to encourage rather than impede work for the young and the part-timer. These jobs can and do lead to better-paid opportunities and should not be run down, as they regularly are by the Opposition. A sense of community, of family and of neighbourhood does not require more government to give it voice or substance; it has a value of its own, fashioned by history and quietly rejoicing in its independence.

British Conservatives should take heart from the American revival of conservative beliefs because American fashions in politics are often followed a year or

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