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Mr. John Marshall (Hendon, South): Will my right hon. Friend arrange for an urgent early debate on the economic situation, so that we can point out that unemployment is still falling--it is now 7.9 per cent.--that inflation is low and falling, that this is all due to the Government's policies, and that our economy is very much stronger than those of western European countries which follow the policies advocated by the Opposition?

Mr. Newton: What an excellent question; I could not have put it better myself.

Mr. Gerry Sutcliffe (Bradford, South): Will the Leader of the House ask the Secretary of State for the Environment to make a statement on the collapse of the Government's social housing programme? This morning, housing associations--the vehicle that the Government are now using to create social housing in place of local authorities--have had their private finance stopped because of the inadequacy of the Housing Bill. Will the Leader of the House ask his right hon. Friend to make a statement to put the matter right?

Mr. Newton: Were the hon. Gentleman's forecast accurate, I am sure that my right hon. Friend would wish to make the position clear. I do not accept the hon. Gentleman's description of the position, but I shall draw his comments to my right hon. Friend's attention.

Sir Irvine Patnick (Sheffield, Hallam): Will my right hon. Friend arrange an early debate to discuss the resolution passed by Labour-controlled Sheffield city council on 31 January, which has been sent to the Secretary of State for Education and all Members of

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Parliament for Sheffield? In it, the council condemns the hypocrisy of senior Labour politicians in seeking privileges for their children in contradiction of their own stated educated policy.

Mr. Newton: That sounds rather a good subject for a debate, along with many others I can think of. I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his suggestion.

Mr. Archy Kirkwood (Roxburgh and Berwickshire): Is the Leader of the House aware of the dramatic increase in the number of complaints being received from all parts of rural United Kingdom about the tangible effects of low-flying training? Will he arrange for a debate in Government time on this subject and, in particular, on the Ministry of Defence's restitution of compensation in cases where property is dislocated and destroyed, and where loss of life is a direct consequence of low-flying training?

Mr. Newton: I am aware of such concerns. Indeed, one or two have been expressed in my constituency. I shall, of course, bring the hon. Gentleman's remarks to the attention of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence. I should add that, inevitably, a balance has to be struck. This afternoon, we have been talking about Iraq. Our planes made such a contribution to the war there that we could not have failed to carry out the relevant flying training exercises.

Mr. Jacques Arnold (Gravesham): Will my righthon. Friend arrange for a debate next week on the briefing of the press in this place? We heard in the statement about briefing against members of the Government which suggested dishonourable and scurrilous behaviour, but I draw my right hon. Friend's attention to early-day motion 421, which shows that briefing has occurred, but, in this case, by the deputy Leader of the Opposition against his own leader.

Mr. Newton: I am not in a position to add to what my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade said on this and other matters, but I hope that my hon. Friend's comments will be carefully considered by thehon. Member for Livingston (Mr. Cook)--and, indeed, by the right hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, East(Mr. Prescott).

Mr. Alfred Morris (Manchester, Wythenshawe): In the light of the evidence that he has heard and seen here today, does the Leader of the House really think that a single day is long enough for the debate on the Scott report?

Mr. Newton: I have already said that a debate on the Adjournment is appropriate. I also think that the proposal for a day's debate on the Adjournment is appropriate.

Mr. Greville Janner (Leicester, West): As it is such a long time since the House debated health and safety, will the right hon. Gentleman be good enough to arrange a debate focusing in particular on the safety of children and young people in parks? I ask this because of the pollution of a stream running through Braunstone park in my constituency, which resulted in a number of young people being injured and burnt, and the destruction of thousands

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of fish. It is the sort of problem that afflicts people across the country, and I think that a debate would be appropriate.

Mr. Newton: The hon. and learned Gentleman knows that the Government are concerned to improve the protection of the environment and of people, and that they have taken action to that end. It sounds an appropriate subject for a Wednesday morning debate; perhaps thehon. and learned Gentleman might like to bid for a such a debate.

Mr. David Winnick (Walsall, North): In view of the right hon. Gentleman's announcement of a debate on the Scott report, does he agree that the way in which the arrangements were made for the report to be seen makes a mockery of parliamentary accountability, and that he, as Leader of the House, must be accused of showing contempt for Parliament in not persuading the Government to act otherwise? It is disgraceful thathon. Members were given only 10 minutes, or probably less, to read a five-volume report. Once again, the Government have shown contempt for our procedures.

Mr. Newton: I do not accept the hon. Gentleman's strictures. Perhaps it may be of some comfort to him to know that I did not receive a copy of the report until 3.30 pm.

Ms Glenda Jackson (Hampstead and Highgate): May we have an early debate on the grievous effect of the Government's noxious habitual residence test and its impact on British citizen and United Kingdom nationals? Is the Leader of the House aware that the National Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux this week published a report entitled "Failing the Test", which shows that, far from catching benefit tourists, as the Secretary of State for Social Security claimed, the test is targeting more than 38,000 British citizens andUK nationals? As appeals against the test can take anything up to three months, many British citizens and UK nationals are living in their own country without any means of financial support. That is a grievous situation, and we should have an early debate on it.

Mr. Newton: There will, of course, be a number of social security debates next week, but I shall draw the hon. Lady's remarks to the attention of my righthon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Security. In introducing the test, the Government were responding to criticism of the easy access to income support for anyone who chose to come to this country. Experience has shown that abuse was substantially greater even than had been estimated, which originally caused the concern. There are certainly no plans to withdraw the test.

Mr. Harry Barnes (North-East Derbyshire): The weather has improved, but may we have a debate on cold weather payments, as a number of people have missed out on them and been placed in very difficult circumstances? Even under the current rules, the temperature is often measured miles from where the problem is. Clay Cross in my constituency is almost 50 miles from Leeds, but Leeds is the centre where the relevant measurement is taken.

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However, there were probably at least two weeks in January, when, had the temperature properly been measured in north Derbyshire, people in Clay Cross and the surrounding areas would have received cold weather payments.

Mr. Newton: I shall ask my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Security to examine the matter, but I know from experience that the scheme is a great deal quicker, more effective and sensitive than it was not so many years ago.

Mr. D. N. Campbell-Savours (Workington): May we have a debate on commercial lobbying? Does the Leader of the House think it right in principle that a Minister of the Crown should sign a renewal application for a pass for a commercial lobbyist, and that a pass to the House should then be issued? Surely there is a principle involved.

Mr. Newton: Madam Speaker, I understand that my hon. Friend to whom the hon. Gentleman refers has written to you about the matter, and I do not think that I should make any further comment from the Dispatch Box now.

Mr. Win Griffiths (Bridgend): Is the Leader of the House aware that the local government boundary commission for Wales gave the Secretary of State for Wales its proposals today to deal with anomalies in the border around the town of Bridgend? Because of the way in which the matter is being dealt with, there is a danger that, if the Secretary of State does not allow the proposal to be publicised tomorrow for a period of six weeks, the boundary changes will not come into effect for a full year after the local government reorganisation has taken place.

Great concern has been expressed in my constituency about the impact of this, and I would appreciate it if the Leader of the House could use his good offices to secure a debate on behalf of my constituents. Clearly, I am using mine, but I realise that his probably have a greater pull in this respect.

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