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Total Purchasing Initiative

11. Sir Irvine Patnick: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the interest shown by GPs in the total purchasing initiative. [27991]

Mr. Malone: I was pleased to announce a second wave of 34 total purchasing projects from April this year, bringing the total in England to 85.

Sir Irvine Patnick: I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. Does he agree that that shows an overwhelming response to the pilots, including a surgery in Sheffield, and that GPs, whether or not they are fundholders, need to purchase the best possible care for their patients? Have not the Opposition Front-Bench spokesmen shown today that they are totally opposed to fundholding and will abolish it if they are given the opportunity?

Mr. Malone: My hon. Friend is right. It would be a great shame if the benefits that are emerging from the total purchasing pilot in Sheffield were to be lost should ever the Labour party get into office and abolish fundholding, and with it total fundholding, as it has promised.

Private Finance Initiative

12. Mr. Pike: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many NHS trust hospitals have now agreed major capital work schemes under the PFI. [27992]

Mr. Dorrell: Since the launch of the private finance initiative, 41 national health service trust schemes valued at £1 million or above have been approved, at a total capital value of £457 million. Contracts have been signed in 26 of those cases.

Mr. Pike: Does the Secretary of State acknowledge that many NHS trusts believe that PFI applications cause delay in schemes being approved and that at times, the detail of schemes must be changed to meet PFI priorities? Is that situation acceptable? Can the right hon. Gentleman confirm that the fourth phase at Burnley general hospital will now go ahead speedily?

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Mr. Dorrell: I might have hoped that the hon. Gentleman would welcome that a decision was announced in his constituency in February to invest a further £8.9 million in Burnley general hospital. I did not hear a welcome for that development, which is part of the biggest-ever investment programme in the history of the national health service, coming from the hon. Gentleman's lips. The hon. Gentleman might have seen fit to welcome it. He says that the PFI is responsible for new delays in the NHS programme, but that is to turn history on its head. In reality, the history of NHS investment has been one of delays caused by the old system. The Government have emancipated the health service from those distortions.

PRIME MINISTER

Engagements

Q1. Mr. Harry Greenway: To ask the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for Tuesday 14 May. [28011]

The Prime Minister (Mr. John Major): This morning, I had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others. In addition to my duties in the House, I shall be having further meetings later today.

Mr. Greenway: Bearing in mind the eternal anguish caused to families and the British people by the murders of my constituent Philip Lawrence and of the teacher and children of Dunblane, may I have my right hon. Friend's absolute assurance that the Government will spare no effort to ensure proper security for schools and proper gun controls?

The Prime Minister: As to school security, we have today accepted the recommendations of the working group that was set up by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Employment following the tragic murder of Mr. Lawrence, and we shall press on with implementing them. As to Dunblane, I have made it clear that when we have the chance to consider Lord Cullen's recommendations and to consult other parties in the House, if legislation is found to be necessary--as I personally suspect it will--we have already set aside time in our parliamentary programme. I believe that there is a consensus in the House that schools should be secure places in which children can learn free from fear. Parents expect no less, and we will do all that we can to ensure that is the case.

Mr. Blair: I support the Prime Minister in his welcome for the report on school security. Is not it a sad but true reflection of the need for such a report that in the past year, three in five schools have been vandalised by intruders and a high degree of pupils and teachers were actually assaulted by intruders? As well as accepting the working group's recommendations, will the Government fully fund them--if necessary from within the current financial year?

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The Prime Minister: We have made it clear that there will be a Government funding programme over whatever period is necessary to follow through the recommendations. We have not yet had the chance to study the recommendations in full, cost them or determine how rapidly they can be implemented. However, we will not be seeking delay but seeking to carry out the recommendations as speedily as practicable.

Mr. Blair: I thank the right hon. Gentleman for that reply. I am sure that he knows that vandalism costs a lot of money--so the sooner that action is taken, the better financially. Will the Prime Minister agree to the working group's request to be allowed to examine the broader problem of behaviour in schools? Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that the routine violence suffered by many teachers in schools is absolutely intolerable? Given that there are 11,000 school exclusions every year, which is about treble the previous number, we would co-operate fully in any legislation designed to make the time limits for exclusion more rational and to render the entire system of exclusions more acceptable.

The Prime Minister: There may be areas of agreement and I welcome the support of the right hon. Gentleman. As hon. Members will know, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Employment is examining this matter. It is important that we ensure proper behaviour in schools and proper sanctions by teachers. The Government would welcome support across the Chamber on this issue.

Q2. Mr. Dunn: To ask the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for Tuesday 14 May. [28012]

The Prime Minister: I refer my hon. Friend to the reply that I gave some moments ago.

Mr. Dunn: Given that Sevenoaks district council, which is controlled by Labour and the Liberal Democrats, has just increased its council tax by a staggering and unprecedented 90 per cent.--which is a nightmare for council tax payers--does the Prime Minister agree with the maxim: "Dogs bark, cats miaow and socialists put up taxes"?

The Prime Minister: My hon. Friend is being slightly unfair to the Liberal Democrats, who seem to have helped on this occasion with the tax raising. If one looks across local government, one sees that it is Liberal, Lib-Lab and Labour councils that ransack the pockets of council tax payers. [Interruption.] I am glad that Labour Members like extra taxes. This morning I read that the shadow Secretary for Employment wants to tax more as a sop to the trade unions.

The Government see the removal of child benefit as a teenage tax. Many Labour Members want to tax anyone who earns more than the shadow Transport Secretary. [Interruption.] Yes, there is more. In Scotland, the tartan tax is an extra tax. The Labour party wants to tax business

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more with a minimum wage. There are plenty of opportunities for more arguments in the shadow Cabinet about the Labour party's tax policy.

Q3. Ms Lynne: To ask the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for Tuesday 14 May. [28013]

The Prime Minister: I refer the hon. Lady to the reply that I gave some moments ago.

Ms Lynne: In light of the recent remarks made by leading film stars and others, does the Prime Minister agree with me and with them that violence on television and in films can lead to horrific copycat killings? Will he put whatever pressure he can on the film censor to withdraw the video certificate from "Natural Born Killers" and to persuade the BBC not to broadcast it?

The Prime Minister: I share the concern of the hon. Lady and the concern of millions of people in this country about the level of violence in feature films and, perhaps even more damaging, in videos that are readily available to young people. It is encouraging that the concerns are echoed by many people in the film industry. I have not seen "Natural Born Killers", but everything that I have heard about it suggests that it is distasteful. I hope that the British Board of Film Classification will hear what the hon. Lady has to say, consider it with great care and act on it.

Mr. Yeo: Has my right hon. Friend seen today's reports recommending less confrontation in Parliament? Does he agree that the quickest way to achieve this will be for the parties that claim to be against crime to vote in favour of, and not against, the Government's increasingly successful law and order measures?

The Prime Minister rose--

Mr. Yeo: In addition, the parties that claim they want to help British men and women into jobs should join the Government in saying no to the social chapter. In short, new Labour should finally tell the truth and say that the Tories were right all along.

The Prime Minister: I am glad that I made way for the second half of my hon. Friend's question; it was well worth waiting for.

I am surprised by the apparent amusement of the Opposition about dealing with these important issues, when their policies would not deal with a single one of them. Opposition for its own sake is generally what we get from the Opposition parties; we have got used to that. If they meant what they said, they would change.


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