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Mr. Eddie Loyden (Liverpool, Garston): I appreciate the assistance that the Leader of the House has given in the past in respect of MV Derbyshire. The view is widely held among hon. Members of all parties that the families affected by that tragedy have not received a fair deal from the Government. It came as a shock to learn that the marine technologists who made the first visit to MV Derbyshire are being precluded from joining the assessors on the next voyage, which is an absolute scandal. I would much appreciate it if the right hon. Gentleman conveyed the feelings of many hon. Members that the Secretary of State for Transport should seriously reconsider that matter.

Mr. Newton: I am grateful for the way in which the hon. Gentleman prefaced his question. In the spirit in which I have always approached him previously on the matter, of course I shall convey his remarks to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State--who will be in the House to answer questions next Monday. I take the opportunity to mention, I hope not indiscreetly, that I have already had a word with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, following my conversation with the hon. Gentleman earlier this week.

Dr. Robert Spink (Castle Point): Is it not time that the House again debated the funding of the BBC? Is my right hon. Friend aware that the 1991 consolidated licence fee regulations state that a licence is required to install and use television receivers at a single place specified on the licence? Could the House debate the circumstances in which one licence could be used for two different addresses in particular circumstances?

Mr. Newton: I cannot promise a debate on that matter, but it may be in order to raise it in relation to the Broadcasting Bill, which is in Committee and will return to the Floor of the House in due course. I shall bring my hon. Friend's remarks to the attention of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for National Heritage.

Mr. Ken Purchase (Wolverhampton, North-East): Is the Leader of the House aware of the dismay and confusion caused by the decision of the President of the Board of Trade to nod through the American bid for Midlands Electricity? Will the right hon. Gentleman arrange for the President to explain to the House his policy in regard to mergers and takeovers, because the industry is currently in total confusion? There seems to be no rationality behind the President's decisions on those matters. One week he will refuse a merger or a vertical integration, but, soon after, he will approve an American takeover of Midlands Electricity. Will the Leader of the House bring the President of the Board of Trade to the House to explain his actions?

Mr. Newton: I cannot promise to bring the President of the Board of Trade to the House in quite the manner

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that the hon. Gentleman suggests, although I can say that the President is due to answer questions in the House on Wednesday 19 June. The only other comment that I shall make, in view of the anti-American flavour of the hon. Gentleman's question--I do not know whether it was intended--is that it is important to remember that this country has huge investments in America, and it has generally benefited from incoming overseas investment and from our investment overseas.

Mr. Tony Banks (Newham, North-West): Does the Leader of the House recall that recently I asked him for a debate on the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991? Since then, Jessie--a bitch that was lame and had no teeth--has been destroyed, and Buster has been on dogs' death row for approximately five years. Can we please have a debate on that Act? It is costing the police hundreds of thousands of pounds in kennelling, and it is causing a great deal of suffering for pet owners, and for dogs that are waiting to be destroyed.

Magistrates have no discretion in that matter, although they would like to exercise it. Perhaps we should have a debate with a view to getting an agreed amendment to the Act, through the usual channels, before we rise for the summer recess. That would be greatly welcomed by all hon. Members, and it would certainly be greatly welcomed by animal lovers across the country.

Mr. Newton: I recall the hon. Gentleman's previous question, and I think--although I cannot recall exactly--that I made the point that that was a good subject for a Wednesday morning Adjournment debate. That is certainly my view, and he might like to consider it.

Madam Speaker: I call Mr. Paul Tyler--I am sorry; Mr. Paul Flynn.

Mr. Paul Flynn (Newport, West): Thank you, Madam Speaker.

Mr. Banks: Say it in Welsh.

Mr. Flynn: No, I dare not.

Has not the case been made that we need to have a debate on the issue of national spending on elections? The Leader of the House has just admitted that he does not know how we could introduce national spending limits. If we had such a debate, we could explain to him the result of my Bill--it will be debated on Second Reading on12 July--which will reintroduce the national spending limits that operated until the mid-1970s.

If we do not have such a debate and if we do not introduce spending limits, any person, country or malign organisation--overseas or in this country--could spend unlimited millions of pounds on influencing our elections and buying votes. The Government have refused to introduce limits in the past, to protect the integrity of our democratic system. Will they now do it in their party's self-interest?

Mr. Newton: Perhaps I should make the point that the suggestion by the hon. Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr. Rooker) appears to be related not to election periods but to preventing people from advertising their views on an on-going basis--if I understood his

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suggestion at all. I have no doubt that I, in common with other hon. Members, will examine with customary fascination the Bill introduced by the hon. Member for Newport, West (Mr. Flynn), provided it is in English and not in Welsh.

Mr. Andrew Mackinlay (Thurrock): Could we have some Government time for a debate on the interests of and disadvantages for the Britons who occupy the Rock of Gibraltar? Is the Leader of the House aware that the people of Gibraltar are currently enduring inordinate and unreasonable delays on the border? That is unacceptable. Those are Britons and, ultimately, this is their Parliament. There is a democratic deficit because they have no representation in the House. Every hon. Member therefore has an obligation to the people of Gibraltar, who are not represented in this place. Is it not time that we had a debate about their future, their complaints and the disadvantages that they suffer because of the Spanish authorities?

Mr. Newton: As usual, I shall bear in mind that request--as I do other requests--for a debate. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will agree that my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary and the Government have consistently made clear their desire to do the best for the people of Gibraltar.

Mr. Brian Jenkins (South-East Staffordshire): Could the Leader of the House find time in the next few weeks to debate the performance of Premier Health NHS trust in my constituency, which is proposing to close a residential mental health unit less than 12 months after it was opened? We understand that there are financial difficulties but, although the area health authority is conducting a consultation, the contractors are already implementing the decision to close the unit before the public have had a chance to express their views. The public are understandably incensed and wish to re-establish their rights in the consultation process. It would do a great deal of good if the House were to re-establish those rights before any action was taken.

Mr. Newton: The hon. Gentleman will appreciate that I am not in a position to comment off the cuff from the Dispatch Box on a particular case of which I was not hitherto aware. However, it is clear that I should--and I will--bring it to the attention of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health, who is the Minister with the relevant responsibility in respect of social services overall, although not individual departments, and--certainly--health.

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Points of Order

4 pm

Mr. Hugh Dykes (Harrow, East): On a point of order, Madam Speaker. I gave your office notice this morning that I would seek to catch your eye about a matter on which I seek your guidance.

I am perplexed, and perhaps other hon. Members are too, about a Bill that is still at its preliminary stage. I must emphasise that I have not yet had a chance today to notify my hon. Friend the Member for Stafford (Mr. Cash) that I would raise the matter. As the House knows, my hon. Friend is the promoter of a ten-minute Bill that is due to be introduced next Tuesday. It deals with referendums and other matters related to our membership of the European Union.

However, I noticed--I am sure that other hon. Members have, too--the text of the Bill in the newspapers, yesterday and today. Of course, the ten-minute Bill procedure means that a Bill is not printed until after its formal First Reading--

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