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Sir Patrick Cormack (South Staffordshire): I thank the right hon. Lady for giving us the business, and echo the words of my right hon. Friend the Member for South-West Norfolk (Mrs. Shephard) in thanking her for again giving us two weeks' business. I also thank her for clarifying the dates of the Easter recess and say how helpful it is to know those. Last week, she said that she hoped to say something at a fairly early date about any possible Whitsun recess. The sooner we can have that news, the better.

The right hon. Lady mentioned the Government of Wales Bill in next week's business. She will know that we have been extremely glad to co-operate in the programming experiment in respect of two major constitutional Bills. We want that experiment to succeed, as I know she does, but does she accept that, now that the Government have tabled several important new clauses, which we welcome, and well over 100 amendments, the two days that were initially agreed for Report are not adequate?

If the programming system is to work, it is terribly important that some flexibility should be built into it, so that if the Government do that to a major Bill at a late stage we can have some extra time.

Will the right hon. Lady also accept that it is essential for the House to have a sight of the registration of political parties Bill--in draft form at the very least--before we complete consideration of the Government of Wales Bill?

The right hon. Lady has worked hard as Chairman of the Modernisation Committee; both my right hon. Friend the Member for South-West Norfolk and I have paid tribute to her on several occasions for that. When are the Committee's two latest reports likely to be debated, bearing in mind the fact that, this week, the Leader of the House has written to hon. Members suggesting that, in some cases, there will be a need to change the Standing Orders of the House and perhaps even legislative changes will be called for? The sooner the reports themselves can be debated and approved in principle, the better.

On many occasions recently, my right hon. Friend the Member for South-West Norfolk has called for a debate on the national health service. Although we fully appreciate that the health service is relevant to the Budget debate, particularly in the light of yesterday's statement, may I point out that that was the eighth statement that we have had in recent times on the NHS, and that the substance of yesterday's statement was that it will take the Government two years to get back to where waiting lists were on 1 May? It is essential that we have a debate on that as soon as possible.

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Is the right hon. Lady aware that there is a great crisis in the museums world, particularly for many of our great national museums and galleries? Will she accept that the Budget did not begin to address the seriousness of the problem? May we have a debate on the matter quite soon?

In view of the considerable uncertainty that the Prime Minister displayed yesterday over the Red Book, or, as my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition called it, the unread book, perhaps the Government should organise a teach-in on that document and ensure that all Ministers attend.

In the light of today's revelations, may we have a further statement next week on the conditions and security in Northern Ireland prisons? Will the right hon. Lady accept that we should like to have a full debate on the issue in the near future?

This is the period of our presidency of the European Union, but we have not yet had a general debate on foreign affairs. The Foreign Secretary's love of racing and support for country sports endear him to many Opposition Members. We realise that he is trying to do his best and that he has not yet made the sort of bloomer that a predecessor is alleged to have made when he asked a cardinal archbishop to waltz during the national anthem. However, it seems to us that the right hon. Gentleman's finesse is perhaps not as accomplished as it might be, and we should like a debate on foreign affairs so that he can explain himself.

Mrs. Taylor: The hon. Gentleman asked a number of questions, and I will try to deal with all of them. He asked about the Whitsun recess. I am hoping that we can have a week at Whitsun, but it will depend on the progress of business. The hon. Gentleman will be aware of the pressures on time, and I cannot give a guarantee at this stage.

We were pleased that the official Opposition and the minority parties thought it right to make progress on the Government of Wales Bill through a programming motion, and, as the hon. Gentleman said, we wish to see that experiment succeed. When the timetable was originally drawn up, it was envisaged that there would be significant issues to be discussed on Report stage; hence the two days that have been allocated. As the hon. Gentleman said, the Opposition welcome some of the more significant changes that have been made, and many of the other amendments to which he referred are technical. It is for the Business Committee to consider whether any injury time might be required on either of those days should there be the prospect of statements. Overall, the experiment has been extremely useful, and I am grateful for the co-operation we have had from all parts of the House.

I appreciate what the hon. Gentleman said about the need to make progress on the Bill on the registration of political parties. He will know that there have been significant consultations on the matter to try to ensure that what we propose is satisfactory to everyone involved. I hope that we will be able to see the Bill before long.

The hon. Gentleman asked about a debate on the reports from the Modernisation Committee. I, too, would like to see a debate on those matters, not least because I think that the general reception throughout the House has been positive and because, as he said, we may wish to make specific changes to Standing Orders. I do not hold out any

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prospect of such a debate before Easter, but I hope that we will be able to make some time available after that, so that the House can have an opportunity to express its views.

The hon. Gentleman asked about a debate on health. I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health would welcome an opportunity to talk about the extra money that he has been able to make available for the health service. As the right hon. Member for South-West Norfolk (Mrs. Shephard) has requested a debate on the health service previously, I checked up on the matter. When the Conservatives were in government between 1992 and 1997, they had only one general debate on the health service. I hope that we can do slightly better than that. It is always open to the Opposition to use Opposition days for that issue.

As for the impact of the Budget on museums, it is still open to hon. Members to participate in the on-going Budget debate. Hon. Members who have a specific interest in that matter still have two days in which to take part in the debate.

The hon. Gentleman mentioned the serious situation in prisons in Northern Ireland. He will be aware that, at the beginning of the week, there was a private notice question--which you, Madam Speaker, allowed--enabling the relevant Minister to explain the situation. The hon. Gentleman will be aware also that there are inquiries into events there. I am sure that the House will be kept informed of any developments.

As for the hon. Gentleman's comments on the presidency of the European Union and a general debate on foreign affairs, I cannot promise that we can have such a debate before Easter. However, we should like to have a debate on foreign affairs as soon as we can find some time in the parliamentary calendar to do so. I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary will acquit himself well, as he always does.

Mrs. Gwyneth Dunwoody (Crewe and Nantwich): May I tell my right hon. Friend how grateful the Select Committees will be for the opportunity to debate their reports? I look forward to Wednesday morning's debate on the strategic rail authority. It will be a great asset if the Select Committee's work is recognised on the Floor.

However, having congratulated my right hon. Friend on that, may I ask her whether she will expedite the debate on modernisation of the House? Although there seems to be an astonishing amount of compliance between the two Front Benches--which always worries any sensible Back Bencher--some of the suggestions on timetabling, including timetabling in Committees, are not only extremely difficult to accept, but could be said to be anti-democratic. I hope that she will not run away with the idea that everyone in the House thinks that those reports are the best thing since sliced bread.

Mrs. Taylor: I am grateful for my hon. Friend's earlier comments on the Select Committee report. Some Select Committee reports should be debated on the Floor of the House, and she has been very fortunate to get a debate on a report in which I know she has a very specific interest.

My hon. Friend mentioned Committee timetabling and procedure. I should remind her that those matters were the subject of previous reports of the Modernisation Committee, and that those reports were endorsed by the

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House, which approved them with nobody voting against. However, opinions are divided on some of the matters, and the two Front-Bench teams are not in agreement against everyone else. The Modernisation Committee's reports have had the support not only of Front Benchers but of Back Benchers on both sides of the House, and of experienced Members and new Members alike. That is another reason why everyone should be able to participate in the debate.

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