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Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover): Has my right hon. Friend noticed the speculation in the press in recent days about the possible collaboration between the Labour Government and the leader of the Liberal Democrats, and the possibility that he will get a job in a future Cabinet? The other daft idea being carted around is that the right hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith) will be the next Speaker. May we have an early statement to put an end to all those rumours? While we are at it, will my right hon. Friend tell the others in the Cabinet that they should bury the report from Lord Jenkins about changing to proportional representation and tell him to stick to what he has always done--rushing about trying to find a posh table at a restaurant?

Mrs. Taylor: I am not sure that I can find time next week for the specific debate that my hon. Friend requests, interesting though it might be, especially to those of us who have been in the House for many years.

On my hon. Friend's specific point, I am not aware that there is any credibility in many of the stories that appear in the press. I am sure that you intend to be in your place for some time yet, Madam Speaker, so any speculation on that front is pretty worthless.

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On jobs in Cabinet, I promise to bring my hon. Friend's recommendations to the attention of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister.

Mr. Peter Brooke (Cities of London and Westminster): Given the pressure on legislative time revealed by the Landmines Bill, which I welcome, can the Government ensure that Ministers are available to take their business when it occurs so that we avoid the surrealist farce that we had last night of Labour Back Benchers filibustering on the Finance (No. 2) Bill while the Government allegedly retrieved the next relevant Minister from the highlands?

Mrs. Taylor: I think that the right hon. Gentleman is under some misapprehension. Two days for the Finance Bill was the time that we agreed to give, following discussions through the usual channels. If anyone was absent, it was Opposition Members.

Mr. Peter L. Pike (Burnley): May I draw my right hon. Friend's attention to early-day motion 651?

[That this House believes that the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions should undertake an urgent review of the standard of motorway driving with a particular view to the need for all newly qualified drivers to undertake some form of motorway tuition and that urgent action should be taken to address the problems that exist and to secure a higher standard of proficiency of motorway driving and to help reduce the present motorway accident level.]

I pay tribute to my constituent, Anne Ravenhill, who, for some years, has vigorously campaigned for motorway driving tuition. The early-day motion has 104 signatures. Anyone who drives on motorways will recognise that this issue is of concern. Does my right hon. Friend see any opportunity of discussing these issues at an early date?

Mrs. Taylor: My hon. Friend is an experienced Member of the House, and he knows ways of finding time in debates to raise issues that he wants to pursue. The Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions is undertaking a comprehensive examination of driver training issues. My hon. Friend has made points about safety on motorways and about measures that need not penalise newly qualified drivers. That is an important issue, but he will understand that I cannot find time for a debate on it. With his ingenuity, I am sure that he can find other ways of raising this matter.

Rev. Martin Smyth (Belfast, South): Does the right hon. Lady join me in condemning the arson attacks on Roman Catholic chapels in Northern Ireland last night? Such actions are attacks not just on places of worship, but on communities, and they are to be deployed in any community that stands for civil and religious liberty.

Is the right hon. Lady able to tell us when the Northern Ireland constitution Bill will be introduced? Yesterday, we launched the assembly. It is like starting a marathon race without telling people where they are going.

Mrs. Taylor: I am sure that the whole House wants to be associated with the hon. Gentleman's comments about the arson attacks. Such behaviour unites everyone in the House, and, like him, we want to place our views on record.

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Discussions are still taking place on the Northern Ireland constitution Bill, so I cannot give the hon. Gentleman a precise answer. He knows that we take Northern Ireland legislation extremely seriously. We have moved quickly to present such legislation when it has been necessary. Much work is being carried out at present, and discussions will continue through the usual channels. As soon as I can give the House information, I shall do so.

Mr. Paul Flynn (Newport, West): I welcome what my right hon. Friend said about tomorrow's Bills. Is it not a perversion of democracy that 74 Bills will come before Parliament tomorrow? The day has become known as the slaughter of the innocents, because many would-be King Herods can destroy those Bills by shouting a single word. It is wrong for the will of the House to be ignored. One of those Bills received a majority vote of 411, but it is unlikely to get through the system and become law. Bill No. 13 on the Order Paper seeks to tackle by far the worst case of drug misuse in this country, which is the over-prescription of neuroleptic drugs to the elderly in residential homes. We should have a debate on the system that allows Bills that have majority support not to get through Parliament and to be damaged or destroyed by malign or malicious individual Members.

Mrs. Taylor: We had a short debate on that subject last week. Points made in that debate will help the Modernisation Committee when it turns its mind to this subject.

Mr. Wilkinson: I thank the Leader of the House for letting us know that the statement on the strategic defence review will be made on Wednesday of next week. Does that not highlight the fact that, this year, we have had only one debate on one of the three services, the Royal Air Force? It is remiss of the Government not to have given more time to the armed forces. Will she guarantee that, before we rise for the summer recess--preferably in the next two weeks--we will have a two-day debate on the armed forces? If The Times is to be believed, they are likely to lose £1 billion of their budget, which will affect the career prospects of many service men.

Mrs. Taylor: I have said that it is likely, although not absolutely fixed, that that statement will be made on Wednesday.

On the hon. Gentleman's other point, we have had one defence debate--we discuss subjects for debate through the usual channels. I hope that we shall be able to have significant defence debates later in the Session, but I think that, as in other years, the bulk of that time may have to be in the spillover.

Mr. Andrew Mackinlay (Thurrock): Will the Leader of the House please consider the position of Her Majesty's Government in relation to the disclosure of information to Select Committees? The Opposition's zeal to criticise the Government is a grave matter for those of us who want to promote a bipartisan approach in Select Committee considerations. I urge her to lead discussions with other Government managers, and perhaps the Opposition, to establish whether the current impasse can be overcome.

Members of Select Committees should be able to approach matters without private interests or partial affections, so that they can seek the truth and fulfil their

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duty to oversee Government Departments. That is extremely important in relation to next Tuesday's debate--we must recognise that, if such an approach is to endure, it must be reflected in the vote on Tuesday evening. The debate needs to be treated as a so-called House of Commons matter, so that individual Members of Parliament can vote on the motion without fear or favour and without fear of intimidation by party Whips.

Mrs. Taylor: I think that my hon. Friend will have heard what I said to the deputy shadow Leader of the House, to which I do not have anything to add.

Mr. Graham Brady (Altrincham and Sale, West): May we have an early debate or statement to clarify the relationship between Health Ministers and local health authorities in the decision-making process? I ask that in the light of the astonishing events in Salford and Trafford on Tuesday, when the Secretary of State for Health intervened, using a legal directive procedure--it has been used only once before in the history of the national health service--to require the local health authority to withdraw a properly conducted public consultation exercise merely so that he could avoid adverse publicity when he visited Trafford general hospital on Sunday.

Mrs. Taylor: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health felt that there had been insufficient discussion with the neighbouring authorities before Salford and Trafford health authority issued its consultation document on 1 June. He believed that any proposed changes to children's services should be considered in the context of the establishment of health action zones rather than in isolation. He has a responsibility to take a position on such matters, and I am surprised that the hon. Gentleman should regard that as astonishing. I am also surprised at the implication of what he said--he seemed to imply that he wanted those beds to be lost and that ward to be shut.

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