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Sir George Young: The House is grateful for next week's business, and for an indication of business for the following week.

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I welcome the response to my regular requests for a debate on the House of Lords, and have pencilled in the one for the week after next. I also welcome the proposed debate on Europe, which will give the House an opportunity to debate the problems facing the Commission.

On Kosovo, there has been much political and military activity since a statement was last made to the House, on 26 April. Last week, the Leader of the House responded sympathetically to my suggestion that there should be regular opportunities for the House to ask questions and be kept informed. May we have a statement early next week, possibly on Monday, after the talks among members of the G8, and may we have another full day's debate on Kosovo before the Whitsun recess?

What arrangements does the right hon. Lady propose for debates on public expenditure and the economy? Since the abolition of the unified Budget two years ago, the House has not been told how it will perform its key role of holding the Government to account on matters relating to finance. May we have an early announcement on that?

In view of recent speculation, will the right hon. Lady tell the House whether we might expect a statement soon on the much-delayed freedom of information Bill? Finally, what has happened to the leak inquiry into the Macpherson report? The leak happened two and a half months ago, and there are a limited number of suspects. Might we have a statement on the outcome of the inquiry next week?

Mrs. Beckett: First, I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for acknowledging that we have found time for a debate on the White Paper on reform of the House of Lords. He is right to say that the pre-Cologne Council debate will allow hon. Members an opportunity to raise a number of matters, including the affairs of the European Commission.

We are giving full consideration to how we can fulfil our responsibility to keep the House informed about Kosovo--a responsibility that we have faithfully carried out so far. I expect that the right hon. Gentleman knows that discussions are taking place on that. I take on board his request for a statement, perhaps early next week, and for another full-day debate before Whitsun. We shall give that request favourable consideration.

I sympathise with the right hon. Gentleman's request for an early announcement on arrangements for public expenditure and economic debates. We are pursuing that, and I shall report to the House as soon as I can. I also hope to be able to report soon on the freedom of information Bill.

I confess that I have not been following the timing of the Macpherson report leak inquiry.

Mr. Eric Forth (Bromley and Chislehurst): You should be.

Mrs. Beckett: I remind the right hon. Gentleman that it is not an inquiry into anything that the Government have done; it is an inquiry into what went wrong in the Macpherson commission. The commission has readily acknowledged that the Government were not at fault. We shall give the House information when we can.

Mr. Neil Gerrard (Walthamstow): Has my right hon. Friend seen the written answer that I received from my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence yesterday? He said:

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    "I have had no discussions on the use of depleted uranium with my NATO counterparts. The United Kingdom has not used DU ammunition in the Balkans. It is a matter for the individual nations as to what ammunition they employ."--[Official Report, 5 May 1999; Vol. 330, c. 383.]

Does my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House accept that a cynic outside the House might well interpret that answer as meaning that such ammunition has been employed? Will she ask my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence to make a statement to the House to explain why, in a war conducted by NATO in which we are led to believe that senior politicians such as him are regularly involved in discussing strategy, we cannot be told whether NATO nations are employing such weapons?

Mrs. Beckett: I am afraid that I have not seen the answer to which my hon. Friend refers. I understand the concern that he has expressed. Like him, I have seen several press reports, all of which have seemed highly speculative--"It is possible"; "It might be"; and, "If so would it not be the case?" It is hypothesis piled on hypothesis. He is undoubtedly right to say that some people will assume that something is being hidden. However, those reports may well be no more than speculation. As I have already said, we intend to keep the House informed. That may give my hon. Friend an opportunity to raise the issue.

Mr. Edward Davey (Kingston and Surbiton): I thank the Leader of the House for her statement, particularly for notice of the timely debate on the European Union. Will she find time for a debate on incorporating first-aid training into the national curriculum? The case is well set out in early-day motion 596, which has attracted support from hon. Members on both sides of the House.

[That this House regrets that thousands of lives have been needlessly lost because the public has not been given lifesaving and first aid training; welcomes the work of the St John Ambulance, who celebrate their 900th Anniversary this year, and other charities in providing such training in school; acknowledges the millions of pounds of savings available to the NHS if more people were empowered to take lifesaving action; and calls upon the Government to incorporate first aid training into the National Curriculum.]

Does the right hon. Lady agree that such a debate would enable the House to acknowledge the work done by the St. John Ambulance and other uniformed organisations in first-aid training and would help us to empower more of our citizens to give life-saving support as we saw many Londoners so bravely do after the appalling recent bombings in the capital?

Mrs. Beckett: First, I thank the hon. Gentleman for acknowledging the importance of debates on the European Union. Secondly, we all share his admiration for the work of the St. John Ambulance. I entirely take his point that the aid and assistance that people in London were able to give those who were injured by the recent bombs were improved by training. The Government are examining ways to introduce such training in schools, and members of the St. John Ambulance are about to offer such training to Members of Parliament--a truly courageous act. The

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hon. Gentleman's suggestion that it should be included in the national curriculum takes the matter further, but the Government are considering how to improve such training.

Mr. Tony Colman (Putney): On behalf of the whole House, may I thank you, Madam Speaker, for the excellent address you gave us yesterday morning in a very moving ceremony in the Queen's Gallery to celebrate the tremendous achievements of the Council of Europe on its 50th anniversary? Will my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House consider a further debate to celebrate the achievements of the Council of Europe? I realise that debates on Europe repeatedly expose divisions in the Conservative party on the subject, but, despite that, I feel that the House should have a full debate on those tremendous achievements in the very near future.

Mrs. Beckett: I am grateful to my hon. Friend, particularly for his acknowledgement of the importance and value of Madam Speaker's address. Having heard her speak on a number of occasions, I know that she always does the House credit--although whether we always do her credit is quite another matter. As for a further debate on the Council of Europe, although I am attracted by my hon. Friend's suggestion that it would expose divisions within the Conservative party, I feel that Conservative Members need no help from us in that respect, and I cannot find time for an extra debate on Europe.

Sir Peter Emery (East Devon): Having heard Labour Members congratulate you, Madam Speaker, on your speech yesterday, let me acknowledge on behalf of the Opposition that yours received more applause than the other three speeches and it was much to your credit.

I have a question on Kosovo for the Leader of the House. Does she realise that statements by Ministers do not in themselves provide an adequate opportunity for debate? An illustration of that was the statement by the Home Secretary yesterday, when, although a number of hon. Members asked questions, others were still waiting to participate when time was called. Does she realise that Kosovo has three aspects: the military factor, the negotiations and foreign affairs issues, and the massive problem of refugees? Can she find perhaps half a day of Government time to discuss the problem of refugees--how they will be dealt with and what assistance they will receive--sometime in the immediate future?

Mrs. Beckett: I entirely share the right hon. Gentleman's view that statements are not enough and that there must also be debate--indeed, that is why the Government have repeatedly found time for both and will continue to do so. I take his point that there are several aspects to the matter and that debates may focus on one aspect rather than another. However, I would prefer to leave that in the hands of the House. When we can, we provide Government time for debate, and it is a matter for the House whether it wishes to focus on one aspect rather than another; otherwise, we should be in danger of fettering the concerns of hon. Members.

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