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Business of the House

12.33 pm

Sir George Young (North-West Hampshire): May I ask the Leader of the House to give us the business for next week?

The President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mrs. Margaret Beckett): The business for next week will be as follows:

Monday 14 June--Remaining stages of the Health Bill [Lords].

Tuesday 15 June--Progress on remaining stages of the Immigration and Asylum Bill.

Wednesday 16 June--Until 2 o'clock, there will be debates on the motion for the Adjournment of the House.

Conclusion of remaining stages of the Immigration and Asylum Bill.

Thursday 17 June--Debate on Kosovo on a motion for the Adjournment of the House.

Friday 18 June--Debate on tourism on a motion for the Adjournment of the House.

The provisional business for the following week--I emphasise to the House that it is more than usually provisional, because of all the obvious reasons related to Kosovo--will be as follows:

Monday 21 June--Remaining stages of the Access to Justice Bill [Lords].

Motion on the Appropriation (No. 2) (Northern Ireland) Order.

Tuesday 22 June--Second Reading of the Food Standards Bill.

Motion on the Church of England Cathedrals Measure.

Motion on Care of Places of Worship Measure.

Wednesday 23 June--Until 2 o'clock, there will be debates on the motion for the Adjournment of the House.

Opposition Day [14th Allotted Day] (First Part). There will be a debate on an Opposition motion. Subject to be announced.

Consideration of any Lords amendments that may be received to the Tax Credits Bill.

Thursday 24 June--Opposition Day [15th Allotted Day].

There will be a debate on an Opposition motion. Subject to be announced.

Friday 25 June--There will be a debate on innovation and enterprise on a motion for the Adjournment of the House.

The House will also wish to know that on Wednesday 16 June there will be a debate on incineration of waste in European Standing Committee A.

[Wednesday 16 June 1999:

European Standing Committee A--Relevant European Union documents: 12756/97, 12791/98, Incineration of Waste. Relevant European Legislation Committee Reports: HC 155-xiii and HC 155-xxxi(1997-98). Relevant European Scrutiny Committee Reports: HC 34-viii and HC 34-xxi(1998-99).]

Sir George Young: The House is grateful for next week's business and an indication of the business for the following week. We welcome next week's debate on Kosovo. Will it be opened by the Prime Minister?

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Will the right hon. Lady find time soon for a debate on the report of the royal commission on long-term care, published some three months ago? There is concern, expressed in early-day motion 405, that the important issues that it raises should not be ignored.

[That this House congratulates the Government for its commitment to tackling the inequalities and inefficiencies of the present system of funding long-term care for older people; commends the Royal Commission on Long-Term Care for reporting within 14 months after consultation with over 2,000 organisations and experts in the field as well as members of the public; and joins with Age Concern in calling on the Government to produce a clear timetable for introducing long overdue changes to the system in recognition of the fact that older people do not have the time to wait for further debate.]

Likewise, there is a need for a debate on drugs following the first report of Keith Hellawell. Might those two subjects be debated shortly?

Given the real concern that those who served this country in Northern Ireland 30 years ago in the Parachute Regiment might be put needlessly at risk, may we have an opportunity to debate soon the issue of their anonymity in the Bloody Sunday inquiry?

As Britain experiences today its first taste of the closed list and proportional representation, would it not be sensible to have an early debate so that hon. Members can share with the Government their constituents' experience of the voting system and the new method of representation?

Finally, in the interests of all those who work in the House, can the right hon. Lady shed some light on the summer recess? If she cannot tell us the date, can she gives us the week, or, failing that, the month, in which it might commence?

Mrs. Beckett: I cannot tell the right hon. Gentleman who will open the debate on Kosovo, but I doubt that it will be the Prime Minister. However, that is still under discussion because of ministerial commitments.

The right hon. Gentleman requested debates on long-term care and on drugs, and I shall bear that in mind. I am conscious that interest in debating those matters has been expressed. Obviously, the report on long-term care was detailed and the Government are giving a great deal of careful thought to its conclusions. As he will appreciate, and as he knows that I have said before, we have lost a lot of time as a result of the Kosovo issue, although I do not think any hon. Member regrets that. It was necessary to find time for proper reporting to the House, but it has made a difference to our finding time for other issues.

With regard to the inquiry in Northern Ireland, I understand that the issue of anonymity, which I accept is important, is today being considered by the courts, so not only do I not want to comment further, but, depending on what the courts say, I doubt whether it is a matter on which we could have a debate. Moreover, those are very much matters for the inquiry; it is for the inquiry to make those decisions.

I cannot undertake to find time for a debate on our constituents' experience of the European elections, although I rather doubt that, faced with a ballot paper on which they were invited to make a free choice on such a vast number of names, they would be as grateful as

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Conservative Members seem to think that they would be. No doubt, we shall have a great deal of anecdotal comment, but whether we need a debate is another matter.

As for the recess, I appreciate the right hon. Gentleman's generosity in the breadth of the indication that he invited me to give. I can certainly tell him that we hope that we might rise in August.

Mr. Andrew Mackinlay (Thurrock): On this day, will my right hon. Friend reflect on the fact that some United Kingdom subjects will not be able to exercise their vote in the European elections and, unlike the majority, would really like to do so? I refer to the people of Gibraltar. Because of the widespread cross-party interest and support in the House for Gibraltar, and bearing in mind that my hon. Friends on the Select Committee on Foreign Affairs are bringing forward a report in about a week's time, may we have some dedicated time on the Floor of this Chamber, not the new one, to discuss Gibraltar? That is something that we owe those people who are denied the franchise today--something that I regret.

Mrs. Beckett: I know that my hon. Friend takes great interest in those matters and is an enthusiastic advocate for the people of Gibraltar, but I fear that I cannot undertake to find time in the near future for a debate dedicated to their affairs. I am sorry that he rejects the notion of having a debate elsewhere.

Mr. Mackinlay: In addition.

Mrs. Beckett: Yes, but I would simply say to my hon. Friend that there are many worthy matters and we are unlikely ever to find time to debate them on the Floor of the Chamber, which is one reason why the majority of Members of the House decided to provide extra time in another way.

Mr. Phil Willis (Harrogate and Knaresborough): The Leader of the House may be aware that two of my constituents, Mr. and Mrs. Adams, were last week on holiday in St. Petes Beach, Florida. They were arrested--

Madam Speaker: Order. I understood that, in asking about business, the hon. Gentleman was speaking on behalf of his party, not on behalf of his constituents.

Mr. Willis: With respect, Madam Speaker, I am raising an issue that affects all citizens of this country who visit Florida.

Madam Speaker: Perhaps we can move to that issue. I called the hon. Gentleman at this stage because I had been given his name as the Member speaking on behalf of his party.

Mr. Willis: The party has asked me to raise this issue, and I say to the Leader of the House that my constituents were arrested, strip searched and put in jail on a charge relating to child abuse, although all that they did was leave their hotel room and go to the side of the pool to watch a firework display. Will she please ask the Foreign Secretary to issue guidance to all families who are about

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to travel to Florida on holiday, to make sure that they are not subjected to the level of abuse to which my constituents were subjected by the authorities in Florida?

Mrs. Beckett: I am afraid that I cannot undertake to find time for a debate specifically on that matter in the near future, although I understand the hon. Gentleman's concern, both for his constituents and about the impact that the problems that they faced would have if they were to be faced by many others. However, there is a debate on tourism on Friday next week and, although it may have been intended to focus on tourism within the United Kingdom, an opportunity might arise to work the matter into the discussion.

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