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Mrs. Beckett: I recognise my hon. Friend's great interest in the matter and the importance of lip reading to many people who suffer from hearing deficiencies. It is the Government's wish and intention that those who have responsibility for providing educational opportunities for adults should work together and provide effective services that are accessible to people across the community. My hon. Friend may or may not know that the disability rights task force is considering how its work on rights for people with disabilities can help to support and encourage the provision of such services. We look forward to its recommendations later in the year.

Mr. Patrick McLoughlin (West Derbyshire): Will the Leader of the House ensure that we have a statement, or an opportunity for a debate, on the national parks? Is she aware of the growing concern about the number of applications which are being submitted to national parks in respect of dormant quarries, and is the Government's view that the national parks have sufficient power to deal with them, even though there are serious questions about their power once appeals are made and about the cost of compensation? This is a matter of growing concern in the national parks--and I know that the right hon. Lady knows the Peak national park very well.

Mrs. Beckett: I understand the hon. Gentleman's concern. The national parks are a great treasure for us all. I believe that my right hon. Friend the Minister for the Environment has held discussions on the matter. I will draw his attention to the hon. Gentleman's remarks. He may have some information for him.

Mr. Tony McWalter (Hemel Hempstead): The centrality of biotechnology to the Government's science

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policy is shown by the Government's papers on scientific research. Even in particle physics and astronomy, the presentation of the figures deals more with biological and life sciences than with physics, astronomy or mathematics. Does my right hon. Friend accept that there is widespread public disquiet about biological engineering and genetic modification of crops and food? Is not the centrality of biotechnology to the Government's science policy being rapidly eroded, if not evaporating, as a result of public loss of confidence in the strategy? I therefore hope that my right hon. Friend regards as urgent the need for a debate on science policy to dispel some of the myths so that we can consider judiciously the benefits and disbenefits of the technology and get the Government's science policy--perhaps somewhat amended--back on course.

Mrs. Beckett: I recognise my hon. Friend's point. There has been some public disquiet, partly, and understandably, based on experience of some recent problems. That obviously had an impact on discussion and balanced analysis of the advantages and disadvantages of various courses of action. I understand my hon. Friend's wish for a debate on science policy and I shall bear it in mind, but I am not sure that I can find time soon for such a debate. He knows that several recent reports have started to put arguments on various sides of the case, so we are not wholly dependent on debate in this House for a wider airing of the issues.

Mr. Tony Baldry (Banbury): The Immigration and Asylum Bill is of interest to all hon. Members, but Government information officers seem to be freer with information than Ministers are in briefing the House. The "Today" programme this morning carried a detailed explanation of the concessions that the Home Secretary is apparently making to buy off a revolt by Labour Back Benchers. If that is correct--it appears to be because it was such a detailed briefing--would it not be more courteous for the Home Secretary to write to all hon. Members to explain the concessions that he intends to make on Tuesday and why he intends to make them, so that we all have time to consider them? The impression was that the Government Whips would have rung round Back Benchers to brief them over the weekend, while the rest of us would have heard nothing until Tuesday.

Mrs. Beckett: I do not think that the hon. Gentleman can be entirely serious in suggesting that information and opportunities for debate have been withheld from the House. The Bill has been to Special Standing Committee precisely to encourage open, informed debate. Any changes that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary may be considering--if he is--are no doubt in response to the many points made by the Committee and those who gave evidence to it. After all, the House exists to scrutinise legislation so that issues can be aired. I am well aware that the Government whom the hon. Gentleman supported regarded it as a black mark against Ministers if they listened to anything said by anyone who was not a member of the Government. We do not do things that way.

Mr. Peter Luff (Mid-Worcestershire): May I preface my main question by asking whether the Cologne summit has been reconvened? I understood that the Prime Minister made a statement on Tuesday on its conclusions.

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Can the Leader of the House say whether the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry is likely to seek to make a statement next week on his decision on the Monopolies and Mergers Commission report on the supply of milk? He has had it for four months and the continued uncertainty is damaging the dairy industry and farmers. On a parliamentary note, my Committee--the Select Committee on Agriculture--is anxious to begin investigating the subject but cannot do so until the Secretary of State reaches a decision.

Mrs. Beckett: May I add to what I said a moment ago to the hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Baldry)? I remind the House that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary's answer to a parliamentary question on some of the issues relating to the Asylum and Immigration Bill is in Hansard. I meant to say that, but did not get round to it.

The hon. Member for Mid-Worcestershire (Mr. Luff) asked about the Cologne summit. I accept that I should not have used the shorthand and referred to "the" Cologne summit. There is a G8 summit coming up. I rather think that it is also taking place in Cologne, or at least in Germany. That is what I meant. I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving me the opportunity to make that clear.

As for the report on which the hon. Gentleman commented, I am afraid that I do not have information on it. I cannot enlighten him and cannot offer to find time for a discussion on it in the near future, but I undertake to draw his concerns to the attention of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.

Mr. Nick St. Aubyn (Guildford): During the recess, the Education and Employment Committee heard devastating evidence from the independent Bank of England on the employment consequences of joining the euro. The Deputy Governor said that it would take hundreds of years to know whether joining was a good idea. The Governor said that it would be an act of faith. When can we have a debate on the real threat to jobs from joining the euro?

Mrs. Beckett: I am aware of the evidence-taking sessions of the Education and Employment Committee. There is no proposal at the present time to join the euro, as I am sure the hon. Gentleman is well aware. All the issues must be borne in mind. That is precisely why the Government say that we have to consider the overall impact on Britain's national interest. If we were to have a debate on the matter in the near future--I cannot at present see my way to find time for it--it is just possible that people might get round to noticing that the Conservative party argues simultaneously that the high level of the pound is costing British jobs and that the low level of the euro is costing European jobs. It can argue one way or the other, but it will have some difficulty in continuing to argue both ways.

Mrs. Eleanor Laing (Epping Forest): Will the Leader of the House make time in the near future for a debate on an important matter relating to the way in which Parliament spends taxpayers' money--namely, the subject matter of early-day motion 709 on allowances for hon. Members representing Scottish constituencies?

[That this House notes the decision of the Scottish Parliament to reduce the allowances of regional Members of the Scottish Parliament on the grounds that they do

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not have constituency responsibilities; further notes that honourable Members representing Scottish constituencies will also have fewer responsibilities after 1st July 1999; and consequently invites the Senior Salaries Review Board to consider whether it is appropriate for honourable Members representing Scottish constituencies to be paid an allowance similar to that of other honourable Members.]

The right hon. Lady may not as yet be aware that, earlier this week, the Scottish Parliament passed a motion that Members who sit for regional constituencies--those who have been elected on a list--should have a reduced allowance on the grounds that they do not have constituency responsibilities. Given that, after 1 July, Members of this House who sit for Scottish constituencies will have reduced constituency responsibilities because many of those responsibilities will be taken over by MSPs, surely the House ought to have an opportunity to debate whether Scottish Members of this House should continue to receive the same allowance as Members who still have full constituency responsibilities.

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