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Rev. Martin Smyth (Belfast, South): The Leader of the House will be aware--as are some hon. Members--that, while we have been keeping an eye on East Timor, there have been other events in Indonesia. Is it possible for a Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister to make a statement in the House next week on the representations that have been made on what seems to be another form of ethnic cleansing--in which, on the latest figures, up to 5,000 people have died?

Is it necessary to consider the Disqualifications Bill in Committee the day after Second Reading--bearing in mind that, when the House rushes business through, we often make mistakes?

Mrs. Beckett: On East Timor, I am aware of the other difficulties that have arisen in that part of the world. Although it is unlikely that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office will be able to make a statement on the matter, I remind the hon. Gentleman that Foreign Office Question Time will be held next Tuesday, 18 January, when there will be an opportunity for the matter to be aired, albeit not in a statement.

The hon. Gentleman asked, quite legitimately, about the handling of the Disqualifications Bill. Although I am, of course, conscious of the fact that the House has always to balance the need to dispose expeditiously of important business with the need to get those matters right, the fact is that--as he will be aware; however contentious the issue may be--we are pursuing a relatively simple principle that is reflected in many other facets of our legislation and in the opportunities that arise for people to sit in this place and/or other places. Consequently, we shall be pursuing not a new or technically difficult matter, but the extension of an existing principle to the circumstances of Northern Ireland and Ireland itself.

Mr. Vernon Coaker (Gedling): Will my right hon. Friend find time for a debate on crime? As she will know, although recorded crime in the past two years has fallen by 9 per cent., many of our communities--including my own of Gedling, in Nottingham--are still blighted by antisocial behaviour. We have to determine how, together, we might best tackle such behaviour, which causes problems for so many people as they try to pursue their daily lives.

Mrs. Beckett: I am, indeed, aware of the continuing concern among the public, which is shared on both sides of the House, about crime levels. I am also aware of how much people's feelings of personal and family security are threatened by antisocial behaviour: almost as much as by crime itself. I know, too, that my hon. Friend has been complaining long and loud on the issue. He will know that the Government have taken action both to encourage and to invest in crime prevention, and to encourage local authorities and police authorities to recognise the possibilities of the tools that we have given them to deal with antisocial behaviour. We hope that they will continue to do so.

Mr. Owen Paterson (North Shropshire): Some £4 million of taxpayers' money is being spent on special

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advisers, spin doctors and general hangers-on around the Government. Amazingly, another £500,000 is being spent on flying them on jollies round the world. That sticks in the throat of the hill farmers above Oswestry, who are struggling to make a living. May we please have a full debate to explain what on earth is going on?

Mrs. Beckett: The hon. Gentleman's figures are wrong. The total spent from public funds on the provision of policy advice is £7 million--half to the Government and half to the Opposition. That is three times as much as the previous Government offered to us, but it does not seem to have done them much good so far.

Mr. Paul Flynn (Newport, West): Will my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House arrange for a debate on the problems of the homeless so that we can congratulate the homelessness Tsarina on the refreshing views that she has expressed, pointing out that the problems of persistent rough sleepers relate rarely and only briefly to a lack of housing and stem mainly from mental ill health and addiction to alcohol and other drugs? Such a debate would also enable us to draw attention to what is happening in the rest of Europe, particularly Switzerland and Holland, where measures have been taken to reduce greatly the number of people sleeping rough, dealing at the same time with their problems of addiction to drugs. When those who engage in such worthwhile and progressive enterprises elsewhere in Europe are regarded as trailblazers, why are people who, advertently or inadvertently, follow similar policies in this country treated as criminals?

Mrs. Beckett: I cannot undertake to find time for such a debate in the near future. Whatever views were expressed by the person who is dealing with the issue of homelessness--"Tsarina" is a new one on me--and however those views may or may not have been misrepresented, I hope that my hon. Friend is well aware of the investment that the Government are making in a range of measures. We hope that those measures will prevent people from drifting into homelessness--they include provisions to deal with those coming out of care or the armed forces, who are the most likely to do so--and tackle the complex range of problems that homeless people have, including, as my hon. Friend rightly points out, mental ill health. There will be an emergency special needs response team; new contact and assessment teams; 60 new specialist workers specifically to help those with alcohol, drug or mental health problems; more than 4,000 more beds brought into use; more than 850 new hostel beds with additional specialist help; as well as 1,000 new housing association homes. I recognise my hon. Friend's applause for what is being done in other countries such as Italy or Sweden, but I hope that he recognises that the Government have put in place policies that should tackle the problem instead of simply deploring it.

Mr. Eric Forth (Bromley and Chislehurst): Is it not now urgent that we have a debate on the doctrine of collective responsibility in government, specifically whether the Foreign Secretary represents the Government's view on the euro? Is it not rather disturbing that a senior member of the Government has apparently expressed a view on the euro which we think may not be reflected by other members of the Government? Surely that requires a debate. Surely it is

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necessary for senior members of the Government to come to that debate and let us know whether the Government have a view on the euro, what it is and whether it is the Foreign Secretary's view or someone else's.

Mrs. Beckett: I am afraid that the right hon. Gentleman's example does not justify his claim that there is a need for a debate. The Government's policy on the euro is unchanged. It is as my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary said in his interview on Sunday: if the economic tests are met, the British people must decide and have a final veto through a referendum. That is unlikely to happen this side of an election and can happen only when the economic tests are judged to be met. The right hon. Gentleman is uncharacteristically falling foul of the belief that what is said in the media is in some way pertinent on that issue. Few things seem to bore the media more than consistency. Ever since we announced our policy on the euro soon after coming to office, the media have tried to see whether it has changed and whether everybody is saying the same thing. If they cannot discover evidence of dissent or difference, they continue to allege that they have found such evidence. I know that the right hon. Gentleman is familiar with those tactics and I am sorry that he has in some way fallen for them.

Mr. Dale Campbell-Savours (Workington): In light of the interesting and controversial recommendations of the Neill committee on an appeal procedure--controversial in the sense that they will give the lawyers a real foothold for the first time in proceedings in the House of Commons--can we have an early, full day's debate on those recommendations, as many right hon. and hon. Members will have a lot to say about them?

Mrs. Beckett: My hon. Friend makes an extremely interesting point. At the moment, I cannot undertake to find the time that he identifies as being necessary, but obviously I have taken on board his remarks. I know that right hon. and hon. Members will, indeed, take a keen interest in these matters, not least in whether and to what degree we should involve the legal profession in our affairs.

Mr. John Townend (East Yorkshire): The right hon. Lady will be aware of the importance of the fishing industry in the constituencies of at leat 50 right hon. and hon. Members. Was it not unfortunate, therefore, that the annual fishing debate was so short that only one Back-Bench Member of the official Opposition and no representative of one of the minor parties was called? In view of the crisis in the fishing industry, may we have another debate? In any case, will the right hon. Lady ensure that next year's annual fishing debate, when we discuss the quotas, is a full day's debate so that all Back-Bench Members with large fishing interests have a chance to contribute?

Mrs. Beckett: Certainly, I am very conscious of the importance of the fisheries interests. It is an important industry for the country as a whole, not just to hon. Members who represent constituencies that have fishing

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interests. I cannot find time for another debate in the near future, but I shall certainly bear the hon. Gentleman's remarks in mind.

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