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Mr. David Chaytor (Bury, North): Reports recently published by the royal commission on environmental pollution and the United Kingdom Round Table on Sustainable Development referred to the need to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 60 per cent. in the years ahead. Given Conservative Members' minimal understanding of the issues of climate change, as shown by some of their fatuous questions at Treasury questions, and the Government's publication of our climate change programme, which is perceived as a model for other western countries, does my right hon. Friend agree that it is time for a full debate on the Government's climate change programme and the problems posed by climate change beyond 2010?
Mrs. Beckett: I understand and sympathise with my hon. Friend's concern. I know that he has long taken a great and expert interest in those matters. I fear that I cannot undertake to find time for such a debate in the near future because there is substantial pressure, although the Government's legislative programme is perfectly in line with those of previous Governments, as the statistics in the Liaison Committee report demonstrate. Nevertheless, I fear that, at this moment in the handling of the programme, I cannot undertake to find time for such a debate in the near future, but I will bear his request in mind.
Mr. Andrew Robathan (Blaby): Will the Leader of the House arrange for a statement to be made next week on the ministerial code of conduct as it relates to trade unions? I remind her that paragraph 113 says:
Mr. David Taylor (North-West Leicestershire): As a reader of The Guardian for over 30 years, I have total confidence in the accuracy and insight of that esteemed organ. Today's paper tells us that the Government are likely to postpone the publication of their waste strategy, which was due to be published last month. Can my right hon. Friend find time for a major debate on the issues that are raised by a delayed waste strategy? Throughout the UK, 160 communities face the problems of incineration plants. In constituencies such as mine, thousands of acres are at risk from landfill operators. We must do more. We must waste less. We must recycle more. We need a guideline from the Government. Can we have a debate?
Mrs. Beckett: I understand my hon. Friend's concern, and I saw the report to which he alludes. Sadly, I fear that even The Guardian is not always totally accurate. I understand the underlying concern behind his question on discussions about waste management. The Government recognise its importance. We continue to consult. No doubt the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions will come forward with proposals in due course. I fear that I cannot undertake to find time on the Floor of the House for a debate soon, but, again, my hon. Friend might bear in mind Westminster Hall.
Mr. Graham Brady (Altrincham and Sale, West): During Treasury questions this morning, it became apparent that many Ministers were rather confused about the performance of the Government's new deal. After two years and the spending of £1.5 billion, can we have a debate in Government time that would allow Ministers to come up to speed on some of the facts of the matter, notably that youth unemployment has fallen more slowly since the introduction of the new deal; that 60 per cent. of entrants to the new deal go straight back on to benefits; that, of those who do go into work, 50 per cent.--according to the Government--would have got jobs anyway; and that 40 per cent. of those who go into work are out of work again within three months? It is not an impressive record for 1.5 billion worth of public money.
Mrs. Beckett: All that I can say to the hon. Gentleman is that it is rather depressing to see how desperate the Conservative party is to claim that the new deal is unsuccessful. It is the most substantial programme to assist people out of unemployment and into work that any Government have put in place. It is a success.
Mrs. Beckett: The hon. Gentleman shakes his head. I find it hard to believe that Conservative Members do not share my experience when I visit places and organisations. People come up and voluntarily tell me how excellent the new deal is, how much they have benefited from it and
Shona McIsaac (Cleethorpes): Having terrorised my right hon. Friend in recent weeks about compensation for distant-water trawler men, I shall give her a week off because I understand from Ministers that the issue is moving forward, but may I ask her to find time for an urgent debate on standards in public life, following the revelations on the "Today" programme today by the Tory Member of the European Parliament Robert Goodwill that he buys air tickets from Leeds-Bradford to Brussels at a cost of £160 and then claims £500 back? Does that not show that real sleaze is alive and well in the Tory party?
Mrs. Beckett: I did hear those remarks this morning. My hon. Friend will know that there has long been concern in the House, and in our party, that the rules that apply within the European Parliament should be tightened. Those discussions are continuing, and they will be supported from the Labour Benches. Unfortunately, however, we do not have responsibility for the matter. I certainly have no responsibility for the actions of Members of the European Parliament.
Although I understand my hon. Friend's concern about standards in public life--which certainly we share, on both sides of the House--it is important that we tackle problems and abuses when they arise, and that we ensure that we ourselves handle with care all of those discussions. My concern is that not only the European Parliament, but political life as a whole could be brought into disrepute if we continue to mishandle these matters.
Madam Speaker: Order. I shall try to call the remaining Members who are standing, but I tell the House that I have had to limit Back Benchers' speeches in the main debate to 15 minutes. I am therefore asking the hon. Members who are standing--who, as I know very well, are regular attenders of business questions--to put their questions briskly to the Leader of the House. I have a statement, and we have a good deal of business today. I do not want any rambling, long statements or comments. I want direct questions to the Leader of the House.
Mr. Stephen O'Brien (Eddisbury): In the light of the Leader of the House's response to the hon. Member for North-West Leicestershire (Mr. Taylor), may I tell her that, in my constituency, there is an application to deposit toxic waste in a deep rock-salt mine? May I ask her to make time urgently--now--for a waste strategy debate on the Floor of the House before the Minosus application is determined? It is causing real fear to the residents in Moulton, Davenham and North Winsford in my constituency.
Mrs. Beckett: I understand the concern that the hon. Gentleman expresses and any hon. Member who would wish to have such issues aired. May I remind him, however, that the Government have provided twice as much time as used to exist for the airing of such issues, in Westminster Hall?
Mrs. Beckett: I am afraid that the hon. Gentleman has picked a particularly bad example. Not only has the Royal Parks (Trading) Bill had examination, but this is the second time that such a Bill has been considered by the House. The same legislation--as a private Member's Bill, which, incidentally, was promoted by a Conservative Member--was blocked in the previous Parliament. The notion that it has not had scrutiny does not stand up to scrutiny.