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Mrs. Beckett: I thank the hon. Gentleman for his remarks about the right hon. Member for North-West Hampshire, the predecessor of the hon. Member for Tiverton and Honiton as shadow Leader of the House.
I am sure that the whole House accepts that the report on which my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food has just made a statement will have substantial implications across government. Of course I will convey to my right hon. Friend the tenor of the remarks made by the hon. Member for North Cornwall (Mr. Tyler) about an early discussion of various aspects of the report. I simply point out to him that as the report includes 16 volumes and contains 167 recommendations, it is more likely than not that, although people may pick some of the issues that it raises for individual debates, a more substantive debate can be held only at some little time in the future. From conversations that I have held with my right hon. Friend, I am aware that he is adamant--as he was at the Dispatch Box today--that it is essential to look at the report in the round, and that he wants the House and the public to do that.
The hon. Member for North Cornwall makes important points about the implications for freedom of information legislation. The Government believe that the regime that we are establishing is a substantial improvement on the previous one--but the hon. Gentleman will be aware that there are other opportunities to discuss those matters.
Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover): May I also emphasise the need for an early debate on the BSE crisis? My right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food made a statement, but he is a very kind man, and it all boils down to the fact that for the best part of 18 years, a Tory Government and their Ministers were more concerned about saving their own skins than about the victims of CJD. The brutality was re-emphasised by the fact that they did not even have the decency to set up a compensation fund for the victims of CJD. That had to be
Mrs. Beckett: There will in due course be a debate on these matters, and my hon. Friend and those who share his view will have the opportunity to make their points. He is right to highlight the fact that--for whatever reason--the previous Government took the decision that there should not be a compensation scheme. I was pleased to hear Members on both sides of the House welcome the fact that the Labour Government have chosen to reverse that decision.
Mr. Christopher Gill (Ludlow): Right hon. and hon. Members will be aware that over the past six months the value of the pound has depreciated by 13.5 per cent. against the United States dollar. They might realise that, in order to join the euro, it would be necessary to devalue our currency by a further 20 per cent. against the US dollar. May we have an early debate, in which we could discuss the Government's policy on the effect of massive devaluations of our currency against the US dollar, both on price stability in this country and on the economic prospects for the whole United Kingdom?
Mrs. Beckett: There are many opportunities to raise such issues. I remind the hon. Gentleman, with great respect, that Conservative Members often express concern about the value of the pound and complain about the damage being caused by its high level, especially to manufacturing industry. If we held such a debate, we might explore the contradictions in the attitudes of Conservative Members. One day they call for devaluation, yet another day they are--apparently--calling for an increase in the exchange rate.
Mr. Desmond Browne (Kilmarnock and Loudoun): Thank you for calling me, Mr. Speaker. As I have not had an opportunity to do so before, may I add my congratulations to those that you have already received on your election?
My right hon. Friend the Leader of the House will be aware of the intense pride that many in the House take in the fact that our Government played such an important part in securing international support for the Rome statute on the International Criminal Court in 1998. Has my right hon. Friend had an opportunity to consider the terms of the consultation document and draft Bill that were published in August? As the draft Bill was published in August and the consultation period expired during the recess, will my right hon. Friend find us an early opportunity to discuss that important document in this place?
The ratification of the statute will make a significant contribution to human rights throughout the world. An informed and intense debate on the legislation is going on outside the House and I am sure that my right hon. Friend agrees that it is important that the House has an opportunity to contribute to it.
Mrs. Beckett: I am grateful to my hon. Friend, but despite the careful and, if I may say so, elegant way in which he put his request, I suspect that he is inviting me to speculate on the contents of the Queen's Speech. He will know that I do not do that.
Mrs. Beckett: First, as I said in response to an earlier question, there are many such opportunities. Indeed, the hon. Gentleman will know that Treasury questions are being tabled today, which provides opportunities to raise issues about the euro. As for the hon. Gentleman's final remark, I am pleased to say that that is not a matter for me.
Dr. George Turner (North-West Norfolk): In recent correspondence with me, the planning inspectorate admitted that one of its inspectors misdirected himself in ruling on an appeal from my constituents, the Dale family, in relation to building a bungalow. However, the only redress that the inspectorate is offering my constituents is judicial review, the cost of which is beyond the reasonable means of any person or family. Does my right hon. Friend agree that we need to look at the state of our planning laws? Will she ensure that the House has an opportunity to discuss those laws in an Adjournment debate before the Queen's Speech?
Mrs. Beckett: The whole House will understand and sympathise with the position in which my hon. Friend's constituents find themselves. Indeed, I accept completely my hon. Friend's point about judicial review being the only channel open to them. A review of planning legislation is currently being undertaken, and my hon. Friend may well wish to draw the attention of Ministers in the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions to the issue that he has raised. I shall certainly draw his remarks to their attention. As for the request for a debate, however, I fear that all that I can offer my hon. Friend is Environment questions next week.
Mr. Archy Kirkwood (Roxburgh and Berwickshire): Will the Leader of the House find time to make an early statement on the reference to the Review Body on Senior Salaries of costs allowances and related matters which was recently announced in a written answer in the other place? Am I right that the Government's decision to make the reference merely implements a decision taken by the previous Government? If the right hon. Lady does not have time to make a statement, will she make it clear how hon. Members can best make representations and submissions? What is the time scale for the report and what is the scope of the current review?
Mrs. Beckett: The hon. Gentleman is entirely right, and it is partly for that reason that a formal statement has not been made. The previous Government accepted the SSRB's recommendation that, instead of a one-off apocalyptic review from time to time, there should be a regular review and updating every two or three years. That is the source of the review that is now under way.
I hope that Members will contribute to that review. I believe that we have asked the SSRB for a letter to be sent to Members drawing their attention to the scope of its inquiries and inviting them to submit evidence, should they wish to do so. If there has been a hiccup, I undertake to look into the matter and ensure that that is done.