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Mrs. Beckett: I know that the Catholic Fund for Overseas Development has a good record of campaigning on that matter. There is an encouraging attitude to third-world debt and its importance and to the Government's attempts to have others join us in taking the steps that we believe are necessary to help to alleviate some of the worst poverty in the world. I cannot undertake to find time on the Floor of the House for a special debate on that, although I recommend Westminster Hall to my hon. Friend, but he will know that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will be answering oral questions before the end of the month, and he may find an opportunity to raise the matter then.
Mr. Peter Brooke (Cities of London and Westminster): Pursuant to the right hon. Lady's answer to my right hon. Friend the Member for North-West Hampshire (Sir G. Young) concerning substantive motions on the Liaison Committee report, does she think it reasonable for the House to regard her report as a paraphrase of her earlier quotation from President Clinton: "The Leader has spoken. It will take some time before we can work out what she has said."?
Mr. David Chaytor (Bury, North): In view of the extremely important conference on climate change in The Hague, which will begin next week, will the Government publish their climate change strategy before entering into negotiations at The Hague on the precise mechanisms by which the Kyoto protocol will be implemented? Will my right hon. Friend assure the House that the Deputy Prime
Mrs. Beckett: I certainly cannot tell my hon. Friend at the moment precisely what are our plans for publishing such information, but I shall certainly draw his remarks to the attention of my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister, who I know will take them very seriously.
Will the right hon. Lady therefore give an absolute undertaking that, in the next few days and weeks, when business from another place comes here with many--in some cases several hundred--amendments attached, the House will be given enough time to, in the Parliamentary Secretary's words, examine the legislation properly? Will she further assure the House that there will be no question whatever of the Government seeking artificially to truncate or limit proper debate and scrutiny of their many amendments to legislation coming from another place?
Mrs. Beckett: Yes, I do recall my hon. Friend's words, and the right hon. Gentleman will know that the whole tenor and tone of that debate related to the processes that we shall use in the new Session. He will know also that the Government consider the issues that return to the House and what time can be provided for them. However, he knows that no matter how much time the Government provide, we cannot ensure that the House uses it to best effect.
Mr. Harry Barnes (North-East Derbyshire): Next week, on 17 November, 150 jobs are due to be lost at Biwater at Clay Cross in my constituency. The plant will then be closed at the beginning of December, when another 550 jobs will be lost. Could we have a statement from the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry about whether he will refer the matter to the Competition Commission under the powers that he has under the Fair Trading Act 1973? I assure the Leader of the House that my right hon. Friend is not short of information on which he can base that judgment.
Mrs. Beckett: I am aware that my hon. Friend has raised the issue with my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry. I believe that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will reply as soon as he can.
Mr. John Bercow (Buckingham): May we have an early debate on support for teachers who are under attack from their pupils? Given the worrying increase in the incidence of such attacks, does not the right hon. Lady agree that it is imperative that the Secretary of State for Education and Employment comes speedily to the House and introduces new guidelines on the legitimate use of physical restraint in such circumstances? Does she also agree that those guidelines should reflect the
Mrs. Beckett: It was my understanding that fresh guidelines had recently been issued. The hon. Gentleman will know that his concern for the safety of teachers is shared throughout the House, but I shall draw his remarks to the attention of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Employment.
Mr. David Taylor (North-West Leicestershire): Previously, my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House has given an assurance that there will be a full debate on the Phillips report on the BSE tragedy. Can she tell the House when that debate is likely to take place? Will she look into the possibility of incorporating in that debate an assessment of the report, just out, of the Leicestershire team that investigated the Queniborough cluster? The team included the CJD surveillance unit at Edinburgh, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and Dr. Philip Monk, the team leader.
Mrs. Beckett: My hon. Friend makes an important point. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food said that there would be a debate on the Phillips report, but that he wanted to give Members of Parliament and those outside enough time fully to absorb the recommendations of that very substantial report and give the matter careful thought before returning to the House. I know that my hon. Friend has on several occasions voiced the interests of his constituents, especially those at Queniborough, and I have no doubt that the results of the work there will form part of the background to the debate, but I shall certainly draw my hon. Friend's remarks to the attention of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.
Mr. John Wilkinson (Ruislip-Northwood): With reference to Monday's debate on London Underground and the Government's proposed public-private partnership for it, will the Leader of the House ensure that the Deputy Prime Minister comes to answer that debate, so that he has the opportunity to justify the extraordinarily abusive personal remarks that he made about Mr. Kiley, the former boss of the New York metro who has come to advise the mayor on how the tube might be improved; and so that he can justify his disgraceful withholding from the Greater London Assembly of the necessary financial information on which it can evolve a strategy for the improvement of London's underground system?
Mr. Lawrie Quinn (Scarborough and Whitby): I am sure that many hon. Members share the concerns felt by fisheries communities in Whitby and Scarborough and along the North sea coast about the meeting with marine scientists that is taking place in Europe today. Will my right hon. Friend say whether there will be an early opportunity to consider not only the environmental impact of the failure of the cod fishery in the North sea, but the socio-economic impact on communities such as Whitby, which has been in decline since 1960, but is faced with an even steeper decline in its local economy if cuts are made?
Mrs. Beckett: My hon. Friend takes his responsibilities to his constituents extremely seriously and is strongly interested in their concerns. He will know the importance of balancing the environmental consequences and the economic impact of any action. I fear that I cannot undertake to find time for a special debate on the matter in the near future. He, too, might want to look into the opportunities offered by Westminster Hall, but he will be aware that Agriculture questions take place next Tuesday.
May we have an early debate on yesterday's pre-Budget statement, given that yesterday's package of fuel price reductions is larger than that which any political party has proposed? Any return to the disruption of food and fuel supplies would run the risk of provoking a significant public backlash. May we therefore have an early opportunity for all political parties--including, I hope, the Conservative party--to make clear their unequivocal opposition to any further disruption?