Previous SectionIndexHome Page

Mr. Hague: We have set out very clearly--[Interruption.] I will explain several things about

6 Dec 2000 : Column 15

yesterday. Yesterday, we set out very clearly our proposals. Now, it is very clear--as the BBC economics editor said last night on "Newsnight"--that

So now we have it from the BBC: our figures are the ones that add up.

We also know now that other things that would have had cross-party support and are badly needed are not in the Queen's Speech. The Prime Minister said some time ago that overhauling adoption law was a high priority. Thousands of children could be adopted more quickly. Every week makes an enormous difference to the rest of their lives and their welfare goes beyond party disagreements and calculations. In February 2000, No. 10 Downing street told us that

the Government's review of adoption law, and that he

That was 10 months ago. So where in the Queen's Speech is that legislation?

Maria Eagle (Liverpool, Garston): Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Hague: I shall give way again a little later.

Vaccine damage payments were increased by this Government and by the previous one. There is cross-party agreement that we need legislation to improve the scheme further. In June, the Secretary of State for Social Security told the House:

So where is the legislation?

In April, the Minister for Trade told the House of Commons that the Government would be

to implement the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development convention designed to combat the bribery of foreign officials. So where is it? How on earth can the Government say that they have an ethical foreign policy or that they are leading in the European Union when, of the 20 countries that have ratified that convention, this is the only one that has not changed its law?

Maria Eagle rose--

Mr. Hague: If, even now, the Prime Minister wishes to reconsider or to announce--[Hon. Members: "Give way."] I am saying something directly to the Prime Minister, in the hope that he will listen.

If the Prime Minister wishes to reconsider or to announce that, after all, measures on vaccine damage, adoption or the OECD bribery convention are in the legislative programme, he will have the Opposition's full support. Those are things that people in all parties wanted to see in the Queen's Speech.

Maria Eagle rose--

Mr. Blizzard: Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Hague: I shall give way again, in a few moments, to the hon. Gentleman.

6 Dec 2000 : Column 16

One reason for this thin legislative programme is the Government's complete mismanagement of the parliamentary timetable, which meant that they were unable to end the last Session until a few days ago. Huge amounts of legislation were passed without ever being debated in the House of Commons. That abuse of democracy happens when the Government reduce the hours that Parliament sits while increasing the amount of legislation that they force through it. They are producing the least considered legislation in the history of the country and many Labour Members think so--

Several hon. Members rose--

Mr. Hague: I shall give way in a moment, but first I want to tell Labour Members what one of them thought about this situation.

The hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington (Mr. McDonnell) wrote to his constituency executive last week. For greater accuracy, as you would say, Mr. Speaker, I have obtained a copy of his letter. He wrote:

I thought that they were not supposed to say that any more--

That is what the hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington wrote.

Several hon. Members rose--

Mr. Hague: I shall gladly give way. As the hon. Gentleman thinks that the Labour party consists of lunatics and Lobby fodder, we shall now be able to see which one each of them is. I give way first to the hon. Member for Waveney (Mr. Blizzard).

Mr. Blizzard: This time last year, I asked the right hon. Gentleman a question. Now that he has had a year to think about it, I wonder whether he can explain to the House why crime doubled under the Government of which he was a member?

Mr. Hague: Obviously, the hon. Gentleman is Lobby fodder. Crime fell for the six years until last year, when this Government got their hands on it.

Several hon. Members rose--

Mr. Hague: I have mentioned the hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington, so I shall give way to him.

Mr. John McDonnell (Hayes and Harlington): I am grateful for that. I made a timely entrance to the Chamber. My constituency party's judgment on air traffic control

6 Dec 2000 : Column 17

was based on an assessment of the privatisation of British Rail carried out by the previous Government, which was a disaster.

Mr. Hague: I notice that the hon. Gentleman made no retraction of his description of his own party as lunatics and Lobby fodder. If he wants a botched privatisation, why does he not look even more closely at air traffic services and London Underground? His is the party of botched privatisation--the party that he is rebelling against. The hon. Gentleman thought that our air was not for sale. He was another one who believed the Prime Minister. When will people realise that, under this Government, it is all for sale? The policies are for sale, the people are for sale and the principles are for sale.

The hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington has been dealing with an arrogant Government. Looking at the Queen's Speech, one sees that their arrogance is alive and well. They are bringing back the mode of trial Bill for a third time, in the face of opposition from the Criminal Bar Association, the Law Society, the Legal Action Group, the Institute of Race Relations and the Society of Labour Lawyers.

We have done a little research and the reason why the Bill saves money is that it makes sentencing weaker. We have looked at the Government's figures and it is clear that the reason why they think the Bill would save £80 million is that magistrates can sentence people to only six months, so there would be fewer criminals in jail and more criminals on the streets.

We have done a little more research. A famous London barrister who was always opposed to this plan said:

That barrister was the Prime Minister in 1993--[Interruption.] We have had the Lobby fodder; now we are getting the lunatics.

Arrogance is also behind the Bill to abolish community health councils. Three weeks ago, the Prime Minister told the House that the future of community health councils was "open to consultation". When the chairman of the Association of London Health Councils telephoned No. 10 to see whether that was true, she was told by the press office that the Prime Minister had made a "slip of the tongue", and that community health councils were going to be abolished. It is astonishing, then, that when I asked him about the matter last week, the Prime Minister made exactly the same slip of the tongue. The poor thing, his tongue must be very slippery these days. He said that the Government would "consult" on the proposals and

I have a representation here--a letter from a Mr. John Burton, the agent to the Prime Minister in his Sedgefield constituency--to the south Durham and Weardale community health council. It states:

That letter was written only last year, but now the right hon. Gentleman is going to abolish CHCs. It is not unusual for the Queen's Speech to include a list of

6 Dec 2000 : Column 18

measures opposed by the Leader of the Opposition: it is unusual for it to contain a list of measures opposed by the Prime Minister, but that is the current situation.

Is not the real reason why the Prime Minister wants to abolish--

Next Section

IndexHome Page