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5.31 pm

The Parliamentary Secretary, Privy Council Office (Mr. Paddy Tipping): We have had in the debate, 14 speakers, who have raised many matters that are very important to them and to their constituents. As my hon. Friend the Member for Tooting (Mr. Cox) put it, hon. Members have a duty to raise such matters in the House.

The hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Baldry) asked for more revolting MPs, who put grit in the machine, as he put it. My eye immediately strayed to my hon. Friend the Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Cryer), and my hon. Friend the Member for North-East Derbyshire (Mr. Barnes) who is a well known member of the awkward squad.

I also heard what my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Ms Jones) said. I think that she is getting discharge happy. She made it clear that she would make her mark in the remainder of this Parliament if things did not go her way.

A number of hon. Members asked me to pass messages in different ways. The hon. Member for Southend, West (Mr. Amess) asked me to have a word with at least 10 Ministers. The hon. Member for Teignbridge (Mr. Nicholls) asked me to get the relevant Minister to write to him about the local bypass. I can promise the letter straight away, but not the bypass. The hon. Member for New Forest, East (Dr. Lewis) asked me to convey the message about Dibden bay in the strongest terms to my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister, and I shall do so.

The hon. Member for Christchurch (Mr. Chope) made an important speech about complaints and how we deal with them. I take a great interest in complaints. When people get things wrong they should acknowledge as much, apologise, and look at policy issues resulting from them. People should not be afraid to use a complaint to look at wider issues as a way of resolving matters. I do not think that we handle complaints well. We can do better, and we must improve public services.

My hon. Friend the Member for Tooting spoke about constituency issues. He is already in touch with the relevant Minister of State about two points that he raised. Clearly, local residents want reassurance and information about the hostel that my hon. Friend spoke about, and they need to be involved in the process. He also mentioned a planning issue that centres on the green in his constituency. I shall take up those issues, and make sure that he gets a reply.

My hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West spoke about the greening of the cities, and urban forestry. That is an important matter. We must improve townscapes and landscapes, and planting trees is one way to do that. I was interested in what she said about the urban forestry unit, and I shall pursue the matter on her behalf.

My hon. Friend the Member for North-East Derbyshire spoke about the problems at Chesterfield hospital. I share his concerns about Nichola Stevenson. Like him, I hope for the best and try not to fear the worst.

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My hon. Friend also talked about environmental issues. It is important that we turn coalfields into green fields. I know that his area has suffered many job losses in mining and textiles, and there is now the Biwater closure. I congratulate him on his strong campaign on this. He has won many friends in Derbyshire as a result, and the task must now be to bring new investment, new jobs and a new future to the area. I hope that we can put together the package that he seeks to ensure that that happens.

My hon. Friend the Member for Stroud (Mr. Drew) also talked about greenfield and planning issues. I am pleased that the south-west regional plan is now out and that we are aspiring to a brownfield target of 50 per cent. I believe that we should focus on market towns for integrated transport and jobs. It is important to create the right kind of houses--small ones, not big, executive, ranch-style ones.

My hon. Friend the Member for Stroud also talked about the police, as did the right hon. Member for Cities of London and Westminster (Mr. Brooke). In Gloucestershire, there is a rural police grant. In the Metropolitan police area, there are plans to recruit 2,000 extra police officers, and, of course, bringing back the housing allowance will be a big bonus in the London area.

The hon. Member for Southend, West (Mr. Amess) raised many points, one of which was about hospitals and nurses. I am pleased that we have been able to pay the wage claim in full, that it is above the rate of inflation and that the number of nurses coming back into the NHS is increasing. We need to do the same kind of thing with teachers, as my hon. Friend the Member for St. Albans (Mr. Pollard) said. It is important that there are good salary structures and that we also raise morale and praise the best. We should not always criticise teachers but should thank them for the work that they do on our behalf. One way in which to help them is to cut down on their paperwork. I think that he knows that the Department for Education and Employment is monitoring the problem and reducing paperwork.

Transport has been a big issue--bypasses are back in vogue. I was pleased to be in Leicestershire just last week to announce that a bypass would open. We will have to look at the situation in Devon. I am pleased to say that the 10-year transport plan, with £180 billion attached to it over a period of time, gives us the opportunity not just to build roads but to look at public transport and invest in the long term.

The hon. Member for Gordon (Mr. Bruce) was right to say that there were particular problems in rural areas. I had not really focused on his point about how that affects people on income support, but I will pick that issue up as it is important. We have done something like that with the new deal, giving extra support for transport costs for people on the new deal.

On planning, the hon. Member for New Forest, East (Dr. Lewis) mentioned Dibden bay. I hear his opposition; planning issues need to be considered on their merit. I had better not say too much about it, but there are clear environmental problems and concerns not only at Dibden bay but at Shell Haven.

My hon. Friend the Member for Braintree (Mr. Hurst) mentioned the United States. The lesson for me from that election is that every vote counts. I shall be putting out a leaflet with Mr. Gore's picture on it saying "Every vote counts".

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The right hon. Member for Cities of London and Westminster asked for reassurance about the European defence initiative. I have not had the benefit of the textual analysis, but I reinforce the Prime Minister's point that we see the European army as complementary to NATO, and not a rival.

It being three hours after the commencement of proceedings on the Question, the motion for the Adjournment of the House lapsed without Question put, pursuant to Order [19 December].


Motion made,

Hon. Members: Object.


Motion made,

Line 37, before the word 'European' insert the words 'Environmental Audit Committee or with the'.--[Mr. McNulty.]

Hon. Members: Object.


Motion made,

Hon. Members: Object.


Motion made,

the Lords Message [12th July] communicating a Resolution relating to Human Rights (Joint Committee), be now considered;
this House concurs with the Lords in the said Resolution; and
the following Standing Order be made:
(1) There shall be a Select Committee, to consist of six Members, to join with the Committee appointed by the Lords as the Joint Committee on Human Rights.
(2) The Committee shall consider--
(a) matters relating to human rights in the United Kingdom (but excluding consideration of individual cases);
(b) proposals for remedial orders, draft remedial orders and remedial orders made under Section 10 of and laid under Schedule 2 to the Human Rights Act 1998; and

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(c) in respect of draft remedial orders and remedial orders, whether the special attention of the House should be drawn to them on any of the grounds specified in Standing Order No. 151 (Statutory Instruments (Joint Committee));
(3) The Committee shall report to the House--
(a) in relation to any document containing proposals laid before the House under paragraph 3 of the said Schedule 2, its recommendation whether a draft order in the same terms as the proposals should be laid before the House; or
(b) in relation to any draft order laid under paragraph 2 of the said Schedule 2, its recommendation whether the draft Order should be approved;
and the Committee may report to the House on any matter arising from its consideration of the said proposals or draft orders.
(4) The Committee shall report to the House in respect of any original order laid under paragraph 4 of the said Schedule 2, its recommendation whether--
(a) the order should be approved in the form in which it was originally laid before Parliament; or
(b) that the order should be replaced by a new order modifying the provisions of the original order; or
(c) that the order should not be approved,
and the Committee may report to the House on any matter arising from its consideration of the said order or any replacement order.
(5) The quorum of the committee shall be three.
(6) Unless the House otherwise orders, each Member nominated to the committee shall continue to be a member of it for the remainder of the Parliament.
(7) The committee shall have power--
(a) to send for persons, papers and records, to sit notwithstanding any adjournment of the House, to adjourn from place to place within the United Kingdom, to adjourn to institutions of the Council of Europe outside the United Kingdom no more than four times in any calendar year, and to report from time to time; and
(b) to appoint specialist advisers either to supply information which is not readily available or to elucidate matters of complexity within the committee's order of reference.
As an Amendment to Margaret Beckett's Motion (Human Rights (Joint Committee)):
Mr. Paul Tyler

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