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Mrs. Beckett: I could not see that programme, but I heard that it was going to be shown. I was not aware that those who were engaged in the filming were party to the likelihood of a dispute before it occurred. I understand my hon. Friend's concern, but I fear that I cannot find time for a special debate on the matter. Perhaps he will find an opportunity to raise it in questions to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport on Monday.
Mr. Ian Bruce (South Dorset): Further to the right hon. Lady's response to the hon. Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Ross), will she reconsider the SSRB report, which specifically states that the recommendation on computers and staff should be implemented before the next general election? Some 600 people might be employed by new Members and computer equipment worth hundreds of thousands of pounds--perhaps even £1 million--might legitimately be bought under the old system and transferred to them. However, we are planning to provide that equipment directly and centrally from public funds. Even if the right hon. Lady does not deal with the salary increases of Members, which is always controversial, I urge her to table a motion for debate next week or the week after so that the necessary arrangement is in place in case the Prime Minister decides to go to the country.
Mrs. Beckett: The hon. Gentleman makes an interesting and important point. He has long taken a great interest in the work of the Information Committee, which has given evidence several times to the review body. I must admit that I had forgotten that important aspect of the report. The body suggested, for the reasons that the right hon. Gentleman gives, that the decisions should, if possible, be taken before a general election. He is right to make it public that hon. Members should take account of the possibility that there might be some changes in the structure of IT provision. I cannot undertake to do what
Mr. Hilary Benn (Leeds, Central): Is my right hon. Friend aware that residents in tower blocks, such as my constituents in Little London, who regularly find drug dealers in the doorways and strangers on the stairwells, feel insecure in their homes? Will it be possible to find time for a debate on ways in which targeted help from Government might support local residents, housing managers, local authorities and the police in trying to tackle that serious problem?
Mrs. Beckett: My hon. Friend makes a very powerful point. I think that we are all conscious of the difficulties faced by people in the circumstances that he describes, and concern for those who find themselves so placed is widely shared throughout the House. I cannot undertake to find time for a special debate on the issue in the near future, but I certainly undertake to draw my hon. Friend's remarks to the attention of my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, who, as he will know, is doing what he can with Ministers in other Departments to promote imaginative and cross-departmental programmes to produce exactly the kind of practical help to which he refers.
Mr. Michael Howard (Folkestone and Hythe): The right hon. Lady may be aware that some three weeks ago I was fortunate enough to obtain an Adjournment debate on the state of the national health service in east Kent, to which the Minister concerned gave a characteristically complacent reply. Yesterday, it became known that East Kent Hospitals NHS trust had commissioned its own report, which concluded, in respect of accident and emergency facilities:
Mrs. Beckett: Of course I understand the right hon. and learned Gentleman's concern on behalf of his constituents. I was not aware of the report to which he referred, but clearly it makes serious points. I am aware that there is long-standing concern about hospital provision in east Kent because I used to get letters about it before the general election. I fear that I cannot undertake to ask my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health to come to the House to make a statement or to find time for a debate in the near future, but I certainly undertake to draw the report to his attention.
Mr. Archy Kirkwood (Roxburgh and Berwickshire): The Leader of the House has already been asked twice about the need for the Government to make an early response to the Senior Salaries Review Body, but I want to press her on the matter. Apart from anything else, arranging for the House of Commons to put in place new systems during a dissolution would be a massive advantage, enabling the new Parliament to start in an efficient, professional and organised way. Will the
Mrs. Beckett: I cannot add anything further to what I have already said about timing, but I certainly take on board the hon. Gentleman's point. From my understanding of the report, I do not think that we should nurture the illusion that implementing the proposals would be easy and speedy, and that if there were a general election the whole IT system in the House would be transformed during the dissolution. The SSRB makes the point that there is a lot of work to be done and a new framework to be established, but of course I accept the point that Members elected to a new Parliament would need to know that a new system might be introduced.
Mr. John Bercow (Buckingham): May we please have an urgent debate in Government time on the conditions at Winson Green jail in Birmingham, which have been described by the chief inspector of prisons, Sir David Ramsbotham, as some of the worst that he has ever seen? Given that the inspection of the prison found soiled mattresses, unemptied buckets and prisoners who were allowed out on association for only five hours a week, does the right hon. Lady agree that the fact of a £860,000 budget cut at the prison and no fewer than 300 recommendations for urgent reform makes it essential that we should have a proper debate on conditions that by any standard should be regarded as totally unacceptable in a civilised society?
Mrs. Beckett: I understand the serious point that the hon. Gentleman makes. I am aware of the chief inspector's report, although from memory I believe that changes were made to the demands that were initially made of the prison for reductions in the budget. I seem to recall having seen a response from the Director-General of the Prison Service that made points about the way in which resources could be better used at the prison. I cannot undertake to find time for a special debate on the issue in the near future, but I undertake to draw to the attention of my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary the fact that concern about the matter has been expressed in the House.
Mr. Nicholas Winterton (Macclesfield): May I support the comments made by the hon. Member for Barnsley, West and Penistone (Mr. Clapham) about Iron Trades Holdings Ltd. and Chester Street Holdings Ltd.? I have a constituent, Mr. Donald McCreery, who is dying of asbestos-induced lung cancer: his prognosis is desperate--he will be dead within a very few months. He was awarded more than £100,000 in court as a result of contracting his illness following his employment, yet those two organisations have behaved in what I would describe as a fraudulent, dishonest and disgraceful fashion--maladministration is an understatement. Could the appropriate Minister come to the House to make a statement about what action the House can take in respect of the insurance industry, which is suffering as a result of that dreadful case, and what it can do to help those who deserve compensation?
Mr. Eric Forth (Bromley and Chislehurst): May we please have an urgent debate on the quality of the advice available to the Prime Minister? I saw the Prime Minister on television yesterday saying that his hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, East (Mr. Vaz) had been "cleared" by the Standards and Privileges Committee in the matter of the complaints made against the hon. Gentleman, yet my reading of the report tells me that while eight complaints were indeed "Not upheld", eight were "Not completed" and one was "Upheld." The report also states: