Mr. Cook: I fully understand the reasons for my hon. Friend's concern about that issue, and I congratulate her on the persistence with which she has pursued a matter that is obviously of great importance to her constituents. I am sure that my hon. Friends at the Wales Office will wish to do all that they can, but we do not have any direct control over the matterafter all, she refers to a charitable organisation. It appears not to have had a good record of consulting on its decision, but my hon. Friends at the Wales Office will share her concern and will be willing to assist in any way that is practical for them.
Sir Sydney Chapman (Chipping Barnet): Has the Leader of the House reached any decision on whether he will propose that there should be a short recess between Christmas and Easter, called a constituency week? If he claims, quite understandably, that that depends on the pressure and progress of business, surely that problem could be overcome by making a compensatory adjustment to the long summer recess. Does he accept that it would be extremely helpful to hon. Members on both sides of the House to know as soon as possible whether there will be such a recess, so that we can plan our constituency engagements, which many of us could not carry out if the House were sitting?
Mr. Cook: I totally accept the point that the hon. Gentleman makes. Hon. Members are assisted in making maximum use of such time if that recess is predictable and known well in advance. That is why, in the first week back after the long recess, I announced the recess for the
John Robertson (Glasgow, Anniesland): Is my right hon. Friend aware of the demise of Atlantic Telecom, which has gone into receivership? Is he also aware of the fact that Oftel has been absolutely no use whatever to the people who have been affected and that PricewaterhouseCoopers, which is in charge of the receivership, has also been unhelpful? In fact, as they say where I come from, it is about as much good as a chocolate fireguard. Will my right hon. Friend also try to help a company such as BT, which wants to take on the responsibility for the service provided by that company, but unfortunately at a cost? Can we have a debate not just about the fact that Atlantic Telecom and similar companies have gone bust, but about looking after small businesses? Perhaps we could create a body along the lines of the Association of British Travel Agents to look after those businesses and stop them going out of business.
Mr. Cook: I am aware from my constituency experience how difficult it can be for companies that are owed money by one that has gone into receivership. I congratulate my hon. Friend on his vigilance on behalf of his constituents and the enterprises in his area. I will draw his remarks to the attention of the appropriate Secretary of State. My hon. Friend will no doubt wish to pursue this, as he has done today, through the other devices open to him as a constituency Member with an issue to raise and interesting proposals to make.
Mr. Edward Garnier (Harborough): The Leader of the House will know that the Youth Justice Board is a public body funded by the Home Office, and that it publishes a periodical called Youth Justice Board News. The October issue has at its masthead a red box including the words "Pledge metspecial pull-out supplement". One turns to the exciting special supplement to find a photograph of the leader of the Labour party, the Labour party pledge card and other Labour party political propaganda. Will the Leader of the House please arrange for a Home Office Minister to come to the Dispatch Box as soon as possible to explain how they understand the difference between public spending and party political spending?
Mr. Cook: It sounds an excellent publication, and I shall instruct my office to put me on its mailing list. I am grateful to the hon. and learned Gentleman for drawing to the attention of the House and the public how well we have met the pledges we made in the last election.
Mr. Mark Todd (South Derbyshire): Will my right hon. Friend find time for a debate on competition policy? This request is prompted by the acquisition of Woodville Airbags in my constituency by an American business which, within 72 hours, announced the closure of the plant and the transfer of its work to plants in Romania, with the loss of 304 jobs. This involves nearly 30 per cent. of the European car airbags market, and means that the Company has effectively bought the order book and
My hon. Friend draws attention to a matter that is of concern to his area, particularly to those of his constituents employed by the company. Having represented companies that have been taken over, I fully understand the deep concern of those who work in a company that is acquired in that way. It is Trade and Industry questions next Thursday and my hon. Friend will no doubt wish to raise the matter then.
Mr. Douglas Hogg (Sleaford and North Hykeham): I reinforce what was said by my right hon. Friend the Member for Bracknell (Mr. MacKay) with regard to the derogation order. The Leader of the House knows full well that under article 15, the provision of the convention can only be derogated in time of war or other public emergencies threatening the life of the nation. Surely the matter really should be discussed in prime time.
The Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Bill, which has 125 clauses, eight schedules and 114 pages, is to clear the House in seven days. There is no way in which the legislation will be properly scrutinised. If it be true that part of the Bill is really urgent, it cannot be true of the entire Bill. Surely the proper way is to identify that which is really urgent, make it the subject of a very short Bill, and take the remainder of the proposed legislation in the proper way.
Mr. Cook: I would not say to the right hon. and learned Gentleman that I am grateful to his right hon. Friends for having agreed the timetable that he has just attacked. They were right to agree to the timetable because it is important that we demonstrate to the public that we are vigilant in ensuring that we take all steps to provide for their security.
It is true that the Bill covers a wide range of issues, spanning several Departments. That is because our response to 11 September has to be comprehensive. Are Conservative Members who wish to challenge the motion really saying that they are prepared to oppose it? Are they prepared to account for a situation in which terrorists whom we cannot deport are allowed to go free? If they are not saying that, I do not understand their concern.
Mr. Tony McWalter (Hemel Hempstead): Does my right hon. Friend accept that those who are as passionately committed to the fight against terrorism as he is and who supported with considerable enthusiasm the efforts of the Prime Minister in the current emergency nevertheless believe that there are different ways of translating that commitment against terrorism into legislation? Some of us have considerable reservations about the path that the Government have chosen. I commend my right hon. Friend's effort to get amendments to the Bill accepted from last Tuesday, but because that effort failed, we are left with an even more constricted timetable than he
Mr. Cook: I am pleased to tell my hon. Friend that the motion providing for amendments to be tabled in advance of Second Reading was carried last night. I regret that it was not carried earlierthe reason was that the right hon. and learned Member for Grantham and Sleaford opposed it.
Mr. Alistair Carmichael (Orkney and Shetland): May I bring to the Leader of the House's attention a problem relating to the taking of legislation in this Chamber as a result of the passing of a Sewel motion in the Scottish Parliament? There are often areas of Executive responsibility that are not part of a Bill but have a bearing on its passage. I refer in particular to the Proceeds of Crime Bill, which is in Committee, and the need for assurances about the operation of civil legal aid north of the border.
I invite the right hon. Gentleman, as Chairman of the Select Committee on the Modernisation of the House of Commons, to look at achieving a means of rectifying that defect at the earliest opportunity to ensure that there is proper parliamentary scrutiny of Executive actions wherever the Minister is, whether here or in Edinburgh?