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Mr. Cook: It is important that the House should have another full day's debate on international terrorism, because there is a lot of unfinished work yet to be done. I know that many Members will wish to take part in the debate, and we have had a full turnout on previous occasions. I would be reluctant to lose any time from that debate.
I hear what the hon. Gentleman says about Lords messages. I think that I am correct in saying that, at present, no amendments have been made to the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Bill in the House of Lords. We must obviously monitor the situation closely and consider where we are if amendments are carried. At present, however, I see no reason to interfere with the arrangements that I have outlined.
I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on studying the faces of my honourable colleagues. We welcome close scrutiny of our faces in all circumstances and at all times. If anything, I have probably had rather more comment in the press about my face than I would necessarily have volunteered for. I can only repeat that the Government are on course to deliver their target, which is a matter of unity among my colleagues.
Mr. John Smith (Vale of Glamorgan): I thank my right hon. Friend for raising the matter of the British Government's contribution to the World Health Organisation study into deep vein thrombosis related to air travel? I have received a letter pointing out that the House will be notified shortly as to what that contribution will be. However, I draw his attention to the fact that the first study group will meet in Geneva on 13 December, so it would be appropriate for the Government to report to the House before then.
Mr. Cook: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his point. I take this opportunity to congratulate him on the assiduity with which he has pursued a very serious issue that is of great public concern. I note what he says about the forthcoming meeting and I shall draw the attention of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health to his comments.
Sir George Young (NorthWest Hampshire): My right hon. Friend the Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Mr. Forth) asked the Government for an early statement to clarify their policy on health. In his response, the Leader of the House, far from clarifying it, confused the position. Yesterday the Prime Minister was asked to commit
Mr. Cook: As I understand it, the leader of the Liberal Democrats asked my right hon. Friend to confirm the commitment that he gave in 2000 to meeting the average of gross domestic product spent on health.
Mr. Cook: That is exactly the question that the leader of the Liberal Democrats asked the Prime Minister. In 2000, my right hon. Friend said that we would meet that target within five years of the end of that financial year, so we will meet it in the financial year 2005-06. There is no room for divide here.
[That this House recognises this Government's endeavour to improve health and safety in the workplace; and welcomes the campaign by Prospect to increase the resources available to the HSE to improve the
The early-day motion stands in my name and supports the campaign run by the trade union, Prospect, which represents employees of the Health and Safety Executive. It calls more for resources for the executive.
Last year, fatalities in industry increased by 32 per cent., but the number of inspectors out in the field is only 613. There is a drastic need for more resources so that we can recruit more inspectors. Will my right hon. Friend consider holding a debate on health and safety at the earliest possible opportunity?
Mr. Cook: That is a matter of great concern and interest to those who work in industries that have a poor health and safety record. I commend the HSE's work, which I know at first hand from my constituency. I assure my hon. Friend that the Government are committed to making sure that the HSE can fulfil the functions that Parliament confers on it. If that means resources, I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions will consider that.
Mr. John Baron (Billericay): May I press the Leader of the House on the Government's timetable for raising health expenditure to the EU average? The Prime Minister clearly stated yesterday, as Hansard records, that that would happen by 2005. Yet today, the Leader of the House says that the timetable has slipped by a full yearin 24 hours. Can the statement be clarified?
Mr. Cook: I am happy to repeat my earlier comments that the commitment that my right hon. Friend confirmed yesterday was made not yesterday but in 2000. He said that in the financial year 2005-06, we would meet the European average. [Hon. Members: "No."] I find it entertaining that Conservative Members, who fought the general election on a commitment to cut health spending, ask us when we will succeed in raising it to the European average. If Conservative Members ever got their hands on the Dispatch Box, we would not approach the European average but fall away from it.
Mrs. Ann Cryer (Keighley): Will my right hon. Friend consider holding a debate on the problem of the growing waiting lists in the Bradford metropolitan district for Asian women who want to learn English? They are enthusiastic about it, but they frequently have to wait for more than a year to join one of the excellent classes in the adult education centres.
Mr. Cook: I entirely concur with my hon. Friend about the importance of that. It is part not only of integration but emancipation for Asian women that we make all possible opportunities available to them to learn English and achieve the skills and qualifications that they need to play a full part in our society. Britain has gained immensely
Sir Michael Spicer (West Worcestershire): Will the right hon. Gentleman consider providing time to discuss the impact of data protection legislation on Members of Parliament when they carry out their constituency work? I am sure that he knows that there is growing anxiety among hon. Members of all parties about that. Changes in legislation that perhaps grant Members of Parliament some element of privilege may be required.
Mr. Cook: I am not sure that I can promise a debate on the matter. However, I should be happy to hear from any hon. Member who is encountering specific problems that are related to data protection when carrying out their constituency work. I shall pass on the information to the Home Office.
[That this House notes the call of Amnesty International for a public inquiry into the mass killing of Afghan prisoners at the Qala-i-Jhangi Fort on 25th and 27th November; conscious of the presence of British and American special forces on site during the massacre and the heavy bombardment of the prisoners by the US Air Force, calls upon Her Majesty's Government to support the setting up of such an inquiry; further notes that the Northern Alliance commander of the Fort, General Dostum, is a notorious killer with a long record of war crimes; and reminds Her Majesty's Government and the US Government of the international opprobrium which still surrounds General Ariel Sharon resulting from his 'indirect responsibility' for the massacres in the Sabra and Chatilla camps in Lebanon in 1982, which though committed by others, would not have been possible without his involvement.]
Will my right hon. Friend ask the Government to make a statement on the matter? Will he also ask them to state clearly that the perpetrators of the massacres in Kabul and elsewhere, whichever side they are on, will answer for their war crimes at an international criminal court convened by the United Nations?