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Dr. Evan Harris (Oxford, West and Abingdon): The Home Secretary will be aware that, between 1997 and 2001, in the light of two critical reports by successive chief inspectors of prisons, his Department was urged to close Campsfield House. Every year, however, the Department said no, and that Campsfield House was fit
Mr. Blunkett: First, I am setting up accommodation centres. Only when someone has failed to establish their right to remain through the appeals process am I using secure removal centres. Secondly, I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman was so churlish. If I was closing Campsfield House only because it was not big enough, I would have waited to close itand to announce the closureuntil the accommodation and removal numbers were up to an acceptable level. I have not done that, because I believeand the hon. Gentleman appears to agreethat Campsfield is unsuitable. I would have welcomed a little more warmth from him.
Shona McIsaac (Cleethorpes): As a site in my constituency is being considered for an accommodation centre, I have tried to reassure local residents that they will be consulted fully about the proposals, should South Killingholme be selected. Will my right hon. Friend reassure those residents that they will be involved in the consultation process? Will he similarly reassure the three parish councils and the unitary authority affected?
Mr. Blunkett: Yes, I can give my hon. Friend that assurance. It is important that people understand what is on offer, so that they do not badly misunderstand what is to take place. It is also important, when establishing such centres, that people genuinely feel that they have a contribution to make, not least because the centres will provide substantial opportunities for jobs for local people.
The House will be aware that London Underground will make an announcement this afternoon on the value-for-money review of the public-private partnership plans for the tube. I am pleased to inform the House that, with the permission of Mr. Speaker, the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions will make a statement at the close of Third Reading of the Tax Credits Bill at 7 pm today.
Mr. Eric Forth (Bromley and Chislehurst): I thank the Leader of the House for his statement. You have told the House more than once recently, Mr. Speaker, that you deprecate Ministers' habit of making announcements outside the House before making them here, especially, if I may say so, on something as important as a White Paper.
In connection with what the Leader of the House has just told us about the odd device of a statement at 7 o'clock this evening on the important matter of the London tube, word has reached me, though I can scarce believe it is true, that there will be a press briefing this afternoon, probably arranged by Jo Moore on behalf of the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions.
I hope that the Leader of the House will assure us that there will be no such press briefing this afternoon on a matter that will be announced to the House by the Secretary of State this evening. If, for any reason, the Leader of the House cannot give us that assurance, I hope that he will be able to make his peace with you, Mr. Speaker. It appears that Ministers are persistently flouting what you have made absolutely clearstatements must be made here before they are made anywhere else.
[That this House is concerned by the exchange between the hon. Member for Liverpool, Riverside and the Foreign Secretary (5th February, Official Report, columns 745-6) about Gibraltar, in which the Foreign Secretary told his honourable Friend that she had asked him a "disobliging question" and that "she should not judge the Government by her own standards"; believes that Back Bench honourable Members have the right to ask searching questions of Ministers without being subjected to insult or innuendo; and calls upon the Foreign Secretary to clarify his remarks forthwith or to withdraw them.]
You know, Mr. Speaker, that the House has been joining in this week's celebrations of Her Majesty's jubilee. She is a septuagenarian who has been in office for 50 years, but the House may not know that, next
I hope that the Leader of the House will approach the appropriate authorities, perhaps through you, Mr. Speaker, to see whether we can arrange a street party for the hon. Gentleman to celebrate the fact that he has shown sufficient flexibility not to retire at 65. I hope that the House will join me in wishing him a happy joint jubilee with Her Majesty.
Mr. Cook: I am very happy to join the right hon. Gentleman in congratulating my hon. Friend. I am available to attend any street party that he thinks may be appropriate. Whether my hon. Friend will invite Her Majesty, I will leave to himI am not entirely sure that she will be on the guest list.
The statement about English being required for British citizenship was made last October, not in The Sun this morning. I listened with care to my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary on the "Today" programme and again this afternoon. There is a breadth of policy statements in the White Paper that was totally untouched in the "Today" interview.