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Sir Teddy Taylor: The Minister mentioned money laundering as one of the reasons for the regulations. Is she aware that the recent report on upholding money laundering issues throughout the world specifically excluded the Channel Islands altogether?

Dawn Primarolo: I used money laundering as one example of international practices that were improving. The regulations will tackle harmful tax competition and predatory tax regimes that seek to undermine legitimate fair tax competition; they have nothing to do with money laundering.

I call on every Member to vote for the best economic interests of the United Kingdom, to defend its tax base, to support the clause and to reject the amendment because it would deny us those opportunities—[Interruption.]

The Temporary Chairman: Order. I remind the Committee that a debate is under way.

Mr. Flight: As I pointed out, the amendment was, in essence, a probing one. The Government have taken excessive powers, but I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

The Chairman, being of the opinion that the principle of the clause and any matters arising thereon had been adequately discussed in the course of debate on the amendment proposed thereto, forthwith put the Question, pursuant to Standing Order No. 68, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Clause 88 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Committee report progress; to sit again tomorrow.

10.1 pm

Mr. Eric Forth (Bromley and Chislehurst): On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. The parliamentary day is drawing to a close and, yet again—unless you are able to tell us to the contrary—we have had no indication from

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the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions that he wishes to come to the House, to make an apology, to make a statement or, indeed, to offer his resignation. Can you give us any information, Madam Deputy Speaker, as to whether you have received an approach from the Secretary of State—even at this late hour—to honour the House with his presence, to purge the contempt for the House that he has shown hitherto, and to allow the House to question him and hold him to account, as is our duty?

Madam Deputy Speaker (Sylvia Heal): I must inform the right hon. Gentleman and other Members that I have not received any communication from the Secretary of State or anyone else. The right hon. Gentleman is an experienced Member and I am sure that he is well aware of a very well-tried method of obtaining information—he may wish to pursue it at the earliest opportunity.

Mr. Douglas Hogg (Sleaford and North Hykeham): Further to that point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Will you clarify this point? Is it not usual, when the shadow Leader of the House rises to make a very serious point of order, for the Leader of the House to be present to listen to it? The right hon. Gentleman, who is the custodian of the traditions of the House, could at least communicate to his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how angry the House is about his conduct.

Madam Deputy Speaker: In the absence of any information being given to the Leader of the House about the point of order, I should not expect him to be present.

Mr. Crispin Blunt (Reigate): Further to that point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. A headline on Ceefax tonight stated that the Secretary of State had been in discussions with Mr. Speaker. Can you give the House any information about that?

Madam Deputy Speaker: I have to inform the hon. Gentleman that I am in no way responsible for whatever appears on Ceefax.

Dr. Julian Lewis (New Forest, East): Further to that point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Will you take this opportunity to reaffirm the guidance given to me and other new Members of the 1997 intake by Speaker Boothroyd that, as Members, we enjoy the privilege of being able to say what we like in the House without suffering the risk of defamation proceedings? Do you agree, Madam Deputy Speaker, that if a Secretary of State has not only misled the House but has defamed an individual in the way that Mr. Sixsmith was defamed, the individual is entitled to expect a withdrawal in the House and for his name to be cleared?

Madam Deputy Speaker: I have already ruled on that and given my response to the right hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Mr. Forth).

Mr. John Gummer (Suffolk, Coastal): On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Mr. Speaker said earlier in the Session that he was concerned to ensure that announcements would be made to the House and not outside. Therefore, I put it to you that on this occasion

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this is a matter about which the Chair ought to be concerned, for an announcement was made outside the House about the proceedings in the House. Would it not therefore be appropriate for the Chair to make inquiries as to when this might be remedied here, in this Chamber?

Madam Deputy Speaker: I have absolutely no doubt that Mr. Speaker, if he is not aware already, will read Hansard tomorrow. I remind all hon. Members that I have already made a suggestion and ruled on this matter. If there are any points of order other than on that subject, I am prepared to take them.

Mr. Forth: In view of the gravity of this matter, Madam Deputy Speaker, and in view of the fact that the Secretary of State is apparently unwilling voluntarily to come to the House, may I give notice that Her Majesty's Opposition will tonight table a motion of censure on the Secretary of State?

Mrs. Angela Browning (Tiverton and Honiton): On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. If a Member of the House accuses another Member, particularly a Minister, of misleading the House, the procedures that you would exercise are very clear, unless the Member immediately withdraws the accusation; so, from the point of view of Members of the House, especially Back Benchers, the procedures are clear. However, if the House is misled by Ministers there seems to be absolutely no redress. The imbalance in our procedures becomes clearer with every event such as this that passes, so I hope that you, Madam Deputy Speaker, will discuss this with Mr. Speaker as a matter of urgency.

Madam Deputy Speaker: I have already suggested to the shadow Leader of the House the route that is available to any Back Bencher, but I will see that the hon. Lady's comments are drawn to the attention of Mr. Speaker.


Personal Benefits (Long-stay Patients)

10.7 pm

Mr. Bob Laxton (Derby, North): I wish to present to the House a petition in the name of 3,769 constituents from the Derby patients council and residents of Derby. It declares

To lie upon the Table.

8 May 2002 : Column 246


Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—[Dan Norris.]

10.9 pm

Mr. James Wray (Glasgow, Baillieston): I should like to draw attention to the seriousness of the incidence of asthma throughout Britain. I have spent a great deal of time trying to get this subject debated in the House; I raised it with the Leader of the House and asked him to give time for a debate, but unfortunately there was other important business to deal with.

I also raised the issue with the Minister of State, Department of Health, my hon. Friend the Member for Redditch (Jacqui Smith), to try to find out some relevant statistics and how much has been spent on research. In a written reply, she said that she did not have those statistics because they were not collected centrally. However, the British Thoracic Society has done a great deal of research on health service expenditure, and it reckons that respiratory disease costs the health service about £2.5 billion.

I am not saying that I am a great asthma expert, but many men and women, mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters and sons and daughters have spent a great deal of time worrying about members of their families who have become emergency patients in many hospitals throughout the country because of their asthma.

This is the National Asthma Campaign's national asthma day in Scotland, and yesterday was national asthma day in England. The campaign is involved in a worthwhile cause, and it is guided by the hands of the chief executive, Liz Brodie, whose son has suffered from asthma for 25 years. I would like to do justice to the campaign's cause. It has reported on many occasions to many other committees and has sent speakers across the country.

The National Asthma Campaign's report "Sleepless Nights, Anxious Days", which was launched today, analyses the incidence of asthma throughout the United Kingdom. We have to focus on younger children first when we talk about asthma, as 1.5 million children in the United Kingdom alone have the illness. One in five children have been diagnosed with asthma at some point and one in eight have asthmatic symptoms. Nationally, more than 7,000 children visit their GPs every week to be treated for asthma for the first time. The United Kingdom has the highest rate of "severe wheeze" in the world for those aged 13 and 14. Those are very serious statistics.

A recent World Health Organisation report found that asthma in young children can be more damaging than tuberculosis and the human immune deficiency virus. That finding is extremely serious. Let us not forget that in the past we screened people for tuberculosis in Scotland and throughout the United Kingdom because of the number of lives that were lost to that disease. That is why we want the Government to focus on asthma in the United Kingdom and why I would like them to put it at the top of their list of health priorities, as the situation is likely to get worse, not better.

Triggers for asthma range extremely widely from cigarette smoke and cat fur to vehicle exhaust fumes, and there are many other causes. In such an unpredictable environment, I am sure that everyone would agree that

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children must get the best possible care and support. Although deaths from asthma in childhood are rare, the fact remains that asthma encroaches on the lives of many people and, unless it is manageable, it can cause undue stress and discomfort.

I want to give an idea of the impact of asthma nationally. Every 16 minutes a child is admitted to hospital because of asthma. Many of those children go through accident and emergency units, which, as I am sure everyone would agree, can be inhospitable places for children. Often, a frightening environment for children is unwittingly created. I would welcome, as would many people, measures to reduce asthma triggers in the environment, including measures to control smoking in public places and cat pollution.

I tabled an early-day motion on asthma and schools, which more than 100 Members have signed. It raises the important issue of the application of medication and knowledge of the condition in schools. In that early-day motion I reiterate my point that parents who have children with asthma must feel comfortable to leave their children in the hands of teachers and staff at schools. On average, there will be up to four children with asthma in each classroom. In my constituency, approximately 12,000 people have asthma—the majority are children. Too often, teachers do not have the training or knowledge about asthma, and could be wary when administering medication or not know what to do when a child has an attack. One parent told me that

I take such comments very seriously, as children with asthma must be allowed immediate access to their medication. Locking it away in a cupboard somewhere in the school does not necessarily provide easy access. Children in reception and preparation classes may not understand their condition fully. It can be very frightening for young children to experience attacks, and it is important that their supervisors know what to do.

I tell all those who do not consider asthma a serious condition to imagine what not being able to breathe properly and struggling to take each breath feels like. In that type of situation, young children will panic, and the condition can worsen. Supervisors must provide a calming influence and not panic. Under the Health and Safety at Work, etc. Act 1974, local education authorities, or school governors in the case of independent schools, are responsible for ensuring that schools have a health and safety policy.

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