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Mr. Hayes: Before the hon. Gentleman moves on from the subject of wind farms and, no doubt, to that of my mother's butcher and her lamb chops, may I ask whether he agrees that local authorities must take greater care
Mr. Tyler: I understand the hon. Gentleman's point. My response is twofold. First, my experience is that all too often the decision is not taken by the local community, but goes to the Secretary of State on appeal. Under the Conservative Government, some devastating decisions were taken on the location of wind farms, with some sited right on the top of what we in Cornwall call mountainsalthough they are not quite up to Welsh or Scottish standardsand so extremely prominent in the landscape, or placed in an area that should have been protected for reasons of archaeological significance.
My second point relates to something that the hon. Gentleman said. Our recent ancestors had no concerns about the arrival of pylons because they were a symbol of electricity coming to the countryside: their response was, "Hooray! We're going to be connected up." Yet their descendants, today's residents, are far less enthusiastic about wind farms. Even if the turbines are right beside pylons, as is the case in my constituency, wind farms are a cause of great anxiety.
The hon. Member for South Swindon spoke about the modernisation programme, with which I am heavily involved. I strongly sympathise with the objectives of the Modernisation Committee and the Leader of the House. I share the hon. Lady's views on the payment of the Chairmen of Select Committees. That matter has now been put to the Review Body on Senior Salariesas the right hon. Member for East Yorkshire (Mr. Knight) said, that was the decision of the House. I regret that, but believe that it is now inevitable that other roles in the House will have to be re-examined. It is interesting that the Conservative pairing Whip, who is with us this afternoon, is one of those who draws a state-funded salary. It obviously contributes to his human happiness; no doubt he can enlighten us about whether it contributes to anyone else's.
The hon. Member for South Antrim (David Burnside), who is no longer present, is extremely pessimistic about the situation in Northern Ireland. People on this side of the Irish sea probably feel that, because the issue is currently out of sight, the troubles have gone away, so our being reminded that major problems remain in the Province serves as a useful corrective. However, I am sad about that because I believe that the House must stand together to support the peace efforts that are being made by all the communities in Northern Ireland. Although the hon. Gentleman's speech was on one level a useful corrective, it struck a discordant note with me to be told that all the problems were on one side of the divide. I do not believe that that is trueafter all, neither side is decommissioning at the speed or on the scale for which we hoped. It is important to remember that.
I recognise that the Government's loss is the House's gainno longer on the Front Bench, the hon. Member for West Ham (Mr. Banks) is able to give us the benefit of his wisdom and his wit, and I enjoy both. However, I confess that I find his enthusiastic support for the
The hon. Gentleman was right also when he said that although important improvements have been made since we passed the Football (Disorder) Act 2000, there is still a diversity of experience in applying that legislation, which needs real attention. We may need to come back to that.
I was taken by the hon. Gentleman's final point about the use of the Union flag and the English flag. We have a different flag in Cornwall, but it is open to the same abuse. There is a case for examining whether we should be allowed in some way to protect the integrity of our flag, which unites us all. If it is effectively kidnapped by a political party, or in some instances, an extremist group, it becomes a symbol of disunity rather than unity. I am not sure whether that can be done by legislation, but it is an interesting issue.
The hon. Member for Rayleigh (Mr. Francois)I think that I have used the Essex pronunciation. Of course, the great seafarer and statesman, Raleigh, has no connection with the Essex equivalent, which is somewhere in the far east. The hon. Gentleman is right about the issue of tidal defences and sea defences generally. I share his anxiety about the bureaucracy of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. It is mind-boggling when we have concerns about our entire coastline. DEFRA has become the byword for a mire of bureaucracy. I do not blame particular Ministers because the impact of foot and mouth and then the change in responsibilities last summer was devastating. However, the low morale of civil servants in the Department has to be seen to be believed. I do not know what anyone is going to do about it, but something must be done.
I find it more difficult to agree with the hon. Gentleman about the issue of deciding all development targets at a local level. Of course, that sounds right, and I would want to do that in Cornwall. However, the hon. Gentleman should recognise the natural consequence of the free market policies of the Thatcher Governments, who said that people must move to jobs. Lord Tebbit said, "Get on your bike." That is why people have left the north of Britain, and to some extent the west, to come to the hon. Gentleman's constituency, and they want homes.
The difficulty about the provision of homes is that the homeless do not have a vote, or a voice. They are not here. No doubt they come to our surgeriesthey certainly come to minebut not in the same force of numbers as at the hon. Gentleman's town meeting.
Mr. Francois: First, on a point of correction. My constituency is spelled with a "y" and pronounced accordingly. The great admiral, Raleigh, did not have a "y" in his name and so it was pronounced differently.
Secondly, at the town meeting one person spoke in favour of the development. He was a Liberal Democrat councillor. Being as honest as I can, part of the reaction was not merely a response to what he said. If the hon. Gentleman had been present, he would understand that it was the way that the councillor expressed his opinion that upset many of those who were there. It was a classic example of how not to behave at a public meeting.
As all hon. Members will recognise, if we simply say that there will be no new housing for those who need it in the south-east, we are talking nonsense. Of course we will have to find more brownfield sites. The Governments whom the hon. Member for Rayleigh supported, particularly the Thatcher Government, put huge pressures on London and the south-east by effectively saying that they were against the regeneration of the industries of the north and the west. We must return to that situation. I feel strongly about the matter. In my constituency and my county, Cornwall, as a result of Liberal Democrat efforts, it must be said, with the co-operation of the Government, we are now able to regenerate some of our industries.
My hon. Friend the Member for Teignbridge (Richard Younger-Ross) made an extremely important point about the increasing extent to which we have become a litigious society. He referred specifically to one area, but the argument applies to several areas. As other hon. Members have no doubt observed, no accidents ever happen nowit is always somebody's fault. Nobody dies in hospital but something must have gone wrong. I am exaggerating of course, to make the point. I hope that we will find some way to reverse the trend. The insurance companies are very much to blame. They often take the easy way out and pay, rather than challenging the attitude that somebody is always at fault. That is not true.