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Harry Cohen (Leyton and Wanstead): The hon. Member for Strangford (Mrs. Robinson) makes her case. I think that most people would rather have peace through the political process, or even a flawed agreement, rather than killing and no peace. Events in the middle east show what a terrible alternative there might be to the political process. We do not want to return to the bad old days in Northern Ireland.
Before the House rises for the summer recess, I want the House to consider the role of BP in Colombia. I shall quote from an article that appeared in Labour Left Briefing in March about "the latest capitalist misbehaviour". The article reads:
Although that was a voluntary agreement, it stressed that oil and mining companies should assess the risks to human rights of their activities, including the use of private security firms. The Government said that their voluntary principles could produce real benefits on all sides, but they did not produce benefits to those farmers and their families in Colombia, and BP ignored them anyway, yet the Government are still not critical.
What about the court case that the Government put their trust in? Well, it is unbalancedpeasant farmers against one of the richest multinational companies in the world. The lives of those 300 farmers and their families have been devastated. Violence was used to get them out. Colombia is a violent country, as we know, and the fear must have exceeded the injustice that those people must have feltit must have been enormous.
Let me add that the article in Labour Left Briefing also states:
I shall give another example. I wrote to the Parliamentary Secretaryhe was then at the Foreign Officeand I sent him a copy of the 8 March 2002
Globalisation is supposed to be about free and fairer trade, but if that includes oil companies bullying peasant farmers, such as those in Colombia or Sudan, public acquiescence in globalisation will be very severely damaged, and the Government should take that on board.
Those BP executives have shamed Britain by their actions in Colombia, and the Government are wrong to handle the issue with kid gloves and to turn a blind eye to such human rights abuses.
The so-called free press in this country is not doing its job either. The media have not properly reported what happened in Colombia. They should bring those executives to account and force them to apologise. Every now and then we see Japanese executives apologising on television when they have done something appallingly wrong and shamed Japan. They are forced to apologise publicly, and BP executives should be forced to do the same concerning their displacement of farmers in Colombia.
Anji Hunter, the Prime Minister's personal assistant, who went on to work in public relations for BP, is an honourable, decent woman, and she should not have to apologise for BP's shabby treatment of those farmers. Those executives have brought Britain into disrepute; they should apologise, and the Government should take a stronger stance on such human rights abuses.
Mr. Peter Viggers (Gosport): The House will not be surprised to hear that I wish to raise an issue that I have raised before in the Housethe future of the Royal Hospital, Haslar. I had hoped to spare the House this speech because after a massive demonstrationa rally and march of 22,000 people, parliamentary petitions and enormous public support in south Hampshireit looked as though we were moving in the right direction.
After extensive consultation by the health authority, we won as a concession an accident treatment centre at the Royal Hospital to be manned 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. After the hospital was moved to the clinical management of the NHS on 1 April 2001, it looked as though plans were set for the future. Indeed, Haslar was one of the first hospitals in the country to be designated a diagnostic and treatment centre.
For the few colleagues who have not heard me speak on this subject before, I should give the background. The Royal Hospital, Haslar is the only military hospital in the United Kingdom, which is why it was necessary, after the decision in December 1998, for the Ministry of Defence to close it so that it could be moved to civilian control in 2001. It looked as though I might be able to save the House this speech. It looked as though we were set fair for progress because, after all, no Government would spend millions of pounds building up a hospital as a diagnostic and treatment centre only to close it in 2007, but I find, to my disbelief, that that is the current policy.
The new chief executive of the hospital's trust, Alan Bedford, whom I do not criticise personally, has said that he is considering the possible closure of the accident and treatment centre at night because the number of patients does not justify its being open. The hospital was apparently rather slow to apply for support from foreign doctors, nurses and paramedical staff to run the centre.
My response is that if that well-equipped centre is not being used widely, as we hoped it would be, surely it is up to the trust and those in the NHS who are responsible to advertise its facilities more widely, to instruct ambulance crews to take more patients there and to encourage local doctors to make their patients aware of it. The centre exists, and the fact that it is not being used is the fault not of patients who go elsewhere but of those who fail to advertise it properly.
It looked as though Haslar's future was good, with the clinical management under the control of the NHS, which meant that the defence medical services were able to use the facilities.
Colleagues present this evening know the importance to the armed forces of defence medical services. The fact is that in key facultiesgeneral surgery, orthopaedic surgery, general medicine and anaestheticsdefence medical services are approximately two thirds, or even three quarters, short of the specialists they need. I believe that we have 26 anaesthetists rather than the 121 we need. That defence medical services can be improved by closing the only military hospital and instead opening facilities in Birmingham that are not much loved by defence medical services personnel beggars belief.
I felt that we were on the right course. If anyone thinks that I am angry about what has happened, they are wrong: I am very angry that the Government are continuing on their course. The accident treatment centre is under threat and it is planned to build up the diagnostic and treatment centre as a production line for orthopaedic and other surgery until 2007, and then to close it. How can a Government contemplate closing a hospital that has nine operating theatres, state of the art out-patient facilities, excellent telecommunications facilities, and high- technology imaging facilities, when the whole of the area in which it is situated knows that it is desperately needed?