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13 Nov 2002 : Column 13—continued

3.5 pm

Mr. Iain Duncan Smith (Chingford and Woodford Green): It gives me great pleasure to congratulate the proposer and seconder of the Loyal Address, but before I do so, I shall pay tribute to Jamie Cann and Sir Ray Powell. Jamie Cann was an independent-minded and much-respected Member of Parliament. He was also an effective member of the Select Committee on Defence, but he will be remembered above all for his commitment to his Ipswich constituents, whose interests he always fought for. I am reminded that when the Ministry of Defence planned to sell a local airbase to the Natural Law party, he warned that it was handing it over to


He was clearly thinking of his experiences in the House. I know that the whole House will join me today in honouring Jamie Cann's memory.

Sir Ray Powell served Ogmore for more than 20 years, and was a fearless champion of the Welsh valleys. He could not exactly be described as a pioneer of new Labour—indeed, he delighted in being a Labour Member of the old school. I am told that, as a Whip after the 1987 election, he magnificently kept Ken

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Livingstone without an office or phone for an entire year. There is not a commuter in London who does not wish that someone could do that today. Ray Powell and Jamie Cann will both be greatly missed.

Let me now turn to the proposer and seconder of the Loyal Address. I congratulate the right hon. Member for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley (Mr. Foulkes) on a most spirited speech—no old codger he, I promise him. I can safely say that no one in the House has ever given as much publicity as him to the cause of the Scotch Whisky Association, on which we highly commend him—Keir Hardie roll over. Asked whether he saw himself as old or new Labour, he endearingly described himself as Xslightly shop-soiled Labour". He has campaigned to ban many things, including smoking and proportional representation—but not drinking—and even once introduced a Bill to ban space invaders. Perhaps he was thinking of the right hon. Member for Hartlepool (Mr. Mandelson), who said recently that he was Xput on earth" to be a Minister. He has returned to his mother ship for the moment—but, I remind the Prime Minister, is ready to come back.

Some unkindly souls regarded the departure of the right hon. Member for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley from the Scotland Office as a demotion, but, like him, I know that he has been promoted to a far more powerful position in new Labour. He is now one of the Prime Minister's special envoys. I warn him that the next step is to become one of the Prime Minister's tennis partners—I am not sure whether he will appreciate that. He has made a long career, both in office and in opposition, of fighting for the cause of the developing world and battling injustice. Today's powerful speech shows that he has lost none of his fighting spirit, and I genuinely congratulate him on an excellent contribution.

I also warmly congratulate my fellow east Londoner, the hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Ms King). Like many in the House, I knew her predecessor, Lord Shore—a man I admired and was personally fond of—who sadly passed away during the last Session. I know that, as an assiduous constituency Member, as well as a man of great principle, he would be smiling with pride today at her performance. The only surprise for us came when she held up the picture; everybody on the Opposition Benches wondered which colleague's picture she was showing.

I gather that when the hon. Lady was a teenager she said that she wanted to be both Prime Minister and an air hostess. There is consistency in her ambition: air hostesses and the Prime Minister spend their days repeating the same pre-prepared and utterly predictable announcements before jetting off around the world. She knows—perhaps more than most, I understand—that being a close friend of this Prime Minister can be a more hazardous affair than it sounds. She says that she once caught the flu after being kissed by him. Ah, that infectious charm of the Prime Minister!

To avoid any doubts, let me quickly tell the House that the hon. Lady says of her Italian husband:


Now we know why she has campaigned for so long and so hard to change the hours in this place: she wants to get home a bit earlier. I am not sure whether it will help

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her career, but I also understand and I should reveal to the House that even my predecessor in Chingford, Lord Tebbit, has had very warm words to say about her. It might be helpful in the future if she would tell me how she managed to pull that one off.

The hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow has worked tirelessly to combat the evil of drugs at home and the evil of genocide abroad. Her work in the countries around the central African great lakes has brought the region's suffering to the attention of the whole House, and her speech today reminds us all why she is such a powerful champion of every issue that she takes up. I am glad that Neil Kinnock gave her the advice that he did, and I congratulate her warmly on a tremendous speech.

As the hon. Lady knows only too well, the new Session of Parliament will bring not only a new legislative programme but new procedures in the House to govern the scrutiny of it. We will do all that we can to make those reforms work, but we are determined to ensure that they do not result in less effective scrutiny of proposed legislation or an easier ride for the Executive. Many hon. Members in all parts of the House will agree that in recent years and under Governments of both parties the Executive have grown stronger and Parliament weaker, so we will watch the new procedures very carefully indeed.

The coming Session will, I believe, be overshadowed by global events. If anyone ever doubted that 11 September would be more than a horrendous but isolated event, the devastating bombing in Bali showed that international terror can strike any time, anywhere. As the daily alerts remind us, Britain is a prime target. This is the most critical issue facing our nation. The Government know that from the outset, from the Conservative party at least, they have received the fullest support and will continue to do so.

International terror takes many forms, which is why we strongly backed the American and British drive to get a toughly worded Security Council resolution on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. We are immensely pleased that the resolution has now been passed. Saddam has run out of places to hide. He faces a simple choice: accept the will of the international community, or have that will imposed upon him.

Terror at home and abroad is never easy to fight in a democratic society. We all want our security, but we want our freedom too; it is the job of the Opposition to make sure that the Government strike the right balance between the two. In that spirit, we welcome the emergency planning Bill. It is clearly both timely and sensible to examine our ability to cope with a major terrorist attack. We will examine the detail of the Bill when it is published. We will support measures to help the security services, but we will oppose vigorously any new powers to arrest and deport British citizens for activities that are not crimes here in the United Kingdom.

There are other parts of the Queen's Speech that we can welcome. We will support measures to introduce a single media regulator, provided that it has a very light touch, although we ask this question: why does the BBC appear to be excluded from its remit? We back licensing

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reform, provided that the interests of local residents are properly protected. We support moves to strengthen protection of children. When the Home Secretary introduces the sex offences Bill, he should take on board the suggestions of my right hon. Friend the Member for West Dorset (Mr. Letwin) for strengthening the law on paedophiles.

We are also delighted with one omission from the Queen's Speech—the controversial mental health Bill. Many expert organisations in the field and many hon. Members on both sides of the House have grave reservations about the Government's proposals, so I hope that that omission signals a real change of heart.

We also note that the civil service Bill has not made it into the Queen's Speech. The hon. Member for Cannock Chase (Tony Wright), the Chairman of the Public Administration Committee, said after the Jo Moore affair that


He is right. We need that Bill to restore trust and honesty to our public life.

Mr. Barry Gardiner (Brent, North): While the right hon. Gentleman is talking about omissions, will he clarify whether he agrees with the Government's proposals on antisocial behaviour orders, or with his hon. Friend the Member for Surrey Heath (Mr. Hawkins), who believes that they should be torn up?

Mr. Duncan Smith: The hon. Gentleman will have to wait until I reach that point, but we have heard it all before from the Government and it never seems to work.

With regard to honesty, let us come to the Liberal Democrats. The hon. Member for Montgomeryshire (Lembit Öpik) recently said that his party should not


He went on to say:


But his colleagues, in a document sent round at the same time, said:


It goes on:


That is the Liberal Democrats whom we know and love.

The Prime Minister has said that the Government are


[Interruption.] How the little voices often sound loudest, like empty barrels. We waited for evidence of that in the Queen's Speech, but the truth is that each year they promise bold measures, and each year it is the same old story. They promise real reform but they fail to deliver. The one thing that the Government and the Chancellor are delivering is higher taxes. There has been a rise of more than #100 billion since 1997—#38 per person per week—in taxes on pensions and petrol, mortgages and marriage, cars and congestion, houses, and now higher education. As Digby Jones, director general of the CBI, said this week:

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From next April, national insurance contributions will rise by #8 billion a year—and that from a Prime Minister who, before 1997, said:


Five years on, Britain has overtaken Germany in the high-tax league. We are paying the taxes, but so much is getting worse—so much more.


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