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5 Dec 2002 : Column 1047continued
The Minister for Women (Ms Patricia Hewitt): On 28 November, I published the report by the noble Baroness Greenfield, which contains a number of proposals for improving the recruitment and retention of female scientists and engineers. I warmly welcome Baroness Greenfield's report. We will study it carefully, and we will respond in due course.
Dr. Starkey : I too welcome the report by Baroness Greenfield, and I urge other Members to try to get copies of it. May I suggest that, yet again, this report on improving the representation of women in science and engineering has concentrated on women in research, and particularly on women in research in the universities? I suspect that that is because of the availability of data. The scientific work force is much wider than that, and includes all levels of representation in the private and public sector. Will the Minister investigate ways of getting better data on women's representation throughout the scientific work force, and examine ways of improving women's representation throughout it?
Ms Hewitt: I am glad to be able to tell my hon. Friend that I have already commissioned research that will give us a much better understanding of the number and percentage of scientists, engineers and technologists employed right across the private and public sectors. There is an important point behind her question. About 40 per cent. of the men who have science, engineering and technology degrees are employed in related occupations. Only about 25 per cent. of women with similar degrees are so employed, and about 50,000 women with science and relevant degrees are not employed at all. Therefore, a vast pool of talent is out there if only we and business can tap into it.
The House will return after the recess on Tuesday 7 January. I commend to hon. Members the handy pocket calendar produced by the Clerks of the House. [Hon. Members: XHear. Hear."] For the first time, it sets out the dates in full for a parliamentary Session.
Will the right hon. Gentleman please clarify exactly what the mysterious debate on Thursday 12 December will be about? So far, we are in the invidious position of not knowing what it will be about. We know that it will be about DEFRA, so can we have a guarantee that it will, at least, cover such vital issues as flooding, CO2 emissions, domestic waste and the like? Can we have clarification; otherwise it will look like just another case of Xdefracation"?
Yesterday in PMPs[Hon. Members: XWhat?"] Prime Minister's porkies. Yesterday, my hon. Friend the Member for Runnymede and Weybridge (Mr. Hammond) asked the Prime Minister about the drugs tsar and asked specifically:
Mr. Cook: I have a high regard for the right hon. Gentleman. However, given the pun that he inflicted on the House, it will soon be time for him to take his Christmas recessand preferably he will not return with puns that have come out of crackers. Those are the worst ones of all.
I do not see any mystery about next Thursday's motion. I am repeatedly asked by hon. Members on both sides of the House to hold debates on agriculture, the environment and foot and mouth. It is right that we should have a full day's debate on those topics and a full motion will be tabled in good time. I assure the right hon. Gentleman that those Members who wish to raise the subject of foot and mouth, for instance, will be competent to do so under the terms of the motion.
On FIFA, although there appears to be a difference of evidence between those who played in the Iraqi football team, those who have managed to leave Iraq confirm that the incident in the dossier did happen to them, while those who remain in Baghdad continue to insist that the Hussein family is made up of perfect gentlemen, and that they have no complaints. I know which of the two I choose to believe.
Mr. Paul Tyler (North Cornwall): The Leader of the House will be aware of the great deal of public concern about the strange sequences of bungled butlers' cases. He will have noted that the Prime Minister yesterday implied at column 902 that the Crown Prosecution Service is investigating that. Can the Leader of the House arrange for a statement from the appropriate Law Officer on who is conducting the investigation? Is it an internal one or is it objective on either side? What is its remit and the time scale?
The Leader of the House will also be aware that, on suspension, the Northern Ireland Assembly had 28 Bills awaiting consideration. Those are now coming to this House in the form of statutory instruments and are jumbled together in threes. As they are to be considered in a Statutory Instrument Committee Upstairs, they cannot be amended. Is that a satisfactory way to ensure proper scrutiny? In particular, is it not curious that staff
Mr. Cook: On the question of the collapse of the butlers' trials, I have no first-hand personal cultural experience of employing a butler and do not know many people who have. The hon. Gentleman will have heard that the police have provided for an inquiry into their handling of the case. Indeed, I heard Lord Harris discussing that this morning. On the CPS, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said that he expects it to learn the lessons and to do so quickly. Whether it is necessary to have a review to learn those lessons, I would not wish to say, but I hope that the CPS will reflect on the substantial sums of public money that were laid out on both trials. That must perplex many of my hon. Friends whose constituents come to them because they cannot obtain legal aid to assist them in much more important issues.
On the Northern Ireland Bills, let us be realistic. There are enormous demands on the time of the Chamber and the House. I am pleased that by Christmas we will have had Second Readings of 17 Bills in this place and in the second Chamber. That is probably a record in the interval between the Queen's Speech and the Christmas recess and it shows the substantial progress that we are making. Within the limits of the pressure of Bills that it is necessary for us to introduce, we will obviously try to do all that we can in relation to our duties for scrutiny in Northern Ireland. But none of us is pretending that this place can be a satisfactory substitute for the Northern Ireland Assembly. That is why our efforts are focused on doing all that we can to ensure that the Assembly is restored. I hope that those who are in politics in Northern Ireland will assist us in that objective.