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9 Dec 2002 : Column 127—continued

Mr. Flight: Will the right hon. Lady give way?

Dawn Primarolo: I shall not give way to the hon. Gentleman; this is an Adjournment debate.

The Opposition invent the facts of the case, missing out the inconvenient ones, and then try—unforgivably—to make political capital out of—[Hon. Members: XThat is a disgrace."] If anything is a disgrace, it is the press release issued today in the name of the right hon. and learned Member for Folkestone and Hythe (Mr. Howard) who clearly does not know the facts of the case.

Mr. Howard: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Would you be good enough to confirm, first, that there is no convention of the House that prevents an hon. Member from giving way when replying to an Adjournment debate; and, secondly, that it is the convention of the House to give way when accusations of the kind that the right hon. Lady has just made in respect of another hon. Member are so made?

Mr. Speaker: The hon. Member for Huntingdon (Mr. Djanogly) gave way to the right hon. and learned Member for Folkestone and Hythe (Mr. Howard). That was his privilege. It is the same for the Paymaster General. The right hon. and learned Gentleman will know that in an Adjournment debate there is an allocated time for the hon. Member who initiates the debate and for the Minister to reply. The Paymaster General has time to consider—[Interruption.] Order. I am trying to point out to hon. Members that an Adjournment debate held at the end of the day is not similar to a normal debate.

Dawn Primarolo: Opposition Members do not like rebuttal on the Floor of the House; they prefer to make their accusations in press releases that cannot be answered.

The Government take the view that we should constantly and actively seek to support the Thalidomide Trust, including working closely with it to ensure that those who are entitled to a tax refund receive it. We are prepared—

Mr. Djanogly: Will the right hon. Lady give way?

John McDonnell (Hayes and Harlington): Will my right hon. Friend give way?

Dawn Primarolo: I shall give way to the hon. Member for Huntingdon in a moment—[Hon. Members: XWhy?"] It is his Adjournment debate.

We stand ready to work with the trust. The Government are also clear that funding for the national health service and for social services, as well as the remarkable increase in that spending, ensures that we can support all those people, as well those in the Thalidomide Trust in challenging—[Hon. Members: XGive way."] I shall give way to the hon. Gentleman in a moment.

This Adjournment debate should be a rational discussion of how best to support individuals and use the resources available. If Conservative Members look back at what they did in government, they will see that that was the case.

Mr. Djanogly: If it is the intention of the Government to hold a rational debate, will the right hon. Lady confirm that it will not take her two years to respond to the next letter?

Dawn Primarolo: In all modesty, I think that I have done remarkably well in trying to conduct a reasonable debate in the face of outrageous accusations and constant barracking—

The motion having been made after Ten o'clock, and the debate having continued for half an hour, Mr. Speaker adjourned the House without Question put, pursuant to the Standing Order.

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