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Before my right hon. Friend moves on, I should like to draw his attention to a statement at the end of paragraph 17:
"The public sector is generally exempt from the 1969 Act."
We are being told that the legislation would hit the private sector, but not the public sector.
I hope that that is not true. Again, we might hope for clarification from the promoter or the Minister in that regard. It would be very odd if it were true, given that the Government seem hellbent on renationalising large sectors of our economy, which presumably means that the public sector will expand into some of the very areas in respect of which we should be most concerned about health and safety. That is another lacuna that requires explanation.
I shall not dwell on that point, however, because I am very eager to get on to some other aspects of the explanatory notes that have caught my eye. Paragraph 18 states:
"The Bill will have no significant manpower implications for the Health and Safety Executive".
Why not? If the provisions are going to make everything more effective, might not more people be needed? [Interruption.]
We are all welcoming the hon. Member for Dismore back into the Chamber[Laughter.]
I apologise, I meant to say Hendon. Perhaps the hon. Member for Hendon is going to bully his hon. Friend the Member for Scarborough and Whitby yet again, as he is sitting rather threateningly behind him. I hope that he will not try to prevent his hon. Friend from making a winding-up speech. When the time comes for the winding-up speeches, after my hon. Friends and the Minister have spoken, and when I have completed my remarks, we may see whether the hon. Member for Hendon is able to prevent his hon. Friend from winding up the debate. I hope that he does not do so.
My right hon. Friend read out to the House only part of paragraph 18. He told us that the Bill would have no significant manpower implications for the Health and Safety Executive, but I am sure that he was about to point out that it will also have no significant manpower implications for the criminal justice system. How is that compatible with paragraph 8, which advises us that
"At present, imprisonment is an option only in certain cases. The Bill will make imprisonment available for most health and safety offences."
Is not there a problem of the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing?
My hon. Friend is rightly famed for his ability to think of many things at once. I can think of
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only one at once. I therefore had to consider the paragraphs seriatim rather than at the same time. I was talking about the Health and Safety Executive; I shall briefly comment on the criminal justice system later.
Throughout the explanatory notes, the arguments appear to be "on the one hand, on the other hand." For example, the Bill provides for more fines, but they probably will not be collected. Under the measure, not many more people will go to prison, yet it is supposed to be a deterrent. We are told that although a significant improvement in health and safety will ensue, not many more people will work for the HSE.
It has been admitted that additional cases are expected in the higher courts. That means delays in other cases in the higher courts. That is another unintended consequence of the Bill. Neither the promoter nor the Minister foresaw it.
We have finished the starters, so let us get on to the main course. Paragraph 19 of the explanatory notes states:
"The Bill will not impose new requirements on business."
That is unbelievable. If there is any hope of the Bill making a material improvement in health and safety in the workplace, how can it not impose new requirements on business? The statement is ridiculous and frankly untrue. Paragraph 19 continues:
"A Regulatory Impact Assessment is not, therefore, required."
How do people know that the measure will not impose new requirements if they have not attempted to make an impact assessment?
The more I read the explanatory notes, the more I believe that we should know the identity of the author. Is it the Minister? When he winds up the debate, I hope that he will admit authorship. I hope that the promoter does not want to claim authorship, given the inconsistencies.
The statement in paragraph 19 that the Bill will not impose new requirements cannot be true. The annexe to the explanatory notes sets out matters that may be subject to fines and so on. They include a
"duty not to interfere with or misuse things provided for health and safety."
Those who have such a duty will have to put in place procedures and possibly additional manpower to ensure that they can adhere properly to such requirements or go to prison. Another item in the annexe reads:
"Contravening any requirement imposed by an inspector under section 20 (eg. to give information . . . or to leave premises undisturbed after an incident)".
The requirements are proper. It is implied that if they are not being fulfilled now, the new regime of fines and potential imprisonment will mean that people adhere to them more closely in future. How can that be done without additional burdens on business? My hon. Friend the Member for North-West Norfolk (Mr. Bellingham) rightly drew attention to that.
The specialist contractor in the Deputy Prime Minister's constituency whose insurance premium is going through the roof will have to appoint expensive consultants to advise him on the Bill. It will probably result in a thick wad of paper that requires many ticks in many boxes. That will surely have a
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regulatory impact. I am at a loss to understand why the explanatory notes state that no regulatory impact assessment is required. That makes no sense.
If my hon. Friend, whose expertise in such matters is legendary, cannot understand it, then what hope have I of understanding it? That is my difficulty.
I want to break off from my brief and superficial analysis of that part of the Bill and get stuck into the second part. We all know that the health and safety aspect is vital, as the promoter so eloquently set out
Mr. Deputy Speaker:
It being half-past Two o'clock, the debate stood adjourned.
Debate to be resumed on Friday 7 February.
Remaining Private Members' Bills
CROWN EMPLOYMENT (NATIONALITY) BILL
Order for Second Reading read.
Second Reading deferred till Friday 7 February.
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Anti-Semitism (Arab World)
Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.[Joan Ryan.]
Mrs. Louise Ellman (Liverpool, Riverside):
I issue a wake-up call to those who ignore the growth of pernicious anti-Semitism in the Arab world. In doing so, I wish to expose a case of double standards.
The tragic Israeli-Palestinian conflict does not justify mainstream Arab media and politicians merging long-standing religious pseudo-scientific and political anti-Semitism with demonic images of what they call the "Zionist entity." That is then transferred to Jews as a whole, wherever they may be. Zionism is the national self-determination of the Jewish people in the state of Israel. It encompasses a wide range of religious and political perspectives. Criticising the Israeli Government is not intrinsically anti-Semitic. I deplore the occupation. I have long supported the need for a Palestinian state alongside Israel. I despair at this week's victory for Ariel Sharon and the defeat of Amram Mitzna. But when Arab media demonise Israel and Jews in the language of the Third Reich, alarm bells ring. They ring particularly when Arab official spokespersons either repeat those utterances or clearly support what is said in state-sponsored media.
Holocaust denial is officially promoted in many Arab countries and communities. Seif Ali al-Jarwan, writing in the Palestinian newspaper Al Hajar Al-Jadeeda in 1998, is one example of that. The article mocked pictures of Jews pushed into the gas chambers as
"a malicious fabrication 'by Shylock-like' greedy, cunning, evil and despised Jews".
In April 2002, Al Akhbar
, the Egyptian Government-controlled and supported daily newspaper, called the holocaust
"a huge Israeli plot aimed at extorting the German government and European countries."
"Mein Kampf" and the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" are near the top of the bestsellers list in Cairo, Beirut, Damascas, Gaza and Ramallah. As part of its 2002 Ramadan celebration, Egyptian television has just shown the 40-part epic "Horseman without a Horse", based on the infamous forgery the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion", proclaiming a Jewish plot to take over the world as if it were historical fact.
Blood libels are regularly repeated. An article in Al Akhbar last year announced that the Jewish
"Talmud determines that the matzos of atonement must be kneaded with blood from non Jews, the preference is for the blood of youths after raping them."
The Saudi Government daily, Al Riyadh,
published another article in March 2002, in which Dr. Umayma Ahmed al-Jalahma stated:
"the Jews spilling human blood to prepare pastry for their holidays is a well established fact, historically and legally, all throughout history. This was one of the main reasons for the persecution and exile that were their lot in Europe and Asia".
However, these statements are not confined to the Arab media, or even to the media supported by the Governments of the countries concerned; they are also
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made by Ministers and people in senior positions in those countries. For example, in his book "Matza of Zion", the Syrian defence Minister Mustafa Tias says:
"The Jew can kill you and take your blood in order to make your Zionist bread."
The same Minister told a visiting delegation from the Royal College of Defence Studies last October that Israel was responsible for the attack on the twin towers in New Yorka view that is widespread in the Arab and Muslim world.
Blatant theological anti-Semitism was clearly alive when no less than the current President of Syria, Bashar al Asad, welcomed Pope John Paul II to Damascus in May 2001 with these chilling words:
the Israelis and Jews
"try to kill all the principles of divine faiths with the same mentality of betraying Jesus and torturing Him in the same way they tried to commit treachery against the Prophet Muhammad."
Not to be outdone, the London-based Saudi daily, Al Sharq Al-Awsat,
recently published an article by Yasser Arafat's aide, Bassam Abu Sharif, charging Jews with
"nailing Jesus to the cross."
The examples of theological anti-Semitism are numerous and frightening, and I have merely touched on them in the few references that I am able to make in the time allowed.
Last year, the Iranian Government felt able to reject the appointment of David Reddaway as the new British ambassador on the spurious grounds that he was a spy and a Jew. Despite the fact that the Leader of the House informed me in this House that David Reddaway was an excellent diplomat and a fine candidate for that position, it appears that Iran was able to get away with that actionto dictate to this country who will be our ambassador and to dispense with an excellent diplomaton the spurious ground that he was a spy and a Jew.
From its charter, Hamas teaches Palestinians that Jews control the world's wealth and mass media, that they caused the French and Russian revolutions, and that they formed the League of Nations to rule the world. It preaches to Palestinian children and students that killing Jews is a religious commandment. Indeed, the teaching of hatred towards Jews is rampant in the Palestinian Authority. It is rampant in the schools and it is rampant on the streets.
However, these messages are no longer confined to the Arab world. In Pakistan, journalist Daniel Pearl was filmed having his throat cut as he was forced to declare, "I am a Jew". Shamefully, the 2001 United Nations anti-racism conference in Durban was overshadowed by Arabs and supporters distributing pamphlets that featured Adolf Hitler and the following caption:
"If I had won the war there would be no Palestinian blood lost."
The caption was accompanied by cartoons of hook-nosed Jews. People who were present at that conference told me that the atmosphere was intimidating and frightening, and unacceptable in this century. The venom and intimidation reached such heights that the conference chair, United Nations human rights commissioner Mary Robinson, declared as an act of solidarity, "I am a Jew".
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The echo of these insidious assaults is even reflected in some of the United Kingdom's liberal media. The front cover of the New Statesman of 14 January 2002 depicted a large Jewish star of David impaled on the Union Jack, above the caption, "A Kosher Conspiracy?" I was dismayed, as well as relieved, when the magazine's apology explained that it had not appreciated the Nazi association that such images would invoke.
Why do I bring this matter to the attention of the House of Commons and of the public? Because it produces a poisonous cocktail of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, laced with the venom of Islamicist jihad. That is an inoculation against peace and could fatally damage the prospects for long-term rapprochement between Israelis and Palestinians. It has an impact in the United Kingdom, where the recent report, "Anti-Semitism on the Streets", produced by the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Community Security Trust, shows an increase in racial attacks on Jews as a result of the preaching of hate.
October 2000 was a watershed. In the following 22 months, 78 synagogues were desecrated compared with 22 in a similar period previously. Although the number of racial assaults on individual Jews is still small, it has increased and includes the attempted murder of David Myers in Stamford Hill and attacks on individual Jews in London, Manchester and Birmingham. The activities of al-Muhajiroun, which publicly displays posters in London and Birmingham with the words
"the final hour will not come until the Muslims kill the Jews",
have been credited with inciting further attacks on Jews and Jewish institutions.
The report stated:
"The largest proportion of anti-Semitic activity, however, is abusive behaviour which, more than any other category reflects the general feelings of those who hate Jews, coming as it does from face-to-face encounters and spontaneous acts. Perhaps more than any other trend this reflects the cumulative effects of biased and/or inaccurate media reporting on the Middle East or the promotion of hatred against the Jews that comes from the Middle East and from radical Islamist groups. The change in the direction from which anti-Semitism now comes is therefore a worrying one."
The far right has promulgated anti-Semitism for a long time, and is a known enemy. However, there is a new source of anti-Semitism from the Arab world, which is too much ignored. The report notes that one reason for that growth of poisonous anti-Semitism and hatred in Arab countries, which is being repeated in this country, is the failure of anti-racist groups to condemn what is happening. That is shameful.
When anti-Semitism comes from the political far right, it is almost universally condemned, yet when the same phenomenon occurs in the Arab world, demonising Jews as well as the Jewish state, it is almost ignored. That is a case of double standards. The cancer must be stopped; it is time to speak out.
I ask the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my hon. Friend the Member for Harlow (Mr. Rammell), to acknowledge the importance of these issues and to make strong representations in his bilateral contacts with the countries and Government institutions involved. The phenomenon that I have described is not a fringe activity; it is mainstream and it is deeply damaging to society. The Government should make it clear that the
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demonising of Jews, whatever its source, is not acceptable, whether it is found in countries such as Egypt, Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the Palestinian Authoritythe embryo Palestinian stateor, indeed, on the streets of this country. Nor should the demonisation of any other group be tolerated. I look to our Government to make a stand.