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Rev. Martin Smyth (Belfast, South) (UUP): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. You may not have heard it, but the Prime Minister said that this was about England, not Scotland. I understood that the Queen's Speech dealt with the United Kingdom. [Hon. Members: "Hear, hear."]
The Prime Minister: I was actually referring to cod liver oil, but I am very happy to pass on the comments that have been made to the Lib Dems; no doubt they will seek to make it compulsory in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales also.
The Prime Minister: There is an alternative from the Conservatives as wellto abolish fees now. That is a £430 million cut from university funds, which would mean 100,000 fewer students at university. A further £740 million would be denied through the scrapping of variable fees. In total, there would be a quarter of a million fewer places at university. That is the real alternative posed by the Conservatives. It is hard to think, even from them, of a more reactionary, regressive and muddle-headed policy.
Mr. Salmond: Everything comes to he who waits. As the Prime Minister knows, every party in the Scottish Parliament, including the Labour party, opposes top-up fees, so they will not happen in Scotland. The Prime Minister should also know that almost every higher education institution in Scotland opposes top-up fees
The Prime Minister: Under devolution, Scotland is perfectly entitled to have its point of view. However, I shall tell the hon. Gentleman why I believe that all United Kingdom Members of Parliament should have a vote in the UK Parliament: it is the nature of the United Kingdom. It does not surprise me that he does not understand that.
The Queen's Speech also contains measures to continue the fight against antisocial behaviour and improve our criminal justice system. From February next year, there will be sweeping new powers for the police and others
The Prime Minister: In a moment. The police will have sweeping new powers to shut down drug houses, close pubs that are causing a nuisance and introduce on-the-spot fines for antisocial behaviour, including fining the parents of youngsters who engage in antisocial behaviour.
The Queen's Speech adds measures to license private landlords where persistent antisocial behaviour occurs and outlines new measures to tackle domestic violence, provide more support for victims of crime and establish a supreme court of justice.
The Queen's Speech signals yet more measures to curb the abuse of asylum. The problem is not confined to the UK, and we welcome the contribution that lawful migration makes to Britain. The proposed legislation will build on the previous Act, which cut asylum applications by more than half in one year. It will strip out the multiple tiers of appeal, make a presumption against asylum seekers who have destroyed documentation and extend the categories of those who will be subject to non-suspensive appeals and therefore fast-tracked. I am confident that it will continue to bear down on the problem. At least it is a serious proposal.
Now that we know from the right hon. and learned Member for Folkestone and Hythe that the Conservative party opposes our policy, what is the Conservative proposal? The right hon. Member for West Dorset (Mr. Letwin), who is now shadow Chancellor but was shadow Home Secretary a few weeks ago, gave an explanation. It is worth telling the House about it. A few weeks ago, he was interviewed by Andrew Neil, who asked:
"Is it the Cayman Islands, could it be Bermuda, how about the Pitcairns, how about the Isle of Wight?"
We also need to confront the future challenge of a viable biometric identity card. Legislation will allow us to develop such a system while keeping the final options open until cost and technology issues are bottomed out.
The Queen's Speech includes essential reforms to promote a fairer society. The child trust fund will give each child a nest egg to which parents, families and friends can contribute tax free. It will help those from poorest backgrounds most. A children's commissioner will look after children's interests. A pension protection fund will help to guarantee against the collapse of a pension fundthat reform is long overdue. New employment rights will protect people at work and give them greater consultation rights. There will be recognition of the commitment that same-sex couples can give each other through civil partnership registration.
Just a few weeks ago, the right hon. and learned Member for Folkestone and Hythe described the new deal as an expensive failure. Eight hundred thousand people have been helped by the new deal. No wonder the right hon. and learned Gentleman thinks it does not work, for he is the man who told us that the minimum wage would cost a million jobs. He is the person who said that the social chapter would cost a million jobs. Since then we have seen an increase in employment and a reduction in unemploymentnow that the right hon. and learned Gentleman's party is no longer in charge of this country.
The Prime Minister: The hon. Gentleman will have to wait for the details of the Bill, but no, we will not do away with it altogether. It is important for us to keep our labour laws and labour markets flexible, and also to ensure that when we make changes to employment rights we do not prevent companies from operating effectively.