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Mr. Salmond: Will the Prime Minister give way?

The Prime Minister: The hon. Gentleman is from Scotland; this is about England.

Mr. Salmond rose—

The Prime Minister: I meant, of course, the cod liver oil.

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Mr. Salmond rose—

Mr. Speaker: Order. The Prime Minister is not giving way.

The Prime Minister: I shall give way in a moment. It was the cod liver oil, of course, to which I was referring.

There is an alternative, of course, from the Conservatives as well.

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."]

Mr. Speaker: Order. I think that it was a slip of the tongue by the Prime Minister.

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.

Mr. Salmond rose—

Mr. Speaker: Order. I call again for some calmness, and I tell the hon. Gentleman that the Prime Minister is not giving way.

Mr. Salmond rose—

Mr. Speaker: Order. The Prime Minister is not giving way and that is the end of the matter.

Mr. Salmond: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker: I hope that it is a point of order.

Mr. Salmond: A few moments ago, the whole House heard the Prime Minister indicate that he would give way to me in a few seconds. Is this another broken promise from this man?

Mr. Speaker: That is not a matter for the Chair.

The Prime Minister: There is an alternative from the Conservatives as well—to 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

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south of the border because of the knock-on effects in Scotland. Under those circumstances, how does the Prime Minister justify dragooning Scottish Labour Members of Parliament into the Lobby to vote for top-up fees in England?

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—

Mr. Gordon Prentice (Pendle) (Lab) rose—

Hon. Members: Give way.

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:

The right hon. Gentleman replied:

The interview continues thus. Neil:


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to go there. That would be an interesting conversation. The British Foreign Office: "Hello, are you a very impoverished nation? You've got to be really impoverished. How do you fancy a few thousand British asylum seekers?" A piece of cake. That is not fantasy island but a fantasy policy that shows that the Conservatives have no genuine policy agenda. Moreover, the right hon. Member for West Dorset claims that the Conservative policy would save £1.4 billion. The truth is that we need a new system and we are developing it.

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 fund—that 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.

I want to make it clear that we intend to extend the new deal for the unemployed, not scrap it as the Conservatives want.

Mr. Elfyn Llwyd (Meirionnydd Nant Conwy) (PC): Will the Prime Minister give way?

The Prime Minister: In a moment.

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 unemployment—now that the right hon. and learned Gentleman's party is no longer in charge of this country.

Mr. Llwyd : On the subject of employment rights, will the Prime Minister tell us whether his Government will do away with the iniquitous eight-week strike rule?

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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.

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