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Street Crime Initiative (North-East Derbyshire)

22. Mr. Harry Barnes (North-East Derbyshire) (Lab): If she will make a statement on the impact of the Crown Prosecution Service's role in the street crime initiative in North-East Derbyshire. [141778]

The Solicitor-General: The impact of the street crime initiative has been to cut street crime and to bring more street crime cases to court. It has also had a good effect

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in the police and the CPS working even more closely together and in the CPS doing more to help victims of crime make statements and give evidence in court.

Mr. Barnes : I welcome that response, but the question was about the street crime initiative in North-East Derbyshire. My understanding is that although it is working well within the larger conurbations, there are problems in areas such as mine. There may be a link through the displacement of crime from the neighbouring conurbation of Sheffield, which may be affecting us, and social problems arising from the decline of the manufacturing industries.

The Solicitor-General: My hon. Friend makes an important point. Street crime is obviously not just a problem in the big cities—the so-called street crime hotspots—it is of concern in all areas, including North-East Derbyshire. It is important for the police, the crown prosecutors, the local council and community groups to work with him as the Member of Parliament for the area to ensure that everyone is doing what they can to tackle street crime. Sometimes it might be categorised as minor crime, but it can make people fearful and it is important to bear down on it.

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Business of the House

12.31 pm

Mr. Oliver Heald (North-East Hertfordshire): Will the Leader of the House please give us the business for next week?

The Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. Peter Hain): The business for next week will be as follows:

Monday 8 December—Remaining stages of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Bill.

Tuesday 9 December—Conclusion of remaining stages of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Bill, followed by a debate on fisheries on a motion for the Adjournment of the House.

Wednesday 10 December—A debate on European Affairs on a motion for the Adjournment of the House.

Thursday 11 December—Estimates [1st Allotted Day]. There will be a debate on child care for working parents, followed by a debate on people, pensions and post offices. Details will be given in the Official Report.

At 6 pm the House will be asked to agree all outstanding estimates.

The provisional business for the following week will be:

Monday 15 December—Proceedings on the Consolidated Fund Bill, followed by Second Reading on the Child Trust Fund Bill.

Tuesday 16 December—Remaining stages of the European Parliamentary and Local Elections (Pilots) Bill.

Wednesday 17 December—Second Reading of the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants, etc.) Bill.

Thursday 18 December—Motion on the Christmas recess Adjournment.

The House may wish to be reminded that we will rise for the Christmas recess at the end of business on Thursday 18 December and return on Monday 5 January.

I should also like to inform the House that the business in Westminster Hall next week will be:

Thursday 11 December—Debate on accelerating the United Kingdom response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Details of the business announced today are now available on my office website:, which goes online today. For the convenience of Members and following representations I have today placed a complete list of all the Bills and draft Bills that have been introduced or announced for this Session in the Library. As has always been the case, other measures will be brought forward as the Session progresses.

[The list of estimates to be agreed are as follows: vote on account for House of Commons 2004–05 (HC17), vote on account for National Audit Office 2004–05 (HC18), vote on account for Electoral Commission 2004–05 (HC19), vote on account 2004–05 (HC16), winter supplementary estimates and new estimates 2003–04 (HC15).

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All stages of the Consolidated Fund Bill will also be considered in due course.]

Mr. Heald: We will study that list with great interest.

Has the Leader of the House had the opportunity to read the Audit Commission report into why increases in council tax average 13 per cent.? Despite Ministers' attempts to deflect criticisms of the increases, which pushed band D rates in some places over £1,000 for the first time, the report concludes that town halls that received bigger Government increases had smaller council tax rises and those with smaller grant increases had higher council tax rises. It also states that Government grant—[Interruption]—hon. Members should listen to this—was

The report highlights the geographical shift in resources that the Government have deliberately imposed. Since the report clearly demonstrates that everything that we have been saying about the Deputy Prime Minister's manipulation of council tax is true, may we have a debate in Government time on that vital report?

On Monday and Tuesday, the House will debate the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Bill. It is a matter of great concern that such a large number of amendments have been tabled by the Government to introduce a fixed tariff payment system for planning gains, despite the fact that the Government are currently consulting on that very issue and that the consultation does not end until 8 January. Yet we are supposed to debate the Bill and table amendments by this evening. [Interruption.] Apart from the discourtesy, about which the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) is not too worried, surely such a consultation should run its course before the crucial decisions are reached. It reminds me of something: the big conversation, where, as we know, not much listening is involved at all.

On the Hutton inquiry, does the Leader of the House expect the report to be published in the week commencing 12 January? Will he say a little more than he did on 16 October—either now, or next week—about the Government's intentions? Does he expect the report to be received by the Government and those who have taken part in the inquiry at the same time? Does he agree that Opposition parties should receive the report at the same time, and will he make representations to that effect? How much time does he expect to elapse between receipt of the report and the Prime Minister making a statement in the House? Can he confirm whether there will be sufficient time for hon. Members on both sides of the House to consider the report—at least a week—before a full debate and whether the Prime Minister will lead for the Government in the debate as well as the statement?

Finally, on a different matter of which I have given the Leader of the House notice, hon. Members on both sides of the House are concerned about the airports capacity White Paper. Obviously, we know that there will be a statement about it before Christmas, but will he tell us what the date of the statement will be?

Mr. Hain: I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman has been advising the House authorities, but the annunciator was saying that business questions were to start at 12.30 am.

On the council tax, the truth is that we inherited a policy from the Conservative party on council tax arrangements, and we have been making it fairer. Is it

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not significant that the biggest increase is, I think, in a Conservative flagship council, Wandsworth, which has had a 57 per cent. increase? The truth is that, as the Audit Commission made perfectly clear, we need to get the balance right in ensuring that council tax payments are fair and that the Government contribution is delivered to local authorities and then passported on to local services in a way that results in fair contributions by local residents, rather than unfair ones, and eliminates any inefficiency in the distribution system.

The Planning and Compulsory Purchase Bill, as the hon. Gentleman understands, is designed to speed up the planning process and free up opportunities for enterprise and business to regenerate local communities, especially in deprived areas, which will, in addition, increase flexibility in the economy and help to boost prosperity.

On the big conversation—[Interruption.] Conservative Members scoff, but I was with the Prime Minister in south Wales, where we launched the big conservation on Friday last week. Contrary to the Conservative Front-Bench team's stance as an attack machine, with a series of dodgy policies that have not been thought through—we shall come back to that—we believe that the big challenges, whether we are dealing with local crime and antisocial behaviour, which we were discussing in Newport on Friday, or with the big challenges for decades ahead, are best resolved by getting the whole public into a conversation about how Britain should confront them and how people feel the future should go.

On the Hutton inquiry, I made clear in the statement that I made on 16 October what the procedure would be. The Government commissioned the Hutton report and set up the inquiry, and we will ensure that Parliament has a proper opportunity to debate the outcome, as I said on 16 October. The Cabinet will consider it in the appropriate fashion and the Prime Minister will, of course, want to be accountable to the House, as I also made clear on 16 October.

The airports issue is important, and I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for raising it and for giving me advance notice. I can help him only by confirming that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport will make a statement as soon as he can to bring the White Paper forward. He will report on it to the House in the proper way, and the House will have an opportunity to consider it.

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