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Dr. Brian Iddon (Bolton, South-East) (Lab): The problem is that dangerous people move from one part of the country to another. One such case was the murder of young Ryan Mason in my constituency, who was viciously attacked by a man who then dumped his naked body in a bin bag on Great Lever golf course. The man, who was from another town, had moved in with Ryan's mother. The police already had evidence that he had carried out vicious attacks on two other young children. The police are developing a very powerful database, in which I have taken a great interest, called VISOR—the violent and sex offenders register. I understand that it is being trialled in three parts of the country and is to be rolled out in the new year. In my opinion, had VISOR been running at the time of the attack on Ryan, his life might well have been saved, so can my hon. Friend update us on the stage that it has reached?

Ms Blears: My hon. Friend makes the important point that people nowadays are more geographically mobile than ever and it is therefore important that forces can use the national computer and their regional databases to track information. He mentioned the

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VISOR database, which is being developed. I undertake to write to him to give further details of the way in which the trials are proceeding.

Mr. Geoffrey Clifton-Brown (Cotswold) (Con): Does the Minister agree that the integrity of the Criminal Records Bureau depends on verification of personal details? Following on from the question of the hon. Member for Bolton, South-East (Dr. Iddon), it appears that it is possible to move to different parts of the country, use a different name and evade the checks. A senior police officer in this place suggested to me that instead of—or as well as—using a general credit reference, a specific credit card reference would be more precise and up to date. Will the Minister consider that and ask Sir Michael to look into it?

Ms Blears: I understand that, in the case of enhanced disclosures, the Criminal Records Bureau makes inquiries of the forces that cover the areas where the applicant has lived in the past five years. There is therefore provision in the Criminal Records Bureau process to try to track back to places where people have lived previously. I undertake to examine the hon. Gentleman's specific suggestion and ascertain whether it has merit and whether we could build it into the process.

Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover) (Lab): Does it not beggar belief that, in this day and age, when we have more police than at any other time in history, they allowed this man Huntley to get a job and escape the net for so long? Yet 20 years ago, the police, with fewer numbers but national priorities, were able to arrest 9,000 miners, nearly every single one of whom had a clean record. They were chucked in the clink, yet the police could not get hold of this man, who had been having sex with under-age girls all over Yorkshire and Humberside. It is time they got their priorities right.

Mr. Speaker: Order. I am going to move on.

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Business of the House

1.12 pm

Mr. Oliver Heald (North-East Hertfordshire) (Con): Will the Leader of the House please give us the business for the first week after the Christmas break?

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

Monday 5 January—Second Reading of the Traffic Management Bill.

Tuesday 6 January—Second Reading of the National Insurance Contributions and Statutory Payments Bill.

Wednesday 7 January—Opposition Day [1st allotted day]. There will be a debate on an Opposition motion. Subject to be announced.

Thursday 8 January—Second Reading of the Horserace Betting and Olympic Lottery Bill.

The provisional business for the following week will be:

Monday 12 January—Second Reading of the Housing Bill.

Tuesday 13 January—Opposition Day [2nd allotted day]. There will be a debate on an Opposition motion. Subject to be announced.

Wednesday 14 January—Second Reading of the Employment Relations Bill.

Thursday 15 January—Second Reading of the Human Tissue Bill.

I should also like to inform the House that the business in Westminster Hall for the first two weeks following the Christmas recess will be:

Thursday 8 January—Debate on the report from the Public Administration Committee on ministerial accountability and parliamentary questions.

Thursday 15 January—Debate on the report from the Health Committee on sexual health.

I should like to wish all hon. Members, and especially the staff of the House, a merry Christmas and a happy new year.

Mr. Heald: May I associate myself and my hon. Friends with those remarks? A very merry Christmas to everybody.

Has the Leader of the House seen the important report of the high ranking Privy Councillor Review Committee on the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001? That highly critical report calls for a separate and distinct body of terrorism legislation and demands several parliamentary debates separate from the debate that renews the 2001 Act. Given the gravity of those issues, will the right hon. Gentleman assure me that he will consider the way in which the matter will be handled on the Floor of the House and tell us either now or, perhaps more reasonably, after Christmas?

Does the right hon. Gentleman know of the allegation in the Health Service Journal that pressure was put on civil servants to give the Prime Minister's local hospital a three-star rating and an extra £1 million grant when the other local Member of Parliament, the right hon.

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Member for Darlington (Mr. Milburn), was Secretary of State for Health? Surely an independent inquiry should be held into the allegation that health service ratings were manipulated for political purposes. When can we expect a statement on that?

The Leader of the House announced Second Reading of the Human Tissue Bill. Given the ethical and scientific issues that surround it, and the Government's earlier suggestion that it would be suitable for pre-legislative scrutiny, will the right hon. Gentleman consider whether the measure is appropriate for consideration by a Special Standing Committee, in which evidence could be taken on those important aspects?

The Leader of the House will recall that, on 27 November, I raised the sitting hours. Subsequently, more than 230 hon. Members have signed early-day motion 262.

[That this House notes that the revised sitting hours and related arrangements have now been in place for 12 months; believes that there is now sufficient experience of the new arrangements to enable the House to judge what adjustments would be appropriate to enable the business of the House to be conducted more effectively; and calls for an urgent review of the reforms.]

In the light of that, and given last week's announcement of a questionnaire by the Procedure Committee, will the right hon. Gentleman tell us how he is getting on with setting up a review of the new arrangements?

Will the Leader of House comment on a modernisation measure—an early Christmas present for Conservative Members? Yesterday at Prime Minister's Question Time, the Leader of the Opposition asked the Prime Minister six questions. Of course, he did not get an answer but that did not surprise us. However, the Prime Minister asked my right hon. and learned Friend five questions. Is that not overwhelming evidence of the need for change and the introduction of Leader of the Opposition's Question Time? My right hon. and learned Friend generously said that he would support that and that he might even allow the Prime Minister more than six questions, if the right hon. Gentleman were ever prepared to answer a single question.

Mr. Hain: On the latter point, if the shadow Leader of the House is seriously pressing for a Leader of the Opposition's Question Time, it suggests that the Leader of the Opposition intends to remain in that position for a long time.

Let us consider the more serious points. The Newton committee review was published today and laid before the House with a written ministerial statement from the Home Secretary. We will issue a statement in response to the report and consider the hon. Gentleman's request.

The hon. Gentleman mentioned the former Secretary of State for Health. Let me make the procedural point that it would have been odd for him not to be involved in commenting on and raising queries about the formative stages of a brand new system of evaluation, especially since the Department of Health was responsible for producing the star ratings at the time. There is an important distinction between asking a question and issuing an instruction. The former Secretary of State asked a question, as he did about several hospital trusts that were introducing the system. Consequently, there

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were fluctuations—some ratings went up and others went down. Indeed, he asked a question about the hospital trust in the constituency of the right hon. Member for Maidstone and The Weald (Miss Widdecombe). I am happy to report that the star rating increased there, too.

The hon. Gentleman asked whether there would be special procedures, perhaps pre-legislative scrutiny, for the Human Tissue Bill. I am happy to consider that. He made an interesting suggestion about the Bill's suitability for consideration by a Special Standing Committee so that evidence could be taken. I shall look into the matter and write to him about it.

I noted the 238 names of hon. Members who signed the early-day motion on the hours of the House. I have consulted widely about the new hours. I have seen in my room more than 100 Members of Parliament from the three major parties. In addition, I have talked to individual Members about these matters in the corridors and the Tea Room. I have listened carefully to what everyone has said, and there are a lot of different views. Obviously, there is a large group of people—as illustrated by the early-day motion—who would like the hours to be changed. I very much doubt from the conversations that I have had that a majority would favour going back to the original hours, but there have been suggestions about how the existing hours could be modified and how some of the anomalies and difficulties could be removed. I shall continue to listen, and consider how to take the matter forward.

The Modernisation Committee has ownership of this issue in the sense that it drew up the report that led to the motion that came to the House, which led to the vote to change the hours. The Committee will want to consider at what point it will start the review that was promised in the motion that was carried by the House for the hours to remain as they are for the rest of this Parliament. I shall consult all hon. Members and others about how we take the matter forward.

The hon. Gentleman asked for an early Christmas present for the Opposition, and I should be happy to promise him one right now: I wish them every opportunity to spend many long years in opposition. I have already answered his point on whether there should be a Leader of the Opposition's Question Time.

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