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Mr. Hain: I accept the points made by hon. Gentleman. Indeed, there are other concerns about the

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matter, which I have discussed with the Speaker and, as a result, have had the conversations that he requested. There is no question in my mind but that the Speaker of the House of Commons is the Speaker, who is known and widely recognised across the world.

Mr. David Drew (Stroud) (Lab/Co-op): Mr. Speaker, I totally concur.

My right hon. Friend will be aware that this week a report was published on mobile phones and other telecommunications equipment, including masts. Does he agree that that is an important report, so it is right and proper that the House should have the opportunity to look at some of the issues arising from it? In particular, does he agree that some of the commitments made by services such as Airwave about monitoring equipment are not always kept? The issue has caused a great deal of alarm among members of the public, who would like us to take it up. Can he therefore find time for such a debate?

Mr. Hain: I shall certainly look at the matter, which the Government agree is important. We already support a £7.4 million mobile telecommunications and health research programme, which is jointly funded by the industry, but my hon. Friend has raised an issue about which there is widespread concern across the country and, indeed, in the House. He has the opportunity, as do other Members, to apply for a debate. Given the concern that exists in the House, it may be possible to hold an early debate.

Mr. John Wilkinson (Ruislip-Northwood) (Con): The Leader of the House will remember that when the Greater London Authority Bill became law, Her Majesty's Government promised that the House would still hold regular debates on London matters. Is he conscious of the fact that that has not occurred? In view of the burgeoning deficit of Transport for London, which will add to the already hefty precept paid by Londoners, it is time that Parliament debated London matters in the House, not Westminster Hall, as a matter of urgency.

Mr. Hain: As the hon. Gentleman knows, the Minister for London regularly answers questions before the House, and the hon. Gentleman has the opportunity to raise all sorts of issues with him and to apply for a debate. Notwithstanding the House's pre-eminent interest in such matters, he will also understand that, because of devolution, another authority is responsible for running such services and implementing policies. Obviously, adjustments have to be made in the way that we prioritise matters, given devolution, but the Minister for London is accountable and responsible to the House, and that will continue.

Mrs. Jackie Lawrence (Preseli Pembrokeshire) (Lab): Before Second Reading of the Higher Education Bill, will my right hon. Friend find time for a debate on the position of the university vice-chancellors? It is particularly important in view of the scathing comments made at a recent all-party group meeting on the position of the Liberals and Conservatives as being risible and beneath contempt.

Mr. Hain: I would certainly welcome such a debate. Obviously, if it is possible to find time for it before the

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higher education debate that I announced for 27 January, we will consider that. I agree with my hon. Friend that it is important that everyone understands that the vice-chancellors—who, I understand, met an all-party group in the Palace of Westminster only this week—regarded, as she says, with total contempt and as risible the Opposition's policies on that matter. I very much welcome the comments of the hon. Member for Wantage (Mr. Jackson), who said:

He said that the Opposition's policies

I hope that the hon. Gentleman's leader will listen to him.

Mr. Nigel Dodds (Belfast, North) (DUP): In the light of the very serious rioting that took place last night inside one of Her Majesty's prisons at Maghaberry in Northern Ireland, the very serious threats to prison officers' security in their own homes and the threat of possible industrial action arising from that, will the Leader of the House arrange for the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland to come urgently before the House to make a statement on those important matters concerning prisons in Northern Ireland, which could affect stability on the streets of Northern Ireland?

Mr. Hain: I understand the importance of that matter, and I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for raising it. Northern Ireland Ministers are talking to the Prison Officers Association about those matters. Obviously, they will want to keep the House informed in the appropriate way, and I am sure that they will want to keep him informed about the outcome.

Richard Burden (Birmingham, Northfield) (Lab): Will my right hon. Friend find an opportunity in the next week for the House to recognise the death of Tom Hurndall, the British photographer who died on Tuesday night, having been in a coma for several months after he had been shot by an Israeli soldier while trying to rescue Palestinian children in the Gaza strip? If there were an opportunity to have such a debate in the House, we could use it, first, to pay tribute to Tom's bravery; secondly, to pay tribute to the dignity and determination that his family have shown during their ordeal over the past few months; thirdly, to ensure that the charges against the soldier who has been arrested for the shooting fit the severity of the crime and to make representations to Israel about that; and, fourthly, to suggest that all the evidence about that case should be made available to Tom's family. Finally, if we are to honour Tom and his memory, may I draw my right hon. Friend's attention to early-day motion 407, regarding Israel's separation wall?

[That this House calls on Israel to cease immediately the building of its Separation Wall deep within Palestinian territory, which, according to the preliminary analysis by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs of maps published by the Israeli Government, will be 687 km long and will leave more than

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274,000 Palestinians living in 122 villages and towns either surrounded by the Wall or trapped between the Wall and Israel's internationally recognised borders, some even requiring permits from Israel to continue living in their own homes; notes that the analysis estimates that a further 400,000 Palestinians living east of the Wall will be separated from their farms, jobs, markets, hospitals and schools, and that the Wall will have "severe humanitarian consequences" for 30 per cent, of the entire Palestinian population of the West Bank; contrasts this with the fact that UN figures reveal that 54 Israeli settlements in the West Bank and 63 per cent, of settlers will be on the side of the wall next to Israel, giving Israel control over the richest agricultural land and the aquifer system which provides much of the West Bank's water resources; further notes that the Wall is made up of concrete, razor wire and electronic fences, trenches, motion sensors, guard towers and security roads, that it costs $4.7 million per kilometre and that it violates articles 53 and 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, to which Britain is a high-contracting party, which forbids the destruction of property and confinement of persons by an occupier; welcomes the decision of the International Court of Justice to open hearings into the legal consequences of the construction of the Wall; further notes that, whilst Israel needs security, the Wall does not follow internationally recognised borders; insists that it does not become a de facto border for a future Palestinian state; further notes that only a reinvigorated peace process with full international support will stop the violence on both sides, not an 8 metre high wall; and calls on the British Government to bring all available pressure to bear on Israel to cease building this Wall.]

It would probably have meant more to Tom than anything else if we were to play a role in building bridges between Israelis and Palestinians, rather than allowing them to construct walls.

Mr. Hain: This was an absolutely appalling incident and a stain on the record of the Israeli defence force, and I join my hon. Friend in paying tribute to Tom Hurndall and to the dignity of his family, who have suffered gravely over the past few months. On the question of providing evidence to the family, I am sure that my hon. Friend will welcome the fact that Baroness Symons is writing to the Israeli Foreign Minister with the family's request for information, and we will certainly do all that we can to help in this situation.

Sir George Young (North-West Hampshire) (Con): When will we have the annual debate on the rate support grant settlement? Is the Leader of the House aware of the widespread disbelief in Hampshire and elsewhere that council tax increases can be held to the level expected by the Government? A very large number of hon. Members on both sides of the House will want to take part in that debate, so will he organise adequate time and separate it from the debate about police resources? Those issues are traditionally discussed in the same debate, but this year they deserve separate debates of their own.

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