|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
Mr. Harry Barnes (North-East Derbyshire) (Lab): Will my right hon. Friend re-examine the way in which we deal with Northern Ireland business? On Tuesday, during our debate on the Pensions Bill, there was a discussion about the problem of matters having to be dealt with by Order-in-Council rather than being written into the Bill. It is a general problem with Northern Ireland legislation.
Why does the Northern Ireland Grand Committee, which will meet in about an hour, never visit Northern Ireland? The Northern Ireland people might be interested to meet Grand Committee members from the mainland, and convey their interests and concerns as they do to members of the Select Committee on Northern Ireland Affairs.
Mr. Hain: The meeting arrangements for the Northern Ireland Grand Committee are not a matter for me, but my hon. Friend's points have been noted and will also be noted by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.
Mr. David Chaytor (Bury, North) (Lab):
I support the earlier call by the shadow Leader of the House for a debate on the new deal and employment policy. In my constituency, more people are in work than ever before. There is a job for everyone who wants one, and there are more opportunities for the over-50s, disabled people and single parents to return to the labour market. Given that the Tories have expressed concern about the topics
20 May 2004 : Column 1114
of debates taking place during the week beginning 7 June, would it not be appropriate for us to have a debate on the new deal on one of the days leading up to 10 June?
Mr. Hain: I am very tempted to consider that. Many hundreds of thousands of people, including those with disabilities
Mr. Hain: The shadow Leader of the House shakes his head. I repeat that many hundreds of thousands of people, including those with disabilities, lone parents, and youngsters and long-term unemployed peopleincluding some in my constituencywhose prospects were hopeless under the Conservatives are now being given opportunities to upskill and start work. I have met many peopleI am sure that we all have; if we have not, we are not doing our jobs as Members of Parliamentwho have benefited from the new deal, and would be horrified if they realised that the Conservatives planned to abolish it.
David Taylor (North-West Leicestershire) (Lab/ Co-op): I thank the Leader of the House for his announcement about a debate on the aviation White Paper after the recess. Next time we have the opportunity of a full day's debate on a motion for the Adjournment, will he agree that it is about time we discussed public health? As he is one of the best-briefed Cabinet Ministers, it will not have escaped his attention that in recent weeks the Royal College of Nursing, the British Medical Association and the Government's own chief medical officer have called for action to ban smoking in public places, that a Mintel survey showed this week that most British adults were in favour of a ban, and that an Imperial college study showed that hundreds of people die every year in this country from the effects of second-hand tobacco smoke. As chair of the all-party group on smoking and health, may I urge my right hon. Friend to ensure that the Government's programme includes further action on that important area of public health before the end of this Parliament?
I am very sympathetic to my hon. Friend's policy points on smoking. As a non-smoker myself, I am well aware of its impact on the health of smokers, and indeed of the danger of passive smoking. That is why the Secretary of State for Health has embarked on a consultation exercise, and why the issue is being debated up and down the country in the big conversation. The idea is to discuss how policies on smoking can make progress in the future.
20 May 2004 : Column 1113
20 May 2004 : Column 1115
Mr. Michael Connarty (Falkirk, East) (Lab): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. May I apologise to you unreservedly for confusing the role of the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire (Sir Archy Kirkwood)who speaks on behalf of the House of Commons Commissionwith your role as Chairman? My question to the Commission spokesman was not starred for inclusion on the Order Paper. Having spoken to the hon. Gentleman, I am sure he did not intend to mislead me, but assumed that I knew his role. He asked me to write to him, in his capacity as the Commission's representative. I have furnished you with the letter, Mr. Speaker, to which he replied on 28 April.
I hope you will accept my apology, Mr. Speaker, and that the promise of briefings for Members and their staff will be kept so that Members know what to do in times of crisis.
Mr. Speaker: The hon. Gentleman need not apologise. It is just that I have a good memory, and I always remember when I have written to him.
Mr. Oliver Heald (North-East Hertfordshire) (Con): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Given that only 6,000 of the 1 million disabled people who want jobs have been helped in any way by the new deal, is it in order for the Leader of the House to pretend that the Conservatives want to wind down help for the disabled? In fact we want to increase it, rather than wasting money on people who would have had a job anyway.
Mr. Speaker: The hon. Gentleman has some privileges, but they do not include a second go at business questions.
Mr. Andrew Robathan (Blaby) (Con): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In the last hour I have received an extremely unusual and very disturbing e-mail from Zimbabwe. It was sent by Sekai Holland, the former Secretary for International Relations to the Movement for Democratic Change, and states
"The unfolding story is that . . . zanu/pf thugs are being bussed into Harare . . . to then find their way to Parliament where they are saying that they want to kill MP Roy Bennet . . . and then they will bomb the MDC . . . headquarters . . . please pass this to parliamentarians all over the world now."
Is there anything that this Parliament can do to support the remnants of parliamentary democracy that are left in Zimbabwe, or is there any way of sending a message to the Governmentwho have acted well over thisperhaps via the Leader of the House?
Mr. Speaker: As the hon. Gentleman will know, that is not a matter for me, but many Back Benchers on both sides of the House are doing what they can to raise the case of Zimbabwe.
Mr. Alex Salmond (Banff and Buchan) (SNP):
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I have here a printout from the website of the Conservative party, which has launched an attack on me for withdrawing the Fisheries
20 May 2004 : Column 1116
Jurisdiction Bill. That comes as something of a surprise to me. In fact, this excellent Bill is due to be debated further on Friday 16 July instead of tomorrow, which I think would have been inauspicious in terms of its chances of further progress.
Another curious aspect is the fact that the hon. Member for Galloway and Upper Nithsdale (Mr. Duncan), who is named on the website, did not manage to sign early-day motion 937, in which 42 Members on both sides of the House demand parliamentary time for my excellent Bill.
Is there anything you can do, Mr. Speaker, to protect the House from misleading websites that report our proceedingsor, for that matter, from the blundering incompetence of novice Conservative Members who do not read the parliamentary monitor?
Mr. Speaker: The hon. Gentleman has broad shoulders, and I am quite sure that he can take criticism. From time to time, he has had criticism from me, but that was at another time and on another day.
Richard Burden (Birmingham, Northfield) (Lab): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I seek your advice on a point of order of which I have given you notice. As you know, robust debate is in the nature of politics and no one, least of all you, would want to inhibit that. However, I hope that you agree with me that there is an important distinction to be made between matters of argument and the deliberate misreporting outside this place of proceedings within it, including the doctoring of quotes from Hansard and the invention of votes by hon. Members on motions that were never moved.
My point of order, Mr. Speaker, is to say that that is what has been happening in Birmingham, where a Conservative councillor, Peter Douglas Osborn, distributed a leaflet misreporting a Hansard quote from the Minister for E-Commerce, Energy and Postal Services in respect of the Post Office urban reinvention programme. You will also be aware that Councillor Douglas Osborn, together with Liberal Democrat Councillor Holtom, has written to a third party alleging that I voted against a motion that did not exist regarding a post office in my constituency. Those documents follow allegations made by the leader of the Liberal Democrats on the city council in leaflets distributed in my constituency, also alleging that I and other Labour colleagues voted for a number of propositions concerning local post offices that were never put to this House.
May I therefore seek your advice, Mr. Speaker, on what can be done to protect the integrity of the parliamentary record and to safeguard the reputations of hon. Members of all parties against those who seek to falsify them?
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|