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Q4. [197158] Norman Baker (Lewes) (LD) : When he last visited the Lewes constituency.

The Prime Minister: Regrettably, I have been unable to do so. It says here in brackets that, if necessary, I hope to visit the hon. Gentleman's constituency at some point in the future.

Norman Baker: I very much hope that the Prime Minister will do so because my constituents have many things to say to him—some even complimentary.

Will the Prime Minister raise the issue of climate change when he reports for duty in Washington tomorrow? Given the importance that he attaches to the issue and the fact that President Bush has been the main obstacle to international progress on climate change, are we to conclude that he has not been raising the matter with President Bush, or have his concerns been contemptuously swept away in this one-way street of a special relationship?

The Prime Minister: The difference between us and the American Administration on climate change is well known, although it is not only a difference with this particular Administration—I think I am right in saying that the Senate vote against the Kyoto protocol was something like 100 to nothing. The difference is clear and well documented. However, I must tell the hon. Gentleman and other Liberal Democrat Members who cavil at our relationship with the United States that none of the issues—not climate change, not the Palestinian peace process, not the changes we want to see in the world—will be addressed without the engagement of the United States of America. We should be proud of our relationship with it.

Mr. Liam Byrne (Birmingham, Hodge Hill) (Lab): The Prime Minister will be aware that the Palestinian nation today faces hours of maximum uncertainty. What will he do in Washington to help to focus the American President on delivering a prosperous, stable, two-state solution in the middle east?
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The Prime Minister: As I set out last week, I will obviously stress again the importance of the middle east peace process. As I think that I said in the statement straight after President Bush's re-election, that, together with democracy in Afghanistan and Iraq, is the single most important thing that we can do.


Q5. [197159] Simon Hughes (Southwark, North and Bermondsey) (LD): The Prime Minister often, and rightly, stresses the importance of giving choice to people in their use of public services. Why then does he not accept Labour party policy and the views of thousands of people among the 2.5 million council tenants in England, including nearly 50,000 in my borough, who want to remain as council tenants yet still have the same right to investment in decent homes as people whose homes are transferred to other management, private finance, or alternative management systems?

The Prime Minister: Surely the whole point is giving people the ability to transfer if they want to. When they transfer, as many have done, many find that there is an improvement, but in the end the decision to do so is their choice.

Mr. John MacDougall (Central Fife) (Lab): I join my right hon. Friend in his comments regarding all the troops out in Iraq and thank him for them. May I pay a personal tribute to a local lad who was a brave young Scot serving in the Black Watch? He paid the ultimate price; he lost his life for being a brave young solider. I hope that the Prime Minister will join me in paying respects to Private McArdle's family today. Does he believe that there is a wider agenda? Although all the concentration is understandably on Iraq at the moment, the road map is vital to stabilise the middle east.

The Prime Minister: I agree with my hon. Friend, but first I want to express my condolences publicly to the family of Private McArdle and to the families of others who have lost their lives in recent days and during the time of our action in Iraq.

My hon. Friend is right. The road map and the middle east peace process are an important part of the battle in which we are engaged. It is increasingly obvious that we face a global movement of a new type of terrorism. Many of those people fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq are part of the same network that has caused atrocities all over the world. The important way to fight it is, of course, by security means, as we have done in Afghanistan and Iraq, but also by removing the cause of so much discontent and the sense of injustice by ensuring that we make progress on the middle east peace process and on resolving the Palestinian issue. If we can combine the measures on security with those measures that let us understand some of the sense of injustice that there is in the world, we have a better chance of defeating this terrorism and defeating it finally.
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Q6. [197160] Mr. Simon Burns (West Chelmsford) (Con): Will the Prime Minister reflect on the genuine anger in Chelmsford at the 14,000 extra houses that are being imposed on us? Will he tell me and my constituents why democratically elected borough councillors cannot take that decision, given that they know the area and its needs better than central Government?

The Prime Minister: Surely the issue is that we have to expand housing provision in the south. We know that. We are trying, as other Governments before us have done, to find a way to do that that preserves the green belt, by building primarily on brownfield sites, to provide the homes that people in the south need to live in. If we do not provide those homes, we face rising house prices and many people find it difficult to get a home in the south. Of course people do not like particular developments in their own area, but if we are not able to do this on a proper and planned basis, we will not be able to provide the homes that people need in the hon. Gentleman's constituency and elsewhere.

Chris McCafferty (Calder Valley) (Lab): My right hon. Friend will be aware that the Duke of Wellington's Regiment was recently deployed to Iraq for a second tour of duty in 14 months. Is he also aware that the regiment faces the indiscriminate chop by the Army review board while fighting in a conflict? Will he take a personal interest in the future of the Dukes, which is one of the Army's oldest and best recruited regiments?

The Prime Minister: I certainly will. My hon. Friend's question underlines the importance of ensuring that decisions are taken together and can be justified in all parts of the country. We are well aware of the huge attachment that people have to particular regiments. We have to ensure that that is married with the necessary efficiency of the Army in today's world. That is what the Army chiefs of staff want to do.

Q7. [197161] Tom Brake (Carshalton and Wallington) (LD): The Prime Minister will have heard reports earlier today that refugees in camps in Darfur have been attacked by the Sudanese police. I am meeting the Sudanese ambassador in half an hour. Is there a message that I can convey to the ambassador from the Prime Minister?

The Prime Minister: Sudan does have to honour its commitments. If it does not, it needs to be well aware that there will be a serious response from the international community. Time is running out, frankly, for it to honour those commitments. The commitments were given to me, the United Nations and others. They are vital. If they are not honoured, Sudan has to understand that there will be a serious response from the international community. I very much hope that in the weeks to come it will recognise that both the advent of the African Union peacekeepers and the fact that the issue will be very much in the minds of the international community—even with everything else going on—mean that it has to come into line with the obligations it has entered into.

Q8. [197162] Mr. Brian H. Donohoe (Cunninghame, South) (Lab): My right hon. Friend will know about the
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Lyons review as part of his role as Minister for the Civil Service. Does he understand that it excludes my constituency and, indeed, the whole of Ayrshire? Will he correct that anomaly?

The Prime Minister: I have just been informed that that is not correct, so I am not sure that I have to correct
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the anomaly, but I will certainly look into the matter for my hon. Friend. The important point to make to him is that the relocation programme, presented in the Lyons review and taken forward in the 2004 spending review, will provide real opportunities for sustained job relocation inside the United Kingdom, and I am sure that that will be applied to his constituency as well.

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