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Mike Gapes (Ilford, South) (Lab/Co-op): My hon. Friend will recall that on 3 November, he responded to the debate on Members' allowances, and that I and other Members expressed concern—as column 332 of the Official Report shows—about the impact of changes to Members' pension provision. Has he had an opportunity, in the light of our comments, to give further consideration to that matter, and can he now give a more adequate response than we got last week?

Mr. Woolas: I thank my hon. Friend for his question, because it enables me to put on record in Hansard the answer that I would have given in the debate, had time been available. He and others have very properly raised
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this issue with my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House and with the chairman of the trustees, the hon. Member for Bournemouth, West (Sir John Butterfill), and I, too, have discussed the matter with the chairman. The trustees and my right hon. Friend are consulting the Government Actuary on a formula that will of course include the preservation of early retirement benefits for those who have not reached 65 by 2009, but who are already 60 and meet current early retirement criteria. On the other side of the coin, my hon. Friend will also be pleased to know that there will be no detrimental loss if a Member goes beyond the age of 65 in those circumstances. I hope that that is the answer he is looking for, and the chairman of the trustees assures me that we can deal with this issue.

Mr. Roy Beggs (East Antrim) (UUP): Will the Deputy Leader of the House make time as soon as possible for a debate on the Paris declaration that was issued after an international conference of jurists on 10 November? We need to consider the legal opinion, expressed by the right hon. Lord Slynn of Hadley and others, concerning the need to recognise the status of the People's Mojahedin Organisation of Iran as a legitimate resistance movement on the basis of international law. Will he also provide the House with an opportunity to distance Her Majesty's Government from the sordid and shameful deal that the European Union proposes to do with the Iranian regime? The Paris declaration states that the following be taken into consideration:

the Iranian resistance group

That is shoddy, and the Deputy Leader of the House should arrange for such a debate, so that we can consider removing from the PMOI the terror tag that legitimises the persecution of innocent members of that country's Opposition by the Iranian regime.

Mr. Woolas: I am of course aware of the strength of feeling on this issue, which has been raised by other Members, and of the petition and campaign to secure the recognition that the hon. Gentleman seeks. He will understand that there is currently no time for such a debate, but I will ensure that my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary is aware of the point that he makes. He will doubtless join the Foreign Secretary in agreeing with the objective of British Government policy, which is to ensure nuclear non-proliferation in Iran.

Kevin Brennan (Cardiff, West) (Lab): May we have a debate on child care so that we can consider the costed policies necessary to help hard-working families, and perhaps pick apart some of the uncosted con tricks that we read about in this morning's papers?

Mr. Woolas: I was amazed to read this morning that the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition is now contemplating more than £5 billion-worth of extra public expenditure. That follows Tuesday's off-the-top-of-his-head press statement, in
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which we discovered that he is contemplating more than £6 billion-worth of tax cuts. He cannot have his cake and eat it.

Mr. Douglas Hogg (Sleaford and North Hykeham) (Con): The hon. Gentleman will know that when the Prime Minister was pressed on the Black Watch during yesterday's Prime Minister's questions, he tried to distance himself and Ministers from the decision taken by saying that these were matters for the Army. Perhaps we could have an early debate on ministerial responsibility, so that we can point out that ultimately, such decisions are made not by soldiers but by Ministers, just as it was Ministers and not soldiers who took us to war in Iraq.

Mr. Woolas: I acknowledge the point that the hon. and learned Gentleman makes. I heard what the Prime Minister said, and I realised that such questions would then arise. If the hon. and learned Gentleman had listened carefully to the Prime Minister, he would know that he said that this is a matter for the Secretary of State for Defence at the end of the process. [Interruption.] He has said that. The point that the Prime Minister rightly made was that decisions on the future of regiments are not taken in isolation from advice from the Army. I hope that that reassures the hon. and learned Gentleman.

John Mann (Bassetlaw) (Lab): Considering that we may have some long and complex debates and votes in the House next week, will the Deputy Leader of the House seize the moment and minimise the possibility of any Member succumbing to the temptation to use performance-enhancing substances by introducing a system of random but compulsory drug testing of Members following the vote?

Mr. Woolas: I am pretty certain that the public health White Paper will not cover that issue, which is a matter for the House, not the Deputy Leader of the House.

Andrew George (St. Ives) (LD): In light of the Deputy Prime Minister's statement on Monday, is the Deputy Leader aware that, after the publication of the draft Regional Assemblies Bill in July, I sought through the usual channels the reconvening of the Standing Committee on Regional Affairs; so far, without success. In view of the momentous issues still to be resolved, will the Deputy Leader reassure me that that Standing Committee will reconvene and that we will have adequate opportunity to explore the significant issues that now arise as a result of the referendum and the Deputy Prime Minister's statement?

Mr. Woolas: The hon. Gentleman makes a reasonable point, which he and other hon. Members have made before. I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House will want seriously to consider that matter on his return, so I thank the hon. Gentleman for the question.
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Jim Sheridan (West Renfrewshire) (Lab): My hon. Friend will be aware of the decision made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to return the value added tax on the new Live Aid single and forthcoming DVD. Will he use his good offices to promote the good work of this charity, particularly in the run-up to Christmas, when people can both buy good music and make a tangible contribution to enhancing the quality of life of people living in developing countries?

Mr. Woolas: I am very happy to do so and I thank my hon. Friend for his question. All people welcomed the Chancellor's announcement, which it is estimated will add £4 million to the Live Aid effort. That is only an estimate; if the record sells more, even more money will be made for the cause. I hope that all hon. Members will join the Chancellor and my hon. Friend in promoting this very worthwhile campaign.

Dr. Julian Lewis (New Forest, East) (Con): May I gently contradict the view of my hon. Friend the Member for South Staffordshire (Sir Patrick Cormack) and say that it is a genuine pleasure to see the Deputy Leader at the Government Dispatch Box? I trust that it will not be too much longer before we see him much more often at the Opposition Dispatch Box.

May I ask the hon. Gentleman for a statement or debate on the issue of the answers given to parliamentary questions? That would enable me to raise the case of the invisible Chancellor; not the one performing in the Chamber a little while ago, whom the Prime Minister wishes were invisible, but the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, who has so far resisted all attempts to establish how he spends his time on Government duties and how much it costs the country to have him separated, as he has been, from the Minister responsible for the Cabinet Office. He is not, of course, completely invisible, because there are plenty of news stories about what he is doing to win the election for Labour, as he hopes. A statement on that matter would be very useful indeed.

Mr. Woolas: My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster will be answering questions in this Chamber on Tuesday. The accusation that the hon. Gentleman has made, and continues to make, rather flies in the face of the fact that the chairman of the Conservative party was a full member of the Cabinet throughout those 18 horrible years. I do not recall the hon. Gentleman standing up and complaining about that.

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