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House of Commons

Wednesday 24 November 2004

The House met at half-past Eleven o'clock

PRAYERS

[Mr. Speaker in the Chair]

REPORT OF THE SPOLIATION ADVISORY PANEL

Resolved,

BILLS PRESENTED


Mental Capacity

Mr. David Lammy, supported by the Prime Minister, Mr. Secretary Prescott, Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Secretary Blunkett, Mr. Secretary Reid, Ms Rosie Winterton and Mr. Christopher Leslie presented a Bill to make new provision relating to persons who lack capacity; to establish a superior court of record called the Court of Protection in place of the office of the Supreme Court called by that name; to make provision in connection with the Convention on the International Protection of Adults signed at the Hague on 13th January 2000; and for connected purposes: And the same was read the First and Second time without Question put; and ordered to considered tomorrow, pursuant to Standing Order No. 80A (Carry-over of Bills) and Order [11 October]; and to be printed. Explanatory notes to be printed. [Bill 1].


Gambling

Secretary Tessa Jowell, supported by the Prime Minister, Mr. Secretary Prescott, Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Secretary Blunkett, Mr. Secretary Darling, Mr. Secretary Reid, Mr. Secretary Murphy, Ms Secretary Hewitt, Mr. Peter Hain, Margaret Hodge and Mr. Richard Caborn presented a Bill to make provision about gambling: And the same was read the First and Second time without Question put; and stood committed to a Standing Committee in respect of
 
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Clauses Nos. 33 to 337 and Schedules Nos. 6 to 15, pursuant to Standing Order No. 80A (Carry-over of Bills) and Order [1 November]; and to be printed. Explanatory notes to be printed. [Bill 2].


Serious Organised Crime And Police

Mr. Secretary Blunkett, supported by the Prime Minister, Mr. Secretary Prescott, Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Secretary Straw, Ms Secretary Hewitt and Caroline Flint presented a Bill to provide for the establishment and functions of the Serious Organised Crime Agency; to make provision about investigations, prosecutions, offenders and witnesses in criminal proceedings and the protection of persons involved in investigations or proceedings; to provide for the implementation of certain international obligations relating to criminal matters; to amend the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002; to make further provision for combating crime and disorder, including new provision about powers of arrest and search warrants; to make further provision about the police and policing and persons supporting the police; to make provision about criminal records; to provide for the Private Security Industry Act 2001 to extend to Scotland; and for connected purposes: And the same was read the First time; and ordered to be read a Second time tomorrow, and to be printed. Explanatory notes to be printed. [Bill 5].


Commissioners For Revenue And Customs

Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, supported by Mr.   Secretary Blunkett, Mr. Paul Boateng, Dawn Primarolo, The Solicitor-General, John Healey and Mr. Stephen Timms presented a Bill to make provision for the appointment of Commissioners to exercise functions presently vested in the Commissioners of Inland Revenue and the Commissioners of Customs and Excise; for the establishment of a Revenue and Customs Prosecutions Office; and for connected purposes: And the same was read the First time; and ordered to be read a Second time tomorrow, and to be printed. Explanatory notes to be printed. [Bill 3].


School Transport

Mr. Secretary Clarke, supported by the Prime Minister, Mr. Secretary Prescott, Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Secretary Darling, Mr. Secretary Johnson, Mr. Richard Caborn, Mr. Stephen Twigg and Dr. Stephen Ladyman presented a Bill to make provision for school travel schemes; and for connected purposes: And the same was read the First and Second time without Question put; and ordered to be considered tomorrow, pursuant to Standing Order No. 80A (Carry-over of Bills) and Order [28 October]; and to be printed. Explanatory notes to be printed. [Bill 4].


 
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Orders of the Day

Debate on the Address


[Second Day]

Order read for resuming adjourned debate on Question [23 November],

      Foreign Affairs and Defence

11.36 am

The Secretary of State for Defence (Mr. Geoffrey Hoon): Mr. Speaker, may I begin, on behalf of the Foreign Secretary, by extending his apologies to the House for his absence today? He is in the middle east undertaking visits in relation to Iraq and the middle east peace process.

In the past year, the Government have set out their forward thinking on foreign affairs and defence. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has published the Foreign and Commonwealth Office strategy, "UK International Priorities", and I have published two White Papers, "Delivering Security in a Changing World" and, most recently, the "Future Capabilities" paper. Each of these papers analyses the rapidly changing security environment, setting out how the United Kingdom should face the challenges that confront the world at the start of this new century.

Threats to our security—and to the security of our allies and partners—that have emerged since the end of the cold war are now more disparate and more diverse, but they remain just as real, just as immediate and just as dangerous. The sheer scale of the ruthless, fanatical violence of international terrorist groups across the world is without precedent. Since the attacks in New York and Washington on 11 September 2001, there have been appalling atrocities in places as far apart as Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Morocco, Spain and Russia. Their common thread is their appalling barbarity: the deliberate and indiscriminate targeting of innocent people to cause the maximum loss of life and suffering.Nor must we forget the individual victims of terror. We are saddened and appalled by the murder of Margaret Hassan, who had devoted her life to helping the people of Iraq.

In addition, we must deal with the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and the technology associated with their means of delivery. The ambitions of some states to acquire such weaponry is profoundly disturbing; the ambition of terrorist groups to do so is simply terrifying. We believe that these are the greatest threats to our security, and confronting them is the perhaps the single most important challenge that the civilised world faces today.
 
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Jeremy Corbyn (Islington, North) (Lab): I agree with the Secretary of State wholeheartedly about the proliferation of nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction. Will he have an opportunity during his speech to set out the Government's position on the non-proliferation treaty conference next year, and on the possibility of Britain developing a new generation of nuclear weapons when Trident submarines have come to the end of their life?

Mr. Hoon: I am sure that my hon. Friend the Minister for Trade and Investment, who will wind up this debate on behalf of the Foreign Office, will deal with the first part of my hon. Friend's question. That is the traditional role of those who wind up in these debates, as right hon. and hon. Members will be aware. On the second matter, my hon. Friend has asked me this question on a number of occasions, and I am delighted to give him the same answer: this is not a matter for this Parliament, but it obviously will be a matter for a future Parliament to debate.

There are further challenges posed by weak and failing states, where all too often political mismanagement, ethnic and religious tensions or economic collapse can lead to humanitarian crises. Climate change is beginning to threaten the long-term supply of food and water, forcing migration and dislocation. All too often, the misery and injustice of poverty, hunger and disease are exacerbated by weak and corrupt government and the breakdown of law and order.

Terrorists feed on such lawlessness. Failing states, with territory that cannot be governed, provide the ideal haven from which terrorist groups can plan, train and operate. There are, of course, no purely military solutions to those challenges. There is a vital role for the armed forces, but that must be seen in a wider context—the diplomatic, political, economic, developmental and, indeed, cultural solutions that are also required.

The United Kingdom must not fail in the responsibility we share with our partners in the international community to ensure that we address the causes, not just the consequences, of failing states.


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