Previous SectionIndexHome Page

Mr. Andrew Robathan (Blaby) (Con): The Leader of the House made a remarkable, and some would say ludicrous, speech the other day, commenting on how secure Britain was under this Labour Government, thereby revealing a central plank of the election programme next year—but by their works shall we know them! Will he arrange for a statement, with details placed in the Library, listing all the Cabinet Ministers and other Ministers from the Prime Minister downwards who were on the wrong side in the cold war, were members of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, who voted against the prevention of terrorism Act and how many times they did that, and who took part in illegal activities such as disrupting rugby tours and digging up cricket pitches?

Mr. Hain: On the question of past records, surely the hon. Gentleman wants to keep quiet about that and pipe down, given the Conservatives' dreadful record on crime, which doubled as all manner of crime increased. He should support the new security measures to ensure that Britain is a safer and more secure place, as I believe it will be under Labour.

One of the things that we are doing, which I would have thought the hon. Gentleman would welcome, is doubling the capacity of Britain's security services over the next three years, with extra special branch anti-terrorism capabilities too. In total, we are investing more than £2 billion in new counter-terrorism measures and on developing new electronic border surveillance—all funding that would be put at risk by the Conservatives' reckless economic plans, extreme policies and planned cuts in Home Office spending of up to £1.5 billion in the first two years of a Conservative Government, as announced by the shadow Chancellor.

Mr. Julian Brazier (Canterbury) (Con): May we have a debate on mobile phone masts following the ruling by the Court of Appeal that Government legislation does not allow inspectors to take account of health risks, even in siting a mast next to a primary school near Harrogate? I urge the Minister to consider the matter because it seems strange that we have one group of scientists telling us that it is dangerous for children to walk around using mobile phones, but legislation saying that it is safe to put a mobile phone transmitter, millions of times as powerful, next to a primary school.
25 Nov 2004 : Column 244

Mr. Hain: I am sure that the Secretaries of State concerned will want to look closely at what the hon. Gentleman has said.

Bob Spink (Castle Point) (Con): May we have a debate on house building targets in Essex, so that we can make it absolutely clear that the Government target for building in Castle Point is 4,000 more houses, which means consuming green belt, and that there is no infrastructure provision to meet the new demand for our roads, schools, doctors and dentists?

Mr. Hain: I do not think that the Government's policy is quite as the hon. Gentleman suggested. There is obviously a need to balance improved housing opportunities, for which there is a great demand, with sustainable development. I would have thought that he supported Labour's policies for more affordable housing and for investment in housing. If we win the next election, we intend to make that measure a major priority.

Mr. David Cameron (Witney) (Con): May we have a debate in Government time on special schools and the Government's policy of inclusion? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that since my debate in Westminster Hall, I have had letters from parents throughout the country who have disabled children and children with very special needs and are concerned that their life chances will be cut off if special schools close? Is he aware that only yesterday a group of parents from Clacton in Essex, led by Douglas Carswell, came to see me because they are worried about the closure of their schools? Can we have a review of the law in that area and will the Government have a real look at what is happening on the ground? Above all, can we have a moratorium on further special school closures until that has been carried out?

Mr. Hain: I understand the point that the hon. Gentleman quite properly makes. There is a difficult balance to be struck between enabling children with special needs to come into mainstream schooling, with all the advantages that that brings, as he knows, and providing special schools in the right quantity so that children in difficult situations can have the necessary specialist attention. I will certain draw the attention of the Secretary of State for Education and Skills to the hon. Gentleman's point.

Dr. Julian Lewis (New Forest, East) (Con): May we have a statement from Labour's principal election propagandist—I beg the House's pardon; I mean the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster—on the effect of the coming into force on 1 January of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 on accountability by the Cabinet Office? That would enable us to explore the strange fact that repeated questions to Cabinet Office Ministers about the cost, over and above the right hon. Gentleman's £137,000 a year salary, of setting up a separate Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster are met with the answer that the figure will be published in the Department's annual report. It just so happens that that will be after the general election. Under the Freedom of Information Act, can we expect the answer to that simple question a little earlier?
25 Nov 2004 : Column 245

Mr. Hain: I am aware that the hon. Gentleman is a one-man anti-Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster band, and I think that he is being very unfair to Lancaster.

Mr. Peter Luff (Mid-Worcestershire) (Con): I know that the Government prefer spreading fear among people to letting them have fun, but I hope that the Leader of the House will look into his heart and share my concern that the impact of the Licensing Act 2003 on small touring circuses could be very serious, as I have been prophesying for the last year. Yesterday, I received the news of the first such circus to close because it is unable to face the burdens imposed on it by the Act. I urge the Leader of the House to have an urgent debate on the Act. If not that, will he at least go back to his colleagues in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and ask them to reconsider the legislation, which threatens to destroy the good, honest, professional fun provided by circuses, which were invented, just across the road, on the other side of Westminster bridge, 200 or 300 years ago?

Mr. Hain: The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport is aware of these matters, and the Select Committee has also made a number of points. On the other hand, I am sure that the hon. Gentleman would not want to oppose the extension of the licensing laws that allows us to have much more civilised drinking hours, as in the rest of the European Union and elsewhere in the world.



Mr. Secretary Darling presented a Bill to amend the law relating to the provision and regulation of railway services; and for connected purposes: And the same was read the First time; and ordered to be read a Second time on Monday 6 December, and to be printed. Explanatory notes to be printed [Bill 6].

National Lottery

Secretary Tessa Jowell presented a Bill to make provision about the national lottery: And the same was read the First time; and ordered to be read a Second time on Monday 6 December, and to be printed. Explanatory notes to be printed. [Bill 7].

25 Nov 2004 : Column 246

Orders of the Day

Debate on the Address

[Third Day]

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

      Environment, Transport and Local and Devolved Government Affairs

12.20 pm

The Secretary of State for Transport (Mr. Alistair Darling): On Tuesday the Prime Minister set out our strategy to continue the reform of public services and to improve safety and security, all of which is, of course, underpinned by the economic stability and continued growth that have allowed low interest rates and high levels of employment—a huge change from 10 years ago—and we will return to that theme next week in the Chancellor's pre-Budget report. Today's debate is on transport and the environment, and for obvious reasons I want to concentrate on transport.

It might be convenient to remind Members that I will bring before the House measures that will build on the objectives set out in the Gracious Speech. The Railways Bill, which was published this morning, will streamline the structure and organisation of the national rail system. The road safety Bill will help further to reduce the number of people killed on roads each year, and the Crossrail Bill will pave the way for enhanced rail capacity across London. I will return to those measures during my speech, but I should also mention some other Bills that are relevant to today's debate. Measures will be introduced to improve the quality of life in local neighbourhoods through the clean neighbourhoods and environment Bill, and the animal welfare Bill and the commons Bill will also be introduced. My right hon. Friend the Minister for Rural Affairs and Local Environmental Quality will say something further when he replies to the debate.

Next Section IndexHome Page