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Dr. Brian Iddon (Bolton, South-East) (Lab): I welcome my right hon. Friend's visit to Palestine and Israel, but when he received reassurances about the future of the settlers who are to be relocated from the Gaza, did he seek or receive any reassurances about the homes that they will leave behind? Will they be used to rehouse the thousands of Palestinians whose homes have been demolished?

Mr. Straw: I did not discuss that specifically, but I am happy to look into it and to write to my hon. Friend.

Chris Bryant (Rhondda) (Lab): The Foreign Secretary will know that some people have argued in the past that a shared European Union foreign policy is at best a foolhardy ambition and at worst dangerous nonsense. However, do not the events of the past few weeks in Iran, Ukraine and, for that matter, the middle east show that, far from being a hindrance to British interests, a shared EU foreign policy can help us to pursue our diplomatic aims? Would it not therefore make sense for us to implement and ratify the EU constitutional treaty as soon as possible to make sure that we have an accountable Foreign Minister for Europe?

Mr. Straw: The answer is yes to each question in that series. The simple truth that the Opposition have failed to grasp is that, under the existing treaties and the new constitution, the United Kingdom, along with every other member state, will continue to have a sovereign right to determine its own foreign and defence policy. Only when we are in agreement with a specific proposal can there be a European foreign policy. What France, Germany and ourselves have shown in respect of Iran is that where the three largest countries in Europe agree, we can do much more together than we can separately.
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Points of Order

4.28 pm

Mr. Edward Garnier (Harborough) (Con): On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Nottingham East Midlands airport—NEMA—is currently undertaking its second consultation to gather the views of the people, local authorities and other interested groups in and around Leicestershire likely to be affected by the proposal to increase by many times the number of inbound and outbound cargo night flights using the airport. The first consultation was defective because NEMA failed to consult Leicestershire county council, the local authority within whose area the airport is wholly sited, and several other local authorities and parish councils, including Oadby and Wigston borough council, which is in my Harborough constituency, and Leicester city council.

The new night flights eventually will overfly my constituency at heights of up to 7,000 ft, possibly at intervals of less than two minutes, affecting villages and communities where there is no, or very little, ambient noise between 11 pm and 6 am. The number of night flights between those times already exceeds those at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports. It has been drawn to my attention over the weekend that NEMA believes, or at least is telling my constituents, that the final decision on the increased night flight regime rests with the Civil Aviation Authority. The CAA, however, says that it is ready to implement the permission granted on 27 July under the defective first consultation—

Mr. Speaker: Order. I have listened to the hon. and learned Gentleman's lengthy point of order. I think that an Adjournment debate would be more appropriate. Government Ministers will have heard his concerns, but it is not a matter for me, unless he can link it to the Speaker's responsibilities.

Mr. Garnier: I can do so, Mr. Speaker, with greater accuracy than the CAA and NEMA, which are saying
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different things about the consultation. The Secretary of State for Transport should satisfy the House as to the real policy. Is the CAA and the airport company the decider or is it the Secretary of State? At the moment, there is a total muddle, and I urge you, Mr. Speaker, to ask the Secretary of State to clear the matter up.

Mr. Speaker: Again, that has nothing to do with the Speaker.

Andrew Selous (South-West Bedfordshire) (Con): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Have you had any indication that the Secretary of State for Defence intends to make a statement about cuts to battalions of English infantry regiments? I understand that a decision to cut—[Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker: Order. We have just finished an hour of defence questions. [Interruption.] Order. That was the time for the hon. Gentleman to seek to catch my eye. I am not taking the matter as a point of order.


Identity Cards

Mr. Secretary Blunkett, supported by the Prime Minister, Mr. Secretary Prescott, Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Secretary Straw, Secretary Margaret Beckett and Mr. Desmond Browne, presented a Bill to make provision for a national scheme of registration of individuals and for the issue of cards capable of being used for identifying registered individuals; to make it an offence for a person to be in possession or control of an identity document to which he is not entitled, or of apparatus, articles or materials for making false identity documents; to amend the Consular Fees Act 1980; to make provision facilitating the verification of information provided with an application for a passport; 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 8].

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Orders of the Day

Debate on the Address

[Fourth Day]

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

Home Affairs

Mr. Speaker: I inform the House that there will be an eight-minute limit on Back-Bench speeches.

4.30 pm

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. David Blunkett): The Gracious Speech set out the Government's determination to address the most fundamental responsibility of any state: the safety and security of its people. In the economy over the past seven and a half years, under the leadership of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, we have built stability and security for the economy as a whole, security for the family, the lowest unemployment for 30 years, and inflation and interest rates at their lowest level for decades, and as a consequence we have allowed people to build their lives and their families through their own prosperity and the contribution they can make to others.

The Prime Minister is endeavouring, with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and the parties there, to do the same for Northern Ireland. On the international scene, we have sought to bring greater security, stability and freedom to people across the world. In our neighbourhoods and communities we seek to provide the stability and security that allow cohesion, equality and opportunity to flourish. To protect people and their security in the community and the neighbourhood, and to remove, wherever we can, the threat to them, subliminally or in reality, we are taking the measures set out in the Queen's Speech.

Rapid economic, social and political change has affected the world over the past 20 years in a way that none of us could have foreseen. Those changes have brought great gains, but they also bring insecurity. They lead to greater movement of people and to changes in communication, which bring tremendous opportunities but can also bring fear. Satellite television and 24-hour, seven-day-a-week news bring the opportunity to understand what is taking place across our globe, but also bring all the downsides of fear and instability. People see in their own homes—in their lounges—what previously would never have been known to them other than in the headlines of a newspaper the following day.

In that environment, we must consider what is necessary to protect our people, secure their confidence and create an environment in which difficult debate can
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take place in the House and broadly across the country about what measures are proportionate, necessary and wise to secure the future of our nation. In that spirit we set out the home affairs agenda in the Queen's Speech, not to bring fear but to remove fearfulness from people's lives. We are addressing the real issues, the worries and people's day-to-day concerns—sometimes subliminal, sometimes up-front—to ensure that they can open their minds and hearts to listening, understanding and responding to progressive policy.

It is a simple fact in our history and that of Europe and the world that the greater the insecurity people feel, in the form of physical threat, economic instability and insecurity in their own lives, the more likely they are to turn to extremes of left and right. The more secure people are in their lives, the more they trust Government to secure their well-being internationally, as has been argued by all parties in the context of defence spending over the years, and the more likely they are to engage in sensible debate about the big challenges that face us.

With the change in the threat, the breakdown of the cold war and the changes that my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary dealt with only a few minutes ago, there are new and different challenges. We must try to anticipate what steps should be taken to ensure that in a decade people do not turn on the politicians of the day and demand to know why action was not taken. To be able to answer the question, "Did you do enough?" with the words, "Yes, we did," is not to threaten people but to ensure that insecurity, instability and fear are taken away.

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