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Animal Rights Extremists

7. [200673] Michael Fabricant (Lichfield) (Con): What assessment the Government have made of the activities of animal rights extremists.

The Prime Minister: The Government take the threat posed by animal rights extremists very seriously, and have taken every opportunity to make it clear that their illegal activities will not be tolerated. We are tightening up the law with provisions in the Serious Organised Crime and Police Bill, which it is important that we emphasise. First, it will introduce a new offence of protesting outside homes in such a way that causes harassment, alarm or distress to residents. Secondly, it will amend the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 to extend it to the harassment of two or more persons who are connected, such as employees of the same company. Thirdly, it will provide an additional power for the police to direct a protester to leave the vicinity of a home and not return to it within a specified period up to three months. I assure the hon. Gentleman that if we need to do so, we will legislate even further.

Michael Fabricant: I am grateful to the Prime Minister for his reply, and my constituents in Yoxall, Newborough and Newchurch, who have been terrorised by animal rights extremists now for five years, will also be grateful. We welcome the legislation, although, as with everything, the devil will be in the detail. But does the Prime Minister also accept that there are genuine animal rights campaigners? What does he say to those who read the pamphlet, "Labour Britain: New Life for Animals", which made the pledge in 1997 that a Labour Government

Does the Prime Minister not stick to what he promised, or was that just talk again?

The Prime Minister: I was going to say that we could dissect that question, but it is probably not the right thing to say.

We pledged to ensure better welfare and better safeguards in animal experiments, and we delivered on that pledge. We have made sure that all experiments are conducted according to the tightest possible regulations. It is for precisely that reason that we are in a strong position to say to animal rights extremists that we have tough measures in this country, so there can be no justification whatever for harassing and intimidating people who are going about their lawful business.

Ms Karen Buck (Regent's Park and Kensington, North) (Lab): My constituent, Richard Belmar, has now spent nearly three years in Guantanamo Bay without charge and now with no hope whatsoever—

Mr. Speaker: Order. I must stop the hon. Lady there. Questions must relate to animal welfare.
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8. [200674] Mr. Gregory Campbell (East Londonderry) (DUP): Yesterday two people were convicted in the Irish Republic. One was described as a branch secretary of Sinn Fein in Dublin. He was found in possession of surveillance details of Irish politicians. On 27 November 2002, the Prime Minister said in the House that everyone must be satisfied that violence had been given up for good. Does not yesterday's court decision in the Republic undermine that?

The Prime Minister: I do not think that I can comment on the individual arrest or the details, but I can say that what I said back in November 2002 still holds. That is why we have not yet been able to get the devolved institutions in Northern Ireland up and running again. Let me make it clear again that there can be no place in a proper democratic Government for people who are engaged in paramilitarism. Let us hope that we can secure clear agreements on all sides that make it absolutely clear that the only basis on which people can participate in a devolved Government is a commitment, which they implement, to exclusively democratic and peaceful means.

Harry Cohen (Leyton and Wanstead) (Lab): Tomorrow, around midnight, will be the 20th anniversary of the Bhopal poisonous gas leak which killed thousands of people and is causing suffering to this day. Will the Prime Minister pledge to strive for a clean-up of the site, for proper compensation for survivors and families of victims, and for new law, regulations and safeguards to prevent industrial hazards, both nationally and internationally?

The Prime Minister: I shall have to write to my hon. Friend to tell him what issues we have taken up with the Indian Government. Obviously the primary responsibility must lie with them.

9. [200675] Chris Grayling (Epsom and Ewell) (Con): In a moment I shall go downstairs to join two of the Prime Minister's closest friends, Carole Caplin and Jenny Seagrove, to continue our campaign against the food supplements directive and the threat to vitamin supplements in this country. Given that even the Prime Minister's close friends think that the Government have got this wrong, will he now act to remove the unwanted threat to vitamins taken by millions of people all over the country?

The Prime Minister: As ever, we must proceed according to the science, and the position set out by the Government is the one that I support.
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10. [200676] Paddy Tipping (Sherwood) (Lab): Given that a massive school building programme was announced yesterday, that all the indications today suggest that primary school results will be excellent, and that tomorrow's local government settlement will put even more money into education, does the Prime Minister agree that it really is education, education, education? Is there not a straight choice between further investment in education in the future, and the bad old days of cuts under the Tories?

The Prime Minister: I am glad that my hon. Friend has said that. In addition to the excellent school results, there has been record capital funding for our schools. Indeed, there will be £17 billion of capital over the next three years. It is possible to visit primary and secondary schools in any constituency and see the results of investment in extra classrooms, extra teachers, extra teaching assistants and, in many cases, new school wings or even new schools.

According to the shadow Chancellor, there would be £35 billion-worth of cuts in spending over the next few years. Therefore, the choice is very simple: keeping up this investment in our schools system under this Labour Government, or returning to the bad old days of cuts under the Tories.

Mr. Alex Salmond (Banff and Buchan) (SNP): Does the Prime Minister understand the level of concern in Scotland caused by the Secretary of State for Defence's apparent dismissal of the substantive case for keeping historic Scottish regiments as merely the tartan question? How can Labour be trusted to represent Scottish interests if that is an example of the standard of senior Ministers' thinking? Does the Prime Minister accept that, ultimately, this will be a matter for his personal decision, and according to what time scale does he intend to make it?

The Prime Minister: We have made it clear, as I said earlier, that we have got to balance the Army's requirement for more flexible deployment of troops with maintaining regiments' traditions. I have listened, and will listen, very carefully to what my hon. Friends say and to what Conservative and Liberal Democrat Members say. However, the idea that the Scottish National party should lecture us on the British Army is one of the most absurd that I have ever heard. If the hon. Gentleman had his way, there would not be a British Army. So we will take these decisions in the best interest of the British Army and the United Kingdom.
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Point of Order

12.31 pm

Mr. Andrew Turner (Isle of Wight) (Con): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. On 27 October, the Prime Minister told my right hon. and learned Friend the Leader of the Opposition that millions of jobs depend on UK membership of the EU. On 2 November, I asked the Prime Minister what the evidential basis was for that assertion, and he referred me to an answer given by the Minister for Europe to my hon. Friend the Member for South-West Bedfordshire (Andrew Selous) on 5 July. On looking at that answer, I discovered that all that it refers to is the number of jobs

Either the Prime Minister got his answer wrong or he got the reference wrong. What should I do about it, Mr. Speaker?

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