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Mr. Anthony Steen (Totnes) (Con): On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. As you know, a service will be held in Westminster Hall on Thursday to commemorate holocaust day. Do you know of any Members of Parliament from our House who have been invited? Who sent the invitations out for it? As far as I know, no Jewish Member has been invited to attend. Can you give us guidance about who is organising the event and how it is being arranged?
Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Alan Haselhurst): I understand the hon. Member's concerns but, without considerably more notice, I am afraid that I cannot supply any answers. I know that I have not been invited but, since the event would not take place in Westminster Hall without the authorisation of Mr. Speaker and the Lord Chancellor, the most productive line of inquiry probably lies with the Speaker's Office. I hope that that is helpful.
That this House regrets the passing of the Food Supplements Regulations (England) 2003; mandates the Government to use the UK Presidency to renegotiate the Food Supplements Directive with the European Union; and indicates a willingness to repeal the regulations if the renegotiation does not reach a satisfactory compromise to protect the interests of consumers and manufacturers in the United Kingdom.
We move from the sublime to the ridiculous. The Government want us to drink alcohol at all hours but not to take vitamin tablets. The motion deals with an issue that affects millions of our constituents and gives Parliament an opportunity to send a firm message to the Government about our views and to make it clear that the House, not Ministers, is the ultimate arbiter of what happens in this country.
Our debate is not a conventional Opposition day debate and the motion is cross-party. Subject to catching your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker, the hon. Member for Vauxhall (Kate Hoey) will join me in supporting it. We aim to send the Government a message that the issue is beyond party politics, that hon. Members of all parties share our concerns and that it is time to do something about it.
We know that our concerns are not confined to the Opposition or to Government Back Benchers. The Leader of the House, who is not in his place for the debate, sought to explain his party's poor performance in the European elections by citing concerns about the very subject of our debate. In an interview with The Observer just after the elections, he said that Labour would tackle over-regulation from Brussels,
Mr. Simon Thomas (Ceredigion) (PC): The hon. Gentleman might be interested to know that the Leader of the House, the right hon. Member for Neath (Mr. Hain), while wearing his other hat as Secretary of State for Wales, has called on the National Assembly to provide for GPs to be able to prescribe vitamins. He is therefore doubly caught by the motion and his opposition to it.
"In years gone by the benefits of complementary medicine were derided, its proponents regarded as weirdoes, swimming against a tide of conventional medical opinion. But today there is an increasing recognition that both sectors can coexist, with the patient the winner."
Sadly, under the directive, the patient is not the winner. Given those sentiments, why on earth has the Leader of the House put his name to the Government amendment? Its words are extraordinary. In it, the right hon. Gentleman
Rev. Martin Smyth (Belfast, South) (UUP): Does the hon. Gentleman agree that the Government have gone completely astray on this issue, while the manufacturers and the people of this country are writing to complain about the restrictions that are now hindering their liberties?
Chris Grayling: I completely agree with the hon. Gentleman. I am at a loss to understand why this is happening. I cannot see why the Government are so blatantly ignoring the wishes of the people, but the reality is that they are. I hope that they will change their mind today.
Lembit Öpik (Montgomeryshire) (LD): Does the hon. Gentleman agree that this is a classic example of the nanny state gone wild? Given whatever minor risks might be involved in using these vitamins, if people are given the choice whether to use them through illustrations on the packaging, it should be a matter for them to make the decision, especially as there is precious little evidence of any harm befalling the user.
Chris Grayling: The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right, which makes it all the more disappointing that, when I approached all the different political groups in the House to sign this motion, the Liberal Democrat health spokesman refused to do so.
Chris Grayling: The hon. Member for Southport (Dr. Pugh) needs to understand that the motion before us today has been signed by representatives of all the other parties. His own party's health spokesman was invited to be a signatory to it when it was tabled as an early-day motion, but he declined to do so. That speaks for itself.
This matter is another clear example of Ministers saying one thing and doing another, and just not listening to the people. What about the hundreds of Members on both sides of the House who have signed early-day motions on this issue? What about the hundreds of thousands of their constituents who have signed letters or petitions to the House? Even close friends of the Prime Minister have come out against this directive. This morning, I went to Downing street with Carole Caplin, his former adviser, carrying a letter that
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had also been signed by his friend Jenny Seagrove saying that enough was enough. It is time to stop this unwanted measure.
Rob Marris (Wolverhampton, South-West) (Lab): I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving way; he is being very generous. Is he aware, however, that in certain doses, vitamin A can be fatal, and that recent research on vitamin E suggested that it could cause cancer at high dosage levels? Does he agree that we need to investigate some of these products to ascertain whether they be safe?
Chris Grayling: The hon. Gentleman is talking about products that are on sale in this country as we speak. If the Government believe that they are dangerous, they have the power to remove them from the shelves tomorrow. I have challenged the Government again and again to do that if they believe that the products are unsafe, but they have not done so. I can only assume, therefore, that they are indeed safe for consumers to use. The hon. Gentleman's argument is therefore completely invalid.
Dr. Julian Lewis (New Forest, East) (Con): During my hon. Friend's trip to Downing street, was he able to throw any light on why this Labour Government are so keen to stop these health products being available on the market at the same time as they are decriminalising cannabis and being madly in favour of legalising all-hours super-casinos and all-hours binge drinking?
Chris Grayling: The only explanation that I can come up with is the Government's determination to follow the European harmonisation agenda at all costs. There is no other rational explanation for this.
Mr. Mark Todd (South Derbyshire) (Lab): The hon. Gentleman touched briefly on another perspective when he mentioned the views of the industry that produces these products. Would it intrigue him to learn that not all those manufacturers feel the same way as he does about this? Instead, they are looking much more closely at the opportunities that will be provided by the wider European market that will be opened up by the regulations.
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