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Mr. Harry Barnes (North-East Derbyshire) (Lab): Is my right hon. Friend aware that two thirds of a massive problem in my constituency has been cracked; first, by the provision of £104 million by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister to clear up Avenue cokeworks, and secondly with £4 million from the Department of Trade and Industry to clear the neighbouring Grassmoor lagoons? However, the third aspect of the problem is the health of the workers at the Avenue site and that of the surrounding community. Responses about the situation from the Department of Health have not been helpful. May we have a statement from a Health Minister to show that the Department is on to the issue and taking up information from the other two Departments about the serious contamination that occurred on the sites?

Mr. Hain: I am sure that the whole House will support me in paying tribute to my hon. Friend, who has been an assiduous and effective parliamentarian during his time here, and wishing him all the best for his future retirement.

Mr. Barnes: It could be another year yet.

Mr. Hain: I did say future retirement—this year or next year. The investment in my hon. Friend's constituency is enormous.

Mr. Barnes: Tremendous.
 
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Mr. Hain: It is tremendous investment, as my hon. Friend says, and I pay tribute to him for campaigning tirelessly for it. If I may say so, the investment is typical of the Labour Government, who invest in local communities, unlike the situation under our predecessors when we experienced savage cuts. The health of the workers concerned is uppermost in our minds and I am sure that my hon. Friend will continue to be vigilant on the matter.

Dr. Julian Lewis (New Forest, East) (Con): May we have a statement from the Foreign Secretary, after he has had a chance to investigate the matter, on the information contained in early-day motion 591, which was tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Romford (Mr. Rosindell)?

  [That this House notes with great concern the recent admission, following the discovery of documents in the Lithuanian Special Archive, that both the country's Foreign Minister, Antanas Valionis, and, even more importantly, the Director-General of the State Security Department, Arvydas Pocius, were Reserve Officers in the Soviet KGB; deplores the dismissal of the Director of the Lithuanian Special Archive; believes that there are implications for the security of NATO, notwithstanding the welcome improvement in relations between Russia and the West; and calls upon the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs to make a statement about these disturbing revelations.]

The early-day motion relates to the recent admissions that not only the Foreign Minister of Lithuania, which is now a NATO country, but the head of Lithuania's principal intelligence service were reserve officers in the Soviet KGB. It also notes the worrying fact that it appears that the head of documentation archive in which the information was discovered has been sacked. This is a very disturbing matter. We are remembering the Nazi holocaust today, but there was a Soviet holocaust as well. In addition, there are implications for NATO security. I should be grateful if the Leader of the House conveyed to the Foreign Secretary the need to look into this serious matter.

Mr. Hain: I shall certainly convey the hon. Gentleman's request to the Foreign Secretary, because he is right about the seriousness of the matter. I understand that there is particular sensitivity in the international Jewish community about the implications of the discovery and that the Lithuanian Parliament has established a commission to investigate allegations of links between senior public figures of the KGB. It held its first meeting yesterday and I cannot prejudge its findings.

I am absolutely bowled over that the hon. Gentleman did not ask about the diary of the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. I can only assume that he is giving my right hon. Friend the day off because it is his birthday.

Mr. Tom Clarke (Coatbridge and Chryston) (Lab): In view of the ongoing human rights abuses, death and destruction in Darfur, does my right hon. Friend agree that it would be appropriate to have a debate on the Floor of the House so that we can consider, for example, the remarkable revelations in The Independent yesterday, the excellent job that the Department for
 
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International Development is trying to do despite the obstruction, and, perhaps above all, the Government's view of the role of the United Nations Security Council in a humanitarian crisis made all the worse by the fact that it is man-made and continuing?

Mr. Hain: I completely agree that the crisis is a stain on Africa. Everybody, including leaders throughout the continent of Africa, is working with us to try to solve it. My right hon. Friend will have the opportunity to press the matter further at DFID questions next week. I acknowledge the way in which he has continually brought it to the attention of the House.

Sir George Young (North-West Hampshire) (Con): May we have an early debate on the Government's proposals for the House of Lords? Does the right hon. Gentleman recall that, at the Labour party conference, the Lord Chancellor said:

Did the Leader of the House read The Daily Telegraph on Monday, which reports that when asked whether there would be proposals ready for the manifesto, the Leader of the House of Lords said no? May we have a debate, so that we can find out precisely what is going on?

Mr. Hain: I invite the right hon. Gentleman to read the interview that I gave to the New Statesman today. I thought that he was going to quote me—it would have added a bit of spice to his question. We are committed to reform of the House of Lords. The issue now is not only its composition and reaching a consensus on it, but the powers of the second Chamber—how to stop it vetoing House of Commons-initiated legislation and make it perform its proper function, which is scrutinising, revising and improving House of Commons-initiated legislation. That is where the debate lies and we intend to make progress on it.

Mrs. Lorna Fitzsimons (Rochdale) (Lab): Has my right hon. Friend had time to glance at The Guardian this morning? If he has, he has seen a story headed "Manchester may face congestion charging". Will he confirm that at Transport questions on 21 December, in response to a question asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Blackley (Mr. Stringer), the Secretary of State for Transport stated categorically that, in its pursuit of light rail and an integrated transport system, Greater Manchester would not be forced to have a congestion charge?

Mr. Hain: I can confirm that my right hon. Friend made it perfectly clear that there would be no draconian pressure put on Manchester to introducing congestion charging. The matter is one for Manchester, in discussion with the Government, to decide. Progress on the tram system is a parallel, but entirely separate, matter.

Mr. Peter Viggers (Gosport) (Con): May we have an early debate on Government industrial policy, perhaps
 
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linked with the subject of the integrity of Government? I think that they should be linked because, earlier this month, I received information from a reliable source that tens of millions of pounds were to be given to Swan Hunter shipyard, but in response to questions I put to the Ministry of Defence and the Department for Trade and Industry, the MOD replied:

and the DTI replied that it

Yet in today's newspaper, I read that an agreement was reached on 10 December that the MOD would give £84 million to Swan Hunter. If the Government are giving a pre-election bung, we need to know why. Although, of course, Ministers never lie in reply to questions, is it not worth a debate if an answer is so inconsistent with the truth that it is impossible to reconcile the two?

Mr. Hain: I do not accept that there is inconsistency with the truth or that there has been any attempt to mislead the hon. Gentleman. The Secretaries of State concerned will note his points and will want to clarify the matter to his satisfaction.


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