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Dr. Reid: Yes, indeed; and I can tell my hon. Friend that Barnsley, for instance, is now closer to target than it was previously. It is just 3.5 per cent. beneath, and a £61 million increase is going in over the two years; that is a 21 per cent. increase for Barnsley. I hope that that will assist in an area where there has been terrible deprivation. I know that there are a series of one-stop primary care centres, which have improved health care in my hon. Friend's area, and there are other developments. For instance, I think that some additional GPs have come into the area recently.
We must never forget that although we have spent a lot of time today talking about the allocation of moneys, which is what this is about, at the end of the day this is about improving patient care, and there is no doubt in my mind that all the signs on the ground now are showing that, month by month, we are getting much better patient care. This morning I was in Newham, where five years ago there was one consultant in accident and emergency; there are now five. Where there were 50 nurses there are now 80. Where they were waiting 10 months for a scan only two years ago, now they are waiting less than a week. That is where this money is goingit is going to the patients, and that is as it should be.
Order. I am obliged to move on.
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Tom Levitt (High Peak) (Lab): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I should like to raise a point of order, of which I have given your office notice. Anyone who reads the third report of the Standards and Privileges Committee and the debate that was held on the Floor of the House last night cannot fail to conclude that the subject of that report, the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Sayeed), did not properly apologise to the House for his conduct as the report required. Indeed, the right hon. Member for North-West Hampshire (Sir George Young), who chairs the Committee, said as much in his report.
The response of the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire was, effectively, "I did not do it but I will apologise anyway". Surely that was a discourtesy to the House. Is this a matter on which you will rule or on which the House needs to take a stand? If it is referred back to the Standards and Privileges Committee, does there have to be a complaint of its own standing or can the Committee carry on the investigation?
Mr. Speaker: I notice that in his speech during the debate, the Chairman of the Standards and Privileges Committee made the following comment:
"has responded fully to our recommendation that he apologise fully to the House in the light of some of his qualifications".[Official Report, 8 February 2005; Vol. 430, c. 1465.]
I am content to leave this matter to the good judgment of the right hon. Member for North-West Hampshire (Sir George Young) and his Committee.
Mr. Alistair Carmichael (Orkney and Shetland) (LD): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Have you or your office received any requests from the Prime Minister's office for the Prime Minister to come to the House and make a statement on the subject of the wrongful convictions of those who were blamed for the IRA bomb attacks in Guildford and Woolwich? You may be aware that it was widely reported on television this morning that the hon. Member for South Down (Mr. McGrady) would be seeking to catch your eye, and apparently after discussion with the Prime Minister's office anticipated that such an apology would be made.
The hon. Gentleman was not able to catch your eyewe all know that it is not always possiblebut we now learn that the Prime Minister has made such an apology. It is reported on the BBC website that Mr. Blair said:
and that this apology was made in a statement recorded for television. Surely, if apologies of this nature are to be made, they should be made here, in the House. The House deserves rather better treatment than this.
Sir Patrick Cormack (South Staffordshire) (Con):
Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. I am sure that I speak for many in the House in saying that you handle these matters impeccably. Nobody should be
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able to announce on the radio that a certain question is to be asked to the Prime Minister and answered in a certain way, and I would like to thank you for upholding the dignity of the House.
Mr. David Lidington (Aylesbury) (Con): Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. Can I ask you to confirm, in ruling on the point of order raised by the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Carmichael), whether there is in fact no procedural obstacle to the Prime Minister notifying you that he would wish to make a statement on this subject at the close of business today, or indeed later this week during Parliament's proceedings? May I suggest to you, Sir, that many of us in all parts of the House would welcome the opportunity to listen to the Prime Minister make such a statement and to question him on it afterwards?
Mr. David Trimble (Upper Bann) (UUP): Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. May I endorse entirely everything that the hon. Member for South Staffordshire (Sir Patrick Cormack) has said, but also make the point that had such a statement been made by the Prime Minister in the House, that would have enabled other hon. Members with constituents and people they know who have also suffered from injustices to question the Prime Minister as to why he has been so selective in his recollection of matters?
Mr. Nigel Dodds (Belfast, North) (DUP): Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. May I follow up the matter raised by the right hon. Member for Upper Bann (Mr. Trimble)? I agree with that, in the sense that there are thousands of victims of IRA terrorism and other terrorism in Northern Ireland whose cases are going by default and whose voices are not heard. A statement as suggested would have allowed the opportunity to question the Prime Minister on the continuing delay in the appointment of a victims commissioner.
Mr. Speaker: What I can say to the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Carmichael) on this point of order is that the Chair is now being drawn into the argument as to whether the Prime Minister should make a statement or not. It is for the Prime Minister or any Minister of the Crown to seek to make a statement before the House, and as right hon. and hon. Members know, when a Minister seeks to make a statement, the request is rarely refused. I therefore do not want to say any more on this matter. The Prime Minister will be able to read Hansard in the same way as everyone else and will have heard what has been stated.
I thank the hon. Member for South Staffordshire (Sir Patrick Cormack) for his support in this matter. Perhaps it is an opportunity to say to hon. Members that no one is entitled to demand to speak at Prime Minister's Question Time except when I call them, so no one is entitled to make a statement, prior to PM's Question Time, that they are going to raise this, that or the next thing. I think that we can safely end the matter at this point.
Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow) (Lab):
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I am totally and absolutely convinced, if I may say so, that your attitude is right in terms of the House of Commons, but I may have
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incurred your wrath because I appeared for five minutes at 7 o'clock on ITV, and on Sky later on, on precisely this subject. I promise you it was on the basis that there was going to be an announcement anyway. Whether it was at Question Time was not quite clear, but there was the certaintyI think in good faithamong the media that there would be an announcement.
Mr. Speaker: All that I can say is that the Father of the House once again has my admiration for the fact that he is willing to wander the streets of London and go into television studios at 7 in the morning.
Rev. Ian Paisley (North Antrim) (DUP): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I would like to associate myself with the remarks that have been made in your support. I think that you have had the dignity of the House and the laws of the House at your heart, and certainly you are in complete control. We all know that, and we have to bow to that. You are infallible when you are in that Chair.
Mr. Speaker: The reverend Gentleman has gifted me with infallibility. I am very pleased by that.
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