Hugh Robertson (Faversham and Mid-Kent) (Con): I, too, welcome the Leader of the House to his new position. He will be aware that the next six weeks are vital to London's chances of hosting the 2012 Olympics. The evaluation team report is due out at the beginning of June and the decision itself comes through on 6 July. Given that cross-party support is vital to the success of the bid, will he make Government time available for a debate in this House on the London 2012 bid?
Mr. Hoon: What is importantI accept the spirit of the hon. Gentleman's observationsis that we make early and urgent progress on the legislation that will be necessary should, as I hope, Britain be awarded the 2012 bid. It was referred to in the Queens's Speech and, exceptionally, an indication was given that it would be necessary to introduce the legislation at an early date, should we be successful. I will then obviously be looking for co-operation from the Opposition Benches to ensure that that legislation is in place as early as possible.
Mr. Andrew Robathan (Blaby) (Con): Given the Leader of the House's former appointment as Defence Secretary, I know that he will be as concerned as I am about the fact that it is likely that fewer than half of servicemen and servicewomen were registered to vote in the general election this year. Not only that, but those who were registered to vote in Iraq, Afghanistan or wherever by post, had no opportunity to return those votes. Will he instigate an inquiry into how many people were registered to vote and how many people were able to vote, and ensure that next time an election comes up our servicemen and women in places of danger, serving this country, have the opportunity to vote properly?
This was a matter that concerned me in my previous position. If the hon. Gentleman will forgive me for saying this, I investigated some of the statistics on voting and registration that he made available to the media immediately before the general election. Unfortunately, those statistics were somewhat unreliable. It is important that all citizens have the
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opportunity to vote. That must include members of Her Majesty's armed forces, particularly when they are serving abroad. An enormous effort was made by the Ministry of Defence and by the chain of command to ensure that members of the armed forces took up their opportunity of registering and voting.
Mr. Henry Bellingham (North-West Norfolk) (Con): The Leader of the House said a moment ago that there were no exceptions to the rules relating to the appointment of Ministers. Is he aware that Lord Drayson is visiting RAF Marham in West Norfolk this week? As my hon. Friend the shadow Leader of the House said, this is someone who paid huge sums of money to Labour, received a plum contract for his company, then received a peerage, and then received a plum job in government. Is that not unfair to many hard-working Labour Members of Parliament who would love that sort of rapid promotion? Is it not an insult to those loyal and patriotic RAF service personnel?
Mr. Hoon: What I find curious about the hon. Gentleman's observations is that time after time from the Opposition Benches we have had criticisms of Ministers for not having relevant business experience. Here is a man who has been an entrepreneur, and a remarkably successful business man. He has now taken on, as I know from my own experience in the Department, a responsibility that requires that business acumen, and I am sure that the hon. Gentleman and others of his colleagues will congratulate him on having it.
[That this House notes that the number of speed cameras has risen dramatically on UK roads; further notes that the Government itself has admitted that not all of them are appropriately placed and that motorists are increasingly frustrated that many of them are installed as a cash raising mechanism; and calls on the Government to launch a thorough review of all speed camera locations leading to the removal of cameras which do not improve road safety.]
Is it possible to arrange for a transport Minister to come to the House to state whether there will be a full review of the siting of speed cameras? He will be aware that many people believe that the cameras are there to raise
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money, not to reduce accidents on the roads. A number of my constituents will no doubt be opening letters today telling them that they have been nobbled for doing 36 mph in a 30-mph zone, and they will find it incongruous that a police officer could be clocked for doing 159 mph and get away with it.
Mr. Hoon: I am not going to be tempted into commenting on recent court decisions, but if the hon. Gentleman is anxious to have a debate on the subject, it sounds like a perfect topic for an Adjournment debate or indeed a debate in Westminster Hall.
John Bercow (Buckingham) (Con): In warmly congratulating the Leader of the House on his appointment, may I politely urge him to seek, above all, to emulate the example of two of his predecessorsthe Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the right hon. Member for Livingston (Robin Cook), who always handled the skill of dealing with the House in a courteous and robust fashion? If he can do as well as that, he will be doing remarkably well indeed.
Given the publication of the report of the Commission for Africa, the imperative of trade reform, the pandemic of AIDS and the overriding requirement for deep and thoroughgoing debt relief, does the right hon. Gentleman agree that a decision by the Government no longer to relegate those issues to the subsidiary chamber of Westminster Hall, but rather to guarantee regular debates on motions for Adjournment on the Floor of the House, would send out a powerful signal about our seriousness of purpose and our strength of feeling on issues crucial to the future of the planet?
Mr. Hoon: Again, I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his kind words. Whether it is possible always to be both courteous and robust will be a matter that he will judge in the weeks and months to come. I shall certainly endeavour to represent the views of the House and to ensure that it is treated in accordance with best principles.
The Prime Minister has made clearit was also set out in the Queen's Speechthe importance that he attaches to the issues that the hon. Member for Buckingham (John Bercow) has championed in the House in a number of fine speeches. I can assure him that those issues will be a priority both for the Government's handling of the G8 and of the EU. Inevitably, too, they will rightly be dealt with on the Floor of the House on a regular basis.
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Mr. Patrick McLoughlin (West Derbyshire) (Con): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Could you instruct the Serjeant at Arms to check whether the Annunciator monitors are working in all the parliamentary buildings? Clearly, Labour Members are unaware that the House is sitting todayor perhaps they do not know that our sittings now start at 10.30 on Thursdays, even though they voted for those changes. Otherwise they would be in their places to question the Leader of the House on our future business.
Secretary Margaret Beckett, supported by the Prime Minister, Mr. Secretary Prescott, Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Secretary Darling, Mr. Secretary Hain and Jim Knight presented a Bill to make provision about bodies concerned with the natural environment and rural communities; to make provision in connection with wildlife, sites of special scientific interest, National Parks and the Broads; to amend the law relating to rights of way; to make provision as to the Inland Waterways Amenity Advisory Council; to provide for flexible administrative arrangements in connection with functions relating to the environment and rural affairs and certain other functions; and for connected purposes: And the same was read the First time; and ordered to be read a Second time on Monday 23 May and to be printed. Explanatory notes to be printed [Bill 3].
Mr. Secretary Hain, supported by the Prime Minister, Mr. Secretary Prescott, Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Secretary Darling, Secretary Alan Johnson, Mr. Secretary Clarke, Mr. John Hutton, Bridget Prentice and Nick Ainger, presented a Bill to make provision about transport to, from and within Wales: And the same was read the First time; and ordered to be read a Second time on Monday 23 May, and to be printed. Explanatory notes to be printed [Bill 4].