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Mr. Hoon: I cannot promise the right hon. and learned Gentleman an early debate, but I can assure him that we have had a national debate on Government promisesit was called the general election. We set out the Government's promises in our manifesto. I am sorry that more Opposition Members have chosen not to read it, because that is the manifesto on which this country will be governed during this parliamentary Session. Those promises were obviously supported by a much larger number of members of the electorate than were, unfortunately, the promises set out by the Opposition.
Dan Norris (Wansdyke) (Lab): In light of today's news regarding the Victoria Climbié case, whereby the social worker who had been banned from working with children is now able to do so, could we have an early debate on child protection issues? Does the Leader of the House agree that one mark of a civilised society is that those who have to be charged with looking after and protecting our children have the necessary resources, supervision, training and salaries to ensure that the important work that they do is properly rewarded?
My hon. Friend is absolutely right to raise this important but sensitive issue. I hope that he and the House will forgive me if I do not comment on a particular case and a particular legal process that has
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been concluded, but he is right to call for a proper discussion about the way in which these important and sensitive matters are resolved.
Dr. Julian Lewis (New Forest, East) (Con): May we have an urgent statement from the Health Secretary on the catastrophic state of affairs regarding the New Forest primary care trust? With a multi-million pound deficit, it is finding excuses to close down in-patient beds in cottage hospitals. It is threatening to close all those beds. It promised a consultation exercise. It has not held it, yet it has reduced the options from five to twoone is that it will close most of the beds, and the other that it will close all the beds. This is a total breach of faith with the people of the New Forest. It is a scandal, and we urgently need an investigation.
Mr. Hoon: The hon. Gentleman is not known for his modest use of language, and I am not personally familiar with the circumstances in the particular trust that he describes, but I am looking forward to reading his speech in the Adjournment debate that he may apply for, when I will learn a great deal more about the issue.
Ms Celia Barlow (Hove) (Lab): Is my right hon. Friend aware of the excellent work that is carried out in my local NHS trust by the Lawson clinic in the area of post-exposure prophylaxis, known as PEP? Is he aware that although PEP is available to some of my constituents in Hove and Portslade, it is unfortunately not available universally? PEP is a treatment given to people who have been exposed to HIV. It has to be undertaken within 72 hours of potential exposure and is up to 80 per cent. effective in preventing the HIV virus from taking hold. May I urge my right hon. Friend to consider a debate on making PEP available in sexual health clinics and accident and emergency departments throughout the United Kingdom?
Mr. Hoon: I am extremely grateful to my hon. Friend for making that information available to me and to the House, as I am sure that many other right hon. and hon. Members are not familiar with that detail. Again, I am sure that it would be an appropriate subject for an Adjournment debate here or in Westminster Hall.
Sir John Stanley (Tonbridge and Malling) (Con): Is the Leader of the House aware that following the 2001 general election, which took place on 7 June that year, the Government's proposals for the membership of Select Committees first appeared on the Order Paper precisely five weeks later, on 12 July? Is he further aware that following this year's general election on 5 May, the same five-week period is up as of today? Is it not incumbent upon him, given the importance of Select Committees in scrutinising the performance of this Government, to ensure that they are set up forthwith?
It is important that the Committees are set up at an early stage. I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for drawing the matter to my attention again. It is the second time this week that it has been raised with me and I have certainly got the message. However, it is important that the processes of the
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political parties, which are responsible for making nominations, are allowed to continue on a proper and appropriate course.
Ann McKechin (Glasgow, North) (Lab): May I add my voice from the Labour Benches to a request for a full debate in the Chamber on Africa before the G8 summit, and especially for a discussion on the Commission for Africa report? It is a major and important work, yet we have not had an opportunity in the House for a full discussion of it.
Mr. Hoon: My hon. Friend is right to raise that important issue and I assure her that the Government are considering as a matter of some urgency finding an appropriate time for such a debate.
Mr. Nigel Dodds (Belfast, North) (DUP): I welcome the fact that we will have a short debate next Thursday on a motion under the Northern Ireland Act 1998 about taking sanctions against Sinn Fein. That is right and proper, but may I press the Leader of the House for a more wide-ranging debate, in Government time and in the Chamber, on Northern Ireland generally? We have not held such a debate for many years. Given the changed political circumstances after the election, does the right hon. Gentleman agree that it is an appropriate time to take stock of the situation and to hold an early debate?
Mr. Hoon: The hon. Gentleman makes an important point about an important part of the United Kingdom. I shall draw his observations to the attention of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.
Andrew Miller (Ellesmere Port and Neston) (Lab): My right hon. Friend is aware of the importance of Airbus 350 not only to the north-west of England and north Wales, where the wings are built, but to the whole country. It is important for Airbus itself and new carbon fibre technology. Will he arrange for an early statement by relevant Department of Trade and Industry or Treasury Ministers on repayable launch investment in that important project?
Mr. Hoon: My hon. Friend has been assiduous in his support for a vital aspect of British industry, working in close collaboration with our European partners. The Prime Minister has shown strong support for the initiative and, I believe, has recently met my hon. Friend and other hon. Members whose constituencies are affected by Airbus Industries. My hon. Friend is also right to note that the benefit of Airbus Industries spreads throughout the United Kingdom. I assure him that, once appropriate discussions have been concluded, the House will be informed of the result of the requests.
Sir George Young (North-West Hampshire) (Con): The shadow Leader of the House asked whether we could have a ministerial statement on Zimbabwe. It was not clear from the Leader of the House's comments whether the answer was yes or no.
May we have an early debate on the Puttnam Commission's report, which the Hansard Society published earlier this week? It made several
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recommendations, which would enable the House to assert its independence of the Executive. The right hon. Gentleman has joined in the debate in the columns of The Guardian; may we all join in it by having a debate in the House?
Mr. Hoon: I am sure that there will opportunities for hon. Members to raise concerns about Zimbabwe, not least at the forthcoming Foreign Office questions.
I shall meet Lord Puttnam next week, when we will continue the debate. I am sure that, in time, it will spill over on to the Floor of the House.
Mr. Paul Truswell (Pudsey) (Lab): There has been a great deal of discussion in recent days about congestion charging, which can only ever be part of a package of essential measures, not least the improvement of public transport. To that end, will my right hon. Friend prevail on my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport to include in any debate or statement to the House the possible extension of the use of quality bus contracts, so that we can move to a position whereby services are tailored to meet the needs of passengers and communities, not simply the demands of shareholders?
Mr. Hoon: My hon. Friend makes an interesting point, which he will be able to raise directly with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport, not least when he has finished speaking today.
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