Mr. Alistair Carmichael (Orkney and Shetland) (LD): May we have an early statement from the Home Secretary on the possible use of section 44 of the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2000 for the policing of protests that relate to the various G8 events in different parts of the United Kingdom? Does the Leader of the House accept that it is wrong for police forces to use powers that were given to them by this House for the purpose of combating terrorism to frustrate and harass people seeking to express their views on a matter of such importance? After the summit, may we have a statement on the powers that the different police forces used and the basis on which they were employed so that we know how the powers that we give police forces are used?
Mr. Hoon: I am not sure whether the hon. Gentleman's observations are wholly consistent with the current devolution arrangements. Aside from that, I recognise that, in the event of large-scale demonstrations in different parts of the United Kingdom, it will be necessary for the matter to be considered and perhaps for questions to be asked in the House about it.
Dr. Alan Whitehead (Southampton, Test) (Lab): Is my right hon. Friend aware of the European Union's expectation that member states' response to the implementation of the waste electrical and electronic equipment directive should be in place by the summer? Is he also awareI suspect he may not bethat the discussions on implementation by the clearing-house model, which was to deal with the matter, have been inconclusive? Will he find time for a debate on the directive and its implementation and perhaps also on that of the hazardous waste directive?
I am discovering that one of the joys of this job is the understanding that I am assumed to have of a
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wide range of different European and national Government initiatives. I recognise the underlying importance of the directive to which my hon. Friend referred. A company in my constituency has raised the matter, so I am aware of the concerns that retailers and manufacturers have. However, the directive is to fulfil an important function and therefore needs to be implemented effectively. I will certainly draw my hon. Friend's observations to the attention of the appropriate Minister.
Mr. Nigel Evans (Ribble Valley) (Con): May we have a debate on public transport at the earliest opportunity? Sadly, it is not a problem of congestionof buses in rural areasthat I suffer from, and a debate would give me an opportunity to raise the problems that local authorities experience with rural bus services, such as the Bowland transit project. It was funded from 2000 with a great fanfare but that local funding has disappeared, the local bus services are being cut and rural people are left high and dry.
Mr. Hoon: I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will forgive me for making a slight political observation about the fact that there was little in the way of financial support for rural bus services before 1997. I do not recall his raising that regularly with the Conservative Government of the time. We have put more money than that Conservative Government into supporting rural bus services and we will continue to do that.
Julie Morgan (Cardiff, North) (Lab): When can we have a debate on Burma? My right hon. Friend knows that more than 200 Members of Parliament there have been imprisoned for their political beliefs in the past 14 years and that 50 remain in prison for that reason. There is also the continuing detention of Aung San Suu Kyi, who celebrates her 60th birthday in house detention next weekend. When can we have an early debate so that we can discuss what the UK Government can do about that appalling situation?
Mr. Hoon: It is important that hon. Members continue to raise the appalling situation in Burma. It was done recently in business questions and I am grateful to my hon. Friend for raising it again. I know that Ministers in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office continue to monitor the position with great concern.
Adam Afriyie (Windsor) (Con): Given the increasing threat of aircraft noise from Heathrow, the approaching consultation on that and the pressure on the roads through the overdevelopment of high density housing in my area, I was alarmed to read in a newspaper the announcement of what appeared to be the new Government policy on transport. Given that I am a new Member, will the Leader of the House confirm that announcements should be made to the House first? Will he also announce an early debate on the effects of overdevelopment, which is ruining our beautiful areas and causing congestion on our roads?
That is precisely why my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport has initiated a public debate on road pricing and the implications of congestion. That debate will need to take place over very
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many years, and it will clearly include other forms of transportnot least, as the hon. Gentleman has rightly observed, the expansion of air flights, which has been remarkable in recent years in this country. It is important to continue to involve the public in the debate on these implicationsas the British Airports Authority has doneas they are the people who are responsible for generating more flights around the country, as well as for using their cars more frequently. It is therefore important that we all engage in that public debate.
Mr. Lindsay Hoyle (Chorley) (Lab): Will my right hon. Friend make time for a debate on our manifesto pledge to introduce free bus travel? We ought to have a debate to find out what "local" means, so that we can all be aware of the good deal that we can give to the pensioners of this country. Can we also extend that debate to cover local rail travel, because that also represents a real alternative that pensioners would value?
Mr. Hoon: I know from previous observations made by my hon. Friend that he is interested in all forms of transport. This is the first time that he has raised with me the question of bus services; he is usually interested in rather larger forms of transport. Nevertheless, I can assure him that the Government and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport are absolutely committed to supporting public transport. We are spending some £230 million a week on improving public transport, and that commitment will continue.
Pete Wishart (Perth and North Perthshire) (SNP): I am glad that the Leader of the House has said that there will be an opportunity to debate the G8, prior to the summit taking place in beautiful Perthshire in Scotland. It is right and proper that the House should discuss these important issues. However, will he guarantee that there will be an opportunity to discuss some of the issues relating to the staging of the event, such as compensation for local residents who might have to pay for damage caused or business lost? There is also the issue of policing. Who will meet the £100 million cost of policing the event?
Mr. Hoon: I told the House earlier that the Government are looking at ways to have a debate on the G8, and I am sure that the hon. Gentleman, as a skilled parliamentarian, will find ways of raising his questions during such an opportunity.
Martin Linton (Battersea) (Lab): May I join the right hon. Member for North-West Hampshire (Sir George Young) in asking the Leader of the House to find time for a debate on the way in which Parliament is seen outside this building, in the light of the Hansard Society report, "Members Only? Parliament in the Public Eye"? In particular, we should like to debate its proposals for a separate chief executive, a House of Commons Commission elected by Members in a secret ballot, and a communications department that would bring together all the people in the House who work with the public but who are currently scattered across four separate departments.
I know that my hon. Friend contributed to that report, which I have read and found extremely
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interesting. It contains many valuable comments about the way in which Parliament functions, and the noble Lord Puttnam and the other members of the commission are to be congratulated on stimulating what I judge to be an extremely important debate. There are ways in which the House has, in the past, considered questions of modernisation, and I hope that it will consider taking a similar approach in the future so that those matters can be discussed by Members.
Alistair Burt (North-East Bedfordshire) (Con): Will the Leader of the House arrange for an urgent debate to take note of the rising anger and frustration of the voluntary sector in Great Britain? It is concerned about the increasing burdens being placed on it by the Government, the latest example of which is the near 400 per cent. increase in inspection charges being demanded of charitable, voluntarily run bodies such as the 39 multiple sclerosis therapy centres in England and Wales. In Bedfordshire, that will cost £40,000 over the next decade. Why do the Government think that that money is better spent on inspection rather than on patient care and the treatment of those suffering from multiple sclerosis?