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Mr. Hoon: I have had the privilege of meeting the Chief Constable of Northern Ireland on a number of occasions, and I know how seriously he views his responsibilities and recognises how important it is to provide appropriate security for the people of Northern Ireland. I also know that operational matters are for chief constables. Certainly, however, I shall ensure that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland is made aware of the hon. Gentleman's concern on this question.
Mr. Andrew Love (Edmonton) (Lab/Co-op): My right hon. Friend will be aware that next Wednesday, 6 July, the International Olympic Committee will take its decision on the siting of the 2012 Olympic games. I am sure that Members in all parts of the House will want to wish London's bid well, as it is good for London and the United Kingdom. I am sure that there will be lots of celebrations when we win. Will he celebrate in the House by introducing the Olympics Bill before the summer recess?
I am warned by my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) from a sedentary
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position that I should not tempt fate, and he is right that we should not anticipate the result of the important decision to be announced next Wednesday in Singapore. I would like to pay tribute to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, who has led the bid, and to the noble Lord Coe, who has worked extraordinarily hard to put the United Kingdom in a position in which the games could come to London. Obviously, every last effort has been made and will continue to be made before the result is announced. If the bid is successful, the Government are determined to bring the Bill before the House as soon as possible to allow the necessary work to take place to host a hugely successful games in London in 2012.
Mr. Eric Forth (Bromley and Chislehurst) (Con): Can we please have a debate entitled, "Can we believe a word that the Prime Minister ever says about emissions?" The Leader of the House will no doubt have noticed that the Prime Minister is in the habit of causing enormous traffic jams, and emissions, in the vicinity of the Houses of Parliament, owing to his usual arrogance in insisting on being swept through the traffic. Would it not be a better example, which might cause us to believe what he says on the subject, were he to walk from Downing street and Whitehall, in the course of which he might meet the odd real person?
Mr. Hoon: I am sorry that the right hon. Gentleman takes that view. He will know, as I know, that the Metropolitan police, who are responsible for security in the immediate vicinity of the House, have always protected Prime Ministers in the light of the security threat then prevailing. It is obviously important, as has always been made clear, that right hon. and hon. Members should have the absolute right to come to proceedings of the House, and I assure him that I will investigate whether there have been circumstances in which their access has been unreasonably prevented.
Miss Anne Begg (Aberdeen, South) (Lab): While there has been a lot of controversy about the BBC weather forecast and the change in the graphics, the Leader of the House may not be aware that some restructuring is proposed for the Met Office, which might include the closure of the Aberdeen Met Office. Aberdeen has built up world expertise, particularly in marine forecasting, and since that office took over the shipping forecast last year, accuracy has increased. Obviously, good, accurate weather forecasts are important for fishing and the offshore oil and gas industry. Will he find time to debate the work of the Met Office some time soon?
As I have told the House before, one of the more unlikely responsibilities of the Secretary of State for Defence is responsibility for the Met Office. I had the privilege of visiting its facilities on a number of occasions, notably its new facility in Exetera magnificent new building where its excellent work continues. I will, however, ensure that my hon. Friend's anxieties about the Aberdeen facility are communicated to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence, who will no doubt take a particular and local interest.
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Chris Huhne (Eastleigh) (LD): Could time be made for us to debate a serious matter affecting a number of my constituents who have been employed at the APW plant in Chandlers Ford? Their pension scheme recently suffered a substantial reduction. In some cases pensionable benefit has been cut by as much as 77 per cent., and sadly the scheme falls between the financial assistance scheme and the pension protection fund. I gather that a number of other Members' constituents are subject to schemes that are in the same category. I think it important for us to have time to discuss the problem, and I think that the Leader of the House should convey to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions the seriousness with which we view it.
Mr. Hoon: The Government have of course addressed the major problems arising from shortfalls in pension schemes. There will always be schemes that fall outside the provision that has been made. I am sure that the commission established by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions will be able to examine the circumstances, but obviously we must provide a proper decent pension for all members of society, and that is the Government's ambition.
Ms Gisela Stuart (Birmingham, Edgbaston) (Lab): Tickets for the Australian test match at Edgbaston in early August are currently trading at about twice their face value on the internet. Increasing use of the internet makes it difficult for sport organisations to control the resale of tickets in the interests of public order. The Football Association currently has power to prohibit the resale of tickets in the case of designated matches. Is it not time we gave similar powers to those in charge of cricket and rugby matches, especially as, if the London bid succeeds, we shall have to change legislation this year in any case?
Mr. Hoon: That important issue has arisen in connection with a number of prominent events lately. It causes a great deal of irritation, aggravation and anger to those with a legitimate interest in a sport or event who are unable to secure tickets at a fair and reasonable price. I assure my hon. Friend that I will take it up with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.
Sir Patrick Cormack (South Staffordshire) (Con): I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his kind remarks earlier. If I am fortunate enough to obtain leave of the House to introduce a Bill to amend the Representation of the People Act in respect of deceased candidates, will he meet me, and sponsors from all the major parties in the House, to discuss the framing of a Bill that will be acceptable and can be enacted quickly?
I should be delighted to meet the hon. Gentleman to discuss the Bill, although the matter is not as straightforward as has sometimes been suggested. Clearly it will be in the interests of the political parties represented at any given election to have the opportunity of putting up a candidate. The hon. Gentleman did, of course, have the privilege of spending even more time in a beautiful part of the country before his recent election. Now that he is back with us, I should, as I say, be delighted to meet him to discuss his proposal.
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[That this House welcomes the Crossrail project as an opportunity to deliver crucial economic and transport benefits to the nation that must not be missed; notes that Crossrail's business case is a strong one and that Crossrail enjoys overwhelming support from business, the unions and the public; notes, in addition to many transport and regeneration bodies, recent research by the Centre for Economic and Business Research indicating that Crossrail will add £23.7 billion to the UK's Gross Domestic Product by 2023 and support thousands of jobs in manufacturing and services in every region that would not otherwise exist; calls for the Crossrail Bill, without which the scheme cannot be built, be considered as a top priority; looks forward to a constructive debate on the issue of funding; celebrates the hard work and expertise of those responsible for developing the scheme; pledges to scrutinise the effect of the construction on the different communities along the line; and calls on the Government to bring forward the Second Reading of the Crossrail Bill and do all it can to make the Crossrail scheme and its benefits a reality to the public at the earliest opportunity.]
When will we debate Second Reading of the Crossrail Bill? First Reading took place in the last Parliament, and the matter is of some importance not just to my constituents but to many other Members who support Crossrail in the all-party group on the subject.
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