Clearly, as the Leader of the House says, the business of the House is overshadowed by this morning's dreadful events in London. It is obviously too early to know the full details of what has happened, but I know that the whole House will wish to echo the sentiments expressed by the right hon. Gentleman and
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send our sympathies to all those caught up in these terrible incidents. We also want to express our gratitude to the emergency services and the medical staff at London hospitals who are currently dealing with the problems and working to help the victims.
I am grateful to the Leader of the House and, indeed, to the Home Secretary for agreeing to come to the House so soon to brief Members about what has happened. I ask the Leader of the House to ensure that, as matters develop over the rest of today and over the next few days, Members are regularly updated so that we are kept informed of what is happening in relation to these events. Does he agree that it is essential that we do not allow terrorists to undermine the democratic process in this country? They must not be allowed to undermine the fabric of our society and we must resist them with 100 per cent. vigour.
This morning's news has clearly diverted attention away from the Olympic bid, but the Leader of the House and I want to add our voices to the congratulations sent yesterday to Lord Coe and the bid team. Will the Leader give us more information about the timetable that he envisages for the Olympic Bill? How quickly will it be able to pass through the House? Clearly, it needs to be properly scrutinised, but Conservative Members would like to see it pass into law as quickly as possible, subject to that proper scrutiny, to help the bid team migrate into the games team. We can then start the long and hard process of making the games a reality.
Mr. Hoon: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman. It is important to have up-to-date and accurate information to put before the House. I know that the relevant Ministers are currently meeting, but my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary will provide more detail as and when he cannot only, I hope, at the end of business questions, but throughout the day and as and when necessary. The hon. Gentleman is right that we need to demonstrate to those who are trying to disrupt our society and democracy that we will not in any way be intimidated by their threats.
As far as the Olympic Bill is concerned, I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for observing that it is important to get the legislation through as quickly as possible. Clearly, the Bill will require appropriate scrutiny, but we have already allotted a day before the summer recess to allow the Bill to make rapid progress thereafter.
[That this House recognises that there continues to be a real risk of persecution in Zimbabwe for those who are perceived to be politically active in opposition to the government and the ruling party, and acknowledges that some people such as Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) activist and supporters are more at risk than others; further notes that there are an estimated
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1,800 Zimbabweans in the UK who have failed in their attempts to win asylum; and based on the recommendations of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, urges the Government to review its policy of returning Zimbabweans who have failed in their efforts to be granted asylum.]
I am sorry to return to the subject, but we seem to be getting nowhere. I appreciate that the Home Secretary is particularly busy today, but the question of the large numbers of asylum seekers on hunger strike, two of whom face a particularly serious situation, is an important one. Yesterday Lord Justice Collins asked the Home Secretary not to deport any more Zimbabwean asylum seekers until he considers the matter in more detail on 4 August. Can we have an assurance that this matter will be debated and that we will have some sort of statement over the next two days? Some people's lives are really at risk.
Mr. Hoon: My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary made a written statement yesterday on removals. He set out in some detail the basis on which the Home Office approaches these issues and provided information about those currently refusing food. Food is available to all those who are being detained and they are seen daily by a medical practitioner to check their condition. I can tell the House than none has been hospitalised at this stage.
Mr. David Heath (Somerton and Frome) (LD): On a day when it is right that all parties in the House demonstrate how we stand together on such matters, may I associate my right hon. and hon. Friends and myself with the comments made by the Leader of the House and the Conservative spokesman? I also wish to express our thanks to those in the emergency services for their work, which I saw for my own eyes at Aldgate this morning. Their work is extraordinary and very much appreciated.
I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for both the statement later this morning and his readiness to ensure that the House is kept properly informed. Of course, that statement will necessarily be a very early assessment of the situation, and it will be necessary to come back, perhaps on more than one occasion, to explore the issues involved more fully.
On other matters, is it possible in the near future to hold a debate on the United Kingdom's bilateral relationships with the United States? It seems an entirely appropriate moment to consider both the positive aspects of those relationships and the difficulties that the two nations face jointly. I am very aware of the concerns that have been expressed on Capitol hill, for instance, about the future conduct of our policy in Iraq. It is right that the House should also have the opportunity to discuss those matters and others, such as our arrangements on extradition and other security issues.
Is it possible for the Leader of the House to look again at the way Northern Irish legislation is debated in the House? It is becoming a matter of great concern both to those who represent Northern Ireland constituencies and to other hon. Members who have an interest that legislation is passed by virtue of statutory instruments
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with no capacity for amendment. There is a limit to the extent to which legislation can be properly scrutinised in that way. Is it not appropriate that we now look again at how we approach those issues?
Lastly, we would also wish, of course, to be associated with what should have been a day of celebration on winning the Olympics for London. We look forward to the Bill that the Leader of the House has indicated will be introduced. Perhaps I could just make one suggestion to him. A very large sum of public money will necessarily be involved in setting up the Olympics for 2012, and it will cover a great number of Departments. May I suggest that there might be a role for a special Select Committee of the House to scrutinise overall the arrangements for the Olympics from now until 2012, so that the House can consider what is and is not happeningprogress and non-progressand ensure that the House is properly represented and has the opportunity to make sure that the Government are playing their role to the fullest extent?
On the specific points that he raises, the US-UK bilateral relationship is an excellent, outstanding one. Although I am sure that the Government would welcome a debate emphasising the positive aspects of that relationship, I do not anticipate the need for one, given the quality and strength of the relationship already.
As for Northern Ireland legislation, I have indicated in answer to previous questions on the subject that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland is looking at the situation. Obviously, although legislation is enacted for Northern Ireland by statutory instrument, there has generally previously been debate on the primary legislation, as it extends to other parts of the United Kingdom, so it is not as though such legislation is never debated in the way that the hon. Gentleman suggests.
As for public money, obviously, we are confident that an appropriate funding arrangement has been put in place for the Olympic games. Indeed, in my judgment, that is one of the strengths of the bid that proved successful. Certainly, the hon. Gentleman's suggestion about a special Select Committee is something that will be considered through the usual channelsalthough, obviously, it is ultimately a matter for the House.
David Taylor (North-West Leicestershire) (Lab/Co-op):
The Government will shortly announce the results of their consultation on updating part L of the building regulations, part of the objective being to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 25 per cent. to comply with legally binding elements of the Kyoto agreement. Will the Leader of the House ask the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister to put up a Minister to respond to an urgent debate on those proposals? The model used in themthe notional housewill make the incorporation of chimneys in new houses highly unattractive in future. That will be very damaging to the British flue and chimney manufacturing industry, which involves many thousands of jobs, including at factories in my constituency. Before the consultation results are
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announced, may we please have a debate? I have bid for a debate in the House but, as yet, have been unsuccessful.