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Mr. Hoon: After that detailed exposition of the issue, I anticipate that my hon. Friend will perhaps not need a debate, but the issue is obviously complex, and I should have thought it suitable for debate in Westminster Hall or on the Adjournment. Certainly, he can apply for an urgent debate in the normal way, but I will ensure that my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister is made aware of his concerns and, no doubt, he will write to him in the usual way.
Sir George Young (North-West Hampshire) (Con): I welcome the debate on Wednesday setting up the Select Committees and debating the revised code of conduct. I think that the Leader of the House also mentioned that we would debate other House business. Could he shed some light on that and indicate how he envisages the debate on Wednesday being structured if we are to debate a number of different issues?
Mr. Hoon: I hope to put a number of issues before the House by Wednesday. There are some consequential changes, following the appointment of the new Select Committees, and there will be a number of other tidying-up aspects, if I may call them that. Some of the orders already appear on the Order Paper. As I indicated earlier, I hope to place others on the Order Paper later today. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman and other hon. Members will accept that this is an important opportunity for the House to debate a number of issues of great concern to right hon. and hon. Members. I hope therefore that he will allow me a little time in which to table as many orders as appropriate, so that the House can thoroughly consider all aspects of its business. It seems to meI hope that he agreesthat this is an opportunity for us to debate as much as we can of our Standing Orders and procedures at the start of a new Parliament.
Tom Levitt (High Peak) (Lab): I do not know whether my right hon. Friend recalls a conversation that we had in 1991, when he had the privilege of representing me and a few thousand others in the European Parliament. At that time, we discussed the need to reform the common agricultural policy, and I am sure that there is unanimity in the House about the Prime Minister's initiative to use the European Union presidency to make major reforms to the CAP not just from the point of view of agriculture, but from that of the developing world. Can we look forward at an early stage to the publication of proposals on what changes we hope to get in the CAP?
Of course I recall precisely the specific conversation that my hon. Friend mentions, not least because I was regularly talking about the reform of the CAP at the time, and it is important that we continue the efforts. There has been substantial change in the way in which that policy operates, and I know that that is something that he and other hon. Members have strongly supported over very many years. It is a priority for the Government during our presidency that we should set in motion the process of further reform of the
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CAP, not least because of the impact that it has on developing nationsa matter that has been much in the public eye in recent timesso I hope that that process will continue successfully. However, we should reflect on the fact that not all farmers in my hon. Friend's constituencyan area that I know wellenjoy enormous financial support from the CAP. I saw a report this week on the plight of hill farmers in places such as the High Peak of Derbyshire, where they certainly often struggle to make ends meet financially. We should not always assume that every farmer benefits enormously from the CAP. That is often far from the case.
Tony Baldry (Banbury) (Con): I wonder whether the Leader of the House could give some thought during his busy week to ministerial courtesies. When we in the Opposition were fortunate enough to be Ministers and Members of Parliamentour parliamentary colleaguesasked to see us, we went out of our way to ensure that they did, particularly Opposition MPs, because we were very conscious of the fact that they could not usually nobble us or get to us in the Division Lobby. In the past couple of weeks, I have made written requests on perfectly valid constituency issuesone was on a community hospital, the other on the effect of the closure of a railway lineto see two of his ministerial colleagues that have been dealt with fairly peremptorily by one paragraph letters. The Leader of the House has expressed concern about turnout at general elections. It is not surprising if turnout falls at general elections if Ministers are contemptuous of the perfectly legitimate concerns of Members of Parliament. It is a matter of courtesy that perhaps he could take up with his colleagues.
Mr. Hoon: I am concerned to learn that. Since becoming a Minister, I have never refused a request from an hon. Member to see me in my ministerial capacity. That has certainly been my practice, and I would hope that all my other ministerial colleagues adopted the same course. If the hon. Gentleman would like to write to me in confidence, I will look at the matter and take it up with the appropriate Ministers.
Mr. Michael Foster (Worcester) (Lab): Sport will have a major boost over the next few years with the Olympic games coming to London, but may I ask my right hon. Friend to do what he can to ensure that non-Olympic sports such as cricket are not excluded from the increased resources and increased participation in which, I hope, this development will result? With that in mind, will he arrange for a debate on the future of state school cricket, so that we can look at ways of making it far more competitive, and put it on an equal footing with the cricket played in the independent sector?
I once tried to demonstrate how cricket is played to my American family, with conspicuous lack of success. It is certainly important that, in providing the extra funding that goes to sport, such funding is associated not only with the Olympic bid, but with the Government's overall programme for supporting sporting excellence in this country and that we do not neglect sports such as cricket, which are clearly hugely important to the people of the United Kingdom.
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Mr. William Cash (Stone) (Con): The Leader of the House may have noticed my Bill, published today, entitled the International Development (Anti-corruption Audit) Bill. He may also have noticed that the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee is a signatory to it, and that there is deep concern about whether the public accounts of certain developing countries measure up to the efficiency requirements. Moreover, there is the question of corruption and of where the money is going. Given that this issue will come before the G8 tomorrow, will the Leader of the House draw the attention of the Secretary of State for International Development and of the Prime Minister to this Bill? I hope that the Prime Minister will indeed discuss the issue with the other members of the G8. This Bill is a very important cog in the practical delivery of the prevention of corruption.
Mr. Hoon: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for drawing this issue to the House's attention, not least because the National Audit Office has considerable international expertise in this field, which it makes available to countries that might benefit from it. He doubtless knows that the G8 is acutely concerned about the standards of practices in developing countries in respect of financial probity and regularity; indeed, it is likely to attach some conditionality in that direction when it comes to the provision of aid and debt cancellation. I know that my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for International Development have this important issue at the forefront of their minds.
Andrew Miller (Ellesmere Port and Neston) (Lab): I know that my right hon. Friend enjoyed, as I did, last week's fantastic fleet review. Did he share my disappointment at the poor quality of the outside broadcasting, particularly by the BBC? Will he organise a debate on outside broadcasting, so that we can determine whether the BBC faced a resource problem or whether what happened was a policy matter? If the latter was the case, it should be condemned.
Mr. Hoon: I was proud to be part of last week's fleet review, on board the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Wave Ruler. The BBC were not on board, which perhaps explains the problem that my hon. Friend mentions. I am sure that the BBC, which follows our proceedings closely, will have already noted his point. An appropriate BBC official will doubtless write to him immediately.
Mr. Andrew Mackay (Bracknell) (Con): Before this morning's dreadful events, this was going to be a second day of great celebrations of London's successful Olympic bid. Those of us who served in the Government Whips Office with Lord Coe were pleased to note that our efforts were not entirely wasted. Will the Leader of the House seriously consider the comments of the hon. Member for Somerton and Frome (Mr. Heath)? We need a process through which this House can monitor developments between now and when the Olympics take place, be it a Select Committee or appropriate Ministers coming regularly to the Dispatch Box.
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