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All those who played such an excellent role in securing the Olympics for London and the United
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Kingdom, including the noble Lord Coe, are to be congratulated on their efforts. I said earlier that I will explore through the usual channels the suggestion that the House be regularly informed not only about developments in the process of the Bill, but about the financial consequences. It is important that we have regular debates and discussions on how the preparations for the games are proceeding.
Keith Vaz (Leicester, East) (Lab): The Leader of the House is aware that, this week, the Lord Chancellor published proposals on legal aid that will effectively mean a cut in the criminal legal aid budget. That will have a dramatic effect not just on high street firms, but on the quality of barristers that we get in this area of law. As a former legal aid Minister, the Leader of the House will know that there are difficult judgments to be made on this issue, but it is important that we discuss the whole budget and the proposals before they are implemented.
Mr. Hoon: Having spent two years of my ministerial career grappling with the subtleties of legal aid and its regulations, and with the response of the legal professions when I attempted a modest changeusually, the response was extremely generousI recognise that this is a sensitive and important issue. I had understood that my right hon. Friend the Lord Chancellor's proposals were essentially concerned with large and expensive criminal cases, but I am certainly willing to look again at them. If they have a more extensive application, I will re-examine this issue. However, I do not see why such large and expensive criminal cases will necessarily have the impact on the high street that my hon. Friend suggests.
Rev. Ian Paisley (North Antrim) (DUP): May I associate my hon. Friends, myself and the people of Northern Ireland with the comments of the Leader of the House, the Leader of Her Majesty's Opposition and the Liberal Democrat spokesman? We in Northern Ireland have passed this way many times. We have walked down the dark road, the bloody road, the road of separation, and we can sympathise. Not one of my members has not been attacked. Fortunately, we have all come out of those attacks, but many people have not. They leave behind them those who sorrow, many of whom do so hopelessly. We have walked this way, and we understand the feelings of the whole country at this time. I welcome the fact that the Government spokesman made it clear that there will be no giving in, no surrender to this matter, and that we will see in this country what we saw in Northern Ireland after the bombings and killings: signs up saying, "business as usual". Let the democrats make it business as usual, and with strength and fortitude walk on to a day when this scourge will be cleansed from this nation.
Michael Connarty (Linlithgow and East Falkirk) (Lab):
Notwithstanding this morning's terrible events, I am sure that the Leader of the House will agree that this country's music industry and musicians are very
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important to us. Does the Department for Culture, Media and Sport intend to respond to early-day motion 270, which is concerned with sound recording copyright for British artists?
[That this House notes that the copyright of performers and recordings made in the United Kingdom and the European Union is limited to 50 years, whereas performers' sound recording copyright continues for 95 years in the USA and for an average of 75 years in most non-EU countries; recognises that UK and EU recording artists are often denied income from the playing of their recordings during their lifetime; and calls on the Government to recognise this as denial of income due to living recording artists for their work and to alter UK and EU copyright laws to correct this injustice.]
As the early-day motion points out, in this country such copyright lasts for only 50 years, whereas in the USA it lasts for 95 years and the world average is 75 years. Does my right hon. Friend realise that, when people play the recorded music of artists such as Dame Vera Lynn, she receives no royalties? The same is true of some of the music of Cliff Richard, Humphrey Lyttleton and many other artists. Is it not time that we treated such people fairly during their lives and allowed them to receive royalties for the playing of their sound recordings in the UK?
Mr. Hoon: Hon. Members are being unusually kind today in allowing me to range over my previous experience. As a Member of the European Parliament, I dealt routinely with several copyright directives that affected sound and music. I certainly share my hon. Friend's concern about the lack of protection for some of our performers. I know that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport is considering the problem as a matter of urgency and with great seriousness, and I will ensure that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State writes to my hon. Friend when she returns from her successful visit to Singapore.
Sandra Gidley (Romsey) (LD): The Leader of the House will recall that, last week, hon. Members of all parties raised the subject of the workers at APW Electronics, whose pension fund was wound up in circumstances that meant that they will be eligible for only 20 per cent. of their pensions. Will he impress on the Minister for Pensions Reform the necessity of coming to the House and explaining why financially prudent people who have done everything that successive Governments have asked of them are not being considered for any sort of compensation, when the numbers involved are small and the money could make a lot of difference to many people's lives?
As the hon. Lady said, the issue has been raised previously. There are obviously rules that affect whether the Government are in a position to provide appropriate compensation. The Government have provided significant sums for assistance to employees whose pension scheme has failed, but one of the conditions is that the principal employer should be insolvent. I understand that that is not the position in the case that she mentions. The Government believe that
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solvent employers have a duty to support their schemes and provide the benefits that members were expecting. That is the Government's position on the case.
Joan Walley (Stoke-on-Trent, North) (Lab): May I revert to the successful Olympic bid? When the Leader of the House is considering how Parliament will scrutinise the Bill, it is important to ensure that the benefits extend to the whole country, especially construction services throughout the country. Given the increase that we will need in construction skills, regeneration and building, will my right hon. Friend arrange for an early debate in the House to consider adequate funding throughout the country for the construction skills that are needed for regeneration? We especially do not want a cut in local budgets for further education colleges.
Mr. Hoon: My hon. Friend makes an important point. Although the bid's strength was its concentration in a specific area of London, benefits will clearly flow to the whole country. People throughout the country were delighted by the bid's success. She is right that there should be some consideration of the national benefits that will flow from the bid's success. I am sure that that can properly be raised in the Second Reading debate that I previously announced. I am also aware that it is already anticipated that some of the facilities that will be provided in that narrow and focused area for the games will be used elsewhere in the country. There will be national benefits through opportunities for, as my hon. Friend suggests, construction companies, and some of the tangible results of those efforts will be spread around the country.
Mr. Eric Forth (Bromley and Chislehurst) (Con): May we have a debate entitled "Should Civil Servants be able to Speak Out Freely?", in the context of the inspirational comments of Louise Casey, a civil servant who is apparently close to the Prime Minister? She said, among other things, in the context of advice to Ministers, who should listen:
Mr. Hoon: I wonder whether the right hon. Gentleman took the same view of civil servants speaking out when he was a distinguished Minister. I do not recall his advocating from the Government Benches the right of his civil servants to speak out publicly. Whether he did or not, there is a code that conditions circumstances in which civil servants may speak out. I am sure that it will be properly applied in the case that he mentions.
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