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Mr. Phil Willis (Harrogate and Knaresborough) (LD): On Monday, the Secretary of State for Health published a report by Nigel Pleming QC into the activities of two former psychiatrists working in North Yorkshire at Kerr Haslam. The report catalogued 20 years of systemic abuse against vulnerable women with psychiatric or mental health disorders. It has taken three Secretaries of State to get the report into a published state. It cost £3.5 million to produce. More than 80 women were involved in the abuse, and the report contains a catalogue of failings in the national health service of which we should all be ashamed. Will the Leader of the House make sure that when we return in the autumn there is a full debate on the report and that the recommendations made by Nigel Pleming are acted on?
Mr. Hoon: I apologise for not being familiar with the particular case, but I will ensure that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State writes a full and detailed account of the Government's reaction to the report.
Mr. Rob Wilson (Reading, East) (Con): Is the Leader of the House aware of the confusion and chaos caused by the Secretary of State for Transport in Tuesday's Second Reading debate on Crossrail? Will he request the Secretary of State to come back to the House to make a statement about the legality of his instruction to the Select Committee on Transport regarding the Crossrail terminuses? I read today in my local newspaper that the Secretary of State has given private assurances to the hon. Member for Reading, West (Martin Salter), which I regard as discourteous to me. I would like assurances that the Committee can consider Reading as the western terminus.
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport is the absolute model of clarity and someone who is always extremely courteous to the House and who always sets out circumstances with absolute precision. There was a procedural debate before Second Reading of the Crossrail Bill. I looked at the terms of that debate, and I think Ministers set out the position very fairly, indicating that it was a matter
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for the Select Committee to consider but saying, very fairlyI am sorry that the hon. Gentleman has not given them credit for thisthat in the event of the Select Committee's believing that its terms were insufficient to deal with the range of issues that might be raised, the matter could come back to the Floor of the House and appropriate adjustments be made. I do not think that the hon. Gentleman could have had a fairer response than that from Ministers.
Mr. Philip Hollobone (Kettering) (Con): As the right hon. Gentleman represents an east midlands constituency, he will be aware of the importance of the boot and shoe industry to Kettering, Northampton and the county of Northamptonshire. Does he share my shock and surprise at the written answer from a Department of Trade and Industry Minister that no specific economic assessment has been made of the Northamptonshire footwear manufacturing industry or of the competitive pressures facing the industry from imports? Will he draw that matter to the attention of relevant Ministers, urge that an urgent statement be made in the House when we return, and allow representations from local industry?
Mr. Hoon: The hon. Gentleman raises an important matter affecting his constituency and constituents. I suggest that if he wants such an assessment made, he should write to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, setting out the position in the normal way.
Mr. Nigel Dodds (Belfast, North) (DUP): May I press the Leader of the House for a general debate in Government time on Northern Ireland when we return? As he knows, it is many years since we have had such a debate, and there are many important issues to discuss, not least those referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, East (Mr. Robinson), but also wider issues such as the attack on our education system, the threatened imposition of water taxes and, not least, the continuing anti-Unionist bias in public appointments. May I urge the Leader of the House to take the matter seriously and to hold a debate when we return?
Mr. Hoon: I accept the importance to the House and to the country of there being such a debate on Northern Ireland. I do not accept all the observations that the hon. Gentleman made in support of his request, but I know that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland is anxious to keep the House as informed as possible of important developments in Northern Ireland.
Greg Clark (Tunbridge Wells) (Con):
As we commemorate the 60th anniversary of VE day, may I ask the Leader of the House to promise an early debate on the national health service treatment of war pensioners? That is of particular concern to Mr. Harry Talbot in my constituency. He is 90 and has a war wound to his leg, yet he has had podiatry care
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withdrawn after many years, on cost-cutting grounds. Does the Leader of the House agree that our heroes deserve better than that?
Mr. Hoon: There has always been a debate in this country about whether we should treat war veteransthose who have given distinguished service on behalf of this countryas a separate category in terms of our overall national health service. The hon. Gentleman will be aware that that is the case in other countries, but generally that is so because their health care provision is not made on the universal basis on which we provide it in this country. The specific answer to the hon. Gentleman is that we endeavour to ensure that everyone, whether or not they have had a distinguished war record, is given the very highest standard of treatment in our national health service. At the risk of repeating myself, that is why the Government have devoted such significant extra resources to the NHS to ensure that standards are not only maintained but improved.
Daniel Kawczynski (Shrewsbury and Atcham) (Con): People in my constituency feel very passionately about democracy. They take voting very seriously. When our former Member of Parliament defected from Labour to the Liberal Democrats, people were very angry, particularly schoolchildren who are learning about politics and who want to protect democracy. Will the Leader of the House give us a debate on my early-day motion 619?
[That this House notes that an honourable Member who defects is not representing the wishes of the electorate who voted for them; believes that an honourable Member who decides to defect must fight a by-election within three months on switching parties in order that the electorate may choose whether to follow their lead; and calls on the Government to approve such a precedent.]
Mr. Hoon: That is an interesting observation. As someone who studied history long before he studied law, I can invite the hon. Gentleman to look, perhaps, at the career of one of our greatest parliamentarians and greatest Prime Ministers. Sir Winston Churchill did, from time to time, leave one party and join another.
Mr. Hoon: Indeed, he went back, which is perhaps relevant to the particular case in question, though not too relevant. The hon. Gentleman will also be aware if he studies that period carefully and the career of Sir Winston Churchill that in those days upon ministerial appointment by-elections had to take placenot something, I assure him, that I recommend to the House.
Sandra Gidley (Romsey) (LD):
The local acute hospitals trust in my constituency is planning to cut beds and move people into the community, but the local primary care trust is consulting on a plan to close all beds in Romsey and the New Forest. Given the deficits and the fact that cuts in district nursing services are also
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threatened, will the Leader of the House ask a Minister to come to the Floor of the House and explain to Members of Parliament in Hampshire just who has their eye on the bigger picture?
Mr. Hoon: Again, without wishing to repeat the statistics, the Government have put enormous resources into our national health service. It is important that those resources are not described as cuts, in the way that the hon. Lady suggested. Inevitably, that extra spending requires that the money be used in the most efficient and effective way possible. We are looking to provide high standards across the country, including in the hon. Lady's constituency.
James Brokenshire (Hornchurch) (Con): Will the Leader of the House find Government time when we return from the recess to debate the practical effects and implications of the Licensing Act 2003? In my constituency I have a significant number of pubs in the town centre that want to stay open until very late into the night, indeed the early hours of the morning, which has caused great concern among not only my constituents but the local police, who are worried about the effect that it may have on violent crime, antisocial behaviour and nuisance, especially as there is no public transport to get people home at that time in the morning. The Minister for Policing, Security and Community Safety said on the radio this morning that the licensing law was still under review. Will the Leader back that up by having an urgent debate on the issue when we return in October?
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