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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (Meg Munn):
Citizenship is taught in all
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schools as part of the national curriculum, and it includes the electoral system and the importance of voting. The women and equality unit has produced a special resource pack for teachers and young people that includes ideas on how to cover women's equality issues in citizenship classes.
Barbara Keeley : Last week, I was visited in Parliament by a young woman from Wigan called Michaela who is a member of the Youth Parliament and is very interested in politics and political life. What steps is my hon. Friend taking to increase women's representation in politics at different levels, so that if that young woman decides to graduate from the Youth Parliament to the House of Commons the gender balance is rather different?
Meg Munn: I thank my hon. Friend for her question. As the first woman MP for Worsley she is an excellent role model for her young constituent. The Youth Parliament could certainly teach us a thing or two about the ratio of male to female Members, because it is 49:51. Much of this is a matter for political parties, but the Labour Government passed the Sex Discrimination (Election Candidates) Act 2002 to allow political parties to use positive measures to encourage more women to stand for election.[Interruption.] I can understand why Opposition Members are shouting at methey do not want to face up to their failure.
Chris Grayling: Will the Leader of the House update Members on the Terrorism Bill? He will be aware that yesterday, after the Government's majority was reduced to one on the issue of indirect incitement, the Home Secretary asked for a delay in the vote on the 90-day detention plan. When will that vote take place, and does he expect any further changes to the programming of the Terrorism Bill before next week?
Last week, the Leader of the House failed to answer my question about why the Government have not yet followed the recommendation from the Committee on Standards in Public Life to create an adviser on ministerial interests. Sir Alistair Graham has been highly critical of the Government on the subject, so when will the Leader of the House introduce proposals to that effect?
Yesterday, many thousands of people came in the rain to lobby the House on trade, justice and poverty issues, and many expressed concern that those issues would not be made a priority at the World Trade
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Organisation talks in Hong Kong in December. Given all that the Government have said in the past few months about development issues, may we have a statement from the Prime Minister before the Hong Kong talks so that he can brief the House about how Britain intends to push the agenda forward? May we also have a debate in Government time so that Members again have the opportunity to make their views heard on this vital issue?
May we also have a debate on the sub judice rules and the Procedure Committee's report on those rules? The right hon. Gentleman will be aware that the issues are sensitive. They have been raised a number of times in the House in the past few weeks by right hon. and hon. Members and they need to be resolved. Without resolution, they are constraining many of the activities of some of our Committees.
When will the House see a copy of the proposed legislation on terrorists on the run in Northern Ireland? I understand that the Government have already shown those proposals to Sinn Fein. Does the right hon. Gentleman think it right that Members who have not taken up their seats should see proposed legislation before those who have?
We are now into November and the Government have still provided no further information about either the date of the pre-Budget report or the proposed dates for the parliamentary year. Neither of those are sensitive issues, so why the delay?
Mr. Hoon: Given the detailed debates that took place yesterday on the Terrorism Bill and which will again take place later when we reach the main business, I am slightly surprised that the hon. Gentleman is concerned that there is not enough opportunity to discuss these matters. I have already mentioned that there will be two further days of debate next week, so I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary will continue his determined efforts to ensure that we have an effective measure for dealing with the terrorist threat in the United Kingdom, one that, incidentally, commands the very strong support of most people in this country.
We have a ministerial code[Interruption.] I am sorry that hon. Members are scoffing, because I was about to make the point that that code has been applied by successive Prime Ministers, the majority of whom have been Conservative ones, and it is thus important to emphasise that this is a matter for the Prime Ministera matter that he takes extraordinarily seriously.
The hon. Gentleman is right to raise the issues of trade, justice and poverty. I saw the long lines of people who came to Westminster yesterday to lobby. This is an important issue for people throughout the country, and I am delighted that the Government have responded in the way that they have, by leading the way around the world in ensuring that these matters are taken seriously; and in our meetings of the G8, the EU and other international bodies we are the leaders in putting these issues firmly, squarely and fairly before the international community.
The important issue of sub judice will obviously be subject to further consideration. We have had a report, but I understood from the Chairman of the Procedure Committee that it was contemplating looking at the matter again, so obviously it is important that we
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continue to ensure, as I have said to the House before, that we do not make comments or statements that can affect court proceedings, subject of course to the importance of right hon. and hon. Members being able to raise these matters.
May I just raise one matter with the hon. Gentleman? I have seen that he has been dubbed in some newspapers as the jackal. As someone who in the past has been the victim of the sketch writers, may I sympathise with the hon. Gentleman? I say that because I took the trouble to look up the definition of a jackal, and it was described as a medium-sized, opportunistic scavenger with dog-like features and large ears. I offer my sympathies to the hon. Gentleman about that rather unkind and totally unfair comparison.
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