Previous SectionIndexHome Page

Mr. Wayne David (Caerphilly) (Lab): In my parliamentary constituency some £47 million has been paid in compensation to former miners and their families. They have received money in compensation for respiratory diseases and vibration white finger. I suspect that the position is equally good in other former coal mining areas. May we have a debate at the earliest opportunity on what is essentially a success story?

Mr. Hoon: Certainly, that scheme has been a remarkable success in providing, at long last, for many people adversely affected by working in the mines, including many of my constituents. A total of £1.6 billion has been paid in compensation for respiratory diseases, and £1.2 billion for vibration white finger—something that my hon. Friend the Deputy Leader of the House was extremely good at doing when he had responsibility for such issues. I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer always thoroughly approved of the extremely efficient and effective way in which the compensation was awarded, and it is something of which the Government can rightly be proud. It has dealt with a problem that had existed for a long time in the mining and former mining communities, and I am grateful to my hon. Friend for raising the issue.

Mr. Tim Boswell (Daventry) (Con): The Government ran into a number of difficulties in their legislative programme last week. Subsequently, Whitehall was briefing that each Bill was being scrutinised to see whether its effects could be carried either by statutory instrument, administrative action or other devices, so may we have an early debate on the Government's legislative avoidance programme?

Mr. Hoon: The House will have been able to study the detail of the Queen's Speech, and it is one of my responsibilities in Cabinet to ensure that that is carried through. Despite the difficulties last week to which the hon. Gentleman refers, I thought that he was celebrating the triumph of parliamentary democracy at the time, and I am sure that he would not wish to describe that as a difficulty, whatever language I might use to describe it. There will be a continued opportunity for all right hon. and hon. Members to debate the Government's proposals, both those contained in the most recent Gracious Speech and those that will be set out in future Sessions.

Dr. Ashok Kumar (Middlesbrough, South and East Cleveland) (Lab): Later today I will attend the launch of the north-east process industry cluster, together with many other right hon. and hon. Members. It represents about 25 per cent. of the north-east economy, employs 34,000 people directly and 200,000 people indirectly, and 200 companies representing the north-east will be there today. It is a great success story for the chemical and pharmaceutical sector. Will my right hon. Friend join me in congratulating the cluster on its success and its launch? May we have an early debate on the Government's successful record in this regard?

Mr. Hoon: I am delighted to join my hon. Friend in congratulating NEPIC. My hon. Friend has played a significant part in encouraging the development of the
17 Nov 2005 : Column 1108
cluster arrangements. It is important that we continue to provide opportunities in manufacturing industry. As I know from my hon. Friend's background, the contribution of science and technology to the development of those world-beating industries is vital, and I congratulate him on his efforts.

Mr. Andrew Mackay (Bracknell) (Con): Why have Ministers been caught so offguard by the problems of the CSA, bearing in mind that they have had eight years to put it right? Why was the Prime Minister so waffly and confused yesterday, and why was the Leader of the House so complacent today? As constituency Members of Parliament, we have an ever greater caseload of people who have been let down by the CSA. When will something be done? When will the latest report into the CSA be published?

Mr. Hoon: I made it clear to the House a few moments ago that no one is suggesting that there cannot be an improvement in the operation of the CSA, but there has been an improvement since 1997 and the system does now work better. It does not work well enough, and that is why it is necessary to continue to improve the arrangements. That is the purpose of the review.

Ms Diana R. Johnson (Kingston upon Hull, North) (Lab): I am sure that my right hon. Friend will agree that far too many children and young people die on our roads, so will he consider an early debate on early-day motion 913, which has the support of 126 Members from both sides of the House and promotes the pioneering work of Hull city council in setting up 20 mph zones outside schools and play areas, and which has resulted in a 74 per cent. reduction in child casualties in Hull?

[That this House expresses concern about the number of child pedestrian casualties in the UK; notes that the UK has one of the poorest records for child pedestrian deaths when compared to other European countries; notes that children from the lowest social class are five times more likely to die in road accidents than those from the highest social class; further notes that more than a quarter of child pedestrian casualties occur in the most deprived ten per cent, of wards; recognises the impact lower speed limits can have to reducing child pedestrian casualties; notes that 85 per cent, of pedestrians hit at 40 miles per hour will die, 45 per cent, at 30 miles per hour and only 5 per cent, at 20 miles per hour; highlights the pioneering approach taken by Hull City Council to improving road safety with the introduction of 20 mile per hour zones covering 26 per cent, of Hull City, which has resulted in a 74 per cent, reduction in child pedestrian casualties in these 20 mile per hour zones; supports the call by children's charities NCH and Barnardo's for all other local authorities to follow the example of Hull City Council and increase the number of 20 mile per hour zones in places vulnerable to children, such as outside schools and residential areas, with priority given to the most deprived areas with high casualty rates; further recognises that improving child road safety education in schools is also an essential component of any
17 Nov 2005 : Column 1109
child road safety strategy; and calls on both central Government and local authorities to make child road safety a main priority.]

Mr. Hoon: I congratulate my hon. Friend on early-day motion 913. The Government, local authorities and road safety organisations are working hard to reduce child pedestrian casualties.

Mr. Graham Stuart (Beverley and Holderness) (Con): Has the right hon. Gentleman read it?

Mr. Hoon: I am reading it at the moment.

It is important that we continue our efforts to support, not least, the introduction of 20 mph zones where they are particularly likely to protect children and vulnerable groups.

Mr. Owen Paterson (North Shropshire) (Con): My constituent, Councillor Brian Gillow, of Hoarstone near Market Drayton, has for years taken in planings from nearby road repair schemes to mend his drive, which is about a mile long and very bumpy. He is incensed that he will now be charged £546 by the Environment Agency to register his drive as a landfill site. To add insult to injury, he has had a letter from the Environment Agency saying:

There is a huge scheme to mend the A41 just at the end of his drive. Under framework waste directive 75/442, the current regulations will mean that if Councillor Gillow does not stump up the £546, the local traffic will be disrupted and there will be more pollution as cartload after cartload of planings will be taken to a distant landfill site. May we please have a debate on the idiotic way in which these regulations have been imposed?

Mr. Hoon: I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on the passion with which he raises individual constituency cases. I suspect that it reflects a contrast between the areas that Opposition Members represent, with mile-long drives, and the sort of constituency that is represented by Labour Members—[Interruption.] Under a Labour Government, of course, there will be more people with mile-long drives, and that is why I take very seriously—[Interruption.]

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Michael Lord): Order. The hon. Member for North Shropshire (Mr. Paterson) has asked the Leader of the House a question and must allow him to answer it. Shouting repeatedly, "He's a farmer" does not help.

Mr. Hoon: I must check the relevant publications to find out what your occupation was, Mr. Deputy Speaker, before you assumed your present responsibilities. I was not trying to cause the hon. Member for North Shropshire (Mr. Paterson) to become even more excited than he already was about the case that he raises, but I will look into it.

Next Section IndexHome Page