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Mr. Mark Harper (Forest of Dean) (Con): When I recently asked the Leader of the House about the debate on police restructuring, he said that he was

That perhaps reveals his thinking. I should draw his attention to the fact that we like to discuss such decisions in this House before they are taken, not implemented. As he should be aware, most of the proposed changes do not require primary legislation to be brought before the House, so there will be no opportunity to debate such legislation in detail on Second Reading. I, too, urge him to reinstate the debate for next Thursday.

Mr. Hoon: I have nothing to add to what I have said on several occasions about the need for a debate. The hon. Gentleman quotes me accurately and I agree with what I said.

Martin Linton (Battersea) (Lab): Will my right hon. Friend find time for a short debate on the beers offered for sale in Strangers Bar? Will he lend his authority as Leader of the House to my concerns about the replacement of Youngs ordinary bitter—one of the most famous cask-conditioned ales in this country, which has been on sale in Strangers for more than 10 years and is brewed in Britain's oldest brewery, based in my constituency—with San Miguel, a lager from the
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Philippines, which is not only greatly inferior but far more alcoholic? In the name of good taste and parliamentary sobriety, will he help us to get Youngs back?

Mr. Hoon: I never cease to be amazed by the range of my responsibilities. I am delighted to discover that I might have responsibility for that matter. I am sure that it will be investigated now that my hon. Friend has raised it so eloquently.

Mr. Mark Prisk (Hertford and Stortford) (Con): In his opening remarks, the Leader of the House told us that there would be no debate next Thursday on police restructuring, but he did not tell us why. If he does not answer that question clearly, there is a danger that it will give my constituents and many others the impression that the Government are either frightened of debate or have no intention of listening to the House.

Mr. Hoon: Given that I announced that there would be a debate, it is a little unfair of the hon. Gentleman to suggest that the Government are alarmed, concerned or frightened of holding one. Indeed, I made it clear today that there will be such a debate. The reason for adjusting the business is clear: it is necessary to complete the remaining stages of an important Bill, which must be taken on the Floor of the House.

Julie Morgan (Cardiff, North) (Lab): I add my support to a free vote on the smoking restrictions. May I urge my right hon. Friend to do all that he can to help settle the dispute with the House of Commons contract cleaners, perhaps by asking the House of Commons Commission to get involved? Yesterday I went to a meeting with other hon. Members in which the cleaners were supported by a delegation of cleaners from Europe, who have much better pay and conditions than the people working in this building. The dispute has been going on for six months, and I urge him to do what he can because it is humiliating that it is happening in the heart of democracy. Will he do all that he can to get it settled before Christmas?

Mr. Hoon: My hon. Friend is right to raise the matter and it is important to try to move towards a settlement. However, I emphasise that the House of Commons authorities are not party to the contract. It is important that negotiations continue between the employer and the employees. I recently met the deputy general secretary of the Transport and General Workers Union and the Trades Union Congress, when the issue was raised. I made it clear that I am willing to meet other representatives of the cleaners to try to resolve the matter fairly and properly.

Pete Wishart (Perth and North Perthshire) (SNP): May we have a debate about the availability of digital television, especially as we move towards analogue turn-off? Large parts of my constituency receive no digital services but my constituents will still be expected to pay the inflation-busting licence fee hike that the BBC proposes. Does the Leader of the House agree that there is a case for a differential in the licence fee when full services are not available?

Mr. Hoon: As I understood it, the reason for changing the licence fee was precisely to allow digital services to
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be extended throughout the country. That is part of the Government's undertaking to promote digital services and provide an enhanced service to people throughout the United Kingdom.

David Taylor (North-West Leicestershire) (Lab/Co-op): Does the Leader of the House agree that crime is a local problem that should, as far as possible, be tackled locally and that communities lie at the heart of the criminal justice system? If so, will he ask the Home Secretary to come to the House to explain his proposals for the probation service, which deals with 300,000 offenders annually? The Home Secretary is proposing to take control of it before parcelling it out and selling it off to the private and voluntary sectors, with which the probation service has worked successfully for a long time. Next year will be the 100th year of its existence. Should not we allow it to celebrate its successes rather than wave farewell to it?

Mr. Hoon: My hon. Friend is right that it is important that all agencies that deal with crime locally be adequately staffed and have the appropriate resources to make a difference as close to the problem as possible. However, I hope that he agrees that, to make the resources available, it is only sensible to examine the management and organisational structures of the different agencies to ensure that they generate maximum efficiencies and do not, for example, simply duplicate services in small areas that could be tackled better regionally. We need to balance the importance of effective local services with the best management structures.

Mr. David Gauke (South-West Hertfordshire) (Con): May I urge the Leader of the House to reconsider the cancellation of the debate on police amalgamation, which was scheduled for next Thursday? There is clearly widespread, cross-party concern about it. Losing that important debate is symptomatic of the Government's approach to police amalgamation. When the Minister for Policing, Security and Community Safety commissioned the O'Connor report, which will result in the changes, she asked for publicity on the matter to be kept low key. Are not the Government trying to rush through the proposals with little or no debate either here or elsewhere?

Mr. Hoon: No.

Mr. Desmond Swayne (New Forest, West) (Con): May we have a statement from a Health Minister on the spread of MRSA? On Monday, when we discussed part 2 of the Equality Bill on religious equality, Labour Members said that the "proper" withdrawal of Bibles from hospitals was nothing to do with political correctness but that they were agents of the spread of MRSA. I have a Reuters report, which states that Gideons International was so shocked by the implication that the Bibles might be harbouring disease that it commissioned a study by a micro-biologist and a surgeon who said that it was nonsense. The Government and Gideons International cannot both be right, so what is the answer?

Mr. Hoon: The Government have invested an extra £68 million in tackling MRSA and it is showing results.
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There has been a significant reduction of around 6.4 per cent. in cases of MRSA in the past year and it is at its lowest level since 2001.

Tony Baldry (Banbury) (Con): The Leader of the House was careful in the way in which he quoted from the national grid winter outlook. He made no comments about its prospects for major manufacturing industry. When the all-party aluminium group met leaders of the aluminium industry on Monday, they were extremely worried about prospects for the winter. Their next meeting after the all-party group was with officials at the Department of Trade and Industry who had invited them there and wanted to know from manufacturing industry the impact on it of interruptions in supply this winter. Why on earth should DTI officials want to know from manufacturing industry what would happen if there were interruptions to supply if the Department were not worried that there might be power cuts? Please may we have a debate on energy policy in Government time soon, because manufacturing matters to Conservative Members?

Mr. Hoon: And to Labour Members. Perhaps in contrast to the long period of Conservative Government, when many people lost their jobs, we do something about manufacturing industry rather than simply talking about it. However, the hon. Gentleman raises an important point about security of energy supplies. Speaking in a slightly different capacity, I made it clear to the House that planning, preparing and ensuring that we had contingency plans in place in the event of a severe winter was part of Government policy. That is the reason for the sort of meetings to which he referred.

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