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Mr. Speaker: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving me notice of his point of order. I have already made clear my views on the general issue, both in my initial response to his first point of order and in the letter that I sent to him and copied to the Ministry of Defence, but I do not wish to be drawn into the detailed points that he has now put to the House. He should pursue them with the Secretary of State for Defence.
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Mr. Owen Paterson (North Shropshire) (Con): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. On 27 October Her Majesty's inspectorate of constabulary rated West Mercia police the most efficient in the country, yet by 23 December West Mercia will be rammed into a new regional police force. What—

Mr. Speaker: Order. I must stop the hon. Gentleman there, because that was a not a point of order. The hon. Gentleman raised it because he was disappointed that I had not called him during business questions. I shall bear him in mind during business questions next week: he will be at the front of the queue.

Mr. Roger Gale (North Thanet) (Con): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I assume that, as is customary, there will be an Adjournment debate before the Christmas recess. Such debates are normally attended by a junior Minister. Will you use your good offices to ensure that a senior Home Office Minister is on the Bench for the forthcoming debate—and will you confirm that it is in the House's power to force a Division on the Christmas Adjournment motion?

Mr. Speaker: There cannot be a Division on the Adjournment motion itself. I ask for Ministers to come to the House, but their rank is up to the Departments concerned. I cannot force a Secretary of State to attend.

Mr. Patrick McLoughlin (West Derbyshire) (Con): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Can you confirm that you still have the power—under Standing Orders, so I think that this is a point of order—to enable two Westminster Hall debates lasting for an hour and a half to be combined as a three-hour debate, should a sufficient number of Members write to you asking for a particular subject to be raised?

Mr. Speaker: I have that power. I am glad that the hon. Gentleman has raised a point of order with which I can deal. As he said, if a sufficient number of Members write to me, the power lies with me.

Mr. Peter Bone (Wellingborough) (Con): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. May I have a ruling on an important matter? In column 897 of the Official Report, dated 15 November, a Government motion states that there is a maximum NHS waiting time of six months. In my constituency, some patients are being asked to wait for between nine and 12 months. May I have a ruling on how that wording can be amended?

Mr. Speaker: That is not a matter for me, but the hon. Gentleman is bound to want to pursue the question of how his constituents are treated. He can ask for an
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Adjournment debate, or table parliamentary questions. I am very sympathetic to new Members who seek Adjournment debates.

Mr. Paterson rose—

John Bercow (Buckingham) (Con) rose—

Mr. Speaker: I am a very patient Speaker—there is none more patient than I—but the hon. Member for North Shropshire (Mr. Paterson) may be pushing his luck.

John Bercow: I hope not!

Mr. Speaker: We will try the hon. Member for North Shropshire.

Mr. Paterson: Further to the point of order raised by my right hon. Friend the Member for West Derbyshire (Mr. McLoughlin), Mr. Speaker. What mechanisms exist to allow a vote on an Adjournment motion?

Mr. Speaker: There are no mechanisms to allow a vote in Westminster Hall, but the hon. Member for West Derbyshire, a very experienced Deputy Chief Whip, mentioned the possibility of joining together two Westminster Hall debates to make a three-hour debate. That would make a very good Adjournment debate down in Westminster Hall.

John Bercow: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I am sorry if I temporarily suffered an identity crisis earlier: I realise that I could not for a moment be mistaken for my hon. Friend the Member for North Shropshire (Mr. Paterson).

I seek your guidance, Mr. Speaker, on a matter of some importance and immediacy. Is it in order for the Government to send representatives to the World Trade Organisation ministerial conference in Hong Kong, at which binding and irrevocable decisions will be made that will have a dramatic effect on the poorest and most destitute people on the planet, without first arranging for a statement to be made on the Floor of the House or, better still, for a proper debate?

Mr. Speaker: I certainly do not think that is a matter for me.

Mr. Peter Robinson (Belfast, East) (DUP): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. During business questions, I asked the Leader of the House a question relating to the review of public administration in Northern Ireland. The advice tendered by the Leader of the House was that I should have broken into yesterday's debate on the Northern Ireland (Offences) Bill to raise the matter, which would clearly have been in defiance of the House. Will you rebuke the Leader of the House for his advice, Mr. Speaker, and will you advise him that it would be much better for a Minister to come to the House and make a statement?

Mr. Speaker: I get on far too well with the Leader of the House to rebuke him publicly.
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Orders of the Day

European Union (Accessions) Bill

Considered in Committee.

[Sir Michael Lord in the Chair]

Clause 1

Accession Treaty

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

12.35 pm

The Minister for Europe (Mr. Douglas Alexander): Clause 1 enables us to implement the accession treaty in United Kingdom law, paving the way for United Kingdom ratification of the treaty later in the year and for Bulgaria and Romania to join the European Union. The clause should be recognisable to all who are familiar with past accession Bills.

Subsection 1 specifies the accession treaty for Bulgaria and Romania as one of "the Community Treaties" covered by the European Communities Act 1972. In broad terms, the Act grants automatic effect to directly applicable treaty provisions, and otherwise allows designated Ministers to make regulations amending existing UK legislation to the extent that that may be necessary to implement the treaty.

It is difficult to speak about this part of the Bill without repeating many points that were covered on Second Reading. I shall be brief, not least because there was a welcome cross-party consensus in the House then on the broad principles of accession.

With this enlargement, we are continuing to lay the ghosts of the last century to rest. After the bitter divisions of the two world wars and the cold war we are building a more secure, stable and prosperous Europe, and it is a Europe of which Bulgaria and Romania deserve to be part. Both have made giant strides in their political and economic development. Let us not forget that it was only 15 years ago that Ceausescu was overthrown in Romania and communism collapsed in Bulgaria. Today both states meet the European Union's criteria for membership, which is an enormous achievement. Their transformations are not yet complete, however, and as I stressed on Second Reading, accession in 2007 is not a fait accompli for either country.

Mr. Andrew Turner (Isle of Wight) (Con): The Minister speaks of laying the ghosts of the last century. Does he accept that 1.5 million of the ghosts are those of the people who suffered in the Armenian massacres? Will he take steps in the future to ensure that some agreement is reached on how the massacres took place before we enable more countries to join the European Union?

Mr. Alexander: I did not expect that issue to be raised directly in relation to clause 1. The British Government's position on the Armenian massacres is a matter of record. Obviously we regard them as a terrible
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tragedy. I understand that the Government have not designated them a genocide because of the lack of categorical evidence relating to their scale and nature, but I shall be more than happy to write to the hon. Gentleman. I know that the matter continues to be of public concern, and that it has been raised in the context of our other discussions on accession, notably Turkey's accession.

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