Previous SectionIndexHome Page

Nigel Griffiths: I shall ensure that the appropriate Minister is made aware of what my hon. Friend has said.

Mr. Roger Gale (North Thanet) (Con): You will recall, Mr. Speaker, that this time last Thursday, the Leader of the House sought to give us the impression that Members would have an opportunity to debate legislation relating to the reorganisation of the police. It is true that, were Kent to be merged with another county, the Channel Tunnel Act 1987 would have to be amended through primary legislation, but I do not think that that is quite what the Leader of the House had in mind. He knows perfectly well that all the reorganisation can be dealt with by means of statutory instruments.

At the end of the famed Adjournment debate in Westminster Hall, the Minister for Policing, Security and Community Safety sought to explain to the House—as has the Deputy Leader of the House today—that there would be an opportunity for a debate on the police. Almost immediately afterwards, sources very close, shall we say, to the Home Secretary were to be found briefing lobby journalists, saying that the measures would go through, that it was all done and dusted and that it did not matter.

There are two non-sitting Fridays between now and Christmas. Why can we not have the debate on one of them?

Nigel Griffiths: In view of the clear strength of feeling among Opposition Members, I might ask why one of their important Opposition days was not used to debate the issue. [Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker: Order. Whatever we do, we must allow the Deputy Leader of the House to reply. Some Members may not be too happy with the reply, but that is another matter.

Nigel Griffiths: They have their reply, Mr. Speaker.

Keith Vaz (Leicester, East) (Lab): May we have a debate next week on regulation of the video games industry? Has my hon. Friend seen early-day motion 1172?
1 Dec 2005 : Column 395

[That this House denounces the recent rise in violent video games; condemns the forthcoming video game Bully, which allows players to adopt the persona of Jimmy Hopkins, a 15-year-old thug who has been incarcerated in a boys' boarding school, and in which points can be scored by terrorising other pupils with a range of physical and psychological abuse; further notes with grave concern that last year more than 31,000 children and young people spoke to a ChildLine counsellor about bullying; and calls on the Government to urge the British Board for Classification to take a much more cautious approach with this game and ban it from being sold in the United Kingdom.]

If my hon. Friend has seen the motion, he will know that Rockstar has decided to publish a game called "Bully", and that a central character is someone called Jimmy Hopkins. Players will be given points as the character terrorises other schoolchildren psychologically. Given the rise of bullying, I believe that the video should be banned. May we have a debate so that we can hear the Government's view?

Nigel Griffiths: My hon. Friend is right to raise the continuing concern about the matter. While I cannot offer him a debate, I shall certainly ensure that the Minister responsible for such matters is aware of the concern.

Pete Wishart (Perth and North Perthshire) (SNP): Yesterday, a petition bearing more than 155,000 names was handed in at No. 10 Downing street as part of the continuing campaign to save Scotland's historic regiments. As a Scottish Member, the Deputy Leader of the House will know of the strength of feeling about this issue, and the real anxieties about recruitment. He will also know that the golden threads that were promised for the new regiment look particularly threadbare when we learn that the Black Watch cannot wear the famous and iconic red hackle at all times. May we have a debate in Government time, even at this late stage, to stop this amalgamation madness?

Nigel Griffiths: I pay tribute to the veterans and those currently serving in our armed services. The design of the cap badge for the Royal Regiment of Scotland is the culmination of several months of discussion and consultation with both those who are serving and those who have retired. The design was submitted to Her Majesty through the Army dress committee and has been given Royal Assent. It is a requirement for each new regiment to have a unifying symbol and all officers and soldiers in this new regiment will wear the new cap badge from formation day.

An announcement was made earlier in the year that recognised the strong identification that local people and those who have served in regiments feel with historic regiments. Many aspects will be preserved, not just dress but museums and anniversaries. I think that the Government have gone a long way towards addressing the concerns, but I note the hon. Gentleman's comments.

Mr. David Winnick (Walsall, North) (Lab): May we have a statement early next week on whether United Kingdom airports and other facilities have been used by
1 Dec 2005 : Column 396
the United States to transfer what are described as terror suspects across Europe to be put in various interrogation centres? Will my hon. Friend bear it in mind that allegations have been made about torture? If such torture were taking place in centres in parts of Europe, it would be in defiance of both British and international law. I hope that the Foreign Secretary will be able to come to the House early next week to set our minds at rest.

Nigel Griffiths: The Foreign Secretary, as part of the European Union presidency, wrote to the United States Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, seeking clarification of the issue and of media reports of so-called CIA terror camps in eastern Europe. I suggest that my hon. Friend await the response before calling for a further statement.

Mr. Mark Lancaster (North-East Milton Keynes) (Con): Consultation, or lack of it, seems to be a recurring theme in today's business questions. This morning I met Sir Bob Reid, chairman of Milton Keynes Partnership, the Government quango charged with delivery of the expansion of Milton Keynes. He confirmed that the people of Milton Keynes have only until 15 January to respond to the document. Will the Deputy Leader of the House find time for a proper debate on the Floor of the House? There is a genuine fear throughout the country that expansion of our cities is being forced on us without proper local consultation.

Nigel Griffiths: I am sorry to hear that the hon. Member feels that. I shall make sure that the appropriate Minister is aware of his concerns about the timetable for that consultation.

Dan Norris (Wansdyke) (Lab): May we have an early debate on the no-blame approach to bullying in our schools, as adopted by Liberal Democrat-controlled Bristol city council? Does the Deputy Leader of the House share my view that, although that council may not want to blame or punish bullies, the voters of Bristol will want to blame and punish the council for its irresponsible approach to child protection?

Nigel Griffiths: I share my hon. Friend's views that there must be zero tolerance towards bullying, and that firm action must be taken to tackle it. As in my local high schools, that should include interviewing bullies' parents to ensure that they are fully aware of the consequences of such acts. I favour, as the Prime Minister said two weeks ago that he did, the tougher rather than the tender approach on this subject.

John Bercow (Buckingham) (Con): May we have an urgent debate in Government time on the imprisonment of British citizens abroad? In Spain in 1998, my constituent Teresa Daniels was convicted of drug smuggling after an outrageous trial in which she thought she was a witness not a defendant. She was released by the Spanish authorities and has now been extradited back to Spain to serve a 10-year prison sentence, more than five years after she was released. Does the Deputy Leader of the House agree that such a debate would allow the concerns of Fair Trials Abroad to be expressed about a miscarriage of justice, and pressure to be put on
1 Dec 2005 : Column 397
the British Foreign Secretary finally to raise the matter with his Spanish counterpart, in the interests of natural justice—a principle that ought to unite all member states of the European Union?

Nigel Griffiths: As the hon. Member knows, it is not policy to comment on individual cases that may still be subject to appeals and other proceedings. He will know that my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary does raise cases of apparent miscarriages of justice, and has made clear to the House in response to other hon. Members' questions his involvement in certain cases at certain stages. This is an important issue and I know that the hon. Member will be working tirelessly on behalf of his constituent, and that the Foreign Secretary and his officials will be following his comments.

Next Section IndexHome Page