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Mr. Heathcoat-Amory: Will the Minister give way?

Dr. Howells: I have almost no time. I will to try acknowledge something that the right hon. Gentleman said earlier.

The right hon. and learned Member for North-East Fife raised, as he put it, the lack of substantial achievement during our presidency. He spoke, quite properly, of course, of geopolitics, the new power across the globe—as did my hon. Friend the Member for Ilford, South (Mike Gapes), who is absent from his seat—and the rising economic and political power of China and India.

Other Members drew our attention to one of the basic notions that drove forward the growth of the EU, and which I am old enough to remember: there were two great poles of influence—America in the west and Japan in the east—and we would be competing with those great
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powers. There are at least four great powers now. There is no question but that India and China will be very different powers. The right hon. and learned Member for North-East Fife drew our attention to the important point that they will be great political powers. How should we come to terms with them? How do we begin to compete, for example in research and development? How do we pool together for the great projects in which we shall certainly need to be involved? Whether in communications or science-based industries, there are big questions and I am sorry that we have not had time to discuss them. They are at the core of what we should be doing in the EU from here on, which returns to the point made by the right hon. Member for Richmond, Yorks about the Lisbon agenda. We need to concentrate hard on that. If we want a mission, there it is.

I am about to contradict myself. Members spoke about the great single market inside Europe, but in fact it has by no means been completed. I come from the energy sector—try selling electricity to the French, although I would not wish to name a country. Sure enough, the market has been pushed forward, even more starkly so for financial services. In the UK, we excel in financial services and if we were let loose on many of the still highly protected markets in many European countries we would create many more jobs in this country, making economies abroad much more efficient and growing those markets. We must certainly take that forward. The single market in services has only just been completed and the implementation is only just beginning in many countries. We need to consider that.

My hon. Friend the Member for City of York (Hugh Bayley) raised an important issue. We have been talking in that special Euro language, to which the hon. Member for Stone (Mr. Cash) and I have listened so many times. My hon. Friend the Minister for Europe is not in the Chamber; he speaks that special euro language—the problem is that half the time I do not understand a word of it. My hon. Friend the Member for City of York said, in effect, "Hang on a minute. Actually lots of money has been allocated to the new economies in the east but they can't spend it." They cannot spend it because they do not yet have the governance capacity to do so.

The hon. Member for Meirionnydd Nant Conwy (Mr. Llwyd), who is a friend of mine, knows that in its first year the Welsh Assembly was paralysed by arguments about how the European structural and cohesion funding should be spent. That was a difficult issue. The point is important: we are dealing with a great continent where people are at different stages and there are problems of underdevelopment. We must remember that and make careful judgments.

The right hon. Member for Wells (Mr. Heathcoat-Amory) and the hon. Member for Stone made challenging, thoughtful speeches. The hon. Gentleman said something that was reflected in the words of my hon. Friend the Member for Luton, North (Kelvin Hopkins). He said that we might not be seeing seismic shifts, but that there were shifts in the sand and we were talking a much more pragmatic language. I, too, sensed that during the debate. I was extremely interested, for example, in the idea that we should look at how institutions respond to the great challenges that have been mentioned—whether the growth and influence of
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China and India or our ability to compete in big international markets. We have to ensure that the institutions evolve to meet those challenges.

The hon. Member for Altrincham and Sale, West is an excellent parliamentarian and debater, but my hon. Friend the Member for City of York put his finger on something when he asked the hon. Gentleman what the Conservatives would have done. What did the hon. Gentleman say? He said that they would have stuck to the Government's policy. That is pathetic. That is the same ancient whinge about the EU—that is all. Look at all the years the Conservatives were in power. What did they do about reforming—

It being Seven o'clock, the motion for the Adjournment of the House lapsed, without Question put.







7 pm

Mr. Phil Willis (Harrogate and Knaresborough) (LD): I wish to present a petition, which has been organised by Hazel Bennett and signed by more than 5,000 people in Harrogate and Knaresborough and the surrounding areas, about the plight of women with diagnosed breast cancer who cannot obtain access to the drug Herceptin on the national health service.

The petition

To lie upon the Table.

Royal Ordnance Factory (Puriton)

7.1 pm

Mr. Ian Liddell-Grainger (Bridgwater) (Con): I have a petition from the residents of Bridgwater that is signed by 2,500 people.
14 Dec 2005 : Column 1407

The petition

To lie upon the Table.

Post Boxes

7.2 pm

Mr. Ian Liddell-Grainger (Bridgwater) (Con): I am sorry, Madam Deputy Speaker—it is a job lot.

I present a petition from the villagers of Westonzoyland that is signed by 490 people.

The petition

To lie upon the Table.
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Community Hospitals

7.3 pm

David Taylor (North-West Leicestershire) (Lab/Co-op): North-West Leicestershire is fortunate to have two fine community hospitals. One is in Ashby-de-la-Zouch, which is my birthplace, and the other is a 96-bed hospital at Coalville. A primary care trust review is under way on the future of one specific ward at Coalville hospital, which is the home for numerous patients with chronic mental health problems. Such uncertainty has triggered a local campaign, part of which is this petition.

The petition states:

The petition has been signed by Pauline Chamberlain, who has worked hard to organise it, and myself, as the local Member of Parliament.

To lie upon the Table.

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