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Ruth Kelly: I certainly will, and in the review I shall consult not just Ministers, but the relevant officials in the devolved Administrations.

Margaret Moran (Luton, South) (Lab): Does my right hon. Friend agree that it is hypocritical of the Opposition, who had 18 years to deal with these matters, and it is this Government who introduced the most comprehensive range of child protection measures ever seen? Is she aware that the Protection of Children Bill proposed to amalgamate List 99 and a new register established by the Bill? Will she give an assurance that that will now happen? As there have been delays in the amalgamation of computer databases, will she give assurances that if there are any further delays due to the technology, interim arrangements will be made to safeguard our children?

Ruth Kelly: I can give my hon. Friend those assurances. It is important that we take all the steps that are necessary to tighten the system as appropriate, to bring the lists as closely into line as it is possible for them to be brought into line within the current legal framework, and for all decisions to be looked at from
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the point of view of the risk to children and whether we can protect children better by making decisions on a more precautionary basis. I shall certainly consider all those facts. My hon. Friend is right to point out that not only has List 99 been tightened and the criteria for automatic inclusion on that list been broadened under this Government, but the sex offenders register—I acknowledged in my statement that the work was done under the previous Administration before that Bill was introduced—has provided an additional safeguard for employers to check before they employ an individual.

Mr. Brian Binley (Northampton, South) (Con): As a new Member, having been shocked at the Minister's ability to avoid responsibility, I seek a straight answer. When did she realise that the current arrangements were anomalous, and when did she decide to tighten the law?

Ruth Kelly: It was this Government who asked Sir Michael Bichard to carry out his review of our child protection procedures, and we committed in the Queen's Speech to legislate on the new vetting and barring scheme during this Session. We have secured a slot, which means that if there is cross-party support for the proposals, we will able to get the Bill into law this Session. The question for the hon. Gentleman and his colleagues is whether they will give us that necessary cross-party support.

Tom Levitt (High Peak) (Lab): It is a matter of profound regret that today clearly marks the end of political consensus on the matter. May I urge my right hon. Friend to reject the synthetic tabloid anger that she has heard from the Opposition Benches and continue in her categorical and robust response to the situation? The last thing we want is a drip, drip, drip of information and, even worse, speculation, which may be destabilising not only in this place, but in our schools and classrooms.

Ruth Kelly: I thank my hon. Friend for his comments. He is right that we should put the facts into the public domain at the earliest opportunity, but that that ought to be done in a considered and ordered fashion—first, to make sure that we have the precise numbers, and also to ensure that at the same time as those numbers are put into the public domain, we know precisely where those individuals are employed and the action that we intend to take.

Greg Clark (Tunbridge Wells) (Con): The Secretary of State had to be dragged to the Chamber to make a statement, yet she is incapable of answering even the most basic questions. Are there any cases in which she personally has been involved—yes or no?

Ruth Kelly: I take responsibility for every single case that has been determined under my stewardship as Secretary of State for Education and Skills.

Huw Irranca-Davies (Ogmore) (Lab): This is one of the occasions when it is difficult to separate the role of politician from that of parent, grandparent, godparent or uncle. I urge on my right hon. Friend the need to take the matter forward with urgency, but also with due consideration. Can she give us some idea of the scale of
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the review that she has ordered and how long it might take? There is an issue of urgency, but will she please not respond to the pitchfork and blazing firebrand mentality, which would be the worst possible way to deal with the situation?

Ruth Kelly: I thank my hon. Friend for his comments. He is right that these are urgent matters, but we need to give all the issues our due consideration. When I say I intend to update the House as soon as it is possible for me to update the House, I mean in the next week or two. I do not mean in the next month or two. As soon as it is possible to ascertain the facts, I will come and update the House on those facts.

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Point of Order

12.45 pm

Mr. Nigel Dodds (Belfast, North) (DUP): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Earlier today, during questions to the Solicitor-General, the Solicitor-General said that the Prime Minister had indeed been consulted over the decision to drop the charges in relation to the Stormont spy ring, yet yesterday in the House the Prime Minister told us that

and on 14 December the Prime Minister said:

Can you ensure that the matter is cleared up, and that the Prime Minister properly accounts for it to Members and clarifies the extent of his involvement?

Mr. Speaker: I thank the hon. Gentleman for raising the matter, but I do not want to do his job as well as my own. What he should do is put down parliamentary questions to clear the matter up.

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Crossrail Bill [Instruction No. 2]

Mr. Speaker: We now come to the main business. Motions 1, 2 and 3 will be debated together.

12.46 pm

The Secretary of State for Transport (Mr. Alistair Darling): I beg to move,

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Before I deal with the merits of the motions, let me put them in context, which may help hon. Members who were not present on 19 July last year or who have put the whole business behind them. The House will recall that on that day last year, it agreed, after a vote, to give the Crossrail Bill a Second Reading. The Bill will enable Crossrail to be constructed and puts in place the necessary powers to acquire land and also allow the Crossrail services to run.

The Second Reading agreed the principle of the Bill, which is to construct Crossrail—a railway that will run between the termini at Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east and Maidenhead in the west. The main new intermediate stations will be at Paddington, Bond Street, Tottenham Court Road, Farringdon, Liverpool Street, Whitechapel, the Isle of Dogs and Custom House.

I remind the House that this is a hybrid Bill. These are Bills used for projects usually of national importance, where the Government take the lead in terms of strategic development. But crucially, because it affects specific private interests, it is dealt with differently in both Houses of Parliament. Such Bills are rare. The last one, I believe, was about 10 years ago. The procedures in relation to them are complex. Although I shall endeavour to give the House my best understanding of what the Select Committee can and cannot do, clearly the Select Committee will be advised by the Clerks of the House, and much lies in their hands.

It might be helpful if I set out what I understand the procedure will be. We are talking about building a new railway line through London, through a densely populated area. Many private interests are affected and many people may be in favour of the Bill in principle but may have understandable concerns about their own interests, which need to be dealt with.

The Bill has aspects of both a public and a private Bill. It is brought forward by the Government and, like any other public Bill, it contains provisions that affect everyone or affect particular classes of people. However, the Bill also contains provisions that have an impact on particular individuals, notably in relation to the powers to acquire particular land. That is why the House requires such a Bill to comply with elements of the procedures for private Bills, as well as complying with the usual procedures for public Bills. The main difference is an extra Select Committee stage in each House. Hon. Members know that the Select Committee has been set up under the chairmanship of my hon. Friend the Member for Mansfield (Mr. Meale), and it will consider the petitions from those whose individual rights will be affected.
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In addition to agreeing to give the Bill a Second Reading, the House also agreed to give instructions to the Select Committee, which we are discussing today. Hon. Members who were here in July know that the instructions, rather than the merits of Crossrail, took up most of the debate. The House agreed two sets of instructions in the vote in July: the first set allows the Select Committee to report to the House on the environmental impact of the railway; the second instructs the Select Committee to treat the principle of the Bill as including the termini of the railway transport system for which the Bill provides and the provision of intermediate stations at the locations that I have set out.

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