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Mr. Peter Kilfoyle (Liverpool, Walton) (Lab): The Leader of the House may be impressed by the way that the UK theme is put together, but like many colleagues I am not very impressed by the way that the Criminal Records Bureau has been put together. It is a valuable resource, but it has been bedevilled by problems since its inception. Within the past couple of days in my area alone, I have come across three major bungles, including one of identity theft. Can the Leader of the House provide some space wherein we may debate how the Criminal Records Bureau is functioning, or at the very least, will he arrange for one of the Ministers at the Home Office to make a statement to the House?
Mr. Hoon: I certainly agree with my hon. Friend that it is important that everyone can rely with absolute certainty on the records and statistics compiled in relation to crime. I accept that from time to time there are difficulties in that respect. That is one of the reasons why, for example, the Home Office recently launched a review of the way in which criminal statistics are compiled. That does not entirely deal with my hon. Friend's concern about the accuracy of the information supplied by the CRB, but I know that the matter is taken extremely seriously in the Home Office and by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary.
Greg Clark (Tunbridge Wells) (Con): May I support my right hon. Friend the Member for Maidenhead (Mrs. May) in her request for the Secretary of State for Health to be brought to the House to explain the crisis in NHS financing? Two weeks ago the Department of Health said:
In Tunbridge Wells operations are not taking place and out-patient appointments are not been given, except in urgent cases, until 31 March. That is compromising patient care, and it exposes the gulf in perception and understanding between Ministers and doctors and nurses on the ground, who are very concerned about that.
If there were the kind of crisis that the hon. Gentleman describes, Ministers and Labour Members would share his concern, but he must face up to the fact that huge sums of extra money have been put into the national health service, including in Tunbridge Wells. It is important that those responsible for managing that extra money do so successfully. As I told the House
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earlier, if the Government were not taking action to ensure effective control of that extra finance, Opposition Members would be complaining about it. I accept that it is important to deal with these matters. From what I heard from the chief executive of the PCT on the radio this morning, action is being taken in Tunbridge Wells to deal with the situation.
Mr. Jim McGovern (Dundee, West) (Lab): My right hon. Friend will no doubt be aware of the early-day motion signed and tabled by members of the Scottish National party which states that Scottish hon. Members should not vote on issues that do not directly affect Scotland. May we have a debate on that motion, which would allow the Scottish National party in particular to tell us how the Government of Wales Bill directly affects Scotland and why its Members felt compelled to vote on such burning Scottish issues as the name of the Welsh Assembly?
Mr. Hoon: My hon. Friend has made his point more effectively than I can, but as someone who believes in the Union and in the importance of the House reflecting opinion right across the United Kingdom, and who does not believe in separation and independence in the way in which the Scottish nationalists do, I believe that that is the best for this country and the best future for this country.
Mr. Peter Robinson (Belfast, East) (DUP): Will the Leader of the House reflect on the wisdom of tabling a motion for Wednesday 8 February to provide funds for IRA-Sinn Fein, and not only to provide them with the representative funds that they had on a previous occasion, but to give them a bonus of the Short funds? I expect that the Government know the outrage in Northern Ireland at the fact that at a time when IRA-Sinn Fein continue to use the proceeds of the largest bank heist ever to take place in the British Isles, and while the police are reporting the high level of criminality within the republican movement, the Government intend to reward them.
Mr. Hoon: Having just indicated my support for the Union and the importance of ensuring that the views of all parts of the United Kingdom are properly reflected in our debates here, I hope that the hon. Gentleman will accept from me that it is vital that we encourage organisations that have in the past engaged in terrorist activity to participate effectively and peacefully in the work of this country. We shall have the opportunity to debate these questions and vote on them on 8 February. This is a matter for the House to decide, and one that I am sure will be fully and thoroughly debated on that occasion.
Julie Morgan (Cardiff, North) (Lab):
Is my right hon. Friend aware that the Legal Services Commission has announced the ending of all its specialist support services from July this year, without there being any apparent immediate replacement? The Welsh specialist support service provides expert advice to solicitors and front-line advisers on issues such as housing, debt and welfare benefits. Those issues are all tremendously important in Wales because of the poor housing stock and the pockets of deprivation there. Will my right hon.
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Friend arrange a debate on this matter, so that we can discuss whether this decision can be reversed? It is causing extreme concern in Wales.
Mr. Hoon: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for raising this issue. It is a matter with which I am familiar from previous ministerial responsibilities, and I know how important such specialist advice services are. I will certainly ensure that the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs, my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Camberwell and Peckham (Ms Harman), is made aware of my hon. Friend's concerns.
[That this House notes that 16,000 people, including 450 children, each year are diagnosed with brain tumours; is disturbed that brain tumours have become the biggest single disease killing children; acknowledges that survival rates have not increased in line with the rate for childhood leukaemia and some other adult cancers; applauds the work of scientists and clinicians; supports the efforts of United Kingdom brain tumour charities which support research and raise awareness of issues surrounding brain tumour care; further notes that NHS expenditure on brain tumour patients is well below that devoted to other cancers; recognises the problems faced by brain tumour patients in accessing treatment; seeks improved NHS funding and care, including approved access to radiotherapy and rehabilitation services and treatments, such as carmustine implants and temozolomide, which are better tolerated, offer the best hope of improved survival and/or rehabilitation; and calls upon the National Institute for Clinical Health and Excellence to act quickly to approve clinically and cost effective new treatments so that they are available to all NHS patients.]
Given that 16,000 people a year are diagnosed with brain tumours, and that such tumours have now overtaken leukaemia as the biggest single cancer killer of children, would the Leader of the House accept that a debate on the matter would allow hon. Members to express their concern at the preliminary recommendation of the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence that carmustine implants and temozolomide should not be used in the treatment of newly diagnosed high-grade glioma? There is widespread concern about this issue, and the denial of such treatments would be a savage blow. The matter ought to be aired fully on the Floor of the House, sooner rather than later.
Mr. Hoon: The hon. Gentleman has made his point with his characteristic fairness and shown detailed knowledge of the issue. I suspect that, now that he has done so, we shall not need a debate on the subject. Nevertheless, I assure him that that matter is taken extremely seriously by the Government. We have sought always to support hon. Members' concerns about the way in which treatment in the national health service is distributed. There will be an opportunity for the hon. Gentleman to raise the issue again next week in Health questions. This issue is always taken very seriously by the Government.
Mr. David Chaytor (Bury, North) (Lab):
If it were possible to have a debate on international women's day,
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as my hon. Friend the Member for Stevenage (Barbara Follett) suggested, it would provide an opportunity to press the case for proper payment for the post of Minister for Women and Equality. It would also provide an opportunity to remind the House that, until very recently, the Tory shadow Minister for Women and Equality was actually a man.
What I really wanted to ask my right hon. Friend was whether he would endorse the calls for a debate on the Post Office, and particularly on the way in which it renews its franchises. My constituency has been without either a sub-post office or a main post office for nine months, in spite of frequent correspondence between me and the Post Office, and between the leader of the local council and the Post Office. Does my right hon. Friend agree that that is completely unacceptable? May we have a debate on the Post Office to consider all these controversial issues?
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