|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
Mr. Hoon: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for raising that issue. I recognise the importance of those questions for a number of areas that are looking to achieve the regeneration benefits that the provision of larger casinos can provide. I assure him that I will ensure that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport responds to him directly.
Bob Spink (Castle Point) (Con): The right hon. Gentleman is an excellent and assiduous Leader of the House, so he will be aware that there is rising public concern about the funding of children's hospices. I know he will be sympathetic to this concern as well: some children's hospices get just 2 per cent. of their funding from the authorities, the rest having to be raised through charitable good-cause work by excellent volunteers. Is he expecting the Secretary of State for Health to come to the House in the near future to make an announcement on Government policy changes on the funding of children's hospices?
Mr. Hoon: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his comments, surprising though they are, and for raising that issue. I have been routinely involved not in the question of children's hospices, but in supporting a local hospice. I knowhe put it better than I canthe excellent work done by volunteers, with the support of the national health service, in hospices up and down the country. He is right to draw attention to the work that they do.
Keith Vaz (Leicester, East) (Lab): Could we have an early debate on the progress of the Lisbon agenda? In six weeks' time, there will be a European business summit, at which EU leaders will look at the progress of the agenda over the last five years. We have reached seven of the 17 quantifiable benchmarks, whereas France has reached only three. Could we have a debate on this important issue?
My hon. Friend worked assiduously as an effective Minister for Europe in promoting the Lisbon agenda, something that has been at the top of the Government's agenda for the EU. Providing that we continue to concentrate on the forward-looking programme that Lisbon set outnot least because it
26 Jan 2006 : Column 1526
emphasises the importance to Europe and the EU of concentrating our scarce resources on investment in skills and training and on the challenge of competing with far-eastern economiesthat is still the Government's agenda, and we want to see progress. But, obviously, we must persuade our partners to put the same emphasis on it as we do.
Tim Loughton (East Worthing and Shoreham) (Con): Despite being dropped from yesterday's business, and despite the fact that we finished in Committee early, back in mid-December, the Childcare Bill still does not feature in forthcoming business. Will the Leader of the House explain why that business was mysteriously dropped and replaced with a Bill that collapsed early yesterday in any case? Also, the Children and Adoption Bill, which left the other House back in November, still has to rear its head in this House. When might we see it? May I return yet again to the subject of the Mental Health Bill, which for three years has been in draft form one, draft form two and at the pre-legislative Scrutiny Committee stage, and still we have no mention of it? Is it going to appear in this Session or not?
Mr. Hoon: I take the hon. Gentleman's observations as being a considerable tribute to the energy, hard work and determination of the Government in passing a whole series of important measures to improve child care and mental health in this country, but each has to take its place in a crowded and busy programme, one that the Government will deliver during this Session, as we have set out. Obviously, the management of the business is a sometimes difficult and challenging task and that is something that business managers must take account of in bringing business to this House.
David Taylor (North-West Leicestershire) (Lab/Co-op): The minerals extraction and building materials industry is economically crucial to north-west Leicestershire and to the UK as a whole in the role that it plays in delivering new and improved infrastructure, public buildings, economic growth and so on. In light of the seriously slowed construction product activity in my area, is it not time that we had a debate on the progress towards the Government's key targets? There is a debate next Wednesday on transport in Opposition time. Could we have a debate on housing in Government time within the next two or three weeks? Also, what has happened to the Health Bill? Has it disappeared in a puff of smoke?
Mr. Hoon: I know that my hon. Friend would accept that the construction industry has boomed in recent years as a result of considerable Government investment in new hospitals, roads and schools, providing a range of opportunities for the industry. Necessarily that has implications for my hon. Friend's constituency. On the Health Bill, I hope not to delay my hon. Friend too long on a matter on which we will be able to give information to the House in due course.
David Howarth (Cambridge) (LD):
I was glad to hear the Leader of the House say that he would like to see more debates on the health service in this House. May I therefore ask him for a debate on mental health services in this country, in which the Government could explain to my constituents why, yesterday, our primary care trust announced cuts of nearly £3 million in mental health funding?
26 Jan 2006 : Column 1527
Mr. Hoon: I recognise that the hon. Gentleman has taken up these issues on previous occasions and he is right to point out that, sadly, mental health has not always received the focus within the NHS that it deserves. That is something that the Government are determined to put right. I cannot answer his specific constituency point but I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health will be able to do so.
Mr. Hoon: My right hon. and hon. Friends are showing more than considerable skill in bowling obscure balls to me this morning. I have not had the joy of reading The Daily Telegraph today, but no doubt I will do so in due course, and I will be able to answer my hon. Friend's question more effectively.
Mr. Ben Wallace (Lancaster and Wyre) (Con): Some three weeks ago, the Government announced by written statement that they would begin the process of privatising Qinetiq. Today, they published the brochure, effectively, for investors. Will the Leader of the House consider having a debate or asking the Secretary of State to make a statement on the future of Qinetiq? A number of questions need to be answered, such as why members of the British public are being denied a right to buy a stake in the company when it is floated, whether it is likely that the chief executive will get a £22 million bonus for a £150,000 investment, and what protection there is from the family secrets being flogged to the highest bidder overseas.
Mr. Hoon: The hon. Gentleman could have raised all those questions in Defence questions earlier this week, but I am grateful that he has saved them up for today. Certainly, it is important that the British taxpayer gets the best value from such sales. It is somewhat ironic that Conservative Members are raising questions of privatisation in relation to something that was done in a proper, perfectly competitive way, unlike some privatisations, of which I could give him a long list. I will simply park that. What is vital is that the process delivers the best return for the British taxpayer while safeguarding important research done by British scientists. That was part of the original way in which Qinetiq was organised. As well as the return to the British taxpayer, I am sure that the hon. Gentleman would want to see that the money invested through Qinetiq delivers material that can be sold competitively and used for the greater interest of the British taxpayer. I assure him that that is the position.
If I may deal with this point, the hon. Gentleman has revealed that he is a regular reader of The Daily Telegraph. I think that even readers of The Daily Telegraph would accept that what is important is to deliver the best return to the British taxpayer. This arrangement will do that.
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|