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Mr. Hoon: I am sure that the hon. Lady did not mean to give that impression. It is obviously very important that we promote integrated schooling that allows young people in Northern Ireland to grow and develop with knowledge of, and understanding of, all the communities represented in that part of the world. However, I will certainly ensure that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland writes to her on this issue.
Andrew Gwynne (Denton and Reddish) (Lab): I echo the very real concerns expressed earlier by my hon. Friend the Member for Stockport (Ann Coffey). The ruling Liberal Democrat group on Stockport council is peddling irresponsible scare stories about savage cuts to Greater Manchester police, despite a 45 per cent. increase in the police precept over three years and record numbers of police officers, community support officers and support staff. Will my right hon. Friend therefore find time for a full debate on policing in Greater Manchester, so that the record can be put straight?
Mr. Hoon: My hon. Friend has done that extremely well through his observation. He is an assiduous campaigner in Stockport, and I am sure that the Stockport newspaper referred to earlier will cover his contribution and that of my hon. Friend the Member for Stockport (Ann Coffey) thoroughly.
Pete Wishart (Perth and North Perthshire) (SNP): Is the Leader of the House entirely satisfied that we will have sufficient time to debate the remaining stages of the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill, given growing concerns about its provisions? What has he got to say to the people of Scotland, who are increasingly concerned that a future, hostile Government could use some of its provisions to amend the Scotland Act 1998 to the detriment of the Scottish Parliament?
Mr. Hoon: I have already made it clear that there will be an opportunity for Members to discuss that Bill. Its remaining stages will be taken on the Floor of the House, where amendments can be tabled, debated and decided on.
Mr. Charles Walker (Broxbourne) (Con):
Could we have an urgent debate on peerages? Unlike many of my colleagues, I do not really care if people want to buy the right to sit in the House of Lords, but I do care if people can buy the right to legislate in the House of Lords. Perhaps we could have a second tier of junior peerages, so that people can call themselves Lord Snooks but are
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not allowed to pass laws. Perhaps the parties could have 10 each of those peerages and auction them on eBay to ensure that we get best value.
Mr. Hoon: I rather thought that that was how the hereditary peerage worked anyway. I know that the Conservatives secretly regret the passing of the hereditary peerage: they have certainly never given us much assistance in that and for many years they have relied on the hereditary peers to frustrate the will of the elected Labour Government. The hon. Gentleman makes his point in an entertaining way, but if we were to have such a debate, is he guaranteeing that his Front-Bench colleagues would reveal whether any Conservative peers have been elevated to that rank as a result of making an undisclosed loan to the Conservative party?
Mr. Edward Garnier (Harborough) (Con): Will the Leader of the House provide Government time for an early debate on the role of the Civil Aviation Authority in the east midlands? He will know that on 4 February there was an incident at Nottingham East Midlands airport in Leicestershire that the CAA has simply dismissed, despite the fact that information about the incident was provided by a member of the air traffic control staff at the airport. Is he also aware that the draft master plan produced by NEMA, as it is called, will double the number of night flights and quadruple the amount of freight flown over my constituency between now and 2010? Will he also invite the CAA urgently to look into the recent incident at Great Glen in my constituency last Saturday, when a large lump of ice fell from an aeroplane on to the car of one of my constituents?
Mr. Hoon: I know from regular use that Nottingham East Midlands airport is an excellent airport and the expansion that we have seen in recent years has provided a tremendous boost to trade and industry in the east midlands. The hon. and learned Member has raised some serious questions and I know that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport will want to deal with them.
Mike Penning (Hemel Hempstead) (Con): May I back the calls for a debate on the future of the health service and, in particular, the cuts that will be made? My constituents face a £30 million cut in health care, leading to the closure of all the acute facilities at our hospital, including a brand spanking new stroke unit. My constituents want nothing more than a level playing field, so perhaps the debate could be used to explain why the Prime Minister's constituency, Sedgefield, gets £1,210 per head for health care, but my constituents get £960. That is a shortfall of £250 per head and could have kept some of those departments open. We want a level playing field, not rhetoric from the Leader of the House.
Again, I have relayed to the House on several previous occasions the fact that the deficits in the health service are limited to a relatively small number of organisations. Some 50 per cent. of the deficits were incurred by just over 6 per cent. of health service bodies. I do not wish to minimise the difficulties that some health service organisations have had in managing their budgets, but I hope that the hon. Gentleman will join me
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in recognising that it is important that budgets are managed so that our constituents can have confidence that the money that they pay in taxes to provide excellent health care is used properly. On the specific issue of how those issues are calculated, he knows full well that the formula for funding depends on an assessment of the degree of deprivation and health problems in particular areas. It is right that those calculations should be made.
Bob Spink (Castle Point) (Con): At the last general election, all three main party leaders said that it was now necessary to review legislation to reduce the time at which the abortion of babies is allowed. When can we expect a review by the House, or is that another key issue on which the Prime Minister says one thing and does another?
Mr. Hoon: I know that the Chairman of the Health Committee is concerned to try to find a way to establish an appropriate consideration, not so much of the time limit itself but of the underlying science affecting it. That would be a sensible way forward and, if the hon. Gentleman wishes to do so, he could write to the Chairman and urge him to conduct an inquiry by the Select Committee.
Mr. Peter Bone (Wellingborough) (Con): Last night, I was contacted by a constituent whose father had had a heart attack in June 2005 and needed a bypass. On four occasions that gentleman has been admitted to hospital and four times his operation has been cancelled for non-clinical reasons. I urge the Leader of the House to have a debate in Government time on the health service so that the Secretary of State for Health has to reply to the debate.
Mr. Hoon: Everyone takes individual cases seriously, and it is important that they are resolved satisfactorily. However, it is equally importantas I am sure the hon. Gentleman recognisesthat we should not treat individual examples of particular problems as somehow symptomatic of alleged widespread difficulties in the health service. The experience of right hon. and hon. Members across the country is of a remarkable improvement in the operation of the health service, and a significant reduction in waiting times. We need to continue and expand those reductions, but most Members of Parliament are delighted with the improvements that the Government have brought about in the health service.
Mr. Brooks Newmark (Braintree) (Con): Braintree community hospital was due to be completed last December. Unfortunately, not a single brick has been laid. When I asked the head of my strategic health authority what was going on, he explained that no business plan had been delivered because of the deficits in my primary care trust. May we have a debate on the funding crisis in our PCTs?
I have made it absolutely clear repeatedlyI am sorry to have to say it againthat if the hon. Gentleman wishes to do so, he may raise the issue in the debate this afternoon, should he catch your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker. If he cannot do so this
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afternoon, he could do so on Monday or Tuesday. There is every opportunity for the issues to be debated. I know that the hon. Gentleman is an extremely successful businessman and I would be astonished if he were suggesting that his businesses should run large deficits without being attended to by his accountants. His accountants would get the sack if they persisted in running deficits without attending to the underlying difficulties.
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