Nigel Griffiths: I think that Hansard may show that the hon. Member mentioned funding before he went on to cancer, but, none the less, his constituents will not blame him for wanting to ensure that the right resources are in his authority. His comments about the possible third runway at Heathrow were balanced.
Like the hon. Member for West Chelmsford (Mr. Burns), the hon. Member for Uxbridge talked about the alarming increase in the number of identity fraud cases. People appear to be registering using the addresses of innocent constituents so that they can gain driving licences and other documents in such a way that they completely evade the law.
I was coming on to the point that the hon. Member raised. The hon. Member for Uxbridge talked about a domestic address, but the hon. Member for West Chelmsford made us well aware of the problem
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with 25 Duke street. Both hon. Members made the clearest case for identity cards that the House has heard. It is important that people who are able to take out driving licences and passports in such a way and the criminal gangs that organise the activity are tracked down.
Mr. Randall: I am slightly astounded by the Minister's comment. I do not know whether it is necessary for my 86-year-old mother to have an identity card. I am always open to suggestions, so if he can explain how identity cards would avoid the situation that I described, I will be all ears.
Nigel Griffiths: Because one of the great advantages of an identity card is that it relates solely to an individual, so when an application is madepassports have been mentionedthe individual is tracked, which makes forging any document that might relate to the identity of a person much more difficult. It is because people do not have identity cards at the moment that we have the sort of explosion about which the hon. Member talked. The matter is so serious that he and another colleague raised it in this important debate.
Mrs. May: I am having some difficulty understanding the Deputy Leader of the House's explanation of how identity cards will address the problem. The issue is not people turning up with a different identity, but individuals putting down an address that is not theirs when they fill in forms, whether that is the address of another person or a mailing house. How will that problem be solved by identity cards? If an identity card holds such an individual's address, presumably it would just hold the incorrect address.
Nigel Griffiths: No. I would have thought that the right hon. Lady would know the answer if she had sat and listened to the debate, as I did. Any filling in of such forms could be checked on the national identity register. There would not be a question of the original address. People completing forms can apparently make up any name that they choose at the moment, which is why the problem is serious.
The hon. Member for West Chelmsford even-handedly praised the £100 million commitment to invest in Broomfield hospital. I know that he will celebrate the 100 or so major hospital projects that are under way or have been completed under the Government. I believe also that as a Minister in the previous Conservative Government, he will know the background of despair and frustration that I am sure that he shared in the 1980s and 1990shis constituents certainly didwhile waiting for another Government to come along to deliver a hospital for which people had been waiting for decades, if not since the last war. It is important that the hon. Gentleman pays tribute to the fact that without commitment to the necessary money, his constituents would have no hope of any hospital in the future. It is important that they have that hope. There is the need for the best funding package for a hospital in the hon. Gentleman's area. I am sure that that is inflamed by the hon. Gentleman's constituents being able to see up to 100 hospitals throughout the country being built, and that the hon. Gentleman does not feel that he and his constituents are at the head of the queue. I would feel the
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same. I can assure him that when a new hospital opens, as one has on the edge of my constituency, using PFI, that will be widely welcomed and greatly appreciated.
We have not made up in nine years for 50 years of neglect under the previous Conservative Government and Governments before that. That is not something for which I can apologise, but I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will regret not voting with the Government to treble the NHS budget.
I was disappointed when I did not see the hon. Member for Southend, West (Mr. Amess) in his usual place at the beginning of the debate. However, I was pleased to see him come along into the Chamber. He is one of the few Members who are difficult to predict when it comes to exactly what issues will be raised. The hon. Gentleman did not disappoint us today. He raised some serious points, and I would like to be the first to praise him for his outspoken support for the release from imprisonment of one of his constituents and two others. I know that he has praised the Government, including my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, for the representations that they have made consistently about the conditions in which his constituent was held and about the treatment that he and the others received.
I understand that they were convicted of the offence of supporting a banned organisation, the Islamic Liberation party. They served three quarters of their sentence and applied for remission, which I know the hon. Gentleman strongly supported, as I understand did our Government. That remission was granted. When they returned, special branch wanted to interview them at the earliest opportunity, because of conditions that I think are explicable. I regret if that caused further distress to their relatives. I hope that they have got over that and acknowledge that the hon. Gentleman's constituent is now home in the warm embrace of his family.
The hon. Gentleman mentioned the grant settlement, as did others. Given the support for councils under this Government, compared with anything that was given under the previous Government, I take criticism ill on this subject. I am not qualified, as the hon. Gentleman is, to comment on badgers. I know that the relevant MinisterI am not sure which one it iswith responsibilities for urban badgers as against rural badgers will doubtless want to tackle the issue. The hon. Gentleman made a number of observations about a private airline and where it has gone. More seriously for his constituents, he made observations about cancer services in his area, all of which have been noted.
The shadow Leader of the House is a model of ingratitude. If we consider what has been delivered in her constituency by the Government in terms of funding, I am surprised that she could not bring herself to say "Thank you" for the £1,160 extra per pupil. I am happy to tell the right hon. Lady that the Windsor and Maidenhead local education authority had an allocation of £4.4 million this year. That compares to £2.3 million, which was inherited, to the devolved schools' budget. In her constituency the number of five,
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six and seven-year-olds in classes of more than 30 is now 32. It used to be 738. She had no praise for the 120 more teachers.
On crime, the right hon. Lady expressed no thanks to the Government for 4,114 more police officers in the Thames Valley area serving her constituents and others. That is an increase on last year, and 4,000 more than when she was in government.
Nigel Griffiths: On health, the right hon. Lady failed to praise the Windsor, Ascot and Maidenhead PCT, which now has 2,760 more nurses, over 1,200 more doctors and over 350 more consultants. She failed to praise us for the work that we have done with local and other businesses in her area, which has resulted in youth unemployment falling by 22 per cent. She failed to apologise for not supporting the new deal, which has been instrumental in helping her constituents.
A number of great achievements have been made in the past nine years. I am glad that Members have given me a chance to showcase some of them. I am sorry that those have been only grudgingly received, and not acknowledged at all by some hon. Members.
Mr. McLoughlin: The Deputy Leader of the House was doing a reasonable job, but he spoiled it towards the end. If the Government have such a wonderful proud record, why are there not a huge number of Members on the Labour Benches to sing their praises?