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Mr. David Heath (Somerton and Frome) (LD): As was clear from Environment, Food and Rural Affairs questions earlier, there is an urgent need for a debate on the shambles that is single farm payments, and the fact that many farmers will not receive their payments by the close of the payment window at the end of June. If a member of the public fails to pay the Government by the appropriate time, they are taken to court or have interest imposed on them. Why are the Government not prepared to pay interest by the close of the payment window to those who were unlawfully refused payments? Moreover, why have next year's application forms, which have to be submitted in three weeks' time, not yet been sent out to many farmers?

While we are talking about mismanagement, we need an urgent debate on the health service. Despite the record sums being put into it, the fact remains that acute hospitals throughout the country—including my own general hospital, the Royal United hospital, in Bath—are sacking staff. That is entirely unsatisfactory, as the Leader of the House must recognise.

May we have a debate on the outcome of the court case between Deloitte and the Bank of England, which has ramifications for the court system and for the Department of Trade and Industry in terms of insolvency practice? It was instigated 12 years ago and has taken 256 trial days. At least £120 million of creditors' money has been spent on an entirely inadequate case that has now collapsed. Surely lessons should be learned from such a fiasco in our courts.

Lastly, may we have a debate on the manufacturing industry? We are all aware of what has happened with Peugeot, but the same situation is being replicated on a smaller scale day after day, week after week in many of our towns, where manufacturing industry is being squeezed out. The Government must have a proper manufacturing industry policy and it is this House's responsibility to debate the matter.

Mr. Hoon: I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman did not get called during Environment, Food and Rural Affairs questions. Since they finished only 13 minutes ago, I do not intend to add to the answers that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State gave when the issue of farm payments was raised with her directly. In future, he might seek the same opportunity to ask questions as is available to all Members of the House.

On the health service, I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman chooses to use emotive language such as "sacking staff". If he checks, he will find that year on
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year, the NHS is employing far more people than ever before. This year alone, there has been an increase of about 38,000 in the number employed—[Interruption.] Opposition Members affect amusement at that observation, but surely every Member supports my contention at the outset, which is that a huge amount of public money is being spent on the national health service. That public money needs to be spent effectively and sensibly and, crucially, it needs to be spent on delivering front-line services across the country, on nurses, doctors and consultants. Numbers in each of those professions have increased significantly since 1997. Obviously, it is important that they receive the best back-up in terms of administrative support, but if it is possible to reduce the number of people involved in administration and still deliver an excellent health service, every Member of the House should support that.

There are lessons to be learned from the particular court case that the hon. Gentleman mentioned and I am confident that we shall do so. It is important, however, that court cases be allowed to proceed independently of political observation and comment.

I do not accept the hon. Gentleman's observations about our commitment to manufacturing industry; nor would the Government, who are absolutely committed to it. The Government are also committed to supporting the people who work in that industry. Clearly, it is a matter of regret and sadness for those who have been told that they will lose their jobs at Peugeot over a period of time. We would have preferred Peugeot to      remain operating in the United Kingdom, manufacturing vehicles, but the British car industry today is an absolute success right across the country. We are producing high-quality cars. In Sunderland, we have the most efficient car plant anywhere in Europe, and there has been a 25 per cent. increase in production at Toyota in Derbyshire. The record of manufacturing in our car industry is outstanding and I should be much more interested in the hon. Gentleman's concern about manufacturing if he had put it in that context.

Dr. Desmond Turner (Brighton, Kemptown) (Lab): My right hon. Friend will agree that the forthcoming decision about whether to deploy a new generation of nuclear generators is one of the most momentous that the Government will undertake for a considerable time. He will be aware that recent reports from the Sustainable Development Commission and the Environmental Audit Committee have thrown some light on the question. Does he agree that such an important decision should be debated by the whole House, in the Chamber, before it is finally taken? Will he find time for such a debate?

Mr. Hoon: I agree that issues such as our energy requirements and their contribution to protecting our environment are vital for the future of the country. That is why my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and my hon. Friend the Minister for Energy have undertaken such a comprehensive review, which concluded its first phase on 14 April. The huge number of representations that were received are being considered and I am confident that time will be available for the House to debate those matters in due course.

Mr. John Redwood (Wokingham) (Con): Given that we are not meeting our carbon targets and carbon
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emissions are going up, may we have an early debate on how Ministers and Departments could cut their carbon footprint on the planet? By choosing more sensible cars, travelling less and not using the Queen's Flight so much, by looking at how buildings are insulated and at control systems in buildings and by introducing fuel-efficient lighting, the Government could do a number of things to contribute to trying to meet targets that they are not hitting.

Mr. Hoon: The right hon. Gentleman makes an entirely sensible and practical suggestion on something about which all Departments are concerned. In my previous ministerial capacity, I was concerned to ensure that, when the Ministry of Defence main buildings were refurbished, for example, environmental considerations were taken into account along the lines that he suggested. I agree that it is important that the Government set a good example for others to follow.

Michael Connarty (Linlithgow and East Falkirk) (Lab): Will my right hon. Friend urge the Government to make a statement to the House—if they are not already planning to do so—on the publication of the document, "Self-sufficiency in blood products in England and Wales: A chronology from 1973 to 1991"? My right hon. Friend has encyclopaedic knowledge of things coming from all Departments, but I am sure that he missed that document. Even the Haemophilia Society only found out from a website that it had been published and had to ask for a copy. I am the chair of the all-party group on haemophilia and I only received a copy, through the Haemophilia Society, in the last few days. The document is strongly criticised by the society for omitting some of the major points that were supposed to be considered—the Government's involvement and omissions at a high level of Government. There was a disaster: 4,800 people were contaminated with HIV and hepatitis C in the 1970s and 1980s. Is not it time that we had a statement from the Government and a commitment to a public inquiry into how that scandal occurred?

Mr. Hoon: I confess that, in my Easter recess reading, I overlooked that report, although I did see some newspaper accounts of it. My hon. Friend is absolutely right to raise that important issue, and I am sure that his observations will be noted by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health, who will respond appropriately.

John Bercow (Buckingham) (Con): May we please have a statement next week from the Secretary of State for Health on the future of the Nuffield speech and language unit, whose fate is to be determined by July this year? Given that the unit is a centre of excellence that provides intensive specialist therapy and teaching to children aged between four and seven with severe communication disorders for whom there is not and cannot be any comparable provision in mainstream education, does the right hon. Gentleman understand how horrified the friends of the unit are that it is earmarked for closure? What will the Government do to safeguard that vital national resource?

Mr. Hoon: The hon. Member has raised the issue effectively, and I am sure that my right hon. Friend the
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Secretary of State for Health will respond to him in due course. I cannot offer him a statement on that question next week, but I am sure that my right hon. Friend will deal with him through correspondence.

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