|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
The Prime Minister:
Of course, as the Home Secretary rightly said, there are huge challenges, such as organised crime and illegal immigration. If we are to tackle them, we need measures such as the Criminal Justice Act 2003, which toughened up the sentences for
violent and sexual offences. However, what did the right hon. Gentleman do when that was before the House of Commons? He voted against it. So when we bring forward the new measures, he will be on test, as will his leadership and his party.
Chris Mole (Ipswich) (Lab): Does my right hon. Friend welcome last weeks introduction of environmental performance certificates for domestic dwellings? They will ensure, for the first time, that people buying a home will have the same information about its environmental performance as they would have about a fridge that they wanted to buy. Does he regret the opposition to the introduction of home information packs, of which the certificates will form a key part, because that opposition ignores the packs impact on the environment and because the HIP will be the most efficient way to get EPCs in front of consumers?
The Prime Minister: My hon. Friend is right, and HIPs have been welcomed by the National Consumer Council. Denmark is one of the countries that have introduced the packs, where they have been immensely successful. We are giving them a dry run this year, and they will be introduced fully next year. He is absolutely right as well about the energy saving requirements that will be part of the pack. This country is introducing that information some two years earlier than the European directive stipulates.
Sir Menzies Campbell (North-East Fife) (LD): Can the Prime Minister recall a time when there was as much acrimony as there is now between the Home Office on the one hand, and the police and judiciary on the other? How is that to be resolved?
The Prime Minister: It is to be resolved, I hope, by meeting the publics genuine concerns about the shortcomings of the criminal justice system. The right hon. and learned Gentleman asks a general question about the Home Office and judges, but if the public knew the Liberal Democrats voting record in this House on law and order policies, they would not give him or his colleagues the time of day on the issue.
Sir Menzies Campbell: I am happy to defend my voting record, and the Prime Minister should defend his, given what he said when he was in opposition. As a result of the events of the past few weeks, is not it clear that we need wholesale reform of the Home Office, including the creation of a separate ministry of justice?
The Prime Minister: No, I do not agree with that at all. The right hon. and learned Gentleman says that he and his colleagues are proud of their voting record, but I should like to see the leaflets that the Liberal Democrats put around during the recent local elections saying how proud they were that they voted against the antisocial behaviour legislation. Let him show me the leaflets saying how they voted against the powers to close crack houses, and against antisocial behaviour orders and the drunk and disorderly provisions. If the right hon. and learned Gentleman shows me those leaflets, I will pay some attention to what he says.
Q3.  Mr. Gordon Prentice (Pendle) (Lab): A year ago, my friend told us that a decision to replace Trident would have to be made in this Parliament. Would not it be an absolute outrage if billions were squandered on a new generation of nuclear weapons without a vote in the House?
The Prime Minister: As I think I said before, there should be the fullest possible debate on the issue. I am sure that there will be and that, yes, the decision will have to be taken in this Parliament.
Q4.  Jo Swinson (East Dunbartonshire) (LD): Does the Prime Minister agree that whatever his Governments views on nuclear power, it is the Scottish Executive who will decide whether to allow the building of new nuclear power stations in Scotland?
The Prime Minister: Of course, as a result of devolution those decisions will be taken in accordance with the legislation that outlines the respective powers of the Scottish Executive, the UK Parliament and the UK Executive. I point out to the hon. Lady that Scotland has nuclear power stations now, and a large part of the whole countrys electricity depends on them.
Q5.  Mr. David S. Borrow (South Ribble) (Lab): During the European summit last week, did my right hon. Friend have the opportunity to meet members of the Dutch Christian Union party, which is against the election of women, or members of the Latvian For Fatherland and Freedom party, which is against foreigners working in schools [Interruption.]or indeed members of the Polish Civic Platform party, which wants to reduce workers and trade union rights?
Q6.  Mr. John Randall (Uxbridge) (Con): Mr. Speaker, I am sure that you are as delighted as I am to find out that the Government have appointed a liveability Minister. Can the Prime Minister tell me who that Minister is, and what is liveability?
The Prime Minister: Liveability is the ability of local communities to be free from crime and fear, which is precisely why we introduced legislation. I am not sure whether the hon. Gentleman and his colleagues voted against that one, but it would not surprise me if they did [Interruption.]
Nia Griffith (Llanelli) (Lab): What can my right hon. Friend say to sufferers of mesothelioma and their families in my constituency and elsewhere, in view of the devastating message that they received from the Lords recently?
The Prime Minister:
We are well aware of the serious concern about that matter and, as a result, there will be
an amendment to the Compensation Bill, which will, in effect, reverse the ruling in that recent case. That is extremely important because otherwise many thousands of people would suffer unnecessarily. Along with what we have done for miners compensation over many years, that is an indication that we recognise that there are people in this country who have worked very hard and suffered grave and debilitating illnesses as a result. It is right that we stand by them and protect them.
Q7.  Mr. Peter Bone (Wellingborough) (Con): The England team manager has announced not only the day that he will retire but who his successor will be. Has the Prime Minister anything to learn from that?
Margaret Moran (Luton, South) (Lab): Is my right hon. Friend aware that Liberal and Tory-controlled Luton council is ending school uniform grants, thus hitting the poorest families hardest? Will he consider making school uniform grants compulsory and does he agree that, while the Government are getting on with tackling child poverty, the Opposition just pose?
The Prime Minister: It is important that we continue to support some of the poorest families; as a result of the policies, for example, in relation to child tax credit, hundreds of thousands of the poorest families receive that help and protection. I very much hope that we continue to give support through the childrens tax credit. I think that I am right in saying that something like 3 million of the 7 million poorest families actually pay no income tax at all as a result of the help that we are giving them. In our judgment, that is the right way to help some of the poorest families to cope with their difficulties. What my hon. Friend says in relation to the Conservative and Lib Dem-controlled council does not surprise me at all; they do that in many other places.
Q8.  Mr. David Heath (Somerton and Frome) (LD): The Prime Minister yet again tried to sound terribly tough earlier, but let us look at his performance. Recommendations made after the Dunblane shootings 10 years ago have not yet been implemented. Recommendations made after the Soham murders four years ago have not yet been implemented. Recommendations made after the Kings Cross disaster 17 years ago have not been implemented.
Mr. Heath: I will, and it is this: what sort of tabloid campaign would it take for the Government to put in place key recommendations before further tragedies, instead of expressing regret afterwards?
The Prime Minister:
We are actually implementing those recommendations, but let me just explain to the hon. Gentlemansince he gives me a chance to say this againsome of the measures that the Liberal Democrats have voted against. [ Interruption. ] He cannot complain that we are not being tough enough and then object
when I point out that when we introduced measures that, for example, allow us to give indeterminate sentences to violent and sexual offenders, he and his colleagues voted against that legislation. I am very sorry, but if he wants to raise these issues, he will get that reply.
Q9.  Miss Anne Begg (Aberdeen, South) (Lab): Will my right hon. Friend join me and the vast majority of Scottish people in condemning the wanton violence perpetrated on my constituent, Ian Smith, in Aberdeen yesterday, just for wearing an English top and flying a small English flag on his car? While accepting that people can be passionate about football, does he agree that that incident besmirches the reputation not only of Aberdeen, but of the tartan army, who can travel the world without attacking supporters of opposing teams?
The Prime Minister: My hon. Friend is absolutely right both in what she says and the tone in which she says it. I am sure that everybody condemns what was an appalling and totally unjustifiable attack. In fairness to the football fans from England, as well, the vast majority of them behave extremely well. The way in which the present World cup is being conducted is absolutely excellent and it is a great tribute not just to the German authorities, who are conducting it and in charge of it, but to the English fans who have travelled there. I pay tribute to all those who lawfully and properly are football supporters. She is absolutely right in what she says about that particular case.
Q10.  Mr. Michael Ancram (Devizes) (Con): Given the tremendous work of reconstruction carried out by our brave troops in Iraq over the past three years, but given also the fact that there is a fast-diminishing prospect of further positive achievement in the face of the growing sectarian violence in that country, is it not time now, with honour and dignity and pride, to bring our troops home?
The Prime Minister: No, it is not, and I am sorry that the right hon. and learned Gentleman says that, because I know that he supported the presence of British troops, and I say this in no disrespect to him at all. The fact is, at long last, we have for the first time ever in Iraq a fully elected democratic Government bringing together the Sunni, the Shia and the Kurds. They are the people who are the democratic representatives of the Iraqis today. Their viewall of them, incidentally, said this to me when I was in Baghdad recentlyis that they want us to stay and see the job done, because there is difficulty in Iraq today not because the British authorities have fallen down on the job, or even, frankly, the Iraqi authorities, but because there are people there who want to terrorise and to stop democracy taking root for some of the same sorts of reasons that see those people engaged in criminal or terrorist acts the world over. We have to understand that the fight there, as in Afghanistan, is part of the wider struggle against that type of global terrorism. The worst message that we could sendI say this with respect to the right hon. and learned Gentlemanis that we are going to walk away when the people who are democratically elected want us to stay. We stay and get the job done, and I believe that that is the British way.
Mr. Michael Clapham (Barnsley, West and Penistone) (Lab): When the law in the Barker case has been reversed, will my right hon. Friend consider introducing a fast-track scheme to make speedy payments to mesothelioma sufferers and their families?
The Prime Minister: I will certainly look very carefully at my hon. Friends suggestion, because I know that he has worked very hard, both on those cases and on the miners compensations cases. I will not give him a reply straight away, but I will look at the matter carefully and get back in touch with him.
Q11.  Jeremy Wright (Rugby and Kenilworth) (Con): A month ago, I wrote to the Home Secretaryso far I have not had a replyabout a foreign prisoner who should have been deported in February, at the end of his sentence. In fact, he was deported on 11 June. That delay has cost the taxpayer £20,800. Given that the Home Office has told me that there are 450 others in immigration detention who have finished their sentences, may I ask the Prime Minister whether he will ensure that they are deported more quickly and at less cost to the taxpayer?
The Prime Minister: I can only look into that particular case, because obviously I do not know about it. There can be reasons why people are not immediately deported that are to do with the country to which they are being returned. It is quite important that before we take it as read that a person immediately goes once there is a deportation order, we realise that there can sometimes be reasons why they are not returned immediately that have nothing to do with the immigration authorities or the Home Office. The important thing is that such people should be in custody until the moment at which they can be returned.
Alan Simpson (Nottingham, South) (Lab): In Berlin, 80 per cent. of the new buildings that are going up are generating their own energy. In the Netherlands, energy is generated from motorways, schools, health centres and even car parks. A whole eco city is being built in China, but in the UK, not one of our major spending Departments, with the exception of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, is investing in energy self-generation. Given the Prime Ministers commitment to the climate change issue, will he get his civil servants to look at generating some energy about generating their own energy?
The Prime Minister: Actually, the Chancellor announced that we are putting significant sums into microgeneration. I cannot remember the exact amount, but we are spending somewhere in the region of several hundred million pounds on research into renewable energy. My hon. Friend is quite right about the interesting things that are happening in other countries, as is the case here. When the energy review is published, he will see that as well as dealing with the difficult issue of nuclear power, there will be a great emphasis on energy efficiency and renewable energy. The frank and brutal truth is that we will have to act through a whole range of measures to ensure that we can both guarantee energy supplies and reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
Q12.  Philip Davies (Shipley) (Con):
Stephen Ayre was a convicted murderer who was released early
and went on to abduct and rape a 10-year-old boy in my constituency. Does the Prime Minister agree with me that the way to tackle overcrowding in prisons is not to release dangerous people out on to our streets early, but to build more prisons so that prisoners can serve their sentences in full?
The Prime Minister: First, I entirely agree with what the hon. Gentleman says about what was obviously a shocking crime. I agree that we are providing more prison places precisely because those who need to be in prison should be in prison. However, I point out that as a result of the Criminal Justice Act 2003, such people can now be given indeterminate sentences, in which case they are not automatically paroled, but released only when they are no longer a danger to the community. It was precisely because of cases such as the one that he mentioned that we introduced the provision, and I think that I am right in saying that almost 1,000 people have been subject to it.
Q13.  Emily Thornberry (Islington, South and Finsbury) (Lab): Will my right hon. Friend join me in congratulating Members of both Houses, of all parties, who went on the MPs bike ride today as part of bike to work week?
The Prime Minister: It is not as if an immense amount has not been done already, for the reasons that I gave earlier. For example, there has been a lot of criticism about the immigration and nationality directorate for perfectly understandable reasons, but let us be clear about the situation that we inherited and what now happens. It used to be the case that the average asylum application [ Interruption. ] I am explaining what we have done in nine years, so the right hon. Gentleman should listen.
An asylum application used to take 20 months, but the average time in the vast majority of cases is now two months. We used to remove only one in five failed asylum seekers, but we now remove more than the number of unfounded applications that come in. Unlike the previous Government, who were about to sack people from the immigration department, we have increased the numbers to deal with the situation. That is what we have done in nine years, and we will do more over the next nine.
Mr. Robert N. Wareing (Liverpool, West Derby) (Lab): On Monday last week, my right hon. Friend met the leaders of big corporations such as Tesco and Sainsbury to encourage them to join the boards of foundation hospitals. When is he going to call to No. 10 Downing street some of the representatives of the people who know something about the national health serviceI would suggest representatives of the Royal College of Nursing and the trade unions involved in the health service? When is my right hon. Friend going to stop the privatisation by stealth of the national health service?
The Prime Minister: Actually, it will not come as any surprise to my hon. Friend to know that the trade unions from the NHS have often been in Downing street in the course of the conversations that we have had over many years. Indeed, Agenda for Change, which was welcomed by many of the trade unions, was developed in partnership with them.
My hon. Friend talked about members of the private or independent sector coming into Downing street. They came to a meeting with chief executives of NHS hospital trusts to discuss how, on things like procurement, the NHS sector could learn from the independent sector. The people who spoke up for that type of partnership and engagement were not actually the politicians; it was the people working in the NHS. I think that where we can get the right partnership between the independent and voluntary sector and the public sector, we should have it, but it is all according to one principle, which is NHS care free at the point of use.
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|