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The Leader of the House of Commons (Ms Harriet Harman): With permission, before I give the business of the House, may I say that, having been a Member of the House for 25 years, it is an enormous privilege to be its leadera member of the Government, of course, but leader of the whole House. I will always want to see, of course, that the Government are able to get through the laws that we have promised, but I and my ministerial team will do everything that we can to protect the rights of Back Benchers, to hold the Government to account, to ensure proper and timely scrutiny of legislation, and to enable the House to hold the most open, effective and best informed democratic debates in the world.
Monday 9 JulyEstimates [3rd allotted day]. There will be a debate on scientific advice, risk and evidence-based policy making, followed by a debate on the Rural Payments Agency, the implementation of the single payment scheme and the UK Governments Vision for the Common Agricultural Policy.
Tuesday 10 JulyProceedings on the Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) (No.2) Bill, followed by a motion to approve the draft Terrorism Act 2006 (Disapplication of Section 25) Order 2007, followed by a motion to approve the draft Terrorism Act 2000 (Proscribed Organisation) (Amendment) Order 2007, followed by Second Reading of the Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Bill [ Lords].
Wednesday 11 JulyOpposition day [16th allotted day]. There will be a debate entitled Stroke Services and a debate entitled Mending the Broken Society. Both debates arise on an Opposition motion, followed by if necessary, consideration of Lords amendments.
The Seventh Report from the Science and Technology Committee, Session 2005-06, HC 900, Scientific Advice, Risk and Evidence-Based Policy Making, and the Government Response thereto, First Special Report, Session 2005-06, HC 307.
Mrs. May: I thank the right hon. and learned Lady for giving us the business. I was able to welcome her to her new role on Monday in questions to the Leader of the House, but I take this opportunity of welcoming the Deputy Leader of the House of Commons, the hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Helen Goodman), to her new role.
I thank the Leader of the House for the commitment that she has given for the Government to make an oral statement on the draft legislative programme before the House rises for the recess. Will she also give a commitment that the House will have an opportunity for a full debate on that programme before we rise?
It is also a carry-over Bill.[ Official Report, 28 June 2007; Vol. 462, c. 479.]
Mr. Speaker: Order. I must say that there are courtesies that we are entitled to in the House. The right hon. and learned Lady is the Leader of the House, and if the right hon. Member for Maidenhead (Mrs. May) uses the term part-time Leader of the House during the business question, I will stop her.
Stop these excessive, ridiculous city bonuses
If the City is doing well, the country is doing well. When it prospers, we all prosper.
should do more to fund the development of trade unions,
On 24 May, the right hon. and learned Lady said that we would have to keep Trident under review; but the Governments policy, rightly, is that we should maintain our independent nuclear deterrent. The new Prime Minister says that we must remain
strong in defence...retaining our independent nuclear deterrent.
May we also have a debate on social responsibility? On 28 May, the right hon. and learned Lady said that Labour should learn from previous campaigns when it told people, You dont need that money, weve got much better ideas about what to do with that money, so may we have a debate on who knows bestthe people themselves or the woman in Whitehall?
Ive never said the Government should apologise
over the Iraq war. When I raised that point in the House on Monday, she was careful not to repeat her denial on the Floor of the House, so will she now make a statement clarifying her position? Does she stand by what she originally said, or does she rebut it?
Finally, the Prime Minister pleaded yesterday that he had been in the job only for five days. Given that the last Prime Minister resigned seven days previously, may we have a statement on who was Prime Minister for the other two days?
The right hon. Lady asked about an opportunity for the House to debate our draft legislative programme, which is part of the changes announced by the Prime Minister on Tuesday. Not only will there be a statement to the House setting out the draft content of the legislative programme, but there will be an opportunity to debate it. When I open the summer recess Adjournment debate there will be an opportunity for Back Benchers to discuss the contents of the draft legislative programme as well as raising important constituency matters. There will be a statement and then the summer recess debate.
The right hon. Lady asked whether there was consultation about the carry-over of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill. I am afraid I cannot answer her question, but I will discuss it with my colleague the Chief Whip and Ministers at the Ministry of Justice and get back to her in writing.
I thank the right hon. Lady for welcoming me to my new position. After 25 years in the House, I know that if she wants a debate on City bonuses, an additional debate on Trident, a debate about trade unions or a debate about honesty in government, she can use Opposition days to bring those issues to the House.
On party funding, we await further outcomes from the cross-party work of Sir Hayden Phillips, but perhaps I could offer the right hon. Lady a non-aggression pact. It is not in the interests of the House for her to try to give me a hand-bagging every Thursday, so I hope we can get over this and actually hear from Back Benchers on both sides of the House about the important issues they want to raise.
Can my right hon. and learned Friend find time for a debate on youth crime? As she is aware, in the last few months alone, two teenagers in my constituency have died of stab wounds, so it is absolutely essential that in addition to debating deterrent sentencing and effective policing we discuss how we can prevent the crisis that is gripping some of our young people, particularly in London and our cities, so that we can build on the success of Sure Start. Will she find time for us to discuss how we can provide effective support services for teenagers and young people, and may we have that debate in time for the comprehensive spending review?
Ms Harman: My hon. Friend is one of the foremost Members of the House in putting forward the questions of how we tackle and prevent youth crime. I know that she has raised the issue, and it is a matter of concern with my ministerial colleagues in the Department for Communities and Local Government, the Home Office and in education. We need a cross-government approach, and there are Home Office questions on Monday. I am sure that the issue will be raised again then.
I welcome the announcements that the right hon. and learned Lady has made about the Governments intention to follow up on what the Prime Minister said on Tuesday in taking forward constitutional reform as it affects this place. She will understand that it is important that not only MPs but the public have a participatory role in what the legislation should be. So could she tell us whether there will be a role for the public to have a say, as well as politicians? Is she willing to accept, and to put on the record her view, that much more power should be transferred to the House? In particular, is she willing now to say that responsibility for the business of this place should be driven by this place in co-operation with the Government, not by the Government alone, and that it should be this place that chooses the Select Committee Chairs to scrutinise the Executive? It would be very helpful if she could indicate that that is in her plan too.
On national matters of importance, will she make sure before we break for the summer recess that there is an opportunity for a full debate on the implications of the flooding in the north, the midlands and other parts of the country? Many placesHull, Sheffield and Worcestershirehave been severely affected, and I am sure that colleagues and those whom they represent would hugely appreciate the chance to learn that they have not been forgotten and that they will be much more supported in the days and weeks ahead than they have felt on some days in recent weeks.
If possible, will the right hon. and learned Lady make sure that the Chancellor of the Exchequer comes to the House? Whatever happens to interest rates in the next few minutes, they have gone up four times in the last year. Debt is £1.3 trillion, mortgages are sky high and house prices are sky high. To continue the analogy from last week, many people still feel that they are in very hard times, and in places such as her constituency and mine, many people sense that it is a tale of two cities.
Last week, the Corruption Bill was objected by those on the Treasury Bench. When are we going to have either permission for an Opposition Member to introduce a corruption Bill, supported by the Government, or a corruption Bill introduced by the Government to deal with the fact that we still have a very lax regime in this country?
Ms Harman: I welcome the hon. Gentleman to his new post as shadow Leader of the House. We are well used to working together as he is my next-door neighbour in the London borough of Southwark. He too has been in the House for something like 25 years.
Yes, I can answer the hon. Gentlemans question about whether the public will be able to engage with the question of what the Governments legislative priorities should be. As well as having a statement to the House and a debate in the House, we intend to issue a document to the public that sets out what the Governments priorities are for new laws, so that the public can see it. All these things previously would have happened behind closed doors and engaged the machinery of government, but would have been hidden to the outside world.
In response to the hon. Gentlemans point on decisions about business, the Prime Minister has made it absolutely clear that he sees having a strong Parliament as part of strengthening government. The Government do better when they have a strong Parliament holding them to account. However, I am not able to make any announcement about making changes as to how we do business at this point.
On the hon. Gentlemans points about interest rates, the new Chancellor will be answering Treasury questions next Thursday. I have no doubt that he will want to continue the work of the previous Chancellor, in having a strong and stable economy, low inflation and high employment. For all the problems that remain in our two constituencies in inner city London, the hon. Gentleman will know that people are much better off than they were under the Tories because of the economic management of the Prime Minister when he was Chancellor.
On the question of flooding, I too would like to add my condolences to the families of those who have lost
their lives and my sympathy to those who still have problems, particularly those in Hull. The Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government, my hon. Friend for Wentworth (John Healey), is in Hull today and the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government will be there tomorrow. The work on the floods must go onboth preventing them and supporting those who have already been affected by them.
Mr. Ian Cawsey (Brigg and Goole) (Lab): My right hon. and learned Friend, and all hon. Members, will be aware of the need to improve services for people with mental health needs and their families, who are often their carers. An ongoing review in the Goole part of my constituency is trying to achieve that, but it would be boosted enormously if the local primary care trust provided funding at the level that the Department of Health says that it should. Will she find time for a debate on mental health services so that all hon. Members can make a contribution to stopping those services being the Cinderella of the NHS?
Ms Harman: My hon. Friend represents a concern that is felt across the House. He will know that although there has been a great increase in spending on mental health, and increases in the number of consultants and the number of hours that people from local authorities work with people with dementia and mental health problems, there is still a great deal of unmet need. I will draw the attention of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health to the points that my hon. Friend has made, and of course there will be Health questions on 24 July.
Sir Patrick Cormack (South Staffordshire) (Con): In congratulating the right hon. and learned Lady, wishing her well in her post and welcoming her opening words, may I ask her to consider that the change that she has proposed to the summer Adjournment debate could totally alter its character? Members on both sides of the HouseI speak as one who has replied to many of these debateswelcome the opportunity to bring up individual and constituency matters. If the debate is subsumed in a debate on the Governments proposed legislative programme, its present form will be distorted and destroyed. Will she please reconsider that particular point in her statement?
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