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Ms Harman: I pay tribute to my right hon. Friend’s work in this area. This modern-day slavery is a new and evil trade that is emerging in this country, which is one reason why we need to work closely with our European partners. This vile trade is not only going on as my right hon. Friend describes, but is being advertised on the back pages of local newspapers—even local family newspapers—which read, “new girls in every week”, “new girls from eastern Europe, from Africa, from south-east Asia” and so forth. That is advertising slavery and I will meet the Newspaper Society next week to discuss how it can play a part in curbing this evil trade.

John Bercow (Buckingham) (Con): As it is international brain tumour awareness week and supporters in several countries across the world have covered twice the circumference of the globe in undertaking fundraising sponsored walks on its behalf, may we have a debate in Government time on the Floor of the House as a matter of urgency? No fewer than 16,000 people are diagnosed with brain tumours each year, yet survival rates have not risen in line with those for other cancers and the brain tumour research community benefits from only a tiny proportion of the resources available to Cancer Research UK and the Medical Research Council. Is it not time that we considered how we can do better in the interests of helping those thousands of people who have suffered far too much for far too long with far too little done to help them?

Ms Harman: I welcome the hon. Gentleman’s point, as will hon. Members throughout the House. I am pleased to have the opportunity to congratulate all the organisations that are working together as part of brain tumour awareness week as well as throughout the year. I also pay tribute to the hon. Gentleman’s support for those organisations.

David Taylor (North-West Leicestershire) (Lab/Co-op): Pursuant to the question asked by the hon. Member for Ribble Valley (Mr. Evans), my county of Leicestershire suffers more than most from the need to landfill for domestic waste, for instance, which runs at a total of 28 million tonnes nationally, including 3,000 million disposable nappies and vast amounts of excessive product packaging. Will the Leader of the House ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether a statement can be made or a debate organised on how to drive up recycling and composting rates, which have stalled at 25 to 26 per cent.? We could probably achieve a national standard for recycling information to be printed on product packaging. We could also work with the Nappy Alliance to promote reusable nappies, which would make a significant contribution.

Ms Harman: I will draw my hon. Friend’s points to the attention of my fellow Ministers. I believe that every point that my hon. Friend made was absolutely spot on.

Pete Wishart (Perth and North Perthshire) (SNP): May we have a further clarifying statement on the report into the shambles of this year’s Scottish elections? On Tuesday, the Secretary of State for
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Scotland said that he was minded to accept some of the Gould report’s recommendations, but yesterday the Prime Minister gave the clear impression that he had accepted all the recommendations. What is the Government’s response to the Gould report, and when will the Secretary of State for International Development come before the House to explain his role in this shambles?

Ms Harman: We had a statement on the Gould report on Tuesday. As and when specific proposals for action come forward, they will be reported to the House. The same applies to the general question of how we ensure a fair voting system, but one that is not so complex that people find it hard to understand.

Mr. Peter Bone (Wellingborough) (Con): As we approach the 40th anniversary of the Abortion Act 1967, and now that 7.75 million babies have been aborted in this country, is the Leader of the House able to state whether, when the human tissue and embryo Bill comes before the House, it will be possible to move an amendment to reduce the number of weeks within which an abortion may take place, which would enable the views of the House to be heard on the matter?

Ms Harman: The issue of what amendments are tabled is a matter for Members and the issue of which amendments are selected is a matter for Mr. Speaker. The hon. Gentleman will know that the Science and Technology Committee is conducting an important inquiry into this issue. I believe that the most important consideration is to avoid unwanted pregnancies through good sex education, good and available contraception and aspiration among young girls. It is often said that the best contraception is aspiration—and responsibility among boys and young men, as this is not just an issue for young girls. It is exceptionally important that where a termination is necessary, it happens as early as possible. I pay tribute to the doctors, nurses and voluntary organisations that provide important services to women who do not want to have to seek an abortion and do not want a termination, but find that that is the best choice in the circumstances.

Mr. Ian Cawsey (Brigg and Goole) (Lab): As Remembrance day draws near, will my right hon. and learned Friend find time for a debate on the work of the Royal British Legion, particularly its honour the covenant campaign? Such a debate would allow hon. Members to pay tribute to the Legion’s work across our constituencies and to express our support for the campaign. It would also provide an opportunity for the Government to explain what they are doing to ensure that the aims of the covenant are met.

Ms Harman: I welcome my hon. Friend’s points and I will bring them to the attention of my ministerial colleagues. We introduced veterans day and we strongly support the work of the Royal British Legion.

Patrick Mercer (Newark) (Con): The Leader of the House will be aware that the Light Dragoons, 1st Battalion the Grenadier Guards, 1st Battalion the Royal Anglian Regiment and 1st Battalion the Sherwood Foresters have just returned from
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Afghanistan, with more than 30 dead and several hundred wounded. May we have a debate on coroners’ inquiries and the speed at which they are conducted, so that we can help to draw the mourning of the families and loved ones to a close?

Ms Harman: The hon. Gentleman raises a very important issue. We pay tribute in the House every time one of our soldiers fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan dies. However, the coroner system is not yet able promptly to answer the questions of bereaved relatives. We have included in our draft legislative programme a coroners Bill so that we can ensure that we treat bereaved relatives properly and provide them with answers to their questions.

Gwyn Prosser (Dover) (Lab): Will my right hon. and learned Friend find time for a debate on the inadequacies of private insurance cover for members of the armed services? Last week I visited my constituent, Corporal Ryan Knight, who sustained devastating injuries to his arm, leg and pelvis when he was blown up by a bomb in Afghanistan. He is now confined to a wheelchair. His insurance company, PAX—which provides insurance for some 58,000 members of the armed services—is refusing to pay up for his shattered pelvis on the grounds that it does not cover pelvises. Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that that appears to be outrageous behaviour by the insurance company, and may we have a debate so that we can air the subject more widely?

Ms Harman: When people who have paid their insurance premiums expecting to obtain cover find, when they need to make a claim, that small print denies them the cover they feel they have bought, it causes no end of agony and grief. My hon. Friend will know that the Secretary of State for Defence recently announced an increase in MOD compensation. However, he has made an important point about private insurance companies, which I shall bring to the attention of my colleagues in the Ministry of Defence and the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform.

Dr. Julian Lewis (New Forest, East) (Con): Will the Leader of the House look into the operation of the named day questions system? I understood that when the maximum number of questions allowed was reduced to five per day, the other half of the contract was that the Ministries concerned would make serious efforts to answer them on the named day. Nevertheless, I usually add a bit of extra time.

When Parliament resumed on 8 October, I was astonished to receive a holding answer to three fairly straightforward questions about the Royal Navy that I had tabled on 26 July. When I tabled another question asking why that had happened, the Minister for the Armed Forces replied:

Does that mean that questions do not get anywhere near Ministers until the last day or two of a 10-week recess? And what are ministerial boxes doing in the postal system?

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Ms Harman: I will look into the important points raised by the hon. Gentleman, write to him and place a copy of my letter in the Library. We all want questions to be answered promptly and clearly, and not after a delay of months.

Mark Lazarowicz (Edinburgh, North and Leith) (Lab/Co-op): I submitted a request for a Westminster Hall Adjournment debate next week on the important subject of tackling fuel poverty. I note that, although business has been announced for next Tuesday, there are to be no Westminster Hall debates on that day. If that remains the case, will my right hon. and learned Friend ensure that a debate on the subject is held early in the new Session? It is an issue on which important decisions ought to be made by the industry and the regulator before the winter sets in. I am sure that the House would like an opportunity to discuss it early in the Session, not some time after Christmas.

Ms Harman: I will reflect on my hon. Friend’s comments, and bring them to the attention of my ministerial colleagues. Although we have done a huge amount to tackle fuel poverty, we want to make fuel poverty history.

Mike Penning (Hemel Hempstead) (Con): Is it possible for the Secretary of State for Transport to come to the House and explain why, nearly two years after the Buncefield explosion, a report on the explosion has still not been made public and an inquiry is still taking place behind closed doors? The local authority is under huge pressure from oil companies such as BP to allow the terminal to reopen before we know the inquiry’s conclusions, which is of grave concern to my constituents. We have done without the terminal for two years; surely the oil companies could wait a little longer for the conclusions before putting pressure on local authorities.

Ms Harman: I will bring the hon. Gentleman’s points to the attention of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport.

Mr. Mark Harper (Forest of Dean) (Con): I know that the Leader of the House shares the view that statements to the House should be accurate. On 26 July, the Prime Minister made a machinery of government statement about the Government Equalities Office, in which he announced that the Leader of the House would become Secretary of State for Equality and the Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, the hon. Member for Stevenage (Barbara Follett), would become Under-Secretary of State for Equality. Can the Leader of the House confirm whether that is still the case? According to the list of ministerial responsibilities that has just been published, she does not appear to be Secretary of State for Equality and the hon. Member for Stevenage does not appear to have any responsibilities at the DWP. Is the Prime Minister’s statement accurate, or do Members need an update?

Ms Harman: I can bring the House fully up to date. I am the Minister in the Cabinet responsible for women and equalities, and in that capacity I am responsible for the Government Equalities Office. I am supported by
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my deputy, my hon. Friend the Member for Stevenage (Barbara Follett), and an excellent deputy she is. The hon. Gentleman will know that I am fully committed to such issues, and I am sure he will feel that everything is well in hand.

Philip Davies (Shipley) (Con): May I support the call from my right hon. Friend the Member for Maidenhead (Mrs. May) for a debate on immigration, particularly in relation to housing? Of the 3 million houses that the Government have announced will be built before 2020, over 1 million—on their own admission—will be for future immigrants. It was recently announced that my local authority in Bradford has been told to build 50,000 new houses over the next few years by an unelected and unaccountable body, which means that if my constituents do not like it they can do nothing about it. It is all the more galling that much of the new housing is required because the Government cannot control immigration properly. May we have a debate on an issue that is very important to my constituents?

Ms Harman: The question of migration into this country is important to everyone, including all hon. Members. Let me reiterate, however, that the country has been built on successive waves of migration. I do not know when the hon. Gentleman’s family came to this country, but many other Members’ parents were immigrants.

Hon. Members can raise these issues in Home Office questions and during deliberations on the Queen’s Speech. In fact, there are many occasions on which the issues can be raised.

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Mr. Graham Stuart (Beverley and Holderness) (Con): This Government have closed more post offices more quickly than any other Government in history. They have now ordered the closure of another 2,500, including those in Hollym, Lockington, Mappleton and Grovehill road in my constituency. May we have an urgent debate on the impact on local communities of the Government’s continuing post office closure programme?

Ms Harman: The Government have done no such ordering. This is a question for the Post Office, and has been subject to consultation.

Ms Dawn Butler (Brent, South) (Lab): My right hon. and learned Friend has been very active during Black History month. As we approach the end of Black History month, and the end of a year in which we have commemorated the bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade, will she ensure that we have a debate on how and when we will implement an annual slavery memorial day?

Ms Harman: I will reflect on the points that my hon. Friend has raised. I give my full support to the important work that has been done during Black History month. Next week we shall hold a reception for black and Asian women councillors, of whom there are only about 178 in local authorities in this country. To be fully representative, there would have to be 1,000. There is still under-representation here as well as discrimination, but Black History month allows us to celebrate the contribution of black and Asian people to the country and to ensure that there is proper equality.

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Points of Order

1.19 pm

Mike Penning (Hemel Hempstead): On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. It is my understanding that if Members visit the constituents of others on business, they should inform them of the visit. On two occasions during the summer recess, the Leader of the House and the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions visited my constituency without doing me the courtesy of informing me first. May I seek your guidance, Madam Deputy Speaker, on that?

Madam Deputy Speaker (Sylvia Heal): Members will know, and I repeat for the benefit of the hon. Gentleman, that it is one of the conventions of the House that Members should inform the Member whose constituency they are visiting.

Mr. Andrew Mackay (Bracknell) (Con): On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker, I seek your advice and guidance. You will see at column 285 of Hansard that yesterday the Prime Minister suggested that the Leader of the Opposition “is misleading people”. You will further see that, in response to a point of order of mine, the Speaker said:

Previously, we perhaps all wrongly assumed that misleading was unparliamentary and out of order. May we now assume that, if a Minister or Member is misleading the House, that is out of order, but if he is misleading—

Madam Deputy Speaker: Order. The right hon. Gentleman has made his point fairly clearly. Having
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reviewed the matter, Mr. Speaker is satisfied that nothing was said by the Prime Minister that reflected directly on the character of the Leader of the Opposition, and there the matter rests. I remind the House that the Chair expects all Members to use temperate and moderate language when referring to one another at all times.

Mr. Mackay: Further to that point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker—

Madam Deputy Speaker: Order. No. The Speaker's ruling has been given. I cannot therefore accept a further point of order on that matter.

Mr. Mackay: On a fresh point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I seek your advice and clarification. Will it be in order in future for Members to say that other Members are misleading people?

Madam Deputy Speaker: The right hon. Gentleman proposes a hypothetical situation. In each and every case, therefore, a decision will be made depending on the circumstances at that time.

Mr. Peter Bone (Wellingborough) (Con): On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I think that the Leader of the House inadvertently misled the House a minute ago when she said that the Government were not responsible for closing post offices, because we had an announcement that 2,500 will be closed by the Secretary of State.

Madam Deputy Speaker: The business statement finished some minutes ago. We are now on to points of order, which appear to be concluded.

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Modernisation of the House of Commons

1.22 pm

The Leader of the House of Commons (Ms Harriet Harman): I beg to move,

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