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The hon. Gentleman needs to be careful when giving lectures about referendums and seeking popular consent. It is fair knockabout for him to say when responding to the hon. Member for Glasgow South West (Mr Davidson) that he detected some illogicality in the Government's approach. There is complete logic in his approach to referendums: he does not want any, in any shape or form, on anything to do with the European Union's
future powers. That makes his position different from that which the two coalition parties have adopted and embodied in their agreement. We believe that power resides ultimately with the people, who should have the final say on any further initiative to transfer powers from the House and the British Government to Brussels.
My hon. Friend the Member for Wyre Forest (Mark Garnier) demonstrated early on that he aims to copy the independent streak of his immediate predecessor. He will be a doughty champion for his constituents, but he also spoke wisely about the economic advantages that he sees his constituents gaining from this country's continued membership of the EU.
My hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Kemptown (Simon Kirby) spoke about the ups and downs of the Anglo-French relationship over the centuries. Like many hon. Members on both sides of the House, he gave us a kind of Cook's tour of the best tourist sites in his constituency. I felt I was getting the benefit of a top-quality travel documentary programme condensed into a parliamentary debate.
The hon. Member for Wirral South (Alison McGovern) spoke of the importance of European trade to businesses in her constituency. What came through above all in her speech was her sense of pride in, and affection for, the area where she grew up and that she now represents. I was delighted to hear from her that Harold Wilson could be said to have started his career in her constituency. Of course, when he became Prime Minister, he fell so in love with Chequers and Buckinghamshire that he ended up retiring to Great Kingshill just outside my constituency. It is something of a habit for former Labour leaders. Clem Attlee did exactly the same thing-when he accepted an earldom, he took the secondary title of Viscount Prestwood, in honour of the village in Buckinghamshire where he lived-and now Mr Tony Blair has also decided to make his home in that most conservative of counties. The estate agents in my constituency scan the post every morning for the envelope postmarked Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath.
My hon. Friend the Member for York Outer (Julian Sturdy) spoke of the sense of public disaffection from the EU. Awareness of that is very much driving the Government's policy towards the Europe Bill, which we hope to introduce later in this Session. He also said that he wanted the Government to be proactive, positive and a friendly partner within Europe. With the addition of the words "clear-eyed and hard-headed," that is exactly how the Government intend our policy to be. It is customary to say that we hope to hear from those who have made their maiden speeches frequently and in the near future. With the lavish praise that he bestowed upon the hon. Member for York Central (Hugh Bayley), my hon. Friend can be fairly confident that he will be called again before too long.
The hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne North (Catherine McKinnell) spoke of the need for jobs and investment in the north-east, and made a very wise paean for her local media, which I am sure will ensure that her speech gets the coverage in her region that she hopes for.
The hon. Member for Sunderland Central (Julie Elliott) spoke about the importance of Nissan, jobs and economic growth in her constituency, but also warmly of Chris Mullin, a former colleague whom we all miss. He had no airs and graces-probably very few ex-Ministers, when penning their memoirs, would actually write about an incident in which officials forgot to remove a post-it note that they had inscribed, "This is a very low priority. Perhaps we could pass it to Chris Mullin."
My hon. Friend the Member for North Warwickshire (Dan Byles) spoke about the diverse community in his constituency and the diverse recreations in which they take part. However, if I may say, I thought he was hiding his light under a bushel. I feel that a man who has rowed the Atlantic could surely emerge in next year's Atherstone ball game at 5 pm holding the ball-he will probably be the only one remaining upright in Atherstone village. I look forward to him telling us of that achievement in future years.
The hon. Member for Nottingham South (Lilian Greenwood) spoke with great passion about what led her into politics. I suspect that she and I will have many disagreements, but anybody who listened to her speech, whatever their political view, will have felt encouraged and inspired that they too might one day be able to make a difference. Her determination and perseverance are things that all of us can admire, and she is very welcome here.
My hon. Friend the Member for North West Leicestershire (Andrew Bridgen) spoke of the urgency of tackling the United Kingdom's deficit in public finances. The hon. Member for Rhondda was unfair to my hon. Friend, because he reminded us that it is possible for someone to feel that they are culturally part of Europe-to feel an affinity with everything that European civilisation has produced-but also to feel that they do not want further political integration within the European Union. We need to accept that Europe is now united and at peace, but also that it is diverse. The trick for Europe is to recognise that diversity as well as its unity.
The hon. Member for Sefton Central (Bill Esterson) spoke in particular about the importance of education to his constituents. My hon. Friend the Member for Hove (Mike Weatherley) set some sort of record by managing to work in references to both Iron Maiden and the Carry On films in the course of a single speech.
The hon. Member for Easington (Grahame M. Morris) enticed us with visions of the beaches of east Durham, but spoke seriously about the need for more employment and investment in the north-east of England. My hon. Friend the Member for Dartford (Gareth Johnson) explained to me finally what lies behind the big brown signs that say "Historic Dartford", which have baffled me every time I have visited friends in his constituency. When I am commuting between London and Brussels, I will think of my hon. Friend as the train passes through Ebbsfleet, and I shall know exactly whose constituents I am close to.
My hon. Friend the Member for Dover (Charlie Elphicke) spoke about a particular constituency case. I can tell him that consular staff at the Foreign Office have visited his constituent and they have been in touch with the family. We think that in the first instance it is for Mr Shaw's lawyers to come to our officials with the evidence that gives rise to their concern that the trial was unfair so that we can consider their case and determine how we might take it forward. It would be most appropriate for the judicial proceedings to run their course first, and for any direct intervention from the British Government to follow once those have been concluded-
Mr Lidington: I suggest to my hon. Friend that, rather than intervene-as I am very short of time-he could perhaps have a meeting with me or the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my hon. Friend the Member for North East Bedfordshire (Alistair Burt), who is responsible for south Asia, to discuss the case in more detail. We will be happy to listen to his concerns.
Finally, but not least, my hon. Friend the Member for Great Yarmouth (Brandon Lewis) spoke with great eloquence and warmth about the glories of his constituency. He reminded us that he would not let us get away with ignoring the problem of coastal erosion. I can see that he, too, will be a formidable champion for his constituents. All 15 maiden speakers are welcome and all have had a successful first outing today. We look forward to hearing from them again.
In view of the lack of time, I propose to write to those hon. Members who have raised specific questions, especially the former Chair of the European Scrutiny Committee, and let them have a considered response, instead of half a sentence now. On the Government's approach to Europe generally, we see no contradiction between being vigorous in defending and asserting the national interests of the United Kingdom, and playing an active and activist role within the European Union, in pursuit both of our national interests through the institutions of the European Union and the common advantage of European countries, where our interests coincide.
I believe that part of a successful European policy will be to demonstrate to our own people, here in the United Kingdom, that the decisions taken on their behalf by British Ministers in the institutions of the European Union will be more accountable. That is why we will press forward with our referendums Bill and look to improve dramatically our efforts to scrutinise European legislation in the House.
That this House has considered the matter of European affairs.
That the following new Standing Order be made, until the end of the current Parliament:-
(1) There shall be a select committee, called the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee, to consider political and constitutional reform.
(2) The committee shall consist of eleven members.
(3) The committee shall have power-
(a) to send for persons, papers and records, to sit notwithstanding any adjournment of the House, to adjourn from place to place, and to report from time to time; and
(b) to appoint specialist advisers to supply information which is not readily available or to elucidate matters of complexity within the committee's order of reference.
(4) Unless the House otherwise orders, each Member nominated to the committee shall continue to be a member of it for the remainder of the Parliament.
(5) The committee shall have power to appoint a sub-committee, which shall have power to send for persons, papers and records, to sit notwithstanding any adjournment of the House, to adjourn from place to place, and to report to the committee from time to time.
(6) The committee shall have power to report from time to time the evidence taken before the sub-committee.-( Angela Watkinson.)
(1) That Standing Order No. 122B (Election of select committee chairs) be amended by inserting, after line 6:
'(aa) the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee;'
(2) That the Order of 26 May relating to Select Committees (Allocation of Chairs) be amended by inserting at the appropriate place in the Table:
(3) That, notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph (7) of Standing Order No. 122B, the ballot for the election of the chair of the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee shall take place on Wednesday 9 June.-( Angela Watkinson. )
That this House expresses the opinion that the Resolution of the House of 30 October 2003, relating to Pay for Chairs of Select Committees (No. 2), should be further amended by inserting after "the Committee on Members' Allowances", "the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee".-( Angela Watkinson .)
Mr Nick Raynsford (Greenwich and Woolwich) (Lab): I am grateful, Mr Deputy Speaker, for the opportunity to raise a matter that is of great importance not only to my constituency, but to the whole of London and for the future prosperity of our economy. Although I have sought this debate because of its significance to my constituency and to London, I should also draw attention to my interests recorded in the register.
Crossrail is vital to London and the wider economy. If London is to continue to be a world-leading city, it needs continuous investment in infrastructure. The tube network alone will not be able to cope with the projected increase in passenger numbers over the coming decades, and investment in cross-city links is imperative.
Crossrail will alleviate the already congested public transport service in central London and relieve the bottlenecks that are already an issue at national rail termini, particularly at Paddington, with its connections to Heathrow, and in the east of London, at Liverpool street. Perhaps most importantly, Crossrail will draw together areas of the city that have the capacity to house the work force needed to keep London's financial and commercial hubs expanding and at a pace that keeps London, and the British economy, competitive on a world stage. It will add no less than 10% to London's existing rail capacity, and bring 1.5 million people within a 60-minute commuting time from the centre of our capital.
Estimates of the economic and transport benefits of Crossrail are compelling. It is projected that in 2026 alone, London as a whole can expect to reap benefits of £1.24 billion in 2008 prices. Over the next 60 years, the Mayor of London's transport strategy estimates some £36 billion of value would be added to the economy in today's prices. Seen in these terms, it is clear that Crossrail is an economic imperative from which our capital and our country will derive real benefits for decades to come.
Jim Fitzpatrick (Poplar and Limehouse) (Lab): I congratulate my right hon. Friend on securing this important debate. I am grateful that he has begun his contribution by outlining the importance of Crossrail to the whole of the UK economy, because I was concerned when I read the debate's title-"Crossrail and its importance to South East London"-on the Order Paper. This is not just a south-east London, east London or even London issue; as he has started to argue, this is a matter for the UK economy. London will choke without Crossrail, and I am grateful that he is going to develop his argument further.
Mr Raynsford: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that observation, which I entirely support and agree with, although I am obviously going to focus on some of the specific concerns for my constituency in south-east London. However, he is right that there are benefits in his constituency-Canary Wharf is one of the major station sites-for London as a whole and, indeed, for the whole country.
The benefit is not limited to boroughs with immediate station access to the network. My borough of Greenwich is projected to benefit in 2026 by £84 million, but other boroughs, such as Barnet-the Minister's borough-will see projected benefits in excess of £30 million in that year. Given the importance of the scheme, it might appear surprising that it has taken so long to reach the construction phase. The concept has been around for decades, but as the Minister will be aware, the project has had to go through many hoops to get where we are today.
Clive Efford (Eltham) (Lab): Does my right hon. Friend share my feeling of déjà vu at being here trying to convince yet another Government of the importance of Crossrail, and in particular the extensions to outer London, which are so vital to the economic viability of the areas that we represent? When he develops his argument, will he underline the fact that the scheme has been debated at great length? A great deal of local debate has gone into providing the detail that will benefit south-east London and, more widely, London as a whole.
Mr Raynsford: I am grateful for that intervention from my hon. Friend, who knows only too well the importance of improved transport links to south-east London. He is also aware of the battles that we have had to fight over the years to secure investment in improved transport linkages, not least at the Crossrail station at Woolwich, to which I shall refer in a moment.
The concept of Crossrail has been around for a long time, but the scheme has had to go through many hoops. There was a false start under the previous Conservative Government in the 1990s, and the current scheme was subject to lengthy and detailed scrutiny during its passage through the last Parliament. Members who were in this place at that time and who followed the Crossrail Bill will know of the degree of detail entered into by those Members who served on the hybrid Bill Committee, and they will appreciate the great endeavour that the Bill demanded of those Members.
The result was clear, with strong support from the Committee for a scheme that would connect east with west and the City with Canary Wharf and Heathrow, as well as linking communities both in south and east London and out along the Thames Gateway to major employers in the centre of London. The Committee was also clear on the strong case for a station at Woolwich. The Woolwich station was incorporated in the Bill at the Committee's instigation, not least because its work demonstrated both the favourable cost-benefit ratio for the station in transport terms and its huge regeneration potential in a deprived area of south-east London. The population in my borough of Greenwich is projected to grow by 113,000 by 2031. At the same time, the number of jobs in the borough is projected to increase by just 8,000; however, just across the river, Canary Wharf will require an extra 110,000 workers. Linking the two is vital, and with just a seven-minute journey time from Woolwich to Canary Wharf, Crossrail would meet the need admirably.
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