HC Deb 21 February 1991 vol 186 cc435-45 3.30 pm
Dr. John Cunningham (Copeland)

Will the Leader of the House tell us the business for next week?

The Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. John MacGregor)

Yes, Sir. The business for next week will be as follows:

MONDAY 25 FEBRUARY—Conclusion of remaining stages of the Criminal Justice Bill.

Motion on the Industrial Training Levy (Construction Board) Order.

TUESDAY 26 FEBRUARY—Remaining stages of the Road Traffic Bill.

Motion on the European Communities (Definition of Treaties) (Fourth ACP-EEC Convention of Lome) Order.

WEDNESDAY 27 FEBRUARY—Until seven o'clock,

motions on social security benefit uprating and other orders and regulations. Details will be given in the Official Report.

Motion on the Hill Livestock (Compensatory Allowances) (Amendment) Regulations.

The Chairman of Ways and Means has named opposed private business for consideration at seven o'clock.

THURSDAY 28 FEBRUARY—Debate on Welsh affairs on a motion for the Adjournment of the House.

FRIDAY I MARCH—Private Members' Bills

MONDAY 4 MARCH—Motion on the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1989 (Continuation) Order.

Remaining stages of the Census Confidentiality Bill [Lords] and the Oversea Superannuation Bill.

Motion to take note of EC documents relating to assistance to the Soviet Union and eastern Europe. Details will be given in the Official Report.

Mr. Speaker, the House will also wish to know that European Standing Committee A will meet at 10.30 am on Wednesday 27 February to consider European Community Document No. 7057/90 relating to agricultural and agro-industrial research 1990–94; and that European Standing Committee B will also meet on Wednesday 27 February at 10.30 am to consider European Community Document No. 10149/90 relating to promotion of energy efficiency in the community.

[Wednesday 27 February:

Social Security benefit uprating and other orders and regulations

  1. 1. Guaranteed Minimum Pensions Increase Order
  2. 2. Child Benefit and Social Security (Fixing and Adjustment of Rates) Amendment Regulations
  3. 3. Social Security Benefits Up-rating Order
  4. 4. Social Security (Contributions) Amendment Regulations
  5. 5. Social Security (Contributions) (Re-Rating) Order
  6. 6. Statutory Sick Pay (Rate of Payment) Order
  7. 7. State Scheme Premiums (Actuarial Tables) Amendment Regulations
  8. 8. Statutory Sick Pay (Small Employer's Relief) Regulations.

European Standing Committee A:

Wednesday 27 February

Relevant European Community Document

7057/90 Agricultural and Agro-Industrial Research

Relevant Report of European Legislation Committee

HC 11-xxxii ( 1989–90)

European Standing Committee B:

Wednesday 27 February

Relevant European Community Document

10149/90 Energy Efficiency

Relevant Report of European Legislation Committee

HC 29-vi (1990–91)

Floor of the House:

Monday 4 March

Relevant European Community Documents

10880/90 Aid for Soviet Union

Relevant Report of European Legislation Committee

HC 29-vii ( 1990–91).]

Dr. Cunningham

If, regrettably, Saddam Hussein continues to ignore the United Nations resolutions, there is a serious deterioration in the situation in the Gulf and a land war begins, may we have an immediate statement in the House from Her Majesty's Government? The Leader of the House has been very good at ensuring that the House is kept informed of developments and changes in the Gulf: let me on behalf of the Opposition, express our appreciation of that. Nevertheless, I hope that the right hon. Gentleman agrees that, if a widespread land war begins, a statement should be made immediately.

Last week, the Leader of the House said again that he was trying to find time for a debate on the Cullen report on the Piper Alpha disaster in the North sea. We now have the details of next week's business, and yet again, regrettably, no time has been found for a debate on that important report. May I urge the Leader of the House to find time for this matter in the business for the week after next, because hon. Members on both sides of the House are very anxious, as are many of their constituents, to have the recommendations of the Cullen report debated?

Can the Leader of the House confirm that the report of the inquiry by Lord Justice Woolf into the Strangeways riots will be published next Monday? If so, or if it is to be some other day next week, may we have a statement from the Home Secretary on the inquiry report? It is somewhat ironic, if not unsatisfactory, that we shall be finalising our deliberations on the Criminal Justice Bill before the House has had the opportunity to discuss and learn the lessons of the Woolf inquiry. It would have been far better if we could have had a statement on the report before the House had concluded its consideration of the Criminal Justice Bill.

It has been the tradition of the House, whichever party was in power, to have a debate on Government public expenditure plans. I hope that the Leader of the House will confirm that the Government intend to have such a debate and that they are not trying to wriggle out of that commitment. We are now in danger of not debating the Government's public expenditure plans before the Chancellor introduces his Budget on 19 March. I believe that even supporters of the Government would regard that as wholly unsatisfactory. I well recognise the Government's embarrassment, especially since we know from the public expenditure paper from the Department of Employment, for example, that £350 million is to be cut from the training budget at a time when we are heading deeper and deeper into recession. There are many other important public expenditure issues involved, and the Opposition have the right to demand a debate on them.

Mr. MacGregor

I am grateful to the hon. Member for Copeland (Dr. Cunningham) for what he said about the way in which business in the House on the Gulf had been handled. As he knows, we have kept regularly in touch through the usual channels. He will know that the House is to debate the situation in the Gulf later today, and we had a statement earlier this week, both of which are indications of my determination to carry out my promise to the House to review regularly the need for debates and statements. We must be watchful of developments in the Gulf, but I will bear in mind what the hon. Gentleman has said and hope to carry on as I have been doing in ensuring that a statement is made whenever one is appropriate.

The hon. Member has raised on a number of occasions the subject of the Cullen report. I said last week that I hope to arrange a debate on this topic as soon as possible. I am aware of the desire of other hon. Members to debate it. The hon. Member asked me for three debates last week. I have been able to fulfil one of his requests in next week's business, because we are to have a debate on Welsh affairs. I cannot guarantee to fulfil in a single week all my promises to him, but I certainly hope to arrange a debate on the Cullen report. Unfortunately, it cannot be next week.

It is the intention of my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary to make a statement on the Woolf report as soon as it is published, which we expect to be very early next week. I note what the hon. Gentleman says about trying to arrange it in advance of the conclusion of our debates on the Criminal Justice Bill. I will certainly see what I can do to arrange that sequence of events.

Let me assure the hon. Gentleman that there is no question whatever of our wriggling on the question of public expenditure. I am very proud of our public expenditure programme, and that includes this year's. The hon. Gentleman will know that we now have a new arrangement for the publication of public expenditure plans. They are not all now contained in one document. Particularly at the request of the Treasury and Civil Service Select Committee, there is, for the first time, a series of individual departmental plans. We have had a stream of reports in the past few weeks.

I can assure the hon. Gentleman that there is no embarrassment about having a debate, but we have to take into account the new system and the new method. I certainly intend to arrange a debate on the public expenditure plans, although I doubt whether it will be before the Budget. I hope that we shall have the debate when the House has had an opportunity to absorb the wide range of White Papers.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

Order. As the House knows, I am always reluctant to curtail business questions, but we are to have today an important debate on the Gulf war aims and the restoration of peace in the middle east—in the name of members of the Scottish National party—in which no fewer than 24 hon. Members wish to take part. I would therefore ask the House——

Mr. Tony Banks (Newham, North-West)

They are not here; they have been caught out.

Mr. Speaker

It does not matter whether they are here or not. Many of those present wish to participate. Exceptionally, therefore, I propose to allow business questions to continue only until 4 o'clock. Then we must move on to the debate.

Mr. John Bowis (Battersea)

Will my right hon. Friend listen carefully to the debate on the Gulf and ensure that there is plenty of opportunity for the Labour spokesman to explain the contradiction between the statements of those on the Opposition Front Bench—or what is left of it—and the actions of local Labour parties, such as that in Battersea, which have been subscribing to the "stop the war" campaign and repudiating the policies of those on their own Front Bench? If there is not time today, will my right hon. Friend allow another opportunity for that to happen?

Mr. MacGregor

I am afraid that, because of other commitments, I cannot be present throughout the debate this afternoon. The whole House will be aware that some people in the Labour party oppose the policy of those on the Labour Front Bench. Some of them will wish to catch your eye, Mr. Speaker, and they are perfectly entitled to do so. Equally, the House knows that a large majority of the Labour party strongly support the Government's position.

Mr. Norman Hogg (Cumbernauld and Kilsyth)

As we are not doing much next week, will the Leader of the House find time for a debate on early-day motion 400, standing in my name and in the names of my hon. Friends?

[That this House condemns without reservation the disreputable actions of the Scottish National Party on Cumbernauld and Kilsyth District Council in determining a budget and fixing a poll tax which slashes funding for housing, homeless persons, housing maintenance, environmental services, planning, building control, recreation and leisure, libraries, refuse collection, refuse disposal and parks etc., with serious consequences for the level of service to the public, jobs and conditions of council staff and impairs the council's ability to meet new statutory requirements required by Parliament in such Acts as the Environment Protection Act; demands that the SNP leadership clarify why and when it became their policy to act in support of Tory Scottish Office Ministers in making cuts to an extent beyond even the excessive demands of the Scottish Office; and asserts that SNP councillors who support such policies while refusing to pay the poll tax are wholly unprincipled but consistent with SNP's position in Scottish public life.]

The motion deals with the scurrilous behaviour of the Scottish National party councillors on Cumbernauld and Kilsyth district council who have fixed a budget and increased the poll tax but refuse to pay it themselves. May we have a debate about the poll tax and the hypocritical behaviour of SNP representatives on Scottish local authorities? If we cannot, will the right hon. Gentleman at least add his name to the early-day motion?

Mr. MacGregor

I refute the hon. Gentleman's claim that we are not doing very much next week. The House is to complete its proceedings on two of the major Bills in the current legislative programme. We are also to debate a number of important social security orders. I rather suspect that hill farmers would not agree with the hon. Gentleman that the motion on the Hill Livestock (Compensatory Allowances) Regulations is unimportant. Many Scots hill farmers will warmly welcome the fact that we are to deal with that next week. Moreover, given the area that the hon. Gentleman represents, I am surprised to hear that he regards a whole day's debate on Welsh affairs as irrelevant and not important. We are to discuss a lot of important matters next week.

The hon. Gentleman drew my attention to early-day motion 400. As a Minister, I am not entitled to sign early-day motions. I know that the Scottish National party has been anxious to portray itself as the party of community charge non-payment, but as soon as SNP members gain power in the council chamber, no one is keener to set and collect the charge than they are. That was the case with Angus district council, which the SNP controls, and now it is the case with Cumbernauld and Kilsyth district council. The SNP is the party of shallow slogans in opposition and the party of sheer hypocrisy when it gets into power.

Mr. Robert Hayward (Kingswood)

My right hon. Friend will be aware that the Boundary Commission for England announced its intention to start its work today. Would it be possible, without interfering with the independence of the Boundary Commisson, to have a brief debate on the preparations for the report so that we can take the opportunity to express our views on the way in which the system will operate?

Mr. MacGregor

I am not sure that it will be possible to arrange a debate. I will, however, consider my hon. Friend's request, although I am sure that he will be able to find other opportunities to make his views known.

Mr. James Wallace (Orkney and Shetland)

Is the right hon. Gentleman, as Leader of the House, concerned about the fact that today a Select Committee reported that attempts had been made to conceal from the House certain important aspects of the sale of the Rover Group to British Aerospace? Notwithstanding any embarrassment that it might cause the Government to have a debate on this matter, does not the right hon. Gentleman think that the integrity of the House of Commons demands that there be a debate on this very shabby and dishonourable means of attempting to conceal information from it?

Mr. MacGregor

The right way to proceed is to do what we always do—wait for the detailed reply of the Department of Trade and Industry after it has considered the report.

Mr. Phillip Oppenheim (Amber Valley)

Will my right hon. Friend try to arrange as soon as possible another debate on manufacturing industry to give the Opposition spokesman a chance to make amends for his performance early this week? On that occasion the hon. Gentleman, for much of his speech, refused to give way to hon. Members on the Government side. He also failed to produce any proper, costed Opposition proposals, and he failed totally to present any proper policies.

Mr. MacGregor

I cannot promise a debate immediately, although I recognise that my hon. Friend has made some very good points. Following the Budget statement by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. on 19 March, there will be an opportunity to debate industrial and economic matters at some length. I am sure that my hon. Friend will again make his points then.

Mr. Jack Ashley (Stoke-on-Trent, South)

Is the Leader of the House aware that next week the families of some Gulf personnel will come to the House of Commons to meet members of the Gulf families support group? Those people are very anxious about the lack of co-ordination between the groups that have sprung up and about the absence of Government funds to enable them to function. They are worried about men who may return from the Gulf disabled and needing jobs, houses and rehabilitation. May we have a statement or a debate next week on those subjects?

Mr. MacGregor

Support groups and the Gulf Trust have the backing of the whole House. Many of my hon. Friends are very active in their constituencies in support of such groups. I am sure that the group to which the right hon. Gentleman has referred will get the message next week that they have the warm support of the House. The right hon. Gentleman will know that a considerable range of benefits—in particular, war pensions—are available for those who may most unfortunately suffer injury in the Gulf. I believe that these arrangements are widely known, but in any case we shall make sure that they are widely publicised at the appropriate time.

Mr. Thomas Graham (Renfrew, West and Inverclyde)

Will the Leader of the House, when he is thinking about that matter, take into account the fact that war pensioners in Strathclyde now have to pay the poll tax? A constituent of mine whose husband lost half his brain in the last war and receives full poll tax rebate has her war pension included for poll tax purposes. This is a sick tax, and it should be abolished. Will the Leader of the House arrange for a statement to that effect?

Mr. MacGregor

The hon. Gentleman knows very well that, in relation to the community charge, there is a wide range of reduction schemes and reliefs for those on lower incomes. Indeed, they were extended considerably very recently.

Mr. Michael Latham (Rutland and Melton)

My right hon. Friend, in declining any statement this week on the terrorist atrocities in London, reflected the mood of the whole House. Will he bear in mind the fact that it is important that from time to time the House be given an opportunity to debate the situation in Northern Ireland? Will he see that the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland is given an opportunity to open a major debate on this subject within the next few weeks?

Mr. MacGregor

I agree entirely that it is important that the House should have an opportunity to debate these matters. On 4 March, consideration of the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1989 (Continuation) Order will provide hon. Members with such an opportunity. In addition, I expect to be able to announce before very long the date on which we shall take the Report and remaining stages of the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Bill.

Mr. William Ross (Londonderry, East)

Does the right hon. Gentleman recall that a proposal for a draft Northern Ireland fisheries order was published in March 1988? It met with considerable criticism and many amendments and changes have been made to it. Although we have been told that its reappearance is imminent, it has not as yet re-emerged from the Northern Ireland Office. Does not that episode show clearly the absolute need to deal with Northern Ireland legislation by Bills so that, instead of changes being made by officials after representations without public debate, there could be public debate on the Floor of the House and in Standing Committee where all the issues in the order could be explored? Will the Government consider the order again and reproduce it as a Bill?

Mr. MacGregor

I cannot promise to reproduce it as a Bill. I am not aware of the latest developments with regard to the order and I will have to look into the point raised by the hon. Gentleman. I will also draw it to the attention of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and discuss it with him.

Mr. James Pawsey (Rugby and Kenilworth)

Is my right hon. Friend aware that for the past 47 years it has been the accepted wisdom of successive Governments that the German authorities were responsible for the massacre in Katyn, in Poland? However, the Soviet Union has accepted full responsibility for it. Given that substantial change, will my right hon. Friend arrange an early debate on the matter?

Mr. MacGregor

We have rather a lot of business ahead of us in the next few weeks and I have received many requests for debates. However, if my hon. Friend will allow me, I will discuss the matter with my right hon. Friend and, without making any commitment to my hon. Friend the Member for Rugby and Kenilworth (Mr. Pawsey), I will see what the position is.

Mr. John Hughes (Coventry, North-East)

I draw the attention of the Leader of the House to early-day motion 506.

[That this House, having recognised that the honourable Members' constituents who may be wives, mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, brothers and sisters of troops serving in the Gulf, will be gravely concerned to learn that, whilst their loved ones were poised, preparing for the moment when they would be engaged in the bloodiest battles and facing the most horrendous of modern killing weaponry, the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary and a team of senior British businessmen, hundreds of miles from the combat area, in luxury hotels, were dispassionately discussing with Kuwaiti Royalty the final scenario of the conclusion of the war, the British and American carve up of a Kuwait restoration programme and the financial benefits to be accrued from the obscenity of war; finds it difficult to understand the insensitivity of senior ministers or equate their mercenary activities to their superficial expression of support for the troops; and puts on record its condemnation of a Government which allows its obsession with market force philosophy to overrule every other issue, even the Gulf War.]

The motion refers to the costs and rewards of the Gulf war. With regard to the rewards, the Government have shown their commitment and have produced a 32-page document which lists 168 companies. The restoration of Kuwait is broken down into six sections. The Prime Minister, the Foreign Secretary and teams of senior business men have visited Kuwait and have discussed the matter—[ Interruption.] This is true.

Mr. Speaker

Order. I think that we have the hon. Gentleman's drift. Will he please ask for a debate?

Mr. Hughes

Can the Leader of the House tell me whether the people who sat down with the Prime Minister, the Foreign Secretary and Kuwaiti royalty to discuss the restoration programme——

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman must ask for a debate and not deal with wider issues.

Mr. Hughes

I am asking for one.

Were the business people who sat down with the Prime Minister also members of the team of 48 people who rushed to China after the Tiananmen square massacre? With regard to——

Mr. Speaker

Order. I must say, with kindness, to the hon. Gentleman that he is taking up his colleagues' time. It is not fair for the hon. Gentleman to have an Adjournment debate during business questions.

Mr. Hughes

May I refer——

Mr. Speaker

No. The Leader of the House has the hon. Gentleman's drift.

Mr. Hughes


Mr. Speaker

Order. I will try to call the hon. Gentleman on another occasion.

Mr. Hughes

Further to that——

Mr. Speaker


Mr. MacGregor

It would be right for me to address my remarks to the early-day motion to which the hon. Gentleman referred. We deplore the views expressed in the motion. The Government of Kuwait are planning urgently the reconstruction of their country, which is likely to have been ruined by the barbaric invasion of Iraq. They have warmly welcomed the prospect of United Kingdom participation in the rebuilding work, particularly as British firms have been suppliers for many years. Therefore, in view of our attitude to that early-day motion, I certainly do not intend to find time for a debate on it.

Mr. Derek Conway (Shrewsbury and Atcham)

Will my right hon. Friend try to find time next week for a debate on a subject about which I have received more messages and letters than about badgers, the community charge or any other subject that I can recall over the past eight years, namely, the coverage of the Gulf war by the BBC and ITN? Many of my constituents, over a range of political views, have been incensed by the fact that the British media have allowed themselves so treacherously to be used as Iraqi propagandists. The House should be able to express a view about that.

Mr. MacGregor

I am surprised that my hon. Friend has received more letters on any subject than on the Badgers Bill[ Laughter.] To respond to his serious point, views have already been expressed in the House on that matter. It is clearly the responsibility of the broadcasting authorities to behave responsibly on all those issues. It is a matter that can be and has been raised in our debates on the Gulf.

Mr. Thomas McAvoy (Glasgow, Rutherglen)

Is the Leader of the House aware that, with the support of the Rutherglen Liberals, the Greater Glasgow health board sold public land in Rutherglen to TaKare plc for the provision of units for the care of the elderly? The board justified that sale by stating that the site would be used for national health service patients, but it has now been revealed that TaKare plc intends to use part of the site exclusively for the care of the elderly in the private sector. Will the Leader of the House arrange for a member of the Treasury Bench to make a statement to the House on the legality of the sale?

Mr. MacGregor

I know nothing about that matter, and I cannot promise the hon. Gentleman a debate.

Mr. Paul Marland (Gloucestershire, West)

Will my right hon. Friend consider setting aside a little time in the not-too-distant future to discuss further the profligacy of some county councils, especially Gloucestershire county council, which, under the control of the Liberal Democrats, has increased its spending at twice the rate of inflation and exceeded its own budgets by millions of pounds? Now, thank goodness, it is faced with the possibility of charge capping. This year, despite previous promises——

Mr. Speaker

Ask for a debate, please.

Mr. Marland

Well, may we have a debate to discuss this matter? Despite previous promises, and despite an extra grant from the Department of Transport for road improvements, under the Liberals, Gloucestershire county council will still not meet its commitment for the construction of the Lydney bypass, an important road in the Forest of Dean. Will my right hon. Friend arrange for a debate to discuss the matter—[Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. Enough; let us have a debate on that, too.

Mr. MacGregor

In the majority of cases, the overspending to which my hon. Friend referred has been undertaken by the Opposition parties, as my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister pointed out at Question Time earlier. I am sure that my hon. Friend will find other opportunities of raising in the House the issue of the bypass, as well as his general question, on which he has my sympathy.

Mrs. Alice Mahon (Halifax)

Will the Leader of the House find time next week—I accept that he has said that there will be time after the Budget—to discuss the deep recession that the country is now in? If he will give Government time for that, perhaps he will arrange to bring to the Dispatch Box Ministers who take the situation seriously. My constituency and the Calder valley have lost 3,000 manufacturing jobs in the past 12 months, but instead of answering a serious point about industrial policy, yesterday a junior Minister resorted to personal insults. That did not insult me, but it does insult every person who has lost his or her job in Halifax and who is now facing dire consequences and struggling to pay the poll tax and mortgages. Will the right hon. Gentleman please make some time available to discuss the recession because things are desperate and thousands of jobs are being lost every day?

Mr. MacGregor

I reject absolutely the charge that there is a deep recession. There is no doubt that all Ministers take seriously the importance of pursuing the right economic policies to ensure that we achieve the kind of growth in the 1990s that we achieved throughout the 1980s.

On the hon. Lady's point about a debate, she will know that we have debated such matters quite a lot recently and, as I have said, some days will be devoted to all economic issues following the Budget statement.

Sir Anthony Grant (Cambridgeshire, South-West)

Is my right hon. Friend aware that some of us would welcome a debate on the report of the Select Committee on Trade and Industry on Rover and British Aerospace because it would enable us not only to point out that that deal saved nearly 200,000 jobs, which the Opposition are so concerned about, and millions of pounds of taxpayers' money, but to draw attention to the fact that the wild allegations made by the Opposition Front Bench on this issue were wholly rejected by the European Commission?

Mr. MacGregor

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. Although I cannot pre-judge it, I imagine that those are some of the points that will be dealt with in the Government's reply. It is right to wait for the official reply and we shall then consider whether it is appropriate to have a debate. Meanwhile, my hon. Friend has made his point effectively.

Mr. Tony Banks

When gliding around London in his chauffeured limousine, is the Leader of the House aware of the deep anger of Londoners, especially London commuters, about the state of London transport? The Secretary of State made a statement yesterday, but that is no substitute for a full debate. The Government took responsibility for the administration of London transport from the Greater London council, which is why it is in such a mess. May we have a debate? The matter is urgent.

Mr. MacGregor

As the hon. Gentleman said, a statement was made yesterday. We have a full programme of legislation and many hon. Members are pressing me for debates on many issues. I cannot promise a debate in the near future on the state of London transport.

Mr. Jonathan Sayeed (Bristol, East)

My right hon. Friend will have noted early-day motion 500, entitled "Merchant Navy," which has attracted 244 signatures in just two days.

[That this House welcomes the recent report of the Joint Working Party on British shipping published in September 1990; notes the vital importance of Britain's merchant fleet for the economy, employment and our strategic defences; recognises the links with regard to economic activity and maritime skills, between the merchant fleet and the marine related industries; notes that British shipping and those marine related industries together contribute some f5 billion a year to the country's invisibles; and calls on her Majesty's Government to take immediate and positive action to first ensure that the British fleet is strengthened by appropriate stimulation of investment in modern tonnage and second encourage the recruitment, training and employment of British seafarers.]

As maritime activity is essential to the economic well-being and security of this country, and as there is widespread support in the House for the regeneration of our maritime fleet, may we have a debate on the subject at the earliest opportunity?

Mr. MacGregor

I have indeed noted the early-day motion, and I agree about the importance of the maritime fleet and the industry as a whole. My hon. Friend knows that the Government are actively following up the recommendations of the joint working party report to which the early-day motion refers. The recommendations deal with, among other things, recruitment and training. Assistance with the cost of training Merchant Navy officer cadets is provided for under the Merchant Shipping Act 1988. The early-day motion refers to financial assistance. The General Council of British Shipping and others have made submissions to my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the context of the forthcoming Budget. I cannot anticipate any decisions on that issue.

Mr. Speaker

I am sorry that I have not been able to call all hon. Members. I shall keep the list carefully next week to ensure that those who were not called have precedence at business questions next week.