HC Deb 17 October 1991 vol 196 cc441-51 3.30 pm
Dr. John Cunningham (Copeland)

Will the Leader of the House give us the business for next week, please?

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

The business for next week will be as follows:

MONDAY 21 OCTOBER—Debate on a Government Motion entitled "The Prime Minister's pledge to continue free hospital treatment in the national health service for everyone".

Consideration of a Lords amendment to the British Technology Group Bill.

Motion to take note of EC documents Nos. 5896/91 and 4051/91 relating to financial and technical assistance to developing countries in Asia and Latin America. Details will be given in the Official Report.

TUESDAY 22 OCTOBER—Consideration of any Lords amendments which may be received to the Export and Investment Guarantees Bill.

Thereafter, subject to the progress of business, the House is expected to be prorogued.

[Monday 21 October:

Relevant European Community Documents

(a) 5896/91 Financial and Technical Aid to Developing Countries
(b)4051/91 Financial and Technical Aid to Developing Countries

Relevant Reports of European Legislation Committee

(a) HC 29-xxiii (1990–91)
(b) HC 29-xii ( 1990–91) and HC 29-xxiii (1990–91)]
Dr. Cunningham

Will the Leader of the House confirm that there will be a statement in the Chamber next week on benefits and pension upratings, so that the House will have an opportunity to question the Secretary of State for Social Security before prorogation occurs? Should not the statement be made here, rather than announced after the House has been prorogued?

Will the right hon. Gentleman further confirm the press reports today that the Government intend to delay the autumn statement on the Government's public expenditure plans? Is it not clear that, as the recession bites ever deeper and the Government have to borrow even more —not for investment, but for consumption—their spending plans are in disarray? Should not the House have the earliest opportunity to question Ministers on that very important statement? Can we have an assurance that it will be made as soon as possible after the state opening of Parliament?

Finally, on behalf of my right hon. Friends and myself, I want to say how delighted we are that the Government have at last acceded to our requests for a debate on their total mismanagement of the national health service.

Mr. MacGregor

On the hon. Gentleman's first point, I can assure him that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social. Services will make a statement as soon as possible. As a great deal of work is involved, I cannot give a definite assurance that my right hon. Friend will make his statement before the House has been prorogued. I understand the hon. Gentleman's point about the need to make a statement in the House, and I assure him that that will happen.

On the hon. Gentleman's second point, there is no intention to delay the autumn statement, and I do not go along with the remarks in the press this morning. The autumn statement will be made in the usual way. I cannot at this moment give a date, but there is nothing unusual in that, as the hon. Gentleman knows.

On the third point, I can tell the hon. Gentleman that all on this side of the House greatly welcome the opportunity for a debate on the national health service. I have been looking for an opportunity for that, and I am delighted that we can have a full day's debate next week —when we will nail the Labour party's smears and fears.

Mr. Peter Thurnham (Bolton, North-East)

I am delighted that we are to have a health debate, having pressed for it during the week. Does my right hon. Friend agree that the Opposition clearly ducked out of having a health debate yesterday because they are running scared about the truth about the NHS?

Mr. MacGregor

My hon. Friend is right. I know that he was keen to have a debate on the health service this week, as we would have liked to do. I know also that what he wants to do, as we will be doing on Monday, is to put the positive side of our case on the health service and in particular in fulfilment of the statement, in the terms of the debate. I agree that it was more than surprising that the Opposition decided not to run that yesterday. I am sure that the reason was that they know that there are so many holes that can be blown in their charges and policies on the NHS.

Mrs. Ray Michie (Argyll and Bute)

Will the Leader of the House give an assurance that the Minister responsible for health in the Scottish Office will take part in Monday's debate on the health service so that he can announce the results of the applications for trust status for hospitals in Scotland which, as the Leader of the House knows, are opposed by the majority of people there? It is important to put an end to the damaging uncertainty and the waste of time, money and effort that has gone into this fruitless exercise.

Mr. MacGregor

No, I cannot give that guarantee, because the debate will clearly range over the whole country. On the hon. Lady's request for an early decision on trust status, I know that, in the case of one Scottish hospital, the consultation period ended only last week, so it must be reasonable for my right hon. Friend to have time to consider all aspects of the board's application. I cannot give her a firm date, but I will pass on her concerns and comments to my right hon. Friend.

Mr. Andrew Rowe (Mid-Kent)

My right hon. Friend may not be aware that, throughout the negotiations relating to the channel tunnel rail link, British Rail blackmailed both the major competitors to a degree which I think most people would regard as wholly unacceptable. Since then, it has made its contempt for the Government's decision only too public. I understand that my constituents are still to be denied the opportunity to discuss in detail what the plans mean to them because British Rail is still forbidding Ove Arup to come to talk to them. May we have a debate on that matter?

Mr. MacGregor

No, we have only two days next week, so there is no chance of a debate next week. No doubt my hon. Friend will wish to raise the subject in his own way in the House when it returns.

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

Is the Leader of the House aware that there is a great deal of public concern about battered women who are provoked by persistent domestic violence and who are penalised excessively when they react because present case law takes no account of the effect of cumulative violence? May we have a statement next week from the Government and their response to early-day motion 1240?

[That this House believes that the present case law on provocation discriminates against victims of domestic violence, resulting in wide and unacceptable variations in sentences; regards the case law criterion of 'sudden and temporary' loss of control as too restrictive because it prevents consideration of the effect of cumulative domestic violence; and calls for legislation to enable juries to take account of cumulative provocation and to provide that any consequent loss of control does not have to be sudden.]

Mr. MacGregor

Without going into the legal implications, I fully understand the right hon. Gentleman's concern on the issues that he raises and the kind of incidents that occur in families, and I share that concern. I cannot promise a debate next week, because, as I have already said, we have only two days.

Mr. Ivan Lawrence (Burton)

Will my right hon. Friend consider extending the national health service debate until 11.30 pm, because I am not often called in such debates and I want an opportunity to put before the House the outstanding achievements of the NHS in building a new Burton hospital, and in increasing the number of clinics and consultants which serve my area?

Mr. MacGregor

I understand my hon. and learned Friend's anxiety to do so and I am sure that that will be shared by a large number of my hon. Friends who will also want to stress the Government's positive record in the NHS. However, other business is being taken on Monday evening, so it will not be possible to go beyond 10 o'clock.

Mr. Alex Salmond (Banff and Buchan)

When will the Leader of the House find time to defend the Government's view that the north of Scotland is a suitable place for reprocessing and storage of the world's nuclear waste? Can he explain the apparent double standards in a Secretary of State for Energy who is willing to campaign against nuclear dumping in his constituency but who also wants to designate Dounreay as the world's nuclear laundry?

Mr. MacGregor

I am not sure what incident the hon. Gentleman is referring to. If it is the Iraqi nuclear waste, he will know that there is a strong and important commitment to dealing with that issue, and that can only be done at Dounreay and in France. I should have thought that there was a general recognition that that is an important contribution which the United Kingdom can make, and it is a comparatively small aspect of what happens in Dounreay. Beyond that, I cannot promise a debate next week, and if the hon. Gentleman wishes to raise that issue again, he will have to find an opportunity to do so.

Mr. Ivor Stanbrook (Orpington)

Now that the last initiative for a settlement in Northern Ireland has finally expired, and even the Government of the Republic seem to be flagging in their interest, surely it is time for the House to have some responsibility and to take a closer interest in the affairs of the Province by appointing a Select Committee to assist the people of that part of this United Kingdom in their deliberations and in the solution to their problems?

Mr. MacGregor

I am sure that it is no one's wish or view—it is certainly not the Government's view—that the last initiative has failed. I do not think that that is the case at all. The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland hopes to be able to reach agreement in due course on a basis for fresh political talks. If that proves possible, the way in which Northern Ireland's affairs are handled and scrutinised at Westminster could be one of the issues for discussion.

Mr. Peter Hardy (Wentworth)

The Leader of the House echoed the claims of recovery. He would probably appreciate that, if there is an economic recovery, the engineering steels industry should be becoming much busier, and that there cannot be much of a recovery unless that industry is active. Will he please take careful note of the problem now facing the engineering steels industry, which is being compelled to curb production significantly as a result of the electricity supply industry's prices and patterns of charging? Since the Department of Trade and Industry seemed to be utterly unaware of the problem yesterday, and since the Department of Energy seemed to be utterly uncaring about it, could he ensure that some members of the present Government take an interest in the matter? It is of real significance to my constituents and to the country at large.

Mr. MacGregor

I think that I would be out of order if I gave even further reasons—and there are many—why we make the comments that we do about economic recovery and the increasingly successful effects of Government policy. I shall draw the matters that the hon. Gentleman has mentioned to the attention of my two right hon. Friends, the Secretaries of State for Trade and Industry and for Energy.

Mr. Barry Porter (Wirral, South)

May I add my voice to the views expressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Orpington (Mr. Stanbrook)? We ignore Ulster at our peril. Day after day, we hear of assassinations and murders, and we appear to ignore them. We should have a debate on that subject as soon as possible.

As a supplementary question—

Mr. Speaker

Order. We do not normally allow supplementary questions.

Mr. Porter

While we are talking about Ulster, might we have a short debate on why the air conditioning in this place makes it more akin to an ice cream factory than a place for effective debate?

Mr. MacGregor

I think that my hon. Friend has stretched his supplementary question rather a long way. On his point of substance, as I have already said, we very much hope that agreement will be reached in due course on a basis for fresh talks, and that could obviously be one of the subjects. The Government's response to the Procedure Committee's report on Select Committees made it clear that we see a need for further consideration of the desirability and practicality of such a territorial Committee. However, the right way to take that forward is, as I have said, in fresh talks.

Rev. Martin Smyth (Belfast, South)

May I press the Leader of the House? On 18 July, there was unanimity in the House that there should be a Select Committee. What relevance is there in delaying the implementation of such a Select Committee because of the possibility of other talks, since, whatever happens in those talks, the affairs of Northern Ireland require the scrutiny of this House, and it is the responsibility of the Leader of the House to bring such a motion before the Chamber?

Mr. MacGregor

To add to what I said earlier, the work of the Northern Ireland Office and of Northern Ireland Departments, and Northern Ireland issues, can be scrutinised by Select Committees. For example, the Select Committee on Trade and Industry looked at Harland and Woolf, and the Energy Committee will shortly consider the Northern Ireland electricity industry.

Dr. Charles Goodson-Wickes (Wimbledon)

Does my right hon. Friend agree that much remains to be done in encouraging charitable giving? Is not a debate on charities and the implementation of the Woodfield report long overdue? That report seeks to reduce abuses in charities, increase public confidence, and in turn to improve the level of giving throughout communities.

Mr. MacGregor

I share my hon. Friend's view about the importance of reforming charity law. He will know that the Government warmly welcome the Woodfield recommendations to update charity law and supervision, and our White Paper "Charities: A Framework for the Future" sets out our proposals for implementing them. I agree with my hon. Friend that that is an important issue, and I hope that we will be able to bring forward legislation at the earliest opportunity.. If that does not come quickly enough for my hon. Friend and provide an opportunity for the debate that he wants—as opposed to a debate on the substance of our proposals and the action to be taken—no doubt he will find other ways of raising the topic.

Mr. Allen McKay (Barnsley, West and Penistone)

Will the Leader of the House consider the situation in respect of EEC funding? Conservative Members have argued for some time, and did so again in yesterday's debate, that each EEC country should adhere equally to the rules. Why does a different situation exist in respect of RECHAR? Other European countries have received their RECHAR grants, but because of the Government's ideological stance, Britain has not done so. Right hon. and hon. Members in all parts of the House are affected, and rather than continue to blame Commissioner Millan, we should lay the blame where it belongs—with the Government, for their intransigence in not adhering to the EEC's policies when all its other member states are doing so.

Mr. MacGregor

That is a question of policy, and the hon. Gentleman knows that this is not the appropriate moment for me to respond. As to consideration of that matter, there is no scope for a debate next week.

Mr. Andrew MacKay (Berkshire, East)

Can my right hon. Friend say whether there is any procedure whereby a debate that potentially could have taken place this week could be reopened next week due to fresh evidence? I refer specifically to the moving of the writ for the Hemsworth by-election yesterday by the Opposition Chief Whip—since when it has come to light that Labour leaders are leaning on their local constituency party to prevent a Mr. Ken Capstick, who is one of Mr. Scargill's leading lieutenants, from embarrassingly being selected as Labour's candidate. Many of us would like to debate that matter next week.

Mr. MacGregor

That is a matter for members of Labour's Front Bench and for the Opposition Chief Whip, not for me. No doubt the hon. Gentleman has taken note of my hon. Friend's comments.

Mr. Max Madden (Bradford, West)

Will the Leader of the House undertake an urgent investigation into the latest evidence of creeping privatisation in the Bradford health trust? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that it has introduced a charge of £60 for women wishing to undergo osteoporosis screening, with a discount for those who subscribe to private health care plans? If, after investigation, the Leader of the House agrees with me that there is clear evidence of privatisation, will he arrange for the Secretary of State for Health to announce in next Monday's debate that he has arranged to have that monstrous charge cancelled?

Mr. MacGregor

As is so often the case, the hon. Gentleman is wrong. The service is free to national health service patients, so there is no question of "creeping privatisation." Spare capacity is being made available to private patients, which is bringing more income into the national health service. No NHS patient is being disadvantaged. What is more, there is no waiting time for that service. I wish that the hon. Gentleman would stop raising smears and fears that are totally unjustified.

Mr. Richard Tracey (Surbiton)

In his excellent recent speech at Blackpool, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment referred to the "won't pay" syndrome among some local councillors in respect of their community charge liability. My right hon. Friend spoke of possible moves by the Government to impose a "can't vote" rule. Can my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House arrange for a statement by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment as to when that excellent measure will be brought forward? It will be very popular among the public, particularly given the bad example set by some Labour councillors and Opposition Members.

Mr. MacGregor

It will not be next week. My hon. Friend must await the Queen's Speech to see whether that proposal will be in the legislation. I certainly agree with him about the merits of it.

Mrs. Alice Mahon (Halifax)

Is the Leader of the House aware that a full-time female manual worker in Yorkshire or Humberside can earn only 52 per cent. of the gross average wage? Is it not time that we had a debate on that gross inequality? If he grants time for a debate, could he find a woman Minister to reply to, or at least open, the debate?

Mr. MacGregor

I obviously cannot comment on a single pay question. Nor do I believe that a single instance of low pay merits wide debate in the House in Government time. It is a much wider issue. A single case such as the hon. Lady raised—

Mrs. Mahon

It is not a single case.

Mr. MacGregor

I must have misunderstood the hon. Lady. But such issues can be raised in economic debates; we should be happy to have them raised, and to discuss all the surrounding issues.

Mr. Graham Riddick (Colne Valley)

May I press my right hon. Friend a little further, following his response to my hon. Friend the Member for Berkshire, East (Mr. MacKay)? What opportunity will there be next week to raise the disarray within the Labour party ranks over the emergence out of the Labour woodwork of this left-wing pro-Scargill candidate in Hemsworth in Yorkshire? Is my right hon. Friend aware that the deputy leader of the Labour party is up in Yorkshire right now trying to suppress this further evidence that the left wing of the Labour party is still alive and kicking?

Mr. MacGregor

However ingenious I am, I cannot see a way of raising that in Government time in the business next week. But, as my hon. Friend makes a good point, I have no doubt that he will be ingenious in finding other ways of pressing it home.

Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover)

Will the Leader of the House once again turn his attention to the fact that the dioxin-contaminated milk in the Bolsover area is getting worse? In the past three weeks, another incident has been recorded by the Ministry of Agriculture at another farm. There were two incidents in June and the latest is the highest ever recorded incidence of dioxin—one of the most deadly poisons—in the area. Yet despite all the calls for a public inquiry, the Ministry refuses to hold one. I have called for a statement at least three times and the Leader of the House has made various promises.

Surely it is time that the people of Bolsover, the farmers and the consumers in the area were given the opportunity to go to a public inquiry so that they can speak their minds, in some cases without getting the sack from various organisations. We need a public inquiry so that we can get to the bottom of who is causing the pollution, and proper compensation can be paid. This is a scandal that is going far beyond the area of Bolsover, and it is time that the Government turned their attention to it.

Mr. MacGregor

When the hon. Gentleman raised that early in the summer, I took it seriously, as I do all such issues. I discussed it straight away with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, and I know that he took action on it immediately. If there have been further developments—I do not know of them—I will arrange to have them brought to the attention of my right hon. Friend again; I shall do that this afternoon.

Mr. Roger Knapman (Stroud)

Could my right hon. Friend clarify one small point about the health debate on Monday? During the summer recess, the hon. Member for Livingston (Mr. Cook) came to my constituency and signed a petition to keep Standish hospital open. I agree with him, but we are not helped by a Labour district councillor who is also on the community health council. The name of that Labour councillor is Mr. Cook. I wonder whether my right hon. Friends feel that they are one and the same person.

Mr. MacGregor

Perhaps that is a point which my hon. Friend can raise again on Monday.

Mr. Bob Cryer (Bradford, South)

Will the Leader of the House make a statement on Monday or Tuesday about the Select Committee on Members' Interests' report on commercial lobbying? As he knows, it recommends that there should be a register of commercial lobbying organisations. The Committee is concerned about the growth of influence and the hidden nature of many inducements to Members of Parliament, which gave rise to the publication of a recent book, "MPs for Hire". The Committee also recommends that there should be a Select Committee to supervise the registration of these invidious commercial lobbying organisations. The Leader of the House has had the report since 30 September. Does he intend to do something about it or to turn a blind eye and allow this degradation and commercialisation of Parliament to continue?

Mr. MacGregor

As the hon. Gentleman may know, I gave evidence to the Committee, and I am now studying its report. Clearly we cannot do anything in the remaining two days of this Parliament. We shall have a busy Session when we return, so I cannot promise when the House will debate the matter. Certainly we shall have to look at it when the House returns.

Mr. John Butterfill (Bournemouth, West)

Will my right hon. Friend find time for an early debate on the economic, social and political implications of a national minimum wage? Many of my constituents, particularly those in tourism, are worried when they look across the Channel and see that the effect there has been gross exploitation of workers, a growth of the black economy, tremendously vicious exploitation of immigrants and the growth of neo-Nazi parties. They do not like what they see, and they do not want it here.

Mr. MacGregor

I agree entirely with my hon. Friend about the many implications. I am sure that when we return there will be many opportunities to raise the matter in the House.

Mr. Ron Brown (Edinburgh, Leith)

Since we have apparently seen the end of the cold war and the arms race, could we have an early debate to discuss the transition to peacetime working of companies such as Ferranti in my constituency, where many people are likely to lose their jobs? It is a matter of importance, and I should like the Leader of the House to consider it urgently.

Mr. MacGregor

I noticed that the hon. Gentleman was one of those who urged much bigger cuts in defence expenditure. Now he wants to have it both ways. I cannot give any time for that issue next week.

Mr. James Paice (Cambridgeshire, South-East)

Would my right hon. Friend repeat the subject of Monday's debate? I think I heard him say that it was about the Prime Minister's personal commitment not to privatise the health service or our hospitals. If that is the case, can my right hon. Friend confirm that, if there were any privatisation under our Prime Minister, the Prime Minister's position would become untenable, and that anybody who continues to say that the Prime Minister intends to privatise the health service must be somebody who has no principles himself and for whom the word "honour" has no meaning?

Mr. MacGregor

I am happy to repeat the motion for Monday: "The Prime Minister's pledge to continue free hospital treatment in the national health service for everyone."

Monday will give us the opportunity to demonstrate clearly that that pledge is there and has always been there, and that those who try to suggest that it is not simply are not prepared to face up to the truth of our position. There will be plenty of opportunity on Monday to deal not only with that matter, but with many of the smears and fears that are so unjustifiably being raised about the health service and that are greatly to the detriment of patients and all those who work in the health service.

Mrs. Gwyneth Dunwoody (Crewe and Nantwich)

Will the Leader of the House therefore ask the Secretary of State for Health to introduce a code of conduct for the trusts, particularly on the way in which they intimidate their staffs when those staffs attempt to give accurate information about what is happening within the trusts? Would his right hon. Friend like to investigate the suggestion that. in the Crewe area, someone has been asked to pay £40 for the transmission of their medical records from a trust to another medical unit before being allowed access?

Mr. MacGregor

I will draw that point to the attention of my right hon. Friend.

Mr. John Wilkinson (Ruislip-Northwood)

My right hon. Friend may have heard of the chaotic and potentially dangerous situation which occurred over London this morning, when, following a fire in an air traffic control tower at Heathrow, the surveillance radar was put temporarily out of action. In fact, it took half an hour for a standby system to be put on line. Can my right hon. Friend confirm that the Secretary of State for Transport, after consultation with the chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority about the flight safety implications of the incident, will be available to make a statement to the House next week?

Mr. MacGregor

I would not want to give a commitment about a statement next week without first looking into the matter. But I shall discuss it with my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Transport.

Mr. Jimmy Hood (Clydesdale)

When the Prime Minister is telling us next week about his various pledges, will the Leader of the House ask him to explain why Lanarkshire health board has informed hon. Members who represent the area, of whom I am one, that all future planning for geriatric care will be passed into the private sector? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that that will mean the elderly being means-tested, having their savings and pensions taken from them and being robbed of their family inheritances? Will he ask the Prime Minister to square that with the pledge he gave to the Conservative party conference about cutting inheritance tax? Many of the thousands of pensioners and elderly folk who are being robbed by what is now going on will be sorry to hear what we expect the Prime Minister to say next week.

Mr. MacGregor

The hon. Gentleman may have an opportunity to raise the health point in the debate on Monday.

Mr. John Marshall (Hendon, South)

I welcome Monday's debate. Is my right hon. Friend aware that the Royal Free trust, which serves part of my constituency, has increased substantially the number of patients it serves and has reduced waiting lists since it became a trust hospital?

Mr. MacGregor

I hope that my hon. Friend gets in on the debate on Monday, although he will have a lot of competition, because many of my hon. Friends will he keen to make just that kind of point and to demonstrate the successful record of many hospitals in their constituencies under the national health service.

Mr. Roy Beggs (Antrim, East)

Is the Leader of the House aware that the establishment of a Northern Ireland Select Committee is unlikely to be objected to by the Government of the Irish Republic since that Government would recognise that such a decision was a matter solely for this House and not in any way linked to any future talks?

Mr. MacGregor

No, but there are issues which affect the future government of Northern Ireland and which link in, so I believe it is an appropriate way of trying to proceed.

Mr. Rupert Allason (Torbay)

Is my right hon. Friend aware that yesterday there was an official disclosure confirming that five members of the Special Air Services Regiment and several members of the Royal Air Force endured appalling torture at the hands of the Iraqis during the Gulf war? Will he ensure that there is time, either next week or soon into the next Parliament, for us to discuss that? Will he also ensure that the Secretary of State for Defence, the Prime Minister, the Attorney-General and the Home Secretary meet together to make certain that the individuals responsible for that appalling misconduct are identified and that warrants are issued, so that, should they ever venture into the civilised world, they will be immediately arrested and brought to justice?

Mr. MacGregor

The whole House will have been appalled to read yesterday the way in which those citizens were treated. It underlines the horrendous nature of the regime, and there can be no doubt about the attitude of the British Government towards it. I shall draw my hon. Friend's suggestion to the attention of my right hon. Friends.

Mr. Greville Janner (Leicester, West)

Will the Leader of the House arrange for an early debate on the problems caused by illegal camping and parking by itinerants in the city of Leicester and many other cities in the east midlands? Does he agree with the view expressed to me today in a letter by the chief constable, whose officers have just moved many caravans off a site in Beaumont Leys, in my constituency? He writes that they are simply moving the problem from one place to another and that the only solution lies in the county council honouring its statutory obligation to provide permanent sites for the people involved, which is what they want so that their children can be educated. That is also what local people want, so that they do not have the anxiety, fear and distress caused by that kind of parking. May we have a statement on the subject? If not, will the right hon. Gentleman ask his right hon. Friend to inquire into it?

Mr. MacGregor

I do not think that it would be appropriate to provide Government time for a debate on issues which affect a particular county council. I am sure that the hon. and learned Gentleman will be pursuing the matter locally and that he will find other ways to raise the matter in the House.

Mr. Quentin Davies (Stamford and Spalding)

I welcome the debate on the health service on Monday. Will it be relevant during that debate to mention the extraordinary contradictions, poor homework, sloppy thinking and complete financial irresponsibility which have gone into Labour policies for the health service?

Mr. MacGregor

Yes, indeed. All that will be highly relevant; and I am sure that we can add considerably to the list.

Mr. David Winnick (Walsall, North)

Can we have an early debate on party political funding? In such a debate, would it be possible for Ministers to try to defend their party's willingness to receive a substantial sum from a Greek citizen who supported the dictatorship in Greece? If the Prime Minister is so concerned about human rights, why does he allow his party to receive such sums from such a tainted source? Such money should be refunded. It shames the Tory party to receive money from someone who supported a fascist dictatorship.

Mr. MacGregor

I do not know of those allegations. There will be no opportunity for such a debate next week.

Mr. Frank Haynes (Ashfield)

Will the Leader of the House do me a favour? [HON. MEMBERS: "Resign."] I was not going to ask him that. Will the right hon. Gentleman ask the Secretary of State for Energy to make a statement next week on the Rothschild report on the mining industry? As he knows, the contents of the report have been leaked, and are causing controversy throughout Nottinghamshire. There is a threat to close many pits. The right hon. Gentleman's PPS is tipping him off—he did not know about the report. People back home want to know exactly what is to happen in terms of pit closures. If the Secretary of State for Energy made a statement to the House, we would all know where we stood.

Mr. MacGregor

The reason that I was smiling is that I have been keen to do the hon. Member for Ashfield (Mr. Haynes) favours, and have sometimes done them in the past. I consulted my hon. Friend the Member for Sherwood (Mr. Stewart) only because he knows Nottinghamshire better than anyone, and I was trying to get clear—

Mr. Haynes

He is an implant.

Mr. MacGregor

Not at all. My hon. Friend is an outstanding representative of his Nottinghamshire constituency and is my guide and mentor in all matters concerning that county. That is why I turned to him.

Mr. Haynes

You were not listening to me.

Mr. MacGregor

I would rather listen to my hon. Friend.

As for the request for a statement, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Energy has already made some statements on the subject. Certainly I shall consult him again.