HC Deb 23 February 1995 vol 255 cc485-97 3.30 pm
Mrs. Ann Taylor (Dewsbury)

May I ask the Leader of the House for information about future business?

The Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. Tony Newton)

The business for next week will be follows: MONDAY 27 FEBRUARY—Second Reading of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Bill [Lords].

Motion on section 5 of the European Communities (Amendment) Act.

TUESDAY 28 FEBRUARY—Until 7 o'clock, motions on the Statutory Sick Pay Percentage Threshold Order, the Guaranteed Minimum Pensions Increase Order, the Social Security (Contributions) (Re-rating and National Insurance Fund Payments) Order, the Social Security Benefits Up-Rating Order, the Social Security (Contributions) Amendment Regulations and motion relating to the Income-related Benefits Schemes (Miscellaneous Amendments) (No. 3) Regulations.

Followed by motions on the North Yorkshire (District of York) (Structural and Boundary Changes) Order and the Humberside (Structural Change) Order.

WEDNESDAY 1 MARCH—Until 2.30 pm, there will be debates on the motion for the Adjournment of the House.

Opposition Day (8th allotted day). There will be a debate entitled "Government policy towards the European Union" on an Opposition motion.

THURSDAY 2 MARCH—Debate on Welsh affairs on a motion for the Adjournment of the House.

FRIDAY 3 MARCH—Private Members' Bills.

The House will also wish to know that European Standing Committee B will meet as follows: Tuesday 28 February at 10.30 am: European Community Document No. 7988/94 relating to the conclusion of a partnership and co-operation agreement with Russia, and the unnumbered explanatory memorandum submitted by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on 27 January 1995 relating to relations with Russia.

Wednesday 1 March at 10.30 am: European Community Document No. 7484/93 relating to posting of workers in the Community.

[Tuesday 28 February:

European Standing Committee B—Relevant European Community documents: 7988/94 and unnumbered, Relations with Russia. Relevant European Legislation Committee Report: HC 48-xxii (1993–94) and HC 70-vi (1994–95).

Wednesday 1 March:

European Standing Committee B—Relevant European Community document: 7484/93, Protection of Workers. Relevant European Legislation Committee Report: HC 79-xxxvii (1992–93) and HC 70-i (1994–95).]

With regard to the following week, I shall give the House some, but not complete, information. On Monday 6 March, I expect to propose the Second Reading of the Criminal Appeals Bill and on Thursday 9 March, until 7 o'clock, I expect to propose the Second Reading of the South Africa Bill. That might be followed by a motion concerning a report from the Select Committee on Broadcasting. Of course, on Friday 10 March, we shall have the first of the non-sitting Fridays.

Since I see that he is in his place, I take this opportunity to say that the whole House would wish to congratulate the Father of the House, my right hon. Friend the Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Sir E. Heath), on the 45th anniversary of his becoming a Member.

Mrs. Taylor

I thank the Leader of the House for that information and associate myself with his remarks about the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Sir E. Heath).

With regard to the business for the week after next, will the Leader of the House use his best endeavours to ensure that there will be an Opposition Supply day on Wednesday 8 March, which is, of course, International Women's day, so that the House may debate women's rights and women's status?

With regard to next week's business, will the Leader of the House ensure that, in the interests of open government, important statements are not sneaked out by the Government while the attention of the House is quite rightly focused elsewhere? Is the Leader of the House aware of the very real anger that there was in the House yesterday? The Secretary of State for Health had spoken in debates on Monday and on Tuesday, and had failed completely to mention the pending increase in prescription charges. Indeed, the Secretary of State chose to speak in the debate on Tuesday evening knowing that the planted question had already been tabled on Monday and that the answer had been delayed from Tuesday until Wednesday so that it would clash with other events. Would it not be a good idea to have a debate on open government so that the Government's lip service to that ideal could be exposed?

Will the Leader of the House also bear in mind the need for a debate on the efficiency of Government Departments? Is he aware that, despite representations over many years from individual Members of the European Parliament, from the European parliamentary Labour party and, more recently, from me, Government Departments seem incapable of writing to Members of the European Parliament at any address other than the House of Commons, which causes great hardship all round, including for people in the Post Office here?

Is he further aware that Government Departments even send Members of the European Parliament letters saying that that will never happen again, addressed to the House of Commons? Should we debate the incompetence of Government Departments in that regard, or is it just symptomatic of the fact that the Government cannot get their act together on Europe?

Given the public concern about events related to privatised utility companies, from the 7 per cent. increase recently announced by Yorkshire Water to the £1.25 billion profits announced today by British Gas, is it not about time that we had a debate in Government time, on the regulation surrounding those industries, so that we can have a proper discussion on the need to give further protection to consumers?

Mr. Newton

I shall take note of the hon. Lady's request about what the business should be on Wednesday 8 March when we discuss it through the usual channels.

The suggestion that the prescription charge announcement was sneaked out in some way is pretty far-fetched. First, as the hon. Lady acknowledged, the question was tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, North-East (Mr. Congdon) on Monday. As the right hon. Member for Derby, South (Mrs. Beckett) said several times yesterday in raising points of order that she thought that the question had been tabled on Tuesday, the inescapable deduction is that the Opposition simply failed to notice that the question had been tabled on Monday and was on the Order Paper.

Secondly, it is simply not the case that the answer was delayed by a day for any particular purpose. Thirdly, it is well known that announcements on those matters are made at this time of year. Fourthly, it is at least six or seven years since the announcement was made in any way other than by a written answer.

The hon. Lady made a point about the efficiency of Government Departments and about where mail was sent for Members of the European Parliament. I was not aware of that problem and I shall certainly see what I can do about it, especially if it helps to improve the evident lack of communication, to judge from the different statements that come from them, between Labour Members of the European Parliament and Labour Members of this Parliament.

There have been a number of opportunities to raise issues concerning privatised industries. I do not anticipate providing time for such a debate in the near future, but I am sure that the hon. Lady will find ways in which to raise those matters if she wishes.

Mr. Bob Dunn (Dartford)

Will the Leader of the House provide time for an urgent early debate on the success of former nationalised industries so that the House may demonstrate the fact that those industries now make a major contribution to the Exchequer, whereas, when they were nationalised, they were a drain on the Exchequer? Will my right hon. Friend please tell me who will speak for the Government in Wednesday's debate?

Mr. Newton

The first part of my hon. Friend's question appears to he a request for the same kind of debate suggested by the hon. Member for Dewsbury (Mrs. Taylor), but from a rather different and more encouraging perspective. Of course I will bear it in mind. I am glad that my hon. Friend the Member for Dartford (Mr. Dunn) has felt able to refrain for once from asking a question about Kent and I congratulate him on the fact that he has an Adjournment debate on that subject next Wednesday.

With regard to another part of next Wednesday's business, I anticipate that the Government's speakers in the debate entitled "Government policy towards the European Union" will be my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs.

Mr. Simon Hughes (Southwark and Bermondsey)

Given that the announcement on prescription charges, even though it is made by written answer, is always controversial, in future would it not be a good idea for the occasion of the announcement to be an opportunity for a debate on the funding of the health service, in Government time, and as a regular debate every year?

Will the Government look back at debates on the youth service, funding of the youth service and youth policy? We do not seem to have had such a debate for many years. Will the Government make time for such a debate before the end of this parliamentary Session?

Mr. Newton

I shall certainly take account of the request for such a debate, which might usefully form a debate on the Adjournment at a convenient time. That is not a promise of a debate, but it is certainly a promise to consider the suggestion. With regard to the first halt' of the hon. Gentleman's question, I really cannot give an undertaking of that kind.

Mrs. Jacqui Lait (Hastings and Rye)

My right hon. Friend will be aware of our plans to commemorate the end of the second world war on 5 May in Westminster Hall. Will he confirm that, for those of us who lost parents and relatives in the far east, those who died there will be included in that commemoration? Will he confirm that the veterans' organisations representing those people will also be invited?

Mr. Newton

As you know, Madam Speaker, and as I explained to the House in questions last week, there is no question whatever of ignoring those who fought in the far east until August 1945. Although the Government are sponsoring separate celebrations in respect of VE day in May and VJ day in August, your view, Madam Speaker, which I share, was that the most appropriate course for Parliament, given the particular timings, was that we here should remember both those events in a single ceremony.

I said last week that representatives of what my hon. Friend the Member for Hastings and Rye (Mrs. Lait) described as veterans' organisations—many veterans' organisations—would be asked. I assure her that they will include representatives of organisations concerned with the far east. That will certainly include FEPOW—Far East Prisoners of War.

Mr. Dennis Canavan (Falkirk, West)

On the point raised by several hon. Members about prescription charges, why can we not have a statement next week from the Secretary of State for Health to explain this latest increase, which means that, since the Tories came to power, the prescription charge has increased by 2,525 per cent., which is more than 10 times the rate of inflation? Bearing in mind the fact that most prescriptions now cost less than the prescription charge, what possible justification is there for such a vicious tax being imposed on sick people?

Mr. Newton

I assume that the hon. Gentleman was here during Prime Minister's questions a few moments ago, during which he would have heard the points that were made very clearly by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, including his equation in relation to the money raised by the charges, from which a very large proportion of prescriptions are exempt for various reasons, and the huge amount of additional health care that that provides.

Mr. Piers Merchant (Beckenham)

Will my right hon. Friend consider finding an early opportunity for a debate on medical research facilities in the south-east of England? Is he aware that, in my constituency of Beckenham, the Wellcome laboratories are a centre of excellence and expertise of world class? Is he also aware that the proposed Glaxo bid for Wellcome has caused a great deal of concern about the future of those laboratories, and concern about a manufacturing site in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Dartford (Mr. Dunn), who, I am sure, would align himself with my concern?

Mr. Newton

As I think my hon. Friend will understand, the Government's position is that commercial decisions are best left to the boards and shareholders of companies, so I would not wish to be drawn too far in commenting on the background to his question. However, he and I share our support for the success of the strong British pharmaceuticals industry, and our hope that the sites in his constituency and in that of my hon. Friend the Member for Dartford will find a proper place in future use.

Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover)

Is the Leader of the House aware that the new Register of Members' Interests is out today? Does he think that there should be a statement and a debate about it, as it shows that more than 200 Members of Parliament, mainly Tories, have interests stretching from directorships to adviserships and consultancies—there are more than 500 in total—yet not one of the entries gives any idea of how much money is obtained? Does he not think it a scandal that at this time, when pensioners have to pay all the increased charges, Members of Parliament cannot be satisfied on 32,000 quid a year?

Mr. Newton

I cannot recall whether the hon. Gentleman has given evidence to the Nolan committee, but I do not think that he has. Perhaps we could consider his question as evidence for that committee. For my part, I think that such matters are best considered in a more measured way than the hon. Gentleman invites us to adopt.

Mr. Edward Gamier (Harborough)

Can my right hon. Friend find an early opportunity for a debate on the constituency of Harborough? If he did, the House would hear of the success of Government policies such as those on employment, education, health and many other aspects, not least agriculture. I am sure that the House would benefit from such a debate.

Mr. Newton

I shall certainly bear that request in mind. Perhaps you, Madam Speaker, would care to bear it in mind for one of the Wednesday morning debates, should my hon. Friend put in an application. I assure him that those who sit on the Government Front Bench are well aware of what he says about his constituency; I was told while he was asking his question that the deputy Chief Whip, my hon. Friend the Member for Derby, North (Mr. Knight), has been in Harborough during the past week.

Mr. Max Madden (Bradford, West)

The Leader of the House will know of the great anxiety of the 800 organisations that have submitted applications under section 11 of the Race Relations Act 1976 and are waiting for the Government's response, which has been promised for no later than the end of this month. If he cannot arrange for the Home Secretary to make a statement before next Tuesday, and he is casting around for the opportunity for a written reply, I have arranged for a question to be tabled on Tuesday that could provide a vehicle by which the Government could give their answer.

Mr. Newton

The hon. Gentleman is characteristically helpful.

Mr. Harry Greenway (Ealing, North)

May I ask for a debate or a statement next week on the continuing chaotic traffic conditions in front of Buckingham palace and the great inconvenience that that causes to Londoners and to people visiting London? The works are all to do with the wedding cake, and they cause serious disruption to traffic. Sometimes people cannot get through the area for as long as 20 minutes at a time, and that is damaging.

Mr. Newton

I have observed on one or two occasions that there seems to be some difficulty. I had probably better not comment further without being clearer about precisely who is responsible for the work. I shall try to find out, and shall communicate with my hon. Friend.

Mr. Derek Enright (Hemsworth)

I read this morning—it was in The Daily Telegraph, so it must be true—that the Chancellor of the Exchequer was against a referendum, that he said that monetary union would have no political consequences, and that he and the Prime Minister were at one on that issue, so the Prime Minister was certainly not a Euro-sceptic. In view of what the Prime Minister said today during Prime Minister's questions, who is right and who is wrong?

Mr. Newton

As the hon. Gentleman says, that matter was rehearsed again with my right hon. Friend at Prime Minister's questions just now. I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer stand four square together.

Mr. John Greenway (Ryedale)

Will my right hon. Friend tell us what arrangements he intends to make for the debates on Tuesday evening on the North Yorkshire and the Humberside structural orders? Will there be one three-hour debate, or can we debate those two matters separately? We had a separate debate on the Cleveland order, and one on Avon only last night. The issues surrounding the Humberside order and the North Yorkshire order are markedly different, so we should have separate debates on them.

Mr. Newton

I shall bear my hon. Friend's point in mind.

Ms Ann Coffey (Stockport)

Will the Leader of the House ask the Home Secretary to come to the House next week to make a statement on the progress of the prison privatisation programme, particularly in view of the report that it will cost £150 million to tighten prison security? Will the Home Secretary finance both programmes, or will he finance prison privatisation while cutting the number of policemen on the beat?

Mr. Newton

That point was raised with me in a somewhat different form a week or two ago, and I cannot add to what I said then.

Lady Olga Maitland (Sutton and Cheam)

Will my right hon. Friend consider a debate on the United Nations and, in particular, the importance of upholding resolutions and sanctions, bearing in mind the visit to Baghdad by a group of British business men who appear to have been seeking to break those UN sanctions? The visit comes at a time when Iraq is failing to comply with UN resolutions seeking to release 625 Kuwaiti prisoners who are still held there.

Mr. Newton

I shall of course bring my hon. Friend's comments to the attention of my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary. She can certainly have no doubt about the British Government's firmness in seeking to uphold UN resolutions concerning Iraq.

Ms Judith Church (Dagenham)

Now that early-day motion 531 has the signatures of more than 100 Members, will the Leader of the House make time for a debate on pay relativities and executive pay in view of the high profits that the privatised utilities are declaring?

[That this House notes with disdain Sir lain Vallance's comments to the Employment Committee on 31st January suggesting that a National Health Service junior doctor's job might be more relaxing than his current position as Chairman of BT; notes particularly the results of a recent survey which showed over 50 per cent. of junior doctors worked beyond the recommended 72 hours on pay as low as £12,500 a year; believes this compares dismally with Sir lain's current £663,000 BT salary including a bonus of £185,000 and other benefits of £13,000; further notes that Sir lain's non-executive directorship on the board of the Royal Bank of Scotland brings in a further £50,000 for one-and-a-half days a month, a weekly rate of £1,371; considers this vastly over inflated salary is neither fair or just reward but a breeding ground for resentment-particularly within his own company-especially if one compares the weekly pay of various grades in BT, notably a domestic cleaner on £162.99, an operator on £193.48, and a clerical assistant on £190.91; and reminds him that it is thanks to the efforts of the workforce, especially CWU members, that last year he pocketed a performance bonus of £185,000, an increase of 105 per cent., whilst the workforce settled for 2.9 per cent. and that since privatisation in 1984 C'WU members wages have risen by 80 per cent. whilst his have rocketed by 687 per cent.]

Mr. Newton

I am of course aware of the early-day motion and the number of signatures on it. I do not anticipate making time available for a debate, but I hope that the hon. Lady would also think it right to refer to the considerable improvements in the competitiveness and efficiency of British Telecom since privatisation.

Mr. Jacques Arnold (Gravesham)

Bearing in mind the Labour party's policy to foist a national assembly on the people of Scotland, which would cost them up to 29p in the pound extra in income tax, could we have a debate next week on regional government in England, because that is a price which we would have to pay for the Labour party's folly? During such a debate, we in Kent could point out how bitterly we would resent a vast and expensive bureaucracy in Reading interfering in our county.

Mr. Newton

Having breathed a sigh of relief that my hon. Friend the Member for Dartford (Mr. Dunn) managed to find something other than Kent to ask me about, I should have realised that I was likely to get it from another quarter. I am grateful to my hon. Friend for raising that matter again.

Mrs. Alice Mahon (Halifax)

Is the Leader of the House aware that the scandalous rise in prescription charges was not the only health matter to be sneaked through this week? The new guidelines on continuing care beds in the NHS have been brought out today, which state that responsibility will be placed mainly upon local authorities now. As the Government are closing hospitals for long-term care, such as the Northowram hospital in my constituency, patients will not have a choice and will simply be left to a means-tested system in the community. May we have a debate on people who need long-term care in the NHS and who should not have to pay for it?

Mr. Newton

I take note of what I take to be a request from the hon. Lady for a debate on community care, which is certainly an important subject. But as to the rest of her question, the use of the phrase "sneaking out" in this respect is just ludicrous. A full statement has been made in response to widespread requests from social services and health interests, which sets out clear guidelines on the way in which services will be provided. That is an entirely sensible and helpful thing for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health to have done.

Mrs. Helen Jackson (Sheffield, Hillsborough)

In view of the huge £1.2 billion profit announced by British Gas today, does not the Leader of the House find it incredible that the most that that company can offer to help cover the running costs of the Energy Saving Trust, which promotes energy efficiency, is a miserable £100,000? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Minister for Energy and Industry found that totally acceptable when he came to the Environment Select Committee on Tuesday? Will he not therefore find time for a debate about the privatised utilities, so that we can examine whether they are in any way operating in the public interest?

Mr. Newton

It is clearly in the public interest for the gas industry to show a record of having reduced real prices to consumers, in the way that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister described, and for it to have delivered the results that it has—the benefits to the consumer and the taxpayer, because of the taxes that it pays on its profits. As for the rest, my main awareness of the activities of British Gas in the sort of area to which the hon. Lady refers is through my extensive contacts with an organisation called Neighbourhood Energy Action, which is well known on both sides of the House. It has a close relationship with British Gas and appears to speak very highly of the help that the company gives it in exactly the area about which the hon. Lady is concerned.

Mrs. Jane Kennedy (Liverpool, Broadgreen)

Can the Leader of the House find time for a debate on the future of the national blood transfusion service, given that today Sir Colin Walker, its chairman, offered a briefing to Members of Parliament from all parties who have expressed concern about its future, yet the Liverpool Echo can confidently carry a story that all five blood transfusion centres earmarked for closure are indeed to be closed? That is flying in the face of opinion in the House and ignoring the views of consultants throughout Britain who have expressed concerns about the proposals, and it is an example of the shambolic way in which the review has been conducted.

Mr. Newton

I presume that the hon. Lady intends to attend the briefing and to make those points, as it would be legitimate for her to do. It would be appropriate for her to acknowledge that much has been said about privatising the national blood transfusion service, and that it is simply inaccurate. While there is plenty of scope for disagreement about the details—as there is with any review—the purpose is to ensure the continuation of an efficient and effective national blood transfusion service.

Ms Glenda Jackson (Hampstead and Highgate)

Is the Leader of the House aware of early-day motions 343 and 375, which bear signatures from Members on both sides of the House?

[That this House calls upon Her Majesty's Government in concert with the United Kingdom's partners in the EU to apply economic, political and diplomatic pressure upon the military regime' in Nigeria, to obtain the release of Ken Saro Wiwa, writer, human-rights activist and founder of MOSOP, the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People, held under the regimes' repressive detention without trial law since May 1994 and facing a possible death sentence if brought to trial before a military court, despite no charges having been brought against him, to release all other opponents of the military regime held under the same law, and to restore, without delay, democratic government and human rights to Nigeria and its people.]

The early-day motions highlight the case of Ken Saro-Wiwa, a Nigerian writer, human rights activist and leader of MOSOP, who has been held in detention without trial and without any charges being brought since May 1994. As the Nigerian high commissioner has failed—despite assurances to the contrary—to furnish a deputation of Members with the date, place and type of trial that Mr. Saro-Wiwa may have to undergo, can the House have a debate on the gross abuse of human rights, not only in Nigeria, but in other countries?

Mr. Newton

Again, I suggest to the hon. Lady that that is the type of subject on which she might consider seeking a Wednesday morning Adjournment debate, but that would be a matter for Madam Speaker, should such an application be made. On that particular case, she will know that, together with our European Union partners, we have deplored the recent repressive actions of the Nigerian Government and called for the release of detainees, including the man to whom she referred. We shall continue to urge the Nigerian Government to make early progress towards democratic civilian rule.

Mr. Neil Gerrard (Walthamstow)

Will the Leader of the House find time in the near future for a debate on the way in which asylum seekers are dealt with? He will be aware that, a few days ago, the Home Secretary announced changes in procedure, which it seems will lead to more detentions and to people being detained and deported much more quickly, and also to the curtailment of leave for people who have permission to stay in this country, in ways that were not envisaged when the Asylum and Immigration Appeals Act 1993 was debated.

Since those powers are to be used in a way that did not seem to be envisaged when that Act was debated, we ought to have an opportunity to debate the issue now.

Mr. Newton

I will, of course, bring those comments to the attention of my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary, but I hope that the hon. Gentleman will acknowledge that the background—I think that there would be some feeling on this on both sides of the House—is that asylum is also sometimes used in ways that were never intended when the present rules were put in place.

Mr. Greville Janner (Leicester, West)

May we have a debate on the policy of sentencing neo-Nazis, particularly as a result of the extraordinary decision yesterday, when, in Teesside Crown court, Mr. Justice Holland decided to give 180 days' community service to an odious and unrepentant neo-Nazi who was found guilty of a series of offences of possessing foul racist material? Apparently, the probation officer suggested that he should be sent to work among the large Pakistani communities in the town so that he might learn the error of his ways. I do not know what the Pakistanis would do to him, but if he were sent among the Jewish community I doubt whether he would be well received.

Mr. Newton

I am not familiar with the details of that case, the background to the advice reported to have been given by the probation officer, or the decision that the judge made. Therefore, as a distinguished lawyer, the hon. and learned Gentleman will understand that I think it sensible that I should refrain from comment.

Mr. Paul Flynn (Newport, West)

When considering the request of the hon. Member for Sutton and Cheam (Lady Olga Maitland) about the planned visit to Baghdad of the British-Iraq interest group, will the right hon. Gentleman consider the group's previous visit to Oman, which had the same ends—to trade with Iraq? A member of that group, which threatened UN sanctions, was the hon. Member for Norfolk, South. I have corresponded with the hon. Gentleman on that subject and given him notice that I would raise the matter this afternoon. The hon. Member for Norfolk, South is an influential member of that group because he is parliamentary private secretary to the Secretary of State for Defence. Is it not unwise of hon. Members to support, even in a private capacity, organisations that seek to bust sanctions, undermine Government and United Nations policy, and give comfort to the regime of Saddam Hussein?

Mr. Newton

The hon. Gentleman will understand why I shall not attempt a full reply. I happen to know that the hon. Member for Norfolk, South is my right hon. Friend the former Leader of the House, a former Secretary of State for Transport and for Education and Science, who has held a number of other posts. It therefore seems clear that the hon. Gentleman is in a state of confusion.

Mr. John Austin-Walker (Woolwich)

The Leader of the House is no doubt aware that South Thames training and enterprise council was put into official receivership in December, leaving many of its creditors in financial crisis, including training providers such as Greenwich Training Company Ltd., which has a good record of both finding employment and providing high-quality training. The right hon. Gentleman will have noticed from the Order Paper that a plethora of questions have been tabled by hon. Members representing constituencies in south-east London, answers to which have not been satisfactory. Will he find time next week for a debate in which the Minister concerned will come to the House, so that all hon. Members with an interest in the area covered by South Thames TEC can question him directly?

Mr. Newton

I cannot provide an early opportunity for a debate, but I am aware of the concerns to which the hon. Gentleman refers, and I shall bring his further expression of those concerns to the attention of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State.

Mr. Harry Barnes (Derbyshire, North-East)

Given the considerable and wide-ranging support in the House and the country for the Civil Rights (Disabled Persons) Bill, should the Government seek to block its development, as they have said they will in a number of statements, including by the Leader of the House? Should not the Bill be given an opportunity to make progress in Committee so that we can see where we are, and could not the Government set up another Committee for private Members' Bills?

Mr. Newton

As the hon. Gentleman says, the position has been made clear and straightforward on a number of occasions, mostly by my hon. Friend the Minister for Social Security and Disabled People. The Government do not envisage making different arrangements for that Bill from those made for any other private Member's Bill.

Mr. Alan Simpson (Nottingham, South)

Will the Leader of the House arrange an early debate on how hospitals deal with the incineration and disposal of their clinical waste? The concern that the matter has raised in my constituency echoes the widespread concern around the country, particularly in the light of written advice from the Government that hospitals offload their responsibility to the private sector to avoid public insurance liabilities for the damage that might be done in the disposal process.

Mr. Newton

I shall bring that point to the attention of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State.

Mr. Peter Hain (Neath)

I am sure that the Leader of the House is at one with me in being concerned about and condemning the increase in racism and Nazi activity among football supporters. Will the Government make an early statement on the matter, as there is now clear evidence that in Dublin last week and at football grounds up and down the country, Nazi groups such as Combat 18, the British National party and the National Front have sought to spread their filth and orchestrate youth discontent and to drive it in a racist and Nazi direction?

In his inquiry, will the Secretary of State address what Government action can be taken in concert with the police, youth authorities and local government, together with the football authorities, to see whether the problem can be tackled head on?

Mr. Newton

The hon. Gentleman is well aware, as he implied in his question, that inquiries are being made in the wake of what happened in Ireland recently. It would be wrong for me to anticipate anything that might be thought appropriate in the wake of that. There are not too many things on which the hon. Gentleman and I would find ourselves at one—at least not too many have emerged over the years—but certainly we are at one in seeking to do anything we can to resist this phenomenon.

Mr. Bryan Davies (Oldham, Central and Royton)

The Leader of the House will have noticed calls for a debate on the privatised industries. Would that not be an opportunity for us to discuss privatised industries as welfare relief for ex-Ministers and note that the former Foreign Secretary said that it was unwise for Ministers to take up positions in those companies? What is the Government's view, and what will happen to ex-Ministers when they lose their positions after the next election?

Mr. Newton

The Government's view, as I said in reply to a somewhat similar question from the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner), is that it is well known that the Nolan committee is examining those matters. The Government will, of course, consider with care any recommendations that it may make.

Mr. Flynn

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. May I state briefly that the hon. Member to whom I referred in my business question was the hon. Member for Norfolk, North-West (Mr. Bellingham)?

Madam Speaker

Before hon. Members make any allegations or raise the names of other Members, they should check carefully the personality concerned and the constituency that that Member represents. It saves many problems across the Floor of the House.

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