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Gillian Merron (Lincoln): May I draw my right hon. Friend's attention to the worrying case of Russell Griffiths, the lecturer acquitted of raping an 18-year-old student in Lincoln, but jailed for lying about his criminal past to get a lecturer's job in Lincoln? His convictions relating to ex-girlfriends included threats to kill, criminal damage and sending obscene material. Will my right hon. Friend find parliamentary time to debate measures which would ensure that employers such as universities would have access to criminal records when making appointments to posts such as that of lecturer, which is clearly a position of trust, as there is clearly insufficient legislative provision at present?

Mrs. Beckett: My hon. Friend makes an important point about a serious case which I know has aroused great concern in her constituency. Although it is an important issue which no doubt will merit further serious consideration, I cannot undertake to find time for a special debate on the matter. Although, like others, my hon. Friend may wish to pursue the opportunities of Westminster Hall, it is not impossible that she will find an opportunity to raise the matter under the various pieces of Home Office legislation that are being introduced.

Mr. Edward Leigh (Gainsborough): Has the Leader of the House had a chance to see early-day motion 37,

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which is in the name of the hon. Member for Heywood and Middleton (Mr. Dobbin) and has been signed by right hon. and hon. Members of all parties?

[That this House notes that when introducing the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill at Second Reading, the then Secretary of State for Health, the right honourable Member for Rushcliffe, assured the House that 'all honourable Members would like to prohibit certain activities, which include cloning and other science fiction possibilities. There can be little doubt that infringing such prohibitions should attract severe penalties provided by the Bill' (7th April 1990, Official Report, column 920); notes in that debate the statement by the late Right honourable Sir Bernard Braine, honourable Member for Castle Point that 'apart from cloning, genetic engineering and producing animal hybrids, the scientist will be able to do what he likes under the Bill' (column 934); notes that nowhere throughout the debates was any differentiation made between cloning by cell nuclear transfer and other techniques, or between therapeutic and reproductive cloning; notes nonetheless the claims made by the Under Secretary of State that those matters were fully debated in 1990; invites the Government to cite those sections of the debates on the Bill covering such matters; further calls on the Government to cite that section of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act which makes cloning legal by any technique including cell nuclear transfer and for whatever purpose; and calls for the withdrawal of the draft Human Fertilisation and Embryology (Research Purposes) Regulation 2000, until such evidence has been provided and Right honourable and honourable Members have had adequate opportunity to consider these issues of profound ethical importance.]

The motion refers to the Official Report of 2 April 1990 where, at column 920, the then Minister introducing the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill referred to

not human cloning--

and added:

Is the Leader of the House aware that the statutory instrument that we are discussing next week will introduce cloning, as it deals with cell replacement technology which creates a new cloned cell. There could well be a legal challenge on this. The right hon. Lady should be aware that the statutory instrument that will be introduced on Tuesday is ultra vires under the Bill. Certainly, the courts can look at it under Pepper v. Hart. The words of the then Minister, my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Rushcliffe (Mr. Clarke), could well make the statutory instrument ultra vires. Surely that shows that we should have had primary legislation and that the matter is proceeding in a rushed and chaotic way. Will the right hon. Lady think again, and remember that there could well be a legal challenge to what she is doing?

Mrs. Beckett: If the legal challenge that the hon. Gentleman envisages is brought forward--and I remind him that next Tuesday we will be having our third debate on the matter, so the House has had ample opportunities

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to debate the issues--it will be a matter for the court and those concerned in the action. However, the court might be well advised to take account of the fact that the Donaldson report has been available since August and right hon. and hon. Members and everybody else have known since August of the Government's announced intention to introduce regulations as recommended by Donaldson rather than primary legislation. If someone wanted to bring a case saying that those regulations would be ultra vires, why did not they get round to it between August and now?

Mr. John Cryer (Hornchurch): I refer my right hon. Friend to Question 1 at today's Treasury questions, which asked about trends in United Kingdom productivity. Could we have a debate on productivity? Many Labour Members would like to draw attention to the fact that, although the mining industry's productivity levels went through the roof in the late 1980s, the reward was closures, job losses and the decimation of the industry. Those problems were caused by Conservative Members, not for economic reasons, but because of narrow, craven, political vindictiveness, led by the right hon. Member for Henley (Mr. Heseltine) and a few of the apparatchiks around him. I, for one, would love to have a debate on productivity so that Labour Members can draw attention to that.

Mrs. Beckett: My hon. Friend makes a powerful point about the mining and other industries, where harm and damage sometimes occurs despite productivity improvements. I understand his analysis of why that happened in the mining industry. Productivity is a hugely important economic issue in the UK. We must continue to pursue and address it, even though resentment is caused when people know that they have improved productivity but that problems are still occurring and that jobs are lost, as has recently happened in Luton. Nevertheless, I fear that I cannot find time for the specific debate to which my hon. Friend referred. I am sure, however, that he will find other opportunities to raise these matters in economic and other debates, as well as in Treasury Question Time.

Mr. Bob Russell (Colchester): Will the right hon. Lady consider further the request for an early debate on volunteers? Such a debate could take place on one of the blank Fridays. Early-day motion 101, which was signed by members of all parties, draws attention to the Scottish Parliament's agreement, only two days ago, to fees for the Criminal Records Bureau not being levied on volunteers in the youth movements.

[That this House welcomes the decision of the Scottish Parliament that criminal record checks for volunteers working with children in Scotland will be free; notes with regret that volunteers in England and Wales will still be required to pay £10 for identical checks to be made with the Criminal Records Bureau in the coming year; and urges the Government to emulate the excellent example of the Scottish Parliament.]

Does the right hon. Lady agree that a decision by the Government not to introduce a tax on volunteers would be a wonderful gesture for the international year of the volunteer, which is next year? Can we have an early debate to discuss that matter?

Mrs. Beckett: I can tell the hon. Gentleman only what I have already told my hon. Friend the Member for Hemel

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Hempstead (Mr. McWalter). The Government are aware of the concern expressed by the voluntary sector and the matter has been the subject of full consideration and discussion. It will no doubt continue to be aired. The hon. Gentleman will know that the Government have not yet announced the precise arrangements that will apply to such checks in England and Wales. I shall draw his remarks to the attention of my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, but the question of how the costs of such tests and checks are to be met is a matter for delicate decision. Such a decision is not as easy to make as it is to call for.

Mr. David Drew (Stroud): I associate myself with the remarks of the hon. Member for Colchester (Mr. Russell). I am sure that my right hon. Friend is aware that next year marks the 50th anniversary of the Korean war and, in particular, of the battle of Imjin. Much as it is pleasing to see reconciliation after many years between the north and south of the country, is there time for a debate on how to commemorate the Korean war and the role played by the Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire regiment, which was known in those days as the Glorious Gloucesters? Its members have been invited to participate in various ceremonies in Korea, but are not currently allowed to take up that opportunity. Will my right hon. Friend speak to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence to see how the matter can be taken forward?

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