|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
Mr. Cook: My hon. Friend makes a legitimate point, and makes it with force on behalf of the constituency that she represents in the House. It is important that we consider all the significant elements of the tourism industry and all the different communities that depend on it. One of the obvious lessons of the past few months is that decline in tourism in one part of Britain can affect tourism in the other parts, as many of those who take holidays use more than one centre.
Dr. Julian Lewis (New Forest, East): Given that, since the general election, the axe has fallen on a Foreign Secretary who believed in Europe, a junior Home Office Minister who believed in telling the truth about a telephone call from a senior Cabinet Minister and two independent-minded Select Committee Chairmen who believed in doing their jobholding the Government to accountis there anything that anyone can believe in under the aegis of this Government without facing the sack?
Mr. Cook: I note that the motion on the Select Committee on Foreign Affairs that we shall debate on Monday includes the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Thurrock (Andrew Mackinlay), whom I seem to remember being, to use the hon. Gentleman's phrase, a vigorous teller of the truth. My hon. Friend will recall many exchanges and his survival is a clear example of the Government's commitment to open scrutiny.
I note also that my hon. Friend the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Hinchliffe) is again on the Select Committee on Healthhe was robust and vigorous in his scrutiny in that Committee in the last Parliamentand that my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, South (Mr. Mullin) has been appointed to the Select Committee on Home Affairs. [Interruption.] Well, he is on the list for approval by the House on Monday and I have no intention of moving an amendment to his inclusion or that of either of the other two. My hon. Friend has distinguished himself by his outspokenness since the general election and the House can take confidence from that. The Government are committed to having successful Committees carrying out scrutiny.
Andrew Mackinlay (Thurrock): May we have a free vote on the Ministerial and Other Salaries Order 2001? Some of us have a constitutional objection to the growing disparity between Back Benchers' and Ministers' salaries. It is unhealthy, and discourages principled resignations.
My right hon. Friend's suggestion, canvassed in The Times today, that Chairmen of Select Committees should receive salaries might commend itself to us, provided that the anointing of Chairmen was not at the disposal of Government Whips.
The proposal for payment for Select Committee Chairmen has been made from within the House on a number of occasions. It was made by the Liaison Committee in the last Parliament, and was made again in the report of the Hansard Society, whose conference I shall address later today. It is not unproblematic. One of the principles that we have advised the SSRB to follow is that all Members except Ministers should receive the same pay; but we should examine the proposal, if there is support for it, and refer it to the SSRB for its consideration and advice.
As for ministerial salaries, my hon. Friend is wrong about the widening of the gulf: proportionately, it remains the same. Nevertheless, I look in hope towards the day when my hon. Friend will be in a position to carry out a principled resignation.
Sir George Young (North-West Hampshire): We have heard that the Prime Minister has set up a crisis management unit to scan the horizon for political black clouds. Have those sharp-eyed folk focused on next Monday's business? Does the right hon. Gentleman recognise the risks of trying to compress into a fairly short debate the vital issue of how the House is to hold the Government to accounta process made more necessary by what was done in the last Parliament? If he really wants to put an end to cynicism in the political process, could he not give a lead by voting for the reinstatement of the hon. Member for Crewe and Nantwich (Mrs. Dunwoody) on the Select Committee on Transport, Local Government and the Regions?
Mr. Cook: As I have said, Monday's debate will mark the first occasion on which we have discussed such nominations in prime time rather than in the small hours. That is a major gain for the House, as I hope Members will recognise.
It is important for us to complete Monday's business, so that the Select Committees can meet next week and decide on their business priorities before the recess. I gave the House that commitment, and I am delivering on it. The specific membership of the Transport, Local Government and the Regions Committee is a matter for the House. As I have promised, there will be a free vote for members of the Government as well as Members of the House.
Mr. Ivan Henderson (Harwich): Will my right hon. Friend provide time for an early debate on the criteria for the selection of successful bids under the Government's regeneration schemeswhich, I must say, are very good schemes? Jaywick Sands, in my constituency, has 2,000 residents, 81 per cent. of whom live in households without a wage earner. They are living in 1930s holiday homes made of wood, and they are desperate for help. There are no proper roads in the area, and there is no proper street lighting and no proper drainage.
The residents have applied for neighbourhood renewal, and have been told that they do not meet the criteria. They have applied for help under the new deal for communities, and have been told that they do not meet those criteria either. They have applied for neighbourhood management, whose criteria they did meet, but they have just failed again.
Mr. Cook: I am grateful for my hon. Friend's support for the regeneration scheme. He has put with force and clarity a case in his constituency in which renewal and regeneration are plainly needed. I shall happily draw his remarks to the attention of the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions, and will
Mr. Alex Salmond (Banff and Buchan): I am trying to reconcile the stunning words of the Leader of the House about Select Committees in The Times with the shambles that he will preside over next Monday. Can he honestly tell the House from the Dispatch Box that Labour Members have not been removed from the Whips' nominations because of their independence of mind and spirit? Secondly, can he explain how the system can possibly be fair to minority parties when they have no representative on the Committee of Selection and the party that is meant to represent them, the Liberal Democrat party, blatantly pursues its own interests with no consultation in order to substitute its Members for those in other minority parties?
Mr. Cook: The hon. Gentleman tempts me into far too hot water when he asks me to intervene between other parties and the Liberal Democrats. That is a matter for them to resolve between themselves. It has been a long-standing convention for the Liberal Democrat party to represent the interests of itself and other minority parties. It is a matter for the hon. Gentleman to resolve with the Liberal Democrat party. I cannot intervene
On Monday the hon. Gentleman will have plenty of opportunity to comment on the list and on any unsatisfactory treatment of his or another minority party. Indeed, if he wishes, he may comment on what he regards as unsatisfactory treatment of any Labour Member.
Ms Julia Drown (South Swindon): Will my right hon. Friend find time for an early debate on our architectural heritage? This year's English Heritage buildings at-risk register includes the Mechanics' Institute in my constituency. The building was once glorious. The people of Swindon used to learn there, spend leisure time and court each other there. It is now in total disrepair. Last year English Heritage found only £5.7 million in grant aid towards 98 buildings on that register. To put right all the buildings which will be found in many hon. Members' constituencies £400 million is required. May we have a debate so that we can all put our heads together and see what money can be found, so that these precious buildings, loved by so many of our constituents, can be preserved for the future?
Mr. Cook: I am familiar with the building that my hon. Friend mentions. I have passed it on many occasions. I fully agree with her on its importance not merely as part of our architectural heritage, but as part of Britain's wider cultural heritage. My hon. Friend drew attention to the funds available for these buildings. I do not disagree that those funds are stretched, given the large number of buildings concerned. I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport will have heard what she said. My hon. Friend may wish to pursue this with the Department.