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Mr. Cook: Foreign affairs are discussed in the House on a regular basis and I am sure that there will be opportunities for my hon. Friend to press this point with my colleagues at the Foreign Office. I assure the House that vigorous and repeated representations have been made to the Saudi Arabian Government in connection with those who are detained. They go back some time; indeed, I repeatedly raised the case of one detainee who was released last year. I can assure the House that the Government have full regard to protecting the interests and rights of British citizens who are detained and will proceed in the way that we believe is the best way of preserving their rights, protecting their standards and respecting the wishes of their relatives.

Mr. Andrew MacKay (Bracknell): As yesterday's answers from the Prime Minister concerning the LMN Holdings affair were widely seen as woefully inadequate, and as the Leader of the House failed to answer properly the questions from my right hon. Friend the Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Mr. Forth) a few moments ago, is it not essential that the Prime Minister should come to the Dispatch Box to make a statement so that we can ask how many companies employing fewer than 100 people have been assisted in this way; why it is right that a company that is registered in a Caribbean tax haven is helped by the Prime Minister in that way; why a company with less than 1 per cent. of its work force in this country is helped in this way; and just how many companies have been the subject of representations from the Prime Minister to the Romanian Prime Minister?

Mr. Cook: I suspect that whatever the Prime Minister says will not satisfy the right hon. Gentleman. For the record, whenever I was asked to lobby on behalf of a company with a British base, I never asked how many people it employed or introduced a threshold before making representations on its behalf. I do not recall the right hon. Gentleman or any member of the Conservative party making representations to Lord Ashcroft about the fact that his business was based in Belize rather than Britain during the years when he handled the party's entire finances.

Jane Griffiths (Reading, East): I shall not ask my right hon. Friend to comment on the performance and innovation unit's report on energy efficiency to which the right hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Mr. Forth) referred earlier. Clearly, that would not be right. Apparently, it recommended a step change in energy efficiency, and I am sure that all hon. Members would welcome that. Does my right hon. Friend therefore welcome the Home Energy Conservation Bill that my hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Kemptown

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(Dr. Turner) promoted? Will he try to ensure that ample time is made available for debating the important subject of energy efficiency?

Mr. Cook: As my hon. Friend knows, the Government have tried to be helpful during the passage of that Bill. [Interruption.] We have. The measure has been in Committee, and the relevant Minister has held discussions with the sponsors. I hope that we can make progress and that the Bill will reach the statute book. However, we need co-operation not only from the Government but from the sponsors.

Mrs. Cheryl Gillan (Chesham and Amersham): I appeal to the Leader of the House seriously to consider holding a debate on Zimbabwe, in Government time on the Floor of the main Chamber. He knows that the Swedish head of the EU observers was recently refused accreditation. I have just heard that Sir Garfield Todd, the former Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia, a former Senator in Zimbabwe and a citizen for 67 years, has effectively been disfranchised along with some 2 million other Zimbabwean citizens. I believe that we should have a timely debate to ascertain whether any hon. Members have constructive ideas to help the people of Zimbabwe. That is the least we can do for that country.

Mr. Cook: The House shares the hon. Lady's anxiety. The subject has frequently been discussed in the House and I anticipate that it will continue to be debated. I know Pierre Schori personally, and he has a wealth of experience of Africa and the third world through years as a Minister with responsibility for development in the Swedish Government. He is a man of integrity and impartiality, and he is an excellent choice to head the observers on behalf of the EU. I deplore the difficulties that have been placed in his way and that of other observers. We should bear it in mind that, most of all, the people of Zimbabwe want independent observers in order to moderate the intimidation and thuggery to which they are subjected. I assure the hon. Lady that we are taking every possible measure to ensure that observers get in.

Dr. Brian Iddon (Bolton, South-East): Will my right hon. Friend agree to a debate on the Floor of the House on early-day motion 800 entitled "Safety of Ships and Seafarers at Sea"?

[That this House congratulates the MV Derbyshire Family Association and their supporters for their successful campaign to re-open the formal investigation into the sinking of MV Derbyshire with the loss of 44 lives in the Pacific Ocean during typhoon Orchid in 1980; congratulates the Wood Hole Oceanographic Institution on their exhaustive survey of the wreck at a depth of two and a half miles; thanks the Government for re-opening the formal investigation in the light of this survey; observes that the re-opened formal investigation attributed the sinking to the weakness of the foredeck hatch covers, with consequent bow flooding; notes that the assessors at the original formal investigation, although instructed not to provide conclusions, had nevertheless concluded that the ship's crew had been negligent; notes that no apology for this has been received by the families of crew members, notes that Mr. Justice Colman made many important recommendations at the end of the reopened formal investigation but that none of

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these appear yet to have been implemented; notes that before 1980 two of MV Derbyshire's five sister ships of similar construction had suffered structural damage, that after 1980 all suffered structural damage, one sank and one was scrapped, and that between 1980 and 1998 over 40 bulk carriers have been lost at sea with a further loss of 1,634 seafarers; and calls upon the Government to schedule a debate in Government time on safety at sea, and to ensure that Mr. Justice Colman's recommendations are implemented as a matter of urgency.]

Since the sinking of the merchant vessel Derbyshire in 1980, bulk carriers have been lost at the rate of one a month world wide. Last year, after the completion of the official inquiry into the loss of the Derbyshire, Mr. Justice Colman made several recommendations that would save thousands of lives at sea. I hope that my right hon. Friend will agree to a debate on the matter.

Mr. Cook: My hon. Friend draws attention to an important early-day motion and an important subject. All hon. Members will have been shocked by the figures for loss at sea to which he refers. I shall consider my hon. Friend's comments and refer them to the appropriate Department to ensure that when we consider safety—we shall probably do that in the next Session—we adopt as many recommendations as we can.

Adam Price (East Carmarthen and Dinefwr): The Leader of the House will know that I first raised the matter of the links between the Government and LNM Holdings and Ispat International (UK) Ltd. at business questions two weeks ago. The Leader of the House replied:

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman how the investigation is proceeding? When can I expect a response? Given that the press is questioning the accuracy of the Government's statements on this affair, is it not vital that we should have a full debate on the Floor of the House so that we can preserve the integrity of Parliament?

Mr. Cook: I cannot think of anything more preposterous than the House having a full day's debate every time a Minister of the Crown lobbies on behalf of a company with a British connection. Nor have I heard anything more preposterous than the claims of Plaid Cymru that, somehow or other, Corus was disadvantaged by LNM succeeding in Romania, when Corus was not even bidding in Romania.

John Mann (Bassetlaw): I am sure that the Leader of the House will recall the case of my constituent Diane Blood. I want to raise a question about her son, Liam Blood. The rest of us have the opportunity to claim our parents as our own on our birth certificate. Will the Leader of the House consider how we could frame legislation to enable my constituent Liam Blood to fill in the blank space on his birth certificate that should rightly be filled with the name of his deceased father? In so doing, my right hon. Friend would be maintaining the commitment to introduce such legislation made when a private Member's Bill fell before I was elected to the House.

Mr. Cook: My hon. Friend raises a profound issue, on which there will be different views within the House.

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I fully respect the importance of the point that he raises; these are sensitive matters for the individuals concerned. I am not sure that the Government would have it in mind to introduce legislation on such a difficult and sensitive point, on which there are different views. I fully appreciate my hon. Friend's wish to see the matter handled by private Member's legislation, and we would make sure, if possible, that if such a Bill were introduced, it would receive a fair hearing in the House.

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