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Mr. Blunkett: We are publishing today a second paper in response to a consultation on rehabilitation. There is a real need to join up prison and probation, rehabilitative and reparation services, and tackle the follow-through on things like drugs—work taking place in prison must continue on release. Alongside an independent review of all correctional services, the pressures on them and requirements for the future, we should take seriously the need to create a genuinely seamless service.

Mr. Andrew Miller (Ellesmere Port and Neston): Without a shadow of a doubt, the White Paper will be welcomed throughout my constituency. However, will my right hon. Friend comment on a narrow point about the commissioner for victims, and confirm that his remit will include dealing with victims of death and serious injury on the road? May I tell my right hon. Friend how refreshing it has been to deal with Ministers and officials in all three arms of the criminal justice system who have taken a fresh look at that important area of crime?

Mr. Blunkett: I can give that assurance. The White Paper engages specifically with the support required for trauma involved in major catastrophes, but not catastrophes that affect just one family.

Vera Baird (Redcar): There is much to welcome in my right hon. Friend's statement. I note that many contentious issues are couched in conditional terms about consulting and so on, and I applaud that open-mindedness. I join colleagues who have praised the attention that will now be given to domestic violence. I hope that that will spell an end to the old notion that crime committed against the family at home is a private matter in which the state must not intervene.

May I ask three short questions? First, forgive me if this is my error, but I am unclear as to whether the abolition of the double jeopardy rule will be retrospective, and thus capable of giving satisfaction to the family close to the hearts of Teessiders to whom my hon. Friend the Member for Stockton, North (Mr. Cook) has referred. Secondly, what does my right hon. Friend mean in the White Paper

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when he talks about people accused of organised and serious crime not having the right to jury trial? It sounds as if the more serious the crime, the less the chance of a jury trial. Surely, trial by one's peers is the most important principle when the consequences are grave. Finally, will my right hon. Friend's review of the rules of evidence include a fresh look at the admission of previous sexual history in rape trials?

Mr. Blunkett: On the first question, yes, it will be retrospective. On the second question, it is critical that we get the definitions right, and once more I welcome my hon. and learned Friend's contribution to the debate. We are talking about networks of organised criminals, often with international links, who are engaged in subterranean financial activities. Our advice is that there are major problems with the present system. On the final question, the answer is yes.

Gareth Thomas (Clwyd, West): I too warmly welcome the statement and, as one who has practised in the criminal courts, I agree about the need to rebalance the criminal justice system. May I, however, press my right hon. Friend on the question of disclosure of previous convictions? What criteria will be applied before such convictions are adduced in evidence?

Mr. Blunkett: We have deliberately made it clear not just that we need discussion about that, but that we need to provide some discretion for the judiciary. We cannot say that we need to respect the independence and professionalism of the judiciary, and in the next breath say that we are taking it away. I am mindful of the need

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to get the definition right, but we also need to ensure that there is enough leeway for account to be taken of individual circumstances.

Roger Casale (Wimbledon): I welcome the statement. I know from my contact with Dru Sharpling, the new head of the Crown Prosecution Service in London, and with Eric Packer, the clerk of Wimbledon magistrates court, that the reforms will be particularly welcome in London. People throughout London want to see a step change in the quality of the criminal justice system, and to have confidence in it. Does my right hon. Friend agree, however, that if the reforms are to be effective, appropriate financial commitments will be needed to back them up? Is it not the case that when we all come to be judged by the jury that is the electorate, this Government will not be accused of having willed the ends without willing the means, whereas the Conservative party is likely to be found guilty of that charge?

Mr. Blunkett: I entirely agree, but I am always circumspect when, as happened earlier, the Chancellor is present and the Chief Secretary to the Treasury is at my elbow. It is important to recognise that this is a blueprint for the years ahead, not just for two years ahead.

As for my hon. Friend's main point, there is a real challenge for the criminal justice system, from the police through the Crown Prosecution Service through the courts to restorative justice in London. London is materially different from other parts of the country in this regard. We really do need the step change to which my hon. Friend referred if we are to deliver something materially different to Londoners who feel let down by the present system.

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Points of Order

4.37 pm

Mr. Tom Harris (Glasgow, Cathcart): On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. At Prime Minister's Question Time, when discussing the Proceeds of Crime Bill, the Leader of the Opposition referred to a position not actually held by the Conservative party. He suggested that, during the passage of that Bill, his party had supported measures for the confiscation of—

Madam Deputy Speaker (Sylvia Heal): Order. This cannot be an extension of Question Time.

Mrs. Theresa May (Maidenhead): On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. At 8 pm today, a 24-hour strike will begin on London Underground. It will close the network, causing travel chaos across London and havoc for the tube's 3 million users. Yet so far there has been a deafening silence on the issue from the Secretary of State for Transport.

Given that the Government's botched public-private partnership for London Underground has now been further delayed by legal challenge and by the wait for the European Commission's decision on state aid, the Government have an opportunity to try to introduce a no-strike deal. Have you, Madam Deputy Speaker, had any indication from the Secretary of State that he intends to make a statement to the House condemning tomorrow's strike and saying what action the Government will take to prevent further such disruption?

Madam Deputy Speaker: I have had no indication from any Minister that he or she intends to come to the House.

Mr. James Gray (North Wiltshire): On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I am very concerned about the possibility that the Secretary of State for Defence has inadvertently misled the House, and I want to give him an opportunity to correct the wrong impression that he gave us.

On 9 July, the Secretary of State answered two questions—one from my hon. Friend the Member for North Essex (Mr. Jenkin) and one from me—simultaneously.

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Both concerned aspects of the sale of ships, in particular to the Government of Thailand. The Under-Secretary of State for Defence, the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Dr. Moonie), told my hon. Friend that he had

On the same day the Minister told me that the Secretary of State for Defence had discussions,

to sell warships. It seems to me that those two answers are incompatible. One or the other must be inadvertently misleading to the House. Would not it be right for the Secretary of State to come to the Dispatch Box to correct the misinformation?

Madam Deputy Speaker: The main business before the House today is a debate on defence procurement. Perhaps it would be more appropriate for the hon. Gentleman to raise the matter then.

Mr. Mark Francois (Rayleigh): Further to the original point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. The operation of the underground is important to my constituents, many of whom use it—

Madam Deputy Speaker: Order. I have ruled already that that is not a point of order for the Chair.


Child Abuse Deaths

Mr. Paul Burstow presented a Bill to place Area Child Protection Committees on a statutory footing; to make provision for appropriate resources to establish Child Death Review Teams; to provide child protection training for all professionals in contact with children; to provide independent counselling schemes; and to appoint a Children's Commissioner in all parts of the United Kingdom: And the same was read the First time; and ordered to be read a Second time on 19 July, and to be printed [Bill 183].

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