|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
Dr. Reid: The hon. Gentleman's first point was about the UEFA cup final. I think that the Prime Minister was, to some extentI am not letting any secrets out heremaking a virtue of a necessity because I was going to go to the game anyway. I apologise for having a human streak but when you wait 33 years for your team to get to the final, you tend to want to godespite the attractions of the Modernisation Committee. I congratulate Porto on its victory but I think that Celtic's performance did us proud.
I think I am right in saying that we established the Select Committee on the Lord Chancellor's Department. It would be advisable for the Committee to issue an invitation to the Attorney-General and to find out what happensit is not for me to comment on his responsibilities. The hon. Gentleman also asked about carry-over and other procedures, and I shall turn my mind to that soon after the Whitsun recess.
Miss Anne Begg (Aberdeen, South): I am not sure whether this is the right time to remind the Leader of the House that the last time Aberdeen made it to a European final, it actually won. I congratulate Celtic on last night's performance.
Will the Leader of House put pressure on the Paymaster General to make a further statement after the Whitsun recess on the workings of the new child tax credit and working tax credit? She has already made a statement on that issue but problems are continuing. I received yet another e-mail from a constituent this morning outlining continuing problems getting through to the helpline.
Further things have come to our notice since the Paymaster General's last statement. Serious computer glitches are holding up the whole process so that even if MPs manage to get through to their helpline, it is not always possible to resolve problems because the computer system cannot cope terribly well. Local Inland Revenue offices are now making interim payments, which they were not geared up to do before, but it has transpired that those payments
Mr. Stephen O'Brien (Eddisbury): I look forward to participating in that Westminster Hall debate. There is an important question about the publication of the Attorney-General's advice. Whatever precedents the Leader of the House prays in aid, the Attorney-General has set his own precedent by publishing legal advice on our engagement in the Iraqi conflict, which supports the claim for publication. Given that the right hon. Gentleman's responsibility is to guard the integrity of the House, is he aware that hon. Members' ability to trust the process is being affectedit is the trust that is under attack? The publication of the Attorney-General's advice would help to sort that out and give us a proper base on which to have knowledge and arguments.
Dr. Reid: Yes, and I think that trust in such matters depends on us being very accurate in what we say. The Attorney-General did not publish his legal advice prior to the military intervention in Iraq. He published a statement confirming that he supported the Government and that the Government's actions were in accordance with international law. He did exactly the same thing, incidentally, on the subject that is currently under discussion when he made it absolutely clear that we had always acted in accordance with international law. As the Prime Minister repeated this morning, the Attorney-General's advice throughout has been that we have acted lawfully. The distinction between what the Attorney-General did on both those occasions and the issue of legal advice itself has always been maintained by previous Governments, as well as this one.
Mr. Mark Hendrick (Preston): May I draw my right hon. Friend's attention to an article in yesterday's Evening Standard that indicated the effective closure of the locomotive and train industry throughout the country? That could lead to the loss of thousands of jobs, including up to 500 jobs at a plant in my constituency that has been producing trains for more than 100 years. The closure would be a tragedy and a loss of major manufacturing capacity and a major strategic industry in this country. Given the huge implications of the losses, will he raise the matter with the Secretaries of State for Trade and Industry and for Transport?
Dr. Reid: I shall certainly do that for my hon. Friend, although I have no doubt that the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry will in any case have heard his remarks. Whenever a major industry is threatened in any of our constituencies, I understand that hon. Members such as my hon. Friend who are avid guardians of their constituencies' interests will try to find any opportunity to raise the issue. I hope that when
Mr. John Baron (Billericay): The Leader of the House may be aware that, in the past 18 months or so, I have raised questions with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Environment Agency about the possible risks posed to human health by the activities of a landfill site at Pitsea tip in my constituency. Recently these concerns have been given added focus by the gas emissions and odours emanating from the site. They are causing many residents much distress.
Will the Leader of the House now urge the Minister for the Environment to reply to my letter dated 6 May and to the concerns raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Castle Point (Bob Spink)? The letter calls for independent assessments to be made regarding the possible risk to human health posed by the activities at the site and, in particular, by the gas emissions that are causing much distress. It has taken up to six months to respond to many letters that I have written in the past. That is simply not good enough.
Dr. Reid: I was not aware of the hon. Gentleman's concerns, and I apologise for that. I am sure that the appropriate Minister is aware of them, however. Although the hon. Gentleman said that it has, on some occasions, taken several months to reply to his letters, the letter that he referred to in this instance was received only two weeks ago. I know from the ministerial correspondence with which I have had to deal that the Minister may want to establish accurately and fully the facts of the case before he responds. However, I understand the hon. Gentleman's concerns, and I will undertake to contact the relevant Minister.
Mr. Jimmy Hood (Clydesdale): May I welcome my right hon. Friend back from his thrill in Seville? I commiserate with him on the result. I thought that the team played well, but the guy who scored the winning goal had been carried off three times and should not have been on the field when he scored.
Will my right hon. Friend consider having a debate in the Housecertainly before the summer recesson the Child Support Agency and its continued mismanagement and failure to support mothers with children who need support? In particular, I refer to the case of Linda Lynch who, for the past nine years, has been cheated and lied to both by her partner and by officers in the CSA, as have her Members of Parliament. She has two had Members of Parliament in the past few years, and she has been cheated of something like £50,000. There are many people in the country like Linda Lynch and it is time that the House revisited the issue of how the CSA is failing women and, in particular, children.
Dr. Reid: I cannot promise a debate here, but I know that my hon. Friend raises these serious matters on every possible occasion. Perhaps an Adjournment debate would be appropriate to debate the issue, not least because I agree with him in general about the distress caused in some of these cases and in this specific case. He referred to two MPs and, if my memory serves me