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Mr. Hain: The hon. Gentleman will understand that the England team's fantastic victory in the World cup occurred a matter of weeks before the new year's honours were announced, so that presented a convenient opportunity to recognise their achievement. However, I understand the point that he makes. Many of my constituents fought not just in the previous war in Iraq, but in the recent one, and if they are eligible they deserve early recognition. The authorities will want to look closely at how that can be achieved.
Sir Sydney Chapman (Chipping Barnet) (Con): May I encourage the Leader of the House to look favourably on the request made earlier by the hon. Member for Strathkelvin and Bearsden (Mr. Lyons) for a debate on fair trading? He will know of the devastating consequences that the common agricultural policyand, indeed, the agricultural subsidy policies of rich countries such as the United Stateshave for many poor developing countries' economies. That is instanced by the dumping of food surpluses, and the keeping, in effect, of their food markets out of rich countries. This is a matter of increasing urgency. Could the Leader of the House look favourably on debating it if not next week, then shortly thereafter?
Mr. Hain: I agree with every word that the hon. Gentleman said. We must deal with the protectionism that is rife throughout the world's richer countries, including, I am sorry to say, those of the European Union. Frankly, the iniquitous common agricultural policy, which is being reformed, needs to be abolished. We need a rich world that opens up its markets to the poor world, thereby enabling the latter to lift itself out of poverty, and to provide markets for our own companies. The hon. Gentleman has identified a virtuous circle in this regard. Fair trade and trade justice are an imperative, and there will be opportunities to debate this issue as soon as possible.
Mr. Hain: There is a serious problem with alcohol and drug-related crime, which the Home Secretary and the police are addressing. However, that should be seen against a background of big falls in crime since we were elected to office, compared with the steep rises that occurred under the previous Conservative Government, which the hon. Gentleman supported.
If there were great enthusiasm for tabling questions on European mattersI regret that there is notForeign Office questions could be flooded with such questions. As my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, East (Keith Vaz) and I discovered when we occupied our postsand as my hon. Friend the Member for Rotherham (Mr. MacShane) is discoveringon the whole, relatively few European questions are tabled, compared with questions on other issues. So the solution lies in the hands of Members of the House.
Mr. David Cameron (Witney) (Con): May we have a debate on the closure of post offices, particularly of those in convenience stores in small towns? Is the Leader of the House aware that this is a problem in Witney, as in many other towns, following the takeover of T&S Stores by Tesco, and did he read what the Prime Minister said yesterday about this issue? He said that Tesco
Mr. Hain: The Secretary of State will want to study very carefully what the hon. Gentleman has said, because it is important that when promises are madewhether by Tesco or by anybody elsethey are honoured. His constituency and constituencies throughout the United Kingdom are facing the difficulties associated with post office closures for all sorts of reasons. However, one of those reasons is not a lack of Government support. The Government have put hundreds of millions of pounds into supporting local post offices, because of the importance that we attach to them.
Mr. Tim Collins (Westmorland and Lonsdale) (Con): On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. You will know that the next item on the Order Paper relates to the Standing Committee on the Higher Education Bill, and that the Bill has generated an extraordinary amount of interest on both sides of the House, and among many people outside it. In the light of that, could you say whether you received any representations from Ministers earlier today, indicating that they intend to rethink their approach to this Committee in two important respects? First, should they not revise yesterday's decision to ram through the Committee of Selection a balance of membership of the Standing Committee that violates the injunction of "Erskine May" that membership should reflect the balance of votes on Second Reading? Secondly, should they not revise their view that the Standing Committee should meet for only 12 sittings, which is clearly an inadequate amount of time? Given that many people outside this House are observing closely how we consider this Bill, would not a rigged and truncated Standing Committee be worse than no Committee at all?
Mr. George Foulkes (Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley) (Lab/Co-op): Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. It is unfortunate that the hon. Member for Westmorland and Lonsdale (Mr. Collins) is misleading the House. It is my
Mr. Foulkes: Indeed, I will. I think that the hon. Gentleman has inadvertently stated something that is not correct. My understanding is that two rebelsif we can call them thathave been appointed to the Standing Committee, and that the Government's majority on it does not reflect their majority in this House as a whole; rather, it takes account of the vote that took place on this issue. [Interruption.] Well, that is certainly my understanding of the position. Yet again, Opposition Members are trying to make a party political point, and I hope that you will make it clear, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that this is not a point of order.
Mr. Oliver Heald (North-East Hertfordshire) (Con): Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Is it not the case that there are 16 Labour Members on that Committeeof whom one was a rebel, the other Member in question having abstainedand nine Opposition Members? If the vote on Second Reading
With regard to the initial point of order, I have received no representations of the sort that the hon. Member for Westmorland and Lonsdale (Mr. Collins) mentioned. "Erskine May" makes it clear that the Speaker cannot interfere with the Committee of Selection, but I understand that the Committee has complied with the provisions of the Standing Order in nominating Members for the Committee considering the Higher Education Bill.
Angus Robertson (Moray) (SNP): On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. In an interview on the BBC's "Today" programme this morning, and in evidence to the Defence Committee only a few hours ago, the Secretary of State for Defence said that he "did not see" the newspaper coverage after publication of the September 2002 dossier reporting that Iraqi weapons of mass destruction could be fired within 45 minutes and were long range and capable of reaching Cyprus. However, in his evidence to the Hutton inquiry on 22 September 2003, he was asked: