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17. Mr. Michael Weir (Angus) (SNP): What recent discussions she has had with Scottish fishermen's organisations regarding the effect on the Scottish fishing industry of the European fishing agreement. 
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Mr. Ben Bradshaw): I have regular meetings with members of the Scottish fishing industry and met them recently in Edinburgh at the launch of the Prime Minister's strategy unit report on the future of the fishing industry. I also recently received a delegation that included the hon. Gentleman, at which time he raised a number of issues relevant to the fishing industry in Scotland that I hope have been resolved to his satisfaction.
Mr. Weir : I thank the Minister for his answer. Certainly, some of the issues have been resolved. The changes in the map are welcome, although the draconian new enforcement measures are perhaps not quite so welcome. Issues regarding days at sea have yet to be resolved. The Minister will recall that, in European Standing Committee A, he indicated that he was still discussing that issue with Europe. Does he share the view of Ross Finnie, the Scottish fishing Minister, who said on his return to work yesterday that he was horribly disappointed at the time Europe was taking to deal with the issue? Can the Under-Secretary give us an idea of when these matters will be dealt with?
Mr. Bradshaw: We will certainly make the representations that the hon. Gentleman would like us to make in regard to those fishermen with haddock permits spending more time at sea. The wheels of the Commission sometimes do not move as fast as we would like, but we will certainly try to make them move as quickly as they can.
Thursday 29 AprilIf necessary, consideration of Lords amendments followed by Opposition half-day [7th allotted day] (Part 2). There will be a half-day debate entitled "The failure of the Government to protect the UK from animal and plant diseases" on an Opposition motion.
Wednesday 5 MayOpposition half-day [10th allotted day] (Part 1). There will be a half-day debate on an Opposition motion, subject to be announced, followed by a motion to approve a money resolution on the Christmas Day (Trading) Bill, followed by a debate on genetically modified crops on a motion for the Adjournment of the House.
Mr. Heald: I thank the Leader of the House for the business. I have one or two questions for hima sort of tidying-up exercise, really. He will remember last year describing the European constitution as a "tidying-up exercise", and he went on to say:
"I think those who are starting off on a campaign for a referendum might as well put away their placards and stop wasting their money because we are not going to do it."
Now that the Prime Minister has slapped him down, engaged reverse gear and is to have a referendum, would he agree that it is his job to bring it on? Or is his head as firmly in the sand as that of the Foreign Secretary, who said today that the referendum might never happen?
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The Leader of the House can be assured of our full co-operation, so may we have the necessary Bill for the referendum within the next two weeks? Does he agree that the constitution that the Government negotiate cannot be changed by this House, so there is no need for lengthy debate before we have a referendum? Is it not right that if the British people say no in the referendum, that will be the end of the constitution, or does he take the view that he would simply keep asking until the people get it right? Is not the correct approach to accept the verdict of the people? If they vote yes, so be it. We would accept such a result. If they vote no, there should be no constitution. Why cannot the Government accept that?
[That this House notes with great concern the report of the Independent Monitoring Commission; and calls upon the Government to make parliamentary time available for the House to reconsider the facilities made available by the House authorities to Sinn Fein members.]
Finally, the Foreign Secretary has promised a debate on the desperate situation in Zimbabwe. The English cricket board needs clear advice from the Government against a tour. When can we have that debate, and when can we have the advice?
Mr. Hain: Indeed, the English and Wales cricket authorities must decide. Glamorgan players qualify for the English team, in a welcome sign of unity of the United Kingdom. The situation has changed significantly in recent times, however. An open letter has been signed by 13 white players in the Zimbabwean side, including the former captain, Heath Streak, which says:
"There has, in our view, been racial and ethnic discrimination in the selection of the national team."
That seems to put the issue in a different perspective. It is not simply a question of appeasing a despot, the brutal tyrant Robert Mugabe, but an issue about sport. That takes me back to when I was in the picture, more than 30 years ago[Hon. Members: "Digging up pitches."] No, I never dug up any cricket pitches. I ran on them and sat down on them to stop apartheid tours, for which Nelson Mandela thanked me, as, I guess, would most Members of the House.
With the England cricket tour to Zimbabwe, we are faced with a different situation, which is that the Zimbabwean team, according to the former captain and 12 other white players, appears to be rigged in a discriminatory way, on racial lines. That puts the issue
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in an entirely different category. I also note that the Australian leg spinner Stuart MacGill has refused to take part, and I would expect many English cricketers to refuse to take part, too. If they did, I would be with them all the way.
On the question of the European Union constitution, about which the shadow Leader of the House helpfully and generous quoted all sorts of things that I had been saying last year, may I paraphrase Churchill by saying that there is no better diet than eating one's own words? That is precisely what the Prime Minister, I, the Foreign Secretary and a number of others have been doing these past few days. [Interruption.] No, it is very appetising.
The serious point, which I know that the shadow Leader of the House will want me to make, as he asked his question in his customary serious fashion, is that we took the view quite properly, as did many Members on both sides of the House, that the House of Commons was the proper forum to ratify such treaties, as has been done previously, subject to line by line scrutiny. It was clear from the public opposition, however, that that position was not sustainable. The Prime Minister and the Government have therefore responded to public opinion and opinion in the House, and have decided to call a referendum, for which we deserve credit. That is the issue.
The hon. Gentleman asked a number of subsidiary questions. In particular, he asked whether we would have a referendum Bill within two weeks. What an absurd question for someone who aspires to be the Leader of the House of Commons to ask! We do not even have a settled constitutional treaty yet. How could we have a referendum on something that has not even been finally negotiated, let alone agreed in a final signing ceremony by all member states? What an absurd proposition. Moreover, if the hon. Gentleman is at all serious about aspiring to be Leader of the House, he must know that a Bill of that kind could not possibly be drafted within days. We should get real on this question.
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