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Mr. Hain: I shall certainly be happy to look at that request, not least because the Conservatives are making an attack on the new deal a principal part of their approach in the coming months. Indeed, the shadow Leader of the House has published a pamphlet attacking the new deal, despite the fact that 223 people in his constituency have obtained jobs through the new deal, only seven of which are subsidised. We want everybody to be given the chance to work; about a million people are being helped by the new deal and, in the next election, I shall be happy to fight against the Conservative proposal to abolish the new deal and for the Government policy of full employment to give everybody hope under the new deal.
Pete Wishart (North Tayside) (SNP): I support calls for a full debate in Government time on post office closures, if only so that we can examine whether it makes any sense to pay post offices to close rather than investing in them so that they can continue to make a contribution to the communities we serve.
Mr. David Chaytor (Bury, North) (Lab):
Following the historic events of last weekend, when the accession countries finally joined the European Union, can my right hon. Friend find time for a debate on the impact of accession? Would not that provide a useful opportunity for us to test out some of the more hysterical tabloid predictions about the number of east Europeans coming to Britain? It could also provide a useful background for debate about Europe in the run-up to the European elections on 10 June, as well as for the debate on the referendum on the constitution. Will my right hon. Friend find time for a debate about the EU in the near future?
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Mr. Hain: The Prime Minister will make a statement after the European Council at the end of next month, but I should certainly welcome other opportunities, although I do not think I should start the European election campaign today in business questions. My hon. Friend's point about the accession of 10 countries to the EU is well made. Their accession will enlarge our zone of security and stability; it will re-unify the whole of Europe, after its savage division after the second world war and the cold war; it will improve environmental standards by ensuring that the new countries raise their environmental standards; and it will also provide extra opportunities for prosperity and jobs. That is the great prize of EU enlargement.
Dr. Julian Lewis (New Forest, East) (Con): Does the Leader of the House realise that he gives the impression that he is dragging his feet on the question of the review of the sitting hours of the House when he talks about the narrowness of the majority in the Committee? Does he recall early-day motion 262, which was signed by 245 Members?
[That this House notes that the revised sitting hours and related arrangements have now been in place for 12 months; believes that there is now sufficient experience of the new arrangements to enable the House to judge what adjustments would be appropriate to enable the business of the House to be conducted more effectively; and calls for an urgent review of the reforms.]
Mr. Hain: Let me take the hon. Gentleman through the sequence of events. At the beginning of the year, I announced that the Modernisation Committee would conduct a review. In the meantime, the Procedure Committee had circulated a questionnaire to every Member and there was a large response to which I referred earlier. That response showed a very narrow division, not on reverting to the old hours on Wednesdaythere was no real support for thatbut on the Tuesday hours. The division was between those who wanted the hour of interruption to remain at 7 o'clock and those who wanted to move back to 10 o'clock. In the Modernisation Committee we need to reflect on the detail of the response to the Procedure Committee and, yes, at the end of that process the House will have a vote on its future sitting hours, as has always been promised. The current hours are only for the rest of this Parliament.
[That this House notes with regret the horrific murder of Jane Longhurst by Graham Coutts who had become an avid user of corrupting internet sites such as 'necrobabes', 'death by asphyxia' and 'hanging bitches'; offers its full support to the family of Jane Longhurst in their call for
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action to be taken to close down these sites; calls on the Government to conduct a review of the Obscene Publications Acts of 1959 and 1964 and all other key legislation; and asks the Home Secretary to ensure better co-operation from the international law enforcement agencies to close down such internet sites, which are likely to incite people to do harm to others.]
It calls for action to restrict UK access to corrupting and depraved internet sites, following the horrific murder of Brighton schoolteacher, Jane Longhurst, who originally came from Reading. She was killed by an avid user of internet sites such as "Necrobabes" and "Death by asphyxia". The Home Secretary has already pledged to try to take action against such sites and to restrict access to them, but does not my right hon. Friend think that as there is wide support for action from Members on both sides of the House it is a suitable subject for debate on the Floor of the House?
Mr. Hain: Indeed. I know that the whole House shares my hon. Friend's absolute abhorrence at that obscenity and the way in which internet sites can promote such behaviour. That is why the Government have been working closely with the Internet Watch Foundation, internet companies, telecom operators and others to increase our ability to prevent children from accidentally accessing explicit adult material of that obscene kind. I pay tribute to my hon. Friend's campaign to ensure that we are constantly aware of the issue.
Mr. John Wilkinson (Ruislip-Northwood) (Con): Can the Leader of the House find Government time to debate the endemic fraud and corruption in the EUthe organisation so much admired by him and his hon. Friends in the Government? The issue has been dramatically highlighted by the National Audit Office and by the failure of the European Parliament to do anything about it.
Mr. Hain: Fraud in the European Union is indeed a great concern. That is why the Government have ensured that we focus on fraud the whole time and why Commissioner Neil Kinnock, despite the criticisms of him, has been embarking on some of the most difficult work that any commissioner has had to undertake to try to reform the European Commission's practices and ensure that such inefficiencies and fraud are tackled head-on. That must be done, not only in the interests of all of us, but in those of a Europe of which we can be proud.
Mr. Harry Barnes (North-East Derbyshire) (Lab):
Statements and oral questions on Iraq are welcome and could well be extended, as suggested by my hon. Friend the Member for Halifax (Mrs. Mahon), but they are surely not enough. We need a fully-fledged debate on Iraq, the situation in Falluja, what is occurring in the prisons and the two legs of the Government's argument on weapons of mass destruction and humanitarianism. Moreover, we need to debate practical suggestions about how we can get out of the current mess, and the role of the United Nations and the role of a free Iraqi labour movement are important things that could be outlined in that a debate.
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Mr. Hain: As I have told my hon. Friend before, I agree about the importance of a free Iraqi labour movementsomething that did not exist under Saddam Hussein, but that he and I want to take root in Iraq. As for a fully-fledged debate, my hon. Friend has the opportunity to apply for one at any time, but he cannot really suggest that we have not had many opportunities to discuss developments in Iraq.
Mr. Hain: I have noted what my hon. Friend says about a full day's debate. In respect of the United Nations, we are working for another Security Council resolution and the intention is to hand over responsibility for the governance of Iraq to an interim Iraqi authority from the end of next month. That is on course and we will continue to do everything that we can to support it.
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