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Mr. Win Griffiths (Bridgend): May I thank my right hon. Friend for the very positive note that was struck at Stockholm about the need to put new life into the World Trade Organisation and the round of trade talks? Will he confirm that as part of that desire to get the talks back on the agenda, the European Union will put on the table a much stronger set of proposals than was available at Seattle? Will he also confirm that, on top of that, there will be strong negotiations with the United States to bring it on board so that we get much better trade terms?
The Prime Minister: I agree with my hon. Friend that we must secure that objective. We urgently need the WTO round to start; we support that strongly. The points that he makes about its nature and the help that it can give to other countries are right; I endorse them completely.
Mr. David Tredinnick (Bosworth): When the Prime Minister was discussing foot and mouth with his European counterparts, had he been briefed by the Minister of Agriculture about the impact of borax 30, a simple homeopathic medicine that 7,000 farmers in Britain are using? In the 1967 outbreak, it provided considerable relief. Will he undertake to ask the Minister to answer the question that I have tabled and try to get proper trials carried out to ascertain how much more can be done to use that simple remedy to protect our herds?
The Prime Minister: I will certainly pass on the hon. Gentleman's remarks to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture. We must consider all the possible solutions, but his question emphasises that there are no easy answers.
Mr. John McFall (Dumbarton): Is the Prime Minister aware of the documentary evidence that Sky television provided to MAFF today? It detailed the illegal trade in contaminated pigswill and the misselling of products to supermarkets. Will he clamp down immediately on such illegal activities while simultaneously pushing for reform of the common agricultural policy?
The anxiety about contaminated pigswill has been expressed on many occasions. We believe that only a small minority of people are engaged in that illegal trade. It is deeply irresponsible and greatly resented by the vast bulk of the farming community. It is one of the reasons why we have to consider the legality of pigswill; it is also a reason for taking every possible measure to make sure not only that the disease is brought under control but that we consider the causes of it.
As I said a moment ago, during the last outbreak in 1967, there were fewer trading movements, especially of sheep, than today. Gaps between the disease originating and its discovery mean that huge numbers of movements take place before the disease is discovered.
Mr. John Redwood (Wokingham): How far and how fast does foot and mouth have to spread before the Prime Minister believes that his policy of kill and cull does not work? Will he assure hon. Members that, when the Minister of Agriculture comes to the House tomorrow--if he can--he will clear up the uncertainty about vaccination, which many believe to be a better option? The Prime Minister is understandably hesitant about it today, but if uncertainty continues for too long, it will be even more damaging for agriculture.
The Prime Minister: I gather from the mood of Conservative Members that they are now casting doubt on the policy of containment. They fully supported it until today, when they raised the question of vaccination. They know perfectly well, because the Minister of Agriculture has already said so, that we are examining all the options.
However, it is remiss of Opposition Members to pretend suddenly that vaccination is a policy that they have been developing for weeks, that they have been urging it upon us and we have blindly refused to examine it. We were advised to adopt the policy of containment by slaughter; it was supported by the Opposition, at least until today. It is important to carry it out while ensuring that we are analysing every possible alternative.
Mr. Bill Rammell (Harlow): Does the Prime Minister agree that the progress on energy market liberalisation demonstrates more effectively than ever that extended qualified majority voting can be in the British national interest? Did he read the comments of the deputy director general of the Confederation of British Industry in the run-up to Stockholm? He said that it was not in our commercial interests to have a Eurosceptic Government. Does my right hon. Friend ever recall such a senior figure in the CBI so effectively repudiating Conservative party policy in the run-up to a general election?
The Prime Minister: What my hon. Friend says about qualified majority voting is true. That is precisely the reason why it would be foolish for this country to take the position that it was against qualified majority voting in any circumstances. That is also precisely why the previous Conservative Government agreed to massive extensions of qualified majority voting--for example, in the Single European Act and the Maastricht treaty, which was strongly supported by some of them at the time. Qualified majority voting can, in certain circumstances, be in the country's interests, and that is why Conservative Members supported it.
I shall not comment on what the gentleman from the CBI said, but I want to point out the dangers of Conservative policy on the treaty of Nice. I hope that the Conservatives will reconsider their position on the treaty. They say that they would refuse to ratify it, and then have a referendum--were they to be elected--presumably to ask people to vote against it, as there would not be much point in having a referendum to ask people to vote in favour of it. I have already said that not a single Government elsewhere in the European Union support renegotiating the treaty of Rome. No European Government support renegotiating the treaty of Nice either, not only because of what we went through to achieve it but because it would be patently foolish to re-open all those issues.
Again I ask Opposition Members to name one country that would agree to renegotiate the treaty of Nice. If there were no such country, that would mean that the UK Government would be standing against the enlargement of the European Union--which we have championed elsewhere in Europe--and the damage to Britain and British business would be incalculable.
Mr. Gareth R. Thomas (Harrow, West): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. On Friday 16 March, the hon. Member for Ruislip-Northwood (Mr. Wilkinson) had an Adjournment debate in which he highlighted, among other things, an important issue affecting schools in my constituency. I and my office have no record of any prior warning that he intended to travel beyond his constituency boundaries.
I would not normally raise this issue, as I have worked with the hon. Gentleman on issues of mutual interest to our constituents. However, members of his party in Harrow have suggested that it is normal for all MPs automatically to attend Adjournment debates. Given what I have read of the debate, I certainly would have wanted to attend and participate. Will you make it clear, Mr. Speaker, whether I should have been given prior notice of it and of his intention to touch on issues affecting my constituency? As I was not given any such notice, it is not surprising that I was attending to other matters of equal importance at the time.
Mr. John Wilkinson (Ruislip-Northwood): Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. I am grateful to the hon. Member for Harrow, West (Mr. Thomas) for informing me of his intention to raise this point of order. The subject that I dealt with in that debate was secondary education in west London. Hillingdon and Harrow are in west London, as are many other boroughs. As I mentioned in my speech, I was bound to range over issues that transcend borough boundaries.
Mr. Speaker: I am grateful to the hon. Member for Harrow, West (Mr. Thomas) for giving me notice of his point of order. He is quite right: it is an established parliamentary courtesy that a Member who intends to raise in debate--or, indeed, in a parliamentary question--a matter affecting another Member's constituency should give prior notification. End-of-day Adjournment debates are essentially between the Member concerned and the Minister. There is no obligation on any other Member to be present. Indeed, another Member may take part only with the agreement of the Member originating the debate, the Minister and, of course, the Chair.