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Mr. David Amess accordingly presented a Bill to increase penalties for offences under the Endangered Species (Import and Export) Act 1976: And the same was read the First time; and ordered to be read a Second time on Friday 12 April, and to be printed [Bill 84].
Dr. Fox: How well has Labour matched its delivery to the enormous expectations that it raised before it was elected? Those are the questions that are central to our debate. The British public want to know what has happened to all the extra taxes that they paid for all the extra spending. Why is it that they have noticed no difference? We also want to examine whether there is any intellectual coherence in the Government's approach to policy making, or whether the constant proxy war of interference by Nos. 10 and 11 is making it impossible for Cabinet Ministers to exert any continuity whatever.
It all began with such promise: education, education, education; tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime; 24 hours to save the NHS. But now teachers are increasingly demoralised and violent crime is rising. What of 24 hours to save the NHS? By summer 2000 that had become a 10-year vision in the NHS plan, and by autumn 2001 the Chancellor's Wanless report talked about a 20-year plan. Ministers feed us figures, send out glossy
It is anyone's guess whether one waits longer these days on a railway platform or on a hospital trolley. Street crime, particularly in the capital, is rocketing. Post Office workers are threatening to strike; train drivers are striking; the morale of doctors and nurses is at rock bottom. Exam papers have unanswerable questions. Health authorities are dangerously overspent and hospitals lack the ability to undertake basic infection controls, so we intend to send more patients abroadthat is if they can get as far as the coast on our ever-ailing railways. All this occurs under the leadership of a Prime Minister who seems constantly to be appearing in yet another part of the world where diplomacy fuses with fashion, and to be increasingly disinterested in domestic affairs or completely out of touch with the reality faced by the public.
Phil Hope: Apart from the fact that an opinion poll gives the Prime Minister the highest approval rating since we got elected and the Leader of the Opposition a rating of only 13 per cent., the Opposition motion refers to
Dr. Fox: I can only suggest that the hon. Gentleman would be better off sticking to the questions given to him by the Whips, as he normally does, because the Government are abolishing the zones that he seeks to praise. Perhaps he should get his facts right before he intervenes.
Ms Julia Drown (South Swindon): The hon. Gentleman said that he wanted to examine the intellectual coherence of the Government's arguments, but he both expressed the wish to have the Government interfering less and referred to the problems arising from exam questions. Is he seriously saying that Ministers should be sitting down and writing exam questions?
Moreover, while the presidential style undermines Secretaries of State, No. 10 increasingly interferes in what Secretaries of State are able to do. We have just had the Treasury's Wanless report on the funding of the NHS. That was about cutting those options available to the Secretary of State for Health which the Chancellor did not like. Of course, as No. 11 had a report on health, No. 10 has now commissioned a report on health as wellthe Adair Turner report on the structure of the NHS for the latest master planbut no terms of reference have been published, and there are no plans to publish the report itself. Neither we nor, presumably, the Department of Health will be given the information on which the Prime Minister's interference in the Secretary of State's health policy is to be based. Lord Birt has been commissioned by No. 10 to review transport policy, and of course as the Prime Minister is having a report, No. 11 has to have one too, and we now know that someone will review transport policy for the Treasury. What is going on?
We have all been entertained when the Chancellor's men, as they like to describe themselves, call the Secretary of State useless in lobby briefings and the Commons watering holes echo with the briefings and counter-briefings of senior Ministers against their colleagues, but that culture, especially the seemingly endless tussle between No. 10 and the Treasury and between the Prime Minister and the Chancellor, is debilitating for the Government and has profound consequences for public policy.
Mr. Eric Illsley (Barnsley, Central): First, does the hon. Gentleman not realise that education action zones were time limited in any event, so they will reach the end of their lives? Secondly, he talks about transport and the railways in particular, but can he explain why the Tory Government included a clause in the northern area franchise, which went to Northern Spirit, saying that the company had to reduce manning by 40 per cent? It sacked a lot of workers and drivers in particular. Now we have shortages. The privatisation was botched.
Dr. Fox: First, more passengers have used the railways since privatisation, and passengers are what count on the railways. Secondly, hardly any Government policy has not been time limited and immediately overridden by a reviewonly a few weeks later in some examplesbecause the policies are so ill thought out. I shall take an intervention from the hon. Member for Harlow (Mr. Rammell)they are getting easier.