Business of the House

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:17 pm on 29th March 2007.

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Photo of Theresa May Theresa May Shadow Leader of the House of Commons 12:17 pm, 29th March 2007

I thank the Leader of the House for giving us the future business, and for working with the Foreign Secretary to ensure that we had yesterday's statement on Iran. Since then, of course, the Iranian Government have—quite disgracefully—paraded the captured British sailors on television. Given that the House rises today, what consideration has the Leader of the House given to ways of informing it of further developments?

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee says that the Rural Payments Agency fiasco will cost the taxpayer £500 million, including a fine of £305 million payable to Brussels for incompetence. The Committee said:

"A culture where ministers and senior officials can preside over failure of this magnitude and not be held personally accountable creates a serious risk of further failures."

Will the Environment Secretary come to the House to make a further statement on the Rural Payments Agency?

We have just had the Home Secretary's response to an urgent question on the restructuring of the Home Office. Sadly, the Home Secretary had to be forced to come to the House to give those details. He said that details of changes to the Department for Constitutional Affairs would be given by the Lord Chancellor in the other place. When will a statement on those changes be made in this House? Many of the replies that the Home Secretary gave were completely unsatisfactory. It appeared that he simply did not know the answers to many of the questions that were correctly put to him. Indeed, at one stage, the Leader of the House had to brief the Home Secretary on the answer. Perhaps the Leader of the House, as the Chancellor's campaign manager, knows more about the future than the Home Secretary does. May we have a debate therefore on the restructuring of the Home Office, because that debate would give hon. Members —including Mr. Clarke and Fiona Mactaggart—an opportunity to express their clear concerns about the proposals?

I was talking of the Home Office, and the Leader of the House once said that he hoped that the Home Secretary would run for the Labour leadership. Now, of course, the Leader of the House is running the Chancellor's campaign and he has written to Labour MPs saying:

"There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Gordon is the right person".

That is some U-turn. May we have a debate on junk mail?