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 Jack Straw Jack Straw Chair, Modernisation of the House of Commons Committee, Leader of the House of Commons and Lord Privy Seal 12:17 pm, 29th March 2007

Indeed. When the right hon. Lady described an excellent letter that I have sent out as junk mail, the Patronage Secretary, ever loyal, described it as spam. Incidentally, one should never believe anything that Mr. Piers Morgan writes, including stuff about me.

I have been remiss and I apologise, because I failed to read out some of the business for Westminster Hall. On Thursday 19 April, there will be a debate on the report from the Trade and Industry Committee on "New Nuclear? Examining the Issues", and on Thursday 26 April, a debate on a report from the Transport Committee on "How Fair are the Fares? Train Fares and Ticketing". Those titles may be elocution tests as well —[ Interruption. ] These were not my ideas, Mr. Speaker. If it had been left to the Patronage Secretary, the debates would have at least been clear in their subjects.

On a very serious note, I thank the right hon. Lady for what she said about my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary coming to the House yesterday in respect of Iran. It is a serious situation and we are all concerned. My right hon. Friends the Foreign Secretary and the Prime Minister and our diplomats, both here and there, are working extremely hard on that matter. Given that the House will not sit again until 16 April, the only way in which we can in practice inform Members about developments is through the media, but of course we shall do so. If there is detailed information that we need to transmit to Members, it can be done by a "dear colleague" letter.

The right hon. Lady mentioned the report by the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee this morning and asked when it can be debated. There are plenty of opportunities for the House to debate issues if it wishes. The subjects for debate on estimates days are determined by the Liaison Committee, and if the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee is concerned, it may raise the issue then. Given the synthetic fury to which we are sometimes subjected in business questions, I am surprised that the Opposition do not take the opportunity—if they really think that criticism of Ministers is significant—to raise such matters on Opposition days. They used to do so, when they were a slightly better Opposition. I remember, time and again, between 1974 and 1979, motions for the reduction of Ministers' salaries—