Business of the House

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 11:33 am on 26th April 2007.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May Shadow Leader of the House of Commons 11:33 am, 26th April 2007

The website has been threatened with legal action for repeating what was printed in Hansard. Will the Leader of the House make a statement about the application of parliamentary privilege to organisations with a licence to reprint Hansard?

This week, it has emerged that lives have been put at risk by leaks about anti-terrorist operations. Peter Clarke of the Metropolitan police said:

"The people who do this...are beneath contempt" and "put lives at risk." Yesterday, the Prime Minister refused to guarantee that the leaks did not come from Ministers, civil servants or special advisers, yet he refused to order a full-scale inquiry. Contrary to assurances given by the Home Secretary to my hon. Friend the shadow Attorney-General, it is reported today that the source of the leaks is the Home Secretary's special adviser. Why are the Government refusing an independent inquiry? On 6 February, Liberty submitted a freedom of information request in relation to media briefings on the raids. An answer has been delayed by the Home Office not once but twice, and is now due on 3 May. Will the Leader of the House guarantee that the Home Office will reply on 3 May, and that the Home Secretary will make a statement to the House at the first opportunity?

On Tuesday, Lord Woolf, the former Lord Chief Justice, said that the split of the Home Office is

"a very big change for our constitution", but that

"There has been no debate. Parliament has not considered this".

Will the Leader of the House commit to a debate in Government time on the restructuring of the Home Office? May we also have a statement from a Minister from the Department for Constitutional Affairs on judicial independence? The changes must not go ahead without our ensuring that proper safeguards are in place.

When people vote in next week's local elections, they will do so without knowing the full extent of the Labour tax bombshell that awaits them. That is because the Chancellor's Lyons review, carried out at a cost of £2.25 million, has been buried, at least until after the local elections, but official Treasury documents show that although the 2007 council tax revaluation in England has been postponed, council tax inspectors are already maintaining and further improving the extensive electronic database of every home in England. That database will include details of home improvements and photographs, and will catalogue the bedrooms, bathrooms and attics of every home. If the Orwellian Chancellor will not make a statement to the House on the future of local government finance, will his campaign manager, the Leader of the House, make one? If voters do not know about Labour's council tax bombshell, they do know that Conservative councils have cheaper council tax, cleaner streets, less litter, less graffiti and less fly-tipping, so may we have a debate on best practice in local government?

The issues that I have mentioned are typical of the Government's attitude to scrutiny; there are sham consultations and policies that nobody wants, and there is no chance for scrutiny by Parliament. Perhaps it is little wonder that the Secretary of State for Wales has said:

"We at the top of the party and government have lost touch with...the country."

If they want to get back in touch with the country, why do they not stop lecturing and start listening?