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Oral Answers to Questions — Prime Minister – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 24th March 2010.

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Photo of Sir David Amess Sir David Amess Conservative, Southend West 11:30 am, 24th March 2010

My constituent, Mrs. Ditchburn, fled from Gran Canaria to the UK with her two children because she was involved in a violent and abusive relationship. Her partner has now invoked the Hague convention and her children have been snatched back under terrible circumstances. Will the Prime Minister now take a personal interest in the case and assist Mrs. Ditchburn to get her children back?

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Photo of Gordon Brown Gordon Brown The Prime Minister, Leader of the Labour Party

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving me advance notice of this question. I am sorry to hear of the difficult situation between his constituent and her husband about their children. The hon. Gentleman will know that following an application under the 1980 Hague child abduction convention on 17 March 2010, the High Court of England and Wales ordered the return of the children to their country of habitual residence. The children therefore returned to Gran Canaria on 20 March 2010. As the hon. Gentleman will understand, it is not for me to comment or intervene in the decisions of the court, but I will ask my right hon. Friend the Justice Secretary to look into this matter. He will write to the hon. Gentleman soon.

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Photo of Jeff Ennis Jeff Ennis Labour, Barnsley East and Mexborough

The 82-year-old Mr. Harold Binney from Wombwell in my constituency is supporting my campaign to scrap the derisory 25p age addition on state pensions for the over-80s, which has remained at the same level since 1972, and to replace it with an additional £25 a year through the popular winter fuel allowance. Will the Prime Minister have a word with his very good friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to make sure that this measure is included in his forthcoming Budget?

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Photo of Gordon Brown Gordon Brown The Prime Minister, Leader of the Labour Party

I do not want to anticipate all the news that my hon. Friend will receive in the Budget in a few minutes' time. We have made sure that over the last 10 years pensioner households-indeed, households over 60-have had winter fuel payments every year; they have reached a record level of payment. The Chancellor will comment on that in a few minutes' time.

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Photo of Ian Paisley Ian Paisley DUP, North Antrim

This is the last time I will bother the House and the Prime Minister with a question-I am sure he is greatly relieved about that. I would like to associate myself and my colleagues with the words of condolence spoken in the House today. This is a sad and tragic hour in our nation, and rumours of war and wars are common. There is sorrow in hearts. Of course, people bury their dead; they put up their monument, but their heart is torn. I have been in too many houses like that in the north of Ireland not to know how deep the cuts are.

In view of the situation that we have here, and its sadness and its sorrow, and the dark shadow that lies upon the whole of our world today, I ask the Prime Minister to continue to give himself, as always, to the task of deliverance and victory and peace-and may it come speedily.

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Photo of Gordon Brown Gordon Brown The Prime Minister, Leader of the Labour Party

I think the whole House will want to pay tribute to the right hon. Gentleman for a long and distinguished career, not just in this House but in a number of forums. That includes his position as First Minister of Northern Ireland. I believe that the part he played in bringing the Unionist community together-indeed, bringing the whole community together in Northern Ireland-to ensure that we had devolution of power, and to ensure that the process of devolution of power was completed, will adorn the history books in many decades and centuries to come. On this day and on this occasion, I want the whole House to thank him for his service to the House and to the whole community.

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Photo of David Borrow David Borrow Labour, South Ribble

Does my right hon. Friend agree that no Member of this House or the other place should seek to prevent, through censorship, the BBC or the Independent newspaper from questioning the involvement of Lord Ashcroft in alleged corruption scandals in the Turks and Caicos islands? [Interruption.]

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Photo of Gordon Brown Gordon Brown The Prime Minister, Leader of the Labour Party

They do not like hearing the name "Lord Ashcroft", Mr. Speaker, but he is chairman of the Conservative party. Perhaps the Conservatives' zeal for investigations should extend to an investigation into Lord Ashcroft.

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