Mr Nigel Beard: While I entirely condemn the thuggery and violence that we saw at the weekend, is it not unjust that the English football team and football authorities should be threatened because of public disorder for which they have no responsibility and over which they have no influence?
Mr Nigel Beard: I welcome my hon. Friend's statement on a major event in the progress of scientific understanding. What plans are there to publish the benefits of this breakthrough for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of illness, and to indicate the regulatory process? In that way, public fears may be answered and reduced, and will not impede the application of this new science, in which Britain excels.
Mr Nigel Beard: I welcome the statement. I urge my right hon. Friend to consider extending the principle underlying the scheme by joining forces with the Secretary of State for Health to re-examine the case for a no-fault compensation scheme for medical accidents.
Mr Nigel Beard: The hon. Gentleman alleges that the Government pursue party interest, not the public good. Would he care to comment on the case of Michael Simmonds, who was the political adviser to the chairman of the Conservative party in 1996–97 and not only on the Government payroll, but based in Conservative central office?
Mr Nigel Beard: Can the hon. Gentleman tell us what evidence he has to back up the saga that he is spinning, and why it should be treated as anything other than media gossip and tittle-tattle?
Mr Nigel Beard: I congratulate my right hon. Friend on his statement, which is indeed a watershed in the history of public services in this country. Given the accumulation of problems over 18 years of neglect of health, education and our transport service, how does he intend to ensure that the money is spent to best effect?
Mr Nigel Beard: Does my hon. Friend agree that present planned investment in transport infrastructure can make a major contribution to increasing productivity in the economy? That was suggested this week by the Director-General of the CBI, who dismissed the transport infrastructure spending plans of the right hon. Member for Kensington and Chelsea (Mr. Portillo).
Mr Nigel Beard: Does the hon. Gentleman recognise that, in the past two years, the oil price per litre has increased by 19p, of which tax accounts for only 2p, whereas the international oil market accounts for 17p of that increase? The "information" that the hon. Gentleman is giving us is, therefore, no more than fatuous propaganda.
Mr Nigel Beard: What has productivity to do with the order?
Mr Nigel Beard: What is the difference between the policy that the right hon. Gentleman has just outlined for entry to the euro and the established policy of the present Government?
Mr Nigel Beard: In assessing the economy today, it is useful to consider the history of economic policy in Britain over the past few years. In his great work on the English constitution, Walter Bagehot observed that civilisations ultimately decline because they fail to understand the institutions that they have created. For the whole of the 20th century and much of the 19th century, industrial economies...
Mr Nigel Beard: Few people in the pubs and clubs of Bexleyheath and Crayford speak of the savings ratio. However, there are many who speak of the advantages of the new deal, of the fact that they are in jobs, of the working families tax credit and of the minimum wage. Our future depends on our mobilising the abilities of a well-educated, highly trained and well-paid work force so that Britain can compete in...
Mr Nigel Beard: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?
Mr Nigel Beard: Liberal Democrat spokesmen have told us many times that, in the hypothetical event of their taking office, they would not have tried to get rid of the £29 billion deficit left by the previous Government, although such an attempt should have been a given. They would have compounded that decision by spending ever more on services. It is guaranteed that, within 18 months of their taking office,...
Mr Nigel Beard: rose—
Mr Nigel Beard: The right hon. Gentleman just suggested that the pound had been driven to higher levels by the policies pursued by the Government. Which Government policy does he believe has driven the pound to those heights?
Mr Nigel Beard: How would the right hon. Gentleman reply to the chief executives of most motor car manufacturing enterprises, who would tell him that specifying a date on which we shall enter the European monetary union would bring great relief to their present position?
Mr Nigel Beard: That is not what I said.
Mr Nigel Beard: Companies can presume that we may well be in the ERM at some date in the future, having satisfied the conditions that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor has laid down. That is very different from the position of the Opposition and the right hon. Gentleman, which would mean that we would never go in. Their position of "never, never, never" is disturbing many people for whom the right hon....
Mr Nigel Beard: Does the right hon. Gentleman recognise that the fishing industry's present parlous state is largely due to overfishing around these shores and in the North sea under the previous Conservative Government, who could have done something about it? Does he also recognise that, as that is the fundamental problem, to repatriate Britain's fishing policy will do nothing as fish do not happen to...