Mr Nigel Beard: That may not be the explanation at all. Those people may be content and confident of the future, and might not feel the need to lay down savings.
Mr Nigel Beard: Will the right hon. Lady give way?
Mr Nigel Beard: I thank the right hon. Lady for giving way. Is it not a strange time to cry crisis, when the right hon. Lady knows full well that police numbers have been in decline since 1993, and that this is the first time recruitment has turned around? Is it also not strange to claim that there is a crisis when the number of recruits in training has gone up by 74 per cent.? Is not this part of a stunt to...
Mr Nigel Beard: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?
Mr Nigel Beard: Does my right hon. Friend agree that the steps taken to reduce fraud have brought it to a potentially irreducible minimum, and that the Opposition's proposal to secure £1 billion out of further reductions is preposterous?
Mr Nigel Beard: Is my right hon. Friend aware that the generous purposes of Government policies are often diminished by public administration and by long and complex forms, obscure language and protracted procedures? Will he champion a campaign in all Departments to base public administration on the minimum number of questions necessary, plain English and service with a smile?
Mr Nigel Beard: May I congratulate my hon. Friend on plugging this tax loophole? Does not the Opposition's attitude to this matter reveal them to be, as always, the tax dodger's friend?
Mr Nigel Beard: Will my right hon. Friend find time for a debate on employment in the United Kingdom? Employment is currently at an all-time high and unemployment has dropped below 1 million. Would not a debate on that be most instructive, to point up the contrast with the previous Administration's record?
Mr Nigel Beard: If he will make a statement on his plans to equip the Crown Prosecution Service with new computer systems. 
Mr Nigel Beard: I thank my hon. and learned Friend for his reply. I am pleased that the CPS will soon be online in my area of south-east London. Can he give an assurance that the system will be compatible with systems for the police and the magistracy, given the importance of the three elements operating together? Can he say how such compatibility will be assured?
Mr Nigel Beard: What assessment he has made of the involvement of different sectors of the economy in the new deal for young people. 
Mr Nigel Beard: I have seen an excellent example of the way in which the new deal is working for both 16 to 25-year-olds and those over 25 in Bexleyheath and Crayford, and I know of the number and variety of doors that have been opened. Thameside, in the London borough of Bexley, has some of the greatest potential for business development in London, and the Thames gateway partnership is aimed at attracting...
Mr Nigel Beard: The hon. Gentleman's argument does not allow for the fact that a number of public sector projects over the years have been over-budget and overdue; not just the Jubilee line, which was the most recent case, but a stream of hospital projects. The 39 hospital projects now using private finance initiative money are not in that realm at all. If we were not to recruit expertise from the private...
Mr Nigel Beard: When the Treasury Committee looked into the matter, we had before us an analysis by Arthur Andersen that showed a range of different projects--both IT and construction projects--for which the average saving was 17 per cent., compared with the public sector comparator. The evidence appears to have been dismissed by the hon. Gentleman.
Mr Nigel Beard: Will the hon. Gentleman explain how the dollar has survived?
Mr Nigel Beard: The Bill makes possible the expansion of the European Union. Great difficulties in arriving at a suitable financial arrangement were expected, but they were overcome magnificently by the Berlin European Council of March 1999, which lies behind the Bill. What a pity the EU does not manage to trumpet its triumphs more loudly. Instead, a major achievement went almost unnoticed as just another EU...
Mr Nigel Beard: I gather that that is a reference to Ireland. We accept the sovereignty of individual member states: the matter is one for Ireland to sort out, not for this Parliament. As I said, the Bill will entrench democracy and the principles of a modern economy in countries whose attachment to both concepts was fitful throughout the 20th century. In doing so, it will underpin political and economic...
Mr Nigel Beard: I have made no further examination of Mr. MacDougall's report, which is many years old and irrelevant to the present circumstances, as is any concept of our being in the euro for this budget. The Berlin Council negotiations, which we are ratifying today, are a clear demonstration that constructive engagement pays off. Britain's negotiating objectives were achieved, and we confirmed and won...
Mr Nigel Beard: Does the hon. Gentleman agree that if there had been no agreement on financing the European Union after expansion, no expansion would have occurred?
Mr Nigel Beard: I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman, who is making a most interesting fact-free point. I have the figures. In 1995—remember who was in office then—our net contribution, with abatements, was £4 billion; in 1996, it was £2.3 billion; in 2000, it was scheduled to be £2.4 billion. Those figures should hardly turn the earth upside down and cause the revolution to which he is pointing.