Michael Fabricant: I thank my hon. Friend for his reply. He will know that the Staffordshire Regiment was only recently reprieved from amalgamation with the Cheshires. Can he give an unequivocable assurance to the people of Lichfield and Staffordshire as a whole that there are no plans to amalgamate or disband that important regiment, now or in the future?
Michael Fabricant: rose—
Michael Fabricant: Does my right hon. Friend accept that his own proposals represent a compromise option? For instance, he says that the shops specified in that option should be closed because Sunday is a special day. He would argue that it is special because of the nature of people's lives, but also for religious reasons. Yet he then suggests the compromise that the four Sundays running up to Christmas should...
Michael Fabricant: It has not happened in Scotland.
Michael Fabricant: Is the hon. Lady aware that the television programme "To Play the King" is fiction? Is she aware that she is describing reality?
Michael Fabricant: Does the hon. Gentleman not think that much of the interest might exist because 25 million people shop on Sundays? Are they not the ones who are showing an interest?
Michael Fabricant: On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Is it in order for one hon. Member to accuse others of being corrupt—of being open to bribes of caviare offered in an attempt to make us think that we should vote in a particular way?
Michael Fabricant: I know that two other hon. Members wish to speak in the debate, so I shall be fairly brief, unlike some of my predecessors. It is anathema, as we enter the year 2000—the third millennium—that we are discussing the question of controlling whether shops should or should not open on a Sunday. It seems absolutely astonishing to me. Nevertheless, we are witnessing a move in the House...
Michael Fabricant: The hon. Lady has stated her personal views, and I fully accept that they are not the views of the entire Opposition Front Bench. She says that she would like to control trading on Sundays and has now mentioned the social chapter. What would she say to the 150,000 shopworkers who would lose their jobs if, on top of bringing in the social chapter, we were to control trading on Sundays?
Michael Fabricant: Quite right. We will catch the fraudsters.
Michael Fabricant: Is my right hon. Friend aware that although Conservative Members welcome the reduction in the number of the homeless, Shelter claims that there are more than 2 million homeless people in England?
Michael Fabricant: Is my right hon. Friend aware that fuel prices have fallen by some 18 per cent. since 1983? Is he further aware that, in the midlands, prices have fallen by about 4 per cent. over the past 12 months? Does he agree that, taking this into account, the generous package that he has proposed will protect the majority of pensioners from the imposition of VAT on fuel?
Michael Fabricant: I have been listening with great interest to the hon. Lady. Does she not think that the 18 per cent. fall in the cost of fuel, primarily as a result of privatisation—that figure goes back to 1983, and the midlands has seen a cut of 5 per cent. in a year—will benefit students as well as older people?
Michael Fabricant: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many general practitioners in Staffordshire have become fund holders; what was the figure in April 1991; and what analysis her Department has made of their performance in relation to patient care.
Michael Fabricant: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his very helpful answer. Is he aware that my GP, Dr. Barry Jones of the Minster practice in Lichfield, is a fund holder? My doctor tells me that, being a fund holder, he has found hospitals to be far more responsive to the benefit of patients, including myself. Precisely what additional funds will be made available to my doctor and other GPs in...
Michael Fabricant: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what is the per capita expenditure on health care in Scotland; and what analysis he has made of similar per capita costs in comparable parts of the EC.
Michael Fabricant: I am disappointed that my hon. Friend was not able to produce figures for a comparison with other EC countries, but has he obtained figures for a comparison with at least England and Wales? It seems that the Opposition are always saying that Scotland gets a raw deal. Is that so?
Michael Fabricant: Is the hon. Lady aware that the ITC has the power to impose a fine for a first offence of 3 per cent. of qualifying annual revenue each month, and of 5 per cent. for subsequent offences? Is that not enough of a sanction?
Michael Fabricant: It seems incredible that we can be sitting here tonight with the Opposition saying that the moratorium should be continued when the wolves of Berlusconi and Bertlesmann are at ITV's door. The order proposed tonight for the ownership of ITV licences is necessary because it will permit ITV to survive in a very hostile world—a world of international media giants and changes in technology...
Michael Fabricant: I do not accept my hon. Friend's assumption First, there has been considerable talk by Opposition Members of Central Television being locally owned. That is not the case, as we know. Central Television is owned mainly by investors from London and its biggest single investor is in Dundee, which certainly is not the midlands. The acquisition of Central Television by Carlton would strengthen the...