Kevan Jones: Does not the hon. Gentleman recognise that in constituencies such as North Durham, where it is difficult to get certain sites developed, abolishing stamp duty will allow development that would not otherwise take place? Therefore, abolition will help to regenerate the economy of such areas.
Kevan Jones: Does my hon. Friend accept that a large number of carers—such as Mrs. Greenwell of Bournmoor in my constituency—are of retirement age? Will she comment on the fact that Mrs. Greenwell and others lose their carers allowance when they reach retirement age? Thousands of people are caring for their loved ones without the additional help that they previously received, at a great saving...
Kevan Jones: In the unlikely event that the hon. Gentleman found himself in government tomorrow, which of those commitments would his Government cut back on?
Kevan Jones: rose—
Kevan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions when he expects to publish directions and guidance to the Strategic Rail Authority; and if he will make a statement.
Kevan Jones: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on measures being taken to reduce unemployment in the north-east.
Kevan Jones: I take the point about the commercial world in which BAE Systems finds itself, but does not the hon. Gentleman accept that the partnership agreement has provided the long-term stability that BAE Systems has been asking for? That was certainly referred to in the Select Committee report. The company has not invested in sites, but has callously considered sites in terms of their value. It has...
Kevan Jones: I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Blaydon (Mr. McWilliam) on initiating this debate on the future of Royal Ordnance Birtley. Before being elected to the House last June I was a senior official with the GMB northern region, and I have been involved over a number of years in the discussions about the site's future. I declare my membership of the GMB and draw attention to my...
Kevan Jones: The hon. Gentleman is clearly expressing an idea that is now common in the Conservative party—the idea that before 1997, politics somehow did not exist. The fact that the company was sold cheaply, at £190 million, is quite clear. My hon. Friend the Member for Blaydon referred to the sale of Enfield, which recouped most of that investment straight away. As for the reduction in...
Kevan Jones: That does not detract from the fact that the company was sold by the Conservative Government with very little regard to the future of jobs in that important sector, or to the long-term future of the arms industry in the UK.
Kevan Jones: I thank my hon. Friend. Clearly, the Conservative Opposition also have a selective memory of their attitude to defence expenditure during their time in office. We saw that recently in their attitude to the Territorial Army, which was badly slashed in the reviews that took place under the Conservative Government. Somehow, they conveniently forget about that.
Kevan Jones: I accept that the Conservative party is an apologist for BAE Systems, but it is a matter of record that Royal Ordnance was sold very cheaply. Since then we have seen the asset-stripping of a company, with no regard at all for its work force, either in Birtley or elsewhere in the UK. It is all very well for the hon. Member for Mid-Worcestershire (Mr. Luff) to shake his head, but I want to...
Kevan Jones: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?
Kevan Jones: With reference to the new chapter of SDR, does my right hon. Friend agree that it is vital that finances are not an obstacle to our doing what is necessary to fight the war against terrorism?
Kevan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans there are for Royal Ordnance to source ammunition from overseas for MOD needs.
Kevan Jones: What use would a tank be against a terrorist attack?
Kevan Jones: Does my right hon. Friend agree that post- 11 September it is important to reassure the public? In the United States, President Bush's appointment of Governor Ridge clearly demonstrates that there is someone in charge of homeland defence with wide-ranging powers to co-ordinate state-wide activities. I am comparing that with what the Select Committee on Defence has heard so far, which suggests...
Kevan Jones: In regard to trade union recognition, do not individual workers and members have to vote for that recognition? It is not the trade union bosses or the trade unions getting the recognition; it is individual workers demanding representation at work by trade unions.
Kevan Jones: Does my hon. Friend agree that, unlike company shareholders, who have no say in donating money to the Conservative party, individual trade union members have a right not only to opt out, but to vote on the union's affiliation to the Labour party and on donations?
Kevan Jones: Does the hon. Gentleman agree that there is also a benefit to business and industry if parents do not have to worry about having to get time off to look after young children? Productivity may increase. Companies that have invested in training and other matters and that allow women, in particular, to work flexibly could therefore retain them in the work force.