Kevan Jones: Does the hon. Gentleman agree that recent major reforms of the structure of local government occurred under a Conservative Government? The last Conservative Government's major reform in the north-east was the creation of unitary councils. Is the hon. Gentleman saying that our existing local government structures should be frozen in time and never examined? The two-tier system that remains in...
Kevan Jones: Does not the amendment demonstrate that the Conservatives do not understand that notion of regionalism? Under what is being proposed, would it not be possible for the large population in London and the south-east to outvote regions such as the north-east, where, as has already been said, there is a groundswell of opinion in favour of regional assemblies? Once again, London and the south-east...
Kevan Jones: If the hon. Gentleman says that the Bill meets the requirements of certain regions, will he name them? Is the north-east one of those regions? If it is, does he disagree fundamentally with the position that was taken by his hon. Friend the Member for Hexham (Mr. Atkinson), who is vehemently opposed to a regional assembly for the north-east?
Kevan Jones: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?
Kevan Jones: I welcome the inclusion of licensing law reform in the Queen's Speech. I am a former chair of public health and development in Newcastle who was responsible for administering our shambolic system, so I think that the proposals are sensible ones that will bring our licensing laws into modern settings, which we all welcome. My hon. Friend the Member for Selby (Mr. Grogan) mentioned the history...
Kevan Jones: Does the hon. Gentleman agree that many teachers use SATs to identify pupils' weaknesses and establish individual performance improvement plans for them? In that way they are being used in primary schools to drive up standards across the board and for individual pupils.
Kevan Jones: I, too, have two schools in my constituency that are struggling to raise #50,000, and there is no lack of commitment from parents or teachers. Does my hon. Friend agree that it makes dedicated and hard-working teachers feel that they are second best, and leads to low morale?
Kevan Jones: The hon. Gentleman argues that schools should be free and given total autonomy. Under what circumstances should the Government intervene in a school when problems arise? Secondly, my memory is perhaps weak, but did not a Conservative Government introduce the national curriculum?
Kevan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many deaths of UK nationals have been notified to his Department (a) in Greece and (b) the island of Rhodes in the last 12 months.
Kevan Jones: Does the hon. Gentleman agree that the armed forces provide great opportunities to many youngsters in former mining communities, such as my constituency and Nottinghamshire where I grew up? Without those, they would not have the chance to get the skills and expertise offered at an apprentice level, to see the rest of the world or to get well-paid and fulfilling, meaningful jobs and careers.
Kevan Jones: Thanks to a Labour Government.
Kevan Jones: I am grateful to find a Conservative Member who recognises the valuable contribution that the Government have made to increasing police numbers. I suggest that he reinforce the message to the Leader of the Opposition.
Kevan Jones: If the hon. Gentleman had been in the constituency in 1984, he would know that the then Conservative Government had no shortage of policemen in Nottingham.
Kevan Jones: I am listening to the hon. Gentleman with great interest. It is not that we do not know who is in charge at local level. The real problem relates to the co-ordination of different local agencies and how that fits in with what the military are doing. I do not think that there is any confusion as to who is in charge of what; we need to work out how to get them working together.
Kevan Jones: My hon. Friend's experience on the Defence Committee has obviously been invaluable. She has one advantage over male members, in that she does not have to share a tent with my right hon. Friend the Member for Walsall, South (Mr. George) when we go away.
Kevan Jones: Following my sin analogy, my hon. Friend obviously agrees not only with sin, but with quality sin. Is it not the point that a lot of those high-tech jobs in the south-east support long supply chains, including industries in the north-east of England and small and medium-sized enterprises that rely on such contracts for their livelihood?
Kevan Jones: I no longer feel that I can sleep safely in my bed in Durham in the knowledge that the hon. Gentleman has moved to Somerset. Does the hon. Gentleman accept that the Government have recognised that there was a co-ordination problem between the military and the civil authorities at a local level and have taken action to improve that co-ordination? I was a member of the Defence Committee when it...
Kevan Jones: It seems that my hon. Friend is referring to the arms industry as rather like sin, and that she is in favour of a little of it but opposed to a lot of it. In the north-east, for example, there has been a shift from manufacturing. The new jobs that are coming on stream are very high tech and service related, and many of them have an important role to play in the defence industry in this...
Kevan Jones: I accept that it is the Opposition's role to look for opportunities to criticise a Government, but do the hon. Gentleman and his party accept no responsibility for the state of affairs relating to the Apache helicopter? Some of the decisions were taken by the previous Government.
Kevan Jones: I appreciate the hon. Gentleman's point, but it is not the point that the shadow Secretary of State for Defence made this morning on the XToday" programme. He tried to blame this Government for the problems with the Apache. Does the hon. Gentleman accept some responsibility for the situation in which we find ourselves—yes or no?