Kevan Jones: May I draw my right hon. Friend's attention to early-day motion 1100? [That this House notes the statement by the honourable Member for Kingston and Surbiton on behalf of the Liberal Democrats that 'War is not an issue for the local elections. Our advice to candidates has been not to campaign on it because, with British citizens fighting, it's in poor taste'; further notes that in Manchester,...
Kevan Jones: Does my right hon. Friend agree that for business in regions such as the north-east, which rely on EU countries for 78 per cent. of their exports, the nightmarish policies advocated by the hon. Member for Rochford and Southend, East (Sir Teddy Taylor) would be disastrous?
Kevan Jones: Will my right hon. Friend clarify the reference that he just made to Tynemouth and Northumberland? He well knows that these issues are closely followed in the local press. Will he confirm that he was not in fact proposing that those two areas should be joined, but that it is an option that could be put forward?
Kevan Jones: Indeed. Otherwise, we might see headlines tomorrow stating that Tynemouth is to become part of Northumberland.
Kevan Jones: I, too, welcome Lords amendment No. 3, as it will give my constituents in North Durham a say not only in a tier of regional government but in their local government structures, which, as we have heard previously, they have been denied in the past. I know that my right hon. Friend the Member for Gateshead, East and Washington, West (Joyce Quin) is a passionate advocate of regional government,...
Kevan Jones: I am grateful for that clarification. This is an opportunity to address some of those issues. As I said, I do not think that the electorate will vote for more politicians. In Committee, the hon. Member for Ludlow (Matthew Green) described what the Minister referred to as the Liberal Valhalla, in which the electorate would come forward with great gusto to vote for more councillors and more...
Kevan Jones: I agree that if we hold a referendum in the north-east it will be a big job to convince people to vote in favour of an assembly. Will the hon. Gentleman say today whether he and the Conservative party in the north-east will campaign for a no vote in that referendum?
Kevan Jones: Does my right hon. Friend agree that the sudden conversion of the Conservative party to the sacrosanctity of county councils is misplaced? The Local Government Act 1972 reduced the number of county councils from 58 to 47, and every major change in county boundaries has taken place under a Conservative Government.
Kevan Jones: The hon. Gentleman talks nonsense when he says that this will mean the end of county councils. In the county of Durham, for example, the option could be a unitary county council.
Kevan Jones: As the right hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith) said, the previous Government gave local electors no choice at all on the form of local government. Is it now Conservative party policy to be against unitary local government and in favour of the option of retaining two-tier local authorities throughout the UK?
Kevan Jones: Will the boundaries used for the county of Durham be the existing county council boundaries or the previous county council boundaries, which included, for example, Darlington, which was removed as a unitary authority?
Kevan Jones: May I caution my right hon. Friend, and not just in terms of going over the border into Northumberland? Some people will argue that Darlington, for example, should come back into the traditional county of Durham, as it was until a few years ago, but my right hon. Friend should resist such a temptation because that would simply unpick local government in County Durham.
Kevan Jones: Surely the real difference between the proposals of this Government and the previous Tory Government is that we will give local people a say in their regions. Under the Conservative Government's county council reorganisation, Tyne and Wear county council was abolished despite the fact that no local person had any say.
Kevan Jones: Is it not the case that in the CIU movement, in Conservative associations, and certainly in Labour clubs, guests go from club to club and have cards to prove that they are members of the overall organisation? If there is any unruly conduct on the part of the individual, disciplinary action can be taken by the members of their own club. Therefore, by restricting access to members of the CIU,...
Kevan Jones: Will the Minister give way?
Kevan Jones: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for dispelling the myth that Westminster city council is efficient and well run and that the taxpayers are subsidising the entertainment industry. Does the hon. Gentleman also agree that, if there are a large number of entertainment venues in a small city area, managing them and travelling between them is a lot easier than dealing with licensed premises in...
Kevan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the level of capital investment in the NHS has been in County Durham since 1997.
Kevan Jones: I welcome my right hon. Friend's statement, but does she recognise that the failures of the system have caused real hardship for many of my constituents, such as Mr. and Mrs. Russ Jones of Sacristow, County Durham, who wrote: "We rely on this money on a day to day basis." They say that the income has ceased. The letter continues: "Yesterday was my son's birthday. I had the heart-breaking task...
Kevan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will estimate the annual costs to the trust boards of foundations hospitals of (a) maintaining and operating their lists of members and (b) conducting elections to the boards of foundation hospitals.
Kevan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on claims by surface workers exposed to coal dust for compensation for respiratory disease resulting from their work in the coal mining industry.