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.
Kevan Jones: As a full-time trade union official until last June, it is clear to me that the hon. Gentleman does not understand the process. If the employee wrote a letter and was then invited to a disciplinary hearing, and did not attend, and if the case reached an industrial tribunal, it would be deemed unfair anyway, so I do not understand where the hon. Gentleman is coming from.
Kevan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the status is of the partnering agreement between the MOD and Royal Ordnance; and if it is his policy to guarantee indigenous supply of ammunition.
Kevan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions he has had with BAE Systems concerning the closure of ROF Birtley.
Kevan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what representations he has received on Royal Ordnance's policy relating to the TACAS project and the supply of hardware from indigenous bases.
Kevan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what proportion of the MOD's ammunition supplies over the next five years will be sourced from overseas (a) directly and (b) indirectly from a UK supplier.
Kevan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the role of local coroners relating to UK nationals who die abroad.
Kevan Jones: Like my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, South (Mr. Marshall), who is no longer in his seat, I intend to be parochial and raise the dire situation faced by Durham county council this year. The Minister has referred to an average settlement of more than 7 per cent. Durham's allocation is just over 5 per cent., one of the lowest settlements of any county council in the country. Durham...
Kevan Jones: I note what my right hon. Friend says. Durham county council is a very well run and moderate council, as my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, who represents Sedgefield, also knows. Durham is facing a critical situation this year because of having one of the lowest settlements of the shire counties. Some £2.7 million has been taken away or lost because the education support grant...
Kevan Jones: May I raise a problem found in my constituency, in villages such as Grange Villa, where private landlords are buying property—in some cases, entire streets—to house people who have been evicted by the council and social landlords? The majority of those people are on housing benefit, and landlords pay no regard to the problems and chaos that they cause in small communities such as...