Hugo Swire: What my hon. Friend says on that point is entirely true. He no doubt remembers the case of the lone mother with three children who lost her job when the tax credit was actually put in her pay.
Hugo Swire: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for pointing out that we are not necessarily opposed to the list that I mentioned, but to the idea of small businesses, rather than the Government, being responsible on those occasions. Further to the burden that he is describing, does he see any difference between the 7 million people who are paid weekly and the 16 million who are paid monthly?
Hugo Swire: I have not spoken to date in this Committee, but today I wanted to speak about the burden on small business. We agree with much in the Bill and it is a laudable aim to try to eradicate poverty. The question is how to achieve that. I am not convinced that the Bill goes far enough to incentivise people who seek work or, as my hon. Friend the Member for Arundel and South Downs (Mr. Flight)...
Hugo Swire: Indeed. I am grateful to my hon. Friend for intervening on that point. In all fairness to the Government, they are cognisant of some of the problems that the Bill will impose, and I shall return to that in a few moments when we discuss the Carter report. The working time directive has imposed recurring financial costs of £2.3 billion, the data protection directive recurring administrative...
Hugo Swire: I thank the hon. Gentleman for giving way on what is obviously a matter of great interest to the Liberal Democrats, as is evidenced by their presence in the Chamber. Does he think that the publication of data would have been helpful in cases such as the one before the General Medical Council today, concerning Dr. John Brennan and Dr. Graham Urquhart and the cancer tragedy in Devon?
Hugo Swire: To clarify that point, the charges against those two doctors have been proved. We are waiting this afternoon for the ruling of the General Medical Council on what will happen to them.
Hugo Swire: In the spirit of the Kennedy report, and given that liability in most of those cases was agreed as long ago as 1998, what pressure—as a part of clearing up this appalling episode—will the right hon. Gentleman now be prepared to apply to the NHS litigation authority to settle outstanding cases such as that of my constituents Jim and Bronwen Stewart's son, Ian, as soon as possible?
Hugo Swire: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what plans she has to instruct local authorities to reduce rates and rental on sports clubs occupying sites in the ownership of their local authority.
Hugo Swire: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what plans she has to direct local authorities not to take into account improvements made to sports clubs occupying sites in the ownership of their local authority when agreeing a new lease.
Hugo Swire: Does my hon. Friend agree that insufficient distinction has been made between fraud and inadvertent fraud?
Hugo Swire: The Minister asks why we should reorder a system that works ''perfectly well'', but does ''perfectly well'' mean the swindling of about £350 million a year from the tax credit system? Does she regard that as working well?
Hugo Swire: Does my hon. Friend remember that, according to a report in The Economist last year on the working families tax credit, only one in 10 tax inspectors could fill in the application form correctly?
Hugo Swire: Is it the case that the Revenue intends to investigate 1.5 per cent of applications for tax credit? If that is the case, how is that figure arrived at?
Hugo Swire: Does the Minister have any idea how long the transition will take?
Hugo Swire: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what plans he has to bring up to the national average the standard spending assessment for the over 65s in Devon for the financial year 2002–03.
Hugo Swire: I have the honour to present a petition signed by 645 residents of Sidford in Devon, who oppose the sale for development of the land formerly earmarked for a bypass for Sidford. The petition states: The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urge the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions to take appropriate action to prevent the sale and...
Hugo Swire: Does my hon. Friend not agree that, since the implementation of this process, there has been the very reverse of a tailing off of violence? For example, since 1999, the number of casualties resulting from paramilitary-style attacks has risen from 207 to 302 now. That is the reverse of what was suggested earlier.
Hugo Swire: Earlier in our debate, the Minister of State said that the decommissioning that had occurred was "important", whereas the word that we have heard used to date is "significant". Does my hon. Friend agree that, given that words are so crucial—indeed, they are all that we have to go on because we do not know the details of General de Chastelain's findings—we must know whether the amount that...
Hugo Swire: rose—
Hugo Swire: Does my hon. Friend agree that the Government are consistently undermining the Belfast agreement by conceding time after time? In May 2000 the IRA said that it was ready to decommission its arms. Now that it has had concession after concession over the ensuing period, surely it is for the IRA to explain why it is not happy to do what it originally undertook to do. It is not for the Government...