Mr Jeffrey Thomas: I rise on behalf of right hon. and hon. Members on the Social Democratic party Benches to pay our tribute to Michael Roberts. I do so with a heavy heart and a deep sense of loss. I knew him for close on 20 years and was privileged to regard him as a friend, as did countless others both in the House and in the Principality. He had all the special qualities that lend themselves to, and call...
Mr Jeffrey Thomas: In view of recent events. is the Minister satisfied with the personal vetting arrangements for civil servants? When he next meets the unions, will he have discussions with them about the matter?
Mr Jeffrey Thomas: For a period of detention beyond 48 hours, what will be the role of the magistrate in deciding and determining whether it is right for a suspect to be detained for further questioning? Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the Magistrates' Association is unanimously opposed to these provisions?
Mr Jeffrey Thomas: Who has been consulted about the regulations?
Mr Jeffrey Thomas: The hon. Gentleman alleges that I did not express my views in Committee. That is wholly untrue. I had hoped that the hon. Gentleman would withdraw his remarks, but he has not the decency to do so. These changes are designed to bring criminal legal aid more into line with civil aid. There is a crucial difference between the two. In criminal cases it is not a question of a person voluntarily...
Mr Jeffrey Thomas: Having regard to the tone of the Solicitor-General's speech and putting aside the cant and the humbug, the Law Officers have become the Treasury's poodles.
Mr Jeffrey Thomas: Will the hon. Gentleman tell us why the normal rule and principle relating to costs should not apply? That is to say, costs follow the event. There has been a recent practice direction by the Lord Chief Justice. Why should not those rules apply?
Mr Jeffrey Thomas: I am grateful for this opportunity to make a short contribution to an extremely important debate. If I express my apprehension that not more hon. Members are present, it is simply because this is not a lawyers' Bill—no doubt the rumour circulating in the Corridors is that it is—but rather a consumers' Bill in a real and meaningful sense of the word. Frankly, the consumer—the person...
Mr Jeffrey Thomas: Although the Law Society made an agreed statement, the vast majority of the solicitors' profession—I use the Law Society in that sense—is totally opposed to certain provisions in the Bill, as the hon. Member for Hackney, Central (Mr. Davis) said, for very good reasons. Those solicitors are concerned, as is the SDP, that rights given to citizens by the Legal Aid and Advice Act 1949 will be...
Mr Jeffrey Thomas: If the hon. Gentleman wishes to make a cheap party point, in keeping with the kind of philosophy permeating the old parties these days, so be it. Had he been present at the first sitting of the Committee he would have heard me voice my disquiet about these provisions. I therefore hope that he will have the courtesy to withdraw what he has just said.
Mr Jeffrey Thomas: I shall certainly give way if the hon. Gentleman wishes to withdraw what he said.
Mr Jeffrey Thomas: I do not want a racist in the House.
Mr Jeffrey Thomas: I shall not respond to that intervention. I am making the point that hon. Members who have had Service men in their constituencies killed on active service must be aware that the failure of this House to pursue correct policies has led to the deaths of those Service men. [Interruption.] I am not taking any sedentary interventions from the hon. Member for Anglesey (Mr. Best). I turn to the...
Mr Jeffrey Thomas: It is important that we know some part of SDP policy.
Mr Jeffrey Thomas: Does the hon. Gentleman agree that if Britain were to withdraw from the EEC thousands of jobs—about 90,000 in Wales alone—would go? Does he also agree that firm after firm that came to Wales purely and simply because it is a springboard for Europe would pull out?
Mr Jeffrey Thomas: Is the Secretary of State aware that as Dunlop has pulled out of North Gwent with the loss of almost 1,400 jobs in the last two years, the people of North Gwent, while not protesting at Dunlop's action only a few months ago, are horrified that the Department is now encouraging Dunlop to set up a new factory, not in North Gwent, but elsewhere in South Wales?
Mr Jeffrey Thomas: Does the Minister agree that it is a public scandal that, so soon after the completion of this hospital, these remedial works are now required? Will he keep the House closely informed of the progress of litigation?
Mr Jeffrey Thomas: The Solicitor-General has said that the Bill's objective is to simplify matters. With respect, many of us might not wholly agree with that view. Some of us believe that it will not simplify the question of domicile. One of the clauses deals with an entirely new concept in the law of domicile and mentions a three-month period in Community countries.
Mr Jeffrey Thomas: rose—
Mr Jeffrey Thomas: Will my right hon. and learned Friend give way?