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John Barrett: The words "Piper Alpha" bring back clear memories for me of that night and the following day when we watched on our television screens the images of the disaster as it was unfolding. Then it was shown again and again. The fire, the heat, the smoke, the bravery and the fear of what was about to happen to those men who were still alive are memories that will stay locked in many minds forever....
John Barrett: The Secretary of State may be aware that 15 October is global hand-washing day. Given that effective hand-washing has proved to be the most effective prevention of the spread of many infections and diseases, what is his Department doing to mark the day and to ensure that effective hand-washing practices are implemented in the home and at school?
John Barrett: rose—
John Barrett: I will take your advice Mr. Deputy Speaker. Will the hon. Gentleman comment on a serious matter that is happening in our city and relates to the cost of living and the housing market—impending redundancies in the house building industry? Will he revert to the substance of today's debate and get away from the knockabout?
John Barrett: Does the hon. Gentleman agree that among the most vulnerable groups—those who are hit hardest—are disabled people, who have higher energy costs and often higher food costs as well? Inequality among the most vulnerable has widened.
John Barrett: What recent assessment he has made of the extent of overstretch in the armed forces.
John Barrett: This weekend, President Bush stressed the importance of listening to our generals when making decisions about troop deployment. Has the Minister listened to General Sir Richard Dannatt's warning that overstretch has left us with "almost no capability" to deal with the unexpected? Does the Minister agree with the general?
John Barrett: What projects his Department is undertaking to seek to reduce levels of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
John Barrett: Rape has been used a weapon of war in the Congo, but now general lawlessness has broken out throughout the country. What can the Department do to strengthen the judicial system there and to make sure that women are a key part of that system?
John Barrett: I take the hon. Lady's point about the importance of the link. Why does she think it has not been reintroduced in the 11 years of the Labour Government?
John Barrett: Does my hon. Friend agree that on the several occasions when the Minister has said that those who are most in need are receiving pension credit, he has omitted to say that those who are most in need are those who are entitled to pension credit but are not getting it?
John Barrett: Apart from one?
John Barrett: I thank my hon. Friend for being very generous. On women's pensions, would it not be a good thing for the Government to allow women to increase their national insurance contributions by buying back previous years' contributions?
John Barrett: Will the Minister add something about what the former Prime Minister Tony Blair has added to the mix in his new role as peace envoy to the middle east?
John Barrett: Does the hon. Gentleman agree that the future security of Israel very much depends on a two-state solution and that if that is to be the case, there must be a viable second state, and at present Israel appears to be doing a great deal to ensure that that does not exist?
John Barrett: When we in Europe look back at the atrocities of world war one and world war two and at the scale of death and destruction in places not so far from here, we often console ourselves by saying that such things could never happen again so close to home. In too many parts of Africa, however, the slaughter of the innocents still takes place on such a scale. Death and extreme suffering—whether...
John Barrett: It certainly is, and it is good to know that the Minister and I have the same concerns about such articles. However, action must be taken to ensure that the money of taxpayers in my constituency and other constituencies is being spent effectively. The Minister's comments are certainly reassuring. We have heard that the DRC has been brought to its knees by a civil war that has cost the lives...
John Barrett: What discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform on the development of renewable forms of electricity generation.
John Barrett: I thank the Secretary of State for that answer. He will be aware that the Government's performance and innovation unit has said: "A sustained programme of investment in currently proposed nuclear power plants could adversely affect the development of smaller scale technology." When will his and other Departments work together to make sure that renewables are given a fair chance?
John Barrett: In fairness, can I point out that some celebrities have had a long-term commitment to the region? I would not want the hon. Gentleman to think otherwise. Mia Farrow, for instance, has taken up this issue for many years.