Alun Cairns: It is a privilege to have the opportunity to make my maiden speech in the debate in response to the Gracious Speech, and it is a pleasure to follow the right hon. Member for Stirling (Mrs McGuire). I congratulate the Ministers on their appointments and look forward to supporting them in tackling their challenges between now and the next general election. I wish to pay tribute to my immediate...
Alun Cairns: Does my right hon. Friend agree that one of the best tributes we could pay to the armed forces would be to offer them the best training-world-class training-and that the proposed defence technical college for St Athan could well offer that training? What discussions has she had with the Secretary of State for Defence about this project, and about the delays caused by the last Administration?
Alun Cairns: Will the Minister take into account, when making a decision on the closure of the magistrates courts, the facilities and the wider social implications of individual court closures? Barry magistrates court has separate entrances for witnesses and defendants, which is an important consideration in a range of cases, particularly those of domestic violence. Will that sort of issue be a factor?
Alun Cairns: I am grateful to the Exchequer Secretary for his statement. Will the OTS receive representations from business organisations and individuals who can make a contribution to simplifying the tax structure?
Alun Cairns: The right hon. Gentleman talked about an illusion, and we can trade statistics back and forth, but at the election the ultimate judgment came down to the British people, who judged that Labour had failed to regenerate the economy and offer a way forward. That was the ultimate judgment, as opposed to the rose-tinted spectacles that he appears to be looking through.
Alun Cairns: On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. I seek your guidance on what cots have to do with the Finance Bill, and on the relevance of the points that have just been made.
Alun Cairns: In the context of reducing the licence fee, what consideration has the Secretary of State given to encouraging the BBC to sell off some of its assets, possibly including Radio 1 and some of its other services?
Alun Cairns: Like every Member of this House, I have received significant communications and representations from individuals and from the unions on this matter. Many of us will have significant numbers of public sector employees in our constituencies. I would say that Wales as a whole has a disproportionate dependence on public sector employees-quite obviously, including employees of the civil...
Alun Cairns: I have no doubt that that would be part of the negotiations, but I wholly accept the point that my right hon. Friend has made that one does not start negotiations at the point where one expects to finish, bearing in mind the actions that the PCS Union and some of the other unions involved have taken to date. However, the point about the £21,000 threshold that the hon. Gentleman...
Alun Cairns: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for the question, but I think the Government have been left in an extremely difficult situation-a sad situation, as I highlighted-from the outset. We have such a large deficit. A decision is needed on this question, particularly given the reforms and cuts that are likely to follow the comprehensive spending review, so I look positively at the action that my...
Alun Cairns: What recent discussions she has had with ministerial colleagues, the Welsh Assembly Government and CBI Wales on support for Welsh businesses.
Alun Cairns: Over the last 10 years, Wales became the poorest part of the United Kingdom under the administration of Labour both here at Westminster and in Cardiff bay. A recent Oxford Economics report suggests that over the next five years Wales will create only 4,000 new jobs. Given that Wales will have the same macro-economic conditions as every other part of the UK, is not that a sad indictment of the...
Alun Cairns: What plans her Department has to amend the food labelling standards for which it is responsible; and if she will make a statement.
Alun Cairns: I am grateful to the Secretary of State for her answer. Will she go further and advise us how far she will push in the negotiations for the nations and regions of the UK to be reflected in labelling?
Alun Cairns: Post-traumatic stress disorder is a serious condition, and the lack of diagnosis has led to significant compensation claims. Considering that in the UK health is generally devolved to the various Parliaments and Assemblies, what action is the Minister taking to ensure a consistent response and to address the issue of compensation payments?
Alun Cairns: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?
Alun Cairns: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?
Alun Cairns: I certainly accept the hon. Lady's criticisms of the previous Administration, but does she accept that the coalition Government's prioritising the Bill early in this Parliament demonstrates some sort of commitment? However, I recognise the need for greater negotiation with EMAG to reach an appropriate settlement.
Alun Cairns: Does the Minister accept that the performance of higher education in engaging with the private sector varies considerably? Will he consider making the handing out of research grants conditional on institutions finding private sector partners?
Alun Cairns: I pay tribute to the hon. Gentleman for pressing for the motion today. I am obviously keen to support him. On the debate about parity with the Republic of Ireland, the Minister in her statement talked about working with the UK's devolved Administrations and with their Health Ministers. Does the hon. Gentleman also support the need for parity within the UK? Will he urge the Minister before us...