Charlie Elphicke: Once claiming to be the political arm of the British people, now Labour are the defenders of rotten boroughs and pocket boroughs under trade union sponsorship. Will the Deputy Prime Minister bring forward a great reform Bill so that we can have a people's Parliament fit for the new millennium?
Charlie Elphicke: In welcoming the Home Secretary's long overdue implementation of these measures, may I ask about her plans to crack down on the trafficking of people, weapons and drugs? In Dover, on Friday morning, 17 people of Afghan origin were found in the back of a lorry, of whom many were children and all were in a pretty bad way.
Charlie Elphicke: The lorry driver was Polish. It was a refrigerated lorry and many of the people were taken to hospital. It is important to have x-ray scanning on the French side of the border, for lorry cabs to be checked on the French side and for the French to be encouraged to do more as the first country of arrival. What measures might the Home Secretary take in that regard?
Charlie Elphicke: rose-
Charlie Elphicke: Does my hon. Friend also regret the fact that child poverty has increased by 300,000 since 2004-05? Does he welcome the fact that it should be frozen in the next two years?
Charlie Elphicke: The campaign of the right hon. Member for South Shields (David Miliband) is so confused these days that he is seeking support from Conservative MPs. He says that the Budget was avoidable. Can I ask the Prime Minister whether it was avoidable or- [ Interruption. ]
Charlie Elphicke: How many further education colleges will receive capital funding from his Department in 2010-11.
Charlie Elphicke: Will funding be available for Hadlow college's plans for Betteshanger business park, near Deal? The business park was created by the regional development agency, £18 million was spent, and it has been left empty. It would be great to bring it into use.
Charlie Elphicke: A strong start can lead to the greatest of legacies. May I ask the Secretary of State whether the torch can come to Britain via Dover?
Charlie Elphicke: What lessons for operations in Afghanistan may be learned from the case of Bill Shaw? I beg your indulgence, Mr Speaker, in paying the highest of tributes to the Minister responsible for the middle east and to Afghanistan and the FCO officials who worked so hard to ensure that justice was done in Afghanistan in that case.
Charlie Elphicke: Will the Chief Secretary give way?
Charlie Elphicke: I enjoy the right hon. Gentleman's thirst for talking down the economy, but how many independent economic forecasters are predicting the double-dip recession that the Labour party seems to constantly hope and pray for?
Charlie Elphicke: Perhaps I am just confused, but I am looking at the OBR table C.2 and it seems that ILO unemployment and the claimant count will be falling over the course of this Parliament. Will the right hon. Gentleman confirm if I have misread the table?
Charlie Elphicke: I am interested to hear the right hon. Gentleman raise the issue of child poverty. Can he explain why in the last Parliament it went up by 300,000 on every single measure?
Charlie Elphicke: rose-
Charlie Elphicke: I, too, congratulate the hon. Member for Scunthorpe (Nic Dakin) and my hon. Friends the Members for North East Cambridgeshire (Stephen Barclay), for Ipswich (Ben Gummer), and for Weaver Vale (Graham Evans) on their excellent speeches. I also congratulate the hon. Member for North Durham (Mr Jones), who has just departed, who spoke with such eloquence about the need for parliamentary reform....
Charlie Elphicke: I point out to the hon. Lady that the number of affordable houses built in 1995-96 was 74,530, whereas the average for the previous Government's entire tenure was just 40,000 affordable homes built each year. Why was that? Last year's figure was 20,000 below what was achieved under the outgoing Conservative Government. As I said, we built 74,000-odd a year, whereas last year the previous...
Charlie Elphicke: The hon. Gentleman will know that the OBR itself said that that was misleading. He will also know that the OBR ruled that the figures set out in the March Budget were a total work of fiction and a disgrace, and it downgraded them. The true downgrade was that of GDP growth by 0.5% to 1% by the OBR when it put right the fiction that had been produced previously, and the misleading about the...
Charlie Elphicke: May I ask the hon. Lady to which clause in the Bill she is referring?
Charlie Elphicke: Will the Secretary of State consider fast-tracking academy status for outstanding schools that were hoping to benefit from the BSF programme? I particularly mention the case of Castle community college in Deal, which, seeing the writing on the wall, is now seeking to be an academy. It is an outstanding school, and I hope that the Secretary of State will give it full consideration.