Kevan Jones: Does my hon. Friend agree that many working men's clubs are concerned that, as it is phrased, the Bill will restrict their off-licence sales, from which they have benefited for the past 60 years? Does he agree that the Government need to look at that?
Kevan Jones: Does the hon. Gentleman agree that it is difficult for local people, when they wish to object to a licence, to make representations to licensing magistrates? There are two reasons for that: they are not informed in the first place, and many are intimidated by licensing magistrates and the applicants' solicitors.
Kevan Jones: Does the hon. Gentleman envisage a mythical situation in which a licence is so controversial in terms of the local authority's policy that no local people object, including Liberal Democrat councillors?
Kevan Jones: I have experience not internationally, but in the city of Newcastle, as we held an experiment with 24-hour licensing on millennium eve and during Euro 96. Fewer people were arrested on those evenings than on the average Friday and Saturday night, and Northumbria constabulary recognises that a more flexible approach to licensing reduced the violence on the streets.
Kevan Jones: Is the hon. Gentleman not misunderstanding the Bill? If a publican applies for a licence to sell alcohol, part of that licence will allow him to provide entertainment. He will no longer need to apply for a separate public entertainments licence. The idea that this will drive pubs not to provide music is nonsense.
Kevan Jones: I warmly welcome today's announcement, which is good news for the north-east economy and particularly for Swan Hunter on the Tyne, a company that was closed by the Conservative Government but given a bright future by Labour. Can my right hon. Friend assure us that the MOD and contractors work with organisations such as Northern Defence Industries to ensure that the maximum number of small and...
Kevan Jones: I understand my hon. Friend's position, and I understand that some people in all regions, including the north-east, are vehemently against elected regional assemblies. But is it not a fact that the Bill will give local people the say in whether they want a regional assembly? It will not be down to the Deputy Prime Minister, or any Minister. It will be down to the people. What is he afraid of...
Kevan Jones: Is not the main point about this Bill that it will give the people in those regions the option of whether they want regional government? Why is the Conservative party afraid of giving people a say in how their regions are governed?
Kevan Jones: I am pleased that the hon. Gentleman has clarified the fact that the Conservatives will oppose regional assemblies. However, you said in Committee that you recognised that people in the north-east are interested in having a regional assembly. Will the Conservative party in the north-east therefore oppose the establishment of a regional assembly there?
Kevan Jones: rose—
Kevan Jones: Can the hon. Gentleman confirm whether the Conservative party in the north-east will campaign for a no vote in any referendum there?
Kevan Jones: How will the hon. Gentleman justify wasting time this afternoon to my constituents in the north-east, who are keen for the Bill to become law and who have the right to say what happens in their region?
Kevan Jones: I rise to support the programme motion. I had the privilege of serving on the Standing Committee considering the Bill. There was a lot of filibustering in our debates, including an hour spent on the word "but". The Opposition put forward no substantial alternative to the proposals for regional assemblies, although the Liberal Democrats made some vague attempts. A lot of time was spent on...
Kevan Jones: I do recall that. My constituents in the north-east want this Bill, which they consider to be important. The Conservatives are wasting time, and that will not help tackle some of the problems faced by regions such as the north-east. When a referendum is held, I hope that people remember that the Opposition had no alternatives to propose.
Kevan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the Government policy in relation to taxation of plastic carrier bags.
Kevan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which north east companies have had negotiations with the Defence Diversification Agency in each year since its inception.
Kevan Jones: I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Rhondda (Mr. Bryant) on securing the debate. I will concentrate on the effect of not adopting the euro on the economy of the north-east, especially the manufacturing industry. The north-east has a long tradition of manufacturing industry. At one time, it was part of the workshop of the world. Today, the industry is smaller but clearly efficient...
Kevan Jones: My right hon. Friend will be aware of the extensive press coverage that there has been, particularly in the defence press, about the development of X-band radar. Members of the Defence Committee this week received a document from Yorkshire CND raising concerns that the upgrade of RAF Fylingdales is part of the development programme for X-band. Can my right hon. Friend assure the House that it...
Kevan Jones: Will my hon. Friend explain this example to me? My constituency is in the north-east. If Sunderland general hospital, which is a three-star trust, goes down the foundation route and attracts better staff and if people feel that it is better than the excellent University Hospital of North Durham, how could North Durham and neighbouring hospitals not be affected by that?
Kevan Jones: Is the hon. Gentleman really suggesting that the people who carry out inspections are under political control? If so, could he give an example of where that has happened?