Sir George Young (North-West Hampshire) (Con): May I ask the Leader of the House to give us the business for next week?
The Leader of the House of Commons (Ms Harriet Harman): The business for the week commencing 2 November will be:
Monday 2 November—Remaining stages of the Perpetuities and Accumulations Bill [ Lords], followed by a general debate on tackling antisocial behaviour.
Tuesday 3 November—Consideration in Committee of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill (day 1).
Wednesday 4 November—Further consideration in Committee of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill (day 2).
Thursday 5 November—General debate on climate change: preparation for the climate change conference at Copenhagen.
The provisional business for the week commencing 9 November will include:
Monday 9 November—Consideration of Lords amendments to the Coroners and Justice Bill, followed by, if necessary, consideration of Lords amendments.
Tuesday 10 November—If necessary, consideration of Lords amendments, followed by consideration of Lords amendments to the Welfare Reform Bill, followed by consideration of Lords amendments to the Health Bill [ Lords], followed by, if necessary, consideration of Lords amendments.
Wednesday 11 November—Consideration of Lords amendments to the Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Bill, followed by, if necessary, consideration of Lords amendments.
Colleagues will wish to be reminded that the House will meet at 2.30 pm on that day.
Thursday 12 November—Consideration of Lords amendments to the Policing and Crime Bill, followed by, if necessary, consideration of Lords amendments.
The House is expected to prorogue at the end of business on Thursday 12 November.
I should also like to inform the House that the business in Westminster Hall for 12 November will be:
Thursday 12 November—A debate on the report from the Health Committee on health inequalities.
Sir George Young: I am grateful to the Leader of the House for next week’s business. Will she tell us whether the Prime Minister will be making a statement to the House on Monday after this weekend’s meeting of European leaders? Will he be using it to report progress on his preferred candidate for a proposed European president?
On the Kelly report, will she clarify what the Prime Minister suggested yesterday, namely that Sir Christopher’s report
“will form the basis of a statement to the House”—[ Official Report, 28 October 2009; Vol. 498, c. 285.]
next Wednesday? Will she confirm that there will be an oral statement on the Kelly report and will she tell us whether she or the Prime Minister will be making it? It is a matter of great regret that whole sections of the report were leaked to the newspapers yesterday—[Hon. Members: “Hear, hear.”] Will she reassure us that when it comes to the real Kelly report, the House will be the first to know and not the last to find out? Will she clarify the confusion caused by the Justice Secretary’s statement last June that any recommendations would be
“subject to approval by this House”—[ Official Report, 29 June 2009; Vol. 495, c. 51.]
and the No. 10 briefing yesterday that MPs would not be given a vote on Kelly?
Last week, the right hon. and learned Lady was unable to give me the date of the spring recess. As if there was not already enough mystery surrounding Easter, the Government are now intensifying it. When can she give us the date of the Easter recess and when can she give us the date of the crucial pre-Budget report?
May we have an urgent update from the business Minister on Royal Mail? We are now in week two of crippling strikes, with small businesses being hit particularly hard, but there is no sign of anyone in the Government showing any leadership. The Prime Minister appears to have given up and the normally ubiquitous Lord Mandelson has disappeared.
May we have a statement from the right hon. and learned Lady on the Government’s consistent sidelining of Parliament? Yesterday my hon. Friend the Member for Meriden (Mrs. Spelman) raised on a point of order the fact that the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government had failed to make a written statement that was directly relevant to the debate that was scheduled for that very afternoon. The week before, the Defence Secretary published 300 pages of the Gray report within two hours of a debate on procurement. As you made clear on both occasions, Mr. Speaker, that was a discourteous way to treat the House. What is the right hon. and learned Lady doing to convey that message to her colleagues?
Next week, my colleagues might wish to pursue the issue that we have just discovered, namely the serious loss of data by the Rural Payments Agency earlier this year, which only became known in the public domain a few moments ago.
Finally, we learned today the disturbing news that an Iranian national working as a political analyst in the British embassy in Tehran has been jailed for patently political purposes. May we have an urgent statement from the Foreign Secretary on what is being done to safeguard employees of British embassies around the world?
Ms Harman: The right hon. Gentleman asked whether the Prime Minister will make a statement following the European Council meeting. It is usual for the Prime Minister to make a statement following major European conferences and summits.
As for Sir Christopher Kelly’s report, I, too, deplore the fact that it has been leaked. We have not seen the report and do not yet know what he proposes or the proposed timescale. We recognise that it is not appropriate for this House to set our own allowances—we know that the public do not want us to set or administer our allowance system. This summer we voted not to do so anymore when we voted to establish the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority. Future changes to the allowance system following the Kelly report will therefore be carried out by IPSA. The House will have an opportunity to put forward its views when I make an oral statement next Wednesday, but there will not be a vote to decide on our allowances system because the House has already voted that that will no longer be a matter for us to decide. Decisions on allowances will be made by IPSA.
The right hon. Gentleman asked about the date for the pre-Budget report and I will announce it in due course. He mentioned the lack of a written statement and the complaint made by the hon. Member for Meriden (Mrs. Spelman). Nobody thinks that what happened was acceptable, and the Secretary of State has apologised.
On the Gray report, there was an issue about ensuring that that very large report was the subject of an oral statement to the House as quickly as possible. It was a very large report, however, so, rather than delay the statement while colleagues considered the report, the idea was to make the oral statement as quickly as possible. That situation was different from the one raised by the hon. Member for Meriden, which was a mistake and for which an apology has been made.
On the arrest and detention of the British embassy employee in Iran, the Foreign Secretary has deplored the arrest and asked for an appeal to be heard as soon as possible. He regards the situation as totally unacceptable.