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Engagements

Volume 405: debated on Wednesday 14 May 2003

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Q6. [112960]

Has there been any progress in the implementation of the road map for peace in the middle east between the Palestinians and the Israelis?

Yes. The road map has been published and the priority must be the implementation of phase 1. That means improved security from the Palestinians, a freeze on settlement activity, and continuing assistance by the international community for reform and humanitarian assistance. I hope that we now have a situation where, for the first time in many, many months—indeed, for the first time in a couple of years—there is the real prospect of progress on the Palestinian issue. I very much welcome the attempts of Secretary Colin Powell and the American Government, working in concert with other Governments, to push the matter forward. We wi11 continue to play our full part in that.

Q7. [112961]

Is it right that foundation hospitals should be based on a discredited star rating system that completely ignores whether or not sick patients get better?

It is nonsense that the star system does not take account of sick patients and whether they get better. It is based on 10 different elements to the star rating. No star rating system is perfect, but that star rating has enabled us for the first time to make a comparison of hospitals across the board. It is interesting that the Conservative party is not just opposed to the extra investment in the health service; it is now opposed to reform in the health service, as well.

In October last year, a 15year-old constituent of mine, Anthony Waklin, was killed by a speeding motorist while cycling through his home village, Wool. The 18-year-old driver concerned already owed £1,400 in driving fines and had no licence or insurance. Last week magistrates sentenced him to a paltry £200 fine and a two-year driving ban. Can my right hon. Friend please assure my upset and concerned constituents in Wool that amendments to the Criminal Justice Bill will prevent such injustices in sentencing from happening again?

I totally understand the concern of my hon. Friend and his constituents. I should say to them that we have tabled an amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill to increase the maximum penalty to 14 years' imprisonment for the three offences of causing death by dangerous driving, causing death by careless driving while under the influence of drink or drugs and aggravated vehicle taking where death results. The actions of dangerous and irresponsible drivers can be devastating not only for victims and their families, but for whole communities. That is why I think that it is entirely appropriate that we increase the penalties for such offences. I hope very much that the amendment will receive the support of the whole House.

Q8. [112962]

Can the Prime Minister explain why inward investment is falling in this country, but increasing in countries that are part of the eurozone?

Issues to do with trade and investment will of course form part of the assessment, but we still get a very substantial amount of inward investment in this country, I am delighted to say.