Questions & Answers for Oral Answer - 5 October
Tuesday, 5 October
Questions for Oral Answer
2. Algerian Refugee—Security Risk Certificate
3. Tainui—Government Consultation
4. Economy—Skill Needs
5. Community Employment Group—Disestablishment
8. Early Childhood Education—Policy
9. Police—Offence Report, Auckland
10. Dioxin Contamination, Whakatâne—Flooding
11. Community Education—Funding
12. Compliance Costs—International Variations
Questions to Members
Question No 1 to Member
Fisheries and Other Sea-related Legislation Committee—Member's Submission
Questions for Oral Answer
Questions to Ministers
1. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First) to the Minister of Finance: What steps is he taking, if any, to protect the interests of New Zealand stakeholders over the sale of Powerco to overseas buyers?
Hon JIM SUTTON (Minister of Agriculture), on behalf of the Minister of Finance: New Zealand’s regulatory framework, through the Takeovers Code, the Companies Act, and the Overseas Investment Act, protects the interest of New Zealand stakeholders.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: How does the Minister reconcile that statement with those made by Brian Gaynor, business analyst, who said of the Powerco deal: “We really don’t know the full details of the deal that the council has cut.”, and just who will benefit out of yet another sale of a valuable New Zealand - owned energy asset—in this case, for a substantial amount of junk bonds?
Hon JIM SUTTON: It is not for me to reconcile the statements made by Mr Brian Gaynor as to whether this is a good deal. That is a matter between willing buyers and willing sellers.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Given that the Minister of Finance himself is the Minister in charge of the Overseas Investment Commission, is he satisfied that from 20 September to 30 September 2004, $131 million worth of shares were traded and reportedly bought by overseas speculators, who shortly are expected to flick them off to prime infrastructure for a quick profit at the expense of the New Zealand stakeholders?
Hon JIM SUTTON: The Minister is the Minister responsible for the Overseas Investment Commission. He does not, however, personally monitor all sales of shares.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: What will it take for the Minister to give some clarification to the Powerco appeal, and where does he think his responsibilities lie in respect of yet another appalling sale of a valuable New Zealand asset, whereby overseas interests will benefit hugely and the stakeholders and the people of this country lose significantly?
Hon JIM SUTTON: The Minister’s responsibility is to ensure that the law is in good shape to enable the free stakeholders of New Zealand to protect their own interests. I believe that is correct.
Algerian Refugee—Security Risk Certificate
2. KEITH LOCKE (Green) to the Minister of Immigration: Will he consider not relying on the security risk certificate issued against Mr Ahmed Zaoui, in light of the Court of Appeal ruling that the security criteria for issuing the certificate will only be met “if there are objectively reasonable grounds based on credible evidence that Mr Zaoui constitutes a danger to the security of New Zealand of such seriousness that it would justify sending a person back to persecution.”?
Hon PAUL SWAIN (Minister of Immigration): The Crown is currently considering the Court of Appeal decision. In light of that, it would not be appropriate to comment further.
Keith Locke: What basis is there for believing that Government agencies can provide the credible evidence required by the Court of Appeal, when only a fortnight ago the police provided completely incorrect information to the Prime Minister linking Mr Zaoui’s party to al-Qaeda—information that the Prime Minister was forced to admit was incorrect?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: As I said before, the Crown is currently considering the decision made by the Court of Appeal. Given that, it would not be appropriate to comment on the matters raised by the member.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Why has the Government not relied upon the findings of three First World jurisdictions—Switzerland, Belgium, and France—and sent that person offshore to any one of the scores of Islamic countries, where he apparently does not want to live?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: The member is right that those three jurisdictions did find in the way the member has outlined. The Refugee Status Board thought Mr Zaoui could not be a refugee. He appealed, and the appeal board has now decided that he is a refugee. The matter has been before the court, and is still before the court. We are currently considering the decision of the Court of Appeal, so therefore it is not appropriate to comment further.
Keith Locke: Does the Government now accept that its attempts at both the High Court and the Court of Appeal to argue that the inspector-general need not take into account Mr Zaoui’s rights under the refugee convention were misguided; if the Minister does not believe that, why not?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: As I have said twice before, the Crown is currently considering that Court of Appeal decision, so it is not appropriate to get engaged in this discussion.
Keith Locke: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. My question did not relate to whether the Government is going to appeal. I wanted to know whether it now thinks it was misguided to take that line of attack.
Mr SPEAKER: The Minister is quite entitled to give the answer he gave to that particular supplementary question.
Keith Locke: Will the Government now amend the Immigration Regulations so that Mr Zaoui can be either conditionally released or released into a form of detention other than a penal institution, as recommended by the Court of Appeal in its 17 September decision, given that Mr Zaoui has now been in jail for nearly 2 years; if not, why not?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: I have tried about three times now to say that the whole matter that was the subject of the Court of Appeal decision is currently being considered by the Crown. Therefore, it is not appropriate to talk about that matter any further.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Is it not a fact that Ahmed Zaoui could be out of prison tomorrow if he decided to go home, rather than cost the New Zealand taxpayer millions of dollars?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: Yes.
Keith Locke: Is the Labour Government not somewhat ashamed that rather than advancing democratic rights it is taking court cases to stop human rights being taken into account, to keep Mr Zaoui in prison after 22 months, and to stop him having access to the media; and what possible reason is there for the Minister not to free Mr Zaoui now, so that he can live in our society with his family?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: No.
3. Dr DON BRASH (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister: What involvement have officials from her office, or from the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, had in the ongoing meetings between the Government and Tainui; and what implications do these meetings have for the seabed and foreshore legislation?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK (Prime Minister): Officials from my office have not been involved in such meetings. An official from the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet did attend a meeting between Ministers and Tainui representatives in June. Those discussions focused on treaty settlement issues. Ministers have made it clear that such issues are separate from the seabed and foreshore legislation.
Dr Don Brash: Can the Prime Minister confirm that her Minister in charge of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations wrote a letter approved by the Prime Minister to Lady Raiha Mahuta on 10 May 2004 assuring Tainui of a special deal in relation to the outstanding Waikato River and west coast harbours claims—as a consequence of which, Nanaia Mahuta withdrew her threat to leave the Labour Party—and can she confirm that, as a result, her Ministers and officials are now involved in discussions with Tainui?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: All I can confirm is that a letter went to Lady Raiha Mahuta on 10 May. It was released to the member under the Official Information Act and, to me, no reading of it would suggest a special deal.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Is the Prime Minister aware that at the original settlement of the Tainui deal—done by Doug Graham, Jim Bolger, and 11 members of the current National Party—the issues of the foreshore and seabed and the Waikato River were left open by the National Party?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: My understanding is that what the member has said is absolutely correct.
Dr Don Brash: Does the Prime Minister accept that the public are entitled to know if she and her officials are privately negotiating a deal for Tainui that is different from the arrangements that will apply to the rest of the country under the foreshore and seabed bill, simply to shore up the Government’s parliamentary majority; if not, why not?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: As the previous questioner pointed out, Tainui have been trying to negotiate these matters for about the last 10 years. They did not get off first base with the last Government. They have not started negotiations with this Government, because there are still mandate issues. I also point out that any treaty negotiations that result in settlement end up with legislation being brought to this House for consideration.
Rodney Hide: In light of these treaty settlements, is the Prime Minister confident that the Waitangi Tribunal assessments are reliable; if so, why is she?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: I would not want to put hand on heart and say that absolutely every detail that ever came out of a Waitangi Tribunal report was strictly historically accurate. Who would?
Dr Don Brash: What is the point of a select committee hearing thousands of submissions in good faith on the Foreshore and Seabed Bill when her Ministers and officials are negotiating a secret deal that will exempt Tainui from provisions in the bill—provisions that will apply to every other New Zealander?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: Firstly, I have told the member that negotiations have not started, because there are mandate issues. Secondly, I have told him that any settlement that results in legislation coming to this House would be the most open secret in the world. Thirdly, I point out to him that there is quite a difference between historical claims that Tainui seek to negotiate, and the foreshore and seabed legislation, which is not about what has been lost but about what might have survived.
Dr Don Brash: I seek leave to table a letter dated 10 May from Margaret Wilson to Lady Mahuta stating that the Government’s legislation will not include the Waikato River.
Dr Don Brash: I seek leave to table an answer to a written question given by Helen Clark in which she confirmed that she received a draft of the letter from Margaret Wilson to Lady Mahuta.
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that. Is there any objection? There is.
4. LYNNE PILLAY (Labour—Waitakere) to the Associate Minister of Education (Tertiary Education): What is the Government doing to address the skill needs of the New Zealand economy?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY (Associate Minister of Education (Tertiary Education)): At the end of last month the Prime Minister and I announced a package to help address New Zealand’s skills shortages and build skill levels in critical areas in the workforce. It involved $8.9 million to ensure 1,000 additional Modern Apprenticeships by the end of June 2005, $5 million for 5,000 more industry trainees next year, and $2 million for post-placement support for former Work and Income clients who have completed Training Opportunities Programme study and entered work.
Lynne Pillay: What response has he seen to this skills package?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: The Industry Training Federation said that the skills package sustains economic growth and it welcomed the show of commitment. The New Zealand Council of Trade Unions also supported the package, and the Business Council for Sustainable Development said it would help address the skills shortages faced by business. The Education Forum praised the Government, and the Youth Skills New Zealand group commended the Government on the additional funding. But one man—Mr Bill English—tried to use some concerns about that very body to discredit the Modern Apprenticeships programme. His party, of course, is committed to repealing the Modern Apprenticeships legislation.
Hon Bill English: Has the Minister seen the letter written by Youth Skills New Zealand to at least one New Zealand polytechnic expressing concern about the standard of trades education, and quoting the construction industry as an example, and does he take those concerns about quality in trades education seriously?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I take quality seriously at all times. But I tell the member that some argument going on between Youth Skills New Zealand, which has praised this particular package, and industry training organisations, many of whom have decided to pull out of youth skills because they want to focus on other issues, is their business. The quality of this programme and its enormous success are our business. I know that the member wants to repeal it, but we will fight him on the hustings about that.
Hon Brian Donnelly: Will the Minister confirm that notwithstanding specific statutory requirements to the contrary, less than 10 percent of Modern Apprenticeships are filled by females, and what is he doing to rectify this gender imbalance in his Government’s meeting of skills needs?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I thank the member for his commitment to women getting into the Modern Apprenticeships scheme, and I tell him that women have now reached the 500 mark in the programme, which figure represents a 31 percent growth since last year. We have put in place programmes that are beginning, obviously, to work.
Community Employment Group—Disestablishment
5. KATHERINE RICH (National) to the Minister for Social Development and Employment: Why did the Government decide to disestablish the Community Employment Group?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY (Minister for Social Development and Employment): With unemployment at 4 percent, a near 20-year low, it was time to rethink the position of this particular organisation. The Ministry of Social Development is the ideal agency to move forward now to implement employment initiatives for disadvantaged communities, because of its strong regional structure and because it deals with issues in local employment markets. Te Puni Kôkiri will manage the Mâori women’s development activities, because that is its area of expertise. The Department of Labour will supply labour information, informing employment initiatives. It is also worth saying that it was clear, from some of the controversy, that this department was struggling.
Katherine Rich: Why does this Minister put forward arguments about changing economic conditions, when every member of this House knows that the decision to shut down the Community Employment Group is more about hiding that Minister’s failures with dodgy capacity-building schemes—[Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order!
Katherine Rich: —and getting the Community Employment Group off the front page?
Mr SPEAKER: When I stand up the member sits down. There will be no interjections during question time. I ask the member to repeat her question. That is the only warning I am giving today. Please begin again.
Katherine Rich: Why does the Minister put forward arguments about changing economic times, when every member of this House knows that the real reason he has disestablished the Community Employment Group is to hide his failures in putting in place dodgy capacity-building schemes, and to get the Community Employment Group off the front page of the paper?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: The reason I put forward those arguments is that our unemployment rate is now the second lowest in the developed world. It hit 11 percent under the previous National Government, the numbers on the unemployment benefit halved in the last 4 years, and we now have a labour shortage and a skills shortage. The issues that threw up why we should have the Community Employment Group organisation have gone. That is why I keep putting forward those arguments, and I would welcome another question from the member, so that I can talk for longer on that matter.
Moana Mackey: Did the changes to community employment assistance delivery reflect a move away from support for community enterprises?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: No, quite the reverse. Moving the delivery function to the Ministry of Social Development will ensure support for community enterprise in disadvantaged communities, through a strong regional structure that has a close relationship with local communities and local authorities. The Ministry of Social Development’s regional commissioners are highly respected senior public servants with a reputation for getting things done in their communities. Over the next few months the ministry will be working with local communities to ensure that these are positive changes. From my travelling around the country, including within the electorate of the member who asked the previous question—I am sorry; she does not have an electorate; I mean her region of the country—I found that they were welcoming of these changes.
Sue Bradford: Is the Minister therefore committed to retaining seed funding for innovative and potentially, at times, risky community economic development projects, without which the World of Wearable Art Awards, Whale Watch Kaikôura, and many other such initiatives might never have succeeded?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: We will see how this money is to be allocated, after a period of consultation with people around the country, as I have suggested. But, yes, this Government is committed to assisting disadvantaged communities in ways that are innovative, but we want to do so through this new form of delivery.
Dr Muriel Newman: Would the Minister have disestablished the Community Employment Group if there had not been any adverse publicity?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: No, I definitely would not have, because this Government works through those kinds of debates in a very cool and calm fashion to decide what it will do. What we have found on numerous occasions, as the member will know, is that the accusations that were made about, for example, the Pink Kit home-birthing kit for women, the Mâori Women’s Welfare League, and the Porangahau marae committee all proved to be utterly, utterly baseless. We do not react to that sort of criticism; we base our changes on evidence.
Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I am sorry to do this, but there is a bit of confusion—certainly, on this side of the House. As I heard the Minister, he said that, no, he would not have disestablished the group if not for the adverse publicity. That answer contradicted his earlier answer, when he said that the adverse publicity was just a small part of it. I wonder whether we have understood his answer correctly.
Mr SPEAKER: The Minister gave an answer, and he has to accept the results of it.
Dr Don Brash: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. It does seem odd that the Minister can give two directly contradictory answers to the same question.
Mr SPEAKER: I am not here to judge the quality of the answer. When the answer is given it has to stand. If it can be debated and if it can be disagreed with, that is fine, but I am not here to judge the answer. I heard the answer. It was a direct answer. I heard the first word— “No”—and it was a specific answer to a question. That is where, really, my interest in it ended, in that the Minister had addressed the question.
Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER: I do not really want to go on with this, Mr Hide. I think we have now dealt with this. This is only debating material.
Rodney Hide: I think you would like to hear what I have to say.
Mr SPEAKER: It had better be more than debating material, or the member will not be heard.
Rodney Hide: You will love it. The difficulty we have is that the Minister—and I choose my words carefully—is in danger of misleading the House. If one answers the question “What colour is it?” with “White”, then one gives another answer, “Black”, then, clearly, both answers cannot stand. I suggest that you direct the Minister, which you are quite capable of doing—we have heard you do it many times—just to clarify his answer. If he clarified his answer, the problem would go away.
Mr SPEAKER: I have never directed a Minister to clarify an answer. I have sometimes told a Minister that an answer was not an answer. But that was an answer.
Tariana Turia: Is it not true that the Social Entrepreneur Fund was the initiative of the current Minister for Social Development and Employment, that the Minister signed off on the policy against the advice of his own fieldworkers, and that those same fieldworkers have now been hung out to dry to save his own skin?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I thank the member for the friendly question! The social entrepreneur scheme was something that I put forward specifically. It is an idea, of course, which is now common throughout the world. Australia, the UK, and the United States would use the same kind of concept. What it does is provide money to support people to do excellent things. And, no, the rest of the question is quite wrong.
Katherine Rich: Which of the Minister’s answers is correct—that he canned the Community Employment Group as a result of adverse publicity, or that he did not can the Community Employment Group as a result of adverse publicity?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: The Community Employment Group has been disestablished because we are now living in very, very different times from the times when the organisation was established. I made it clear that the organisation had faced a number of problems over the last little while, but, in answer to that question from the ACT party, I said that we would not change it on that basis alone. As I pointed out, many of the accusations made by Katherine Rich herself were, as usual, wrong.
Simon Power: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. My colleague Katherine Rich asked a very simple question: which of those aspects relating to the canning of the system was the reason that the Minister put forward? Which was it: was it because of the publicity, or not? It was a direct question, and I ask that you bring the Minister to order to answer the question.
Mr SPEAKER: The Minister does not have to choose an option. If the member reads Speakers’ Rulings, under the section that relates to questions he will see that it is up to the Minister how he answers as long as he addresses the question, and he most certainly did.
Katherine Rich: Why is the Minister moving the Community Employment Group back to the Ministry of Social Development, when it was he who decided to move it to the Department of Labour when he became the Minister in 2000, saying: “Without falling victim to the sin of self-congratulation, let me say we have kept our word. We examined the role of Community Employment Group, and having completed the examination, we determined that the most appropriate location for community employment was as a service unit of the Department of Labour.”?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: It is good that once again we have evidence of the Government keeping its word. Can I say that the Department of Labour has changed completely in the last year, and the Ministry of Social Development, of course, did not exist at the time those changes were made.
Katherine Rich: Does the Minister believe that Labour’s capacity-building grant schemes imposed on the Community Employment Group by that Minister, and announced as part of the closing the gaps package in the 2000 Budget, have been a success; if so, why have all his big funding ideas either been closed down or shifted from the Department of Labour?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: As someone who has oversight of a large number of budgets, I could hardly say that any of them risk being closed down in the way in which that member has described. I think capacity building, a programme across a wide range of departments, is beginning to show some real fruit. I would simply point to the renaissance amongst Mâori, where we can point to the lowest unemployment rate for 20 years, new businesses, and arts and cultural activities that are booming. I know that the National Party does not support that, but we do.
6. DARREN HUGHES (Labour—Otaki) to the Minister of Justice: What changes is the Government making to address the issue of compensation payments to inmates?
Hon PHIL GOFF (Minister of Justice): Legislation will be introduced to restrict compensation payments to inmates to exceptional cases and where all complaint procedures have first been exhausted. It will also ensure that if any payments have to be made, that money be available, firstly, for damages claims by victims of such inmates. The effectiveness of existing complaints procedures will also be reviewed on the basis that the best way to stop compensation payments is to prevent breaches of any legal obligations that may lead to them.
Darren Hughes: What is the purpose of the changes the Minister is proposing to the statute of limitations as they apply to victims of crime?
Hon PHIL GOFF: The Limitation Act currently limits any civil claims for damages to 6 years. If one is a victim of a serious crime, the person who committed that crime may be in jail for the whole of that period of time and unable to meet the cost of any such damages. Also, it would be quite wrong, if somebody like the criminal Christopher Taunoa came into a windfall situation, that the victim, or the family of the victim, is not then able to hold that person liable for the wrongs suffered, in the same way that he apparently would get compensation for an alleged wrong he suffered.
Hon Tony Ryall: Why will the Government not admit that its proposals still allow prisoners to make compensation claims and to still keep the money, and why will the Minister not do what most decent New Zealanders want him to do, and that is to backdate and wipe all those claims once and for all?
Hon PHIL GOFF: I heard “Hear, hear, hear.” from the ACT bench, which is a bit rich coming from a party whose spokesperson on justice is totally opposed to retrospectivity. The answer to the member’s question is twofold. Firstly, in 25 years of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, no Government of any political shade in this House has ever deliberately been in breach of that covenant. Certainly, the National Party, in its more respectable and less desperate days, never did that. Secondly, that member, as Minister of Justice, and all of his colleagues, when in Government, constantly railed against retrospective legislation, which he is now claiming to endorse. That is double standards from that member and the party he claims to represent.
Stephen Franks: In view of the Minister’s answer that the best method is to stop claims arising in the first place, how will he do that, when what is a breach is up to judges interpreting vague general principles and they are free to make it up as they go along?
Hon PHIL GOFF: Far from being vague general principles, there is quite an established body of case law around this, as the member knows well, so I am surprised at his question. I am also surprised that he is so critical of legislation that takes a form that he himself was calling for last week.
Ron Mark: Why, having made such scathing comments himself about the three Mongrel Mob members that his Attorney-General, Margaret Wilson, paid an estimated $300,000 to, on 8 September 2000, has it taken the Minister so long to get to this point and introduce this legislation; and is it not a fact that we would not be in this situation if his corrections Minister had better control over some of the delinquent prison management and prison staff who, for example, gave us the “goon squad”, which might well also result in further such inmate claims?
Mr SPEAKER: The Minister can reply in so far as his own portfolio is concerned.
Hon PHIL GOFF: Clearly, what has sparked the need for this legislation is the prospect of a large number of people claiming compensation in a way that most of us find absolutely unpalatable—that they should get compensation for the wrongs that may or may not have been done against them, but their victims, who have been severely damaged by their actions, get nothing. That is why this action is being taken. I think the member is rather harsh on corrections staff, with regard to the behaviour management regime. It is quite clear, from reading the judge’s report, that the staff did not intentionally commit a breach of the law, but, nevertheless, the judge found that they did create a breach of the law.
Nandor Tanczos: Can the Minister explain the nature of the new independent body that he has proposed should look at these civil claims by victims, and whether we are looking at a new form of court or at a different legal standard; if not, what are we looking at?
Hon PHIL GOFF: The nature of the independent body would, clearly, be a judge, who would fill that position. The purpose of that suggestion is to clear the way for victims of crime to hold offenders responsible for civil damages for the damage that has been done to the victim. If I can quote very briefly from law expert John Miller, who said, basically: “What the Government was doing was putting victims on a level playing field with the criminals.” Criminals cannot actually expect not to be held liable for their actions, but hold the State liable for anything that the State might have done wrong.
Murray Smith: Has the Minister considered that one solution to this problem would be to require the imposition of a reparation order on offenders when they are sentenced, regardless of their circumstances at the time, to ensure that a portion of any future income can be diverted to defray victim reparations; if not, why not?
Hon PHIL GOFF: In fact, the Sentencing Act requires in every case that the judge consider the payment of reparation to the victim by the offender. However, the judge will not do that when it is absolutely clear to the court that the offender has no assets, that the offender is going to prison for a long period of time, and that there is no realistic expectation that the victim will ever get paid, because to raise falsely that expectation actually doubly victimises the victim. The proposed legislation covers the situation where there is a windfall gain by the criminal, and the criminal is therefore now able to put things right—to the extent they can be put right—for the victim. I hope the member will support it.
Hon Tony Ryall: Why is the Government leaving the door open to pay some of the most dangerous criminals in New Zealand compensation under the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act?
Hon PHIL GOFF: At the risk of repeating myself, New Zealand, like all other Western democratic countries, is bound by obligations that we voluntarily entered into 25 years ago, under that member’s party in Government, and which we have consistently honoured. No Government of this country—including if there were ever a National Government—would breach the obligations that are placed on this country to uphold human rights. What we have done is achieve the end that everybody wants, by a legitimate way—that is, to allow that payment to be made to the true victims and not to the criminal.
Mr SPEAKER: The answer was too long.
Stephen Franks: Exactly what provision of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights surrendered New Zealanders’ power to decide how we treat murderers and rapists in our prisons; and what else in this area does the Minister now consider is beyond the powers of this Parliament and is to be decided by the unelected judges and committees claiming international law?
Hon PHIL GOFF: This country entered voluntarily into—
Stephen Franks: What provisions?
Hon PHIL GOFF: —I am getting to the member’s answer if he will show me the courtesy of listening for a moment—a signature and a ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention Against Torture. In article 14 of both of those pieces of legislation, we are bound to have effective remedies when human rights are breached on the part of anybody. Each Government of this country has upheld that provision in law, and it is nonsense and double standards for National Party members to suddenly pretend they would ignore the obligations that they entered into as a party.
Mr SPEAKER: There are far too many interjections from one quarter. They can ask supplementary questions if they want to.
Murray Smith: Does the Government accept that punishment for serious criminal offences fairly entitles Parliament to withdraw certain human rights from the offender, including the right to freedom and to vote; if so, what steps is the Government taking to explore the issue of what human rights it is appropriate for prisoners to retain so that imprisonment does not continue to be a soft option for some recidivist offenders?
Hon PHIL GOFF: Certainly the State has the ability to withdraw the basic right, the right to freedom, of somebody who has offended against society’s norms, and whom society needs to be protected against. Nevertheless, we have—under our own law, the Penal Institutions Act, and under international agreements we have entered into—obligations that we are bound to honour in terms of standards that we maintain in prison. If we did not have such obligations we would end up with Abu Ghraib - type situations, and Ron Mark has pointed to a couple of situations where wrong behaviour has occurred. So we will uphold those provisions that we are required to, but that does not stop us from imprisoning individuals or segregating them if we meet the proper standards.
Murray Smith: Is he aware that complaints from prisoners to the Ombudsman have tripled between 1994 and 2004; if so, is he planning to ensure that prisoners exhaust all avenues of complaint before taking legal action; and will he also ensure that prisons take greater responsibility for resolving complaints before they reach the Ombudsman, so that Ombudsmen are not the first port of call for minor complaints such as the loss of a television set during a transfer from one prison to another?
Hon PHIL GOFF: Within the prison system there is a hierarchy of complaints procedures, which begins with the internal procedures: taking it to the unit manager and up to the manager of the prison. At a much higher level, there is resort to the Ombudsman. Obviously the lower avenues for hearing complaints to remedy breaches have to be exhausted before they can go to the higher level, unless of course it is inappropriate to go to the lower level for any good reason.
Hon Tony Ryall: Where exactly in article 14 of those protocols the Minister spoke of does it say that some of the worst criminals in New Zealand should be entitled to receive cash compensation from this Government ?
Hon PHIL GOFF: The member ought not to be naive and know that international covenants do not name countries, but what those covenants—
Hon Tony Ryall: Where?
Hon PHIL GOFF: If the member would stop interrupting, I will answer his question. What those covenants require is that there have to be “effective remedies”—which is the term used—for any breach of human rights that occur. The advice given to me by Crown Law, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the Ministry of Justice is that to prohibit such payments would put New Zealand in breach of the international obligations that it is committed to observing.
7. RODNEY HIDE (Leader—ACT) to the Prime Minister: Does her statement that “the Government, like the public, is grossly offended at the fact that people are getting awarded large sums of money when in some cases their victims are dead and others have had nothing whatsoever” apply to Andrew Ronald MacMillan receiving $1,200 for his “hurt feelings”; if so, how does she propose to stop such a payout?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK (Prime Minister): I was not referring to that case, which involves a relatively small amount of money. However, such cases will be caught in future by the policy announced yesterday.
Rodney Hide: Would the Prime Minister please explain to this House and to the public of New Zealand how in any way the offence is lessened to the public of this murder and rapist getting $1,200 because his feelings have been hurt, by allowing the dead girl’s family to apply to get that $1,200?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: The person concerned was an appalling murderer, and frankly, I find some difficulty with the Human Rights Review Tribunal awarding him anything. However, it did, and the amount of money was relatively small. The Crown looked at whether it could appeal, was advised that it should not appeal, and did not appeal. In future, any such consideration by that tribunal or the other courts will be governed by the new rules.
Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. My question was: how does it lessen the offence? That is the issue we are dealing with. The Prime Minister spoke about policy, but she did not in any way address the question, as required, about how the offence could in any way be lessened.
Mr SPEAKER: I thought the Prime Minister did address the question.
Stephen Franks: Does the Prime Minister accept the view that international law prevents the New Zealand Government from abolishing prisoners’ rights to damages for breaches of human rights law; if so, what will she do to restore our sovereign right to decide what is an effective remedy for mistreatment in our prisons—given that this one was invented by judges as recently as 1994?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: As the Minister of Justice said in his earlier answer, the advice he has received and relayed to the Government is that New Zealand’s international human rights obligations would stop it preventing prisoners from claiming compensation.
Stephen Franks: Do you believe that?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: Yes, I do accept that advice from Crown Law and the Ministry of Justice. The policy announced yesterday then brings in a balance, whereby the grounds on which compensation can be paid are quite restricted and, where it is paid, the opportunity is opened up for victims to go for a civil action, with some prospect of getting that payment.
Rodney Hide: Would the Prime Minister now answer my supplementary question, which was this: does she believe that the public offence at this murderer and rapist getting $1,200 because his feelings were hurt would be in any way ameliorated by the dead girl’s family being able to apply to get some or all of that $1,200?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: Probably not, because of the grossness of the murder that that person carried out. But I point out that the new policy actually sets out criteria in law, governing and restricting the circumstances under which inmates may be awarded damages. Had that been in place, it might well have had a quite different effect on the Human Rights Review Tribunal.
Early Childhood Education—Policy
8. BERNIE OGILVY (United Future) to the Minister of Education: Does he stand by his statement on 22 September 2004: “Let’s be clear about our Government’s goals—we want to provide accessible and affordable quality early childhood education to all young Kiwi kids.”; if so, why?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY (Associate Minister of Education (Tertiary Education)), on behalf of the Minister of Education: Yes, because research has clearly shown that children who participate in quality early childhood education are more likely to succeed at school than others. We need to invest more money in order to pay for more and better qualified teachers, and for greater access to services. This year’s Budget invested $307 million over the next 4 years to improve the quality of early childhood education provision—one of the most significant investments made in education in New Zealand’s recent history.
Bernie Ogilvy: Why has the Minister initiated a policy of free education for 3 and 4-year-olds at community centres when the scheme targets providers and not the children, ignoring Treasury advice that clearly stated that only 60 percent of the children who attend early childhood education would receive the free entitlement and that there is no guarantee that the children most in need will access it?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: If I understand the question correctly, I can advise that the $307 million does get delivered to both community and private providers. They are different from each other, but they will share in that income, which means that they do cover the wide range of young children. On this occasion the Minister of Education disagreed with the advice from Treasury. He believes that the policy will indeed advantage New Zealand children.
H V Ross Robertson: Can the Minister inform the House what steps are currently being undertaken to ensure that there is an adequate supply of trained early childhood teachers?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: The Government has invested in a wide range of initiatives to increase the number of qualified early childhood teachers, including relocation grants, returning to teaching allowances, incentive grants, and the provision of a relief teacher pool. A new $41.4 million scholarship scheme announced 2 weeks ago will give assistance to people from low-income backgrounds to train to be early childhood teachers.
Hon Bill English: If the Minister is interested in participation for all children, why does he not use the discretion available in the education legislation to allow the Kâwhia childcare centre to stay open, instead of threatening to close it because the teacher has primary qualifications rather than early childhood qualifications?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I am advised that Kâwhia has received considerable assistance from the Ministry of Education, including solutions to the licensing issue, and that they has been turned down. The matter is now before the courts, and therefore that is the only advice I am able to give.
Hon Brian Donnelly: Can the Minister confirm that the Education Review Office reported in June 2004 that 23.5 percent of early childhood providers faced either some risk or considerable risk of not meeting the level 7 requirements for persons responsible by January 2005, and does he plan to shut down those providers that do not meet his requirements, as he has done at Kâwhia?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: The last point about Kâwhia is that the matter is before the courts. There has not been a decision made in relation to that agency, which I understand has been helped quite considerably by the Ministry of Education. The answer to the first part of the question is no. The requirement is that one qualified person is present at all times, and is the designated person responsible. By 2012 all early childhood education teachers will need to be registered, but up to 30 percent may be in training. The member will know that at the present time we have 3 months’ discretion, through the Secretary of Education, to allow an extension of time to meet the licensing requirements, and I should note that we are considering extending that timetable.
Bernie Ogilvy: Why did the Minister ignore Treasury’s advice that limiting free early childhood education to community providers would encourage parents to move their kids to private providers after the 20 hours, leaving community providers unable to recover their costs on the residual hours, and therefore disrupting the education of those children?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: Because the Minister disagreed with the advice and, for once, decided to stand up to Treasury.
Bernie Ogilvy: Does the Minister intend to extend free early childhood education for 3 and 4-year-olds to all providers, in light of the facts that it would cost only an additional $62 million and that the childcare subsidy does not currently guarantee lower fees for parents?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I can only say to the member that I know he may want to spend a lot more money, but $307 million over the next 4 years is one of the most significant increases in education in recent years, and in the area of early childhood education, it is a massive increase in terms of what that area has been getting.
Bernie Ogilvy: I seek leave to table the Treasury report on options for early childhood education.
Question time interrupted.
Questions for Oral Answer
Questions to Ministers
Police—Offence Report, Auckland
9. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First) to the Minister of Police: Has he read the publicly released police file relating to the alleged burglary at 8 Rocky Nook Avenue on 12 September 2002; if so, what steps will he be taking as a result?
Hon GEORGE HAWKINS (Minister of Police): I have seen the publicly released police file. I will not be taking further action as that is an operational matter for the police commissioner, not for the Minister.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I asked the Minister whether he had read the file. It is one thing to have a document in one’s hand and say that one has seen it, but I asked him whether he had read it. Mr Speaker, could you ask him to answer me properly so that I can begin my supplementary questions.
Mr SPEAKER: I assumed the Minister meant he had read it. I assumed that is what the Minister said. If the Minister nods in agreement to that, I will assume that is what he means. Therefore, he has said he has read it.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: If that is the case, what does the Minister intend to do about the fact that Shaw failed to tell the police he knew his assailant, Edwards, and that Shaw concealed evidence, even though the investigation had 15 police officers involved in it; what does the Minister of Police intend to do about that?
Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: I refer to a 1993 ruling made by J J McGrath, then the Solicitor-General, who said: “For many years it has been accepted that ‘operational’ decisions made by the Commissioner are for that person and no other.” I do not get involved in individual cases.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: What on earth does the Minister think he is doing holding a warrant to be a Minister of Police if such an appalling investigation—or lack of it—by the police ends up in someone being murdered and a claim made of homophobic panic, when no such a claim could probably now be sustained if the Minister had done his job properly in the first place?
Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: I repeat that I do not get involved in operational matters. The police commissioner has reviewed the file. He is satisfied that the police took appropriate action.
Dioxin Contamination, Whakatâne—Flooding
10. JEANETTE FITZSIMONS (Co-Leader—Green) to the Minister for the Environment: Were any dioxin contaminated sites inundated by the recent floods in Whakatâne; if so, does she have a list of those sites and an action plan for clean-up?
Hon MARIAN HOBBS (Minister for the Environment): I am advised that the floods affected several sites around Whakatâne that contain contaminated wood waste, but Environment Bay of Plenty, as the regional council responsible for the area, ascertained that only one site risked losing the contaminated wood waste, and the soil cap was replaced to prevent that. Environment Bay of Plenty will have information on all the sites affected.
Jeanette Fitzsimons: Is the Minister aware that when the town centre was sandbagged to prevent flood water from the river entering the town centre, that flood water—which came across the Matatua Park contaminated site—was diverted into residential areas, potentially poisoning people’s living rooms and gardens?
Hon MARIAN HOBBS: I think the member is asking me whether I am aware that the floodwaters crossed over the Matatua site. Yes, I am aware. But I have also been assured by Environment Bay of Plenty that there was only one site that actually risked losing wood waste. If the member is talking about going through underneath the cap, that is a different matter.
Janet Mackey: What is the Government doing to clean up the contaminated sites?
Hon MARIAN HOBBS: We have set up a Contaminated Sites Remediation Fund to assist in the clean-up of contaminated land within New Zealand. The Ministry for the Environment is already working closely on remediating partnerships with seven regional councils on 13 separate projects—two of which are marae sites in the Whakatâne area.
Jeanette Fitzsimons: When will the Government make funding available for the identification and isolation of all contaminated sites, and the production of a national register, so that future extreme events—whether they are earthquakes, floods, or storm surges—can be rapidly followed by well-informed clean-ups?
Hon MARIAN HOBBS: The clean-up and remediation of contaminated sites is an ongoing process. We will work through those contaminated sites that have been registered with the regional councils, which are the appropriate bodies to deal with in a flood or earthquake emergency.
Janet Mackey: How does the Government determine funding assistance for contaminated sites?
Hon MARIAN HOBBS: We will give priority to sites that pose, or are likely to pose, a high risk to human health, sites that are located in environmentally or culturally sensitive areas—and that may include flood plains—or sites where the landowners do not have the financial resources to undertake the work required but want to do something about the problem.
Jeanette Fitzsimons: Will the properties contaminated by flood water be tested for dioxins, given the Minister’s agreement that one site may have lost some contaminated wood waste and associated dioxin; and what support is the Minister giving to Environment Bay of Plenty for that dioxin monitoring?
Hon MARIAN HOBBS: The Ministry for the Environment, through the Contaminated Site Remediation Fund, has already funded Environment Bay of Plenty for the investigations around two of those sites. If another site has become a danger as a result of the floods, I would appreciate receiving a request from Environment Bay of Plenty.
11. Hon BILL ENGLISH (National—Clutha-Southland) to the Associate Minister of Education (Tertiary Education): What actions has he taken to ensure polytechnics are not making inappropriate use of classification 5.1 community education funding?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY (Associate Minister of Education (Tertiary Education)): The policy changes announced earlier this year included a cap and the introduction of a framework for assessing the alignment and priorities set alongside classification 5.1 for 2005-06. Funding guide changes will prevent the use of any inducement and place tighter restrictions on the use of subcontracting, not only for 5.1 but for all publicly funded courses. The Tertiary Education Commission has been working with individual institutions where there have been particular issues, and an independent review by Joanna Beresford has been undertaken covering five institutions. The review has clarified with institutions the funding guide and policy requirements, identified policy implementation issues, and reviewed plans to manage 5.1 enrolments into the future.
Hon Bill English: Why should the House believe anything the Minister says about capped, aligned, strategised, quality-assured funding priorities and caps when last week Aoraki Polytechnic managed to enrol dozens of people in a 5.1 community education course, where they sat and watched a cooking demonstration at the South Canterbury Fair?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I, of course, investigate every issue that is raised. The following is the advice I have been given about that particular course. The short course was not a stall or show event; it was held indoors at the Ashburton Senior Centre with appropriate equipment, qualified tutors, and student information sheets. All 160 enrolments took place before the demonstration. There were no enrolments on the day. The short course was approved by the academic board and has identified learning outcomes. It has been run on several occasions previously under similar arrangements. I believe what I have got to say, because, unlike the member who brings cardboard boxes into the House, what I say usually has something in it.
Dr Ashraf Choudhary: What measures has the Government undertaken to reinforce polytechnic activity in areas that contribute strongly to its core role?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I recently announced the Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics Business Links Fund. The institutes and polytechnics can now apply for funding from that fund, which received $21.5 million spread over 4 years in Budget 2004. Each of the institutes and polytechnics and will be able to apply for a maximum of $300,000 per academic year. The Tertiary Education Commission will approve the first business engagement plans from the institutes and polytechnics early next year. This is not a one-off grant but one that will see them develop their core roles. I understand that the member opposite wants to abolish that fund. The polytechnics will look forward to talking to him about that.
Hon Bill English: Given the Minister’s vast number of bureaucratic tools that he has talked about in the House, what does he say to the constituent in Timaru who said: “However, I was less than impressed to go to a lunchtime speech by Mike Tâmaki to be told I could stay if I filled in the form, date of birth, ethnicity and signature, or Aoraki won’t get paid.”; and does he regard it as an appropriate use of equivalent full-time student funding to fund business lunches in Timaru?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I say to the member that it is lucky we are here, because for 9 years that member did nothing about any spending. He ran a market model. We have changed—
Mr SPEAKER: No. The Minister will now answer the question.
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I would tell Mr Tâmaki that thank goodness Labour is here and is able to change this situation and do something about it, because the National Government did nothing about any of these issues for the 9 years it was in power.
Hon Bill English: When will the Minister do something about the Tertiary Education Commission, a body that consumes $45 million of taxpayers’ money each year and is paying out for sit-down cooking demonstrations, twilight golf, long business lunches, and radio courses in Mâori singalong?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: The Tertiary Education Commission, which oversees the spending of $2.4 billion and has delivered such things as the Performance-based Research Fund agreed to by people right throughout this House, and which is currently about 2 years old, is doing something about the very courses that that member’s Government did nothing about when it was in power.
Hon Bill English: Can the Minister confirm that the effect of his now having put caps on community education funding is to guarantee to the polytechs around $120 million, and that they will have to find all sorts of creative ways to spend that money, which could easily be spent much better elsewhere?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: No, because, as the sector knows, over the next 3 years this area of funding will be progressively changed.
Compliance Costs—International Variations
12. CLAYTON COSGROVE (Labour—Waimakariri) to the Minister for Small Business: What recent reports has he received on international variations in compliance costs for businesses and how do they compare with the New Zealand situation?
Hon JOHN TAMIHERE (Minister for Small Business): In addition to the World Bank’s Doing Business in 2005 report that placed New Zealand No. 1 for the ease of doing business out of 145 countries, during the recess I also received a report from the New South Wales Chamber of Commerce that showed small business in Australia is struggling with the range of compliance regimes, such as payroll tax.
Clayton Cosgrove: What reports has he seen indicating Australia’s payroll tax, stamp duty, and complicated GST system make Australia a better place for small to medium sized enterprises to do business?
Hon JOHN TAMIHERE: I can confirm that I have received no official reports suggesting that. In fact, the only person who seems to think that these are great ideas is the Leader of the Opposition. However, I do note in a report that more businesses in New South Wales favour a reduction in compliance burden to lower taxes. Of course, if they moved to New Zealand they could have both.
Paul Adams: How can the Minister continue to claim to have eased the tax burden on small businesses when, for the second year running, the Business New Zealand KPMG compliance cost survey reports that tax compliance costs cause the greatest angst for smaller businesses, or is he relying on the tarot cards to predict when these mysterious benefits for small businesses might materialise?
Hon JOHN TAMIHERE: I do not go to that member’s church for tarot cards, but having stated that, the KPMG Business New Zealand compliance cost survey noted that compliance costs have actually reduced by an average of 17 percent per business.
Questions to Members
Question No 1 to Member
RODNEY HIDE (Leader—ACT): I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I ask for your guidance on this. This relates to a question to Mr Russell Fairbrother on 14 September 2004. He was asked when Nanaia Mahuta would be presenting a submission to the select committee. His answer was that it was received outside the parameters set by the committee, so at that stage there was no date set. You then intervened and provided an answer to the question, when you said that “The member said that it was not going to be heard.” Now, in fact, the member had not said that. You said that. You answered the question, and that satisfied the House. My question is in relation to the question I am putting today. First of all, am I able to refer to you answering the question in an emphatic way, in which case do I relate that back to what Mr Fairbrother said or what?
Mr SPEAKER: Well, the member can try his luck. All I can say is that I will let the Standing Orders stand, and I am not going to be unreasonable about this issue.
RODNEY HIDE: Well, no, I am afraid you have not answered my question.
Mr SPEAKER: Well, I have not heard what the member is going to ask—
RODNEY HIDE: Well, I said earlier today that you denied that you actually direct members. Here you actually have a situation where you answered the question that was put to the member, and you said something that was quite different to what the member had said. The problem that we have is that we sit in this House and have no option. We accepted your word when you said “The member said that it was not going to be heard.” The member actually said no such thing. He said it did not meet the criteria. I want to know what the standing is of your comment.
Mr SPEAKER: Well, let me put it this way. The standing of my comment is as I made it, and I stand by it. When I hear the member’s question I will judge accordingly. [Interruption]
Rodney Hide: I am sorry? [Interruption] I thought, Mr Speaker, that was the last time.
Mr SPEAKER: No, no, I just tell the member that he had not started to ask the question. Please ask it. [Interruption]
Rodney Hide: See how they get away with it, Mr Speaker?
Mr SPEAKER: The Minister concerned will leave the Chamber.
Hon Chris Carter withdrew from the Chamber.
Fisheries and Other Sea-related Legislation Committee—Member's Submission
1. RODNEY HIDE (Leader—ACT) to the Chairperson of the Fisheries and Other Sea-related Legislation Committee: Does he stand by his statement on 14 September that Nanaia Mahuta’s submission “was received outside the parameters set by the committee”, and was an exception made for this submission to be heard?
RUSSELL FAIRBROTHER (Chairperson of the Fisheries and Other Sea-related Legislation Committee): Yes, and no.
Rodney Hide: Was it correct when the Speaker summarised the member’s answer by saying on 14 September that Nanaia Mahuta was not going to be heard, and if it is not correct, why does he think the Speaker would understand whether Nanaia Mahuta was going to be heard?
Mr SPEAKER: In so far as the member could relate this to his responsibilities as chairman of the committee, he may answer.
RUSSELL FAIRBROTHER: Hansard shows that in response to my answer “It did not meet the criteria.”, the Speaker said: “The member said that it was not going to be heard. He said it did not meet the criteria.”
Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. It is very good to have Hansard read back, but I actually asked a question. I did not want Mr Fairbrother to read the Hansard, which I have in my hand.
Mr SPEAKER: Repeat the question, please.
Rodney Hide: Was it correct when the Speaker said, in summarising the chairman’s answer, that Nanaia Mahuta was not going to be heard, and then she was, and how does he think the Speaker would have any idea whether Nanaia Mahuta was going to be heard?
Mr SPEAKER: That was a slightly different question from the original one, but the member may answer.
RUSSELL FAIRBROTHER: At the time the Speaker made that comment he was correct. I have no idea how the Speaker’s mind works, and that is why I am here and he is up there.
Dr Wayne Mapp: On what basis did the chairperson decide that she should be heard?
RUSSELL FAIRBROTHER: The assigning of the last group of oral submissions was delegated by the committee to the independent specialist adviser. They were heard on 4 October and included Nanaia Mahuta.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: If Nanaia Mahuta’s submission was, to use the chairman’s words, “received outside the parameters set by the committee”, why was it heard?
RUSSELL FAIRBROTHER: The committee resolved to let the independent specialist adviser call other submitters not selected by the committee, and those submitters are to be heard on 4 October.
Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I am struggling with that answer. It is clearly for the committee to decide who is to be heard. We came to the House and we asked Mr Fairbrother whether she would be heard and on what date, and he explained that her submission was outside the criteria, and, in the magical way that your mind works, Mr Speaker, you knew that she was not to be heard, and you said that, and that was told to the House. I understand that situations change and people can later on think it is better to hear a submission than not hear it, but the very idea that this was not a decision of the committee, of which that member is the chairman, has to be preposterous and out of order. It is for the committee to decide who will be heard, not some independent body, even if it is appointed by that committee.
Mr SPEAKER: The question of whether the committee should have delegated that decision is a fair question, but that is a matter for the committee. There is nothing further for me to judge on this particular point of order.
Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. It is a new point of order.
Mr SPEAKER: It had better be new, because—
Rodney Hide: It is very new.
Mr SPEAKER: It better be.
Rodney Hide: You said that the question of whether it should have been delegated is a fair question. Does that mean that a committee could delegate anything, or are there some parameters that apply? When there have been so many thousands of submissions, the very idea that the decision as to who will appear and who will not—particularly when one submitter is a Labour Party MP, and she gets chosen over all the other people that do not get chosen—gets delegated, seems to me odd. Is it possible for a committee to delegate anything?
Mr SPEAKER: That is a hypothetical question.
End of Questions for Oral Answer.