With permission, I should like to make a statement about the business for next week. The business for the week commencing 4 April will be:
Monday 4 April—Opposition Day (14th allotted day). There will be a debate entitled “Police Cuts” followed by a debate entitled “The Government’s Green Policy”. Both debates will arise on an Opposition motion.
Tuesday 5 April—General debate on Britain’s contribution to humanitarian relief and Libya, followed by a general debate on matters to be raised before the forthcoming Adjournment as nominated by the Backbench Business Committee.
Colleagues will wish to be reminded that the House will meet at 11.30 am on this day.
The business for the week commencing 25 April will include:
Monday 25 April—The House will not be sitting.
Tuesday 26 April—Second Reading of the Finance (No.3) Bill.
Wednesday 27 April—Opposition Day (15th allotted day). There will be a debate on an Opposition motion, subject to be announced, followed by a motion on section 5 of the European Communities (Amendment) Act 1993.
Thursday 28 April—Second Reading of the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (Amendment) Bill.
The provisional business for the week commencing 2 May will include:
Monday 2 May—The House will not be sitting.
Tuesday 3 May—Consideration in Committee of the Finance (No.3) Bill (day 1).
I should also like to inform the House that the business in Westminster Hall for 28 April 2011 will be:
Thursday 28 April 2011—A debate on Sudan.
I am grateful to the Leader of the House for that statement. First, may I join the House in offering our condolences to the hon. Member for South East Cornwall (Sheryll Murray) on her tragic loss? We are all thinking of her.
The House has welcomed the two statements this week on Libya, and we saw the news overnight that the former Foreign Minister has fled to the United Kingdom. Will the Leader of the House tell us what plans he has to keep Members informed during the recess, and whether he will consider seeking the recall of Parliament should circumstances warrant it? May I also welcome the changes he has made in response to my request to extend topical questions to the Department for International Development and the Cabinet Office? After the failure of Ministers from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to clarify matters in oral questions, may we have a full debate on the spectacular incompetence that is the Government’s policy on higher education? The White Paper has still not appeared, and most of today’s students will probably graduate before it does so. What was clearly promised as the exception—universities charging students fees of £9,000 a year—has become the norm, because the Government are simply incapable of getting their policy and their sums right.
May I say how much we are looking forward to Monday’s debate, so that we have the chance to discuss the Government’s complete mishandling of police cuts? Local communities will be astonished to discover that police officers are to be taken off the streets to be put into offices so that they can cover the work of civilian staff who are losing their jobs, and will be surprised by the news that special constables could be offered Nectar points to boost recruitment. Yesterday, the Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice was completely unable to answer a very simple question: will front-line police numbers fall? Perhaps his boss will be able to do so on Monday.
As for the greatest disaster of all—the NHS reforms—may we have a statement from the Prime Minister, now that we read in The Times that he is cutting the Health Secretary loose and taking personal control because he is worried that the plans will backfire. A Government source is quoted as saying:
“Are we doing this in one step or a number of steps? There’s no settled course.”
In other words, they do not have a clue.
May we have a debate on personal privacy and the serious and persistent problem of open microphones being attached to members of the Cabinet? Is it not unfair that at a time at which the Deputy Prime Minister is desperately trying to distance himself from the policies of his own Government, we should discover by those underhand means that in fact he agrees with the Prime Minister on everything? So concerned is he that we read that he has asked for good news initiatives with which he could be associated. Does that sound familiar? Perhaps he could be frogmarched to the nearest cashpoint to pay back the young people who will still lose their education maintenance allowance despite this week’s U-turn?
We also learn that, as the Lib Dems face catastrophe at the polls, there are plans for a total rethink of their image which, according to insiders, could
“even include changing the name and logo”.
What a stroke of genius, so may we have a statement from the Deputy Prime Minister on whether he has any plans to change the law on party names and symbols to permit that? It would be a great pity to lose the bird completely. What about a dodo or an albatross, although I am not entirely sure that it would fit on the ballot paper? As for that embarrassing party name, I can quite understand why some Lib Dems want to get rid of it, so why not change it to, say, “the Conservative party” and just get on with it ?
Finally, has the Leader of the House seen the Private Member’s Bill that is due to be debated tomorrow that would abolish our much-loved national park authorities? Having seen off the Bill to cut the minimum wage, and after helping me to overturn Westminster’s barmy byelaw, the right hon. Gentleman is now on a hat-trick, so will he assure the House that he will oppose that measure too, and will he write about it in his blog? The House will have noticed with great sadness that he has not blogged since I began to read it. He once modestly wrote that he is just the B movie after Prime Minister’s questions, so may I assure him that if he begins again we will try to make a star of him yet? On that note, I wish the right hon. Gentleman, the Deputy Leader of the House, you, Mr Deputy Speaker, and all Members a very happy Easter.
I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his kind words about my hon. Friend the Member for South East Cornwall (Sheryll Murray) which were appreciated by Members from all parts of the House. It was a tragedy that took place after she had taken part in a debate on coastguards and marine safety. On recall, as I have said previously, we will keep the position under active consideration. The right hon. Gentleman will know that at the request of a Minister, Mr Speaker can recall Parliament. We will do so if circumstances require it.
On the defection of the Libyan Foreign Minister, there will be an opportunity on Tuesday morning in the debate on humanitarian aid and Libya to update the House. We want to encourage those around Gaddafi to abandon him, and we welcome the further defection, which we hope will allow political transition and real reform to take place. Moussa Koussa is one of the most senior members of the Gaddafi regime, and the Foreign Secretary has regularly been in touch with him, most recently last Friday.
On policing, we welcome the fact that there is a debate on that subject next Monday in Opposition time. It remains our view that the police can make the necessary savings while protecting front-line services and prioritising the visibility and availability of policing. On health, the one change that the Government will not make is the change advocated by the right hon. Gentleman’s party to reduce resources for the NHS—cuts that would plunge the NHS into crisis, put at risk cancer drug funds, thousands more health visitors and better support for carers, to which we are all committed.
The right hon. Gentleman took a sideswipe at the two previous Prime Ministers. I am surprised that he wanted to refresh our memory of the Gillian Duffy incident, and the embarrassment of the previous Prime Minister. He then took a side swipe at Tony Blair and his cashpoint policy. The distancing of the Labour party from its history is well under way.
I am happy to say that the Deputy Prime Minister will answer questions at the Dispatch Box on Tuesday. We have extended the length of time for questions to the Deputy Prime Minister to 40 minutes, which will give him ample time to sweep away the somewhat frivolous suggestions that we have just heard from the right hon. Gentleman. Finally, may I reassure the right hon. Gentleman that we will block the Bill to which he referred? We will all miss during the month of April the refreshing contributions that he makes every Thursday morning.
I welcome my hon. Friend’s interest. There may be an opportunity later today in the remaining stages of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill to raise the issue. As he knows, we are changing the law so that in future police will have powers to remove those encampments. In the meantime, we welcome what the Greater London authority has done to remove the encampments on the green. We welcome the enforcement action taken by Westminster city council to deal with the encampments on the pavement, and further discussions are under way between the police and the relevant authorities to make sure that Parliament square is in a fit and proper condition for the royal wedding.
The House will be shocked to learn that yesterday, during an evidence hearing held by the Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs told the Committee that she planned to restart the sale of Forestry Commission land. Will the Leader of the House update us as to why we have had yet another U-turn by the most hapless Secretary of State in Cabinet?
We inherited an ongoing programme of sales of Forestry Commission land from the previous Government. All new sales of forestry land were halted on 17 February. We will decide on the level of any future sales and the conditions to be attached, but only once we have received advice from the independent panel that we recently set up.
Will my right hon. Friend find time to allow the Under-Secretary of State for Transport, the hon. Member for Hemel Hempstead (Mike Penning), who has responsibility for shipping, to make an oral statement in the Chamber at the conclusion of the current consultation on plans to modernise the coastguard service? My right hon. Friend will understand that the future of the UK coastguard is of great concern to Members from all nine parties represented in this House and across the UK. During two debates in Westminster Hall, 33 Members were able to speak, but many more were unable to do so because of a shortage of allotted time.
I welcome my hon. Friend’s interest in this important subject. She will know that we have extended the consultation period. The Minister responsible has said that the Government will not give their response to the consultation until the Transport Committee, which is looking at the matter, has reported on it. She will know that this is a genuine consultation. We have already received 1,200 responses and look forward to getting more. The proposals will hopefully deliver a better joined-up and more resilient search and rescue co-ordination service.
The regeneration of Barnsley town centre depends on Barnsley council being able to access the assets currently owned by Yorkshire Forward, the now defunct regional development agency, and yet the Government are determined to flog them off. May we have a debate on this crucial issue, which is important to communities up and down the country?
I understand the hon. Lady’s concern. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills is aware of the issue and is looking at the individual assets concerned to see whether he can come to a speedy decision. I will pass on her renewed concern to him and ask him to write to her.
The Government were required by law to publish the child poverty strategy and appoint a commission to scrutinise it by midnight tonight. Will the Leader of the House explain the delay, when the strategy will be published and how it feels to be a law-breaker?
I am grateful to the hon. Lady. This subject has been raised in previous business questions. The answer is that the Government will launch the child poverty strategy before the House rises for the Easter recess. That statement will address the specific point, which she raised, of how the Government intend to proceed on the issue of legality on which she has just touched.
When asked, the majority of people in this country apparently describe themselves as middle class, yet there are concerns that they are being discriminated against positively. May we have a debate on the hard-pressed, squeezed middle class?
I hope that I can identify myself with that part of the population. There will be an opportunity to look at that issue during the Second Reading of the Finance Bill. My hon. Friend will know that a wide range of measures have been introduced that I think will be welcomed by the middle class, and indeed by all classes, particularly some of the steps we have taken to promote growth. The freeze on council tax will be welcomed by upper, middle and lower classes, and indeed by every member of this society.
Earlier this month there was a very disappointing announcement that the Cardiff to Swansea rail line would not be electrified by the Government, a decision that was predicated on what was called an unfavourable business case. In a written answer on 7 March, the Minister of State, Department for Transport, the right hon. Member for Chipping Barnet (Mrs Villiers) said that she would deposit the business case in the Library. It is yet to be deposited. May we have a debate in Government time on the need for observance of the ministerial code and timely responses from the Government?
I was in the House when my right hon. Friend the Minister made that statement, which was warmly received. I recall that no extra time would be saved by the further electrification to which the hon. Gentleman refers, but I will of course pass on his request for more information to my right hon. Friend and see that it is promptly delivered.
My right hon. Friend will be well aware of my view, which is shared by many Members across the House, that the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority is an overly expensive and bureaucratic organisation. Will he confirm that I am right to be dismayed, having heard last week that in the near future it will preside over not only our salaries, but our pensions, with the inherent and astronomical costs that that will entail?
My hon. Friend may know that under the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010, IPSA will assume responsibility not only for allowances, but for pay and pensions. That is enshrined in statute. We believe that it makes sense to have one body responsible for allowances, pay and pensions, rather than divided responsibilities, which we have at the moment.
The Leader of the House may be aware that the funding axe is hovering over certain long-standing national health service surveys that provide us all with information about public perceptions. That might not be unconnected with the fact that they show public satisfaction levels to be at an all-time high, roughly double or triple what they were in 1997. I had an Adjournment debate about that yesterday in Westminster Hall, but the answers were not forthcoming, so may we have a statement from the Dispatch Box from the Secretary of State for Health?
As the hon. Gentleman has said, he has just had an Adjournment debate, and I am not sure that it would make sense immediately after that to repeat it at the Dispatch Box. I will pass on his concern to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and see if there is any way he can add to the information he was asked for in the debate.
Yesterday, I made some comments in the House for which I must unreservedly apologise to the Leader of the House, because I gave the impression that he had done a good job and I understand that that has affected his career prospects. To make up for that, would he make a statement next week about having another question time in the House? Would it not be a good idea to have the second most powerful Minister here to answer questions: the Chief Whip?
I am grateful for my hon. Friend’s earlier comments. I think that my career has peaked, so he need not be too worried about jeopardising my future. I am not sure that there is time in the congested programme for ministerial questions to squeeze in my right hon. Friend the Chief Whip, but his door is ever open, as my hon. Friend knows, and he is always particularly pleased to see him.
Last week’s Budget did little to help hard-working people up and down the country. More than 55,000 families in Liverpool will pay on average an extra £450 in VAT this year. With inflation at 4.4%, food and energy bills rising rapidly, but wages staying flat, household budgets are really being squeezed. May we please have an urgent debate on falling standards of living and the Government’s lamentable response to the problem?
The short answer is no. We have just had a four-day debate on the Budget, during which there was ample opportunity to make those points. Nonetheless, there will be the Second Reading of the Finance Bill when we return after Easter, during which the hon. Lady will have an opportunity to share her concerns and have them addressed by one of my hon. Friends.
Given the news that the banks in the Republic of Ireland are likely to need yet another €30 billion bail-out, may we please have a statement on the impact this will have on this country and, in particular, confirmation that we will not be adding to our existing liability under the Loans to Ireland Act 2010?
As my hon. Friend knows, the Chancellor of the Exchequer made a statement earlier this year outlining the assistance we are giving to Ireland. Ireland is carrying out stress tests on its major banks. As I know from my time as a Treasury Minister, it is not always helpful to comment from the Dispatch Box on the stability or otherwise of other countries. He will understand if I do not comment any further.
Last week I asked the Leader of the House how we could get an apology from his Cabinet colleague, Baroness Warsi, over the claim she made last year that the Conservatives failed to win an overall majority at the general election because of electoral fraud, predominantly in the Asian community. That accusation was completely refuted last month by the Electoral Commission, which reported that there had been only two prosecutions and one conviction. The Leader of the House generously replied last week that
“I am sure she will have heard what the right hon. Gentleman has said and will want to respond to it in the appropriate way.”—[Official Report, 24 March 2011; Vol. 525, c. 1103.]
I am sure that he will be shocked to hear that I have heard nothing from her. Will he persuade his colleague to provide an answer?
May we have a debate about the continued problem of antisocial behaviour in many of our communities? In particular, may we have a debate about the interesting proposals put forward by Baroness Newlove, which outline how communities in places like my constituency can take more control over the problem of combating antisocial behaviour?
I welcome the Newlove report, which was published yesterday. My hon. Friend might have an opportunity later today in proceedings on the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill—perhaps on Third Reading—to develop his points, but we look to act upon Baroness Newlove’s imaginative recommendations to encourage local agencies and central Government to change and make a real difference to local communities.
Yesterday, Members from all parts of the House received an e-mail from the Financial Secretary to the Treasury with some helpful information about the financial services compensation scheme. The covering note, however, states:
“I hope you will find this helpful in replying to queries…. Please use this letter in responding to any constituent correspondence”
on the subject. Does this mean that specific queries will be ignored by the Treasury? Will the Leader of the House ensure that specific queries on that very important subject are responded to?
My hon. Friend the Financial Secretary to the Treasury was genuinely trying to assist the House, as I am sure the hon. Gentleman recognises, by letting Members have a response to a question that is asked quite frequently. Of course, it remains the case that any specific requests for more details or information will get prompt consideration from my hon. Friend.
The Read it Together scheme in Hull, which has 200 volunteers working with six or seven children each in 69 schools in the city, has been going for 35 years and is a great success story. All its funding has been cut, however, because of the cut in funding from national Government to Hull city council. May we have a debate about why voluntary sector groups in some of the poorest areas in the country are being let down by the funding from councils and from the coalition Government, especially in areas where there is no private sector involvement?
I welcome the resources of those who run the Read it Together scheme. We had a debate in February about local government finance, and it is up to Hull city council to decide how best to allocate resources to the scheme. I hope that the council will take those decisions sensibly and sensitively and do what other local authorities have done by protecting worthwhile schemes such as the one that the hon. Lady mentions.
I am sure that my right hon. Friend will have seen the article in the Daily Express yesterday about the large proportion of the year when the House does not sit. May we have a debate about the parliamentary timetable and the ability of Members to hold the Government to account?
I did indeed see the article, and of course my hon. Friend will know that when the House is not sitting it does not mean that MPs are not working; there is work to be done in the constituencies. We have made some significant changes to the way in which we organise the parliamentary calendar, and yesterday we actually added four days to the sitting calendar. This year we are going to sit longer than last year and, indeed, the year before, so any implication that we are working less hard is wholly unfounded.
Given the opaque answer on coastguards provided to the hon. Member for Truro and Falmouth (Sarah Newton), may we have a debate about the coastguards, either in Government time or Backbench Business Committee time, before the relevant consultation ends? That would allow the Government to show how seriously they take our maritime insurance policy, namely the coastguards, especially as the two debates in Westminster Hall were inadequate in both time and structure.
I am not sure that those two debates in Westminster Hall were inadequate; they enabled a large number of people to speak. I have no plans to hold another debate in Government time, but as I said earlier the Transport Committee is conducting an inquiry into the matter, and that might be an opportunity for the hon. Gentleman to make any points that he feels have not already been made.
As no nuclear power station has ever been built on time or on budget, is there not an urgent need to extend the review of nuclear power in this country to include the cost, the timetable and the danger of an attack from a terrorist group—and in order to give the Deputy Prime Minister the opportunity to explain to the House his view that the fallout from Fukushima, both radioactive and political, may make our nuclear plans unaffordable?
It remains the Government’s policy that nuclear has a key role to play in future power supply. We are doing a review under Dr Weightman to see whether there any lessons to be learned from what has happened in Japan, but there was enough delay to the matter under the previous Government, and we do not propose to add to that any more.
In south Leamington Spa, an employment club has been set up in the Brunswick healthy living centre, and it is proving successful at getting people back into work. It costs just £27 an hour to run and has so far helped more than 100 people, of whom 18 are now in employment again. Will the Leader of the House provide Government time for a debate about measures to boost employment and the use of such job clubs elsewhere?
I welcome what my hon. Friend says about the work club in his constituency. He will know that, in the Budget the week before last, the Chancellor included additional funding for work clubs—for precisely the reason that my hon. Friend gives. They are effective ways of helping those who are out of work to find work; they give support to them in making contacts, finding opportunities and helping with CVs; and we very much want to continue our support for those worthwhile organisations.
Given the situation in Libya, it seems unlikely that the House will not be recalled during the three-week recess, and I hope that the Leader of the House will reaffirm what he said a few moments ago. Can the House be informed, however, about the position of Libya’s former Foreign Minister, who undoubtedly had a great deal of involvement with terrorism? Should not the House be told as much information as possible about Lockerbie? As the person who effected it first and foremost, he would have the maximum amount of information, which I hope he would be willing to reveal to the British authorities.
As I said in response to the shadow Leader of the House, we will keep under review the need to recall the House. We have kept the House in the picture on Libya, with regular statements and debates in Government time, and there will be another opportunity on Tuesday to address the situation there. I believe that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Development, who will open that debate, will update the House on the position, and if the hon. Gentleman is here on Tuesday, he may have an opportunity to speak in the debate and to develop the point that he has just made.
A number of small to medium-sized enterprises in my constituency, Alcon, Forensic Pathways and Aspire to name just three, have raised concerns about the excessive bureaucracy that they have faced in the past, so will my right hon. Friend arrange for a debate about the reduction of bureaucracy for SMEs, so that we can learn more about what the Government propose to do to help such businesses to do more business?
I am grateful to my hon. Friend, who will know that the issue was covered to some extent in our debate about the Budget. We want SMEs to be the drivers of growth in this country, and there was a deregulation package in the Budget. We have extended the small business rate relief holiday, increased the SME rate for research and development tax credits and created enterprise zones, so I think that the Government are doing a lot to encourage SMEs to grow and develop.
I declare my interest as a former college principal.
I was astounded to hear the Secretary of State for Education say on Monday that further education colleges, which the majority of post-16 students attend,
“do not have cafeterias or kitchens in place.”—[Official Report, 28 March 2011; Vol. 526, c. 59.]
Will the Leader of the House arrange for the Secretary of State to come to the House and put the record straight by apologising to students, staff and governors in colleges?
I will relay those remarks to my right hon. Friend. I think he said “some” do not have those facilities, rather than “all”, but I will certainly relay the hon. Gentleman’s concern. As someone with an FE college in his constituency, I know that there was considerable confusion about the capital programme under the previous Government, and we are now busy trying to recover from that.
Businesses in my constituency and, indeed, the New Anglia local enterprise partnership are excited by the Chancellor’s announcement of enterprise zones, which my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House has just mentioned. Will he arrange for a debate in the House about the effect that such zones will have on the local economies of the areas where they go and, indeed, on the national economy?
I am slightly surprised that the Opposition have not chosen enterprise zones as the subject for a debate on Monday. In view of the large number of Labour MPs who want one in their constituency, it would have been a popular subject for the Opposition to have chosen, but my hon. Friends in the Treasury will have noted the substantive bid that my hon. Friend has just made.
I gather that after last week’s business questions, when the issue of the child poverty strategy was raised, there was then a frantic ring-round of child poverty campaign groups telling them that the strategy would be launched next Tuesday—5 April. Can the Leader of the House tell us why he did not think it fit to tell MPs that that was going to happen, and why it is being left until the last day before the recess when we are on a one-line Whip and not many MPs will be around? What is he trying to hide?
Next Tuesday is a sitting day, and it seems an appropriate day on which to make a statement. I hope that the hon. Lady is not implying that I misled the House in any way in last week’s business statement, when I announced the business that I knew was forthcoming, as I have done this week. In response to an earlier question from the hon. Member for Washington and Sunderland West (Mrs Hodgson), I indicated that before the Easter recess the Government would make a statement on the child poverty strategy and deal with the legal situation that she raised with me.
Can consideration be given to a debate on the criteria that mortgage lenders use to approve loans, particularly with respect to those who carry out community work? I have an example in my constituency of a foster carer whose legitimate income from community work is being denied by a major UK mortgage provider. I would very much welcome consideration of that.
I am sorry to hear of the problems that confront my hon. Friend’s constituent. This might be an appropriate subject for an Adjournment debate, or he might like to raise it with Treasury Ministers to see whether they could pursue it with the mortgage lender to which he referred.
Can we have an early debate on the contradictions between Government Departments’ policies? In particular, can he get the Secretary of State for Education to come here to explain why his Department, in connivance with the free schools organisation, E-ACT, has conspired with the Conservative-Liberal leadership of Redbridge council to evict, without consultation, elderly groups, ethnic minority groups, young people’s groups and disabled groups from a community centre in my borough without any right of scrutiny or recall?
I will share the hon. Gentleman's concerns with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State. I say to the hon. Gentleman, however, that there is a real appetite in many parts of London for a free school. The legislation has been warmly welcomed and a number of parents are very anxious that this initiative should be developed with great speed.
In my constituency, farmers and residents are struggling to make known their views about the plans for reviewing the Severn estuary flood arrangements through the Environment Agency. There is concern about the need to listen to local views. May we therefore have a debate about the accountability mechanism for the Environment Agency, to encourage it to embrace a localism agenda?
I am sure that the Environment Agency will have heard what my hon. Friend has said. It very much wants to work with community groups. I do not know whether he has flood wardens or flood action groups in his constituency, but the Environment Agency would very much like to liaise with them as it develops its plans and orders its priorities. I will bring his remarks to the attention of the EA.
Given the bombshell in the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Budget speech about sweeping away planning protections, our green spaces and green belt are now vulnerable to any developer. Can we have an urgent debate on this, because middle-class folk, and all classes, are very concerned about the threat to our green spaces and our green belt? We have the local elections on 5 May. Surely the Government should come clean on green belt and green space protection before people vote in those elections.
Green belt is specifically protected, so the hon. Gentleman should not have any concern about that. The rest of this issue lies in the context of the Localism Bill and the national planning strategy, and the hon. Gentleman should wait and see how the policy is developed in July.
Last year, we had the second highest recorded level of anti-Semitic incidents, and there is a strong feeling in the Jewish community that anti-Semitism is on the rise. Clearly, we as MPs have a right and a duty to set an example, but Cabinet Ministers have an even greater responsibility. Can the Leader of the House remind his right hon. Friends that it is unacceptable to accuse other colleagues of being Nazis or using Goebbels-type tactics in the media?
Yes, I agree that not only Cabinet Ministers but every Member of the House should be very careful about the language that they use. I will certainly draw my hon. Friend’s remarks to the attention of my fellow Ministers. I am sure that you, Mr Deputy Speaker, will do all you can to ensure that no inappropriate remarks are made in this Chamber.
This week at the Ebbw Vale metallurgical society, I met the top brass from the Tata steel company. They are very concerned about the Chancellor’s carbon floor price proposals, which impose massive unilateral costs on the UK steel industry—costs that no other European country will enforce. Can we have a statement from the Energy Secretary and a debate on this issue?
As the hon. Gentleman knows, the Administration are committed to moving towards a less carbon-intensive future. At Business, Innovation and Skills questions earlier—he may have been in his place—my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State said that he would have a good look at those who are intensive users of energy to see whether the problem that the hon. Gentleman has described might be overcome.