The business for next week is as follows:
Monday 13 May—Continuation of the debate on the Queen’s Speech on health and social care.
Tuesday 14 May—Continuation of the debate on the Queen’s Speech on the cost of living.
Wednesday 15 May—Conclusion of the debate on the Queen’s Speech on economic growth.
Thursday 16 May—General debate on mental health. The subject for this debate has been nominated by the Backbench Business Committee.
The provisional business for the week commencing 20 May will include:
Monday 20 May—Remaining stages of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill (Day 1).
Tuesday 21 May—Conclusion of remaining stages of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill (Day 2), followed by motion to approve a European document relating to Syria.
I should also like to inform the House that the business in Westminster Hall for 16 May will be:
Thursday 16 May—Debate on the seventh report of the Education Select Committee on careers guidance for young people, followed by debate on the seventh report of the Science and Technology Committee on educating tomorrow’s engineers.
I thank the Leader of the House for his statement. The next time the Government cannot find their Education Minister and have to bring business questions forward, I wonder whether they might like to give us a little more notice—I am still catching my breath. I also thank him for advance sight of the written ministerial statement he tabled today confirming the Bills announced yesterday. I am sure that you, Mr Speaker, will be as concerned as I am that while he provided Members with one page of information, the Downing street spin machine provided the press with 93 pages of detail on the same Bills. Will he confirm that he will arrange for a copy of that briefing to be placed in the House of Commons Library immediately and that in future he will ensure that Members of this House are accorded the same courtesies as are accorded to the press?
I welcome to the House the new Labour Member, my hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Emma Lewell-Buck), the first woman to represent Shields in Parliament. She will be a fighter for her constituents. I also welcome back into the Conservative fold the hon. Member for Mid Bedfordshire (Nadine Dorries). I wonder whether the Leader of the House is taking bets on how long it will take the Chief Whip to wish she was back in the jungle.
I suspect that last week’s local elections had a more profound impact on the Queen’s Speech than the Leader of the House can let on. They were a disaster across the English shires for the Conservatives, as Labour won in many southern marginals and hordes of true blue voters flocked to the UK Independence party. I followed with interest the Conservative implosion in the Leader of the House’s own backyard of Cambridgeshire, where the Conservatives lost control of the council for the first time in more than 15 years. The Conservative leader of the council even managed to lose his seat—and to a Liberal Democrat. I hope that the Leader of the House has congratulated his deputy, the right hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington (Tom Brake), on that success for the Liberal Democrats on his home turf. It is hard to imagine, but the Leader of the House did better in the elections than the Prime Minister, who managed to lose Witney to Labour and see the Conservative candidate beaten into third place by UKIP.
The signs are that the panic is setting in. Lord Lawson is calling for an exit from Europe—[Hon. Members: “Hear, hear.”] He has some support on the Government Back Benches, I hear. Lord Tebbit is reported as saying that UKIP’s policies are now closer to the traditional Conservative agenda, and the hon. Member for North East Somerset (Jacob Rees-Mogg) is calling for a big, open and comprehensive coalition with Farage. This is a failing Conservative party that cannot even hold on to the Tory shires and whose Members are starting to behave like headless chickens. They are so bad at listening to their own members that this week one of them resorted to taking out a full page advertisement in The Times to tell them how out of touch they are. The irony is that he probably paid for it with his millionaire’s tax cut.
Many of us were shocked by the omission from the Gracious Speech of the promised legislation to ensure plain packaging for cigarettes. The public health Minister, the hon. Member for Broxtowe (Anna Soubry), publicly supported the proposal, and when the Leader of the House was Secretary of State for Health he said:
“The evidence is clear that packaging helps to recruit smokers, so it makes sense to consider having less attractive packaging. It's wrong that children are being attracted to smoke by glitzy designs on packets.”
Does he stand by that view? Why have the measures on minimum alcohol pricing been dropped, too? After this week’s revelations that the Prime Minister’s election guru, Lynton Crosby, has business links to big tobacco and the drinks industry, can the Leader of the House assure us that no inside lobbying has taken place at No. 10? Or is that why the Government’s proposal to introduce a statutory register of lobbyists has also mysteriously disappeared?
Yesterday’s Queen’s Speech showed that the Government may have legislated for fixed five-year Parliaments but that they have run out of ideas after just three. Instead of new ideas to get our economy growing again, all we get is a thin, cobbled-together legislative programme that is completely lacking in ambition. Our last Session saw parliamentary time unfilled, badly drafted, badly managed Bills, and a U-turn, on average, once every seven sitting days. Yesterday’s Queen’s Speech will give no one confidence that in the coming year we will not see more of the same.
This was the Government’s third Queen’s Speech, and all we have had is three years of failure, with low growth, falling living standards, and rising borrowing. The Government had nothing to say on tackling the crisis in youth unemployment. They had nothing to back small businesses, nothing to boost housing, nothing on rail fares and nothing on growth. This is a tired Government, out of ideas and out of touch. Even Sir Alex Ferguson could not turn this lot into a winning team.
I am grateful to the shadow Leader of the House for her response. I am glad that she has sufficient puff, even though the shadow Queen’s Speech she published during the recess seemed to have less steam in it than a decent kettle.
I join the hon. Lady in welcoming the hon. Member for South Shields (Emma Lewell-Buck). Although this is a matter for the Chief Whip, I also welcome back my hon. Friend the Member for Mid Bedfordshire (Nadine Dorries). In this case, however, it is probably more appropriate to say, “Welcome back to the jungle.”
The shadow Leader of the House should not trespass on to trying to interpret last Thursday’s local election results, especially those in South Cambridgeshire. I know about mid-terms; I ran the Conservative party’s European and parliamentary election campaign in 1999, two years before the 2001 general election, when we trounced everybody in sight. Labour Members might like to remember that simple fact. They might also like to remember the simple fact that their party, with their leader, secured less impressive local election results last Thursday than Michael Foot or Neil Kinnock did in mid-term. On the day before the local elections there were six Conservative county councillors in South Cambridgeshire; after the elections there were nine, partly because a sitting UKIP councillor in one division lost his seat to a Conservative. I would like the hon. Lady to get her facts right before she ventures into my constituency.
The hon. Lady asked about standardised packaging. I initiated the consultation on standardised packaging, and I did so, as I said at the time, with an open mind. As my right hon. Friends have made clear, no decision has been made in response to the consultation on that. I think that the hon. Lady will recall that the nature of the Queen’s Speech is to put forward proposals for legislation where the Government have decided what their policy is, not to venture into legislation where no policy decision has taken place. It is completely false to imagine that there was ever a question of including reference to standardised packaging in the Queen’s Speech; there never was, and it would not have been appropriate to do so.
As I said, I have looked at the hon. Lady’s alternative Queen’s Speech. In contrast with ours, there seem to be just six Bills, one of which is a finance Bill. It refers to a consumer’s Bill. There is a draft consumer rights Bill in our proposals. She has a proposal for a jobs Bill. I do not know quite what that means, because I have never yet found out how Labour Members can propose policies that would destroy jobs while guaranteeing people jobs. Where are these jobs supposed to come from? Jobs come from wealth-creating businesses, and that is what this coalition Government have been able to achieve in the past year, with some 500,000 additional jobs. Since the election, 1.2 million extra jobs have been created in the private sector. That is what makes the real difference.
The hon. Lady’s shadow Queen’s Speech refers to a banking Bill. A banking reform Bill is being carried over from the previous Session. She talks about a housing Bill, but as far as I can see her proposals would not get any houses built; we will do that through the Help to Buy scheme and other schemes.
The Labour party’s shadow Queen’s Speech also refers to an immigration Bill. Such a Bill is the centrepiece of our legislative programme, but the Labour party’s version would not impact on net migration numbers at all. It might be reasonable to make sure that migrant workers are not abused, but that is not the issue; the issue is to ensure that we encourage those people who can contribute to this economy, while also ensuring that we are not subject to abuse by those who enter and do not make such a contribution. That is what our immigration Bill will do.
On informing the House on the content of Bills, I remind the hon. Lady that today’s fresh new Order Paper notes that, in addition to the carry-over Bills from the previous Session, the Pensions Bill, the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill, the Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Bill and the Northern Ireland (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill will be presented in this House today, while the Care Bill, the Offender Rehabilitation Bill, the Mesothelioma Bill, the Local Audit and Accountability Bill and the Intellectual Property Bill will be presented in another place. The House therefore has a full programme, commencing today.
The Leader of the House will be aware that the Government’s provisions to enable assets of community value to be listed have already proved useful in saving valued community services such as village shops and public houses from closure. He may, however, share my concern that some of the major public house operators—known as pubcos—are seeking to circumvent the proposals by selling pubs through private contracts with commercial developers without the sale ever being advertised and, therefore, without the community having any notice of what is happening until the pub closes overnight and an application to demolish the premises, often on specious grounds of security costs, is made the next day. This has happened in my constituency, where Enterprise Inns surreptitiously sold the Porcupine public house to Lidl. Will the Leader of the House make time for a debate on this subject?
My hon. Friend is, of course, an asset of considerable value in this House and he played a significant part, through the Localism Act 2011, in securing the much-valued measures. I agree with him. Parishes in my own constituency have seen the value of the assets of community value provisions, which should not be circumvented. I will, of course, ensure that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government hears what my hon. Friend has said, and he might be able to take action.
May we have a debate on the urgent issue of the right to buy and the Government’s broken promise that there would be one-for-one, like-for-like replacements? According to the Department for Communities and Local Government website, for every nine houses sold only one is replaced. This amounts to a broken promise to those people who desperately need affordable housing but who are not getting it.
The hon. Gentleman should first acknowledge that under Labour the number of new social houses being built dropped to its lowest ever level. There is a time lag: the right to buy is of significant value to tenants at the point when they become homeowners, but it also derives a benefit to the housing revenue account, which will enable additional properties to be built in due course.
I am sure that the House agrees that we must protect our national assets, one of which is fishing quota. Currently, small fishermen are trying to wrestle back—on behalf of the Government in many ways and on behalf of citizens—the fishing quota that has been “appropriated” by other quarters and interests. May we have a debate on this issue as soon as possible?
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for raising what is an important issue, not least in her own constituency. I will, of course, talk to my hon. Friends at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and ensure that they take note of what she says. There may be an opportunity for her to raise the issue and for them to respond at the forthcoming DEFRA Question Time.
We are a month into the implementation of the bedroom tax and the benefit cap is about to be rolled out across London. Does the Leader of the House not think that it would be good to have a debate between Members and Ministers from the Departments for Communities and Local Government and for Work and Pensions, because there is clearly a gap? Constituents of mine are being issued with letters from housing associations threatening them with eviction as a result of these measures.
I remind the House and Opposition Members in particular that, as Mr Speaker outlined yesterday, the selection of subjects for the Queen’s Speech debate was made by the Opposition. They could have chosen to debate the Government’s welfare reforms, but they did not. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions will respond to the debate tomorrow. If the hon. Lady wishes to raise the matter then, we will be glad to take part in the debate and to ask why the Labour party, after 13 years of talking about welfare reform that it never delivered, has turned itself into a party that is opposed to the reform of welfare.
Will the Leader of the House arrange a debate or statement on business rates? As he will know, retailers and small retailers in particular have faced incredibly tough trading conditions since 2008, and yet business rates have risen enormously. Businesses across my constituency and particularly those in places such as Saltaire are struggling as a result of the increase in business rates. Given that such businesses are the backbone of our local communities and local economies, the Government should surely do more to alleviate the cost of business rates.
I will, of course, talk to my right hon. and hon. Friends at the Department for Communities and Local Government about that matter. My hon. Friend will note that there is an opportunity in the Queen’s Speech debate to discuss such issues. If memory serves, the debate on Tuesday is about the cost of living. Somebody will tell me if I am wrong about that. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government will respond to the debate. I understand my hon. Friend’s point, but due to the growth incentive, which is part of the drive towards the devolution of responsibilities, local authorities now have greater flexibility to offer business rate discounts in particular circumstances.
May I draw the House’s attention to early-day motion 36, which stands in my name and the names of other Members?
[That this House deplores the Government’s intention to award legal aid franchises to a limited number of contractors, effectively abolishing a client’s right to choose their legal representation; notes that this will reduce the quality of legal representation to the lowest standard possible; further notes the fact that firms currently compete on quality of service and will henceforth be required to compete on the basis of price; regrets the damning effect which this further reform of legal aid is likely to have on high street solicitors firms who are likely to either close or abandon legal aid cases; further notes that this will have a very detrimental effect on the provision of services through the medium of the Welsh language; further notes that this will create vast advice deserts in many rural areas; further regrets the departure from the principle of equality of arms before the law and the rights of all citizens to access to justice; and calls on the Government to abandon this ill-thought through reform immediately.]
The proposals for competitive price tendering of legal aid services are potentially devastating for rural areas and will undoubtedly create advice deserts, threaten the independence of the Bar and undermine Welsh language provision. To cap it all, the Government, when they conclude their discussions, will try to push the proposals through in secondary legislation. We should have a debate on the Floor of the House. This is a potentially devastating move and it should be reconsidered. It is an example of dogma taking precedence over common sense.
I have, of course, looked at the early-day motion. The right hon. Gentleman will recall the debates on the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012. Parliament decided what the regime for statutory instruments should be under that legislation. Although I will convey to my hon. Friends the points that he makes, he should recognise that we had a very generous legal aid system, the cost of which far exceeded that in pretty much every other jurisdiction. To that extent, the coalition Government had to take some difficult decisions.
My constituents in Kettering want ours to be a national health service, not an international health service. They are very keen on the Government’s proposals to stop foreign national health tourists abusing our free health care without contributing to our health system. In which Bill will those proposals be contained? Will the Leader of the House make time available for that Bill at the earliest opportunity? If it is a big Bill with lots of provisions, will he give thought to creating a stand-alone Bill so that these measures can be fast-tracked through Parliament?
I am grateful to my hon. Friend. I think that many people across the country would agree with him.
Notwithstanding what I read in the newspapers this morning, in my experience it is often general practitioners who say that the situation is absurd. I recall a GP speaking to me—forgive me, Mr Speaker, if I tell a little story—about the American and Japanese students who registered at her practice. After a while, they would go to see her when they were leaving and say, “Shall I talk to the receptionist about payment?” She had to say, “There is no payment.” They looked at her as if we were mad because at home they would have paid and they had insurance and were willing to pay. However, because of the structure of the legislation, the national health service said, “You are ordinarily resident here so it is free. End of story.” That is absurd. The students did not expect it and we should not have got into that position. We need to deal with that. The issue is not always abuse. This is a system that should be tightened up.
I anticipate that the measures to which my hon. Friend refers will be part of an immigration Bill later in the Session.
It is humiliating for the Leader of the House to have to defend such a light legislative programme and a coalition Government who have all but run out of road on which they can agree to travel together. He will know that for more than a year I have highlighted a problem for the Nursing and Midwifery Council, which does not have the same powers as other professional regulators to review and revise its disciplinary decisions. Given that there is so little legislation before the House this year, will he help find time for a small but important legal change to deal with that problem?
I was trying to examine to what extent legislation was brought forward when the right hon. Gentleman was a member of the previous Government, although there is nothing intrinsically good about the number of Bills being brought forward. Fifteen Bills were mentioned in the Gracious Speech yesterday, the same number as in 2012. That is, of course, fewer Bills than in 2010, which was a two-year Session, but more than in 2008 or 2007 and the latter part of the Government of which he was a member.
I would say that the Bills being presented are incomparably more substantial, bold and radical. The right hon. Gentleman should look at what is being presented today on the rehabilitation of offenders—my right hon. Friend the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice will say more about that in a statement later; at the pensions Bill and what it will mean for removing the absurd and perverse anomaly whereby people were incentivised not to save, and not given reassurance that the state pension would stand behind them so that their savings could add to that without detracting from it; and at the care Bill. I feel proud that we are addressing the reform of social care—something that signally failed under the previous Labour Government —and providing important protections for the carers of those in need. It is a bold and ambitious Bill from a coalition Government who, notwithstanding the difficult decisions we have had to make, have themselves been bold, ambitious and radical.
I am sure the Leader of the House will join me in congratulating Portsmouth News and the Solent local enterprise partnership, which have worked together to introduce a successful “bridging the gap” scheme and used a £2.1 million regional growth fund bid to help generate local growth and boost local business. May we have a debate in the House to celebrate such successful, innovative business growth schemes, and share other innovative ideas for promoting local growth?
I do indeed join my hon. Friend in welcoming the “bridging the gap” scheme and those who have supported it in her constituency and around Portsmouth and the Solent. It shows how, by working closely with local authorities and businesses, local enterprise partnerships are able to deliver schemes that make sense locally, not least because they are rooted in their local communities and not part of a bureaucracy, which regional development agencies used to be. My hon. Friend draws on a good example of that.
There was nothing in the Budget or the Queen’s Speech about flood insurance. We are in the final weeks of the statement of principles and my constituents are worried about getting flood insurance come July. May we have a statement from the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on exactly what is happening and why getting a coherent policy from July for my constituents is such a shambles?
The hon. Lady will know—I have said this in the House, as has my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State—that we are in negotiations with the Association of British Insurers. She will have noted in the Queen’s Speech the intention to introduce legislation relating to the water industry. The Government are clear that we will take the necessary legislative provisions in this Session not only to support reform of the water industry, but to give it greater resilience, promote competition and provide the framework for flood insurance in the future.
The Government are to be congratulated on a number of the large infrastructure projects that they are proposing, but a number of choke points on the road transport network, including one on the A120 between Braintree and Marks Tey, stop the flow of traffic. The choke points cost time and, as we know, time is money. There are a number of choke points throughout the country. If we want to improve the flow of traffic, it would be worth the Government’s time to listen to Members of the House on where those choke points are. Perhaps the Transport Minister can come to the House to make a statement on how he will address them.
My hon. Friend reminds me that debates in the House are a good opportunity for Members to make those points, not least through Adjournment debates. I recall that my first Adjournment debate in the House in 1997 related to the rebuilding of the A14, which, as he and I know because it is in our region, is as yet unfinished. I hope the coalition Government will finally make that happen, but I know perfectly well the road connection to which he refers. I have no doubt that the Minister of State, Department for Transport, my right hon. Friend the Member for Chelmsford (Mr Burns), understands the problem very well, even if decisions on it might be led more locally through the local enterprise partnership.
Last month, Scottish Coal went into liquidation; this week, it looks very much as if UK Coal will be wound up by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs. That could close Kellingley and Thornley collieries, and six other open-cast mines, at the cost of 2,000-plus jobs. May we have an urgent debate on the future of the British coal mining industry to ensure that the Government’s promises to protect the people at Daw Mill colliery are kept and that the future of the remaining collieries in the UK is secure?
The hon. Gentleman will appreciate that I am not in a position to speculate on the position of limited companies, but he will know that the Minister without Portfolio, my right hon. Friend the Member for South Holland and The Deepings (Mr Hayes), the previous Minister of State, Department for Energy and Climate Change, and the current Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change, my right hon. Friend the Member for Sevenoaks (Michael Fallon), have both given time and energy to working on the issues at Daw Mill colliery and across the UK coal industry. The hon. Gentleman and other Members on both sides of the House who have an interest might consider whether they want to take the matter forward with the Backbench Business Committee in due course—there would be interest on both sides of the House.
My constituent, Douglas Mann, is a hard-working carer. Like 40,000 other carers, he is concerned that the increase in the minimum wage will take him 96p over the threshold for carer’s allowance, which will make him £60 a week worse off. Will the Leader of the House make time for a statement so we can ensure that we maintain the vital principle that people will always be better off in work?
My hon. Friend makes a good point on behalf of his constituent. He will be aware that the Government’s increase of the minimum wage will tip some carers over the earnings limit for carer’s allowance. Therefore, the Government are in the process of considering whether an increase in the earnings threshold is warranted and affordable. However, it should be kept in mind—my hon. Friend will know this and be advising his constituent of it—that the earnings limit for carer’s allowance is net of tax, national insurance contributions and certain other allowable expenses, which means that carers can earn significantly more than £100 a week and still get the carer’s allowance.
I cannot offer the hon. Gentleman a statement on that, which is a matter of his local authority making decisions. However, he will find that I have announced a debate in Westminster Hall on Thursday 16 May on the Education Committee report on careers guidance for young people, which is relevant to his point. He might wish to contribute to that debate.
In the Leader of the House’s opening comments, he mentioned a forthcoming debate on mental health. He will be aware that one of the biggest mental health issues is the associated social stigma. Will he ensure that, when the Minister replies to the debate, he specifically addresses social stigma, so that hon. Members can ensure that many more people who suffer from mental health problems come forward for treatment rather than shy away?
My hon. Friend will, of course, recall the important debate on mental health some 18 months ago. I hope that next Thursday’s debate will follow up on that and embrace other mental health issues. He is right to say that social stigma has been addressed previously, and we need to continue to tackle it. He will recall that Cambridgeshire was a pilot area in the campaign against social stigma associated with mental health diagnoses. That was very important and I hope the debate will afford the opportunity to which he refers.
Will the Leader of the House arrange for a debate on the economy of Northern Ireland, with particular reference to the peace dividend, which was promised by Downing street some years ago to underpin devolution arrangements but as yet has not been realised?
The hon. Lady may wish to take the opportunity to raise this issue in next Wednesday’s debate on economic growth. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and others are absolutely committed to supporting Northern Ireland and the Government of Northern Ireland in promoting economic growth and, in particular, rebalancing the economy further, so that Northern Ireland can participate in the private sector employment and wealth creation that, happily, has characterised the success of the coalition Government.
Earlier this year, I had the privilege of opening a new manufacturing plant facility at Vent-Axia in my constituency. May we have a debate on the importance of manufacturing in the UK, and, as with this case, on bringing jobs back from China and other countries to the British work force?
My hon. Friend makes an important point, which will be appropriate to raise in tomorrow’s debate on jobs and business and in Wednesday’s debate on economic growth. I hope that when the Opposition make their case they will start by acknowledging their failure in allowing the economy to become increasingly unbalanced under their tenure, and recognise the loss of so many manufacturing jobs when they were in government and the necessity now of ensuring that we support manufacturing, as the Government are doing.
May we have a debate on the Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s city of culture 2017 initiative? I am sure that the Leader of the House is backing Leicester’s bid. A debate would allow Members on both sides of the House to express their support for Leicester’s overwhelming claim.
As Leader of the House, it is probably best that I do not back anybody’s claim. I cannot promise a debate, but I think the hon. Gentleman raises an interesting issue and I hope there will be an opportunity to hear more about it. It would make a good occasion if Members were able to come and present the competing, positive claims of many cities across the country.
I wonder whether we could have a debate on the future of our town centres, which would enable us to highlight the fact that there is some good news, such as the proposal announced today of a £20 million extension to Rugby’s Clock Towers shopping centre. That will secure our town centre and provide an extra 132,000 square feet, a new department store, food and drink outlets and a nine-screen cinema.
I am delighted to hear what my hon. Friend says about the development of Rugby town centre. He knows that the coalition Government provide considerable support through high-street initiatives. At the heart of that is supporting wealth creation and giving local authorities and local enterprise partnerships, through the growth incentive, the opportunity to reinvest in their town centres.
Community sentences were meant for low-level offences, not serious offences. May we have a debate and a proper explanation from a Minister on why more than 10,000 domestic violence, knife crime and serious assault offences last year resulted only in community resolutions?
The hon. Gentleman will be aware that today’s debate on the Queen’s Speech will focus on home affairs, so rather than detain the House in response to his question, I invite him to participate in that debate. I am sure that he would get a very good answer from Home Office Ministers.
I hope that my hon. Friend will be able to raise that issue during the health and social care debate on Monday. I know that he is a devoted supporter of the hospice serving his constituency and even skydived on its behalf, which was commendable and courageous—although I think the Whips would encourage him to be very careful. I think that hospices do a wonderful job. From my many visits to hospices, I am familiar with what they do. During the course of this Parliament, the coalition Government will be putting in place per-patient funding schemes to enable hospices to provide more holistic services to patients so that the NHS can support them to a more appropriate degree.
There was much hype yesterday over the Government’s immigration Bill. Will the Leader of House make it clear when the Bill will be published and, in advance of that, how the check scheme for private landlords will work and be enforced?
During yesterday’s excellent Gracious Speech, reference was made to a Bill to make changes to the electoral arrangements in Wales. Given that changes to electoral arrangements in devolved regions are hugely important right across the United Kingdom, will my right hon. Friend ensure that, despite the full legislative programme this Session, adequate time is provided for all Members to make a contribution to the debate about changes to Welsh arrangements?
My hon. Friend rightly refers to the reference in the Queen’s Speech to a draft Wales Bill. I am grateful for his question, because it gives me the opportunity to make it clear that more than half of the 17 Bills referred to in my written ministerial statement this morning are the subject, either in whole or in part, of pre-legislative scrutiny. That will ensure, I hope, that the issue that he quite properly raises—about the important debate on electoral and constitutional legislation—will be fully scrutinised this Session before the Bill is introduced.
Further to the point raised by the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull North (Diana Johnson) about the statement of principles for flood insurance, the current set of principles expires next month, so could we have a statement from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs as soon as possible about the principles that will be renewed? This matters to flood-prone constituencies such as mine.
I, along with Members across the House and the Government, share my hon. Friend’s sense of urgency about ensuring that the flood insurance arrangements are in place in the long term. That was exactly the point made by the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull North (Diana Johnson). I reiterate that we took an important step forward yesterday in setting out in the Queen’s Speech our intention to introduce legislation on the water industry, which I hope not least will give a spur to the Association of British Insurers, together with the Government, to finalise the arrangements.
Will the Leader of the House arrange for either the Justice Secretary or a Ministry of Justice Minister to make a statement about the arrangements for the re-interment of Richard III? As he will know—the hon. Member for Leicester South (Jonathan Ashworth) will know this too—the university of Leicester was given a licence by the MOJ to make arrangements for the re-interment of the remains of Richard III by next autumn, but the Plantagenet Alliance—
My hon. and learned Friend makes an important point. He, like other Members, will recall the debate in Westminster Hall on his issue, during which Ministers set out, very fairly, the legal position under the licence issued by the MOJ. I do not think that there is anything further to add.
I and many of my constituents are supporters of Coventry City football club—which some people may think an encumbrance, although we think it is a wonderful thing. The supporters of the club are dismayed at the suggestion by its owners that they might want to relocate it from the city of Coventry to another town. Could we therefore have a debate on the community value of football clubs and football governance in this country?
I rather admire the Ricoh stadium—I went there to see one of the Olympic events that it hosted at the start of the games. It is a fine stadium and I was impressed by the support that the community in Coventry gave to that event. If I may, I will not trespass on local decisions about the location of the stadium for the future, other than to say that I know that football clubs rightly attract enormous loyalty, which is something that should be taken into account.
Could the Leader of the House arrange for a statement by the Deputy Prime Minister next week regarding the emblems on ballot papers? I understand that the law has been changed, so that two emblems—for instance, Labour and Co-operative—can be put on the ballot paper next to a candidate. Perhaps it was also thought that there might be Conservative and Liberal candidates, or was the Deputy Prime Minister being far-sighted, having realised that there would be Conservative and UKIP candidates at the next election?
I cannot offer my hon. Friend the immediate prospect of a statement, not least because the issue was resolved and Parliament legislated for it. He is quite right: I recall that the motivation rested more with Labour and Co-op candidates than with any of the more speculative suggestions that he made in his question. However, in response to his request, I fear that I cannot offer a statement.