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Volume 565: debated on Wednesday 3 July 2013

Q11. Last Sunday, High Wycombe Rotarians raised more than £10,000 for local under-privileged children. I feel sure the Prime Minister will join me in encouraging membership of a full range of voluntary service clubs in the community, but does he agree that those wonderful voluntary institutions stand in stark contrast to the kind of institution that would try to block-buy political influence despite—[Interruption.] (162813)

My hon. Friend is right. It is a huge honour for me to be an honorary member of my local Rotary club in Witney. Such clubs are an important part of the big society, they raise a lot of money and they do an excellent job, but they certainly do not go around hoovering up members by making single payments from trade unions in order to buy influence.

Q12. Back in March, the Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change, the right hon. Member for Bexhill and Battle (Gregory Barker) said, “I wouldn’t be sleeping if we didn’t have 10,000 signed up to the Green Deal by the end of the year.” So far only four households have signed on the dotted line: is that Len McCluskey’s fault as well? (162814)

The hon. Gentleman is wrong about the figures. The fact is that 37,000 households have had green deal assessments and more than 5,000 have had their boilers changed. Of course, the hon. Gentleman also receives sponsorship from the Unite union—

He does not? He should go through his constituency records and check all the members are still alive—that might be a good start.

The Prime Minister has rightly won praise for his work on dealing with tax avoidance, but some people have called him hypocritical. What does he say to that?

What is hypocritical is to take donations from a donor in the form of shares to avoid taxes. That is what the Labour party has done. It should pay back that £700,000 to the taxpayer, and that money should go to schools and hospitals. That is Labour’s shame.

Q13. Can the Prime Minister confirm that the latest Work programme figures show that it is missing every single one of its minimum performance standards? (162815)

If the hon. Lady is asking about the Work programme, the fact is that it has got 312,000 people into work. Some 60% of the people going into the Work programme are coming off benefits. While the Unite union and all the Unite Members opposite might not want to hear it, and while it might not be part of Len McCluskey’s script, the fact is that this programme is twice as good as the flexible new deal.

Q14. As a doctor who once had to listen incredulously to a patient explain, via a translator, that she only discovered she was nine months’ pregnant on arrival at terminal 3 at Heathrow, I was pleased to hear the statement from the Secretary of State for Health today on health tourism. Does the Prime Minister agree that although the savings are modest, the principle matters? The health service should be national, not international. (162816)

My hon. Friend makes a very important point. This is a national health service, not an international health service. British families pay about £5,000 a year in taxes for our NHS. It is right to ensure that those people who do not have a right to use our NHS are properly charged for it. We have made this announcement, and I hoped that there would be all-party support for it, but Labour’s public health Minister has condemned it as “xenophobic”, so I assume that Labour will oppose this sensible change that working people in this country will roundly support.

Q15. The bedroom tax is turning into a disaster in constituencies such as mine. Families are moving out of good-quality social housing and into the private rented sector at a greater cost to the taxpayer. Three and four-bedroom houses are now standing empty and are classed as hard to let. I even have pensioners approaching me saying that they want to downsize but cannot because small properties are prioritised for families. Is this not turning into a disaster for the taxpayer, as well as for families? (162817)

This is fair for the taxpayer. We do not give a spare room subsidy to people in private sector accommodation, so we should not give a spare room subsidy to people in council accommodation. The question now is for the Opposition. We have decided to remove the spare room subsidy. They now say they support our spending changes—well, they did for about five minutes last week. Is that still the case, or are they committed to repealing this? There is absolutely no answer.

The shocking abuse that was revealed in Winterbourne View and by Operation Jasmine in Wales has revealed a gap in the law, which means that while the staff are prosecuted, the organisations are never corporately accountable for what they have allowed to take place. Will the Prime Minister meet me and a small delegation to discuss how to plug the gap in the law and ensure that there is proper accountability for abuse and neglect?

I am very happy to meet the right hon. Gentleman, because this issue is vital. I think the Francis report had a number of recommendations on duties of care and duties of candour that we need to put in place. I am keen to ensure that we get that done.

Why has the royal charter, which was approved overwhelmingly by this House, still not been sent to the Privy Council when that should have been done in May? Will the Prime Minister assure the House and the victims that he will not do a deal with certain newspapers further to water down Lord Justice Leveson’s recommendations?

What I can say to the right hon. Gentleman is that we have to follow the correct legal processes. The legal advice, which we have shared with the Leader of the Opposition and his deputy, is that we have to take these things in order: we have to take the press’s royal charter proposal first, and then we have to bring forward the royal charter on which we have all agreed. I have to say that I think the press’s royal charter has some serious shortcomings, so, no, I have not changed my view.

I call Mr Drax. [Interruption.] The hon. Gentleman wanted to be called and I have called him. He should be thanking me.

Thank you, Mr Speaker, very much indeed. I am most grateful to you.

Given that the selection of parliamentary candidates is a legitimate concern of this House, does the Prime Minister agree with me that the voting irregularities in the Falkirk constituency should be looked at as a matter of urgency?

Order. The question is about a party matter. It is not a matter of Government responsibility, not a matter—[Interruption.] No, no: it is not a matter for the Prime Minister—complete waste of time.

The all-party group against human trafficking has raised the awareness of modern-day slavery to a great level. I am delighted to report that last night 158 hon. and right hon. Members of this House and the other House attended the annual general meeting. That is a credit to the Prime Minister’s personal commitment to this issue. Would he consider, perhaps in the next Queen’s Speech, having a modern slavery Act?

I pay tribute to my hon. Friend for the consistent work he has done on this vital issue. It is important that we wipe out modern-day slavery, and I very much enjoyed going to meet him and other Members to see just how bad the situation is. We are looking at legislative options, and I will be chairing a committee across Government to look at what more can be done.

One of my constituents and her three-year-old child had become homeless fleeing the most heinous domestic violence; and now, despite legally living and working in this country for four years, an immigration technicality has made them destitute. Will the Prime Minister please examine this legislation and its possibly unintended consequences, so that in future no woman and her child may suffer double abuse?

I am very happy to look at the individual case the hon. Lady raises, which actually links to the last question, about modern-day slavery. Sometimes immigration rules have caused difficulty for those who want to flee the people who are keeping them entrapped in their homes, so I am very happy to take up the individual case.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the shocking catalogue of revelations of NHS management failures highlights the importance of the Government’s quiet revolution of patient empowerment and accountability, which we need to modernise the NHS so that it becomes driven by the patients who pay for it and whom it is there to serve?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. I am a huge fan of and believer in our NHS. At its best, it provides the best care in the world and incredible compassion for families who use it, but we do not serve the NHS if we hide or cover up when there are difficulties in individual hospitals. Clearly there were in Stafford, there were in Morecambe Bay and, we read today, there are in the Tameside hospital, too. That is why the reform of the Care Quality Commission and the chief inspector of hospitals post are so important, and why I think the friends and family test, which will be applied in every part of every hospital over time, will make a real difference. That is in stark contrast to what we had under the last Government, when inspectors were basically told not to surface problems, because it was somehow embarrassing for the Government.

Was it the Prime Minister’s conception when he set up the office of police and crime commissioner that a fine chief constable such as the one in Gwent should have a career cut short by a vindictive bully who told her to resign or he would humiliate her?

The point of having police and crime commissioners is to make sure there is proper accountability and that police constables have to account to a local person. That is why a number of former Labour Members of Parliament stood for the post. In some cases, such as that of John Prescott, the people of his region saw sense and rejected him.

Order. Before I call the Secretary of State for Defence to make a statement, let me say that we need an orderly House, both because that is right in itself and because it will be of interest, in the light of the coverage of this matter, to discover whether he has anything to say in the House that we have not already heard outside. We look forward to it.