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Summer Adjournment

Volume 566: debated on Thursday 18 July 2013

I beg to move,

That this House has considered matters to be raised before the forthcoming adjournment.

Before the House adjourns for the summer recess, I should like briefly to raise a number of points.

I feel that I was duped over the war with Iraq, and I will certainly not be duped again with regard to Syria. I am totally against any involvement in that country, although I praise and highlight the work of organisations such as the United Nations, the Red Cross and Christian Aid. We want to hear much less from Mr Blair and Mr Clinton in terms of any advice that they might be giving. Unless they are prepared to have some of their children sent home in body bags, they should remain silent.

On Iran, I have long been in favour of peaceful regime change.

On Syria, will my hon. Friend make the very important point that the community that will suffer most in any armed intervention by the west is one that is protected by the Assad regime—namely, the Christians? It is the last major Christian community left in the middle east outside Egypt.

I absolutely agree with my hon. Friend. However, I hope that the House will understand if I do not give way any more because I have promised the Deputy Speaker that I will be very quick and set a good example.

The new President of Iran, Mr Rouhani, seems to have been given a wonderful welcome, including in the press. Now that he has the office of President, I caution the House to judge him by his deeds, because his track record is not particularly wonderful.

The Maldives were a British protectorate and for 30 years a dictator ran the country. On 7 September, there are new elections. Given that we have a real interest in the Maldives, it is very important that those elections are held properly and fairly so that this nascent democracy is given all possible support.

I was delighted that one of my colleagues was introducing a Bill to amend the Freedom of Information Act 2000, but rather perplexed when the Bill was not presented. It is absolutely ludicrous that people can make freedom of information requests but we are not allowed know their names and addresses. The House must change that as a matter of urgency. It is completely gutless when people are not prepared to be named and reveal their identities.

I served on the Health Committee for 10 years, and during that time we initiated a debate on obesity. Given all the current talk about obesity, it is as if it has only just been invented. I urge the House to go to the House of Commons Library and look at the report that the Health Committee produced in 2003. If those recommendations had been followed, we would not be in the situation we are in now.

The Warm Homes and Energy Conservation Act 2000, which I was privileged to pilot through the House, reduced the number of people in fuel poverty from 3.5 million in 2010 to 3.2 million in 2011, but there are still far too many. Although it is very warm at the moment, I hope that we will not take our eye off the ball in reducing the deprivation that some of our senior citizens feel when it comes to being warm in their homes.

Space exploration is something that interests us all. I am sure that all hon. Members can think of one or two people they would like to send up in a rocket, hopefully not to return. I would not think for a moment that the UK Space Agency would rival its counterpart in America, although I am very glad that a British astronaut has now joined the programme. Given that we are spending a huge amount of money on the High Speed 2 rail project, I hope, in the context of profitability, that we will look carefully at space exploration in future.

Mr Ray Woodcock is a local resident who raises a lot of money for charity by bungee jumping. On 18 August, he will be beating the Guinness world record for bungee jumping over water at a Welsh quarry, jumping a total of 400 ft. I know that all hon. Members will wish him well.

I recently had a meeting in my office with representatives of Coloplast, which was the first company in the world to develop the ostomy bag. They recently celebrated bowel independence day, which encourages GPs to offer newer technologies more regularly. I hope that the relevant Health Minister will look into this matter and support the company’s endeavours. On the same day, I met representatives of the Multiple Sclerosis Society, who informed me of the positive results that the MS risk sharing scheme has shown since its introduction in 2002. I hope that the scheme will be strengthened further in future and that my right hon. Friend the Health Secretary will look into the matter.

I was appalled by this week’s announcements about a number of hospitals. As I know Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals Trust extremely well, I feel very strongly that Monitor has played a significant role in what has happened in this tragedy. The people who run Monitor must be held to account by this House.

Monorails do not seem to be particularly popular in this country, but they do offer another way of getting round our busy cities. I am certainly going to encourage the good residents of Southend to have a monorail, and I hope that other hon. Members will be interested in this matter.

Essex bowling club is currently celebrating its 106th year. It is a wonderful club that has had a few trials and tribulations, particularly with the Inland Revenue. I am sending a message to the Deputy Leader of the House saying that I expect someone from the Treasury, as a matter of urgency, to extend the courtesy of meeting my constituents from Essex bowling club and helping them with their tax affairs.

We have all seen the commissioning of reports such as Chilcot and Leveson, and there is great news coverage at the time. Millions and millions of pounds have been spent on those reports. What has happened about the Chilcot report? Absolutely nothing. What has happened about the Leveson report? Absolutely nothing. This is a disgrace in relation to taxpayers’ money. I expect the House to take this issue seriously and to make sure that we get these reports delivered here as soon as possible. I assure the House that if there were an Amess report in years to come, I would not rest until action had been taken.

I conclude with Southend’s bid to be City of Culture. I was very disappointed that neither Southend nor anywhere in the south of the country was on the shortlist of four. All I can suggest to the House is that the Unite trade union probably had something to do with rigging the ballot. That said, I am now announcing that Southend-on-Sea will be the alternative City of Culture in 2017. We will do it through private enterprise, and I hope that everyone will visit Southend to see it.

I wish you, Mr Deputy Speaker, your fellow Deputies, the Speaker of the House, all the Attendants, and everyone who works here a wonderful summer after what has been a tremendous success in terms of sporting endeavours. If anyone is at a loose end, I would welcome them to come and see how Southend-on-Sea rocks.

When I applied to speak in this debate, I was not aware that I would secure a meeting, along with my right hon. Friend the Member for Coventry North East (Mr Ainsworth), with the Minister of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the right hon. Member for Faversham and Mid Kent (Hugh Robertson). I therefore intend to be conciliatory in speaking about what has happened to Coventry City football club.

Many people will be aware of the long-running dispute between Coventry City football club and the owners of the stadium in Coventry, the Ricoh arena. We had a debate earlier this year on the matter so we need not go into the details of the dispute again. I also raised the matter earlier during Question Time.

The situation has developed and matters have come to a head. Coventry City FC is now due to play its home games at the Sixfields stadium in Northampton. Neither I nor the people of Coventry have anything against Northampton and I am sure that it is an excellent stadium. However, the fans will have to make the round trip at great expense, which will be beyond many of them financially. Coventry has been the home of the club since it was founded and I am sure that Members can imagine the great disappointment among Coventry fans and residents that the club is having to leave its home city.

I want to make three points. First, I understand that all sides in the dispute are having a good deal of difficulty in having productive negotiations. I do not wish to go into the reasons why that might be. However, I believe that it is vital to bring all sides of the dispute to the negotiating table. A compromise arrangement can still be thrashed out that would enable the club to continue playing at the Ricoh arena. I am only asking for a temporary solution to be found until a long-term solution can be reached. I call on all the parties involved to put aside their grievances and work constructively together to see whether an interim agreement can be reached.

I believe that the sports Minister is well placed to mediate in the dispute and I have called on him to do so. Earlier today, my right hon. Friend the Member for Coventry North East and I had a productive meeting with the Minister in which we put across our views on the situation. I obviously respect the privacy of that meeting, but I will just say that we now know that he will certainly be talking to the Football League.

Time is running out before the season begins and I hope that the discussions will ensure that the club stays in Coventry.

If I am lucky enough, like my hon. Friend, to catch the eye of the Chair, I hope to make some broader points about the power of football supporters within their clubs. Does he agree that the supporters of Coventry City, who are organised through the Sky Blue Trust, have done a sterling job in supporting him and my right hon. Friend the Member for Coventry North East (Mr Ainsworth) in campaigning for Coventry City to be able to play within the bounds of the Coventry conurbation?

I certainly pay tribute to the fans of Coventry City. They have had great patience and have given me and my right hon. Friend the Member for Coventry North East a lot of support. I cannot praise them highly enough. They are now in the situation of having to travel 70 miles to a stadium outside Coventry, which will cost a significant amount. With the economic situation these days, people are finding it hard to make ends meet, to say the least. The fans have been very loyal to the club over many years, in good times and in bad.

Secondly, the Football League has given approval for the club to play at Northampton. I understand that that might be contrary to the Football League’s own regulations, but we will have to wait and see about that. I disagree with the decision to grant approval because I do not believe that all avenues of negotiation have been exhausted. Until a week ago on Monday, I thought that there was a very good chance that we would make progress with the three main parties in the process. However, when the Football League gave its approval, that took the pressure off all sides to get together and resolve the situation. That was a weapon that the league could and should have used.

I believe that there should be an inquiry into whether the Football League’s regulations have been fully complied with. However, if we assume that they have been complied with, it is still shocking that the situation has reached this late stage without the Football League taking action. To let the situation unravel to the point where a football club cannot play in its home city without the league intervening seems to me to be ridiculous. There should be a review of the Football League’s regulations to ensure that cases such as this one and that of Wimbledon are not repeated.

Thirdly, on a related point, we all know how serious a problem debt can be for football clubs. Debt, rent disputes, company buyouts and takeovers can all be felt by the team and the fans. It is time for a review of the company law relating to football club ownership to take into account the fact that football clubs are not simply businesses. They are not commodities to be bought and sold to make a profit. They mean more than that to the players, the many people involved in a club and, importantly, the fans. It is a great shame when fans can no longer watch their team because of the financial decisions of a few business people. I believe that there should be a review of the law relating to football club ownership and clubs’ financial arrangements. It should not be possible to get into this sort of situation without anything improper or illegal occurring. At some point, Government regulations should prevent this late stage from being reached.

I hope that all Members who are present agree that urgent discussions are essential if a compromise is to be reached that will keep the club in Coventry next season. I urge all sides in the dispute to come together for the future of the club and I call on Ministers to consider carefully this issue and the changes that might prevent such a situation from occurring again.

I hope to share with the House two positive stories from Hornchurch and Upminster, but given the time constraint, it might be only one.

First, I should like to praise the excellent public library service in the London borough of Havering and to highlight the positive impact of books in developing early years literacy. Havering council takes its libraries very seriously. I commend in particular its cabinet member for culture, heritage and sport, Councillor Andrew Curtin, who takes them even more seriously. He has fought hard, not just to protect library funding but to support our excellent library staff, to improve the quality of service even further and to increase membership.

In January, Havering ran a universal membership pilot as part of the project run by the Department for Education to examine ways for children to join the library automatically at a certain point in their lives. The council worked with 10 schools across the borough. Tickets were created for all reception children and the reader development team went into the schools with a selection of books for children to borrow. The children started with mini membership, which meant that they could borrow just one book and would face no fines. The children also received an information pack, which included an invitation to parents to come and meet professional staff who could teach them how to help their children to read and offer advice on which books to borrow. Volunteers were available during the February half-term to talk to children about the books that they had read.

Havering library service is also working with the registrar of births to join all new babies born in the borough. They have signed up 856 babies in the pilot period. Activities for babies and parents assist in early language development and fine motor skills, and combat social isolation. Read and rhyme sessions for three to five-year-olds improve concentration and listening skills, and help to make the transition to school successful. There are also workshops for parents and carers entitled “How to read to your children and instil a lifelong love of reading in your child”.

The positive approach of Havering council has resulted in a huge surge in library membership in both the junior and adult sections, with 67% of the borough now signed up. For adults, especially those who live alone, the library is a social contact point. It has computers that are available for job searches, informal learning and online courses, and, of course, an endless choice of books to borrow.

I want to stress the importance of books in developing early years literacy and all the benefits that that brings. I remember vividly my first ever visit to the public library. It was stressed to me as I walked along beside my mother that, “When we are in the library, we have to whisper.” The library was a traditional municipal building with wood panelling, not unlike the Chamber, which was a bit intimidating for a five-year-old, but it was a treasure trove because it was full of books. We did not own any books at home, and to see wall-to-wall books was wonderful. Even better than that, I was allowed to borrow them. I could choose them, take them home and read them. A very important lady stamped the back of the book to tell me when I had to bring it back—the whole thing was absolutely thrilling. I could not wait to get home and start reading. It was the beginning of my lifelong love affair with books.

Children who enjoy reading are more likely to have a good vocabulary, and the importance of good communication skills cannot be overstated. Reading develops imagination, creativity and ideas. Children learn to spell and absorb information without realising it, if they enjoy reading as part of their daily lives. They can be transported into other worlds and experience a gamut of emotions: excitement, fear, joy, sympathy and optimism. Characters in books display the good and bad in people, and set examples of courage and kindness, happiness and despair. Children who are introduced to books and acquire a love of reading in their early years are likely to continue to keep it all their lives. They are better informed and broader minded for it, and will be better equipped to face the many challenges that school and life bring.

There is no excuse for any child in this country to be deprived of books. No matter how modest the family income, the public library offers a limitless range of books for everyone. I commend the London borough of Havering for its progressive library service.

My second story—I see that I just have time to tell it—concerns my visit to Stubbers adventure centre in my constituency this week to see the National Citizen Service in action. The NCS is a Government-funded scheme for year 11 and 12 students and 16 and 17-year-olds who are not in education, that lasts about four weeks. The first week is spent away on an outward bound course doing challenging activities like rock climbing and canoeing with other young people from different backgrounds they have never met before. It builds confidence and interpersonal skills. Importantly, it is great fun.

The second week, which was when I visited, is residential. Other new skills are acquired: putting up a tent, personal financial management, learning how the community is made up and planning a local social action project. The students were full of ideas. They planned how to put them into action and raised the money they needed. They also found out who to contact for permission or information. It was wonderful to see such enthusiasm.

The third and fourth weeks are a lesson in practicality, organisation, overcoming setbacks and difficulties, and maintaining effort—all real life skills that will stand them in good stead. At the end of the course they all receive a graduation certificate signed by the Prime Minister, and parents often make comments like, “I don't know what you did with him, but he is completely transformed.”

Schools can help to raise awareness of NCS, which takes place during school holidays so there is no cost, either in time or money, to schools. They can pass on information or invite the NCS to speak to pupils, so that the opportunity to take part is available to 16 and 17-year-olds from all backgrounds. It really is a worthwhile experience.

I would like to share a shocking case with the House on behalf of my constituents George Shaw and Paula Davidson, who for 18 years have been the proprietors of the Fillings sandwich shop in Streatham Hill.

In March 2005, Mr Shaw was unloading his van outside his shop. He saw a man looking into his front window and became concerned that the man was about to steal his van. He then felt a sharp pain in his back: he had been shot. The man had been looking at the bank, which he intended to rob, on the other side of the street through the reflection of the shop window. This man, Mr O, fled in a minicab. It took some time for the police to arrive, but there was CCTV footage from the buses that passed along the street and there were witnesses who were prepared to give evidence, in spite of it being a violent crime. One would think that it was an open and shut case.

It took the police a week to find Mr O. They found him in the Republic of Ireland, where he was also wanted by the police. He was found guilty of a violent crime in Ireland and was imprisoned there for five years. He was later extradited back to the UK and went on trial in 2010. Mr Shaw and Ms Davidson tell me that in the five years between the shooting and Mr O being returned to Britain they were not kept informed and had no idea what was going on. To this day, they are confused as to why Trident investigated the case, as it was not a gang or black-on-black crime. A few days before the trial in 2010, they received a two-line e-mail telling them to be prepared for a case at the Old Bailey, and to be ready to give evidence.

Mr O was being tried for a number of violent crimes, including, I understand, a dangerous assault on a woman in a pub in Brixton. When Mr Shaw got to court, he learned that the police had lost all the evidence: they had lost the gun, the bullet and the CCTV from the buses. The people who were prepared to give evidence turned up in fear. They sat outside for 10 days completely uninformed about what was going on. Mr Shaw and Ms Davidson had never had anything to do with the police or the criminal justice system before, and this was an overwhelming experience for them. Mr Shaw had suffered greatly. He had been in hospital for weeks, and he continues to have a very large hernia as a result of the injuries he sustained. Nobody explained what was happening. As far as he knew, Mr O was not being prosecuted for his near murder.

On the advice of Victim Support, Mr Shaw came to see me in March 2011. I wrote to the Independent Police Complaints Commission to ask it to investigate. On 19 December 2012, Mr Shaw and Ms Davidson met Mick Foote, the detective superintendent in Trident gang crime command. Last week, they received a letter explaining that nobody was at fault for losing the evidence, and that nothing could be done to bring Mr O back to trial.

On Mr Shaw’s behalf, and to give some credibility to our Government system and our public services, I ask that Mr Shaw be informed of where Mr O is imprisoned and when he will be released. Not unreasonably, Mr Shaw and his wife are frightened that Mr O will be released. He is a man of violent conduct and might come back to their shop. I would like the police to meet Mr Shaw and Ms Davidson and explain exactly what happened, and what support they should have expected, from the crime taking place to the date when the trial took place, and what support they should have reasonably expected while the trial was going ahead.

If victims experience this level of bemusement in such a serious case, what happens in smaller cases? My constituent has run his sandwich shop on Streatham High road for 18 years and has had no involvement with the criminal justice system. He feels he has been treated like a criminal.

I rise to draw attention to an issue to which I drew attention in the last debate on matters to be raised before the Adjournment, which took place on 26 March. On that occasion I drew the House’s attention to concerns about the consequence of an EU directive on people’s ability to continue to use what was then, and still is, a relatively new product, namely electronic or e-cigarettes. Members will remember that an e-cigarette is an alternative to a conventional tobacco cigarette and consists of an electronic inhaler that vaporises a liquid into an aerosol mist, enabling the user to enjoy nicotine in a far safer form.

I return to this topic because, in addition to the EU legislation, there is a now a proposal by the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency for e-cigarettes to be considered as medicinal products. The EU directive seeks to lay down a legislative framework for the manufacture, presentation and sale of tobacco products. However, e-cigarettes are not tobacco products. Bringing them into line with their more dangerous counter- parts—standard cigarettes—will see the consumption of e-cigarettes drop. That means that people who currently use them safely will no longer be able to do so. If the MHRA’s proposal goes through, e-cigarettes will have to go through an expensive and time-consuming procedure to be approved as medicines. If that procedure makes them more difficult to obtain, smokers will simply continue to smoke tobacco.

It is important to remember that e-cigarettes were not developed as a medicinal product. Indeed, I heard them described at a seminar the other day as simply an “enjoyable consumer product”. However, their regulation as medicinal products would raise costs, reduce the diversity of products available, slow down innovation and inhibit creativity, and, in doing so, make them less appealing to the very people hoping to switch to them. These are by-products of the law of unintended consequences. More people will revert to tobacco.

Beyond that, the MHRA recommendation is for people “not to use”—that is its advice—the current generation of e-cigarettes available on the market. Its group manager of vigilance and risk management of medicines told a press conference held to announce the MHRA’s recommendations:

“We can’t recommend these products because their safety and quality is not assured, and so we will recommend that people don’t use them”.

However, that was despite the MHRA’s impact assessment giving no evidence of any harm caused by the use of e-cigarettes. In fact, Professor Robert West of University college London says that for current e-cigarettes “the risk is negligible”. Indeed, the NHS’s website states that their toxicity is one thousandth that of tobacco cigarettes.

One consequence of the MHRA’s recommendation has been that a major supermarket chain removed e-cigarettes from its pharmacy shelves, while a survey of 700 pharmacists has shown that 99.5% are declining to stock e-cigarettes because of the announcement. There is an emerging industry manufacturing e-cigarettes, which predicts that the reduction in their use caused by the MHRA’s recommendation will cost the NHS £2.5 billion, owing to fewer people giving up smoking tobacco. E-Lites, the largest producer of e-cigarettes, now forecasts a substantial reduction in the growth of the market. On its figures, 390,000 fewer people will be using e-cigarettes by the end of the year, compared with what would have happened without the MHRA’s recommendation.

Someone has to regulate e-cigarettes, but if they are not regulated as a medicine or cigarettes, who will do it?

E-cigarettes are currently regulated in the same way as standard consumer products, and are subject to local authorities, trade descriptions and so on.

Users are concerned that it will become harder for them to access e-cigarettes in their bid to wean themselves off smoking, as the alternative of e-cigarettes will simply be more expensive. The directive is also of great concern to a number of small businesses, in particular a business based in my constituency called Smoke No Smoke, to which I referred when I last spoke on this issue. Its entrepreneurial owner, Jim Lacey, is facing a threat to the future of the business that he has worked so hard to build up. The feedback from his customers is that they will be unable to access the product. There is a danger that that will force the e-cigarette trade underground. If e-cigarettes were produced in an illegal market, it would be difficult for people to know where they had come from.

This is not the time to introduce these regulations. I urge the Government to look more closely at what they can do to avoid the implementation of the directive.

The end-of-term Adjournment debate is normally used by Members to raise matters of constituency interest or to highlight particular campaigns, but I would like to do something slightly different today. I want to talk about the European Union (Referendum) Bill. Two weeks ago, when the House debated the Bill’s Second Reading, I wished to speak but, as hon. Members will know, the debate was somewhat oversubscribed. I shall therefore outline my views on the Bill today, and set out my reasons for abstaining in the vote two weeks ago.

I remain to be convinced that there is a desperate clamour for a referendum on Europe, either in my constituency or in the country as a whole. Since I was elected in 2010, 20 of my constituents have e-mailed me to say that they want a referendum. During that same period, more than 1,000 people have contacted me about the NHS and more than 50,000 people signed my petition against changes at Lewisham hospital. My constituents are not generally shy about telling me what they think. They tell me how tough it is to find work, how they are struggling because their tax credits are being cut, and how they cannot afford their rent, let alone a mortgage. I do not dispute that our membership of the European Union is an issue for some people—I suspect, incidentally, that there is some geographical variation in the levels of concern—but I really question whether the time being spent on the issue in Westminster is proportionate to the scale of interest and concern that exists in the country as a whole.

We now have a Bill going through the House that would commit us to having a referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU in four years’ time. I am not a particular fan of referendums—I think that the majority of people who vote actually elect politicians to do a job and want us to get on with it—but I am not opposed in principle to the idea of a referendum on Europe. But to legislate now for a referendum in four years’ time just seems like a huge leap in the dark when we do not know what changes to our relationship with Europe will have been sought or agreed.

If I were a business owner looking for a European base or seeking to expand my European operation, the idea that the UK might not be in the EU in four years’ time would surely make my search for a regional hub or headquarters much easier. Why set up shop in a country that might have cut its ties with the world’s largest single trading bloc, four years down the line? Legislating now for a referendum in 2017 will create huge economic uncertainty, which this country could well live without.

We also have to be clear that the majority of those who have led the campaign for an EU referendum want to take us out of Europe. That is not true for everyone, but it is the overriding motive of most referendum proponents. I, for one, do not want to associate myself with such a cause. I believe that the UK has to be at the heart of Europe, leading it, reforming it and making it work for the 21st century. The European Union is far from perfect. We need to tackle the waste and bureaucracy, and it needs greater democratic accountability. We can all point to x regulation or y regulation that we might want to see changed, but in my view, the overall economic and social benefit to our country that results from our membership of the EU outweighs those negatives.

Some of those who advance the case for withdrawal seem to think that, if we left, we would automatically get all the gain but none of the pain. I do not think that that is true. We would have to pay billions to access the free market, yet we would have no say over the rules that govern it. As much as we might want to strike free trade deals with the big global economies, their priority surely would still be the EU and not an isolated UK. And what of our bargaining power? Do we honestly think that by going it alone we would carry the same weight in negotiations and be able to strike the same deals in the interests of the British economy?

I was just one year old when the last referendum on Europe took place. I recently asked my dad whether he had voted. I had never spoken to him about it before—as in many families up and down the country, Europe was not the usual topic of conversation at the dinner table—but he told me that he had voted yes. I asked him what he made of the current debate on Europe. His response was, “It’s a bit like a football match, Heidi. You can’t hope to influence the outcome simply by shouting from the sidelines.” The Prime Minister’s European game plan is not just about hollering from the sidelines because half his side really want to play for a different team. To cap it all, half of them have already admitted defeat before the first whistle has even been blown.

The world has moved on since the last referendum on Europe. Thankfully, it has moved on, too, since my grandfather and my husband’s grandfather found themselves on opposing sides in the second world war. I believe that the case for being part of Europe is stronger now than it was in either 1945 or 1975. In an increasingly complex world where big challenges cross international borders and where enormous multinational companies have greater financial powers than many countries, we need governance structures that exist above the nation state to discuss the problems, explore solutions and build consensus. That is not to say that we should be subordinate to such structures—far from it—but the UK has to be part of the dialogue.

The truth is that the real reason for the European Union (Referendum) Bill is UKIP. UKIP’s rise is as much about people’s disillusionment with politics as it is about our membership of the EU. It is about immigration, welfare, fierce competition for scarce jobs and the lack of genuinely affordable housing. At its heart, it is about the public looking at their politicians and seeing, by and large, a bunch of people who all look the same and sound the same—but do not look and sound like them. It is easy for UKIP—a party that has just one all too notable face and seemingly no internal dialogue or debate. All UKIP politicians do is say the populist thing, take the TV cameras to the pub with them and convince people that they are more like them than the bunch of suits in Westminster.

The European Union (Referendum) Bill says more about the fears and obsessions of the Conservative party than it does about the hopes and aspirations of our country. It is a potentially dangerous distraction from the issues that really matter to people and to our country’s future. That is why I did not support it two weeks ago and why I wanted to put my views on the record today.

In the 30 seconds remaining, I would simply like to wish you, Madam Deputy Speaker, and all the staff of the House of Commons a very happy summer recess.

If people are still looking for a book to read during the summer recess, I would recommend “You Can’t Hide the Sun” by the Beirut hostage, John McCarthy. He provides a very disturbing and worrying account of life for Palestinians post-1948. He pulls back the curtains, goes behind the scenery and reveals what is really going on in that troubled part of the world.

By the time we return to Parliament in September, it is quite possible that a serious situation will have got even worse. The Israeli Parliament has voted for what can be described only as ethnically cleansing between 40,000 and 60,000 Bedouin. Clearly, the removal of such a large number of humanity will be undertaken only at the point of a gun. If ethnic cleansing were going on anywhere else in the world, the world’s leaders would be voicing outrage. The national and international media would have television cameras there reporting this crime against humanity, yet we have a deafening silence from political leaders in this country and in the United States of America.

It is the Americans who allow this sort of thing to go on, as they have since 1948. President Obama has failed to ensure that ethnic cleansing does not take place by the Israelis and the Israeli Parliament against the Bedouin. It is, of course, a track record that goes back over many years. The illegal occupation of the west bank and East Jerusalem; the obvious apartheid legislation of the Israeli Government; the ignoring of countless United Nations resolutions, the Geneva convention and international law: these are everyday occurrences for Palestinians living in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Our Government have been silent. Two weeks ago, in this very Chamber, when I invited the Foreign Secretary to condemn Israel for the ethnic cleansing of the Bedouins, he declined to do so, and I therefore asked him a parliamentary question on 11 July.

I want to place on record that I personally condemn what is happening to the Bedu. I used to live in the area. I think it is disgraceful that there are two kinds of people—Israelis and the others—on the west bank, and that the law is different for each of them. It is appalling.

I am extremely grateful to my hon. and gallant Friend, because he brings to the Chamber a very distinguished military record. He is a soldier whose reputation is such that he would never find himself up before the International Court of Justice. I am bound to say that some of the military leaders and Israeli political leaders would face the Court for what they have done, and for what they are doing.

In my parliamentary question, I asked the Foreign Secretary

“how many representations he has received in opposition to proposals by the government of Israel to forcibly remove 40,000 Bedouin from their historic lands.”

In fact, the figure may be 60,000 by now. A Minister replied:

“The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has received over 600 representations from members of the public on this issue.”—[Official Report, 11 July 2013; Vol. 566, c. 355.]

I will not be silenced on the issue. I am speaking here on behalf of the 600 or more people who have written to our Government, and I am speaking, I hope, with the blessing of all people of all faiths around the world who deplore what is being done. I want specifically to praise the work of the American-based organisation Jewish Voice for Peace, because, like that organisation, I want to see peace in the Holy Land. I want to see people of all faiths and religions and of none living in harmony. I am bound to observe, however, that the actions, past and present, of the Israeli Parliament are more akin to what went on in apartheid South Africa. The world did not like what went on in apartheid South Africa, but the world is silent about what is going on in Israel/ Palestine.

Where are the words of opposition from President Obama and the United States Administration? There are none. Where are the words of opposition from the Government of the United Kingdom? There are none. What is the European Union doing, other than having friendly trade relations with Israel? Earlier this year, there was the extraordinary situation of an international European football tournament taking place in Israel. The last time I looked at the map of the world, Israel was not in Europe.

I hope that, out there, President Obama, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Pope, our Prime Minister or whoever will prevail on the Israeli Parliament. It must be made clear that the forcible removal of up to 60,000 Bedouins—in addition to everything else that has been done over the years—does not bring forward peace in the middle east, but sets it back. I want to see a peaceful Holy Land, but I think that leaders must speak up.

I hope that, if nothing else, I have drawn attention to what is happening to the Bedouins. The BBC is not covering it, our national newspapers are not covering it, ITV is not covering it, Sky News is not covering it, Channel 4 is not covering it. If 60,000 people were being subjected to ethnic cleansing in any other country in the world, it would be the lead news. Shame on our national media for pulling a curtain across the stage so that people do not know what is going on.

I ask Members please to acquire a copy of “You Can’t Hide the Sun” by John McCarthy, and to read it and find out what is going on in that part of the world. They will not find that out through the British media.

I hope I do not have to take my full eight minutes, but I sat in this House yesterday listening to Prime Minister’s Question Time, and my hon. Friend the Member for Caerphilly (Wayne David) asked the Prime Minister why he had not replied to a letter he had sent to him in February, to which the Prime Minister replied:

“I will look urgently at this case, because I reply to hon. Members’ correspondence right across the House, and I always will.”—[Official Report, 17 July 2013; Vol. 566, c. 1090.]

Last month, I brought up at Prime Minister’s Question Time the fact that I had written a letter to the Prime Minister on 8 May this year about public health and Lynton Crosby’s involvement, or non-involvement, in public health matters. I asked several questions, including:

“Have you ever discussed cigarette packaging policy with Lynton Crosby? Have you ever discussed minimum alcohol pricing with Lynton Crosby?”

The last question was:

“Were the Government’s legislative priorities discussed at the meeting which reportedly took place at Chequers on Thursday 21 February, involving you, George Osborne, Ed Llewellyn and Lynton Crosby?”

I have not yet, months later, had a reply from the Prime Minister to that letter.

As I said, I brought the matter up at Prime Minister’s Question Time on 19 June. I told the Prime Minister I had written to him on 8 May and had not yet received a reply, and briefly mentioned that the letter was about Lynton Crosby and alcohol and standard packaging of cigarettes. He did not reply, instead saying:

“I can tell you, Mr Speaker, that Lynton Crosby has never lobbied me on anything.”

If that is the case—if he believes that—why he cannot reply to my letter of 8 May is beyond me. The Prime Minister continued:

“The only opinions that I am interested in are how we destroy the credibility of the Labour party, on which he has considerable expertise, though I have to say that he is not doing as good a job as the Labour party.”—[Official Report, 19 June 2013; Vol. 564, c. 891.]

It is perfectly clear what agenda Mr Crosby is setting. Members may recall that in yesterday’s debate on managing risk in the NHS, I intervened on my right hon. Friend the shadow Health Secretary, saying:

“My right hon. Friend knows well…that in the past two months there has been a marked change in the coalition Government’s approach on the national health service. It started with the absurd argument that the problems in accident and emergency departments were the result of the 2004 GP contract. Is it not more likely that what is happening is that Mr Lynton Crosby is telling Government Members to squeeze the lead that Labour has had over the Conservative party for many decades on the NHS?”—[Official Report, 17 July 2013; Vol. 566, c. 1177.]

That is exactly what is happening. I went on to mention that that is not only demoralising NHS staff and frightening NHS patients, but is doing enormous damage to the credibility of politicians up and down the land. I got an e-mail yesterday from a Conservative Member who was tabling an early-day motion. He said he thinks we should get party politics out of the NHS. I agree.

I am concerned about the non-reply to my letter for several reasons. The Prime Minister gave his view on this matter on 23 March 2012 in a No. 10 press release:

“The Prime Minister is leading Government action to tackle binge-drinking culture by supporting proposals a minimum unit price for alcohol.”

It says the Home Secretary is involved in that, and the Prime Minister is quoted as saying:

“So we’re going to attack it from every angle. More powers for pubs to stop serving alcohol to people who are already drunk. More powers for hospitals not just to tackle the drunks turning up in A&E—but also the problem clubs that send them there night after night. And a real effort to get to grips with the root cause of the problem. And that means coming down hard on cheap alcohol.”

We had a statement yesterday from the Home Office, again, which is most likely to view alcohol as a law and order issue. I wish that people would view alcohol as an issue of health and the damage it is doing to the young generation. Thirty years ago, people of my age—men in their 60s—died of alcohol-related diseases. Young men and women in their 20s are dying of cirrhosis of the liver now: not just one or two, but many of them. We must take a hold of this problem and the Prime Minister and the Government are not doing that.

During the alcohol strategy consultation statement yesterday, the hon. Member for Totnes (Dr Wollaston) asked a question that relates directly to getting a grip on the price of alcohol. She asked whether the Minister was aware of the evidence from Sheffield, which is where the original review was carried out on alcohol pricing and consumption in areas such as my constituency, which is just outside Sheffield. The review stood the test many years ago and stands the test now, so to hear Ministers say that there is no evidence on alcohol pricing and consumption is complete nonsense. I fear that Lynton Crosby and the people he has worked for in the past have more on that.

The hon. Lady asked:

“Is the Minister aware of the evidence from Sheffield that was published this morning and shows that the impact of having a threshold at duty plus VAT would be a decrease in consumption of one 400th of 1%?”

That is what the Government announced yesterday on health and alcohol, notwithstanding how A and Es up and down the land are swamped with people who have overindulged in alcohol not just on Friday and Saturday nights but midweek, too. Never mind the disease that alcohol creates; it creates chaos on our streets and in the hospitals, too. The hon. Lady went on:

“In other words, it will be meaningless.”—[Official Report, 17 July 2013; Vol. 566, c. 1122.]

She is absolutely right.

I said yesterday that at the weekend the Faculty of Public Health withdrew from the Government’s responsibility group on the use of alcohol, as have Alcohol Concern, Cancer Research UK, the UK Health Forum and many other organisations. The Government are backing down and taking notice of industry, and the areas that affect public health are being left. Everybody ought to know that the dangers to public health in this century, as opposed to past centuries, are caused by individual lifestyles. The Government are ducking taking action on individual lifestyles in favour of industry. I thought I ought to put that on the record and I hope that one day I will get a reply to my letter.

This week, I have had a work experience student in my office. Members might say that there is nothing unusual about that, but this young man is different. He is from North Korea. Abandoned by his family as a child, he lived on the streets from the ages of eight to 14, scavenging food. He tried to escape his hopeless life to flee his country only to be caught by Chinese soldiers, returned, imprisoned, tortured, hung upside down, repeatedly beaten and left virtually for dead. He was just 16. He told me:

“They would have killed or imprisoned me for life, but I was still a minor.”

He managed to escape yet again, but was hunted down in China by the police and imprisoned there, where he attempted suicide. Later, after a long international journey involving the selfless kindness of many people, he arrived in the UK, where he is now a student with a hope and future, although he still bears the scars of his early life in many ways. He is still only 24 years old.

He is one remarkable young man from North Korea whose life, after years of terrible suffering, is now changed for ever. Dare we hope for the same for his people? The answer must be a resounding yes. We should indeed hope for a better future for the people of North Korea and do more than just watch and wait for it. We should act. I hear Members ask: but how? In these few minutes, may I suggest some actions at governmental, organisational and individual levels?

As time is brief, I do not propose to refer in detail to the egregious violations of human rights in that country, and the indescribable suffering of the people of North Korea—they have been described in earlier debates in this House and in another place—but I will mention the disappointment at the way in which young Kim Jong-un has dashed hopes and squandered the opportunity for the fresh start that his leadership could have provided. Despite that, there is still hope, and it is right to work for change.

How can we help? First, through practical support for the hundreds of North Korean escapees here in Britain, such as the young man I mentioned, who encounter the shock of trying to integrate into a free society. We can help to educate and equip them for the regime change that will surely come. When it does, there will be a need for leaders in North Korea who understand both its tragic past and the essential concepts for building a free society, such as the rule of law and democratic and human rights. I urge the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to engage with the North Korean diaspora in that way.

Philanthropic business people can consider supporting social enterprises in North Korea. There are isolated examples of such enterprises, including a shoe factory. Business start-ups provide potential soft power interventions, including through improved employee conditions, such as the very basic one of insisting that wages are paid direct to employees, and not via the state, with its inevitable deductions. At grass-roots level, North Korean people want DVDs, USB drives, radios and mini-computers to be sent to them. The regime’s information blockade is crumbling, as through these items North Koreans have much better awareness of the realities of life in the outside world than they would have done even five or 10 years ago.

On a structural level, improved equipment, technology, and production methods for farms are needed. Support for the constructive work of non-governmental organisations such as Oxfam is to be commended. Could the Department for International Development not consider supporting such NGOs? The excellent work of the British Council, which, on a relative shoestring, has taught English to 3,900 North Koreans over the past 13 years, is to be commended and would merit greater support, as would academic and cultural exchanges. The Pyongyang university of science and technology welcomes UK academics to teach there, and we can all join the all-party group on North Korea in calling on the BBC to start broadcasting into North Korea as soon as possible.

As individuals, we can support effective advocacy organisations such as Christian Solidarity Worldwide; I invite hon. Members to read Ben Rogers’s excellent article, which is on the Conservative Home website today. We can highlight the plight of foreign nationals such as Kenneth Bae, who is in jail in North Korea, and support the planned new grass-roots group, North Korea Campaign UK, which is to be modelled on the successful Burma Campaign UK, a country from whose recent experiences we should draw cautious optimism. Hon. Members should look out for this campaign’s launch in the media, which will take place on 27 July to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the Korean war armistice. It is often called the forgotten war, and I pay tribute to the 1,000 men who lost their lives in it; that is more British forces than died in the Falklands, Iraq, and Afghanistan combined.

All this—opening doors, building relationships, strengthening contacts, and opening as many channels of communication as possible through constructive and critical engagement—is the approach promoted in Lord Alton’s substantial new book, which he wrote with Rob Chidley. It is called “Building Bridges: is there Hope for North Korea?” At the risk of recommending yet more fairly heavy reading for MPs over the summer, I recommend the book; it really will impress. It suggests ways forward on the humanitarian and security challenges facing North Korea today—what Lord Alton calls

“Helsinki, with a Korean face”.

That means adopting the approach that Britain and the US took in the Soviet Union at the height of the cold war, and building bridges, not walls, between people.

I applaud my hon. Friend’s choice of subject. Is she aware of the annual international meeting of parliamentarians that focuses exclusively on gross human rights violations in North Korea? I have the privilege of representing the House at the next meeting in Warsaw in a fortnight’s time.

I am delighted to hear that my right hon. Friend is attending that convention; I received an invitation, but was unable to attend.

I commend, too, the work of British officials who, behind the scenes at UN and EU level, in partnership with others, have helped to secure the recently established UN commission of inquiry to investigate crimes against humanity in North Korea—a real step forward. May I urge them, in addition, to press for the stopping of forcible repatriation of North Korean refugees from China, knowing as we do that they face the kind of experiences that I have described today?

May I encourage colleagues in the House to join the increasingly active all-party group on North Korea to help make the suffering of the people of North Korea, in the most persecuted country on earth, a thing of the past, and in the words of the young music group Ooberfuse to “vanish the night”? That is a song that the group wrote as a result of coming to one of the all-party group meetings. The phrase “vanish the night” refers to the fact that if one looks down on satellite pictures of North Korea compared with South Korea, one will see that North Korea is almost totally black. There is no light shining out from the streets in North Korea.

I finish with some words from Lord Alton’s wonderful book. Referring to the example of Burma, he says:

“What seems a faraway dream can happen more quickly than one might imagine.”

Events, he comments,

“can move much more quickly than we might sometimes anticipate.”

Speaking of young students such as the North Korean work experience student whom I mentioned at the start of my speech, Lord Alton says:

“We owe it to their generation—to the North Koreans who die trying to escape across the Tumen and Yalu rivers and those who still languish in prison camps—to take every opportunity to bring Korea closer to the dream of reunification. This requires opening up as many channels of communication as possible. We must do everything we can to saturate North Korea with goodwill.”

He goes on:

“The Korean proverb tells us that ‘to begin is half the task’ . . . We must build bridges, not walls.”

I am grateful to you, Madam Deputy Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to take part in this pre-recess debate. It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Congleton (Fiona Bruce). I certainly endorse her hope that the Department for International Development will use some of its resources to facilitate more positive communications of the sort that she describes with North Korea. I hope she will forgive me if I do not promise to read the heavy tome that she recommended on my summer holidays, but I thought she made a very interesting and important contribution.

As my intervention on my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry South (Mr Cunningham) indicated, in my speech I shall press the case for more action to support the right of football supporters to have a say in the governance of the football club that they follow, and to call for a higher proportion of television revenues to be directed into grass-roots support. As my hon. Friend made clear in his intervention, Coventry City is just the latest example of a club where supporters’ concerns are being ignored. The particular concern of the supporters’ trust—the Sky Blue Trust—and other supporters of Coventry City more generally is the owners’ desire to shift their club for a number of years some 35 miles away from where it currently plays, with all the difficulties for Coventry City supporters that that will signify.

I welcome the fact that my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry South and my right hon. Friend the Member for Coventry North East (Mr Ainsworth) have met the Minister. I understand that Coventry City supporters are shortly to take part in a demonstration outside the Football League to demonstrate their concern to the powers that be in the Football League. Given that the Football League’s strap line is “Real football, real fans”, one hopes that it will listen to the concerns of Coventry City fans and intervene.

As the MP for a constituency that neighbours Coventry and with many supporters in my constituency, I very much hope that the Coventry City issue will be resolved. Does the hon. Gentleman agree that if Coventry City plays 35 miles away, there might be an opportunity to persuade Coventry City supporters to watch the oval ball game in the city of Coventry at the Butts stadium and see the Coventry rugby club restored to the power in the land that it once was?

If the hon. Gentleman will allow me, I will stick to the more general point about the need to give football supporters more say in the governance of their club. Nevertheless, he has made his point and I am sure that Coventry rugby club’s supporters will be delighted that he chose to make it.

The successes of Swansea City and Bayern Munich last season emphasise, in their very different ways, the success of clubs where supporters have a very direct and significant role in how their football club is managed. Swansea City is unique in the Premier League in terms of the involvement of fans in the boardroom. I think that it is high time that that situation changed. The Co-operative party, which I am lucky enough to chair, championed in the late 1990s the idea of football supporters’ trusts to help football supporters co-operate to buy stakes in the running of their clubs. Now many Football League clubs and, indeed, many non-league clubs—the famous cases of AFC Wimbledon or FC United through to the likes of Exeter and Chester—are directly run by their supporters through the mechanism of a supporters’ trust.

The involvement of supporters’ trusts on the boards of clubs helps to ensure that that authentic voice of the supporter is heard when the role of the club in the local community is being discussed, when ticket prices are being debated or when players’ wages and contracts are being agreed. Supporters’ trusts help to ensure that longer term thinking about the future of the club and the need for sustainable finances over the long term are being considered. They help to deliver added social value to their localities and, indeed, on occasion they can boost enterprise in the area.

The Football Association has been under pressure for some time from football supporters to bring forward reforms to football rules to give fans more influence. To date, they have resisted any measures that challenge the autonomy of Premier League club owners. The FA Council’s summer meeting took place last Saturday and sadly was no different from previous such meetings. So if the supporters’ voice is really going to be heard, it seems to me that three key measures are required for change.

First, legislation is needed to make it easier for supporters’ trusts to buy their club. There ought to be a right to buy for supporters’ trusts that allows them to purchase a club at the point of a club entering administration and before receivership at a fair market valuation.

Secondly, for most supporters of Premier League clubs, administration is not likely to happen any time soon and there is no obvious sign either that, despite warm words from some Premier League club owners or managers, a stake in the ownership of Premier League clubs is likely to be sold to supporters’ trusts. Legislation is also needed to embed a right to observe in law. In other words, if a proportion—say 10%—of season ticket holders at a Premier League or Championship club belong to the registered supporters’ trust, that trust ought to have a right to attend and observe board meetings at the club, to receive board papers and to be able, as a result, to question and hold to account the club’s owners and senior staff.

Both these measures would help to embed supporters in the heart of decision making about a football club’s future. Such decisions about the future of a football club should not be the sole preserve of wealthy owners. We need to remember that such clubs have been built on the back of ordinary supporters’ money and commitment and they surely have a right to have better access to the key decisions and decision makers in their club.

The third measure to which I draw the House’s attention is the funding of grass-roots sport, and other related football causes. In 2001, the Premier League agreed to give 5% of its total broadcast income to the provision of grass-roots facilities, and to encourage better provision for supporters. It now claims that that was just for one TV deal, and only for domestic broadcasting rights. I wonder whether we need a back-stop legal power to ensure that that 2001 deal continues into the future. Without such a back-stop power, the Premier League and Football Association have been able to reduce the amount of money given each year to the Football Foundation directly from football clubs.

The need for more investment in grass-roots sport, and perhaps for a lever to change the minds of owners and their defenders in Premier League and FA boardrooms, points to a need for a legal power to impose a levy. If such a levy were ever to be used, it must clearly be kept well away from the Treasury. I hope we would never need to use such a power, but perhaps the Minister would consider the possibility of a back-stop statutory power to get the FA and Premier League to be more serious about funding for grass-roots sport in the future. With a £5 billion broadcast deal, it is not unreasonable to expect the Premier League to offer 5% of its income for investment in grass-roots coaching and facilities.

My constituent, Mrs Rene Chung, is not an illegal immigrant, although that is how she has been treated, in part, by the Home Office and the UK Border Agency—I am glad to see that the Chair of the Home Affairs Committee, the right hon. Member for Leicester East (Keith Vaz), is in his place.

Mrs Rene Chung is a Canadian citizen and she has been living in the UK, perfectly legally, since 2008. She is married to a British citizen and she is a top-flight business woman. She contributes to Britain’s economic performance, and no doubt to the revenues going into the Exchequer through the tax system. For her job it is essential that she travels. The chief executive of the company for which she works—an international, executive search and selection company—recently wrote to the Home Secretary as follows:

“Ms Chung works as a Senior Consultant for me, and as a valued member of my company, she holds expert knowledge about our clients and their businesses, and she also has valuable experience of interviewing and assessing the suitability of candidates for our clients. Ms Chung is also responsible for business development and she is required to support me in “pitch” meetings which involves visiting clients’ offices all over Europe. Our business travel occurs about two times a month, and is usually planned at very short notice i.e. one week notice or less. It is important for me to stress that Ms Chung’s ability to carry out her basic job responsibilities is directly linked to her ability to travel. Ms Chung has performed extremely well in my company for the past four years, and she has proven to be an asset to the company. It is therefore important for me to request that Ms Chung is allowed to continue travelling regularly for business.”

I will not detain the House with the details of Rene Chung’s case, but I want to highlight three points. First, Mrs Chung has been waiting for more than a year for the renewal of her spouse visa application—in my view, an unacceptable length of time. Secondly, the Home Office has already made a disastrous error in handling her case by incorrectly deeming Mrs Chung’s application to have been withdrawn—the Immigration Minister has apologised for that in his latest letter to me. Thirdly, and most disgracefully of all, when Mrs Chung recently returned to Gatwick, following a business visit to Europe, she was locked up for six hours and released only after her passport had been confiscated. Such conduct is more redolent of an authoritarian police state than what we expect in a democratic Britain that pays proper regard to basic human rights.

When it comes to supporting economic growth in the business community, the Home Office is wholly apart from the rest of the Government, who are doing all they can to support economic growth in the business community—some signs of success are, I hope, beginning to show through. On the other hand, as far as I can see, the Home Office takes absolutely no account of the need to support the business community, including individual business men and women trying to contribute to our economic growth. It is blindingly obvious that it should introduce a fast-track procedure for processing applications for visa renewals of people with a clear legal right to be in this country and for whom travel is essential to their work. I put it to the Home Secretary that fast-track processing should be put in place forthwith. In cases such as Mrs Chung’s, I see no reason why visa renewal applications should not be processed within a maximum of four weeks.

Finally, I want to make a complaint to the Immigration Minister about a recent answer he has given to me. I appreciate that he has probably got the worst job in the Government and is probably grossly overburdened, but on 11 July he gave me a seriously misleading answer. I tabled a question to the Home Secretary asking when I would receive a reply to a total of four letters I had sent to her about Mrs Rene Chung’s case. The Minister replied:

“I wrote to my right hon. Friend on 3 July 2013.”—[Official Report, 11 July 2013; Vol. 566, c. 367W.]

The answer was misleading, because it related only to the first letter I wrote to the Home Secretary. I have received no reply to the remaining three letters. I ask my hon. Friend the Immigration Minister to make the appropriate correction in Hansard and, most particularly, to reply forthwith to the three outstanding letters I have sent to the Home Secretary about Mrs Rene Chung’s case, to return her passport to her forthwith and to renew her spouse visa application forthwith.

On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. I have just learned that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport has laid an order under the Communications Act 2003 to reduce the number of public service broadcasting reviews from a regular review every five years to perhaps only one a decade. The order is not available in the Vote Office and cannot be read on the parliamentary website. It is less than an hour before the House rises for the last time for several weeks. Can you give me any guidance or advice, Mr Deputy Speaker, on what to do?

Unfortunately not. It is a matter for the Minister, but I am sure that if anything is untoward, the Vote Office will investigate. The point is certainly on the record now, however, and I am sure we are all aware of the communication—or rather, on this occasion, the lack of it.

It is a pleasure to follow the right hon. Member for Tonbridge and Malling (Sir John Stanley), one of our most distinguished parliamentarians. I had thought I might get away from talking about home affairs issues, because I want to talk about health, but the case he raises is shocking. I can assure him that as soon as this debate is over I will telephone the head of immigration and visas, Sarah Rapson, to draw the case to her attention. I will also send a copy of the Hansard record of this debate to the Home Secretary, because I am extremely disappointed to hear what I have heard. As the right hon. Gentleman knows, the Select Committee on Home Affairs examines these issues carefully. We have just published a report on the UK Border Agency, and it seems to me that there is no excuse for the way in which his constituent Mrs Chung has been treated or, indeed, how he has been treated in the way answers have been given to him. I can assure him that I will do those things. We have in the Chamber today two former members of the Home Affairs Committee, the Deputy Leader of the House and the hon. Member for Colchester (Sir Bob Russell), who know that we will pursue these matters, as we have done in the past.

I turn now from home affairs to health, and to declare my interest as a type 2 diabetic. I want to raise the issue of obesity and diabetes, and the continuing war on sugar, which was started earlier this year when I presented my ten-minute rule Bill on this important matter. Obesity is the nation’s No. 1 health problem and it is a growing problem in our children. A report published last year found that a third of primary school leavers were either overweight or obese, and that obesity is a major factor in the development of type 2 diabetes. I do not need to remind the House of the deadly nature of type 2 diabetes, or that 80% of type 2 diabetes cases are preventable and 10% of the NHS budget is spent on dealing with diabetes complications. I just wish that earlier in my life I could have been tested for diabetes, because if I had discovered at an earlier age that I had diabetes or a propensity to it, I might not have contracted type 2 diabetes or, at least, I might have delayed its onset.

I hope to raise one aspect of the Government’s policy, which is the responsibility deal. It is a flagship Government policy that tries to get fizzy drinks and sugary drinks companies to own up to their responsibilities. Some 536 organisations have signed up to the 28 voluntary pledges initiated by the Leader of the House when he was the Health Secretary, but, as we have seen, all that glitters is not gold. Although it is a good thing to have asked the companies to sign up to responsibility in this area, the substance of the deal has not materialised. As Dr Aseem Malhotra of the Royal Free hospital, one of the country’s leading cardiologists, said, the deal is nonsense, with companies saying they are going to reduce sugar content but failing to do so. This is a voluntary arrangement, so there is no compulsion and these companies are not being held to account. As we know, diabetes, unchecked, could result in all kinds of other complications. Professor Jaspal Kooner, one of the country’s leading cardiologists, has talked on a number of occasions about the effects of diabetes on those with heart problems.

What we eat is important., so as well as trying to prevent type 2 diabetes, we must consider how we can examine carefully what we eat and we drink. You and I are frequent visitors to the Tea Room, Mr Deputy Speaker, and when we go to pay for our cups of tea and the healthy food that we both eat, we are confronted by baskets of chocolate biscuits. In the fridge there are cans of Coca-Cola, each of which contains between eight and nine teaspoons of sugar, which is almost the maximum recommended daily intake of 38g. We need to be very careful about how much sugar we consume, which is why it is so important that we take this issue seriously.

Last Friday I was able to present Abbey primary school in my constituency with a silver star, because it is first primary school in Leicester to ban sugary drinks and promote a healthy diet and exercise for its children. If any right hon. and hon. Members are looking for a summer campaign when they return to their constituencies, I hope that they will try to get their schools—they might be off for the summer holidays, but they can make preparations for the new term—to ensure that the meals they provide and the drinks they have in their fridges are healthy.

The right hon. Gentleman is a wonderful advocate for the prevention and treatment of diabetes. He and I have shared our views about the importance of medication management in schools. Most of the schools in my constituency—I am sure that the same is true in his—are very aware of healthy eating and the quality of school meals is very good, but we need to raise awareness among parents, because young children have very little control over what food they are offered at home, and it is those meals that can often cause the problem.

The hon. Lady is absolutely right, and she has raised the issue in the House on a number of occasions. It is also the responsibility of parents, because they do the purchasing. We had a debate this week about a minimum unit price for alcohol. When parents walk down the aisles of one of the major supermarkets, as we all do from time to time, they will see huge plastic bottles of Coca-Cola and other fizzy drinks. Those of us with children always want to try to keep them happy, and they will demand to have those drinks, and we will try to placate them by buying them, but that is a slippery slope.

I would like to place on the record my thanks to the right hon. Gentleman for organising the Silver Star charity event here in Parliament, where I had my blood tested. Does he agree that early testing of blood sugar levels not only in this House but across the country can help prevent some of the future harm of having type 2 diabetes?

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. I do not know his test results, of course, because they are confidential, but I am sure that he came out with flying colours. Others Members did not manage that. At least one Member discovered that he had diabetes that day, and he would not have known had he not been tested. I pay tribute to Silver Star, UK Diabetes and all the other organisations involved. It is a very simple test. In fact, I think that you were present at the last Silver Star event, Mr Deputy Speaker, and found to be in perfect health—thank goodness—but it was perhaps not the same for others.

My message to the House today, as we approach the summer recess, is that this is perhaps a time when parents and children tend to lose their inhibitions and enjoy the summer, especially on a day like today. I would love to thank the Government for bringing us sunshine over the past 14 days, and I am sure that the Deputy Leader of the House will claim credit for it when he comes to wind up the debate, along with the Wimbledon win and all the other things that are going on. I am very pleased to see the former Chair of the Health Committee, my right hon. Friend the Member for Rother Valley (Mr Barron), in his place because he worked very hard in that role to remind people of the necessity of prevention. Prevention is better than cure. Preventing diabetes by ensuring that the companies are held to what they say they will be responsible for and reducing sugar levels in our drinks is absolutely vital.

My appeal to right hon. and hon. Members across the House is to join the war against sugar. Let us all be part of this great crusade to make our great country healthy and strong again.

It is an honour to follow the right hon. Member for Leicester East (Keith Vaz). Again, I praise him for the excellent campaign that he has been running on type 2 diabetes.

I want to cover two big constituency issues in the next eight minutes. One of them is very positive, but first I have some recent disturbing news. Areas of Meltham in my constituency have been left without postal deliveries this week after a horrific dog attack left a postman needing plastic surgery on his arm. In fact, the wound is so severe that it has been described as potentially life-changing. When we return from the summer recess, I will be asking whether we can have an urgent debate on how we can reduce dog attacks on our brave postmen and women and keep the post being delivered. Rather ironically, it is Royal Mail’s dog awareness week. The statistics show that there have been 5,500 dog attacks on Royal Mail postmen and women since 2011. I have just had an update from the local police, who say that today they have seized the dog that attacked the postman and tests are under way to see whether it is a banned breed. I know that Members of the House would like to join me in sending their best wishes to postman Jason Lee as he recovers from this shocking dog attack.

Today and over the next couple of days, we will probably hear journalists use the phrase, “As MPs head off on their seven weeks of summer holiday”. As we all know, those cynical journalists should know better.

Does the hon. Gentleman share my amazement about this? Presumably, as the journalists who write about MPs going on holiday are political journalists, they are also going on holiday—or are they, like us, doing other things as well? Looking at the packed Press Gallery, it seems as though they have already gone on their summer holidays.

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. I was about to say that, like most other Members in this Chamber, I will be working hard in the constituency throughout the summer.

For the third summer in a row, I will be doing a full week of volunteering in my community. I want to highlight and praise all the wonderful volunteering that goes on day in, day out, not just in my constituency but across the country. We are lucky to have a great organisation called Voluntary Action Kirklees that supports local charities, voluntary organisations and community groups. The centre works in partnership with many Kirklees organisations to support and promote good practice in volunteer involvement. In the past year, Volunteering Kirklees has helped over 4,000 local people who are looking to volunteer across Kirklees. That is an increase from just over 2,000 people two years ago, so well done to them.

This week, 4th Golcar Scouts signed up 65 adult support volunteers as a result of an exciting YouTube video to which they e-mailed me a link, so well done to them too. Thanks to all those adult volunteers, over 200 young people are now enjoying stimulating and exciting activities every week. On a larger scale, this time next year we have the Tour de France coming through Yorkshire, including my constituency and my village of Honley. Thousands of people are signing up to be “Le Tour Makers”—volunteers who will help to put on the Tour de France.

I mentioned my volunteering week last year. I am pleased to say that I helped to plant cotton grass on Marsden moor with the National Trust; helped out in the Age UK shop in Holmfirth; visited children and their families with the at-home care team from the Forget Me Not children’s hospice; helped out in the Kirkwood hospice shop in Lindley; put together food packs with the Welcome centre in Huddersfield; helped to do some painting at the Standedge visitor centre near Marsden, where my hon. Friend the Member for Hexham (Guy Opperman) came to join us; and organised big community litter picks with Councillor Donna Bellamy in Marsden.

I am just finalising my volunteering week for this summer. I will be returning to the National Trust and hope to get up on the moors while the sun is shining. I will be delivering meals to people’s homes with the meals on wheels team from Golcar. I will be helping out again at the Kirkwood hospice shop. I will be meeting and greeting, helping the porters and doing hospital radio at Huddersfield royal infirmary. I will again be organising litter picks throughout Lindley, Birchencliffe and Salendine Nook with Councillor Mark Hemingway and a candidate for local councillor, Gemma Wilson. Later in August, I hope to volunteer at the Oakes community café, which is part of Oakes Baptist church. I know from speaking to other colleagues who are heading off for the summer that they will also be working hard and volunteering in their constituencies.

I have also volunteered over recent months. I was pleased to join other volunteers at the Laura Crane Youth Cancer Trust to put on a fashion show. I swapped my suit for some vintage clothes at the Carding Shed in Hepworth. Wakefield Trinity Wildcats rugby league star Andy Raleigh joined us on the catwalk. We raised thousands of pounds for the charity, so well done to all the volunteers. I have also helped the volunteers at the Drop By community resource centre in Golcar, who run various lunchtime activities including arts, crafts and knitting.

There is so much wonderful volunteering going on in my constituency. Indeed, that has been recognised. The Examiner community awards, which celebrate everything that is wonderful in Huddersfield and the local area, has an award for local volunteering. I was pleased that a young man from my constituency picked up that award this year. Usmaan Saleem won the student community award for voluntary work for everything that he has done for the old and young people in his community. He is an 18-year-old student from Huddersfield new college. He helps out at Springwood central youth club and spent last summer working with autistic children.

As we break up for the summer recess, I look forward to working hard in my constituency. Yes, I will be having a week’s holiday, but I also look forward to doing a week’s quality volunteering. I wish you, Mr Deputy Speaker, and all other Members a fantastic summer. They should not work too hard and should try to have a bit of a break, but I know that they will all be working hard in their communities to help local charities and organisations. I wish them well and look forward to seeing them again in September.

It is a great pleasure to be the last speaker in this debate.

I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Colne Valley (Jason McCartney) on taking on the mantle of my hon. Friend the Member for Southend West (Mr Amess) in trying to refer to the most constituents in the shortest time. I echo his concerns about dangerous dogs. We are doing a lot of work on that. Microchipping and other compulsory measures will help. People who have a legitimate right to go into a home, be they a postman, a midwife or a social worker, should not be bitten by a dog, especially a dog that is known to be dangerous. I want to pursue that matter. I have great sympathy for the postman who was bitten in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Colne Valley, as I do for the thousands who are bitten every year.

I will raise one or two serious matters from my constituency. The first relates to the A35, which runs through my constituency, including through Axminster, and on to the Dorset border. Recently, there have been a couple of fatal accidents on the A35 at the Hunters Lodge junction at Raymond’s Hill. In the first collision, a 60-year-old man from Plymouth died and two other people were injured. The second crash claimed the life of 82-year-old Pamela Manning from Harrow and her two elderly companions in the car were taken to hospital.

I have met the Highways Agency, Axminster town council and Uplyme parish council to discuss how we can improve the Hunters Lodge junction. Something must be done. Although there have been many accidents at the junction, the Highways Agency said at the meeting that there had been no fatalities. Unfortunately, they have now occurred, so it is essential that something is done, and I shall be working with my right hon. Friend the Member for West Dorset (Mr Letwin) on this issue.

The A303/A30 was mentioned in the financial statement. It should be dualled all the way from Honiton, right the way through those interesting stones in Wiltshire called Stonehenge, to London, so that we have a second arterial route into the west country, and to Devon and Cornwall in particular. Tourism is one of our great industries. Those who run businesses in the west country find that when the M5 is blocked, the A303/A30 is almost impassable. I look forward to its being dualled.

I would like to talk about health funding for primary care. The current age profile in Honiton and Axminster—to take two towns I represent—is estimated to be reflected nationally by 2035. The population is getting older. The doctors in Axminster say that the number of people calling them for advice has gone up from 6,000 to 18,000 in a year, and there are similar figures for Honiton. Health funding will have to recognise this trend. People breathe in the good clean air in Devon and live for a long time. I am pleased with that, but people will need to be treated more as they get older and that has to be recognised.

As we bask in the sunshine, we must remember that a year ago we were all under water. There were floods in Axminster, Uplyme, Seaton, Cullompton and Tiverton—all over my constituency—and many were caused by the blocking of rivers and tributaries. At the time, the Environment Agency said that it had so much to do just to help people who were already flooded that they could not do a great deal to manage the waterways, by dredging them and clearing blockages. Now is the time to do it: there is never a better time than when it is dry. What we do not want to do is just bask in this great sunshine. I welcome this great sunshine and I am glad that the right hon. Member for Leicester East (Keith Vaz) congratulated the Government on providing it, even though I know he was only teasing.

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his intervention, even if I am not sure that I entirely agree with him. I think will keep it fairly light-hearted at this stage of the proceedings.

We need to remember that flooding took place. We need proper dredging of our rivers. The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is keen on it. Now is the time to do it.

I have mentioned Mrs Ethelston’s school in Uplyme previously. We need a new school in the village and we are trying to put together a funding package locally. Government support is needed to make that happen. It is a very successful school with very high grades and it will be a great asset to the whole area, not just Uplyme.

My constituency runs from Exmoor down through the Blackdown hills, so I have a number of farmers in my constituency. They are concerned about yet another reform to the common agricultural policy. It seems that yet more bureaucracy will be heaped on them, rather than less. There is no level playing field: payments between them and those on the continent, or even between them and farmers from Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, are all different. If we are to make a single market in food and agricultural products work, we need to pay farmers at a similar level. My argument over the years has been that we should either pay at a similar level or not pay at all, because otherwise we will distort everything.

We have had to negotiate a tough package in Europe. As a Conservative and part of the governing party, I cannot expect to go cap in hand to the Treasury for huge handouts over and above what the CAP provides. Therefore, I would ask my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to look sympathetically at how we deliver environmental schemes and payments to farmers in a way that maintains the countryside—the beautiful grassland and hills in my constituency, which people come to visit from all over the place, including down from London and even the north of England.

People visit Devon, Cornwall and much of the west country because of their landscapes and the way they are managed. Who manages them? It is very much the farmers who manage them, and if we lose them, we will lose those landscapes. I look forward to a sympathetic reform and to trying to break the bureaucracy of the system. I rather fear that some of what comes from Europe will be somewhat bureaucratic, but let us hope we can make the best of it, because I am a great believer in good, traditional food that is well produced under high welfare standards, which is what our farmers deliver in this country.

Finally, may I wish you a very good recess, Mr Deputy Speaker? I am sure that, like my hon. Friend the Member for Colne Valley, you will be busy in your constituency, as will I and most Members of this House.

Let me start by congratulating all Members who have taken part in this afternoon’s debate. Those who are here in the Chamber are very much the hard-core membership of the House—the aficionados who have not taken advantage of a sunny Thursday, on the final day in Parliament, to depart early to their constituencies.

Normally I have to deliver my response to such debates in the style of the hon. Member for Southend West (Mr Amess)—who is currently not in his place—because of the time available to me, which is usually a short 10 minutes. However, I have a little more time today—although I will not seek to detain the House until 5 o’clock. The hon. Gentleman raised various issues—

My hon. Friend says that the hon. Member for Southend West raised 17 issues. I think I counted 15, but it was certainly about that number, and he did it in his own inimitable fashion.

The hon. Gentleman’s first batch of issues concerned foreign affairs—in particular, Syria, Iran and the Maldives. Let me respond briefly to those. Members will be familiar with the tragic situation in Syria, with 93,000 people dead so far, some 7 million Syrians now in need of humanitarian assistance and 1.7 million having fled to neighbouring countries. The UK is playing a significant role in providing humanitarian aid, with many agencies supporting activities there, providing food and water, and making other contributions. The hon. Gentleman was concerned about the risk of military intervention from the UK or the UK making a military contribution. Clearly no such decision has been taken and, as has been stated many times in the Chamber, Parliament would be engaged before any such decision was put into action, with a vote in the House of Commons.

We have consistently urged, including at ministerial level, all parties to work together to find a solution that would allow for genuinely free, fair and inclusive elections in the Maldives. We are supporting the Commonwealth with its observation of the Maldives presidential elections, so we certainly hope to see substantial improvements in that country, including in human rights.

The hon. Gentleman also referred to Iran. We are all hoping that the recent change in leadership there will lead to a more positive relationship with the UK, and I hope that we as a Government can contribute to that.

The hon. Gentleman referred to obesity, a matter that was also raised by the right hon. Member for Leicester East (Keith Vaz). The Government are aware that this is a critical health issue, and our call to action on obesity sets out our approach and the role of key partners. The national ambition is a downward trend in the number of people with excess weight, and many partners will contribute to that. The change for life programme, the national child measurement programme and NHS health checks should all make a contribution.

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for agreeing to look into this matter, and I am pleased that the Government take it so seriously. I know that, as Deputy Leader of the House, he spends a lot of his time in the House. During the recess, will he undertake to look into the fridges and look at the offerings that are made in our restaurants, to ensure that they do not contain the sugary fizzy drinks that lead to obesity? We in this House have a responsibility in that regard, and the right hon. Gentleman has a responsibility as the Deputy Leader of the House to ensure that those offerings are all good and proper, and appropriate for our diets.

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for that. I am certainly willing to take up the challenge that he has thrown down to me. We should certainly be able to do as he asks. A few months ago, I visited a school in my constituency, Wandle Valley school. It has emptied its vending machines and replenished them with products that are much healthier. If that school can do it, I am sure that we can do it in this place as well.

The hon. Member for Southend West expressed his concern about the progress of the Chilcot and Leveson inquiries. Clearly they are both dealing with complex issues. He will be aware of the action taken in relation to Leveson. A submission from the press is before the Privy Council, and the Government will be submitting our own submission once that has been considered. We want this matter to make progress. Sir John Chilcot made it clear as recently as this week that his inquiry is determined to complete its task and publish its report as soon as possible. That matter certainly has not been forgotten.

The hon. Member for Southend West referred to space exploration. Had he been in his place, I might have asked him to intervene at this point to list the people he would like to send into space, never to return—[Interruption.] Yes, perhaps he has already departed in that direction himself. He also referred to bungee jumping; I have nothing to say about that. I have never done it myself, and I have no intention of doing it. He mentioned the important work of a company called Coloplast, and talked about bowel independence day, which I hope was successful in giving a higher profile to an issue that people are sometimes reluctant to talk about. He also talked about Monitor, and asked whether it had had played as effective a role as it possibly could. I am sure that when those in the Department of Health read Hansard, they will note his concerns about that.

The hon. Gentleman wanted a monorail. Well, good luck with that! He also wanted representatives of the Treasury to meet the Essex bowling club to help it with its tax affairs. He has put that request on record, and I have now repeated it, so I am sure that the Treasury will consider it carefully. He finished on a point about Southend regrettably having failed in its bid to become the city of culture. He suggested that Unite might have rigged the ballot. I cannot comment on that, but perhaps someone on the Opposition Benches might like to do so.

Just before the shortlisting, the hon. Member for Southend West, who is a good friend of mine, made some very disparaging comments about Leicester. The fact is that Southend did not make it on to the shortlist, but Leicester did. I challenged him to go on to Southend pier and do a Gangnam-style dance in competition with Leicester, but he chickened out and refused to do so. Unless he is there now, of course.

I wish I had not allowed that intervention, as I am short of a suitable riposte.

The hon. Member for Southend West said that Southend would provide an alternative city of culture in 2017. We will have to see what that culture amounts to, and we look forward to hearing some reports about that.

The hon. Member for Coventry South (Mr Jim Cunningham), who is no longer in his place, and the hon. Member for Harrow West (Mr Gareth Thomas) referred to Coventry City football club. They will be aware that Department for Culture, Media and Sport questions are scheduled for the Thursday when the House returns, so that will be the earliest opportunity for them to raise the matter. Football governance has come up repeatedly in this place, and I have heard requests for the Backbench Business Committee to consider it. The hon. Member for Coventry South wanted everyone to get round a table to discuss it, and I and others would certainly be in favour of such discussions. I will draw this exchange to the attention of the Minister for Sport as requested, and I agree that football clubs are more than just a business, as they support local communities. The clubs will receive greater support from local communities if those communities are heavily engaged in what the clubs do. The hon. Member for Harrow West wanted supporters to have a greater voice through supporters’ trusts and he made a request—the Minister for Sport will see it in Hansard—for 5% of the Football Association’s funds to go to grass-roots sport.

My hon. Friend the Member for Hornchurch and Upminster (Dame Angela Watkinson) talked sensibly about the London borough of Havering and its public library service. She praised Councillor Andrew Curtin for the role he is playing, and I think we would all echo what she said about the essential role that libraries play in developing children’s interest in reading and their culture. She referred to a read and rhyme scheme for improving, among other things, listening skills. Perhaps she could bring that to the House at some point, because listening skills could be developed further in the Chamber. We would all support my hon. Friend in what she said about the importance of reading. The second issue she raised was about the activities of Stubbers outdoor leisure centre and its important role in building young people’s skills and experiences, which they might not otherwise have, helping them to overcome their difficulties. She highlighted the importance of the National Citizen Service, and I hope that all Members will have played their part in promoting this valuable scheme.

My parliamentary neighbour, the hon. Member for Mitcham and Morden (Siobhain McDonagh), referred to an unfortunate series of failures in communication and a real lack of competence in the police’s handling of the case of George Shaw and Paula Davidson. She made some understandable requests for the police to talk to her constituents about their experience and to explain to them why they did not get the support they needed to bring about closure in what was clearly a very serious case. Currently, they have not had closure because of the failure to produce the pertinent evidence.

The hon. Member for Rugby (Mark Pawsey) referred, as he has previously in these debates, to electronic or e-cigarettes and the difficulties they have created for a company in his constituency. He expressed his concern that the regulatory aspect might discourage people from taking up something that could make a contribution to health. I am sure that the Department of Health will have listened carefully to what he said. However, I hope he would also acknowledge that there are issues such as the ability of such products to deliver a consistent dose. There is clearly a need for regulation, but I think that what concerns him is how that should be done.

The hon. Member for Lewisham East (Heidi Alexander) said that 20 people had written to her about the European Union referendum and 50,000 had been in touch with her about Lewisham hospital.

I must say that when I ask people in my constituency what issues concern them most, health is often the number one issue, and Europe features rather low on the list of priorities. The main issues seem to be health and jobs.

One of the right hon. Gentleman’s Back-Bench colleagues has just suggested that the fact that 50,000 people signed my petition about Lewisham hospital was all to do with 38 Degrees. I can assure him that that was not the case. In fact, hundreds of people were in Lewisham town centre collecting signatures.

The hon. Lady has put her clarification on record.

I heard Members behind me expressing surprise that Europe was not a big issue. I can only say that consistently, year after year, when I ask people what issue is most important to them, they reply that it is health, education or law and order. It is not Europe. I think we had better leave it at that.

As the hon. Lady will know, the European Union (Referendum) Bill is currently being debated, and will return to the House in September. I do not know whether she is a member of the Bill Committee, or indeed whether she would wish to be a member of it, given that its sittings seem to be finishing quite late and may continue to do so. She said that there was scope for reform of the European Union, and I accept that. I think there is agreement among Members on both sides of the House that the EU can and should be reformed. The justice and home affairs opt-outs, for instance, are part of the process. That reform may well deliver some changes which I think would be supported by Members in all parts of the House.

Let me point out to the Deputy Leader of the House—who represents a constituency where my family lived for the best part of 100 years—that his assertion that Europe is not much of a priority in the minds of the electorate is completely at odds with the findings of all the opinion polls over a number of years. He might like to look at the report of a Westminster Hall debate entitled “National Parliaments and the EU”, which was initiated by the hon. Member for Birmingham, Edgbaston (Ms Stuart) the day before yesterday, and in which I took part. I think that all the questions to which he ought to be referring now are contained in the speeches that she and I gave.

I do not know whether my hon. Friend’s family were resident in my constituency 100 years ago, but things may have changed in the last 100 years. All that I can reflect today is the feedback that I receive regularly from my constituents—and I should add that I am the only one who has that information. No one else here has it.

On the European Union, let me finally say that one of the risks of being outside it—I think that this is Norway’s experience—is that a country will end up paying much more than it would pay if it were inside.

My hon. Friend the Member for Colchester (Sir Bob Russell) made one of a number of suggestions that have been made today about holiday reading for Members. He recommended “You Can’t Hide the Sun”, by John McCarthy, and he spoke of what is happening to the Bedouins. He has tabled an early-day motion on the subject, and he is not alone: I believe that 21 Members signed it. There is clearly an acknowledgement in this place, at least, that it is a significant issue. I certainly agree with him that both the Israeli and US Governments have a significant responsibility for sorting out the situation there. I am pleased, therefore, that John Kerry has won Arab League support for his initiative to try to restart the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, and if they do restart I hope the Bedouin issue will come up. We need to see urgent steps to ensure that a two-state solution is introduced there. I am sure the Foreign and Commonwealth Office will look very carefully at my hon. Friend’s strong words on this subject when Hansard is published.

The right hon. Member for Rother Valley (Mr Barron) put on record his concerns about a failure to respond to his correspondence. I will ensure that is communicated to the Prime Minister’s office, and I hope a response to his letter is forthcoming. He talked about the NHS and alcohol, too. I hope he will acknowledge that the NHS budget is one of the budgets that has been safeguarded when many others have not. On alcohol, I think it is fair to say that a lot has been achieved through the public health responsibility deal, and it is worth pointing out that binge drinking is reducing, rather than increasing, which is also a positive trend.

My hon. Friend the Member for Congleton (Fiona Bruce) described a terrible experience a North Korean student working with her at present had in North Korea. He is subsequently leaving that country. Her contribution highlighted the fact that often the issues of asylum and immigration get mixed up and we lose sight of the fact that the UK has a very important role to play in providing asylum for genuine cases of the type she described.

My hon. Friend referred to Lord Alton’s book. I happen to have a book called “Escape from Camp 14” by my bedside at the moment. I understand it is also about Korea, and although it is not exactly light holiday reading I intend to read it over the summer break.

My hon. Friend also gave some useful concrete examples of how UK citizens can help directly in North Korea. She gave the soft examples of making a financial or business contribution as a way of trying to open up a society that is still very closed. Finally, what she said about the desire of North Koreans to have access to information reminded me of the meetings I had about 30 years ago when I was in Czechoslovakia—as it then was—and met up with Hungarians. The Czechs were too scared to talk to westerners, but the Hungarians were a bit braver, and one of the things they said was how important it was that they could get news that was real news. They did not want to get their news through a filter that filtered out what was genuinely happening. That is clearly what is happening in North Korea, and the UK remains extremely concerned about reports of widespread and continued systematic human rights violations there. My hon. Friend will be aware that the UN has commissioned an inquiry to investigate human rights abuses, and we encourage the North Korean Government to co-operate fully with it and to engage with that process. My hon. Friend referred to the launch of a campaign on 27 July that will be about raising the profile of the situation in North Korea and trying to achieve there what was achieved through the Burmese campaign.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Tonbridge and Malling (Sir John Stanley) went into some detail about a constituent of his, Ms Chung, and he has put down a very detailed request that I am sure the Home Office will want to respond to. I welcome the fact that the Chair of the Select Committee on Home Affairs, the right hon. Member for Leicester East, has also indicated that he will follow that matter up immediately, and I therefore hope my right hon. Friend will get a swift response on the issue of the passport, the fact that his correspondence has not been responded to and the request that the Home Office look at having a fast-track procedure. He will be aware that one of the reasons the changes were made to the UKBA was to ensure a separation between its role in processing the customer-focused part of the work it does from the enforcement part, to try to achieve what he was trying to achieve for business people.

The Chairman of the Home Affairs Committee, the right hon. Member for Leicester East, focused on obesity and diabetes, as I mentioned earlier. He is a recognised campaigner on the issue in this House and referred to some of the statistics that highlight why we should take the matter seriously. As 10% of the NHS budget is spent on addressing the issue and 80% of cases are preventable, there is a clear win for the health service if we can focus on that. He referred to the responsibility deal and clearly felt that it was a mixed blessing—or at least that it was not delivering in the way he would like and that the substance behind it had not materialised. We all, as a Government, as Members of Parliament and as members of the wider public, need to do our bit to ensure that the 536 organisations that he referred to as having signed up to it are doing what they volunteered to do and to draw attention to them if they have not.

The right hon. Gentleman might like to know that I visited Greenshaw secondary school, in the constituency of my right hon. Friend the Member for Sutton and Cheam (Paul Burstow), which has recently changed the catering contract and appointed a new chef. The new chef is cooking everything fresh in the school and there has been a huge uptake in school meals as a result. I visited and the queues were phenomenal, as a lot of the children chose to stay in school to have their meals as opposed to taking packed lunches or leaving school. Things can be done in schools, even within the same budget, if they are willing to be imaginative. The right hon. Gentleman has mentioned the matter in relation to diabetes in the House before, in the debate on 24 April 2013.

The hon. Member for Colne Valley (Jason McCartney) mentioned the distressing case in Meltham involving a postman, Jason Lee, and we will all want to join the hon. Gentleman in wishing him a full recovery. The hon. Gentleman and all Members will know that the CWU has done a lot of work on the issue. It is not only postal workers—I suspect that we have all been out delivering leaflets fairly recently and have faced the same sort of risks trying to push our respective party literature through doors in our constituencies. It clearly is a real issue and we have probably all experienced individual cases similar to the one he described.

The hon. Member for Tiverton and Honiton (Neil Parish) intervened to suggest that the hon. Member for Colne Valley was trying to compete with the hon. Member for Southend West in listing constituents who had achieved notable things, but the hon. Member for Colne Valley praised volunteers, which is something we cannot do enough in this place. I want to take the opportunity to praise OGRES—the Onslow Gardens residents association—which I visited yesterday. It is a volunteer organisation like any other, and is campaigning against a large McDonald’s that it does not want to see built on Stafford road. The hon. Gentleman mentioned 4th Golcar Scouts and the effective work they have done in signing up lots of adult volunteers to help them expand the work they can do.

The hon. Gentleman talked about the Tour de France—which, it seems, might be slightly lost if it is going through his village, or to have gone slightly off-piste—and it will clearly be a fantastic event for Yorkshire and the UK. We will all cherish the occasion, particularly if we manage to win it again.

Of course, we had a debate yesterday about MPs and second jobs. It is clear that the hon. Gentleman has not just a second, but a third, fourth, fifth and sixth job, but they are all volunteer jobs, so if the motion had been agreed to, he would not have been banned from undertaking them.

The hon. Member for Tiverton and Honiton, the last speaker in the debate, mentioned the fatalities on the A35 and the discussions he has had with the Department for Transport and the Highways Agency about Hunter’s Lodge junction. He has used this opportunity, rightly, to raise the issue’s profile. He talked about health funding for primary care. It is an interesting fact that the age profile of residents of Axminster and Honiton is what we are expecting the national age profile to be by 2035, so we probably have quite a lot to learn from those towns’ experiences, in terms of types and costs of services. He made a request for a new school; I am sure that the Department for Education will have listened carefully to that request, and will respond to it. He also asked the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to consider carefully issues to do with environmental schemes and payments to farmers. I am sure that it has listened carefully to his contribution.

We have come to the end of this debate. I have had slightly more time to wrap up than I am used to, so I will take a few minutes to thank you, Mr Speaker, for keeping us on a fairly tight leash this Session; the staff of the House for helping us to ensure that this place runs smoothly; and the staff in the Office of the Leader of the House of Commons for supporting me and the Leader of the House in our roles. I hope that all Members enjoy the recess and come back full of energy in September for the full programme of activities that we will undertake then.

Question put and agreed to.


That this House has considered matters to be raised before the forthcoming adjournment.