The business for next week will be as follows:
Monday 2 December—Second Reading of the Mesothelioma Bill [Lords], followed by a debate on motions relating to Backbench Business (Amendment of Standing Orders) and Select Committee statements.
Tuesday 3 December—Opposition day [14th allotted day]. There will be a debate on “Cyber Bullying”, followed by a debate entitled “Persecution of Christians in the 21st Century”. Both debates will arise on a motion in the name of the Democratic Unionist party.
Wednesday 4 December—Consideration of Lords amendments to the Energy Bill, followed by Opposition day [unallotted half day]. There will be a debate on business rates. The debate will arise on a motion in the name of the official Opposition.
Thursday 5 December—My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer will deliver his autumn statement, which will be followed by a general debate on modern-day slavery. The subject for this debate was determined by the Backbench Business Committee.
Friday 6 December—The House will not be sitting.
The provisional business for the week commencing 9 December will include:
Monday 9 December—Second Reading of the Intellectual Property Bill [Lords], followed by business to be nominated by the Backbench Business Committee.
Tuesday 10 December—Remaining stages of the National Insurance Contributions Bill.
Wednesday 11 December—Motion to approve a Ways and Means resolution relating to the Financial Services (Banking Reform) Bill, followed by a motion to approve a money resolution relating to the Financial Services (Banking Reform) Bill, followed by consideration of Lords amendments to the Financial Services (Banking Reform) Bill.
Thursday 12 December—Business to be nominated by the Backbench Business Committee.
Friday 13 December—The House will not be sitting.
I thank the Leader of the House for announcing next week’s business. May I also take the opportunity to congratulate colleagues who have participated in Movember this month? I applaud their efforts and labours for an important cause, although I must admit that I find some of them a bit disconcerting. Some of them even remind me that this Government are trying to take us back to Victorian times.
Yesterday, the Government proposed some very sensible measures to toughen rules for European Union migrants, including banning out-of-work benefits and quadrupling fines for bosses not paying the minimum wage. Given that Labour proposed some of these changes eight months ago, will the Leader of the House tell us why it has taken the Government so long to announce any action? Will he confirm that none of the Government’s proposed changes will be in place by 1 January, when work restrictions for Romanians and Bulgarians will end? Much of the Government’s plan could be implemented using secondary legislation. Given that we have 13 days of parliamentary time remaining before the Christmas recess, it is clear that we could work together to get some of these sensible changes in place. So will he agree to work with us to get this done in time?
Despite stuffing the other place with 158 new coalition peers since the election, on Tuesday the Government lost yet another key vote on the licensing of bankers. Will the Leader of the House tell us whether the Government will now accept that important amendment and keep it in the Bill? The Financial Services (Banking Reform) Bill has provided yet another lesson in how not to legislate. After ignoring our request to delay the Bill until after the publication of the report of the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards, the Government presented this place with a shell of a Bill, which has now grown fivefold in the other place. That makes it a very different piece of legislation from the one that we scrutinised in this place, and it is a disgrace that the Government have developed a Bill of such importance in the unelected Chamber while treating this place with contempt. Will the Leader of the House give his assurance that when the Bill returns, we will have more than sufficient time to debate properly the vast amounts of it that are new?
In a week of spectacular U-turns, perhaps the Chancellor’s damascene conversion on payday loans was the most surprising. After all, the Government had voted three times against a cap. Will the Leader of the House confirm that it was the prospect of yet another defeat on the banking Bill that changed the Chancellor’s mind? It seems that the Chancellor is developing a proclivity for ideological flexibility. Perhaps it is just a public relations strategy to say one thing and then do another. After all, he said he would stop tax evasion but he refused to close the giant eurobond loophole. He attacked unacceptable City bonuses and then went to Brussels to fight for them. He promised to cut borrowing, but he has borrowed more in three years than Labour did in 13. He said that we are all in it together, but prices have risen faster than wages in 40 of the 41 months since he has been Chancellor. Will the Leader of the House now give us a debate in Government time on the widening gap between this Government’s rhetoric and the reality?
We are all eagerly awaiting next Thursday when two parliamentary Titans can tussle over the key issues of the day—and that is just the business statement. I know that colleagues will be keen to ensure that they are in the Chamber to hear the unfailingly witty ripostes of the Leader of the House. Will he confirm which will come first next Thursday, the autumn statement or the business statement?
This week has revealed that we have a Chancellor who thinks it is Marxist to intervene in energy prices, but positively Thatcherite to intervene in the payday lending market. We have a sports Minister who appears to know nothing about sport, and a Health Minister who did not know how to access a walk-in centre.
It is no wonder that coalition tensions have been rising, and that is only in the Tory party. Apparently 25 Conservative modernisers have been to visit the Prime Minister to warn him of a split if he abandons green levies. The Leader of the House must be wondering where it all went wrong for the Prime Minister and his modernisation project. The Prime Minister promised a big society and delivered the politics of division and fear, and now his self-styled successor, the Mayor of London, thinks greed is good and that some people are too stupid to be equal.
Today’s news that the Prime Minister is U-turning on his U-turn on plain packaging for cigarettes says it all. He is a Prime Minister running round and round in circles.
I am grateful to the shadow Leader of the House for her response, and I join her in congratulating Members who have been participants in Movember. We shall, in some cases, regret the passing of their facial adornments. I suspect that not many of them will be persuaded to keep them on a permanent basis, but it is all in an important cause. I am sure that, across the House, we feel very strongly about the importance of supporting them in their endeavours to promote research into prostate and testicular cancers. We have made considerable progress, but there is much more to be done. I know that prostate cancer is the most common cancer affecting men and if we can secure investment in research and treatment such as that characterised by successful breast cancer campaigns, men—and, I suspect, women—in this country and beyond will attach considerable importance to that.
The hon. Lady asked about migration and I heard the Home Secretary answer her questions yesterday in the course of a rather comprehensive statement of what the Government are doing. Considering that that statement was the answer to an urgent question asked by the shadow Home Secretary, it turned out to be an own goal. The Home Secretary made it very clear that we will put a bar on migrants claiming out-of-work benefits for the first three months, stop welfare payments after six months unless a claimant has a genuine chance of a job, stop migrant jobseekers claiming housing benefit to subsidise accommodation costs, and introduce further measures on the minimum wage. She also made clear—I heard her do it—those measures which would be in place by January.
The shadow Leader of the House asked for a debate on banking reform. I announced that the House would consider Lords amendments to the Financial Services (Banking Reform) Bill. We did not send a shell of a Bill to the other place—far from it. It was an important measure that ring-fenced everyday banking from investment banking, ensuring that banks are never again too big to fail. It reformed the failed tripartite system that we inherited from the Opposition. It is staggering that they are now trying to engage in procedural politics on the Bill. We, as a Government, are having to put in place a banking regulatory system that will not allow the appalling mess we inherited from the previous Government to occur again as that failed this country and beyond in a major way.
We quite rightly established the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards and the Bill responded directly to it. We gave the commission an opportunity to consider the measures in the Bill as part of the scrutiny of it before its introduction and the commission produced a second report. It was never in anybody’s interest for the Bill not to be completed during this Session and so we used a mechanism whereby the second report was reflected in measures incorporated into the Bill in the House of Lords. That is perfectly reasonable and as the hon. Lady and the House will have gathered, we anticipate a full day’s debate on Lords amendments when the Bill returns to the House.
The hon. Lady also asked for a debate on the rhetoric and reality of the Chancellor’s policies. I would welcome such a debate as it would give us an opportunity to contrast not just rhetoric and reality but the rhetoric of the Labour party and the reality of Labour in office. Yesterday, Labour tried to talk about the economic policy of this Government but throughout the debate Labour Members failed to recognise or acknowledge the mistakes their party had made. The facts are simple and straightforward; for example, under a Labour Government there was a 7.2% reduction in the GDP of this country during the deepest recession we have seen in the past 100 years, which led to unprecedented deficits in this country. That was the consequence of a Labour Government. As for the rhetoric and reality of the Chancellor’s policies, I look forward to hearing him make the autumn statement next Thursday and set out how this coalition Government are making tremendous progress—not least by assisting people in this country through more jobs, reduced taxation, controls on fuel duties, a council tax freeze available to councils through the whole of this Parliament, and the largest increases in the state pension we have ever seen—in helping families with the cost of living, which the Opposition would signally have been unable to do had they continued to borrow and spend in the way that they did in the past. It has always been the same old Labour: spend, borrow and see the economy of this country collapse.
May we have an urgent debate on the variability in the diesel and petrol prices that our constituents are often forced to pay? Prices in Leighton Buzzard are often 5p to 6p a litre more than those in surrounding areas. Tesco, for example, charges considerably less in Milton Keynes and Dunstable than in Leighton Buzzard. Does the Leader of the House think there is an onus on companies such as Tesco and Morrisons to treat all their customers fairly?
I understand the point that my hon. Friend makes because his constituency and mine are not far apart. I quite often note the difference in prices as I go around the country. Of course, that is happening for a simple reason—there are different markets in different parts of the country. So I have noticed in the past that if one is buying petrol in the Wirral close to where it is refined it might be a little cheaper than in Cambridgeshire. But the truth is that, wherever people are buying petrol or diesel, they are buying it 13p a litre cheaper than would have been the case if the fuel duty escalator introduced by the Labour party was still in place. That is £7 for an average fill-up.
May we have a debate on the appalling employment practices of Amazon, which were demonstrated on “Panorama”, so that the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills can set out what action he intends to take to stop those practices and stop Britain slipping into some form of sweatshop economy?
I cannot promise a debate, but if the hon. Gentleman is in his place he will have an opportunity to raise those issues with my right hon. and hon. Friends in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills next Thursday when they respond to questions. None of us in the House believes that we have or should have a sweatshop economy. That is why over many years we have instituted employment protection measures, including a minimum wage. It is important that it is enforced. It is also important that we create jobs, and in this economy since the general election we have created 1.4 million private sector jobs. That should never be forgotten.
May we have a debate about Somerset county council’s rush to axe children’s centres when it has done a skewed consultation, questions were loaded, and the staff have been gagged? Its report shows that it does not even know how many children are affected, and the only failings in the Ofsted report for the two children’s centres that I have seen were caused by the council’s failings to resource them. Last week the council agreed that it would have a four to six-week period of further consultation with parents and children, and yesterday it suddenly announced that it would make the decision today. It is absolutely not fair on the children or parents.
My hon. Friend will recall that there are statutory requirements about the character of a consultation relating to local authority proposals to reconfigure children’s services. I am not in a position to comment directly on the circumstances that my hon. Friend describes, but I will ask my right hon. and hon. Friends at the Department for Education to respond to what she has said.
Across the House, we all believe in supporting social impact enterprises and social innovation. May we have a quick debate—I know that it would have to be very urgent—about the barriers to crowdfunding that are coming through from the Financial Conduct Authority? Can we do something quickly to keep alive the ability of people to invest in local enterprises in their community?
I am interested in the point that the hon. Gentleman makes. I will ask my right hon. and hon. Friends in the Treasury or perhaps my right hon. Friend the Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General, who has responsibility as the Minister for civil society, to respond to that point. The hon. Gentleman and other hon. Members across the House who share enthusiasm for social enterprises may wish to bring the subject before the Backbench Business Committee, which has opportunities for debates not only here but in Westminster Hall.
I cannot promise an immediate debate, but I know that my hon. Friend and other hon. Members might seek to have a debate in due course. My recollection—I may be incorrect—is that the Office for National Statistics, for technical reasons, has not published the latest data on the gender pay gap, but will do so in December. We share the view that, while the gap may have reduced, we have not achieved what we need to achieve. It may be something on which he and others, in the light of the latest data, may wish to seek a debate from the Backbench Business Committee.
May we have a debate in Government time on the situation facing people living in the private rented sector, many of whom have six-month tenancies, great difficulty getting repairs done and the danger that the tenancy will be ended if they complain to the landlord? In particular, those living in central London, where benefit levels do not meet the excessive rent levels, can then be forced to move out, leading to a social cleansing of whole swathes of our communities. It is a serious issue facing a lot of people, so it should be dealt with by the Government, not on a Back-Bench business day.
I agree that those are important issues, and I know that we will continue to have opportunities to debate them. Many issues that are for the Government to respond to are debated in time granted by the Backbench Business Committee. I do not subscribe to the view, and neither does the House, that Government time is allocated to discuss things that are the Government’s responsibility and Back-Bench business time is allocated to discuss things that are not. On the contrary, Back-Bench business time is available, as indeed is Opposition time, so that Members can raise issues that are predominantly for the Government to respond to.
On Wednesday that well-known press organ the Plymouth Herald reported that the Secretary of State for Transport had said that he would look closely at improving the rail and road links to Plymouth following the closure of Plymouth airport a couple of years ago. Specifically to deliver growth, I have been campaigning for the A303 to be dualled, for trains to get into Plymouth by 9 am, rather than 11.17 am, and for more train journeys to and from London. After repeated failed requests for a debate, will my right hon. Friend support my calls for a debate on this important matter, or at the very least may we have a statement from the Secretary of State?
I am grateful to my hon. Friend, who raises an issue that is important not only to his constituents, but to those of other Members in that travel corridor in the south-west. Given that wider interest, he might find that there is a wider constituency of Members who might be able to seek a debate. I certainly encourage him in that regard. He knows that our right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport was with him in his constituency over the summer to discuss those issues. I will of course ask him to respond further, but it is very much in the minds of Ministers, not least because they have a feasibility study looking at some of the most notorious hot spots on roads across the country, including the A303, the A30 and the A358 in that travel corridor.
The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions is presiding over increasing chaos in his Department, with a black hole existing where the independent living fund used to be, and there are still questions about interference with the Public Accounts Committee. Will the Leader of the House arrange for him to come here and speak for himself?
I seem to remember that the Secretary of State was here last week—on Monday, I think—to answer questions and speak for himself and for the Government, and I am delighted to say that when he does so he contrasts the situation in which we are creating jobs with the one under Labour in which jobs were not being created. He contrasts the situation in which every time people move off benefits and into work, work pays, which was not the case under Labour, ensuring that there is serious benefit associated with working. He also talks about the fact that we have effective systems, including under the Work programme, that are delivering effective routes back into work for the long-term unemployed.
Has my hon. Friend seen my early-day motion 784 on fuel duty?
[That this House welcomes the Government's actions cutting fuel duty in 2011 and the freeze in fuel duty until the end of the present Parliament announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer; and urges the Government, if the economic conditions allow, to continue to cut costs for hard-pressed motorists and to consider a further fuel duty cut.]
May we have a debate on fuel duty, given that in yesterday’s debate on the cost of living the Opposition forgot to mention that they increased fuel duty 12 times and that our Government have frozen it in the lifetime of this Parliament? Will my right hon. Friend urge the Chancellor to go even further and cut fuel duty in the forthcoming Budget?
I am grateful to my hon. Friend and have seen his early-day motion. I thoroughly endorse the congratulations that the Financial Secretary offered him in yesterday’s debate in recognition of his campaigning. Of course, matters relating to the future of fuel duty are for the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but he has made it clear that by the end of this Parliament, as a consequence of the decisions he has already announced, motorists will be paying 20p per litre less on petrol and diesel duty than would have been the case under Labour’s fuel duty escalator.
Last week people in Rochdale commemorated the Holodomor famine that occurred in Ukraine, killing 7 million people in one of the most horrifying episodes in European history. Does the Leader of the House agree that it would be fitting on this 80th anniversary to debate recognition of the Holodomor as genocide?
The hon. Gentleman and the House will know that the Holodomor was an horrific man-made disaster of unimaginable scale. We recognise the appalling human tragedy that occurred and its importance in the history of Ukraine and Europe. The Government pay tribute to the people who continue to work to keep alive the memory of all those who perished in the Holodomor. There is a complex debate about this, as the hon. Gentleman will recall. For an explanation of that, I would, if I may, direct Members to the speech by my right hon. Friend the Minister for Europe in reply to a debate initiated by my hon. Friend the Member for Mid Derbyshire (Pauline Latham) on 11 June.
The most recently published unemployment data show that the Harrogate and Knaresborough constituency is among the top 1% in the country for falling long-term unemployment. May we have a debate about the progress that has been made in getting people back to work, particularly the long-term unemployed?
The more we can show, particularly to those who are long-term unemployed, the benefits of the Work programme, the better it is. We have record numbers of vacancies. While we have seen a modest reduction in the number of long-term unemployed, we want that number to come down further, and the Work programme has been increasingly successful in achieving that. According to industry figures, 383,000 people have started work, and we have reached the point where 168,000 have found lasting work for more than six months. That represents tremendous progress so far, but we want to achieve more.
Given that £1.5 million-worth of donations from private health care companies resulted in £1.5 billion-worth of NHS contracts for those companies, and that the private supper arrangements with the Tory party have resulted in donations of £1.5 million to the Conservatives, may we have a statement from the Leader of the House on who these anonymous donors are and what exactly has been paid for?
I am afraid that the hon. Lady is completely wrong in all her assertions. For 20 years in the Conservative party it has been clear that we do not take anonymous donations and we do not take donations to which strings are attached. It is absolutely not true to say that donations lead to contracts in the NHS. Those contracts are administered independently and fairly, and relationships with Ministers before they came into office and while they are in office have absolutely no bearing on that. Indeed, the number of private sector contracts in the NHS has not increased overall since the election.
On a recent visit to the Jobcentre Plus that serves my constituency, I was told that the long-term unemployed are now finding jobs and, equally importantly, keeping them. May we therefore have a debate on the success of the Work programme in getting the long-term unemployed—a group abandoned by Labour—into long-term, sustainable employment?
My hon. Friend is right. The Work programme is the largest welfare-to-work programme since the 1930s. What he describes in his constituency is very important; it replaced a patchwork of poorly performing and expensive schemes under the Labour Government. We expect 2.5 million people to be supported over five years. What we saw under Labour, as we have seen under every Labour Government, is an increase in unemployment. Under this coalition Government we are seeing a substantial reduction in unemployment and, even more importantly, a record level of employment.
On Monday the Government accepted the position of Labour Front Benchers on capping high-cost credit, ahead of certain defeat in the other place. Yesterday the Government accepted many of the proposals of the shadow Home Secretary, my right hon. Friend the Member for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford (Yvette Cooper), in order to take the wind out of a Government Back-Bench rebellion. Today the Government seem to have U-turned on tobacco plain packaging, again ahead of certain defeat in the other place. Will the Leader of the House arrange a debate in this House on why the Government seem to have run out of ideas?
I cannot promise a debate, but I think one would be useful, because what my hon. Friend says is true, especially in more rural areas. There has, of course, been some notable erosion of the number of independent petrol retailers. The situation is very difficult and I hope they will hear what my hon. Friend has said as some encouragement to them that we recognise the contribution they make in rural communities.
The Leader of the House will recall the tragic deaths of baby Daniel in Coventry and of baby P. Would it not be fitting to have some form of national memorial or new proposals for dealing with child abuse, given the cutbacks to local authority budgets?
I do remember, as will other Members, those tragic events and others like them. Personally, I think that the most important memorial we can achieve is to ensure that our child protection and safeguarding arrangements are as effective as we can possibly make them. We know we are not there yet. We have made progress, but we have much more to do to make that happen. I hope we can achieve that so that children can be genuinely safe wherever they are in the country.
Following on from the urgent question, may we have a debate on Government inquiries into decision making? Surely it cannot be right to farm out important decisions to unelected and unaccountable people. If Ministers are not capable of working out the evidence for themselves and coming to a conclusion, or do not have the guts to take responsibility for the decision they want to take, perhaps they should not be Ministers.
In the context of the urgent question, which I thought the Under-Secretary of State for Health, my hon. Friend the Member for Battersea (Jane Ellison) answered superbly, what was announced was a review, but, as she made clear, the decision that will be made in the spring will be made by Ministers.
When I made a plea yesterday for disabled people to be exempt from the bedroom tax, the Prime Minister said:
“Obviously, what we have done is to exempt disabled people who need an extra room.”—[Official Report, 27 November 2013; Vol. 571, c. 254.]
That is not only a direct contradiction of previously stated policy, it is at complete odds with what is happening in the real world. Can we have a statement from a Minister from the Department for Work and Pensions either to correct the Prime Minister’s erroneous statement or, alternatively, to confirm that disabled people will indeed be exempt from this vicious and nasty bedroom tax that they should never have suffered in the first place?
The Prime Minister was absolutely right to say yesterday that those disabled people who need an additional room for overnight carers will not have the spare room subsidy removed in respect of that room. That has always been the case and the Prime Minister has made that clear on a number of occasions.
Will the Leader of the House make time for a debate on the Standards Committee report on my hon. Friend the Member for South Suffolk (Mr Yeo), so that we can seek an apology from The Sunday Times?
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that question. Indeed, I think the House will be grateful to the Standards Committee and the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards for an exceptionally thorough report. Having read it, I looked last weekend for any recognition in The Sunday Times of its findings, but found none. I rather regret that. If the press is rightly quick to criticise, it should equally be ready to admit when it has got it wrong.
May we have a debate about the cost of Government hospitality, particularly when this week Scottish celebrities are tripping over themselves to snub the Prime Minister’s lavish St Andrew’s day Union bash? We learned this morning that even the Prime Minister has decided to snub his own event. Does the Leader of the House have any idea who is actually going to attend?
My Prime Minister (Replacement) Bill is due to have its Second Reading tomorrow. It provides for a line of succession if the Prime Minister is killed or incapacitated. My apologies to you, Mr Speaker: I had listed you as third in line to succeed the Prime Minister, but unfortunately the powers that be have said that the House could not contemplate that. Will the Leader of the House ensure that the first item of business tomorrow is concluded very early and that no filibustering prevents my Bill from being debated? Before he answers, I can let him know that, for his information, he is 20th on the list to succeed.
I am grateful to my hon. Friend, because I was not aware of that possibility under the Bill. It ever so slightly changes my perception of it, but I fear that I am still not entirely in favour of it, not least because it impinges on Her Majesty’s prerogatives under the constitution.
I am sure I am right in telling my hon. Friend that there is no prospect of filibustering in this House. It is a term of usage, but it is not in order to filibuster, and the Chair would not contemplate anything disorderly happening in the House.
May we have a statement from the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport to explain why the Government have refused to designate the rugby union world cup in 2015 as an event of national significance, as was done by the previous Government for the Olympics and Paralympics in 2012, so that tickets cannot be sold on the secondary ticketing market and hoovered up by touts, many of whom are involved in organised criminal gangs and in exploiting genuine rugby fans?
In April, the amount that someone can earn before paying income tax—the personal allowance—will rise to £10,000. Together with cumulative changes made since the coalition Government came to office, that will cut an individual’s income tax bill by £700 on average and take 3 million of our poorest people out of income tax altogether, including 4,025 people in the Kettering constituency. May we have a debate in Government time on personal income tax liability and the changes made since this Government came to power?
My hon. Friend makes an important point, of which people in his constituency will take positive note. Other constituencies have similar figures, and those changes in taxation are one reason why household disposable incomes are rising, which is important for people in tough times. On the opportunity to consider that further, I can say that it may well arise during questions following the Chancellor’s autumn statement next Thursday.
To follow on from the question asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Eltham (Clive Efford), may we have a debate on the sale of rugby union world cup tickets? The protection of Olympic tickets from resale helped to prevent ticket touting. Can we make the rugby world cup a party for ordinary people, not just for the rich who can afford tickets?
The Leader of the House will be aware of the great concern about lifting restrictions on Romanians and Bulgarians coming here after 1 January. Will he bring back the Immigration Bill on Report so that the House has a chance to consider my new clause to extend those restrictions?
The House will be aware that I of course announce future business every week, and the Immigration Bill will be part of a future business statement. My hon. Friend was in his place yesterday to listen to the Home Secretary, and he and Members from across the House will have heard about a substantial package of robust measures that should make a significant difference. In the light of figures on migration from within the European Union, it is terrifically important to make it clear that although we value the brightest and best coming here to study and work, as is absolutely right, we and other countries—Germany, France and the like—do not want that to turn into an ability for people to come to this country or other countries across the European Union for the purpose of accessing benefits.
Will the Leader of the House ask the Chancellor to come here and make a statement on intervention in failing markets, because he seems to be all over the shop? He has rightly given in to a cap on the cost of credit, but he will not listen on a freeze on energy bills.
Across London and the south-east, we have the scandal of accommodation being erected in gardens and landlords charging exorbitant rents from people who are not paying council tax but are receiving benefits. May we have an urgent debate in Government time on beds in sheds, so that we can examine that problem in detail and get some action?
My hon. Friend raises an interesting point. Not least because I would like to hear more about the matter, I will ask my right hon. and hon. Friends at the Department for Communities and Local Government to reply to him and to allow me to see that reply. My hon. Friend and other hon. Members may want to take further steps to secure a debate on the matter, for instance on the Adjournment.
Mr and Mrs Lloyd live in Little Addington in my constituency. They have been flooded twice because of a burst water main. Anglian Water accepts that the water main needs to be replaced, but it will not do the work until late in 2014. In the meantime, it has reduced the water pressure and people in the village cannot even have a proper shower. What advice can the Leader of the House give me on how we can hold Anglian Water to account and get it to change its mind and fix the problem?
Two things can be done. I will take it on myself to raise the issue with my right hon. and hon. Friends at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to secure a response from the Government. Separately, the hon. Gentleman can speak to Anglian Water, as I have done myself. I have made it clear that I have supported its bids to the water regulator for a price control, which incorporates a commitment to investment, but equally that I will hold it to its commitment to make that investment, for instance to tackle the impact of sewerage issues on households. He may have similar measures that he wants to raise with the company in that way.
Tomorrow, the all-party group on malaria and neglected tropical diseases, which I chair, will publish its report on the neglected tropical diseases that affect 1.4 billion of the poorest people on earth. May we have a debate about the excellent research that is carried out into those diseases in UK institutions such as the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Imperial college and many others? The UK is a world leader in such research.
My hon. Friend is right that we are a leader in research into tropical diseases and into treatments for and responses to them. Increasingly, with this Government’s commitment to dedicating 0.7% of our gross national income to overseas aid, we are also a leader in combating those diseases across the world.
Before the last election, the Prime Minister promised to lead the “greenest government ever”. Now, he is ordering his officials to get rid of the “green crap”. May we have a debate on what the Prime Minister means by “green crap”?
I suspect that the hon. Gentleman was in his place for Energy and Climate Change questions, so he will have had an opportunity to hear from the Secretary of State that, through our policies, this Government are achieving greater energy efficiency and carbon reduction than any of our predecessors.
The hon. Gentleman will be aware that Members of this House may well seek a debate on Scotland’s future in the United Kingdom. It is perfectly proper for them to go to the Backbench Business Committee to seek such a debate. It is instructive that in the space of two days, one of the central points in the document that the Scottish Government supposed would be the answer to all the questions has turned out to be based on false assumptions.