The business for next week is as follows:
Monday 14 July—Second Reading of the Childcare Payments Bill, followed by a motion to approve the first report from the Committee on Standards on respect policy.
Tuesday 15 July—Proceedings on a Business of the House motion, followed by all stages of the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill.
Wednesday 16 July—Motion on the retirement of the Clerk of the House, followed by Second Reading of the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill.
Thursday 17 July—Statement on the publication of the second report from the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee, “A New Magna Carta?”, followed by statement on the publication of the second report from the Education Committee, “Safe and Suitable: 16-plus Care Options”, followed by debate on a motion relating to the universal postal service obligation, followed by general debate on provision of education for children with autism, followed by general debate on the position of Hazaras in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Select Committee statements and the subjects for debate were determined by the Backbench Business Committee, to be followed, if necessary, by consideration of Lords amendments.
Friday 18 July—The House will not be sitting.
The provisional business for the week commencing 21 July will include:
Monday 21 July—Second Reading of the Social Action, Responsibility and Heroism Bill.
Tuesday 22 July—Matters to be raised before the forthcoming Adjournment, as selected by the Backbench Business Committee.
I should also like to inform the House that the business in Westminster Hall for 17 and 21 July will be:
Thursday 17 July—Debate on the middle east and north Africa.
Monday 21 July—Debate on an e-petition relating to making Eid and Diwali public holidays.
Hon. Members will wish to know that Westminster Hall sittings will be temporarily relocated to Committee Room 10 for the two weeks of the September sitting. Repair and modernisation work will be undertaken to the lift that provides access to the Grand Committee Room and the Jubilee CPA and IPU Rooms. This work will not affect the Grand Committee Room itself, but will rule out disabled access, and the relocation to Committee Room 10 will therefore ensure that Members of Parliament, staff and members of the public who require lift access will still be able to attend sittings in Westminster Hall.
I thank the Leader of the House for announcing next week’s business, and for ensuring that access to our debates for those with disabilities remains possible, despite the works that inevitably have to go on during the recess.
I realise that we will hear a statement shortly, but will the Leader of the House confirm the arrangements for next Tuesday’s sitting, and whether he will extend it to ensure that the House can properly scrutinise emergency legislation to restore the status quo prior to the European Court ruling on data protection?
We now have the business until the summer recess. After six weeks of legislative lethargy, just like buses, all the Government’s Queen’s Speech legislation has come along at once, with 25% of it in just five days. On Monday we will debate the Childcare Payments Bill. Nursery costs have risen five times faster than wages since the election, but the Government have done nothing, and this Bill will not come into force until after the next election. Will the Leader of the House tell us why the Government will not support our plans to extend free child care from 15 hours to 25 hours? And will he tell us why with this Government it is always too little too late?
On Wednesday, we will debate the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill, which bears an eerie resemblance to the Deregulation Bill as it features such a random assortment of issues that virtually any new clause the Government care to produce is within its scope. Will the Leader of the House now give me a cast-iron assurance that the Government have no intention of tabling 45 new clauses and leaving just 43 minutes to debate them, as they did during the passage of the Deregulation Bill in the Commons? Will he tell us why the Governments do not back our plans to provide certainty for people working regular hours on a zero-hours contract?
A week on Monday, we will debate the Social Action, Responsibility and Heroism Bill, which has a title that is longer than its contents. The Government really are living in a parallel universe. The Passport Office has tried to claim that everything is okay, but it is still struggling with a backlog of half a million applications. The Prime Minister tried to claim that the NHS is getting better when it is actually getting worse and then we had the spectacle of the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions being dragged to the House surreptitiously to confirm while appearing to deny that the business case for the implementation of universal credit is yet to be signed off by the Treasury. The Secretary of State denied on the Floor of the House yesterday that the Treasury had ever questioned the financial viability of the business case for his pet project, but on Monday the Cabinet Secretary, Sir Jeremy Heywood, said that the Treasury played a role
“in bringing to the Secretary of State’s attention that the project was way off track.”
That directly contradicts what the Secretary of State said yesterday and both cannot be true, so which is true?
As the population ages, more people are in need of care, but this week figures show that the number of people receiving care has fallen by 5% in the past year alone. A report from the Public Accounts Committee warns today that despite the squeeze in adult social care, the Government do not appreciate the scale of the challenge. I was therefore surprised to read an e-mail from the Liberal Democrat Education Minister to party members that laments that
“almost half of all carers are cutting back on essentials like food and heating.”
He fails to mention that that is because his Government have cut £3.5 billion from care services. The Deputy Prime Minister told the Radio Times this week that it takes a “steely side” and thick skin to get on in politics, but he failed to admit that Liberal Democrats also need two faces. I understand that Liberal Democrat MPs have been sent to Bedfordshire for survival training. At least they are finally admitting that they are an endangered species teetering on the verge of extinction.
This week, the Financial Times has revealed that the majority of candidates selected to replace retiring Tory MPs are white male Eurosceptics. In South Suffolk, the long list contained seven women but the shortlist was made up of three men. A former leader of the UK Independence party will contest South Thanet for the Tories. It has gone from the A-list to the Tea party. This week, the hon. Member for Hexham (Guy Opperman)—a Conservative Member—admitted that he keeps the Prime Minister off his leaflets, that no one wants to keep hearing about Europe and that it is so lonely being a northern Tory that their regional group could meet in a lift. Where does that leave the Liberal Democrats?
I am grateful to the shadow Leader of the House for her remarks. May I take this opportunity, Mr Speaker, to say how much I and other Members of the House enjoyed hearing the parliamentary choir singing with their colleagues from the Bundestag last night? I know that you, Mr Speaker, and Professor Dr Norbert Lammert, President of the Bundestag, had the opportunity to address a packed Westminster Hall. It was the most inspiring and entertaining concert.
The shadow Leader of the House asked about the business for next Tuesday. She is quite right: as we will complete all stages of the Bill on Tuesday it is important that we have a full opportunity for debate, so, subject to discussion and a motion being put before the House, I hope that the debate will extend to 10 pm.
The shadow Leader of the House seemed to castigate us for not having enough legislation, but in order to do so she ignored the fact that after the Queen’s Speech debate we entered into the consideration of a number of carry-over Bills and the Finance Bill, and we are now moving on to the Second Readings of the Bills that have been introduced in this Session. That is entirely normal. Strangely enough, she said that there is too little legislation and then complained that the small business Bill had too much in it and that we might introduce amendments to it. It is a wide-ranging Bill. Its character is different from that of the Deregulation Bill. That Bill is principally about removing regulations that cause a burden, but the small business Bill is about making the policy changes in legislation that are necessary to promote enterprise and reduce burdens. This is not just about reducing burdens but about promoting enterprise, and rightly so.
Curiously, the hon. Lady said that the small business Bill was too long and then complained that the heroism Bill was too short. I quite like a short Bill, as it happens—I think that is rather a good thing. I look forward to the Second Reading debate on the Bill, which will introduce the important aspect of giving people in law, in civil cases, the opportunity to be sure that when they undertake something that is in the broad public interest or demonstrates heroism, they will not be penalised. I think that is very helpful.
The hon. Lady seems to have taken to a habit of starting to re-run Opposition debates—in this instance, on universal credit. The House had an opportunity to debate universal credit on an Opposition motion, an opportunity to listen to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions answer the urgent question very thoroughly and successfully, and an opportunity, through the Liaison Committee, on estimates, to debate the implementation of universal credit. In every instance, my right hon. Friend and Ministers made it admirably clear how we are proceeding with a policy that, frankly, the Opposition supported. It is typical political opportunism to try to cavil as we implement this safely and securely, as distinct from their implementation of the tax credit system, which was, in truth, chaotic.
The hon. Lady talked about the cost of living. Let me remind her of what this coalition is doing together to assist people with the inevitable difficulties of coping in the wake of the destruction of economic value by Labour, which took £3,000 per household out of the value of the economy. We are cutting tax for over 26 million people, taking 3 million people out of income tax altogether, freezing fuel duty for the rest of this Parliament, helping local authorities to freeze council tax, delivering an average £50 reduction in energy bills, cutting £50 from some of the highest water bills down in the south-west, capping rail fare increases, capping charges on pensions, stopping excessive charges when paying with credit and debit cards, and capping the cost of payday loans. On child care, which she mentioned, we are funding 15 hours a week of free child care for all three and four-year-olds and for disadvantaged two-year-olds. I look forward to the support that I hope the House will give to the Childcare Payments Bill, which introduces tax-free child care for working families. That is how we are helping working families in this coalition Government, and I look forward to the debates that push that agenda forward.
Order. As usual, a great many right hon. and hon. Members are seeking to catch my eye, but I remind the House that there are two statements to follow the business question and then a significantly subscribed debate, the contributors to which I am naturally keen to accommodate. Therefore, exceptionally, it may not be possible to accommodate everybody at this session today. To maximise my chances of doing so, I will require extreme brevity from Back Benchers and Front Benchers alike.
May we have a debate on expeditious deportations? Last week, Lithuanian career criminal Mantas Pronckus appeared for the third time at Peterborough Crown court having been arrested, charged and sentenced twice before. He had apparently agreed, in an informal arrangement with the Home Office, to leave the UK permanently, but had clearly failed to do so. When are we going to upgrade arrangements at the borders to protect our constituents and permanently exclude the likes of unpleasant criminals such as Pronckus?
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for raising a case that I know is of concern to his constituents, and Members will have been interested in what he had to say. I will, if I may, speak to my colleagues at the Home Office, in order to establish what the position is.
May we have a debate on compensation for faulty work carried out under the affordable warmth obligation? The Mark Group carried out work on the home of a constituent of mine, presenting itself as delivering a Government scheme, but now neither it nor the regulator or Ministers are willing to act to compensate my constituent.
My right hon. Friend will be aware of the recent tragic case of three-year-old Sam Morrish in my constituency. Sam died of sepsis while under the care of the local NHS and it took more than two years for the ombudsman’s report to be delivered, causing a lot of grief to my constituent, which, frankly, is a disgrace. Will my right hon. Friend agree to a debate in this Chamber on the ineffective and unaccountable ombudsman process, which was established in 1967 and the guidelines for which are now long overdue for reform, particularly given that that was the conclusion reached by the Public Administration Committee in its April 2014 report?
My hon. Friend raises a tragic case and I share with the Prime Minister, with whom she has also raised it, the sense of deep regret and sorrow for the family of Sam Morrish. I have a number of things to say in response. First, the role of the ombudsman is to mitigate distress and to provide redress where appropriate. When that does not happen, the health ombudsman herself very much regrets it and she has expressed regret in this case. The Government are considering the Public Administration Committee reports on how complaints about public services are handled. The Cabinet Office is taking a wider look at the role and powers of the public sector ombudsman and we will respond to those reports in due course.
May I thank you, Mr Speaker, for receiving the Speaker of the Parliament of Pakistan with such courtesy? I saw him last night and he appreciated it very much.
Has the right hon. Gentleman seen early-day motion 238, standing in my name and those of other Members, with regard to the persecution of a constituent of mine who is a member of staff of a branch of Asda in my constituency?
[That this House condemns, in the strongest possible terms, the tyrannical employment practices of Asda, whose branch in Longsight, Manchester, has bullied and bludgeoned a staff member, a constituent of the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton, for more than two years, placing his livelihood in jeopardy throughout this period, subjecting him to intolerable pressure and blatantly violating their own employment procedures; in particular condemns Allan Edwards, Asda Director of Public Affairs, who, in correspondence with the right hon. Member over a prolonged period, has procrastinated and dodged in order to fob off extremely justified concerns; and calls on the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills to investigate these immoral thugs, who clearly believe that they are immune from decency because of the company’s huge wealth.]
My constituent came to see me last Friday evening in a state of enormous distress about the way in which this huge, powerful and wealthy organisation has deprived him of his employment and put him through procedures that were not necessary, while not abiding with its own internal procedures. This is intolerable in any circumstances. An organisation that advertises on television how marvellous it is ought to be dealt with. Will the right hon. Gentleman respond to me in his customary helpful fashion?
I have read the early-day motion to which the right hon. Gentleman refers. It is expressed in strong terms, as, indeed, was his question just now. I will, as he asks in his early-day motion, ask my colleagues at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to respond to it and his question. There are civil procedures available under employment law for those who are the subject of any kind of discrimination or bullying, and it is those routes, rather than those of Government, that should primarily be used.
My hon. Friend is right. This matter is a cause of considerable regret, an inconvenience to many parents and completely unnecessary. The National Union of Teachers, proceeding as it is on a mandate from a ballot way back in September 2012, is taking unjustified and intemperate action. I hope it will reconsider taking such action in future, but if it does not it will be important for Government to consider all the circumstances involved in such events and whether the law is right in this area.
The regional air connectivity fund could be used to make airports in the north of Scotland, such as Stornoway, more central by investigating the possibility of links to the further north, namely the Faroe Islands—a similar group of islands to the Hebrides—or even as a stop on the route through to the Faroes or Iceland. Does the Leader of the House think that we could have a full debate on this matter? [Laughter.]
The Leader of the House will be fully aware that it is almost exactly six months since a sizeable part of the flooding started in Somerset. May we have time for a debate to discuss the lessons learned, the things we are doing and what that means across the UK so that the lessons we are learning now are not forgotten if we have the same problem next year?
I will of course talk to my hon. Friends about that matter, and although time is very limited before the recess I none the less hope that we can learn such lessons before the time of year when there is a further risk of flooding. More to the point, I know that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is very keen to come back to the House as soon as he can to update hon. Members.
In relation to the previous question, there is a Westminster Hall debate on Tuesday on domestic and international connectivity provided by regional airports, which may be helpful to the hon. Member for Na h-Eileanan an Iar (Mr MacNeil).
Will my right hon. Friend find time for a debate on the dredging of the Thames estuary? Leigh-on-Sea fishermen are complaining about the loss of their catch. I recently waded into the Thames estuary—I cannot walk on water yet—and I saw Victorian cart tracks that have been exposed. Something is amiss with the Thames estuary.
I am sorry that I was not present to see my hon. Friend’s Canute moment. Happily, I can tell him that the Marine Management Organisation is aware of the concerns raised by fishermen about commercial fish stocks in the Thames. In the next few weeks, the Marine Management Organisation, the Kent and Essex Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority and the Environment Agency will organise a joint agency workshop to bring together industry leaders and experts to review the current state of key commercial fish stocks in the Thames. They will consider environmental impacts, marine developments, climate issues, freshwater run-off and reduced salination. They are very happy to keep my hon. Friend informed about this matter.
Does the Leader of the House agree that it is high time we had a debate on the absurdity of English and Welsh school holidays? The fact is that we still base holidays on getting in the harvest or on closing mills to look after children. It is a rotten system and it needs to be changed. People are exploited by premium prices during school holidays. Let us get school holidays right. Surely that is a good topic for a debate.
The hon. Gentleman will recall that there was certainly considerable public interest about this subject on our e-petitions website. If I recall correctly, it gave rise to a debate provided through the Backbench Business Committee. He is absolutely right that it is important to have such a debate, because parents feel strongly on both sides of the issue—about ensuring that children are in school with access to education, rather than absented; and about giving parents some relief from the very high cost of holidays that have to be taken during school holidays.
As one of the trustees of the Parliament choir, I thank the Leader of the House for his kind remarks. I thank you, Mr Speaker, and the Speaker of the other place for facilitating the historic event last night with the Bundestag choir. Through you, I also thank all the staff who made the evening so wonderful by working so hard.
May we have a debate on access for the elderly and the disabled to London Underground stations? Unlike the Speaker and the Leader of the House, who are replacing Westminster Hall with Committee Room 10 so that the disabled and elderly can have access to our deliberations, London Underground still refuses to provide step-free access at Amersham station.
I am interested in what my right hon. Friend has to say. Of course, her constituency is outwith London. None the less, as I understand it, this matter is the responsibility of Transport for London. She might wish to seek a debate on the Adjournment. To be as helpful as possible, I will write to Transport for London and the Mayor of London to see how they respond to the point that she rightly makes.
On 13 May, the Deputy Prime Minister promised to write to me about it. Two weeks ago, the Prime Minister promised to raise it with the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. Is it not time that the Secretary of State came to the House to talk about broadband and the plans to improve infrastructure, because Members of all parties from up and down the country have concerns about it?
The hon. Lady will recall that the Secretary of State and his Ministers talked about broadband in response to questions last week. I thought that they did so very persuasively. I will look back at the dates to which she refers and see whether there are specific issues on which I can encourage Ministers to respond to her further.
The 668 bus from Cheddar village connects to the main service to Bristol, where several of its residents work. The cuts that have been made by Somerset county council mean that the bus will end its journey in Shipham, leaving a 1.5 mile gap to Langford, which is across the county border. I have remonstrated with the council, but it does not see that saving £14,000 annually on a bus service means that the taxpayer will have to support people who have to give up their jobs, even though they are able to work. Is there anything that the Leader of the House can do to help?
Like many Members, I have had the melancholy experience of writing to officials at the Department for Work and Pensions, in this case about a personal independence payment centre in Blackpool, waiting two months for a reply and then finding that the answer has been outsourced to Atos. May we have a debate on the responsibility of Departments to ensure that when Members write to their officials, the answers are not outsourced to organisations that have been judged to be failing?
If the hon. Gentleman is able to give me the details, I will look into the precise circumstances of his correspondence. My practice as a Member of Parliament, when I believe that there is a ministerial responsibility, is to write to Ministers about issues. I do not always get a reply, but I hope to get one. That tends to ensure that the responsibility for the reply is not diverted elsewhere.
Rugby is well known as the birthplace of the game, but our offer to visitors also includes our festival of culture, which is on right now. Given the pressure on town centres across the country, may we have a debate on how such events can revitalise town centres and bring people into them?
I am glad to have the chance to congratulate Rugby on its ambition and vision, which is displayed in its festival of culture. We welcome partnerships such as that between Rugby First and Rugby borough council, as well as the other sponsors and partners, which show what culture can do to promote town centres and instil pride in local communities across the country. We have the UK city of culture competition but, as my hon. Friend has demonstrated, many other towns and cities can show how culture can be an essential part of their further regeneration.
The Leader of the House has already announced the Third Reading of the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill, which we will consider on Tuesday, but we have not even had its First Reading yet. Will he ensure that he tables two motions on Monday: one to allow the tabling of amendments before Second Reading, which otherwise would not be allowed, and another to allow manuscript amendments to be taken on the Floor of the House on Tuesday?
We are proceeding with legislation that is urgent. For that reason, some of the normal processes are being telescoped together. The short answer to the first request is yes, I will certainly ensure that it is possible for amendments to be tabled before Second Reading so that they may be considered in Committee and on Report. However, manuscript amendments are a matter for the Chair.
May we have a debate next week on the courtesies to be shown to Members of Parliament by the machinery of government better to enable us to do our jobs properly on behalf of our constituents? Is there any possible reason why the leader of the district council in my constituency, the chief executive and I have been banned by Defence Ministers from meeting Neil Firth, who leads a defence and storage centre in Bicester? That is a significant local employer and there are a number of relevant and immediate local issues about job security and planning.
May I take the opportunity to wish my right hon. Friend a happy birthday? I am sorry to report that due to an administrative error he was sent an incomplete and inadequate response to his letter to the Minister responsible for defence equipment, support and technology, my hon. Friend the Member for Ludlow (Mr Dunne). That did not follow the proper process, and I assure my right hon. Friend that the Minister will write to him with a comprehensive response. The Minister has offered briefings to all interested Members on the competitive process, and indicated that he is willing to meet the delegation from Cherwell district council to hear its concerns.
The Prime Minister has visited India more than any other country, and the Chancellor and Foreign Secretary are both in India this week, building on our wonderful relationships with that country. May we have a statement or a debate on building relationships with India and the new Modi-led Government?
It is welcome that the Foreign Secretary and Chancellor visited India this week and were able to meet Indian Prime Minister Modi, as well as the Finance and Foreign Ministers. That enabled us to engage with the new Indian Government, and allowed the Foreign Secretary to announce a quadrupling of funding for the Chevening scholarship scheme, as well as an expansion of our diplomatic network in India. The Chancellor announced significant inward investments and substantial UK export finance credit to support investment in Indian infrastructure projects. Not least, I am delighted that my right hon. Friends announced plans for a statue of Mahatma Gandhi—the inspiration for non-violent civil rights movements around the world—to be erected in Parliament square early next year.
Many of my constituents have been in touch with me recently to express alarm at the escalating situation in Gaza, and that topic arouses great interest in many Members across the House who have sincerely held views. May we have a statement from the Foreign Secretary next week on the position of the UK Government?
The hon. Gentleman and the House will know that the Foreign Secretary has been assiduous in keeping the House updated and making statements as and when appropriate. In particular, I draw the hon. Gentleman’s attention to the debate in Westminster Hall next Thursday—I am grateful to the Backbench Business Committee for selecting it—on the middle east and north Africa.
Public Health England recently informed me that it intends to submit an outline business case to the Treasury on the future of the Porton Down facility in my constituency. Given the importance of that decision and the Government’s drive to increase transparency in decision making, will the Leader of the House make time for a statement from the Minister so that I can have access to the documents that underpin that decision by Ministers?
My hon. Friend will know that it is established practice that outline business case documents are not shared outside the Government in advance of decisions being made, to protect commercial confidentiality and the integrity of decision making. However, I completely recognise the importance of ensuring that Members are given as much information as possible, and I understand that Public Health England has been discussing, and will continue to discuss, the progress of that business case with my hon. Friend.
I do not think it is a fundamental change in policy. When I was Health Secretary I was clear, for example, that for those with continuing health care needs, personal budgets would be established that embraced health needs and social care needs. As the Health and Social Care Act 2012 continues to make clear, the Secretary of State is responsible for the national health service and will—and does—report to the House whenever there are major changes in policy affecting the NHS as a whole.
Residents in the villages of Henley, Shareshill and Featherstone are often blighted by industrial-scale car boot sales. May we have a debate in the House on the irresponsibility of the operators and the impact they are having on my constituents?
My hon. Friend makes a good case for an Adjournment debate in order to illustrate those issues more fully, but if I may be helpful in the meantime, I will talk to my hon. Friends at the Department for Communities and Local Government to establish what opportunities local authorities have to ensure that car boot sales function in a way that is fair to local people.
The report published by the Public Accounts Committee and today’s Daily Mail say that there are more than 300 complaints a day of abuse by carers of elders. May we have a debate on the Government’s policy on keeping our most vulnerable adults safe?
The hon. Lady will recall that the coalition Government have responded to elder abuse on many occasions. In particular, through the establishment of more inspections and an unannounced inspection regime by the Care Quality Commission, we are trying to give greater reassurance and to take action when any evidence of abuse emerges. That is especially true of abuse in domiciliary care. The CQC is working to ensure that it can take appropriate steps, including inspections, in domiciliary care circumstances, which have hitherto effectively been without that kind of scrutiny.
Has my right hon. Friend seen my early-day motion 240 on Travellers?
[That this House notes that over 100 travellers are currently parked illegally on three sites in Harlow; further notes that they are illegally moving between multiple sites in Harlow; is pleased that Essex Police are issuing the travellers on Third Avenue in Harlow with a Section 61 notice that will require the travellers to leave their current site; recognises the hard work of Harlow Council to resolve this issue; thanks Harlow residents for their ongoing patience on this matter; and therefore urges Essex Police to issue further Section 61 notices on the remaining illegal sites.]
We have a crisis in Harlow to do with Travellers that is reaching breaking point. Essex police are reluctant to use section 61. When the Travellers are moved on, they go to another location nearby. Will my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House look at the law, and contact the Home Secretary and the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to see what he can do to help us in Harlow?
I have great sympathy with my hon. Friend, who raises an issue of importance to his constituents. I understand that not least because, in my constituency, at Smithy Fen next to Cottenham, we had considerable problems over a number of years. The coalition Government have given additional powers. We made a number of those changes to try to ensure that we can stop abuse and that enforcement action can be taken. Local authorities and police have powers. My hon. Friend is right to raise the issue. I know he will be as assiduous as he is on so many other issues to ensure that the authorities take whatever action they can to protect his constituents.
Yesterday, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions denied to me and the House that any concerns had been raised by the Treasury on the financial viability of the business case for universal credit. That seems to be at odds with the comments made earlier in the week by the head of the home civil service. Will the Leader of the House arrange for a Treasury Minister to come to the House as soon as possible to clarify whether the Treasury has raised any financial concerns about the business case?
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions made the position perfectly clear, but let me reiterate that the Treasury confirmed, on 7 July, that it has approved funding for the universal credit programme in 2013-14 and 2014-15, in line with what the Secretary of State said. The universal credit programme is on track to roll out safely and securely against the plan set out last year. The service is available in 24 jobcentres, and the Treasury is fully engaged in that roll-out.
Within the next six months, the Ministry of Defence will announce the successful bidder for the future supply of defence logistics and repairs to Her Majesty’s armed forces. May we have a debate on why Shropshire and MOD Donnington’s professional and skilled work force should win that contract?
Will the Leader of the House ask the Secretary of State for Health to make a statement to the House before the summer recess on the impact he believes his changes to the education support grant will have from this September, bearing in mind the letter I wrote to the Prime Minister on 2 July about the SWEET project in my constituency, which provides vital social work education and training? The project is having its grant cut from £28 to £20, and it is not the only organisation in that situation.
My hon. Friend knows the debate on this matter will take place after statements. I am sure that during the course of the debate he will have the opportunity to hear more about the process leading to the question of Justice and Home Affairs opt-outs being concluded.
Sangin, Musa Qala, Now Zad and Kajaki, all defended and liberated through the sacrifice of the lives of hundreds of our British soldiers, are all now reported to be under the control of the Taliban. May we have a debate entitled, “Afghanistan: Mission Accomplished”?
As the hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well, the whole House shares in the sense of loss of our service personnel in Afghanistan, but I think we can also take great pride in what they have achieved. Their achievements include establishing, through the Afghan national army, the ability to take and hold locations that were previously taken and held by the British Army. Actually, some of the places he refers to have been taken and held by the Afghan national army.
May we have a debate on the success of the Tour de France in Yorkshire, which caused great excitement and showcased what a great county Yorkshire is? Such a debate would highlight the strength of feeling in Yorkshire that Gary Verity, who did so much to bring the Tour de France to Yorkshire, and for other things he has done, should be recognised in the next honours list, perhaps with a knighthood. If we cannot have a debate, I hope the Prime Minister, who has very kindly come in to listen to my question, will take that message ringing in his ears as he leaves the Chamber.
My hon. Friend has made his point extremely well. The Prime Minister will have heard it and I know he will have shared, with literally millions of people, the pleasure of seeing the Tour de France in Yorkshire over the weekend. If I may say so, I took particular pleasure in seeing the Tour de France pass through my constituency on Monday. My hon. Friend makes an interesting and good point.
South Tees clinical commissioning group refused a £2,700 individual funding request, relating to gynecomastia, for a very young, lean, fit, low body mass index teenager in my constituency. May we have a debate on how funding requests are considered? Funding was refused on the basis of emotional need, but his emotional needs and mental health were not assessed.
Should my right hon. Friend not be in his place next week because he has been promoted to bigger and better things, may I thank him for his inspired leadership of the House? Before he goes, will he arrange a full day’s debate, in Government time and led by the Prime Minister, on Britain’s long-term economic plan, so that Members from across the House can describe how their constituencies are benefiting from Britain’s strengthening economic recovery?
I am grateful for my hon. Friend’s very kind words. A consistent theme of Business questions is that I would have wished for more time to celebrate the coalition’s Government achievements in pursuing our long-term economic plan: cutting the deficit, promoting growth, delivering welfare reform and capping welfare, controlling immigration, delivering on more skills, and, perhaps most of all, having the opportunity to debate the dramatic increase in employment that has had such a positive effect right across the country.
After the astonishing success of the Tour de France, many in the cycling community believe that a world class female tour of Britain would dominate the world. Will he raise that idea with the Secretary of State who has responsibility for sport, and report back?