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Volume 605: debated on Wednesday 27 January 2016

Q13. Rugby is the fastest-growing town in the west midlands, and work is under way to provide 6,200 much-needed new homes at the Rugby Radio site. My constituents are keen to ensure that public services keep pace with those developments and to see more services at their local hospital, St Cross. Does the Prime Minister agree with the NHS chief executive, Simon Stevens, that district hospitals such as St Cross play an excellent role in the NHS? (903281)

I am a believer in district general hospitals, and I know what a strong supporter of St Cross my hon. Friend is and that there is a new dedicated children’s outpatient facility there, which is welcome. If we are to achieve our aggressive house building targets, more houses will be built in most of our constituencies, and it is important that we try, as far as we can, to welcome that and make sure that the infrastructure that goes with these necessary houses is provided.

Q9. Not everybody is as satisfied as the Chancellor with what for Google is loose change to cover its tax liabilities. On Monday, the hon. Member for Amber Valley (Nigel Mills) called on the Government to make companies publish their tax returns. In that way, we can all see how they make the journey from their cash profits to their tax bills. Does the Prime Minister agree? (903277)

I do wonder whether the right hon. Lady ever raised this issue when she sat in the Labour Cabinet when Google was paying zero tax. What we have is a situation where we make the rules in this House and HMRC has to enforce those rules. That is the system that we need to make work.

Q14. As cancer survival rates continue to improve and given that this is cancer talk week, will my right hon. Friend join me in welcoming a new state-of-the-art cancer information centre due to open at Royal Bolton hospital, and will he praise the collaboration of Macmillan Cancer Support, Bolton People Affected by Cancer, Bolton hospice and the Bolton clinical commissioning group, which are all making this happen? (903282)

I am happy to join my hon. Friend in that. Everyone in the House knows someone or has a family member who has been touched by cancer, and many people have lost loved ones to cancer. The good news is that cancer survival rates are improving, and we need to ensure they improve across all types of cancer, not just the best known ones. What I think my hon. Friend is saying is that this is not just an issue for the NHS; it is also about all those big society bodies that want to campaign and act on helping cancer sufferers, which have such a big role to play.

Q10. In the summer of 2014 when I was the leader of Highland Council, I wrote to the Prime Minister asking him to join the Scottish Government and Highland Council in taking forward a city deal for Inverness. Highland Council has submitted a detailed plan on the theme of “a region for young people”. Will the Prime Minister now commit to giving this the green light in the coming weeks? (903278)

We are committed to examining the city deal with Inverness, just as we have made very good progress on the city deal with Aberdeen. I think these bring together the best of what the Scottish Government can put on the table, but also the best of what the UK Government can put on the table. Without wanting to be too political about it, the two Governments working together can do even more.

I thank the Prime Minister for meeting the deposed Maldivian President Nasheed and his legal team in No. 10 on Saturday. Will my right hon. Friend commit to work towards an international consensus on targeted sanctions, so that the Maldivian regime might reconsider its appalling human rights record and its record on democracy?

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for raising this issue. It was an honour to meet former President Nasheed, who I think did an excellent job for his country in cutting out corruption and turning that important country round. He suffered terribly from being in prison, and it is good that he is able to get out to seek medical treatment, but we want to see a change in behaviour from the Maldivian Government to make sure that political prisoners are set free. Yes, we are prepared to consider targeted action against individuals if further progress is not made. Let us hope that the diplomatic efforts, including by the Commonwealth action group, will lead to the changes we want to see. Britain and its allies, including Sri Lanka and India, are watching the situation very closely.

Q12. Forty-six per cent. of five-year-old children in Bradford suffer from dental decay, compared with just 28% across England. Fewer than half of the children living in the Bradford district have seen a dentist in the last two years. Given that the cost of treating tooth decay far exceeds the cost of prevention, will the Prime Minister look at the lack of availability of NHS dentists in Bradford South as a matter of urgency? (903280)

I am happy to look at what the hon. Lady says. If we take a view across the country, before 2010 we had those huge queues round the block when a new NHS dentist turned up because there were not enough of them. We have seen a very big— [Interruption.] Labour Members may shake their heads, but that is what happened, and some of us can remember it. We have seen a big increase in NHS dentistry since, but I will look carefully at the situation in Bradford.

As my right hon. Friend knows, the peninsula rail taskforce is set to deliver its report on a resilient railway to Devon and Cornwall. Would he be willing to meet me and a number of colleagues to ensure that Network Rail and the taskforce have enough funding for the two studies into the electrification of the line and the necessary reduction of journey times?

I had an excellent meeting with the south-west peninsula rail taskforce, which has been working closely with the Government. I will make sure that we continue to liaise closely with it. Clearly, we need to find an answer and we need to find the funding to make it work. We cannot allow to happen what happened in the past when a problem on our railways led to the peninsula being cut off. We cannot see that happen again.

Q15. Will the Prime Minister join me in congratulating my constituents Dominic and Rebecca from Mitcham on the birth of their daughter Alice. Like every parent, they want their daughter to have better opportunities than they had, but with average London house prices increasing by £40,000 in 2013 alone and the average house in London now worth more than half a million pounds, does he understand their fears that Alice will never have the chance they had to buy her own home in the area she was born in? (903283)

I want to help Alice, and many others like her in London, to get on to the housing ladder. That is why we are introducing shared ownership, which brings housing into the reach of many more people. It is why we have Help to Buy London, which is twice as generous as the Help to Buy scheme in the rest of the country. It is why we are selling off the most expensive council houses and rebuilding more affordable homes. All those measures have been taken under the guidance and drive of Zac Goldsmith, who would make an excellent Mayor of London. That is Alice’s best chance of a home: to have a Conservative Mayor and a Conservative Government working together, hand in glove.

Someone who is experiencing a mental health crisis and goes to A&E in desperation needs prompt specialist help. I welcome my right hon. Friend’s recognition of psychiatric liaison in his recent speech on life chances. Does he agree that the provision of 24/7 psychiatric liaison in A&E departments is an important step towards parity of esteem for mental and physical health in a seven-day NHS?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. We are seeing more mental health and psychiatric liaison in our A&Es. We are seeing it in some of them now, but we need, over time, to see it in all of them, because people so often arrive in a setting that is not the one in which they should be looked after. Whether we are talking about getting people with mental health conditions out of police cells, making sure that they are treated properly in prisons, or, crucially, making sure that they are given the right treatment when they arrive at A&E, that is very much part of our life chances plan.

I commend the Prime Minister for his remarks about Holocaust Memorial Day. In honouring the memory of those who were murdered by the Nazis, we provide the best antidote to extremism and anti-Semitism in our own age.

The biggest challenge facing Europe today is posed by the 3 million refugees who, it is predicted, will flee to our continent in 2016. Many of them will die along the way. Does the Prime Minister agree that the only way in which to challenge a crisis of that magnitude is to start to work with our European colleagues at the heart of a united Europe, and will he take this final opportunity to welcome in and provide a home for 3,000 unaccompanied children, as recommended by Save the Children?

I agree with the hon. Gentleman about the importance of taking action to help with the refugee crisis. No country in Europe has been more generous than Britain in funding refugee camps, whether they are in Syria, Turkey, Lebanon or Jordan. However, I do not agree with the hon. Gentleman’s view that the right answer is for Britain to opt into the EU relocation and resettlement schemes. Let me tell him why. We said that we would resettle 20,000 people in our country, and we promised to resettle 1,000 by Christmas. Because of the hard work of my hon. Friend the Member for Watford (Richard Harrington), the Under-Secretary of State for Refugees, we achieved that. If we add up all that Europe has done under its relocation and resettlement schemes, we find that all the other 27 member states have done less than we have done here in the United Kingdom, because of those 1,000.

Yes, we should take part in European schemes when it is in our interests to do so, and help to secure the external European border; but we are out of Schengen, we keep our own borders, and under this Government that is the way it will stay.