Skip to main content


Volume 609: debated on Wednesday 4 May 2016

Q6. The findings of the NHS England report on the sudden closure of Bootham Park mental health hospital in York have confirmed that the relationships between the NHS bodies, as defined under the Health and Social Care Act 2012, are dysfunctional and have failed patient safety. A Healthwatch report showed that harm has occurred because life has been lost. Will the Prime Minister now accept that, because of the serious risk that has been created, the 2012 Act has to change in line with NHS England’s recommendations? (904867)

I will look very carefully at what the hon. Lady has said. My understanding is that she called for action on an outdated and dangerous facility back in July last year, and that is exactly what happened. I am pleased that action was taken. Bootham Park was not fit for purpose. The Care Quality Commission identified serious and life-threatening issues on patient safety, which were not put right. As a result, there was a decision to close and then subsequently reopen the facility after changes. Of course there will be incidences of poor practice; what matters is whether we intervene fast enough and put them right. In this case, I will look again at what she says, but it does look as if action was taken.

The Christian Yazidi and Shi’a children in Syria are suffering from genocide carried out by Daesh, and we should recognise it as such. May I urge the Prime Minister to do more to replicate the Kindertransport of the 1930s? That is what we are doing in taking children directly from the camps in Syria. If we were to take 16-year-olds from a safe environment in Europe, we would simply be causing more misery and encouraging the people traffickers.

My hon. Friend has asked me two questions. One is whether there is more we can do to label what has happened as genocide. That has always been done under a legal definition, but there is a very strong case here for saying that it is genocide, and I hope that it will be portrayed and spoken of as such.

On the issue of the Kindertransport, I agree with my hon. Friend. We have an enormous amount of which we can be proud—the money that we have put into the camps, and the fact that we raised more in London on one day than any humanitarian conference has ever raised in the history of the world. We have a very strong record. We will do more for children who were already registered in Europe before the EU-Turkey deal, but the principle that we should try to cling to is that we should not do anything that encourages people to make the perilous journey. That has been the cornerstone of our policy and it should remain the case.

Q8. For the benefit of the House and for 10 and 11-year-olds up and down the country, will the Prime Minister explain what the past progressive tense is? Will he differentiate between a subordinating conjunctive and a co-ordinating conjunctive? Finally, will he set out his definition of a modal verb? (904869)

The whole point of these changes is to make sure that our children are better educated than we are. That is why I am absolutely delighted that my three children at state schools are going off to do these tests.

Three years ago, five members of the Cockburn family from County Durham were killed in a tragic accident on the A18 in my constituency. At the recently concluded inquest, the coroner said that he had no confidence that the proposed work by the highway authority would remedy the situation. Obviously the council wants to do all it can, and has committed to carry out the work in full. However, resources are very limited. Will my right hon. Friend give serious consideration to an application from the council for additional resources to avoid a future tragedy?

I will certainly have a very close look at the issue that my hon. Friend raises. I know the A18 and its importance for his constituency, and I will look at what the Highways Agency has made available and at whether there is real evidence that more could be done to make the road safe.

Q9. Eritrea was described as the North Korea of Africa at the recent inaugural all-party group meeting, which heard reports of Government-enforced indefinite conscription. The UK FCO advises against travel to areas within 25 km of the Ethiopian border. Will the Prime Minister personally and urgently review Home Office guidance that says that it is safe to transport asylum seekers back to Eritrea? (904870)

I will certainly consider what the hon. Gentleman says. We know that Eritrea is a deeply undemocratic and autocratic country that has done appalling things to its people and that is one reason why so many of those seeking to cross the Mediterranean, normally through the Libyan route, have come from that country. When I had the opportunity to meet the Eritrean leadership, as I did at the conference in Valletta in Malta, I made those points very strongly.

Four years ago, I asked my right hon. Friend on behalf of my mother, Maud, whether the EU referendum vote could be brought forward because of her age. She was then 100. She now wishes to know whether she needs to set a world record for longevity before the Chilcot report is published.

I think that I can reassure Maud that this summer she will have a double opportunity to deal with these things, with a referendum on 23 June and the Chilcot report, which, I am sure, will come not too much longer after that.

Q10. Tata Steel has indicated that it wishes to complete the sale of its UK assets by the middle of June and that it wants a preferred bidder in place by the end of this month. Does the Prime Minister really think that that is a realistic timeframe and that there will be a credible process of due diligence? What steps is the Prime Minister taking to ensure that Tata Steel delivers on its promise to be a responsible seller? (904872)

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right about this. The positive news is that the deadline yesterday was met by a number of serious inquiries of interest into buying all of Tata, and that is good news. Obviously, we now need to work intensively with Tata and those buyers to get that list down to those who seriously intend to bid for the business. The hon. Gentleman is right that it is a very short timetable. He asks what we are doing, and what we are doing is talking intensively with Tata to ensure that it does everything it can to make sure that this is a serious sales process.

The Prime Minister just made a very important announcement about refugee children, but obviously time is of the essence because of the peculiar vulnerability of children without the guidance and protection of their families. Will the Prime Minister indicate to the House how quickly he expects to have those arrangements in place?

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend, who has spoken powerfully and passionately about this issue. I do not see any reason why there needs to be a long delay. We need to carry out conversations with local councils, because many of them, particularly in the south of England, are already under pressure owing to the number of child refugees who have already come. We need to carry out those conversations, but hopefully we can then make progress during this year.

Q11. Documents leaked earlier this week appear to confirm what most have feared: that the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership makes unacceptable concessions in respect of public health and safety regulations, opening the doors for US investors to sue for loss of profits. Will the Prime Minister recognise the concern raised by the French President and tell this House what protections his Government are seeking for the national health service and public services? (904873)

This is the reddest of red herrings, I have to say. The health service is completely protected under this agreement, as it is under others. There are all sorts of reasons why people might be against free trade and wanting to see an expansion of trade, investment and jobs, but I think people ought to be honest about it and say that they do not want to see those things happen, rather than finding total red herrings to get in the way of something that could add tens of billion pounds to our economy and bring jobs and investment to our country—[Interruption.]

Calm yourself, Mr Campbell. You are supposed to be a senior statesman in the House. Calm down. Take up yoga, as I have told you before.

Looe Lifeboats in my constituency celebrates its 150th anniversary this year. Will my right hon. Friend join me in congratulating and thanking not only the Looe lifeboat men, but all the lifeboat men who keep us safe at sea?

I am very happy to do that in conjunction with my hon. Friend. Lifeboat men are incredibly brave people. Having met some of them, particularly during the flood episodes that we have had in recent years, I know the immense professionalism and dedication that they bring to the task, and they put their lives at risk all the time to save others. They really are the bravest of the brave.