House of Commons
Tuesday 7 June 2016
The House met at half-past Eleven o’clock
[Mr Speaker in the Chair]
Oral Answers to Questions
The Chancellor of the Exchequer was asked—
The Government have a long-term economic plan designed to help young people, which includes 3 million new apprenticeship starts, a 10-year low in youth unemployment, the lifetime individual savings account to help first-time buyers, 360,000 16-year-olds doing National Citizen Service and record numbers going to university.
The Chancellor has claimed that the Government
“put the next generation first.”—[Official Report, 16 March 2016; Vol. 607, c. 951.]
However, the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s “Is Britain Fairer?” report, which was published last year, found that younger people in the UK faced the worst economic prospects for generations. Young people in my constituency are bearing a disproportionate burden of the Government’s cuts. The abolition of the education maintenance allowance has made it harder for 16 and 17-year-olds to pursue educational opportunities; university tuition fees have trebled and are set to rise again; changes to the schools funding formula will see—
That was an extraordinary question. It ignored all the announcements that I made about what the Government have been doing for young people. Let us not forget the situation we inherited in 2010, when youth unemployment had gone up by 45% under Labour. The facts are these: a record number of young people are going to university, including a record number from disadvantaged backgrounds, and the proportion of young people struggling financially has almost halved since the hon. Lady’s days in 2010.
The wages of 18 to 21-year-olds fell by about £1,000 a year during the last Parliament, yet under-25s are excluded from the national living wage. Will the Chief Secretary to the Treasury condemn what the Minister for the Cabinet Office said: that that is because people under 25 are simply not productive enough?
The hon. Gentleman is ignoring our amazing record on youth unemployment since we took office six years ago. Youth unemployment has fallen by 102,000 this year. Youth employment is up 94,000 over the year and is close to the highest proportion on record. On why the national living wage does not apply to those who are under 25, I remind him that the national minimum wage does apply to those who are under 25 and is increasing under this Government. For younger workers, the priority is to secure work and gain experience. Youth unemployment remains higher than the unemployment rate for those aged over 25.
Does my right hon. Friend agree that the way to give a fairer deal to younger people is to make sure that they are not saddled with the debts of reckless spending? Will he assure me that he will do everything he can to ensure that this Government balance the books?
My hon. Friend is quite right that it is future generations who would have to repay the debt that the last Labour Government left us and the even greater debt that the current Labour team want to give us with their reckless spending pledges. Household debt as a proportion of income has fallen since Labour’s financial crisis. We are in a much healthier condition in 2016 than we were in 2010.
Order. I must advise colleagues that we are today visited by Mr Kadri Veseli, the Speaker of the Parliament of Kosovo, who is visiting the UK in the year in which that independent nation celebrates eight years of independence. My colleague and his team are warmly welcome in the House.
May I say that as a young Back Bencher I went to Pristina to help with the democracy-building programme in Kosovo? It is good to have the Speaker of that Parliament here.
Two years ago, we set out the plan to build a northern powerhouse by connecting up the cities and counties of the north of England so that the whole is greater than the parts. Since then we have committed billions in new transport investment, devolved powers to cities and promoted science and culture. The result is that investment projects in the north are up by more than 100%. But we have just started on this bold journey, and it is only by working together that we will transform the economic geography of this country.
I am grateful for that answer. Severe flooding over Christmas caused huge problems for the city of Leeds, which is a major player in the northern powerhouse. I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for meeting me to discuss flood defences. Does he agree that the neighbourhood planning and infrastructure Bill will help deliver the commitment to invest £100 billion in such infrastructure and secure the economic prosperity of the north?
I agree with my hon. Friend, and congratulate him and other west Yorkshire MPs who spoke out powerfully on the need for further investment in flood defences in west Yorkshire and in Leeds. We have provided that, with around £350 million extra in flood defence investment over the coming years to protect the businesses and communities he represents. Our neighbourhood planning Bill will ensure that we have a national infrastructure commission on a statutory footing to look at the big national challenges that we face, whether transport investment, broadband or indeed flood defence.
My hon. Friend raises an important issue. In recent years there has been a focus on economic development in the big cities of the north, but we now want to support the counties and county towns of the north of England. In the area that she represents so well we have the new growth deal for the Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire city deal area. We are looking to devolve more economic powers to counties so that they too can see the benefits of securing economic growth. My door is always open to good, sensible proposals for investment in the counties of the north of England.
The Chancellor speaks about investment in transport and in flood defences, both of which are crucial in my city of Leeds. Yet last month the Government cancelled the Leeds trolleybus scheme, and in 2011 flood defences were cancelled in Leeds, which contributed to the flooding we saw in December. Earlier this year the Government announced some money for flood defences, but it was just a fraction of what was cancelled five years ago, so I am surprised by the complacency of the hon. Member for Pudsey (Stuart Andrew), and ask the Government to invest properly in flood defences in our city.
The hon. Lady is being a little churlish. We committed £6 billion to investment in transport in Humberside and Yorkshire, the area that her constituency is in. Specifically on flood defences, she raised on the Floor of the House very specific schemes that she wanted me to fund. I funded those in the Budget. As she well knows, the future phases do not yet have plans or a price tag, but I have said that in principle we are committed to those as well. If she works with us we will deliver those schemes, which of course were never delivered under a Labour Government.
The Chancellor mentioned transport investment, yet his Government have presided over a situation in which there is 24 times more transport investment in London than in the north. However, on this occasion, although it pains me to do so, I want to ask the Chancellor to agree with me that people in the north need our country to remain at the heart of Europe so that our cities will keep growing.
First, it is quite right that we invest in major transport infrastructure in our capital city, which we have done with Crossrail and Crossrail 2, but that has not been to the exclusion of investment elsewhere in our country. In the hon. Lady’s part of the north-west there has been massive investment in electrification of the railways—I note that under the Labour Government only 10 miles of the country’s entire railways were electrified. High Speed 2 will help with fast train journeys to Merseyside as well as to Manchester. Now, with the new Merseyside Mayor agreed, we can go on pouring more money into the infrastructure of Merseyside so that we support private businesses in that area in growing and creating private sector jobs.
This week is Humber business week. Despite the forthcoming opening of the A160 into Immingham docks, business leaders tell me that they feel somewhat disconnected from the northern powerhouse project. Will the Chancellor outline what future schemes might benefit them?
I remember that my hon. Friend championed that road when he first came into Parliament, and he sees the practical benefits for his constituency now that that work is almost complete. He also joined other east Yorkshire and Humber MPs in campaigning for lower bridge tolls. Those are examples of how we are delivering for his part of the country, but I am as passionate as he is about ensuring that east Yorkshire and Hull are connected to the northern powerhouse. We have made it very clear to all the core cities of the north that Hull and the surrounding area should be included. In the Budget, we announced specific support for the city of culture, which is near the area he represents.
Recent figures showed a 9.6% drop in the value of new construction project starts recorded in the so-called northern powerhouse to the end of 2015. Interestingly, despite the Chancellor’s rhetoric on investment, much of the public capital invested thus far has been delivered by the EU. Does he therefore disagree with the Minister with responsibility for the northern powerhouse, the Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, the hon. Member for Stockton South (James Wharton), who said recently that Brexit will not affect Greater Manchester’s vision and access to funding?
As the hon. Lady well knows, I certainly believe that Britain is stronger in the European Union, and that it helps the northern powerhouse, but I make this observation: investment projects in the north of England are up over 100% in the last two years, which is in striking contrast to other areas. To give a sense of scale, investment projects in London are up 7% in the last two years. That is welcome, but in the northern powerhouse, they are up 127%. We are rebalancing the economic geography of this country. I am sure she will welcome the fact that the north of England now has the highest employment rate in the country’s history, and that we have seen the fastest falls in unemployment in the north of England.
9. What assessment he has made of recent trends in the level of employment. (905196)
We have the highest employment rate on record, a record number of women in work, and the lowest claimant count since 1974. That means millions more opportunities for our fellow citizens. We must not now put at risk the security that has been brought about by our long-term economic plan.
From April to June 2014 to April to June 2015, the employment of British workers in the UK increased by a welcome 84,000, but the figures are three times higher for EU nationals. With respect to the national living wage, what assessment has been made of anticipated job growth in the UK? Does my hon. Friend believe that that will benefit the UK or EU citizens most?
Almost two thirds of the increase in employment over the past five years is accounted for by UK nationals. Today, nine in every 10 people in a job in the UK are UK nationals. As my right hon. Friend the Chancellor has said, Britain deserves a pay rise and the national living wage delivers it.
I am sure the Minister and the whole House welcome the latest unemployment figure in my constituency—it stands at only 361, or less than 1%—but what more can be done to ensure that that trend continues, given that we are down to the last few and the most difficult cases, especially bearing in mind the over-50s and those in the 18 to 24-year-old bracket?
I welcome that news from Mid Dorset and North Poole, and by further increasing support for the hardest to help we share my hon. Friend’s keenness to ensure that no one is left behind. We have announced the new youth obligation and made it more cost-effective for employers to hire young people and apprentices. We are also helping older jobseekers to retrain through pilot schemes that began in April 2015.
Our projection is that, following the immediate economic shock that would follow from Brexit, 500,000 jobs would be lost and there would be an increase in unemployment. Part of that is from the initial impact on foreign direct investment, but that effect continues thereafter.
It is a concern not just of Hitachi but of any non-European company that has its European headquarters in the UK. The UK is much the most attractive location for them currently, and they would be in great difficulty if we left the European Union. Has the Department made an assessment of what that group of employers contributes and will contribute in future to UK employment, which would be at risk if we left the EU?
We have modelled the effect on foreign direct investment. One does not have to believe that people currently in the UK would leave. All one has to consider in relation to the detrimental impact on the UK is what will happen to foreign direct investment in the future. There are many good reasons to invest in Britain, but we know that 72% of firms that invest in this country say that our membership of the European Union is a key factor.
Alongside genocide and war, we hear all about the threat to jobs of leaving the European Union. Will my hon. Friend tell me what will be done if we vote to stay in and continue to have unlimited immigration from 27 foreign countries? What will be done to protect my constituents, low-paid workers who have seen their wages flatline because of unlimited immigration?
We have already taken steps to ensure that people cannot just come here and claim benefits from day one. The renegotiation the Prime Minister secured addressed the unnatural draw of our in-work benefits system. I should also say that one should not assume that the effect on immigration would be quite as great as is sometimes supposed, particularly when we look at the other models of agreements with the European Union, a number of which include free movement.
Does the Minister agree that a vote to leave the European Union on 23 June could have a negative effect on employment trends, particularly in Northern Ireland where 50,000 jobs are related to exports to the EU? The Chancellor saw the effect of that directly yesterday in Warrenpoint in my constituency.
I know that my right hon. Friend was in the hon. Lady’s constituency yesterday. Northern Ireland is of course in a particularly sensitive position because of the land border with the Republic of Ireland, which would be a land border with the EU if we left. There are more people in work in Northern Ireland than ever before and we need to protect that.
The Government are backing small and large businesses as part of our long-term economic plan. Our corporation tax rates are the lowest in the G20 and will fall even further to 17%. In the Budget, we cut the business rates burden in England for all rate payers and ensured that 600,000 businesses permanently pay no rates at all. This is a Conservative Government who support businesses and the jobs they create.
In towns such as Newark, where 11,000 new jobs have been created under this Government, the task ahead is to attract not just any businesses but those that ensure that people are well paid. With that in mind, does the Chancellor acknowledge and agree that not only have 900,000 new businesses been created since 2010, but that the latest research by NatWest shows one in four working people are now in high-skilled, well-paid jobs?
My hon. Friend is right to point out all the good things that are happening in Newark. Across the east midlands, we have seen the creation of 53,000 new small and medium-sized businesses since we came into Downing Street—a remarkable achievement. We have to ensure that we continue to move people up the job scale and that their wages continue to grow. The good news is that of the jobs being created at the moment 80% or so are full time and the majority are in skilled occupations.
We all know the benefits of innovation to business and to the economy, so why does the Chancellor think his decision to change innovation support from grants to loans is anything other than a bad idea that will increase cost and risk to companies seeking to innovate?
I think the hon. Gentleman would accept, as I would, that it has been a challenge for the UK to turn good inventions in the laboratory into good inventions in the workplace that sell around the world. Our innovation support has had to be updated and modernised. The idea of loans is actually borrowed from a French initiative that has worked well in that economy, in terms of turning scientific invention into good products in the marketplace.
That is a rather unconvincing answer. Of course it is not simply about innovation, but exports. We all understand the benefits to business and the economy of exporting more, so why does the Chancellor think it is a remotely good idea to take the decision to cut the UK Trade & Investment budget by £42 million over the next four years, making it more difficult to export and more difficult for him to meet his own target of doubling exports by the end of the decade?
Over the past five or six years, we have greatly increased the UKTI budget, but as with every Department, since it is paid for by the taxpayers that the hon. Gentleman and I represent, we need to make sure we get value for money. The new head of UKTI is ensuring that the money is going to the frontline to support small and medium-sized Scottish exporters and others in selling around the world. He should welcome the enormous success of many Scottish businesses, from the whisky business to agricultural industries and manufacturing, in exporting around the world, with the support of UKTI—the clue is in the first two letters.
The Chancellor has introduced a subsidy for peer-to-peer lending tax relief on ISAs, which is a high-risk, high-return market. Most people support the intention, which is to increase competition in the SME lending market, but many are becoming concerned that some of these loans are being marketed to those who cannot reasonably be expected to understand the risks. What is the Treasury doing to ensure that the taxpayer does not end up encouraging the marketing of schemes to people who can least afford to lose the money?
At its own request, the peer-to-peer lending industry is now regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, which is alert to the risks that my right hon. Friend identifies, but I wish to make a broader observation. In the financial crash, we saw the limitations of the UK’s credit system, where many companies were reliant on bank finance. In the last few years, we have tried to broaden the range of financing options for small and medium-sized businesses, in terms of not just capital markets but innovative new products such as peer-to-peer lending. Using things such as ISA wrappers to encourage this new form of finance for small businesses is a good thing for our economy.
By halving the tolls, we have taken a significant step to help Welsh businesses and businesses on the other side of the border, while ensuring we have the resources to maintain the bridge without having to draw on the same taxpayers through their tax bill.
I have had business and broadband events at Easingwold, in my constituency, and this Friday we have invited several providers, including fibre and satellite providers, as well as providers of point-to-point wireless, which, in our experience, is the best solution for those in the hardest-to-reach areas. Will the Chancellor consider extending the excellent satellite voucher scheme to point-to-point wireless or allowing communities to pool vouchers to facilitate and fund community-based schemes?
I am happy to take a close look at my hon. Friend’s proposal—I know what a rural constituency he represents. We have piloted support in north Yorkshire for rural businesses and their broadband links, and as announced in the Queen’s Speech, we are considering using the digital economy Bill to make broadband a universal service obligation, because we know what a transformative effect it can have on the rural economy.
The Chancellor talks about supporting business, and like Labour I am sure he will want to see long-term sustainable business growth in Britain. After his six years at the helm, what is the forecast for business investment growth this year?
The OBR has revised down business investment growth by a huge 4.9% since November, even after taking into account the fiscal measures the Chancellor has introduced, and we know that growth could fall further if we leave the EU. The acting head of the British Chambers of Commerce recently highlighted frustration among businesses over infrastructure projects, the huge skills gap, childcare, housing and the uncertainty around the apprenticeship levy. It almost sounds like gruel today without the jam tomorrow. Does the Chancellor agree with him?
Where was Labour’s apprenticeship levy—before they complain about what we are doing? If Labour wants to contribute to this important debate about how we make our economy more productive, we will need a better contribution. The hon. Lady’s Parliamentary Private Secretary has been in an email exchange with the hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Helen Goodman) in which the latter complained about these questions at Treasury Questions, saying that the brief she had just been sent was a disgrace and demonstrated that the Labour Treasury team—
Order. The Chancellor should remain seated. If that is the sum total of what he has to contribute on his feet in response to that question, frankly it was not worth the breath. It was utterly feeble and constitutionally improper. Learn it—it is very simple!
The projected rise in unemployment of 500,000 that I mentioned just now includes 24,000 people in Wales and 44,000 people in the west midlands. In the long term, the Treasury’s central estimate is that GDP would be lower by around £4,300 per household by 2030 than it would be otherwise.
The head of the World Trade Organisation said yesterday that the process of negotiating deals outside Europe would take decades. Is that not one of the reasons why confidence would be hit, currency would fall and jobs would be lost, including the 24,000 in Wales that the Minister has mentioned, and why companies such as Hitachi have mentioned today that they would pull out of the United Kingdom? Do we not agree on this one, Minister?
I think we do agree on the turmoil that uncertainty can bring, and the uncertainty about future trade deals that the right hon. Gentleman raises is part of that. There is much more uncertainty as well, of course, for businesses that currently trade with other European countries and people who are employed in those countries or might be thinking of going to them. All these things generate uncertainty, which creates economic turmoil in the short run. There is a real danger of missing out on a very large number of third-party trades in the long run, when all the EU trade deals currently under negotiation are finished, which will account for some 80% of our trade.
The automotive sector in the hon. Gentleman’s constituency and elsewhere is particularly important. It is a high value-added sector that has been a great British success story in recent years and it has complex cross-border supply chains, so it is unsurprising that those speaking out in favour of remain include the chief executives of Jaguar Land Rover and Rolls-Royce and the chairman of the Coventry and Warwickshire local enterprise partnership.
Considering that the UK has been a member of the EU for over 40 years and we still do not even have a trade deal with the United States of America, the largest economy in the world, does my hon. Friend not agree that our economy would benefit from the United Kingdom being able to negotiate our own free trade deals?
The businesses that I speak to say overwhelmingly that they feel they would get a better deal with the increased economic clout—five times the economic weight—that comes from being a member of the EU as opposed to Britain being on its own. All these trade deals take a long time, but when all the current EU negotiations are completed, the EU will have more trade deals with the rest of the world—so we will, too—than the United States and Canada combined.
The living wage is a very attractive economic policy, especially in eastern Europe. Given the extensive financial modelling that my hon. Friend has conducted, can he tell the House his official estimate of the number of unskilled migrants coming to this country from eastern Europe in the first five years after a vote to remain?
The national living wage makes sure that British workers who are low paid cannot be undercut by people coming from other countries. It will be of great benefit to our economy. It is also the case that as our legal minimum pay increases, we will still be within the middle range internationally.
Yesterday the Chancellor told the people of Northern Ireland that house prices would fall by 18% if we voted to leave the EU, even though the day before he said that housing costs would go up by 9%. He told us that 14,000 jobs would be lost in export industries, even though the exchange rate, which would help exports, was set to plummet, and made an uncanny prediction about incomes in 14 years’ time. Does the Minister not realise that the Chancellor is expending his own credibility and that of the Government, given the panic that has now set in, by trying to sell the threadbare economic case for remaining in the EU?
Saying that house prices would come down but housing costs would go up is not inconsistent at all, as the cost of borrowing would go up. Northern Ireland is a special case when it comes to the housing market, but in many parts of the country people might say that while it would be a good thing for house prices to come down, that should not be a result of crashing the economy and making it more difficult for people to borrow.
As for the long-term forecast, it is, of course, difficult to predict what will happen 15 years hence. What the Treasury analysis seeks to do is say, other things being equal, what will happen to the 15-year forecast whether we are in or out of the European Union, and the answer is clear: in the central scenario, GDP will be hit to the tune of £4,300 per household.
Does the Minister agree that, given that so many international firms—including, most recently, Hitachi—have made it very, very clear that being in the European Union and in a single market means that this is a good country in which to invest, the obvious thing to do for the purposes of investment and jobs is remain in the European Union?
I do agree with that. The United Kingdom has the third highest stock of foreign direct investment in the world, coming behind only the United States and China. We are the biggest recipient of foreign direct investment in the European Union, and also from the EU. The experience of accession countries shows that the move into the European Union really does make a difference, and that it is not just about tariffs, but about membership of a customs union. Some, indeed most, of the alternative models do not include that, but it is very important in relation to, for example, the cross-border supply chains about which the right hon. Member for Delyn (Mr Hanson) asked earlier.
Only two countries, Germany and the Netherlands, run a surplus with Britain; the rest run a deficit. Does the Minister agree that in the event of a Brexit, those other countries would vote for tariffs—as, indeed, would Germany, in order to stop Japanese car imports? Has he created a model to assess what impact those tariffs would have on employment levels in the short and medium terms, and on inward investment? I suggest that the impact would be disastrous.
Different countries will have different interests, and no doubt they would come to the surface during the two years of the article 50 negotiations. A very large majority of other countries using enhanced qualified majority voting would be needed to agree a deal. Fundamentally, however, I do not think that this is about the deficit that one country has with the EU, or vice versa; I think that it is about the relative size of the export market to that country. While 44% of our exports go to the EU, the EU figure is 8% in the other direction, which means that in any negotiation, the other side will have the better hand.
Can the Minister explain why we are paying more than £10 billion net this year for a £68 billion trade deficit with a declining part of the world’s economy, when anyone with even an ounce of common sense knows that it is possible to have a £68 billion trade deficit with a declining part of the world’s economy for nothing?
I think that I detected a revised figure in my hon. Friend’s assessment of our net contribution to the European Union. The fact is that for every pound that is paid in tax in this country, a little over a penny goes to the European Union. That is a cost—it is not a trivial cost, and I do not belittle it—but what comes with it are the trade benefits, the enhancement of our economy and the protection of jobs and investment that we want to see.
Over the last six years, UK Trade & Investment has more than doubled the number of businesses that it helps. It now aims to help a further 100,000 firms to export by 2020.
I thank the Minister for her answer, but it did not make it clear what is actually being done to increase exports. The Chancellor promised that his growth strategy would be underpinned by a doubling of exports to £1 trillion by the end of the decade, but to date his targets have been missed, and the export figures are moving in the wrong direction. What will the Government do to turn that dire performance around?
My right hon. Friend the Chancellor mentioned earlier the important work that UKTI is doing in not only promoting the Exporting is GREAT brand around the world, but, now—across the whole Government—encouraging all our embassies around the world to focus their resources on increasing the potential opportunities for our world-class exporters.
22. Is the Minister aware that more than 25% of small businesses in France and Germany export, whereas the figure in the United Kingdom is about 20%? Does she agree that not just UKTI, but chambers of trade and business organisations such as the Federation of Small Businesses, can play a role in encouraging more small firms, in particular, to export? (905210)
My hon. Friend is absolutely right that there is an important role to be played by not only our embassy network, but our chambers of commerce and the Federation of Small Businesses. I also welcome the fact that some of our larger banks have also set themselves targets for getting additional customers to start to export during the next five years.
Is the Minister aware that Huddersfield and Yorkshire are already a northern powerhouse in terms of manufacturing and the quality of partnership with universities? Is she aware that my universities in Yorkshire and the manufacturing sector are terrified that we will leave the European Union? It will bankrupt the universities and the manufacturing sector.
The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right to highlight the fact that the UK’s universities are unanimous in expressing the value that they put not only on higher education, but on the potential for those educated in universities to export in due course. He is absolutely right to highlight the fact that all other trade deals would be worse than the current zero-tariff trade deal that we have as a member of the EU.
Capital Gains Tax/Corporation Tax
Changes to capital gains tax will provide greater incentives to invest in companies. Up to 130,000 individuals a year, including up to 50,000 basic rate taxpayers, are estimated to pay lower tax as a result of the changes to CGT. The further cut to the corporation tax rate to 17% announced at the Budget will benefit over 1 million companies, large and small, supporting UK companies to invest, grow and create jobs.
Treasury figures show that just 200,000 individuals will benefit from capital gains tax to the tune of £600 million in the first year—a giveaway of £600 million. On corporation tax, we have the lowest in G7—lower even than Saudi Arabia, Russia and China. At the same time, the Resolution Foundation found that the poorest 20% of families in this country will lose £565 over the course of this Parliament because of the Government’s policies. Where is the social justice in that?
One of the hon. Gentleman’s hon. Friends asked earlier about encouraging business investment, which we want to encourage because it is through having an environment in which businesses invest that we see improved productivity, the conditions for growth and people benefiting from higher wages. I say to the hon. Gentleman, and to the House as a whole, that pursuing policies that favour business investment and encourage businesses to invest, such as cutting CGT and corporation tax, is important for all our constituents.
In 2010, the Chancellor told this House that raising capital gains tax was necessary to
“create a fairer tax system.”—[Official Report, 22 June 2010; Vol. 512, c. 178.]
Given that the Chancellor is now cutting capital gains tax—overwhelmingly to the benefit of the richest 0.3% of people—what does he think has changed?
As I outlined a moment ago, the purpose of the tax measures is to encourage people to invest in businesses. The changes are specifically targeted at companies—the cut in CGT does not apply to residential property—and put in place an environment in which businesses can grow and prosper. That is absolutely the right approach to follow. I remind the hon. Gentleman that there are other countries that have taken different approaches, of which he has been full of praise. It is not quite working out in Venezuela, is it?
Disabled People: Government Expenditure
The Government have protected the value of disability benefits, exempting such payments from the uprating freeze and exempting those in receipt of them from the benefit cap. Disability spending will be higher in every year to 2020, relative to both 2010 and today.
That may the case, but a 40% reduction in core Government funding to local authorities has led to cuts that affect services. Local authorities are required to provide short breaks for children with disabilities, but 58% of local authorities have cut their short break funding by 15% or more. It is Carers Week. What will Treasury Ministers do to reverse the trend and ensure that there is money for local authorities to fund those important short breaks?
We have provided funding for respite breaks. The hon. Lady is right to identify this as an important thing for carers in this, Carers Week. There are 200,000 more people now receiving carer’s allowance in this country. The Care Act 2014 extends rights to assessments, and the Government are launching the new carer strategy in recognition of how important a role this is for millions of people throughout the country.
Recognising the risks of homelessness for disabled people, may I welcome the financial commitment in the Budget to prevent homelessness? But does the Minister recognise the risks of a local housing allowance cap on supported housing?
I, in turn, acknowledge my hon. Friend’s welcome for the additional money for tackling homelessness that was in the Budget—and, indeed, that has been provided previously. On the LHA cap, we now have a joint evidence review being conducted by the Department for Communities and Local Government and the Department for Work and Pensions, and the one-year exception, to make sure that we get this right, so that we can have a long-term, sustainable funding solution for this sector.
The Government seek parliamentary authority for their spending plans through supply procedure. Occasionally, expenditure on some services is so urgent that it cannot await normal procedure. The Contingencies Fund enables the Treasury to make repayable cash advances to Departments for urgent services, and Treasury officials assess cases on the basis of criteria set out in Treasury guidance.
Extra support being consulted on for contaminated blood victims is coming from the Department of Health’s budget, where there is simply not enough money, yet previously central contingency funds have been used to deal with national scandals such as Equitable Life. Before the spending review, 18 MPs, from six parties, wrote to the Chancellor suggesting that the £230 million the Treasury was getting from the sale of the blood products company could fund a fair settlement for contaminated blood victims. We have had no reply, so will the Minister look at this again?
I thank the hon. Lady for that question. I will ensure that she gets a reply, which she deserves, because this is a deeply distressing issue and the Government take it very seriously indeed. I do not believe it is appropriate to use the Contingencies Fund in this particular case. She will know that the consultation on the reform of financial support to those affected closed on 15 April, and we will be replying in due course. Meanwhile, the Department of Health has identified additional money—£100 million from its budget—for these purposes. This is in addition to the £22.5 million that it spends on this annually, as well as the further £25 million announced in March 2015. These steps will more than double the support.
The Government have played a leading role in driving forward international action on tax transparency. The introduction of country-by-country reporting has increased the transparency between multinationals and tax authorities, and we are pushing for this to be made public on a multilateral basis. We led the way throughout the development of the common reporting standard, which will see more than 100 countries automatically exchange information on financial accounts, and on a similar initiative for the automatic exchange of beneficial ownership information. We have consistently advocated for public registers of beneficial ownership, with the UK’s going live as of this month.
The planned closure of 137 HMRC offices has clearly been affecting employees, their families and communities. What steps has the Minister taken to look into introducing a moratorium on these closures, to support the wider work of improving tax transparency?
I commend the hon. Gentleman’s ingenious ability to raise this issue. It is important that HMRC’s funds are spent efficiently, to ensure that they are spent on delivering the tax being collected that we want, rather than on buildings. The savings from buildings are being spent on collecting more tax.
The Minister will have seen the different approaches that the French and UK authorities have taken towards cases such as Google’s. What more can he do to ensure that Parliament and the public have faith that HMRC is getting good deals in such situations? For example, will the National Audit Office be allowed to review those most high-profile cases and give some assurance that a good deal was achieved?
Order. Let me gently mention that we have already heard from the hon. Member for Newark (Robert Jenrick)—I remember very well his question, and I rather hope he does. It is one per session—[Interruption.] He can try again at topicals, but not in substantives.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. What I say to my hon. Friend the Member for Amber Valley (Nigel Mills) is that, some years ago, HMRC brought in an assurance procedure to ensure that all such settlements are properly scrutinised. HMRC is very confident that it has reached a fair and proper settlement with Google. It is worth pointing out that, in recent years, we have seen increases in revenue collected by HMRC and increases in yield from its compliance activities including from large businesses.
If we are to tackle tax evasion and avoidance effectively we need to remain within the EU. Will the Chancellor and the Minister join me in calling on all MEPs to support the new anti-tax avoidance directive being voted on in the European Parliament tomorrow? Conservative MEPs abstained at the Committee stage, and this morning there are worrying noises that they may be thinking of abstaining once again. Will the Minister make it clear now that Conservative MEPs will be voting for the directive?
The anti-tax avoidance directive was discussed a couple of weeks ago at the ECOFIN meeting, which I attended. The UK made the case for us taking strong action and working through an anti-avoidance tax directive. What we suggested and proposed was taken on board. The matter will also be addressed at the ECOFIN meeting next week. The UK is pushing for progress and it is working co-operatively with other member states to ensure that we do make progress.
I am mystified as to whether Conservative MEPs will be voting for the directive tomorrow. I just live in hope that they will. The European directive did show the value of European Union co-operation in tackling tax avoidance and evasion. As part of that co-operation, following the raids on Google’s Paris offices, will the Chancellor inform the House what arrangements are in place with the French authorities for sharing information from the raid? If new evidence comes to light, will the Chancellor stand ready to reopen his deal with Google?
The first point of which I must remind the shadow Chancellor is that all settlements are reached by HMRC. Operational matters are rightly for HMRC, and not for Treasury Ministers. Of course if there is new evidence, HMRC will take it into account. The position is that HMRC has made it very clear that, under the law that existed between 2005 and 2015, it believes that it has reached a settlement that ensures that the right amount of tax has been collected—and that is what its job is. Our job is to ensure that it has the tools and the rules, and that is what we are delivering.
The core purpose of the Treasury is to ensure the stability and prosperity of the economy.
We are all extremely grateful that the Treasury was able to have funding for local infrastructure projects, which clearly shows the success of the Government’s policies. However, there has been no major investment in rail infrastructure in Hampshire for nearly 60 years, and that is holding back our productivity. Will my right hon. Friend meet me, local councils and local enterprise partnerships to sort out this issue as a matter of urgency, as we have committed to build 102,000 new homes by 2030 and our roads are already full?
My hon. Friend is absolutely right to raise the issue of investment in infrastructure in Hampshire and in her constituency of Portsmouth. There is money going into the road infrastructure, such as the M27, and some investment in rail infrastructure, such as Southampton Central station, but, clearly, there is room to do more. As someone who has some experience of the rail services from Portsmouth, I know that they are not as good as they could be. I am very happy to meet her, her colleagues and local businesses to see what more we can do.
T4. In Scotland, we have introduced robust anti-avoidance rules—they are among the toughest in the world—on devolved taxes. The Scottish National party has repeatedly called on the Chancellor to embolden compliance by guaranteeing that the beneficial ownership of companies and trusts is made public. Has he taken steps to assure the people of the UK that this progressive step will happen? (905217)
The UK is bringing in a register of beneficial ownership for companies. On trusts, where there are tax consequences that will also be included. So, yes, the UK is leading on that, and we are pretty much the first country to do so.
T2. I have been contacted by a number of constituents who are having difficulty with this year’s online HMRC self-assessment system, particularly with the level of customer service they are getting from the helpdesk. Will the Minister look into this issue as a matter of urgency so that we can get a speedy resolution to the problems and ensure that my constituents are not penalised? (905215)
I would be very happy to meet my hon. Friend to discuss the specific points, but I would also say that the customer performance of HMRC last year was clearly not at an acceptable level. In the run-up to the self-assessment deadline at the end of January 89% of calls were getting through first time and the average waiting time was less than five minutes. That can be improved on, but we should note that it is a much higher performance than has been achieved in HMRC’s previous history.
T5. I note that the Minister has yet to respond properly to the shadow Chancellor’s question about the new anti-tax avoidance directive in the European Parliament, which is being voted on tomorrow. In light of Conservative MEPs’ abstention at the committee stage, will someone now confirm whether they will support it tomorrow? (905218)
Just to be clear, the text of the anti-tax avoidance directive has not been finalised. It was discussed at the ECOFIN meeting a couple of weeks ago and will be discussed again in a week’s time, on 17 June. It has not been finalised. What I can say is that the UK Government’s position is very clear: we want something strong and effective, and that is the case that we have been advocating in the Council of Ministers.
T3. The devolution of business rates, allowing local areas to shape their own future, will be of a real benefit to my constituents in Kingston, who pay some of the highest council taxes in the country and receive one of the lowest Government grants in return. Will my right hon. Friend confirm when the first business rate devolution deals will be rolled out and whether Kingston can be at the front of the queue? (905216)
My hon. Friend and his local council have been at the forefront of calling for this major reform of local government finance, which is, of course, now being undertaken across the whole country. I can confirm that London will be moving ahead of many other areas and we will start the retention of business rates in local areas from April 2017.
T7. The eye-watering costs of the proposed new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point C will put public finance at risk, as well as the strike price, pushing up energy bills for businesses and consumers. Will the Chancellor redirect this investment to cleaner, safer and cheaper energy sources such as renewables and carbon capture and storage? (905220)
The first thing I would say is that there were those remarkable figures recently showing that 25% of UK electricity generation is now from renewable energy. That is second only to Germany and is an amazing transformation in our energy supply under this Conservative leadership. Secondly, we need to renew the next generation of nuclear power stations, starting with Hinkley Point, but the deal we have signed makes sure that taxpayers are not exposed to the construction risk.
T6. I note that the Government will publish a report on the progress of payments to Equitable Life policyholders who are victims of the great scam, and I congratulate the Government on the progress that has been made to compensate those individuals. Will my right hon. Friend undertake to review the amount of money paid to victims of the scam so that we can fulfil the debt of honour that we owe them? (905219)
I can announce that although the Equitable Life payment scheme is now closed to new claims, payments being made under the scheme to with-profit annuitants are not only tax free but will continue for the life of the relevant annuity.
T8. June’s OECD economic outlook revised down its prediction for UK GDP growth. This latest fall arises in the aftermath of the International Monetary Fund’s health check of the UK economy, which concluded that GDP growth was also paltry. When will the Chancellor listen to the experts and offer much-needed investment instead of ideologically driven austerity? (905221)
Both the downward revisions to which the hon. Gentleman refers—from the OECD and the IMF—are specifically for this year and in both cases the organisations attribute that to the referendum on our membership of the EU and the potential exit from the EU. They say that if the country votes to remain, however, they expect activity to bounce back and they have not revised down growth for next year.
Does the Minister share my concern about the activities of ambulance-chasing law firms which encourage fraudulent whiplash claims, of which I have had personal experience? Can the Minister update the House on the Government’s plans to clamp down on this outrageous practice?
I hope that my hon. Friend has experienced only the ambulance chasers, not the whiplash. He is right to highlight the cost that this puts on motorists, which we estimate is about £90 a year for every motorist in the country. That is why we have already taken steps to reform this area. Last year in the autumn statement we announced further reforms, which will remove the right to cash compensation for minor whiplash injuries, while ensuring that genuine claimants are rehabilitated.
Genuine tax avoidance must be tackled, but HMRC pursuing people who invested legally in schemes, not to avoid tax, and who are now being hit with accelerated payments, is an affront to natural justice, treating them as guilty until proved innocent. Will the Chancellor meet me and a group of people who are seriously detrimentally affected by this?
I am afraid I completely disagree with the hon. Gentleman. He is opposing a measure that we have introduced which says to people who are in dispute with HMRC about the money they pay because of their potential use of tax evasion or avoidance schemes that they should pay up front and, if they win their case, they get their money. Every other taxpayer has to do that. As a result of the measure, we have raised hundreds of millions of pounds for public services and won some key court judgments. I find it remarkable for a Liberal Democrat to be siding with those who want to try to evade their taxes.
I completely agree with my hon. Friend, and I know how much she champions skills in her constituency in Wiltshire. The apprentice levy, which has now been legislated for, will ensure that we are able to increase the number of apprentices in this country towards the 3 million that we committed to in the manifesto. Crucially, more money will go into skilled apprenticeships in fields such as design and engineering. She wants to see more of those, and so do I.
Many constituents of mine, including those working at RF Brookes, tell me that their employers are attacking their terms and conditions because of the national living wage. Does the Chancellor agree that this abuse should not go on as it is giving constituents of mine an overall pay cut?
We certainly expect businesses to pay the national living wage and to honour not just the letter of the law—we have increased enforcement of the living wage through HMRC—but the spirit of it, which means that employers should pay that wage and not find ways to cut other allowances to make good on the pay bill.
I welcome this question because our financial services sector is not only our highest-paid sector, but the one with the widest gender pay gap. That is why we launched the Women in Finance charter, and we are asking all financial services firms to implement the recommendations in the excellent review by Jayne-Anne Gadhia, the chief executive of Virgin Money, on the representation, or rather the under-representation, of senior women in financial services.
The Government have made significant public spending cuts affecting disabled people, including nearly £30 billion of cuts in social security to 3.7 million disabled people. Given that disabled people are twice as likely as the general population to be living in poverty, how many more disabled people will be living in poverty by 2020?
In fact, spending on disability benefits is going up, not down. There are many more personal independence payments claimants getting the highest rate than there were under disability living allowance; 200,000 more people are getting carers allowance; 22,000 more people are getting help through Motability, and we have a firm commitment to work towards halving the disability employment gap, which is so important for driving up incomes. The gap has remained stubbornly wide, but the most recent quarter showed a small decrease.
In 1945 there was a dream of a link road from what is now the M6 to Heysham port, through which 10% of our GDP comes in. That link road will soon be opening. Does my right hon. Friend the Chancellor agree that part of the long-term economic plan is to show that this area of Lancashire will be regenerated? More to the point, would he, diary permitting, like to open the road?
I remember visiting the road with my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister just days before the general election. Because our hon. Friend had been such a champion of his constituency, his constituents said, “Let’s have him back in Parliament championing more investment in Lancashire.” Diary permitting, I would be delighted to open the link road. Indeed, when I was at Warrenpoint in Northern Ireland yesterday, I met the company that trades between Heysham and Warrenpoint, and it is investing in new jobs there.
The Wales Bill being introduced later today will leave Wales with a vastly inferior fiscal settlement to those for Scotland and Northern Ireland. Why cannot Wales have full income tax powers like Scotland, corporation tax powers like Northern Ireland and air passenger duty powers like both those countries?
I totally agree with the hon. Gentleman that we need to get on with income tax devolution. I will be having further meetings with the Welsh Government to ensure that we do that. At the same time, we need to look at questions such as how to adjust the block grant, which of course will depend on what is devolved and when. We have also set the funding floor at 115% for the duration of this Parliament.
The black country economy in the west midlands has been one of the fastest growing sub-regions in the UK over the past few years, with new jobs and investment. Does the Chancellor agree that we need to continue to focus on investing in growth in the black country and avoid the economic risk that would come from us leaving the European Union?
I agree with my hon. Friend on both points. First, I think that there is an enormous amount of exciting news in the black country, with businesses there growing and creating jobs, and more investment is coming into the part of the country he represents so well. Secondly, I think that economic growth would be at risk if we left the European Union. We have today heard warnings from the chairman of the Federal Reserve, the head of Hitachi and the head of the World Trade Organisation, all telling us that there is a real economic risk for the UK if we vote to leave.
It is absolutely clear that we need additional runway capacity in the south-east of England. That is what the Davies report suggested. Of course, the Government now need to come forward with a conclusion to that report, but we wanted to address the issue of air quality. When we raised that issue, some people asked whether it was necessary to look into it. If we look at the debates in the mayoral contest over the past few months, we see that air quality is an important issue to get right. We are close to finishing that work, and then we will report back on the Davies commission and future airport capacity.
Order. Before I call the hon. Member for Denton and Reddish (Andrew Gwynne) to put his urgent question, I should explain that, on account of the subsequent business, its importance and the likely level of subscription to it, the UQ will run for a maximum of half an hour, so the limits on the Front Benchers and Back Benchers involved do need to be observed.
NHS Commissioning (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis)
I am grateful for the opportunity to respond to this urgent question. As the House knows, HIV can be a devastating illness, and we know that pre-exposure prophylaxis—PrEP—can make a difference to those at risk of contracting HIV and to those who are already HIV positive. However, it is crucial that we have a full understanding of all the issues surrounding PrEP.
As with any new intervention, PrEP must be properly assessed in relation to clinical effectiveness and cost-effectiveness. That is why we have today asked NICE to conduct an evidence review of Truvada for PrEP of HIV in high-risk groups. This evidence review signifies the next step forward and will inform any subsequent decisions about commissioning. It will look at the evidence for effectiveness, safety, patient factors and resource implications. The NICE evidence summary will run alongside a pilot scheme in which we are investing up to £2 million. Public Health England is currently identifying the most effective places for the pilot to take place.
It is also important to remember that Truvada, the drug used for PrEP, is not yet licensed for this use in the UK. That is why, as well as the pilot scheme, the Government want to see the evidence review, which will help to inform future commissioning decisions about PrEP.
PrEP is only one of a range of activities designed to tackle HIV, which is of course a Government priority. It is also important to stress that the challenge remains of tackling high rates of some sexually transmitted infections, particularly in high-risk MSM—men who have sex with men—communities. Our £2.4 million national HIV prevention and sexual health promotion programme gives those at highest risk the best advice to make safer choices about sex.
The UK has world-class treatment services and is already ahead in reaching two of the three UNAIDS goals of ensuring that we have 90% diagnosed infection, 90% of those diagnosed on treatment and 90% viral suppression by 2020. In 2014, 17% of those living with HIV had undiagnosed infection, but 91% of those diagnosed were on treatment, of whom 95% were virally suppressed. We are determined to continue to make real progress to meet these goals, and we are considering carefully the role that PrEP can play in helping us to get there.
I thank the Minister for that reply. This is a subject we do not debate enough in the House, and I am grateful to Mr Speaker for giving us the opportunity to debate it today.
Seventeen people are diagnosed with HIV every day. Each year, there are thousands of new infections. In the UK, there are more people living with HIV than ever before. We know that PrEP has the potential to be a game-changer—it has proved effective in stopping HIV transmission in almost every case—yet as a result of this latest decision, this life-changing drug will remain inaccessible to people at risk of HIV. Does the Minister therefore share my concern about the precedent this decision sets in terms of NHS England shunting other preventive costs on to local government? Will she explain why pre-exposure prophylaxis is being dealt with differently, compared with the correct commissioning model for PEP, or post-exposure prophylaxis?
I want to ask the Minister three specific questions. First, does she accept that, under section 7A of the National Health Service Act 2006—a mechanism by which the Secretary of State can delegate power—the Health Secretary can give NHS England the power to commission PrEP? If so, why has he not done so? Secondly, if the Government expect local authorities to commission PrEP, how much additional funding will the Minister make available to them? Can we assume that there will be no further cuts to public health grants, or is this just a case of passing the responsibility and the financial buck? Thirdly, on the next steps, I understand that key stakeholders, including the National AIDS Trust, have written a joint letter to the Public Health Minister requesting an urgent meeting. Will she today agree to meet them to see whether a way forward can be found without the need for costly, protracted legal action?
PrEP has been described as the beginning of the end for the HIV epidemic. It is time for the Minister to show some leadership, to use the section 7A powers she has and to think again.
Some of the shadow Minister’s questions are simply ahead of the moment, as it were. As I said clearly in my statement, NHS England has made clear how it feels about being the commissioner, based on a legal argument that it has published. No decision has been made about who the commissioner is. Clearly, we need to reach a decision, and we discussed that earlier today in the Health Committee. However, there are a number of stages we have to go through—as I say, the drug is not even licensed for use as PrEP in the UK.
We have set out a series of stages we will go through, which will help to inform a final decision. On the questions the hon. Gentleman posed, we are not in a position to make a judgment. There is more we need to know about clinical effectiveness and cost-effectiveness and about the pilot—
No, that is not the case. There has been an important study—the PROUD study—but that looked at clinical effectiveness. There is a wider piece of work to be done—of which the pilot programme that we have announced is part—to enable us to understand where PrEP fits in in terms of clinical and cost-effectiveness, and how it fits into the HIV prevention landscape more broadly, alongside other HIV interventions that are commissioned. There is work yet to do, but we are not standing still. We have announced this important pilot and committed money to it, and we have asked NICE for an evidence review. All this will go into our consideration.
I agree with the shadow Minister apart from on one thing, which is his asking my hon. Friend the Minister to show leadership. Having campaigned on many male sexual health issues as chair of the all-party parliamentary group on HIV and AIDS, I can say that this Minister has been unfailingly supportive in addressing many of the issues facing not just men’s sexual health, but particularly gay men’s sexual health. I therefore take issue with that call for leadership.
Having said that, I have lost too many friends to AIDS over the years not to challenge NHS England’s decision not to fund PrEP. HIV infection rates in this country are on the increase and existing strategies are not working. It is not acceptable to suggest that we simply continue to do the same. I have a meeting with the Minister on 13 June. Will she agree to widen that to other stakeholders?
I thank my hon. Friend for his kind words. I take this issue extremely seriously. He is right to say that we face a challenge in relation to HIV rates, and particularly, as I said, STI rates in the high-risk MSM community. I stress again that while it will no doubt have an important part to play, PrEP is not a silver bullet for sexual infections, particularly in some of those high-risk groups. It is important to understand that. We have to continue to look at a whole range of measures. When I recently met the chief executive of the Terrence Higgins Trust, we touched on this.
As my hon. Friend says, we have a meeting coming up. I apologise for not responding to the shadow Minister’s question about meeting stakeholder groups. Of course I will meet all the key stakeholder groups. I have already had some formal and some informal discussions on this, but of course I am very open to having further such discussions. Stakeholders were involved in the process that NHS England has been involved in. NHS England has made its position clear, and there is a matter due to go before the courts on which I will not comment further. Yes, I will engage on this. Yes, of course I accept that we need to do more, and of course we all share the concerns about rising HIV infection rates, particularly among the MSM community. I too lost friends to the AIDS epidemic that my hon. Friend mentions. I take this issue extremely seriously, but we have to follow a sensible process, and that is what the Government are doing.
Anyone in this House will be glad to see the results of the PROUD study and the 85% reduction in new infections. However, there is more to understand, in that we did not see a good response in heterosexual women. While over 40,000 HIV sufferers in the UK are men who have sex with men, 60,000 are heterosexual or bisexual, predominantly of African origin, and we need to think of them in this regard.
My main complaint is on the failure to go through a process of looking at clinical evidence and cost-effectiveness and then making a decision. Why was the company not encouraged to get through this earlier and go to NICE? I do not understand why we are only going to NICE now, because that gives the answer that we need. It is relatively poor of NHS England to have made the decision on the basis of, “It’s not our job—it’s your job.” That is the most insulting bit for the community. In Scotland, our Cabinet Secretary asked it to go through the European Medicines Agency, which it applied for in February, and then the Scottish Medicines Consortium. It is on the right path now, but that is where we should have gone first.
It is probably worth clarifying that we asked NICE to undertake an evidence review, not a technology assessment. What drugs are licensed for are matters for drug companies to address. The Government do not initiate the process on whether a drug is licensed— the drug company must initiate it. It also worth noting that when a drug is licensed for a new purpose, as would be the case for Truvada in PrEP, the company could apply for the patent to be extended to cover this new use. Again, that is something that the drug company would do.
On the hon. Lady’s first point, I agree that we need to consider the impact on women in the circumstances she described. That is one of the arguments for carefully planning this pilot programme and taking those sorts of factors into account.
The process that the Minister has outlined is correct, but does she recognise that the French Government have already approved Truvada for pre-exposure prophylaxis, and does she understand the urgency in this? The results of the UK PROUD study, funded by the MRC, are quite unequivocal, so we really need to get this going. Will she also reflect on the fact that the study showed no difference in the incidence of other sexually transmitted diseases, because Truvada does not protect against them, so the message has to go out that a condom is absolutely essential?
My hon. Friend is quite correct on his latter point about the impact of PrEP. Whether it was commissioned or not, and whoever it was commissioned by, we would still have the significant challenge that he describes around STIs. Drug-resistant gonorrhoea, for example, is a problem that we are increasingly aware of.
There are international comparisons that we can look at, as my hon. Friend mentions. I have looked at the matter in some detail, and the picture across the world is that many countries are in broadly the same position as the UK. They are trying to understand, leaving aside the question of clinical effectiveness, more about how PrEP can be used as part of an HIV prevention programme in broader cost-effectiveness terms, and how it compares in cost-effectiveness terms with other available interventions. My hon. Friend is right that there is work to do, and we are not resting easy on this. We are moving forward, and we are working on and planning these pilots now.
When does the Minister expect the damaging buck-passing between NHS England and local authorities, which is one of the disastrous results of the Health and Social Care Act 2012, to be resolved? Does she agree that it would be far more appropriate for NHS England to be the commissioner of something like PrEP than for local government to commission it? Finally, will she be very cognisant of the danger that we are going back to the bad old days when certain groups were stigmatised? Stigma is disastrous for public health policy, and it will result in an explosion of sexual disease in this country if we do not always bear in mind the danger that decisions by NHS England—not just on this, but on drug treatment for hepatitis C —may have a disastrous impact on public health.
The NHS England position is based on a legal argument, and as the matter is likely to go before the courts, it is not really appropriate for me to comment further. There was a little discussion this morning on this subject in the Health Committee, for which some Members were present. I have laid out a process by which we will work out how and where this is commissioned. Clearly, we need to identify the commissioner.
I do not accept the right hon. Gentleman’s challenge about fragmentation, simply because if we look around the world at a series of very different health systems, we see that they are all going through broadly the same process of understanding where PrEP sits. There are a number of options, but first we need to go through this work. On his latter point about stigma, he is right to identify that it is a significant concern, but I do not accept that that is what this represents. He knows my personal commitment to tackling stigma, and we could not have made it clearer that addressing rising HIV rates, addressing STIs in the MSM community and looking at the challenges surrounding things such as chemsex are all very much front of mind, and we have given considerable time and thought to them. We must challenge stigma wherever it rears its head.
Given the challenges of HIV, I think that my constituents would be excited by the prospects that PrEP offers. They would, however, be a little disturbed by the fact that every country in the world seems to be going through the same process, and duplicating, replicating and holding up what could be a very exciting development to combat the spread of HIV across Africa. Many countries are suffering from this far worse than we are, and they would be horrified by the thought that the process could get bogged down in a court when this treatment, if it were available, could do very real good.
My hon. Friend is right to recognise that PrEP has potential. It is, in fact, being used in some places internationally. The point I was making was that there is no simple, one-size-fits-all solution. Different countries have different challenges. For example, the level of HIV prevalence and the services available to manage that prevalence, and to manage testing, are very different in different countries. That forms different landscapes into which PrEP might fit. To give an example from Africa, PrEP was licensed last year, and it will be available for sex workers in selected sites. HIV prevalence among female sex workers is estimated to be just under 60% in South Africa. There are different contexts in which PrEP is being taken forward, and that is just one of them.
Local authorities’ public health budgets are being stretched to breaking point, and this is arguably one of the false economies of this Government’s approach, in terms of its impact. Does the Minister agree that in the context of such stretched budgets, the implication that local authorities should fund PrEP is simply unworkable, and will she make it clear that her position is that NHS England is the natural commissioner of PrEP?
I have been very clear about NHS England’s position, and I have said that no decision has yet been made about commissioning. I do not accept the hon. Lady’s challenge about spending on public health. We have committed to spend £16 billion over the next five years on the public health grant. In addition to that, we have committed more than £1 billion this year alone in the section 7A agreement and £300 million on vaccines that we buy in the Department of Health, plus system-wide leadership through things such as the sugary drinks levy and the forthcoming childhood obesity strategy. All in all, this is the radical upgrade in prevention that was talked about in the NHS “Five Year Forward View”.
I join my hon. Friend the Member for Finchley and Golders Green (Mike Freer) in thanking the Minister for her work, and in particular for engaging with the LGBT community. I know that they are quite concerned about last week’s statement by NHS England. Given the disappointing outcome of NHS England’s PrEP review and the fact that we have the worst of all scenarios, which is effectively a legal challenge, will the Minister commit to finding a way round the NHS England decision while a new trial is under way? Does she agree that the accelerated medicines pathway could provide a perfect platform for bypassing the frustrating system that we are talking about?
I will reflect on the latter point with my hon. Friend the Minister for Life Sciences, who is sitting alongside me. I have made clear the NHS position on commissioning. The measures that I have announced today—the NICE evidence review and the trial that we are planning for, which we will move forward with later in the year—are all part of understanding how we get to the right decision. It is not something on which I will make a snap decision now, but we have set out a process by which we can get to that point.
As a vice-chair of the all-party group on HIV and AIDS, I share many of the concerns expressed by the chair, the hon. Member for Finchley and Golders Green (Mike Freer). Many people in the LGBT community share our concerns about the current situation. Much as I respect the Minister, I was a little disappointed that she appeared to cast doubt on the efficacy of PrEP. As well as the PROUD study, there have been two other major studies, and 30,000 people are using PrEP in the US. There is clear evidence of its efficacy. Can the Minister give hope to people out there that this is not a political decision or a cost decision? Will she reverse it? Will she use her section 7A powers and take the right decision on this issue?
We have not made a decision on commissioning yet. We have laid out a pathway. Let me be clear: I completely understand and accept the point about clinical effectiveness. The point I was making was that there are wider considerations about how we commission something in the context of a whole series of HIV prevention services. That is slightly different from clinical effectiveness, on which the PROUD study showed very good results. I am not saying that it is not clinically effective; we just have to understand more about how it sits in the context of everything else that we do, and we have to understand more about its cost-effectiveness. The modelling work that was undertaken indicated that PrEP can be cost-effective for some high-risk groups, but the period over which that cost-effectiveness pays back needs to be more broadly understood.
I do not doubt the Minister’s commitment to this issue, but she has to understand how it looks to the outside world. This is a Government who brought forward legislation to ban poppers, for goodness’ sake, but it looks as though they have got their head in the sand over PrEP. Israel, Kenya, Canada, France and the United States all get it. Why are we so far behind?
The first point is a red herring, because I understand that the matter has been resolved. I do not accept the hon. Gentleman’s criticism. It is slightly disappointing, although I understand the reason for it in the context of this urgent question, that Members are forgetting that the UK has a world-leading position on HIV treatment in all the ways that I laid out in my response to the urgent question. Our movement towards the UNAIDS goals is very significant, so to say that the UK is somehow not a leader in HIV treatment and prevention is not right. We have clearly acknowledged that PrEP has a role to play, but we need to understand more about what that is.
Will the Minister clarify her previous answer in which she said that she is putting aside the clinical significance of this? I find it quite confusing that she can do that. Does she agree that although the UK has been a leader in HIV prevention for decades, our progress is under threat because of her decision? Will she now think again?
Not for the first time, may I clarify that no decision has been made about the commissioning of PrEP? I am therefore not sure why the hon. Gentleman would say that. I have been very clear about the clinical effectiveness. What I am saying is that there is more work to do to understand the wider cost-effectiveness of this in the context of the commissioning of HIV prevention more broadly.
My constituency falls wholly within the borough of Southwark, which has the second highest HIV prevalence in the country. What assessment are the Minister and the Department making of the potential impact of this policy change not only on my constituents, but on the long-term costs for the NHS if PrEP is not available?
There is no policy change and I have laid out the position. It is important to understand that even in the modelling work that has been done, PrEP is not a silver bullet. It has an important part to play, but it is not a silver bullet in terms of HIV prevention and it does not affect some of the broader issues that I mentioned in my response, for example in respect of STIs.
This is another example of the over-cluttered, over-bureaucratic and confused system for approving drugs in this country. May I draw the Minister’s attention to the fact that NHS England promised £2 million to allow 500 people to be treated in this way? Does she understand people’s dismay that it is now passing the buck and saying that it is down to local authorities, which we all know are incredibly cash-strapped?
The NHS is seeking clarity through the courts on its own position. No decision has been made about who will be the final commissioner for PrEP, so what the hon. Gentleman said is not quite right. The £2 million that has been committed to the pilot is important and will inform our understanding of this important intervention.
Slough has an extraordinarily high incidence of HIV and AIDS, much of it undiagnosed. Our local authority is the smallest unitary authority in the country and has faced cuts to its central Government funding of 50%. It has no prospect of being able to fund a challenge of this size. Does the Minister understand that this delay in sorting out who will pay for PrEP will lead to the deaths of hundreds of people in Britain?
As I have mentioned, Truvada is not yet licensed for use as PrEP in this country. We have set out a process by which we can understand far more about how PrEP might fit into the landscape. The right hon. Lady mentioned undetected HIV. The Government have invested significant effort and funding into detecting HIV. We have the world’s first home testing service and last year we launched the major HIV innovation fund, which has come up with some new and extremely cutting-edge ideas on how to improve HIV detection and diagnosis. I fully accept that this is a major challenge in her area, but PrEP is only one part of a wider programme of work. [Interruption.]
Will the Minister clarify the timescale for the decisions? Evidence reviews and trials can take months and years, but clearly, as other Members have said, people do not have months and years. Will she tell us what the process and the timescales will be, so that we can be reassured—or not?
We would expect to get the evidence review that we have called for in the autumn. NHS England is already working on plans for the pilot programme, which will happen over a two-year period. We hope to get that under way towards the end of this year. Both those pieces of work are under way. We expect the pilots to be informed by the review, hence we want to get it back in a relatively short time.
I am flabbergasted that the Minister has come before the House today to say that the legislation that her Government introduced on the reorganisation of the NHS was so incompetent that NHS England is having to go to court to work out who is entitled to commission these services. Can she tell us how much public money will be spent on the legal case?
I am not in a position to comment on that. I do not accept the hon. Lady’s central criticism. If she had been present at the Health Committee this morning, she would have heard an hour of evidence from myself, Duncan Selbie and Simon Stevens on how the new arrangements are making a significant difference to public health in this country and to the health of the public.
Points of Order
On a point of order, Mr Speaker. As you know, the SSI plant on Teesside closed, with the loss of 9,000 jobs. Lord Heseltine, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and the northern powerhouse Minister, the Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, the hon. Member for Stockton South (James Wharton) are in my constituency at the Riverside stadium, launching the noble Lord’s much-awaited report in response to that crisis. I received notification of that by email at 3.33 yesterday and a copy of the report at 6.20 this morning. In fairness, having contacted the Secretary of State, I accept that he is under the impression that I was contacted properly. However, I assure the House that I was not. I have searched for those emails. Colleagues have received them, but I have not.
All I am asking for is some guidance, Mr Speaker. A report about my constituency is going to be delivered in my constituency. Can better direction be given to Ministers on how best they can communicate such activity to Members of Parliament, rather than assuming that it has been properly communicated through emails?
I say to the hon. Gentleman and the House that there is a firm convention that if a Member intends to visit the constituency of another Member on official business, as opposed to purely private or personal business, the Member whose constituency is being visited should be notified in advance. Nothing is written down anywhere, but it would be a courtesy to notify the Member sufficiently in advance that he or she could be present, or at least in the vicinity, in his or her constituency if it was so wished. That would rather depend on the circumstances of the event, but there should be proper notice.
In the case of Ministers, the requirement is stipulated in the ministerial code. If that has not been complied with in this case, it is regrettable. The hon. Gentleman has made his point and it will have been heard by those on the Treasury Bench. Doubtless it will be communicated, in the forceful terms in which he typically expresses himself, to the Secretary of State.
I hope that it will not be necessary for this point constantly to be raised and then underlined by me from the Chair. It is an elementary courtesy and I think that a lot of people who are listening to our proceedings will think, “Surely colleagues can treat each other in a civil and grown-up way, as would happen in other institutions.” Indeed, I note in the distance some agreement with the point I have just made.
On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I fear that I am going to disappoint you, because my point of order follows on from that exact point, although it does not relate to Ministers. I discovered that the hon. Members for Wellingborough (Mr Bone) and for Corby (Tom Pursglove) were in my constituency last week with the Grassroots Out campaign. They were not on official business, but were campaigning, and they failed to advise me in advance. Will you remind all Members that, by convention, we notify each other in advance? I might not have wished to be there alongside them, however.
Another issue is that factually incorrect information was shared with my constituents. I am sure that the hon. Member for Wellingborough would be horrified to learn that he misled my constituents, in the same way that I am horrified. How can he correct that?
I am very grateful to the hon. Lady for her point of order. With reference to her last point about allegedly factually incorrect information being disseminated to her constituents, I am bound to say to her that that is a matter of politics. Although I do not know the people of Great Grimsby, I dare say they can bear with stoicism and fortitude the proffering of views to them with which their locally elected Member of Parliament may disagree. That is not a matter for the Chair. [Interruption.] I do not think it is fishy. However, a visit was undertaken, admittedly not by Ministers, but by Members engaged in professional business, and the hon. Lady should therefore have been notified.
Given the context of the EU referendum campaign, I recognise that there will be Members—including doubtless the hon. Members for Wellingborough (Mr Bone) and for Corby (Tom Pursglove)—who may well visit a great many constituencies in a concentrated period. Nevertheless, the convention is an important courtesy and should continue to apply. It is not very difficult or time consuming to comply with it, so I hope that colleagues on both sides of the House will do so from now on.
On a point of order, Mr Speaker. The issue we have just discussed in the urgent question on pre-exposure prophylaxis is one that I and many other Members consider to be of huge national importance. Despite the effect of the drug, the numbers of people involved and the great national interest, Parliament has not actually substantially debated the issue aside from that urgent question. As a new Member of the House—I confess that I am still trying to get my head around this place, although I suspect I never will—may I ask whether it would be in order to seek a debate on PrEP under Standing Order No. 24 and, if it would be in order, how one might go about that?
It is certainly open to the hon. Gentleman to seek such a debate—there is nothing improper about it—but I know that he would not seek advance agreement from me in respect of an application that has not yet been made, the terms of which therefore cannot be known to me and upon which it would therefore be wholly unreasonable to expect me to adjudicate. Apart from that, his point was all right.
I also say to the hon. Gentleman that, as the Minister mentioned perfectly properly from a sedentary position, the issue is a devolved matter and can therefore be considered elsewhere, as well, but it is perfectly proper for it to be considered here. There are a range of opportunities for its consideration. The mechanism he mentions is a possible approach; there are also Backbench Business Committee debates, Adjournment debates and debates in the name of the relevant Opposition party. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman is on very good terms with the powers that be in his own party; if they judge it a sufficient priority, they might choose to nominate it as a subject for such a debate. Knowing the Minister as I do, I am sure that she would very courteously come along, if it was her responsibility to do so, to listen to the hon. Gentleman’s sonorous tones and speak as appropriate.
Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. You might be interested to know, as might other Members, that the all-party parliamentary group on HIV and AIDS is holding its own debate and inquiry on the issues under discussion in the urgent question this afternoon and tomorrow. I encourage all Members to attend.
What a helpful soul the hon. Gentleman is. He is a purveyor of public information, and we owe him a debt of gratitude.
Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)
Secretary Alun Cairns, Secretary Stephen Crabb, Secretary David Mundell, Mr Oliver Letwin and Greg Hands, presented a Bill to amend the Government of Wales Act 2006 and make provision about the functions of the Welsh Ministers, and for connected purposes.
Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time tomorrow, and to be printed (Bill 5) with explanatory notes (Bill 5-EN).
Investigatory Powers Bill
[2nd Allocated Day]
Consideration of Bill, as amended in the Public Bill Committee
Bulk interception warrants
With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:
Amendment 391, page 96, line 36, leave out clause 120.
Amendment 392, page 97, line 15, leave out clause 121.
Amendment 393, page 98, line 20, leave out clause 122.
Amendment 394, page 98, line 38, leave out clause 123.
Amendment 275, in clause 123, page 99, line 10, leave out from “must” to end of line 11, and insert
“subject a person’s decision to issue a warrant under this Chapter to close scrutiny to ensure that the objective in issuing a warrant is sufficiently important to justify any limitation of a Convention right”.
An amendment to clarify the role of judicial commissioners.
Amendment 395, page 99, line 19, leave out clause 124.
Amendment 396, page 99, line 24, leave out clause 125.
Amendment 9, in clause 125, page 99, line 33, leave out subsection (4) and insert—
“(4) The operational purposes specified in the warrant must be ones specified, in a list maintained by the heads of the intelligence services, as purposes which they consider are operational purposes for which intercepted content or secondary data obtained under bulk interception warrants may be selected for examination.”
On behalf of the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament, to amend the Bill to provide for a designated list of operational purposes, such that only a purpose on that list may be specified in a warrant relating to bulk powers.
Amendment 10, page 99, line 37, leave out from “issued” to end of line 39 and insert
“are specified in the list mentioned in subsection (4).
(5A) An operational purpose may be specified in the list mentioned in subsection (4) only with the approval of the Secretary of State.
(5B) The Secretary of State may give such approval only if satisfied that the operational purpose is specified in a greater level of detail than the descriptions contained in section 121 subsections (1)(b) or (2).”
To make clear that the Secretary of State must approve all operational purposes specified on the list.
Amendment 11, page 99, line 39, at end insert—
“(5C) The list of operational purposes mentioned in subsection (4) must be reviewed at least annually by the Prime Minister.”
To ensure that the list of Operational Purposes is reviewed at least annually by the Prime Minister.
Amendment 12, page 99, line 39, at end insert—
“(5D) The Investigatory Powers Commissioner and Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament (ISC) will be kept informed of any changes to the list of Operational Purposes in a timely manner.
(5E) Subject to subsection 201(7), the Investigatory Powers Commissioner must include in his Annual Report a summary of those Operational Purposes which, during the period of his report, have been specified in any warrants issued under Parts 6 and 7.”
To ensure that the ISC and Commissioners are kept informed of changes to the list of Operational Purposes. To ensure that a summary of the Operational Purposes are published each year.
Amendment 397, page 100, line 2, leave out clause 126.
Amendment 398, page 100, line 10, leave out clause 127.
Amendment 22, in clause 127, page 100, line 12, leave out
“before it would otherwise cease to have effect”
and insert “during the renewal period”.
See amendment 20.
Amendment 23, page 100, line 34, at end insert—
“(2A) ‘The renewal period’ means the period of 30 days ending with the day at the end of which the warrant would otherwise cease to have effect.”
See amendment 20.
Amendment 153, page 101, line 9, leave out clause 128.
Amendment 154, page 102, line 25, leave out clause 129.
Amendment 401, page 103, line 8, leave out clause 130.
Amendment 402, page 103, line 31, leave out clause 131.
Amendment 403, page 104, line 19, leave out clause 132.
Amendment 404, page 105, line 44, leave out clause 133.
Amendment 405, page 106, line 24, leave out clause 134.
Amendment 406, page 108, line 1, leave out clause 135.
Amendment 407, page 108, line 29, leave out clause 136.
Amendment 408, page 108, line 39, leave out clause 137.
Amendment 409, page 109, line 16, leave out clause 138.
Amendment 410, page 110, line 40, leave out clause 139.
Amendment 212, in clause 139, page 110, line 42, leave out
“review the Secretary of State’s conclusions as to the following matters”
and insert “determine”.
Amendment 213, page 111, line 7, leave out subsection (2).
Amendment 278, page 111, line 7, leave out from “must” to end of line 8, and insert “subject a person’s decision to issue a warrant under this Chapter to close scrutiny to ensure that the objective in issuing a warrant is sufficiently important to justify any limitation of a Convention right”.
An amendment to clarify the role of judicial commissioners. This amendment is an alternative to amendments 212 and 213 (which are a package).
Amendment 411, page 111, line 16, leave out clause 140.
Amendment 412, page 111, line 21, leave out clause 141.
Amendment 413, page 112, line 2, leave out clause 142.
Amendment 414, page 112, line 10, leave out clause 143.
Amendment 155, page 113, line 9, leave out clause 144.
Amendment 156, page 114, line 19, leave out clause 145.
Amendment 417, page 115, line 2, leave out clause 146.
Amendment 418, page 115, line 25, leave out clause 147.
Amendment 419, page 116, line 7, leave out clause 148.
Government amendments 44 to 47.
Amendment 420, page 116, line 35, leave out clause 149.
Amendment 421, page 117, line 11, leave out clause 150.
Amendment 422, page 118, line 39, leave out clause 151.
Amendment 423, page 119, line 8, leave out clause 152.
Amendment 424, page 119, line 36, leave out clause 153.
Amendment 425, page 120, line 10, leave out clause 154.
Amendment 426, page 121, line 33, leave out clause 155.
Amendment 427, page 122, line 4, leave out clause 156.
Amendment 428, page 123, line 1, leave out clause 157.
Amendment 214, in clause 157, page 123, line 3, leave out
“review the Secretary of State’s conclusions as to the following matters”
and insert “determine”.
Amendment 215, page 123, line 15, leave out subsection (2).
Amendment 281, page 123, line 15, leave out from “must” to end of line 16, and insert
“subject a person’s decision to issue a warrant under this Chapter to close scrutiny to ensure that the objective in issuing a warrant is sufficiently important to justify any limitation of a Convention right”.
An amendment to clarify the role of judicial commissioners.
Amendment 429, page 123, line 24, leave out clause 158.
Amendment 430, page 123, line 41, leave out clause 159.
Amendment 431, page 124, line 34, leave out clause 160.
Amendment 432, page 125, line 3, leave out clause 161.
Amendment 433, page 125, line 25, leave out clause 162.
Amendment 434, page 126, line 3, leave out clause 163.
Amendment 157, page 127, line 1, leave out clause 164.
Government amendments 127 and 128.
Amendment 158, page 128, line 14, leave out clause 165.
Amendment 437, page 129, line 1, leave out clause 166.
Amendment 438, page 129, line 25, leave out clause 167.
Amendment 439, page 130, line 14, leave out clause 168.
Amendment 440, page 131, line 33, leave out clause 169.
Amendment 441, page 132, line 3, leave out clause 170.
Government amendment 129.
Amendment 442, page 133, line 30, leave out clause 171.
Amendment 443, page 134, line 12, leave out clause 172.
Amendment 444, page 134, line 19, leave out clause 173.
Government amendment 130.
Government new clause 14—Health records.
New clause 3—Restriction on use of class bulk personal dataset warrants—
“(1) An intelligence service may not retain, or retain and examine, a bulk personal dataset in reliance on a class bulk personal dataset warrant if the head of the intelligence service considers—
(a) that the bulk personal dataset includes a large quantity of sensitive personal data, or
(b) that the nature of the bulk personal dataset, or the circumstances in which it was created, is or are such that its retention, or retention and examination, by the intelligence service raises issues which ought to be considered by the Secretary of State and a Judicial Commissioner on an application by the head of the intelligence service for a specific BPD warrant.
(2) An intelligence service may not retain, or retain and examine, greater than twenty distinct bulk personal datasets in reliance on any class BPD warrant.
(3) In subsection (1) ‘sensitive personal data’ means personal data consisting of information about an individual (whether living or deceased) which is of a kind mentioned in section 2(a) to (f) of the Data Protection Act 1998.”
On behalf of the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament, to place greater restrictions on the use of Class BPD warrants in relation to the retention/examination of sensitive personal data (relating to race, political opinions, religious beliefs, trade union membership, health, or sexual orientation). To cap the number of datasets which may be covered by any Class warrant.
Amendment 445, page 135, line 4, leave out clause 174.
Amendment 446, page 135, line 21, leave out clause 175.
Amendment 447, page 135, line 37, leave out clause 176.
Amendment 448, page 136, line 9, leave out clause 177.
Amendment 303, in clause 177, page 136, line 44, at end insert—
“(5) Subsection (6) applies where a warrant application under this section relates to ‘patient information’ as defined in s.251(10) of the National Health Service Act 2006, or relating to ‘mental health’, ‘adult social care’, ‘child social care’, or ‘health services’ as defined by the Health and Social Care Act 2012.
(6) The Secretary of State may issue the warrant only if—
(a) there are exceptional and compelling circumstances that make it necessary to authorise the retention, or (as the case may be) the examination, of material referred to in subsection (5); and
(b) specific arrangements have been made for the handling, retention, use, destruction and protection against unauthorised disclosure of such material”.
An amendment to restrict the retention of patient information obtained under provisions in this Bill.
Amendment 449, page 137, line 1, leave out clause 178.
Amendment 24, in clause 178, page 137, line 17, leave out “and” and insert—
“(aa) a statement outlining the extent to which sensitive personal data as defined by section [Restriction on use of class BPD warrants] is expected to be part of the bulk personal dataset, and”.
On behalf of the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament, to require specific BPD warrant applications to set out the extent to which datasets may include sensitive personal data (relating to race, political opinions, religious beliefs, trade union membership, health, or sexual orientation), in order that the Secretary of State may properly assess the proportionality of obtaining the dataset.
Amendment 304, page 138, line 2, at end insert—
“(8) Subsection (6) applies where a warrant application under this section relates to ‘patient information’ as defined in s.251(10) of the National Health Service Act 2006, or relating to ‘mental health’, ‘adult social care’, ‘child social care’, or ‘health services’ as defined by the Health and Social Care Act 2012.
(9) The Secretary of State may issue the warrant only if—
(a) there are exceptional and compelling circumstances that make it necessary to authorise the retention, or (as the case may be) the examination, of material referred to in subsection (5); and
(b) specific arrangements have been made for the handling, retention, use, destruction and protection against unauthorised disclosure of such material.”
An amendment to restrict the retention of patient information obtained under provisions in this Bill.
Amendment 450, page 138, line 3, leave out clause 179.
Amendment 216, in clause 179, page 138, line 5, leave out
“review the Secretary of State’s conclusions as to the following matters”
and insert “determine”.
Amendment 217, page 138, line 22, leave out subsection (2).
Amendment 284, page 138, line 22, leave out from “must” to end of line 23, and insert
“subject a person’s decision to issue a warrant under this Chapter to close scrutiny to ensure that the objective in issuing a warrant is sufficiently important to justify any limitation of a Convention right”.
An amendment to clarify the role of judicial commissioners. This amendment is an alternative to amendments 216 and 217 (which are a package).
Amendment 451, page 138, line 31, leave out clause 180.