Will the Leader of the House give us the business for next week?
The business for next week is as follows:
Monday 13 June—Conclusion of the remaining stages of the Policing and Crime Bill (day 2).
Tuesday 14 June—Second Reading of the Wales Bill.
Wednesday 15 June—Opposition day (2nd allotted day). There will be a debate on the economic benefits of the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union. The debate will arise on an Opposition motion.
Thursday 16 June—As you will be aware, Mr Speaker, we go into recess until after the referendum, so the House will not be sitting.
Friday 17 June—The House will not be sitting.
The business for the week commencing 27 June, when we return, will include:
Monday 27 June—Motions to approve Ways and Means resolutions on the Finance Bill, followed by Committee of the whole House of the Finance Bill (day 1).
Tuesday 28 June—Conclusion of Committee of the whole House of the Finance Bill (day 2), followed by motions to approve Ways and Means resolutions on the Finance Bill.
Wednesday 29 June—Opposition half day (3rd allotted day—part one). There will be a half day debate on an Opposition motion, subject to be announced, followed by a general debate on the centenary of the Battle of the Somme.
Thursday 30 June—Business to be nominated by the Backbench Business Committee.
Friday 1 July—The House will not be sitting.
The provisional business for the week commencing 4 July will include:
Monday 4 July—Estimates (1st allotted day). Subject to be confirmed by the Liaison Committee. At 10 pm, the House will be asked to agree all outstanding estimates.
Let us start with a brief quiz. What is the shortest ever piece of British legislation? Answer: the Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act 1918, which in 27 crisp words enabled women to stand for Parliament for the first time. As we commemorate the 150th anniversary of the founding of the campaign for women’s representation, it is worth remembering that the campaign is often long but the moment of justice is short and very, very sweet.
What a week it has been: torrential rain; floods in the SNP offices; downpours in the lifts; thunder and lightning—very, very frightening. Clearly, God is very angry with the leave campaign. The Prime Minister was on the Terrace on Tuesday evening enjoying a sneaky fag—no, not that kind—and some congenial company, but then he was mostly chatting with Labour MPs because Tories will not talk to him any more. In fact, there has been so much blue-on-blue action this week that the air is getting as blue as the Culture Secretary’s DVD collection.
The Tory Government in waiting, also known as the Justice Secretary and the former Mayor of London, have been touring the kingdom in their blunder bus like Dastardly and Muttley in the mean machine. The special thing about Dastardly and Muttley, of course, is that no matter how much they cheated—and, boy, did they cheat!—they never won a single race. On the one occasion when they nearly won, Dick Dastardly stopped just before the finishing line to pose for his picture, as it was a photo finish. How very Boris! As Dick Dastardly always said, “Drat, drat and double drat!”
When will the Leader of the House publish the Government’s response to the Procedure Committee’s report on private Members’ Bills? The House is hoping that the Government are genuine about reform, because the system, frankly, is a monumental waste of time and a fraud on democracy.
Can the Leader of the House explain something to me? He has announced the 13 days that are for consideration of private Members’ Bills, but the first one this year is not until 21 October. In previous years, it has always been in September—and early September at that. Why so late this year? It makes it virtually impossible before the end of January for any Member to get a Bill through the House of Commons, let alone through the House of Lords. Are the Government deliberately sabotaging private Members’ Bills even before they have started?
On 14 January, my hon. Friend the Member for Clwyd South (Susan Elan Jones) asked the Leader of the House whether the rules of the House could be changed to allow Welsh to be used in the Welsh Grand Committee when it sits here in Westminster. I understand that the language of this House is, of course, English, but Welsh is the mother tongue of many of my compatriots and constituents, so is it not time that we allowed Welsh in the Welsh Grand Committee?
We are about to consider emergency legislation on electoral registration for the referendum. It is obviously a delight that so many new people have tried to register. In the last three months alone, there have been 4.5 million extra attempts. Even allowing for the fact that some of those will be people just checking that they have already registered, that is the equivalent of 63 extra parliamentary seats in areas with high numbers of students and ethnic minorities. Would it not be bizarre in the extreme for the Government to insist on the Boundary Commission using the old December 2015 register to determine the boundaries and number of seats allocated to Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland and England—or is this just gerrymandering?
Our Opposition day debate, as the Leader of the House announced, will be on the economic benefits of the UK’s membership of the European Union, because the last thing our very fragile economic recovery needs is the prolonged bout of uncertainty and the self-inflicted recession that Brexit would undoubtedly bring. We always achieve far more by our common endeavour than by going it alone. John Donne was right that no man is an island, and these islands are not a hermetically sealed unit. If we want to tackle climate change, environmental degradation, international crime and terrorism; if we want a seat at the table when the major decisions affecting our continent are made; if we want to shape Europe and fashion our own destiny: we have to lead Europe, not leave it.
Is it not fitting that on the Wednesday after the referendum we shall commemorate the Battle of the Somme, in which there were at least 200,000 French, 420,000 British and 620,000 German casualties? The continent that has been at war in every generation and in every century, that has spilt quantities of blood on the seas and the oceans, on the beaches, on the landing grounds, in the fields and in the streets and in the hills is now—thank God—at peace. We should not ever risk our children’s future: remain, remain, remain.
I start by marking the anniversaries of the campaigns to get votes for women and to get women into Parliament, which we are currently celebrating. I commend everyone involved in the art exhibition and new work of art in Westminster Hall and indeed all who came together in this Chamber last night for the photograph to mark the occasion. It is a very important development in our history that we should never forget. It is not so many years ago that, inexplicably, women were not given the vote and did not have the right to sit in this House. To our generation, that is incomprehensible. It is a change that always should have happened, and I am very glad that it did.
With apologies to the Scottish nationalists, I offer my good wishes to the England, Wales and Northern Ireland football teams in the European championship that is due to start this weekend. I very much hope that all of us here will cheer on all the home nations as they play their matches in the weeks ahead. [Interruption.] I am asked what this has got to do with the Leader of the House, but half the things that the shadow Leader of the House mentions have nothing at all to do with the business of the House—talk about pots and kettles, Mr Speaker! [Interruption.]
If I can shut up the shadow Leader of the House for a moment, let me confirm something that he would like to hear. We will be flying the rainbow flag from the top of Portcullis House to mark Pride weekend in London from 24 to 27 June. It looks like that has shut him up, Mr Speaker.
On the boundaries issues, let me remind Members that the current boundaries are based on figures from the 2001 census. In no way is that fair; in no way is it right and proper. In future, the boundaries will be based on figures that are updated every five years, and it is right and proper that, given concerns about the nature of our register, reforms be put in place to ensure that it is robust, appropriate and honest in a democracy.
The hon. Gentleman asked about the private Members’ Bills report. We will respond to it shortly, as is due process.
I have given question of the Welsh Grand Committee careful thought, as I said I would a few weeks ago in the House. English is the language of the House of Commons, and it would cost taxpayers’ money to make a change at this point. I therefore think that English should continue to be the language of the House, although if someone who cannot speak English arrives here, we may need to look at the issue again.
The hon. Gentleman mentioned next week’s Opposition day debate on Europe. I was delighted to see that, notwithstanding the lively debate we are having in this country at the moment, the April figures for our manufacturing sector showed an improvement, which is a sign that the economic improvement over which we have presided since 2010 is continuing.
I am delighted that the hon. Gentleman managed to pay a visit to my constituency this week, and to speak to my local Labour party. He was, and always is, most welcome in Epsom and Ewell. I am sure that, in the event that things become too tough in Rhondda and the threat from Plaid Cymru becomes too great, my local Labour party will be delighted to welcome him as its candidate in 2020.
Given the repeated poor performances by Govia Thameslink Railway, which are adversely affecting thousands of my constituents, will a Minister make a statement on what is being done to improve services on the line?
I am well aware of that issue, which has been raised by a number of other Members on both sides of the House. I know that the rail Minister is concerned about it, and the company should certainly be immensely concerned about it. This is obviously a difficult time because of the improvements at London Bridge, but the Secretary of State for Transport will be here later this month and I shall expect my hon. Friend and others to raise the issue then, because I know that it is causing concern to a great many constituents.
I thank the Leader of the House for his statement, although I suspect that the business on 27 June may be rather more interesting than what is currently billed.
This week, Ministers appear to have been working tirelessly. It is just a shame that they have spent all their energy on attacking each other rather than running the country effectively. That is why we need an urgent debate on the Government’s abject failure to manage the online voter registration system. Amid that embarrassing disaster, the employment Minister has called the Prime Minister “shameful” and “out of touch”, and the Justice Secretary has labelled the Government's own policies “corrosive of public trust”. Imagine what the rest of us think, Mr Speaker.
Let us also have a debate on immigration policy. Some current Tory Ministers have been touring the country declaring that when Brexit is secured Britain will kick migrants from the EU out and pave the way to letting more migrants from the Commonwealth in. Aye, we believe them—not. At the same time, other Minsters are trying to deport people like the Brain family from Dingwall, who are from another Commonwealth country. While all that has been going on, the Justice Secretary has stated that he wants to crack down on immigration to the UK altogether. Ministers are saying one thing to one part of the country, and telling a different tale to another. Just who are people to believe?
You will be aware, Mr Speaker, that the debate on the Investigatory Powers Bill earlier this week featured a range of patronising and condescending remarks by Tory Back Benchers, directed particularly at women on these Benches. That was unfortunately repeated during yesterday’s Westminster Hall debate on the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia, in which I participated. There were continual suggestions that we “don’t understand”. May we have a debate on “mansplaining”, and the fact that male Tory Back Benchers are not the only ones to have been elected to the House with an understanding of difficult and complex issues? The House will then find that women are very good at it too. I shall be happy to elaborate further if the Leader of the House needs any help in explaining that to his Back Benchers.
Let me start by reminding the hon. Lady that, if I am not mistaken, a few days ago the leader of her own party criticised the European referendum campaign of which she was part. I am not certain that the SNP is entirely aligned on this one.
The hon. Lady told us about the work that the House had done this week. Notwithstanding the fact that we are having the most serious debate that we have had in this country for a generation, the House is getting on with the important business of protecting the country from the security threats we face. I was grateful to the Labour party for the constructive way in which it approached that debate, but it was disappointing that, on a matter of national security, the SNP lined up in the Division Lobby against measures that we believe are essential to protect our citizens.
The hon. Lady talks about the legal position of migrants. As we are having this debate and people will be listening to it, it is worth being very clear about what the position is. Under the Vienna convention, regardless of the referendum, the legal position of anyone who lives in another country is that their position is protected if the nature of the residency arrangements in that country changes. I do not think that any of us, on either side of this debate, should give an alternative impression to people who might be worried about their position afterwards.
I would never in any way condone patronising comments towards women in this House. However, it is perfectly fair to say that the Scottish National party does not understand the importance of defence issues to this country. Its policies make no sense. Its arguments would do damage to Scotland, economically and in defence terms, and if we challenge them on them, it is right and proper to do so.
May I come back to the thorny issue of Avon and Somerset police force? The chief constable is under investigation. He and the police and crime commissioner tried to come to see me, and they are trying to influence MPs about what is going on with the serious sexual allegation against the chief constable. He is still in post. It is causing problems with the police force in Avon and Somerset. We really need a debate in this place to find out what is happening. This is a sizeable police force, covering Bristol and the Somerset area. Unless we get to the bottom of what is happening, we may have at least a problem with justice and possibly a travesty of justice.
My hon. Friend makes his point in his customary robust way, and he clearly raises issues that will be of very great concern to his constituents and to others elsewhere in the county. The Home Secretary will be here on Monday, so he will have a direct opportunity to raise this issue with her, and I am sure that he will do so.
May we have a debate in the near future on the political situation in Northern Ireland—thankfully, not because of any crisis, but because we should celebrate the fact that we are now embarking on the third term of uninterrupted devolution in Northern Ireland? We had very successful Assembly elections—certainly as far as our party is concerned. A debate will allow us time to debunk the nonsense being spoken today by the former Prime Minister, Tony Blair, about the peace process and the political process in Northern Ireland being under threat if we vote to leave the European Union. Surely that is the most irresponsible sort of talk that can be perpetuated in Northern Ireland. It is very dangerous and destabilising, and it should not be happening.
I pay tribute to all the political parties in Northern Ireland. The recent elections were characterised by being immensely dull, and that is a real tribute to the political progress that has been made in Northern Ireland. The fact that there was an election campaign based on detailed discussion about detailed issues—
And we won.
I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on his success. He will agree that we should be immensely proud of having a routine election campaign about local issues without the controversies of the past. [Interruption.] The shadow Leader of the House cannot shut up and cannot recognise the progress that has been made in Northern Ireland, and I commend everyone who has been involved in it.
Order. All this shouting from a sedentary position is very unstatesmanlike. It is not the sort of thing that I would ever have done.
Child and adolescent mental health must be a priority for local health services and every local authority. May we have a debate on the extra measures that we can implement to ensure that the framework is effective in providing the necessary support for some of the most vulnerable in our society?
The Government can boast of a good record in this area. We are already implementing measures that will deliver additional childcare for very young children, which will give their parents the opportunity to get into the workplace and bring a sense of direction and purpose to their households. We are also bringing forward measures, which are about to be discussed in the other place, that will help tackle issues around the adoption system and the care system. We have a good message to tell about what we are doing, and I hope that every local authority up and down the country will give this issue the importance that my hon. Friend rightly says it should have.
I thank the Leader of the House for the business statement and for the news that there will be a Backbench business day on Thursday 30 June. I also particularly welcome the half-day debate, on the previous day, Wednesday 29 June, on the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme. I shall travel to the Somme on that day to join many members of the Northumberland Fusiliers Association. The Northumberland Fusiliers were heavily involved in the first few days of the battle, with battalions such as the Tyneside Scottish, the Tyneside Irish and the Newcastle Commercial battalion being heavily involved on the front line as hostilities began on 1 July.
I also ask the House to note that the membership of the Backbench Business Committee has now been concluded. The details are in today’s Order Paper. I welcome the new members, the hon. Members for Aldridge-Brownhills (Wendy Morton) and for Hazel Grove (William Wragg), to the Committee. I should also like to place on record my personal thanks to the hon. Members for Kettering (Mr Hollobone) and for Wellingborough (Mr Bone) for their service to the Committee and to the House over the past 12 months.
I echo the hon. Gentleman’s thanks to my two hon. Friends. I wish all the new members of the Committee well, and I congratulate him on returning to his position as its Chairman. There will be many opportunities for Members to seek opportunities for debates from his Committee over the coming months, and I look forward to seeing the range of topics that they bring forward for debate. I also pay tribute to him and to all those who will be going to celebrate the anniversary of the Battle of the Somme. In fact, it is not a celebration; they will be going to mark that anniversary. People are absolutely right to say that we should do everything we can to prevent such a conflict from happening in Europe ever again, and we should particularly note the role played by the NATO alliance over the past 75 years, and the role that our American friends have played in that transatlantic alliance to help us to keep the peace in Europe. Long may that alliance continue.
We know that 76% of all suicides are men. The figure in this country is nearly 5,000 a year and those who are most affected are in the age group between 45 and 59. May we have a debate on what more local councils and local health authorities can do to reduce that alarming rate?
This is a subject of increasing importance. The rise in suicides among young men in particular is deeply alarming. The Secretary of State for Health takes this issue very seriously indeed and he is working on upgrading the national suicide prevention strategy. As a Government, we will do everything we can, and we are already putting additional resources into mental health treatments in the health service to try to tackle this and other problems. We are working immensely hard to tackle this.
In regard to parliamentary representation for women, it is worth remembering that in 1912 a future Labour Cabinet member, George Lansbury, resigned his London east end seat in protest against women being denied the right to vote and to be represented in the House of Commons. He subsequently fought a by-election, which unfortunately he did not win, although he came back to the House in due course. Does the Leader of the House agree that it would be useful to have a debate shortly on what is happening to women abroad? Yesterday, a 17-year-old woman in Pakistan was burnt to death by her family because they disagreed with her marriage, and it is said that 1,000 women a year in Pakistan are murdered in the same way. Despite all the progress we have made in this country, the suffering that goes on and the murder of women should be remembered, fought over and debated, and we should try in every way possible to end it.
It is a great pleasure to find something on which the hon. Gentleman and I entirely agree. The treatment of women in some societies around the world is absolutely atrocious, and we as a leading nation in the world should always seek to improve that situation. We should use what influence we have around the world to change other regimes in other countries and to create a world that is more enlightened and more supportive towards women and that treats them in the way they should be treated.
May we have a debate on blood cancer? Next week, I am pleased to be starting the new all-party parliamentary group on blood cancer—Tuesday at 2 o’clock, room N, Portcullis House—and I would be grateful if the Leader of the House considered granting time for such a discussion.
I wish my hon. Friend well in establishing his new group. The great benefit of all-party groups is the strengthening of ties between this House and those outside who are affected by conditions such as blood cancer. It is an important part of the work of individual Members of Parliament, and I commend him for what he is doing.
When I was a Minister at the Department of Trade and Industry—now Business, Innovation and Skills—I was given a draft of an answer to a colleague’s parliamentary question to sign off that said that they would have a full answer by the end of autumn. The Prime Minister’s long-awaited decision on the Airports Commission is still awaited, but he said yesterday at PMQs that we would get a decision “in the summer”. Can the Leader of the House clarify whether the September fortnight is part of the summer session or the autumn session?
Formally, summer will depend upon the weather, but I assure the hon. Gentleman that the decision will come shortly. We have taken time over the decision because, rightly, Members of the House and on the Opposition Front Bench—[Interruption.] We hear them chirruping yet again. They have asked us to take immense care over the issue of air pollution in the United Kingdom, so we have been careful to consider the impact of nitrous oxide emissions around Heathrow to ensure that we get the final decision between the two choices right.
The Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016 were dealt with under the negative resolution procedure. Despite the statutory instrument’s provenance, much of it is commendable and will help in the fight against tobacco-related disease. However, may we have a debate on the paragraphs relating to e-cigarettes and vaping? ASH, Cancer Research UK, the Faculty of Public Health and the Royal College of Physicians are concerned that the paragraphs will be unhelpful in reducing the toll that tobacco takes.
I am very much aware of the issue that my hon. Friend raises. He is right that the measures have been carefully considered by the appropriate Committees of the House and have been debated and discussed in Brussels. I note his concerns and will ensure that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health understands the concerns that exist on the Government Benches and were raised through the Standing Order No. 24 application yesterday by my hon. Friend the Member for St Albans (Mrs Main).
We are now less than four weeks away from the publication of the Chilcot report and the former Prime Minister is back, haunting the television studios like some unwanted poltergeist, reassembling his old gang and getting his retaliation and excuses in first, all of which should give us some indication and encouragement that the report’s verdict will be damning—he has of course seen it—as indeed it should be. What will the parliamentary response be? Will there be a statement on the day of the report’s publication? Will the Opposition parties get sight of it under secure conditions? Will there be a debate in the following week? Will it be on the Adjournment? Will it be on a substantive motion? The Government have had a long, long time to think about this, and perhaps the Leader of the House can enlighten us on the parliamentary response to Chilcot.
Let me be clear that there will need to be discussions between the parties about exactly how we handle advance sight of the document, but it is of course essential that the House is able to question and discuss the report, even though it is not a Government report. I give the right hon. Gentleman the assurance that such opportunities will be provided.
As for the reappearance of the former Prime Minister in the media, it is noticeable that he has been omnipresent recently. The right hon. Gentleman might have noticed his interesting contribution today, in which he accused the current leader of the Labour party of changing it from a party of power into a party of protest, with which I, and probably even the shadow Leader of the House, agree.
Constituents of mine with relatives who have severe mental health problems often want to be close to them and to support them however they can, but are frustrated by the understandable confidentiality that mental health professionals must observe in relation to their patients. May we have a debate on how we can protect both patient confidentiality and the understandable desire of people to do their best for relatives who are suffering?
It is a really difficult issue and one that all of us have come across in our capacity as constituency Members. A relative who wants to do the right thing may or may not be doing the right thing, and professionals have to make difficult judgments about giving relatives access to information. It is an issue to which there is no right or wrong answer, but I will ensure that the Secretary of State for Health is aware that my hon. Friend has raised those concerns and he will perhaps respond to them directly.
May I remind the Leader of the House that on joining this House some of us took the Oath in both English and Welsh, so will he look again at the proposal to use Welsh in the Welsh Grand Committee? Some of us did not speak English until we were aged five. Most of us are now bilingual, but nevertheless the Welsh language and its status are very important.
I absolutely understand the need to protect the Welsh language, and across different Administrations over the last generation extensive steps have been taken to protect the Welsh language and make it part of routine life in Wales. My question to the right hon. Lady, however, is about whether, at a time of financial pressure, it is really sensible for us to be spending taxpayers’ money in a House where the prime language, the main language, the official language is English and when we have Members of this House who talk in that language. As long as that is the case, although I have considered the matter carefully, I do not believe that we should change things.
The Prime Minister has said that the EU budget has been cut, so I thought that I would check with the House of Commons Library. I do not think that these figures have been published, but according to the Library our net contribution to the European Union will increase by more than £2.7 billion this year—to £2,727,000. That does not seem to be a cut, so may we have a statement from the Government next week explaining the situation?
Fortunately, courtesy of the Opposition’s debate choice next Wednesday my hon. Friend will have the opportunity to ask questions and make a speech about these issues in this Chamber. I have no doubt, given his assiduousness in these matters, that he will ensure that he does so.
Or even his assiduity.
As the Leader of the House will know, this Sunday marks the start of Diabetes Awareness Week. Will he join me in congratulating Diabetes UK on this important campaign? Although 3 million people have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, including me, 1 million people still do not know that they have diabetes. May we have a statement next week about the Government’s response to Diabetes Awareness Week? Will the Leader of the House personally show his support—this has nothing to do with the excitement of the EU referendum campaign—and visit a pharmacy or GP in his constituency and have a diabetes test to encourage others to do so?
The right hon. Gentleman makes an important point. This condition affects large numbers of people, as he rightly says, and there are people who are not aware that they suffer from diabetes. I will give him that assurance, although probably not over the next two weeks—there is quite a lot on. I will give him a commitment that I will have that test at some point over the next few weeks and months, because that would make an important point. We, as local Members of Parliament, could well follow his suggestion to raise awareness of diabetes in our constituencies.
Will the Leader of the House arrange for a statement to be made urgently by the Prime Minister or the Foreign Secretary about the Government’s position on Turkish membership of the EU? In 2010, the Prime Minister said:
“I’m here to make the case for Turkey’s membership of the EU. And to fight for it.”
In 2014, he said:
“In terms of Turkish membership of the EU, I very much support that.”
Last night, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who seems to be prepared to say anything at all to secure a remain vote, no matter how ludicrous, was saying that Turkey would never join the European Union. May we have an urgent statement to clear up this difference of opinion between the Chancellor and the Prime Minister and, in the meantime, will the Leader of the House confirm that it is still the Government’s position that Turkey should be able to join the European Union and that British taxpayers’ money is still being used to help Turkey’s accession to the European Union?
I am sure that my hon. Friend’s comments will have been noted by the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary and, of course, the Prime Minister will be back in this House next Wednesday before we go into recess. Notwithstanding questions about timing, it is still the Government’s policy that in due course Turkey should join the European Union.
I was recently contacted by several constituents who were looking to purchase the freeholds of their properties, which were built a few years ago. My constituents had found that the developers who originally built the properties had sold the freeholds on to private investment companies, who were now asking for three or four times the original asking price to purchase those freeholds. I know there is a process to resolve these issues, but it is lengthy, complex and expensive, so may we please have a debate on what can be done to simplify that process and give people some comfort that the homes they have bought are not being used by third parties as part of some speculative investment strategy?
This issue obviously affects a great many people and, where there are set processes, it should not be possible for any freeholder to exploit an individual leaseholder by contravening the rules. The amounts payable are calculated according to a formula that is set down in law, and should not be exploitable. If the hon. Gentleman has identified cases where this is not happening and from which there are lessons to be learned, I ask him to write to me, and I will pass the matter on to my colleagues in the Department for Communities and Local Government and ask them to take a detailed look at the concerns he has identified.
May we please have a debate on how this House responds to the very diligent work of the European Scrutiny Committee? At a time when the nation is just two weeks away from taking the most important decision in a generation, it is inexplicable why there are no less than eight documents—
There are no fewer than eight documents covering a range of important topics, such as free movement and the European Union charter of fundamental rights, all of which have been recommended by the European Scrutiny Committee for debate on the Floor of this House.
Mr Speaker, I have a proposal for the House. We know that the shadow Leader of the House is a champion of charities. May I suggest that we all sponsor him in a sponsored silence to raise funds for his chosen charities?
On the subject of European Scrutiny Committee timetables, of course there are opportunities in the next few days, particularly next Wednesday on the Opposition day, to debate many of those issues, but I do understand the point that my hon. Friend the Member for Bury North (Mr Nuttall) makes. We sought in the previous Session to make more time available for debate, and I will ensure that we look again to see that we can do that in the coming Session.
May we please have a debate about the excellent work that charities, such as KIDS in Hull, do, working with children with disabilities and their families? They provide services commissioned by Hull City Council. I am really concerned that, given the cuts to local authorities, great charities like that are now finding that their funding is being cut or reduced and that services to the most vulnerable in our communities will disappear.
It is always a great disappointment when we hear about local authorities—all too often Labour authorities—that are not innovative enough when it comes to dealing with financial pressures. There are some great councils around the country that are dealing with those pressures in a thoughtful way, pooling resources with neighbours and avoiding the cuts to front-line services that the right hon. Lady describes. I would simply ask her to urge her local authority to look for those examples and ensure that best practice keeps those services in Hull.
The Leader of the House has just confirmed that it is the policy of Her Majesty’s Government to encourage Turkish accession to the European Union. Indeed, we are paying £170 million a year to help Turkey and four other applicant countries join. In the borough of Kettering there are about 5,000 migrants from eastern Europe, from a population of 72 million, 12 years after accession. Given that the population of Turkey is 76 million, that means that the people of Kettering face the very real prospect of having at least 5,000 Turkish migrants 10 or 12 years after Turkish accession—something that would transform the borough of Kettering. May we have an urgent statement from the appropriate Minister about why on earth we are spending £170 million a year on promoting this madness?
I know that my hon. Friend feels passionately about these issues and is making these points during the course of the campaign that he is part of. There will be an opportunity next week in this House to debate matters related to the European Union, and I am sure he will also take advantage of that opportunity to raise the issues he has brought up today.
Constituents of mine in Motherwell and Wishaw have waited well over a year for a decision on their asylum applications. In that time, they have placed no financial burden on the UK. May we have a debate in Government time on the length of time still being taken to process and to make decisions on asylum applications?
Of course, it is not true to say that asylum seekers place no burden on the United Kingdom, because we do both provide accommodation for asylum seekers and support poor asylum seekers. That money comes from somewhere; it does not come from thin air.
We are all committed to seeking to get the fairest, speediest possible system for asylum in this country. We have a long tradition of being a refuge—a safe haven—for people escaping persecution, and that should always continue, but it is important that we do not allow our asylum system to become a veil for economic migration. They are different things and they should remain so.
The Humberston Fitties is a unique community in the Cleethorpes constituency consisting of holiday homes. Yesterday North East Lincolnshire Council ruled that residents will be able to occupy their homes for only eight months of the year, rather than 10 months, as has been the case for many years previously. That is partly a result of guidance or rulings from the Environment Agency and other bodies. May we have a debate to clear up the confusion between what is guidance and what is a statutory instruction from such agencies to local authorities?
I sometimes wish local authorities would make that distinction. The intention is to give them options to pursue, rather than telling them exactly what they should do. Local circumstances vary around the country, and when the participation of residents of holiday homes is lost for part of the year, that can have an economic impact. My hon. Friend has made an important point and I hope his local authority will take a long, hard look at what it must do and what is right for its area, and not simply tick a box because it thinks it must.
A number of my constituents have suffered long delays in having their Disclosure and Barring Service applications processed, particularly where those have been processed via the Metropolitan police, and more than one has fallen into serious debt as a result of not being able to take up employment as a result. May we have a statement or a debate on how we can tackle this problem and resource the service properly?
I know that this problem crops up from time to time for all of us as Members of Parliament. I have had experiences similar to that of the hon. Gentleman. The Home Secretary and the Policing Minister will be here on Monday. The hon. Gentleman will have the opportunity to put that question to them and ask what can be done to improve things.
My constituent Susan Fleeting contacted me regarding the tragic case of her son Robert, who died a non-combat death while serving in the armed forces in an English military base. Mrs Fleeting, like many similar families affected, cannot gain closure as there is no automatic inquest by jury into Robert’s death. Families require that we debate this important issue so that Mrs Fleeting, for her late son, and all armed forces personnel are assured of rigour and justice in the face of tragedy.
Of course, anyone who loses a child in unexplained circumstances should have information and should understand what happened. I will make sure that the Secretary of State for Defence is aware of the concerns that the hon. Lady has raised. She might like to write to me or to him giving more details. He will be here on the Monday after the referendum and I am sure he will be happy to take that question and give her a proper response.
The pub code, which is designed to give some measure of protection to pub tenants against the sometimes appalling behaviour of pubcos, was meant to be implemented on 28 May, but so far the Government have put nothing before the House. When will the Government bring forward a statutory instrument so that we can get the code in place to protect tenants?
I believe the answer is very shortly, but I will write to the hon. Lady and give her more detailed information about what is planned.
I draw the attention of the Leader of the House to early-day motion 68.
[That this House notes that Kamuran Yuksek of the Democratic Regions Party was in the UK on 25 April 2016 addressing a meeting in the House of Commons at the launch of the trade union Freedom for Ocalan Campaign; further notes that he spoke eloquently on the need for a peaceful settlement to the Kurdish question and expressed similar views in the Kurdish media; notes that on the evening of 10 May 2016 Mr Yuksek was taken away by Turkish police following an arrest warrant by the Public Prosecutor in Diyarbakir, while his house and office were raided by the police; believes the motivation for Mr Yuksek's detention is purely political; notes that he is the latest in a long list of journalists, lawyers, trade unionists, politicians, academics and human rights defenders who have been incarcerated for having the temerity to criticise the authoritarian regime of President Erdogan who has unleashed a genocidal war against the Kurdish population; believes the behaviour of the Turkish authorities to be outrageous and unacceptable; and calls for the immediate release of Kamuran Yuksek.]
The motion demands the release of Kamuran Yuksek, the leader of the Democratic Regions party, who is currently incarcerated by the Turkish authorities. May we have a statement or a debate in Government time on the outrageous and unacceptable behaviour of the Turkish authorities towards the Kurdish population?
The hon. Gentleman makes an important point. All of us regard with some concern some of the recent developments in Turkey. As a Government we urge the Turkish Administration to follow all the principles of democracy and fair justice in a democratic society. It is in their interests to do so, and if they aspire to join the European Union in future, whether we are in it or out of it, they will have to do that.
I refer to early-day motion 155.
[That this House congratulates the BBC for a vivid and restrained account of the suffering of the loved ones of the British soldier Tom Keys who was killed in the Iraq War caused, in his father's opinion, by the lie of the threat from non-existent weapons of mass destruction; looks forward to the publication of the Chilcot Inquiry Report, but is concerned that attempts may be made to invent a fictionalised history of the reasons for the UK's involvement in the second Iraq War; and recalls a letter sent to Tony Blair by the hon. Member for Newport West in March 2003 which warned that the world would be a more dangerous place at the end of hostilities in Iraq than it was before, and that the UK's involvement in President Bush’s Iraq War would deepen the sense of grievance among Muslims that the Western and Christian world seeks to oppress them and that this would provide a propaganda victory to Osama bin Laden that would increase his support and the likelihood of more acts of terrorism.]
When may we debate the motion about the Iraq war, a decision of this House that resulted in the deaths of 179 of our brave British soldiers, and the need for a new and swift inquiry—a parliamentary inquiry—into a decision of this House that resulted in the deaths of 438 of our courageous British soldiers? That was the decision in 2006 where only six of our soldiers had died in combat, and the decision was to go into Helmand province in the belief that not a shot would be fired. In the interests of informing our future conduct, is it not right that we set up that inquiry into the Helmand incursion as swiftly as possible and understand the consequences of that terrible decision?
The hon. Gentleman talks about separate inquiries, but we have the vehicles in this House for carrying out such inquiries; the job of Select Committees is to carry out precisely the kinds of investigations and lesson-learning that he has just described. It is always open to the Defence Committee, and indeed the Foreign Affairs Committee, to carry out such work if they so wish.
Further to the question from the vice-chair of the save the pub all-party group, the hon. Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Louise Haigh), having had a year to get the pubs code in place, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills then pulled it. Tenants are being denied a legal right that is laid down in the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015. BIS is refusing to give a date for when the code will finally come in, so may we have a statement on that? Can the statement also confirm that the code will apply retrospectively to the dates set down in legislation to ensure that those who are currently being denied their legal right get it?
As I said, I will get a proper response to the hon. Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Louise Haigh), and I will ensure that the hon. Gentleman is copied into it. The Secretary of State will be here on the Tuesday after the referendum, when both hon. Members will have an opportunity to raise the matter.
The Leader of the House and the Prime Minister have rightly condemned anti-Semitism, yet under our constitutional set-up a Prime Minister of Jewish or Catholic faith would be expressly forbidden from undertaking some of their duties, and the monarch still has to be of Anglican faith and is expressly forbidden from being of Catholic faith. Is the Leader of the House going to bring forward any plans to change these arrangements, or is he happy with a set-up that is effectively anti-Semitic and sectarian?
I hate to disappoint the hon. Gentleman, but disestablishment is not on the Government’s agenda at the moment; there is quite a lot to deal with, and that is not top of our list.
This week the all-party group on international freedom of religion or belief released a report entitled, “Fleeing Persecution: Asylum Claims in the UK on Religious Freedom Grounds”. It highlights the shortfall in the number of caseworkers who determine asylum applicants on religious grounds and outlines 10 points for improvement. Will the Leader of the House agree to a statement on what steps the Home Office is planning to take to ensure that caseworkers are adequately trained to assess claims by individuals seeking asylum on religious grounds?
This is obviously a sensitive area, and we have to take great care with it. Of course we want to provide refuge to people fleeing religious persecution, but we need to ensure that our system is robust and that the people we are dealing with really are who they say they are. Great care is already taken to do that. The Home Secretary will be here on Monday, so if the hon. Gentleman has further thoughts about what we should be doing, I suggest that he raise them with her then.
I draw the Leader of the House’s attention to early-day motion 175, which I tabled yesterday to mark the fourth anniversary of the Istanbul convention on preventing violence against women and girls.
[That this House notes that 8 June 2016 marks the fourth anniversary of the UK Government becoming a signatory to the Istanbul Convention on violence against women and girls; expresses disappointment that the Government, despite outlining their commitment to do so several times, has still failed to ratify this important convention; recognises that women still face a significant amount of inequality, with one in four women experiencing some form of domestic, sexual or psychological abuse during their lifetimes; further notes that ratifying the Istanbul Convention should ensure that a series of preventative policies will be introduced to help tackle and end violence against women, such as non-violent conflict resolution in relationships and the right to personal integrity being included in school curricula at all levels; congratulates the campaign group ICchange for their continuing work in applying pressure on the Government to ratify the convention; and calls on the Government to accede to this pressure and ensure ratification as soon as possible.]
I have sought debates on the matter through the Table Office, but with no joy. May we therefore have a debate in Government time to get to the bottom of why the Government have failed to ratify this important convention?
The hon. Gentleman has a number of different options for pursuing these issues, such as Adjournment debates or the Backbench Business Committee. I am sure that the Chair of the Committee, who is in the Chamber, has listened carefully to what the hon. Gentleman has said. If other Members share his concern, I am sure that the Committee will consider that possibility.