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Business of the House

Volume 615: debated on Thursday 20 October 2016

The business for next week will be as follows:

Monday 24 October—Second Reading of the Health Services Medical Supplies (Costs) Bill.

Tuesday 25 October—Second Reading of the Criminal Finances Bill.

Wednesday 26 October—Opposition day (10th allotted day). There will be a debate on Concentrix, followed by a debate on Yemen. Both debates will arise on an Opposition motion.

Thursday 27 October—A motion to approve the first report 2016-17 from the Committee of Privileges, followed by a debate on a motion on the Youth Parliament Select Committee report on young people’s mental health. The subject for this debate was determined by the Backbench Business Committee.

Friday 28 October—Private Members’ Bills.

The provisional business for the week commencing 31 October will include:

Monday 31 October—Second Reading of the Cultural Property (Armed Conflicts) [Lords] Bill.

Tuesday 1 November—Consideration of Lords amendments.

Wednesday 2 November—Opposition day (11th allotted day). There will be a debate on an Opposition motion. Subject to be announced.

Thursday 3 November—Business to be nominated by the Backbench Business Committee.

Friday 4 November—Private Members’ Bills.

I should also like to inform the House that the business in Westminster Hall for 17 and 24 November will be as follows:

Thursday 17 November—A debate on the first report from the Environmental Audit Committee on soil health.

Thursday 24 November—A debate on the first report from the International Development Committee on UK implementation of the sustainable development goals.

When I was first appointed to this job, I was told, “There’s no power.” I am therefore pleased that after I raised the issue of Marmite last week, we got a result by the end of the day. Bob Dylan has been awarded the Nobel prize for literature but has not contacted the academy, so we say to Bob, “Please contact the academy.” I thank the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire (Pete Wishart) for his kind comments last week. As a composer, perhaps he can spot the subliminal messages to Bob.

We are governed by a Government of urgent questions and, if we are lucky, statements. Now we are to have a statement on the crisis in the funding of pharmacies. However, it took an urgent question by my hon. Friend the Member for Barnsley East (Michael Dugher), which you granted, Mr Speaker, to get the Minister to come to the House today. May I ask the Leader of the House, why a statement and not a debate? The Minister responsible has said that the Government have proposed a way to reduce the £2.8 billion currently paid to the sector, but that the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee has rejected it. In February, the Health Secretary said that

“pharmacists have a very important part in the future of the NHS.”—[Official Report, 11 February 2016; Vol. 605, c. 1775.]

So why the cuts?

On 25 April, the Health Secretary commended the important role

“that pharmacies can play in solving absolutely any problem that the NHS faces.”—[Official Report, 25 April 2016; Vol. 608, c. 1170.]

And in July this year, he said that

“this is the right moment to rethink the role of pharmacies, and consider whether we can be better at tapping into the incredible skills that pharmacists have as trained clinicians, which I do not think we make the most of.”—[Official Report, 5 July 2016; Vol. 612, c. 733.]

So why the cuts? The Health Secretary is a jokerman. If it’s all good, why is he cutting the budget for the sector, much of which is made up of small businesses on which many communities rely as a lifeline?

For the second time this week, we have government by urgent question. Only last week I mentioned the reversal of the economic policy of the right hon. Member for Tatton (Mr Osborne), and here comes another reversal. May we have a full debate, not just a statement or an urgent question, on the sale of annuities? Dragged to the House on a U-turn so spectacular that we cannot see around the bend, the poor Minister responsible said that after extensive research, it was clear that a secondary market would not be able to offer this scheme. There were many unanswered questions. For instance, when did the Government first do the extensive research? Did the former Chancellor not look at the evidence in March 2015, or was this just a means of stimulating the economy using people’s hard-earned savings while pursuing austerity measures? The answer, Mr Speaker, is blowin’ in the wind.

Will the Leader of the House make a statement to explain what the Secretary of State for International Development meant when she said that the Government cannot reveal their hand on negotiations to exit the EU because one does not do so when one plays poker? Poker, Mr Speaker? Are the Government gambling with the lives of the British people? Even Margaret Thatcher had a negotiating position. It was “No, no, no”, or “I want a rebate”. The Government say that they cannot reveal a negotiating position; we say that that is basic accountability. The only answer from the Government is that a hard Brexit’s a-gonna fall.

The debate or statement on airport expansion in the south-east, which was scheduled for next week, has now been postponed yet again. The Prime Minister made her intentions clear, but only in a response to the hon. Member for Bedford (Richard Fuller) at Prime Minister’s questions. She said that

“this Government will take a decision, but then a formal process has to be undertaken. The Government will identify their preferred site option. ?That will go to a statutory consultation, and then the Government will consider the results of that consultation”.—[Official Report, 20 October 2016; Vol. 615, c. 802.]

I think that is Davies part 2. What of the timetable for implementation—the second part of the question that was not answered—and the further work on noise pollution, environmental issues and compensation from Davies part 1? Will those take place? Members of the Cabinet are on different sides of the debate—they are all tangled up in blue.

I want to place on record my thanks to the former Prime Minister and his wife Samantha for their unstinting support for epilepsy charities, much of which goes unnoticed.

Tomorrow, we remember the 50th anniversary of the Aberfan disaster in which 114 children and 28 adults lost their lives. I hope that wherever a flag is flown in our one nation tomorrow, it will be at half-mast.

Our colleague, friend and supporter of the vulnerable, Jo Cox, gave great service to her country through her public service, and so rightly deserves a plaque in this Chamber.

Jean, Gordon and Kim Leadbeter and Brendan Cox should not have had to bury their daughter, sister and wife, and her adored children should not have had to grow up without their mother. Our love to them all. May she rest in peace.

May I first deal with the two very serious points that the hon. Lady raised at the end of her remarks? I am sure that every single Member of the House will want to mark the appalling tragedy in Aberfan when the anniversary is commemorated tomorrow. None of us can ever forget—even if we were fairly young children at the time—the searing impact of the photographs and news coverage of what happened there. The images and the visible grief of the families are still clear in the memory. So too, as my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said yesterday, is the fact that those who might have been able to prevent the tragedy in the first place did not act in fulfilment of their responsibilities and did not, until forced to do so, own up to their responsibilities until we had an independent inquiry some years later.

Solidarity with Aberfan will unite the House, as will sympathy with the family of our late colleague, Jo Cox. I know that the matter of the commemorative shield is very high on your agenda, Mr Speaker. I pay tribute to the Parliament choir, which exists as an all-party parliamentary group and, with the agreement of Jo’s family, has commissioned a new choral composition that will be performed in her memory at a forthcoming concert.

On the political points, I was not sure whether the hon. Lady was complaining about there having been too many urgent questions. I felt that there was a certain retrospective character to her comments. On pharmacies, as she knows, there will be a statement by the Under-Secretary of State for Health, my hon. Friend the Member for Warrington South (David Mowat), after business questions this morning, in which he will set out in detail the Government’s approach to community pharmacies. It is very important that we ensure not just that the money going to the national health service is sustained and increased, as the Government are doing, but that every last penny that goes to the NHS is spent to give patients the best possible value. We need to look at community pharmacy within primary, secondary and tertiary health care to ensure that we get the best possible value out of every penny of precious NHS funding that is spent.

On the hon. Lady’s point about the sale of annuities, as my hon. Friend the Economic Secretary to the Treasury said yesterday, the Government made a thorough and honest assessment of the prospects for a genuine market in secondary annuities, and we reluctantly came to the conclusion that to have gone ahead with the measures originally envisaged would not have been of benefit to the very group of consumers who were looking to a secondary annuities market to provide them with some relief, because the products were simply not going to be available to give them the additional safeguards and opportunities that they were seeking.

I struggle to understand the Opposition’s position on the negotiating position that the Government are adopting for the forthcoming European Union negotiations. I would have thought that whether we are talking about politics, business or any other walk of life, if we are about to start a very important and wide-ranging negotiation, the last thing that we should do is advertise the detail of our negotiating position so that the people with whom we are negotiating can see everything spread out in front of them. The Opposition need to wake up and realise that the people who would be most delighted if they got their way are the people with whom we will be negotiating across the table.

Finally, on the hon. Lady’s point about airports, as the Prime Minister said, the Government will make an announcement in the near future about which of the options proposed in the Davies report we will adopt. The Davies report said that any of the three options that it proposed would be deliverable and sustainable. The Government will, of course, comply with the requirement of statutory consultation following that announcement, which the Labour Government put in place. That helps to account for the delay about which she is now complaining.

I have to say that if there is one thing that is blowin’ in the wind this morning, it is the coherence of the Labour party’s ideas about policy. I do not know whether Labour Members are sleeping well at night, but it is very clear to me that there is no place they’re going to.

Order. As usual, a very large number of hon. and right hon. Members are seeking to catch my eye. As colleagues will know, my normal practice is to call everybody on these occasions, but there are exceptions. Today, there is a statement on community pharmacy to follow, and there are two very heavily subscribed debates to take place under the auspices of the Backbench Business Committee. Therefore, it may not be possible to call everyone today, but if I am to have any chance of doing so, there is a premium upon brevity, which will be brilliantly exemplified by Mr Philip Davies.

May we have a statement urgently from the Government about the farce of allowing the child refugees into the country? The Home Office has admitted that two thirds of successful applicants as child refugees are actually adults. Today, Jack Straw has said that we need to do better on age checks, as the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Hodge Hill (Liam Byrne), did when he was the Immigration Minister. That is a serious concern to many of our constituents. May we have an urgent statement on what the Government are going to do to make sure that the child refugees are actually children?

We do work closely with the French authorities to ensure that all those applying to the UK do actually qualify under the Dublin arrangements, which include the requirement for children to be under 18. We have to carry out the checks in a way that complies with High Court judgments on the matter. As my hon. Friend knows, the British Dental Association has taken the view that to carry out X-rays of claimants’ teeth would not be a reliable indicator of age, as well as being, in its view, unethical.

May I also thank the Leader of the House for announcing the business for next week? I join him and the shadow Leader of the House in the tributes to Aberfan. Today is a very special day, with the by-election in Batley and Spen, and we recall all the horrific events around the murder of Jo Cox.

Today, we find that the Prime Minister is off to Brussels for her first trip with EU leaders since she became Prime Minister. She is advocating something I think she describes as a “smooth Brexit”. May I suggest that, in our debates, we get our terms absolutely right for Brexit? We have hard Brexit and soft Brexit. I want to suggest crispy Brexit, soggy Brexit and maybe “I can’t believe it’s not Brexit.”

The serious point is that we still have not had a debate in Government time on their plans to leave the European Union. We have had one in SNP time and one in Labour party time. We heard the Lords EU Committee say yesterday that the issue must be properly debated and scrutinised, and even suggest that we have a debate in advance of article 50 being triggered. So can we now—I am going to ask the Leader of the House this every week—have solid plans and proposals for when this House will get to debate what the Government intend to do?

The redrawn boundaries for Scottish Members of Parliament were produced this morning, and they would reduce the number of MPs from Scotland from 59 to 53. SNP Members would like to reduce that number to zero when we gain our independence and sovereignty, but in the meantime, while we are still here, I would like the opinion of the Leader of the House on one issue—I saw that he was in the debate briefly yesterday. How can it possibly be right that, in these Houses of Parliament, we now have more parliamentarians appointed by a Prime Minister than elected by the people? He is making that worse.

Finally, tomorrow we have the private Member’s Bill tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for East Dunbartonshire (John Nicolson) on a very important issue. The “Turing Bill” seeks to posthumously pardon thousands of gay men who were caught up in all the anti-homosexual legislation. However, we have heard that the Government are withdrawing support for it, in favour of an amendment in the House of Lords. It should be here in the Commons that the issue is properly considered, by elected Members. All that the Government’s action will do is lead to the withdrawal of support and further undermine the credibility of private Members’ Bills. Will the Leader of the House rethink that decision and make sure that the Government support the private Member’s Bill tomorrow?

There have already been many opportunities to hold Ministers to account for the Government’s approach to the European negotiations. We have just had questions to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, who has also made a number of oral statements to the House about that since the referendum.

I am slightly surprised that the hon. Gentleman should appear to denigrate the importance of Select Committees in this House and the other place. It is simply wrong to believe that only a debate in plenary session qualifies as scrutiny. In my experience, having served as a Minister for more than six years, Select Committees can often be much more demanding on Ministers in terms of preparation and thinking through one’s policy. We should respect the importance of those Committee hearings. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister will give an oral statement next week about the European Council, and that will provide yet another opportunity for such questioning.

On the hon. Gentleman’s point about his hon. Friend’s Bill, the Government very much share his wish to see pardons given to people who were convicted of consensual homosexual acts when those were criminal offences. The Government are proposing that we should legislate both to provide posthumous pardons for people who are now deceased and to make it clear that those who are still living can apply under a statutory deregistration scheme for their conviction to be deleted from the record, so that they would then qualify for a pardon. The reason we cannot support his hon. Friend’s Bill is that it does not take account of the need, in respect of people who are now living, to check that the offence of which they were convicted was genuinely consensual and did not involve, for example, a sexual offence against a minor, which would still be a breach of the criminal law today.

What is now required, in each case, is a short question without preamble and a characteristically pithy reply from the Front Bench.

Last week, Briggs Equipment celebrated its 10th anniversary. To mark this occasion, it held an event where I got to meet 14 new apprentices. Will my right hon. Friend join me in congratulating Briggs on its anniversary and wish the new apprentices the best of luck with their new careers; and may we have a statement on the Government’s 3 million apprenticeship target?

I am delighted to hear the news from my hon. Friend’s constituency. The Government regard their 3 million apprenticeship target as a key element in increasing the skills and productivity of our nation. As the evidence from her constituency shows, sensible businesses realise that developing apprenticeship schemes is in their own commercial interest as well.

Last year, the UK received £5.6 billion from the European Investment Bank for investing in skills, housing, schools and infrastructure across the country. With the UK currently languishing at the bottom of the G7 productivity league table, may we have an urgent debate on the impact of leaving the European Union and potentially losing our stake in the European Investment Bank on the UK’s productivity, and the Government’s plans to address this?

All these things will of course be elements in the negotiations. The Government have made it very clear that their industrial strategy is intended to address the very deep-seated, long-running productivity problem that we have.

Will my right hon. Friend find time for a debate on returning veterans with mental health issues? I recently met representatives from Care after Combat, which has a very good success rate in turning round the lives of people who unfortunately end up in prison.

The Government want to do all within our power to make sure that those who have served, and currently serve, in the armed forces have the best possible access to treatment for mental health problems, and that appropriate action is taken to prevent people from developing them in the first place. I can assure my hon. Friend of the commitment of Defence Ministers and Health Ministers to what he advocates.

I thank the Leader of the House for confirming the time allocation for the Backbench Business Committee on 3 November. Is there any element of protection for the time allocated on 27 October to the debate on the Youth Parliament’s report on young people’s mental health? May I also ask for an indication of any time allocations for Monday 7 November and Tuesday 8 November? I am surprised, by the way, that the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire (Pete Wishart) forgot to mention ready Brexit, but not to worry.

The time next week will be protected. I shall write to the hon. Gentleman about the other dates.

I remember the days when Labour Members used to complain about how much time we spent on Europe. Really, Minister, is it not about time that we stopped banging on about Europe and just got on with it?

I note my hon. Friend’s advice that we should stop banging on about the subject. If that is a belated addition to his birthday wish list, I would be happy to oblige. As a Government, we need to prepare our negotiating position thoroughly and then get the best and most ambitious deal possible on behalf of all the people of the United Kingdom.

The Letters Page, a literary journal that invites submissions in the form of hand-written letters, is edited by the author Jon McGregor and creative writing students at the University of Nottingham. It is usually published three times a year as a downloadable PDF file, but the eighth edition is due to appear on 2 November in print as a limited edition boxset. Ahead of next Tuesday’s Nottingham in Parliament Day, will the Leader of the House join me in congratulating The Letters Page on that momentous event, and does it not further confirm Nottingham’s status as a UNESCO city of literature?

I am delighted to hear about the literary creativity of the hon. Lady’s constituents and of the people of Nottingham. It is good to hear that the great literary tradition of D.H. Lawrence has not been extinguished but is alive and flourishing today.

Sepsis currently claims about 44,000 lives in the UK every year. May we have a statement on the Government’s newly announced public awareness campaign, so that we can establish how Public Health England plans to work with experts such as the UK Sepsis Trust to make sure that the campaign is as successful as possible?

Everyone in this House will want to take note of recent shocking cases where people have not had sepsis diagnosed early enough for effective treatment to be given. It is, clearly, deeply unsatisfactory that there should be any such case. Health Ministers will certainly want to ensure that there are improvements where they can be achieved, and I will draw their attention to my right hon. Friend’s request for a debate.

May we have a debate on palliative care? Kilbryde hospice in my constituency was recently opened by the First Minister of Scotland. It is a crucial resource for those most in need at the end of their lives, and such facilities should be supported right across the United Kingdom.

I, like the hon. Lady, demonstrate support when I can for the palliative care services in my constituency. One of the important improvements in attitudes towards healthcare in recent years is the acceptance that people who are in the final stages of their lives are entitled to be treated not just for their physical symptoms, but with the respect and dignity that is due to the whole person.

Last week, I hosted a meeting of my constituents in St Michael’s Gate in Peterborough, many of whom will be evicted shortly as a result of a deal between Peterborough City Council and the north London estate agent, Stef & Philips. They will be replaced by homeless people from the council’s homeless list, so may we have a debate on housing benefit regulations and the dubious and morally repugnant business model that prioritises housing benefit income for these people, rather than the interests of my long-standing constituents?

I am concerned to hear about what is happening in Peterborough. If my hon. Friend would care to provide me with the details, I will draw them to the attention of the responsible Minister straightaway.

The total number of deaths caused in America by the side effects of opioid drugs has now grown to a larger figure than the total number of people killed there by road traffic accidents, guns and terrorism. Given that the use of those drugs is increasing in this country, and given that our usage of them amounts to a third of that throughout the continent of Europe, may we debate the terrible dangers that result from medicines that are more deadly than the maladies?

The hon. Gentleman has looked at drug use and drugs policy for many years, so I listen with some respect to what he says. There will be the opportunity to question Home Office Ministers about this on 31 October, and I suggest that he take advantage of that opportunity.

May we have time in this Chamber to debate the rural economy? There is never enough time in Back-Bench debates or in Westminster Hall to discuss the rural economy, which will be vital to the United Kingdom when we leave the European Union. May we therefore have time to do so in this Chamber?

Although there will be opportunities to question my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and her Ministers, my advice in the short term, given the number of hon. Members from all parts of the House who represent rural or partly rural constituencies, is to make an application to the Backbench Business Committee, because there should be strength in numbers.

May we have a debate on the international freedom of the press, just in case the BBC faces the closure of its Moscow bureau bank accounts by a state-owned bank in Russia—something that happens in authoritarian states but would never, ever happen in a liberal democracy such as the United Kingdom?

We all want to keep a close eye on action that the Russian authorities may take towards free media and, for that matter, civil society organisations inside their own territory. There is a history of the Russian authorities causing difficulties for journalists, broadcasters, civil society organisations and the British Council. That is something to be deplored at every opportunity.

Following my debate in Westminster Hall yesterday on the Ministry of Defence future accommodation model, I have been inundated with concerned messages from military families overnight. Will the Leader of the House therefore support my request for a wider debate in the House on the future and security of military housing provision for our armed forces families, as part of our commitment to the armed forces covenant?

My hon. Friend spoke, as she always does, with great vigour and on the basis of significant knowledge in the debate yesterday. She will have had an answer at the end of the debate from the Under-Secretary of State for Defence, my hon. Friend the Member for Milton Keynes North (Mark Lancaster), who has responsibility for veterans. The Government will publish its proposals for defence estates later this year, and that, I am sure, will provide Members with further opportunities to debate this subject.

The Swansea bay tidal lagoon project would pave the way for £15 billion of investment in tidal lagoons, including one planned for the Solway firth in my constituency that could provide electricity for 1 million homes. We need tidal power as part of our future clean energy. When the Government’s review of tidal lagoon technology reports next month, may we have a ministerial statement in support of that technology?

As the hon. Lady says, the results of that review are due to be reported in the next few weeks. I will make sure that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is aware of her request for a statement on the matter. I am sure that there will be opportunities in the House to debate these matters and for her to raise her concerns.

May we have a debate on the process used to review the green belt? In Greater Manchester, the call for developers to submit expressions of interest in building on the green belt has resulted in vast swathes of green-belt land becoming the subject of speculation. That is causing great distress and anxiety for thousands of residents.

The Government’s national planning policy framework makes it clear that green-belt land should be used for development only in the most exceptional circumstances. If a local authority wants to make such a case for exceptionalism, it has to provide the justification for that when it submits its draft local plan for examination in public, at which point an independent inspector tests rigorously the arguments that the local authority has made. These matters are, rightly, dealt with at arm’s length from central Government Ministers, but that is the procedure that my hon. Friend and his constituents might want to look at.

Will the Leader of the House find time for a debate or possibly a ministerial correction on the subject of how difficult, or otherwise, it is for EU countries to export to Norway? In an earlier exchange, the Brexit Secretary said that it was very easy for Sweden to export to Norway. However, I am indebted to L. Alan Winters, professor of economics, who has said that one of the messages from a conference held in Sweden earlier this week was that

“Swedish exporters find exporting to Norway far more troublesome than exporting within the EU.”

The right hon. Gentleman will have other opportunities to challenge my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union. I must say that I may be responsible for many things, but commercial relations between Sweden and Norway are not one of them.

Will the Leader of the House, in his unique role, review the Government’s approach to their responses to Select Committee reports and speed them up? The Women and Equalities Committee has been waiting since May for a response to its gender pay gap report, and before that we waited four months for a response to our important report on transgender people.

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for giving me notice of her question. I have looked into this matter. The report she mentions involves the responsibilities of a number of Departments, and I think that she received a letter from the Minister for Women and Equalities to alert her to the fact that there would probably be a delay in making a response. However, I share my right hon. Friend’s disquiet, and I certainly do not regard it as defensible that her Committee should have had to wait so much longer than the normal period. I will draw her concern to the attention of the Ministers responsible, and I hope that we will be able to provide her Committee with the Government response to which it is entitled as rapidly as possible.

Fifty years ago, I was a newly appointed young lecturer at Swansea University, and I remember the deeply dark and wet day of Aberfan and the deaths of all those children. May I associate myself with the comments that have been made about keeping them in our thoughts? We should have a discussion in the House about how we look after the people involved—the families, the supporters and the communities—when such tragedies happen. It took a long time to respond positively to that terrible tragedy.

The hon. Gentleman makes a very fair and reasonable point. As he rightly says, it is often some time after the immediate period of shock and grief that the full traumatic impact of what people have lived through and what they have lost bears down on them. An effective response has to involve not just statutory services but—this is often most effective—friends and neighbours in the neighbourhoods where the people themselves live. I suspect there are lessons that can be learned from successes and failures in responding to various tragedies that have taken place over the years. I hope that he has the opportunity, possibly through the Backbench Business Committee, to raise that matter in the future.

May we have a debate, in this Chamber in Government time, on endangered species? Please will the Leader of the House not suggest Westminster Hall? I have tried applying for a debate there on rhino poaching for many weeks, and I have not been successful. This is a very important subject for the future of the world. I want my grandchildren and their generation to be able to see animals that are endangered.

I agree with my hon. Friend. With Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and Foreign Office Ministers in the lead, the Government are taking on the role of being one of the foremost international champions of better arrangements to protect not just endangered species but, crucially, the habitats necessary for their survival. As she knows, effective agreements require international consensus to work. That is what we are seeking through CITES—the convention on international trade in endangered species—and the international organisations that have a role in this area.

Ten of my constituents are caught up in the Concentrix debacle with the tax credit office. In the past 24 hours, the tax credit office has called me about four cases, saying that it is shutting down the complaints on those cases prior to mandatory reconsideration being complete. May we have a debate about the tax credit office complaints procedure, because such an action breaches that procedure?

As I have said, there will be a debate on Concentrix in Opposition time next week. On the constituency case, if the hon. Gentleman wants to get the details to me later today, I will send them straight to the Financial Secretary.

The UK financial services sector employs 2 million people and is our largest exporter and our largest generator of tax revenue. Will the Leader of the House find time for a debate in this Chamber on the industry’s importance to the UK economy and, indeed, to the Government’s framework for transitional arrangements, so that we can thrive post-Brexit?

This may be something my hon. Friend is able to raise in the forthcoming debate on industrial strategy, but I am happy to join him in recognising the importance of the sector to the UK economy. I am sure that there will be opportunities, whether under business arising through the Department for Exiting the European Union or through the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, to reinforce the importance of the message he has given the House.

May we have a debate in Government time on the Government’s response to the public consultation on reforms to the civil service compensation scheme? With more than 3,000 responses and 98% against the reforms, may I impress on the Leader of the House the concerns that many Members have on behalf of constituents who have delivered public services throughout the whole of their working lives?

I want to put on the record the Government’s admiration for the way in which public servants of all grades and in all parts of our public services go about their duty. We have to recognise that, but we also have to recognise that pension schemes, like every other aspect of public expenditure, have to be paid for by taxpayers out of money taken by Government from their earnings. As the hon. Gentleman says, a consultation has been going on; Ministers will consider that consultation and respond in due course.

May we have a debate about services for vulnerable women, which I learned yesterday are being cut because they are not gender neutral? Women’s charities made the point to me that the biggest risk factor for domestic violence is being a woman—domestic violence is not gender neutral. Will the Leader of the House and the Government acknowledge that this is an issue not of access to trousers or toilets but of vulnerable women’s access to services, which must not be sacrificed on the altar of gender neutrality?

If my hon. Friend will let me have some of the details upon which he has based his question, I will draw them to the attention of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education, who has responsibility for the Government Equalities Office.

Order. What is needed now are questions in single short sentences. If those are forthcoming they will be heard; if not, they will not be.

I associate myself with the remarks made about Aberfan and about my late friend and colleague Jo Cox.

On Saturday I will be attending the Remission Possible ball in honour of my young, inspirational constituent Emily Clark, who sadly died from cancer earlier this year. May we have a debate on the particular needs of young cancer patients when they suffer that terrible disease?

I associate myself with the expressions of sympathy and support for Emily’s family and friends over this appalling loss. As a Government we need to make sure that the NHS works hard on policies that are more effective in preventing, identifying, diagnosing and treating cancer in children and young people. That should be the case for all cancers, but we should be aware of how heartbreaking such cases are.

Are the Government preparing for a Division on tomorrow’s private Member’s Bill, or are the Whips lining up compliant, obsequious Back Benchers to try to talk it out?

On—of all subjects—private Members’ business, I have no idea whether people will seek to divide the House and whether Tellers will be appointed. The hon. Gentleman will have to indulge in the pleasures of delayed anticipation.

Farmers in Blaenau Gwent are being forced to deal with antisocial behaviour from packs of off-road bikers, so may we have a debate on the impact of off-road biking and people riding roughshod over our countryside?

I would deplore the behaviour that the hon. Gentleman has described. Many off-road bikers observe the law and accept their responsibility, when enjoying their pastime, to respect the rights and economic interests of the people who manage and live in the countryside. I hope that the particular problem he described can be sorted out locally with effective work by the police and local authorities, but I am sure that he will find opportunities to raise the matter further in the House if that is not possible.

Yesterday colleagues and I met the Immigration Minister to discuss plans to build a new short-term immigration detention centre in my constituency while the Dungavel facility is closing. That would result in moving detainees hundreds of miles—

May we have a debate on the UK Government’s detention policy, which results in the UK detaining more people than anywhere else in Europe?

There will be Home Office questions on Monday 31 October. The hon. Gentleman may have the opportunity to raise his concern then.

Yesterday, I met Reverend Yunusa Nmadu from Christian Solidarity Worldwide. He said that Boko Haram continues to kidnap and brutally assault thousands of young Christian girls and marry them off. Will the Leader of the House agree to a statement or debate on this matter?

The British Government are doing all they can to support the Nigerian authorities, both in getting the return of the girls who have been abducted and ensuring there is effective action against the scourge of Boko Haram.

England has witnessed a truly alarming rise in hate crimes against ethnic minorities and foreign nationals, and a 147% spike in homophobic attacks since the referendum. May we have a serious debate in Government time to discuss not only the problem but the action required to address it?

This matter has been raised with me during, I think, the past two business questions. I again say that I condemn, as do I think Members of all parties and on both sides of the referendum, the type of attack and abuse that the hon. Lady describes. It has no place whatever in our politics.

The Government have committed to a national shipbuilding strategy by the time of the autumn statement. Will the House have the opportunity to debate that, given the disgraceful delay in ordering the Type 26 frigates?

The Type 26 frigates are being built because there is a United Kingdom Royal Navy placing those orders in Scottish shipyards—something a separate Scotland would be unable to promise. There will of course be many opportunities in this House to debate industrial strategy and to look at shipbuilding as one element of it.

Will the Leader of the House tell us when he intends to schedule the promised urgent debate on the floor of the House on the proposed Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement?

Convicted criminal Lord Hanningfield left jail and returned to a job for life in another place. He was then back up in court in July this year for similar offences. Why did the parliamentary authorities step in and tell the court that it was a matter for them to address rather than the court? Will the Leader of the House commit to reform?

All this was debated yesterday, when we had a debate on the House of Lords. I do not think I have anything further to add to what my hon. Friends said on that occasion.