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Prime Minister

Volume 621: debated on Wednesday 22 February 2017

The Prime Minister was asked—

Engagements

This morning I had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others. In addition to my duties in this House, I shall have further such meetings later today.

Yesterday, the campaign group fighting cuts at West Cumberland hospital was due to deliver a 30,000-strong petition to Downing Street. Despite having a slot booked, they were turned away at the gates and told, “Today isn’t a good day. Come back after Thursday.” How can the Prime Minister justify this disgraceful dismissal of the people of Copeland?

A petition was indeed delivered to No. 10. The petition was accepted by No. 10 Downing Street yesterday, so I suggest to the hon. Lady that she considers what she said in her question. I am aware of the issues that have been raised around West Cumberland hospital. I am aware of them because the very good Conservative candidate in Copeland, Trudy Harrison, has raised them with me. She has made it very clear that she wants to see no downgrading of services at West Cumberland hospital. She has made that clear to me and to Health Ministers.

Q3. I recently met many of my local headteachers in High Peak, and they are concerned about the new national funding formula. Can my right hon. Friend assure me that when we decide on the funding for our schools, we will look at unavoidable costs, such as the national apprenticeship levy, to ensure that our schools have the money that they need to educate our children? (908790)

I thank my hon. Friend for raising this. The question of schools funding, and the system we have for schools funding, is important. I think the current system is unfair. It is not transparent and it is out of date. That has been the general view for some time now. The problem is that it cannot support the aspiration of all our children to get a great education. We do, indeed, want children to be able to get the education that they deserve and that ensures that they can go as far as their talents and hard work take them. The Labour Government did nothing to address the funding system. We are looking at that funding system. It is a consultation, and I am sure that the comments and the issue my hon. Friend has raised will be noted by the Secretary of State for Education.

When hospitals are struggling to provide essential care, why is the Prime Minister’s Government cutting the number of beds in our national health service?

Thanks to the medical advances, to the use of technology and to the quality of care, what we see on hospital stays is actually that the average length of time for staying in hospital has virtually halved since the year 2000. Let us look at Labour’s record on this issue. In the last six years of the last Labour Government, 25,000 hospital beds were cut. But we do not even need to go as far back as that. Let us just look at Labour’s policy before the last election, because before the last election, the right hon. Member for Leigh (Andy Burnham), the former Labour shadow Health Secretary, said the following:

“what I’d cut…are hospital beds”.

Labour policy: cut hospital beds.

In 2010, there was the highest ever level of satisfaction with the national health service, delivered by a Labour Government. The British Medical Association—[Interruption.] It’s doctors. The British Medical Association tells us that 15,000 beds have been cut in the past six years, the equivalent of 24 hospitals, and as a result, we have longer waiting times at A&E, record delayed discharges and more people on waiting lists. The Prime Minister claims the NHS is getting the money it needs, so why is it that one in six A&E units in England are set for closure or downgrading?

I will tell the right hon. Gentleman what is happening and what has happened since 2010 in A&E: we see 1,500 more emergency care doctors—that includes 600 more A&E consultants—and we have 2,400 more paramedics. We have more people being seen in accident and emergency every single week under this Government. He talks about what the NHS needs: what the NHS needs is more doctors—we are giving it more doctors; what it needs is more funding—we are giving it more funding. What it does not need is a bankrupt economy, which is exactly what Labour would give it.

I asked the Prime Minister why one in six A&E units are currently set for closure or downgrading; she did not answer. One of the problems—she well knows this—is the £4.6 billion cut to social care, which has a knock-on effect. Her friend the Tory chair of the Local Government Association, Lord Porter, has said that

“extra council tax income will not bring in anywhere near enough money to alleviate the growing pressure on social care”.

Two weeks ago, we found out about the sweetheart deal with Tory Surrey. When will the other 151 social services departments in England get the same as the Surrey deal?

The right hon. Gentleman refers to the questions he asked me about Surrey County Council two weeks ago. Those claims were utterly destroyed the same afternoon, so rather than asking the same question, he should stand up and apologise.

Far from my apologising, it is the Prime Minister who ought to be reading her correspondence and answering the letter from 62 council leaders representing social service authorities who want to know if they are going to get the same deal as Surrey. They are grappling with a crisis, which has left over 1 million people not getting the social care they need.

We opposed Tory cuts in the NHS which involved scrapping nurses’ bursaries, because we feared it would discourage people from entering training. The Prime Minister’s Government said that removing funding for nurses’ bursaries would create an extra 10,000 training places in this Parliament. Has this target been met?

There are 10,000 more training places available for nurses in the NHS. The right hon. Gentleman talks about the amount of money being spent on the NHS. It is this Conservative Government who are putting the extra funding into the NHS. I remind him that we are spending £1.3 billion more on the NHS this year than Labour planned to spend if it had won the election.

My questions were about social services funding to pay for social care—no answer. My questions were about the number of training places for nurses being brought in—no answer. In reality, 10,000 fewer places have been filled because there are fewer applications. A problem is building up for the future. In addition, the Royal College of Midwives estimates that there is a shortage of 3,500 midwives in England, and the Royal College of Nursing warns:

“The nursing workforce is in crisis and if fewer nurses graduate in 2020 it will exacerbate what is already an unsustainable situation”.

Will the Prime Minister at least commit herself to reinstating the nurses’ bursary?

The right hon. Gentleman asked me a question about nursing training places, which I answered. If he does not like the answer he gets, he cannot just carry on asking the same question if I have answered it previously. He talks about all these issues in relation to what is happening in the NHS, so let us look at what is happening in the NHS: we have 1,800 more midwives in the NHS since 2010; we have more people being seen in accident and emergency since 2010; and we have more operations taking place every week in the NHS. Our NHS staff are working hard. They are providing quality care for patients up and down the country. What they do not need is a Labour party policy that leads to a bankrupt economy. Labour’s policy is to spend money on everything, which means bankrupting the economy and having no money to spend on anything. That does not help doctors and nurses, it does not help patients, it does not help the NHS, and it does not help ordinary working families up and down this country.

Yes, let us look at the national health service and let us thank all those who work so hard in our national health service, but also recognise the pressures they are under. Today, a Marie Curie report finds that nurses are so overstretched they cannot provide the high-quality care needed for patients at the very end of their lives. The lack of care in the community prevents people from having the dignity of dying at home. There is a nursing shortage and something should be done about it, such as reinstating the nurses’ bursary.

The Prime Minister’s Government have put the NHS and social care in a state of emergency. Nine out of 10 NHS trusts are unsafe, 18,000 patients a week are waiting—[Interruption.] Mr Speaker, I repeat the figure: 18,000 patients a week are waiting on trolleys in hospital corridors and 1.2 million often very dependent—[Interruption.] It seems to me that some Members are not concerned about the fact that there are 1.2 million elderly people who are not getting the care they need. The legacy of her Government will blight our NHS for decades: fewer hospitals, fewer A&E departments, fewer nurses and fewer people getting the care they need. We need a Government who will put the NHS first and will invest in our NHS.

First, the right hon. Gentleman should consider correcting the record, because 54% of hospital trusts are considered good or outstanding—quite different from the figure he cited. Secondly, I will take no lessons on the NHS from the party—[Interruption.] Oh, the deputy leader of the Labour party says we should take lessons on the NHS, but I will not take any lessons from the party that presided over the failure that happened at Mid Staffs hospital. Labour says we should learn lessons. I will tell the House who should learn lessons: the Labour party, which still fails to recognise that if you are going to fund the NHS—we are putting money in, and there are more doctors, more operations and more nurses—you need a strong economy. We now know, however, that Labour has a different sort of phrase for its approach to these things. Remember when it used to talk about “boom and bust”? Now it is borrow and bankrupt. [Interruption.]

Order. We must get through Back Benchers’ questions and the Prime Minister’s answers to them. I call Mr Michael Tomlinson.

Q4. Brendan Cox will meet today with the Duchess of Cornwall to launch plans to bring communities together over the weekend of 17 and 18 June to mark the first anniversary of our colleague Jo’s death. The aim of this Great Get Together, as it has been called, is for more than 10 million people across the country to come together as communities and neighbours for events such as street parties, picnics and even bake offs. Will the Prime Minister join me in agreeing that such events and moments of national reflection and celebration in our communities will be a fitting tribute to Jo and will remind us all that, as she herself said, we have far more things in common than things that divide us? (908791)

My hon. Friend raises an extremely important point, and I am very happy to agree that what is becoming known as the Great Get Together is a fitting and important tribute to our late colleague Jo Cox. I commend her husband, Brendan—I am sure that everyone across the House would wish to do so—for the work that he has done. As my hon. Friend said, it is important to remember that there is more that brings us together than divides us, and this is an important moment of national reflection and celebration of the strength of our communities. As we face the future together—these are momentous times for this country—it is important that we remember that being united makes us strong and recognise the things that unite us, as a country and a people, and the bonds we share together. This is a very fitting tribute to our late colleague.

In recent days, the Prime Minister has said that it is a key personal commitment to transform the way domestic violence is tackled. It is hugely welcome that she has called for ideas about how the treatment of victims could be improved and more convictions against abusers secured. Combatting violence against women and preventing domestic violence is the aim of the Istanbul convention, which the UK is yet to ratify. Does she agree with Members on both sides of the House that the convention should be ratified as a priority?

The right hon. Gentleman raises an important subject. As he says, I take it particularly seriously—I worked hard on it as Home Secretary and I continue to do so as Prime Minister. There were still an estimated 1.3 million female victims of domestic abuse in the last year and more than 400,000 victims of sexual violence. He is right that we signed up to the Istanbul convention, and we are fully committed to ratifying it, which was why we supported in principle the private Member’s Bill of the hon. Member for Banff and Buchan (Dr Whiteford) on Second Reading and in Committee. In many ways, the measures we have in place actually go further than the convention, but I am clear that we need to maintain momentum, which is why I am setting up a ministerial working group to look at the legislation and at how we can provide good support to victims, and to consider the possibility of a domestic violence Act.

This Friday, the House will consider a Bill on the Istanbul convention. We know that Ministers have been working hard with my hon. Friend the Member for Banff and Buchan (Dr Whiteford), who has cross-party support for her Bill. Given the importance of this issue and the Prime Minister’s personal commitment, which she has outlined again today, will she join me in encouraging Members to support the Bill and discourage any attempts to use parliamentary wrecking tactics to stop it?

I am happy to join the right hon. Gentleman in that. I know that the Minister for Vulnerability, my hon. Friend the Member for Truro and Falmouth (Sarah Newton), has had a number of constructive discussions with the hon. Member for Banff and Buchan. The Government have tabled some mutually agreed amendments, for which the Government will vote this Friday. I hope that all my hon. Friends who are present on Friday will support these measures. This is an important Bill. The Government have supported it, and I hope it will be supported on both sides of the House.

Q6. Residents in the village of High Lane in my constituency are concerned about 4,000 homes proposed under the Greater Manchester spatial framework, which will more than double the size of the village. What assurances can my right hon. Friend give to my constituents that the green belt is safe with this Government? (908793)

I am happy to give that commitment to my hon. Friend. The Government are very clear that the green belt must be protected. We are very clear that boundaries should be altered only when local authorities have fully examined all other reasonable options. If they do go down that route, they should compensate by improving the quality or accessibility of the remaining green-belt land so that it can be enjoyed. I know about the particular issue that my hon. Friend raises, and I believe that the Greater Manchester spatial framework led to quite a number of responses. There was a lot of interest in that consultation, which closed last month, and I am sure that all those views will be taken into account.

Q2. Last week, the all-party group on children of alcoholics launched a manifesto for change. Some 2.5 million children are growing up in the home of a problem drinker—I did, too. These children are twice as likely as others to have problems at school, three times more likely to consider suicide, and four times more likely to become an alcoholic, yet today 138 local authorities have no plan to support these children. Will the Prime Minister work with the all-party group to establish the first ever Government strategy to tackle this hidden problem that blights the lives of millions? (908789)

The right hon. Lady raises an important issue. I know that she recently spoke very movingly about her own experience. I am sure that Members on both sides of the House recognise the devastating impact that addiction can have on individuals and their families, so this is an important issue for her to raise. It is unacceptable that children bear the brunt of their parents’ condition. The Government are committed to working with MPs, health professionals and those affected to reduce the harm of addiction and to get people the support they need. We shall look carefully at the proposals suggested by the right hon. Lady.

Former Military Personnel: Northern Ireland

Q9. If she will take steps to introduce legislative proposals to provide legal protection to former military personnel who served in Northern Ireland at least equivalent to that offered to former republican and loyalist paramilitaries. (908796)

As I have made clear, I think it is absolutely appalling when people try to make a business out of dragging our brave troops through the courts. In the case of Northern Ireland, 90% of deaths were caused by terrorists, and it is essential that the justice system reflects that. It would be entirely wrong to treat terrorists more favourably than soldiers or police officers. That is why, as part of our work to bring forward the Stormont House agreement Bill, we will ensure that investigative bodies are under a legal duty to be fair, balanced and proportionate so that our veterans are not unfairly treated or disproportionately investigated.

While I welcome that reply, it does not go quite as far as I and many other people would like. There is no prospect of new credible evidence coming forward against our veterans of the troubles up to 40 years after the event, yet people are starting to use the same techniques in Northern Ireland against them as were used against veterans of Iraq. Surely the answer has to be a statute of limitations preventing the prosecution of veterans to do with matters that occurred prior to the date of the Belfast agreement.

As my right hon. Friend knows, we are looking at this issue as part of the Stormont House agreement. What we are doing is ensuring that the investigative bodies responsible for looking at deaths during the troubles will operate in a fair, balanced and proportionate manner. We want cases to be considered in chronological order, and we want these protections enshrined in legislation. We are going to consult fully on these proposals, because we want to make sure that we get this right.

Engagements

Q5. When the new local housing allowance cap for social tenants is introduced in 2019, it will hit people on low incomes in my constituency hard. In places such as Maidenhead, the allowance will often exceed the average rent, but the basic weekly allowance in Merthyr Tydfil is £67, while the rent charged by Merthyr Valleys Homes is £76, which is already one of the lowest social housing rents in Wales. That will mean that tenants, including many older people, will be expected to find nearly £500 a year to put towards their rent. Will the Prime Minister act now? Will she issue clear guidance to exempt older people, at the very least, from these crude cuts, and also to ensure that the local housing allowance is in line with local rents? (908792)

Local authorities have a fund and can exercise discretion. There will be some variation across the country, and steps have been taken to ensure that particularly vulnerable people are not affected in the way that the hon. Gentleman suggests.

Q10. The lack of large-scale vaccine manufacturing has been described as a national security issue for our country, and it will take many years to build that up. Will the Prime Minister look into what more the Government can do to address this highly critical health and defence concern? (908797)

My hon. Friend is absolutely right to raise the issue in that context. The Government take it very seriously. The ability to ensure that we can readily scale up vaccine production in the event of a pandemic is, as she says, vital to our national security. As I am sure she will understand, the precise details are necessarily confidential, but I can assure her that we have provisions in place to ensure that urgently needed vaccines are available in the UK at short notice, including in the event of a pandemic. As an added contingency, we are funding a £10 million competition to establish a world-leading centre for vaccine manufacturing. However, that is only part of the picture, because we are in a strong position: we have one of the most comprehensive and successful vaccination programmes in the world, backed up by £300 million in this year alone.

Q7. Last night Bristol City Council set its budget. Very difficult decisions were made more difficult by the abject failure of the previous Mayor to get a grip on the council’s finances. It has taken a Labour Mayor to face up to the challenge, but Government cuts are making his task almost impossible, and devolution simply means asking us to do more with less. We did our bit last night in setting the budget; will the Prime Minister now meet the Mayor of Bristol to discuss the fairer funding deal that the people of Bristol deserve? (908794)

I understand that my right hon. Friend the Communities Secretary has indeed had such a meeting to discuss the issue that the hon. Lady has raised.

Q11. Seventeen years ago, my constituents Sue and Glyn Jones received a phone call that no parent should ever have to take. The caller told them that their daughter Kirsty, who was backpacking in Thailand, had been brutally murdered. The Thai authorities are due to close their investigation of Kirsty’s murder soon but, as yet, her case remains unsolved, her killer remains free, and her parents have neither justice nor closure. May I ask my right hon. Friend to press the Thai authorities to use recently improved DNA techniques to bring the killer to justice, to endeavour to provide more support for families who have lost loved ones abroad and, finally, to ensure that Kirsty’s personal effects are, at last, returned home to her parents from Thailand? (908798)

I am sure that the whole House will join me in offering condolences to the Jones family and in recognising the terrible trauma that they have been through as a result of the killing of their daughter. As I am sure that my hon. Friend appreciates, it is not for the British Government to interfere with police investigations that take place in another country, but I understand that the Foreign Office has been providing support and remains ready to do so. Our embassy in Bangkok will continue to raise these issues with the Thai Government, and I am sure that the Foreign Office will keep my hon. Friend updated on any developments.

Q8. In the Prime Minister’s Lancaster House speech, she said of a future trade agreement with the EU:“no deal for Britain is better than a bad deal for Britain.”In the spirit of consistency, will that rule also apply to any future trade negotiations with the United States of America, where President Trump has said that America comes first? (908795)

I assure the hon. Gentleman that, as I have said consistently, we will be ensuring that when we negotiate trade deals with whichever countries around the world, they will be good deals for the UK.

Q12. In the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013, we took the power, subject to a consultation and the laying of an order, to give humanists in England and Wales the opportunity to celebrate marriages as they do in Scotland. We have had the consultation, with 90% approval, and there has even now been reference to the Law Commission, which has concluded. Will my right hon. Friend now give her attention to laying this order and giving humanists in England and Wales the same rights and freedoms as they enjoy very successfully in Scotland? (908799)

My hon. Friend has been following this issue closely over recent years. I think he recognises that this is an important and complex area of law, and we want to make sure that proposals are considered properly. That is why the Ministry of Justice is carefully examining the differences in treatment that already exist within marriage law, alongside the humanist proposals, so that the differences can be minimised. I am sure that my hon. Friend will agree that it is both right and fair to approach this in that way.

Q14. My constituent Kevin’s chances of survival from pancreatic cancer were no better than his mother’s, who died of that disease 40 years earlier. This disease is soon to become the fourth biggest cancer killer in the UK. Will the Prime Minister join MPs on both sides of this House to champion a significant increase in spending on pancreatic cancer research which, sadly, currently lags behind that on other cancers? (908801)

The hon. Gentleman raises a very important point that is obviously of particular relevance in the case of the constituent to whom he refers. As he says, pancreatic cancer is one of those cancers that it is very difficult to deal with and treat. There has been a lot of attention over the years on certain cancers, such as breast cancer increasingly, as well as bowel cancer and prostate cancer, but it is important that the appropriate attention is given to cancers that are proving more difficult to deal with, such as pancreatic cancer.

Q13. In February 2008, Mr Barry Pring, the brother of one of my constituents, was unlawfully killed in Ukraine. Mr Pring’s Ukrainian wife is clearly implicated in his death. Earlier this year, our coroner in Devon ruled that Mr Pring was tricked into standing on a carriageway before being run down by a car that had stolen licence plates and no lights—death was immediate. However, every time an investigating officer makes progress with the case in Ukraine, they are replaced. This has happened 10 times and the case has stalled. May I implore my right hon. Friend to raise this case with the Ukrainian Prime Minister so that we can get justice and closure for Barry’s mother and brother and the Pring family? (908800)

I am sure that the whole House will join me in offering condolences to Barry’s family following his death in 2008. I understand that my hon. Friend has discussed this case with my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary. As I said in reply to an earlier question, it is not for the British Government to interfere in the legal processes of another country, but the Foreign Office has been regularly raising this case with the Ukrainian authorities and will continue to do so. It is my understanding that UK police have assisted the investigation on a number of occasions and all information from the UK coroner’s inquest will be passed on. I am sure that the Foreign Office will keep my hon. Friend updated on any developments.

Q15. Tens of thousands of disabled people on the Motability scheme have had their cars removed by this Government. In November, the Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work said that they will be looking at allowing personal independence payment claimants to keep their cars pending appeal. Next week, my constituent Margaret Gibson will lose her car, which she regards as a lifeline, despite a pending appeal and two decades of receiving higher rate disability living allowance. Will the Prime Minister update the House on the progress of this review to help Margaret and thousands like her? (908802)

The hon. Gentleman raises an issue about the way in which these assessments are made and the implications of the decisions taken. He referred, I think, to a review in relation to PIP payments and the Motability element of that. If I may, I will write to him with further details.

It was a year ago this week that the Edward Hain community hospital was temporarily closed due to fire safety concerns. There are now no community beds in the towns of St Ives, Penzance and St Just, or in the rural areas in between. GPs, residents and local campaigners agree with me that this valued community hospital needs to be reopened as an urgent priority. Will my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister apply pressure to NHS Property Services and to Cornwall’s NHS managers to find a way of getting that building work done and reopening those community beds?

This is obviously a concern for my hon. Friend’s constituents—he is right to raise it. I am sure that he recognises that the first priority must be to ensure that patients are treated in a safe and secure environment, and I understand that the local clinical commissioning group and the NHS have been working closely to ensure that community hospital facilities in Cornwall are fit to deliver that expectation. I think that a review has already been undertaken into the repairs and improvements needed to bring the Edward Hain community hospital up to a safe standard, and the CCG will be looking at the infrastructure and facilities that it needs, once a final local plan has been agreed. Obviously my right hon. Friend the Health Secretary has heard my hon. Friend’s representations.

The Government’s business rates hike could devastate the local economy in my constituency. Brighton pier is facing a 17% increase, the World’s End pub a 123% increase, and Blanch House hotel a 400% increase. Does the Prime Minister recognise that Brighton will be disproportionately affected? Will she urgently set up a discretionary fund to support small and micro-businesses, and agree to a full review of the whole system?

If we just stand back, we can see that business rates are based on the rental values of properties. Those values change over time—they can go up and down—and it is right that business rates change to recognise that. That is the principle of fairness that underpins the business rates system. However, we also want to support businesses and we recognise that, for some, business rates will go up when the revaluations take place. That is why we have put significant funding in place for transitional relief. I recognise that there has been particular concern that some small businesses will be adversely affected as the result of this revaluation, and that is why I have asked the Chancellor and the Communities Secretary to ensure that there is appropriate relief in those hardest cases.

My right hon. Friend gave a sympathetic answer to my right hon. Friend the Member for New Forest East (Dr Lewis) and I know that she has taken particular interest in the matter that he raised. May I put it to her that, for many of us, there is something profoundly wrong with a criminal justice system that can pursue veterans who have risked their lives for this country 40 years on, long after there is any possibility of new evidence, while it is at the same time capable of paying out £1 million to a terror suspect?

In relation to the issue in Northern Ireland, the legacy bodies were part of the Stormont House agreement and we are working to deliver on that agreement. As I said in reply to my right hon. Friend the Member for New Forest East (Dr Lewis), the overwhelming majority of our armed forces in Northern Ireland served with great distinction and we owe them a huge debt of gratitude. The situation at the moment is that cases are being pursued against officers who served in Northern Ireland, and we want to see the legacy body set up under the Stormont House agreement taking a proportionate, fair and balanced approach. As I said earlier, we recognise that the majority of individuals who suffered did so at the hands of terrorists.

On the steps of Downing Street, the Prime Minister pledged to end the “burning injustice” of so few working-class boys going to university. Will she tell me how cutting every single secondary school in Leigh, Wigan, Rochdale, Trafford and Manchester through her new schools funding formula will do anything other than make that injustice even worse?

I want to ensure, through the education system that we provide, that there is a good school place for every child. I am pleased to say that under Conservatives in government, we have seen 1.8 million more children in good or outstanding schools. We are looking at the funding formula for schools and listening to the comments that have been made, but everyone across the House will recognise that it has been said for some time now that the existing formula is not transparent or fair. We are looking at a new formula, but I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that our education policy is about ensuring that every child has the opportunity to go as far as their talents and their hard work enable them to go.

Mr Speaker, you saw at first hand what a cup run means to a town and a club such as Sutton. With AFC Wimbledon out of the picture, I wonder whether my right hon. Friend will join me in congratulating Sutton United on such a spirited performance on Monday, and in wishing Lincoln City well for keeping the non-league spirit alive in the next round of the FA cup. Finally—[Interruption.]

Finally, will my right hon. Friend join me in congratulating and thanking Arsenal for their generosity in allowing Sutton to keep a little extra slice of the FA cup pie?

If I may say so, that was a neat reference to pie at the end of the question.

I am happy to congratulate Sutton on their extremely good run in the FA cup. It makes a huge difference to a local area when its football club is able to progress to that extent, to be up there with the big boys, and to do as well as Sutton did. I am also happy to congratulate Lincoln City—I see that my hon. Friend the Member for Lincoln is sitting next to my hon. Friend the Member for Sutton and Cheam (Paul Scully)—on their success. We wish them well for the future.

The UK Green Investment Bank, which is co-located in Edinburgh, is being sold, and recent newspaper reports suggest that the contract could be concluded soon. That is happening despite the UK’s stated focus on research and development, and the fact that no realistic guarantees have yet been given as to the continuation of a proper headquarters and board based in Edinburgh. Will the Prime Minister commit to looking again at why a sale at this time is not in the best interests of Edinburgh, the green agenda or UK taxpayers?

Before I respond to the hon. Lady’s question, I am afraid that I owe a couple of apologies. I am sorry for mixing up my hon. Friends the Members for Stroud (Neil Carmichael) and for Lincoln (Karl MᶜCartney). I was obviously getting carried away with the football fever that my hon. Friend the Member for Sutton and Cheam introduced into the Chamber.

The hon. Member for Edinburgh West (Michelle Thomson) mentioned the Green Investment Bank. If I may, I will write to her with a response to her question.

I think it is fair to say that in dealing with the matter the Prime Minister has deployed a very straight bat.