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House of Commons Hansard
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28 February 2018
Volume 636

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On a point of order, Mr Speaker. We all heard at Prime Minister’s questions the Prime Minister quite rightly speak of the importance of early diagnosis when it comes to cancer, and yet in today’s newspapers, we have learned that some clinical commissioning groups are offering cash incentives to GPs not to refer patients to hospitals, including cancer patients. We believe that that is totally unacceptable. Has the Secretary of State for Health given you any notice that he intends to come to the House to make a statement to tell us how extensive that scheme is, so that we can call upon him to rule out that unacceptable practice?

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No, but it is open to the shadow Leader of the House to raise that matter at business questions tomorrow. Knowing the perspicacity of the hon. Gentleman, I feel sure that, having registered his concerns today, he will articulate them in subsequent days until he elicits a ministerial response.

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On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I know that you have always concerned yourself with the issue of political prisoners. I have discovered that there is one in our own country at the moment. The Foreign Secretary declared this morning on television that he was desperate to be able to publish the letter to the Prime Minister that was referred to in the discussions earlier, but apparently now the Prime Minister will not let him. The poor chap is languishing, unable to fulfil his stated intention and desires. Obviously he wants to keep the House informed of what is going on and what his view is. I do not know whether he has written two letters and only one of them has thus far got into the public domain, but I wonder whether there is any means of freeing the Foreign Secretary, so that he is no longer a political prisoner in that way.

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I note what the hon. Gentleman says and his reference to correspondence and to the activities of the Foreign Secretary, but not entirely for the first time, and therefore not uncharacteristically, I rather fear that the hon. Gentleman might have invested me with powers that I do not possess. I do not have power over, responsibility for or the capacity to free the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs.

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The Foreign Office one.

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The Foreign Office one, as the hon. Gentleman dubs him from a sedentary position. We will have to leave that there. Some people may think that it is a good thing that I am not responsible for the Foreign Secretary, and other people may think it is a bad thing—I say, retaining the impartiality of the Chair—but it is a fact that I am not responsible for the right hon. Gentleman, other than with regard to his responsibilities to appear in the House.

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We must leave the matter there for now.