This week has seen the start of the Grenfell Tower inquiry. This was an unimaginable tragedy and justice must be done for the victims, survivors, bereaved and the wider community. It is right that we learn everything we can about what happened and take the necessary steps to make sure nothing like it ever happens again.
Yesterday also allowed the nation to come together, one year on, to remember all the victims of the Manchester terrorist attack. That night saw the worst of humanity, but it also saw the best. The kindness, compassion and fortitude we witnessed that night triumphed, and the great spirit of Manchester continues to inspire us.
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.
I echo the condolences expressed by the Prime Minister to the victims, friends and families of both Grenfell and the Manchester bombing.
On a happier note, I send congratulations from the Opposition side of the House to the royal couple. Even the fully paid-up cynics among us found it quite charming, and I am very much one of them.
A not so welcome American import is the fact that Britain now has a higher proportion of children classed as obese at the age of 11 than America. Yesterday’s Public Health England report shows the dismal failure of the first-year target on cutting sugar, at only 2%, compared with the 11% drop in sugar following the tax on sugary drinks. Will the Prime Minister admit that the voluntary approach is simply not working, and will not work, and that what we want to see in chapter 2 of the childhood obesity plan are mandatory targets and a ban on junk food discounts?
I welcome the hon. Lady’s good wishes for the royal couple. We expressed our good wishes in the House last week, and indeed it was a perfect day and a perfect wedding. Windsor did the couple proud.
We know that childhood obesity is one of the greatest health challenges we face, and we are determined to tackle it. That is why nowhere in the world is setting more stringent sugar reduction targets than the Government have set. We are, as the hon. Lady says, taxing sugary drinks, and we are doing more. It is not just about sugar in food and drink; it is about helping children to exercise more. It is also about the funding we are putting into research on junk food advertising, and it is about cutting sugar and calories in food. We have made good progress on the sugar reduction target. Sugar in drinks has been reduced by 11% and the average calories have been reduced by 6% in response to the soft drinks industry levy. More needs to be done, which is why an updated plan is currently being worked up, and we will be in a position to say more on that shortly.
The deeply moving testimonies we have already heard and will continue to hear this week from survivors and the bereaved leave absolutely no room for doubt. We must learn everything we can about what happened, and we must take the strongest possible action to stop such an unimaginable tragedy from ever happening again.
As my hon. Friend says, Dame Judith Hackitt’s recommendations do not include banning inflammable cladding. We are minded to go further by banning combustible materials in cladding on high-rise buildings. We are meeting our legal duty to consult on these proposals, and we will not delay any necessary action.
Indeed it is almost a year since the Grenfell tragedy, and sadly justice has not yet been done. Many of those families have still not been rehoused and many are still living in tower blocks. People across the country are worried about the safety of cladding. More needs to be done more quickly.
I agree with what the Prime Minister says about the anniversary of the Manchester bomb. We were there at the service yesterday, and I pay tribute to the people of Manchester for the fantastic event they held last night in Albert Square, which brought all communities across Manchester together. That is the answer to terrorism, that is the answer to threats: bring people together.
In 2010, £4 billion of NHS services were outsourced to private companies. How much is it today?
First, I echo the right hon. Gentleman’s comments. Terrorists attacked in Manchester, and we sadly saw a number of other terrorist attacks in this country last year. They were trying to divide us, and I think the response of all communities, whether here in London or in Manchester, has shown that we will not be divided by the terrorists. We will not let the terrorists win. We will defeat them.
The right hon. Gentleman asks about the outsourcing of services within the NHS. Of course, what we do know is that spend on the independent sector nearly doubled in the last four years of a Labour Government.
My question was about the amount spent now. NHS budgets have increased by just 1% per year under this Government, but it is jackpot time for the privateers, whose share is up by 100% to over £9 billion per year. We have also learned that Surrey NHS has just paid Virgin Care £1.5 million, not for any service that it has delivered, but because its bid was not chosen—£1.5 million wasted on Virgin Care that should have been spent on healthcare. Is the Prime Minister concerned that the National Audit Office said this week that NHS England’s handling of private contractors had put
“patients at risk of serious harm”?
The NAO report said that
“no actual harm has been identified.”
It is also the case that, in relation to the contracts that the NAO was talking about, the savings that have been made have all been reinvested into frontline NHS patient care and have helped to fund the equivalent of an extra 30,000 operations. The right hon. Gentleman talks about the percentage of money that has been spent on the private sector, and I must say that the proportion of spend in the NHS in England that was outsourced to the private sector last year did not go up at all. There was somewhere where it went up by 0.8%. Ah yes—Wales.
The NAO criticised NHS England’s Capita contract, saying that it had put
“patients at risk of serious harm”.
Thousands of women were dropped from the national cervical cancer screening programmes. Another element of the contract handed over to Capita was for GP services, which resulted in two thirds of GP practices receiving incorrect medical records, and 500,000 new patient letters were left unsent. Is that not the inevitable consequence of this Government tearing up the founding principles of the NHS and putting private profit before public service?
At every general election since the NHS was formed, the Labour party has scaremongered about the Conservative approach to the NHS. At every general election, Labour has made claims about privatisation and about funding cuts. What has every elected Conservative Government done? We have protected the NHS, we have improved NHS services, we have put more funding into the NHS, and we have ensured that we remain true to the founding principle of the NHS: that it is free at the point of delivery.
From the party that opposed the NHS in the first place, that is a bit rich. [Interruption.]
Order. There is far too much noise on both sides of the House. I have plenty of time, and I am sure that the principals have as well. We will get through the questions, but preferably in an atmosphere of calm.
The Royal College of General Practitioners says:
“The long list of failures made by Capita have been incredibly frustrating for GPs and our teams, and we are still dealing with the fallout”.
Public servants are bearing the brunt of private failure. GPs are leaving the profession in despair—4,000 have retired early in the past five years, which is one in 10. In 2015, the Health Secretary said that he would hire another 5,000 GPs. How many more GPs are there than there were in 2015?
We now have more than 14,900 more doctors in our NHS than we had in 2010. We are indeed committed to delivering 5,000 more GPs. We have increased the number training to be GPs. The right hon. Gentleman talks about the private sector being used in the national health service, but he might ask the shadow Health Secretary for his view. The shadow Health Secretary has said, “We are still going to buy from the private sector where we haven’t got capacity in the NHS.” The right hon. Gentleman’s shadow Health Secretary is committed to it.
The shadow Health Secretary has a very good understanding of the needs of patients and will always put them first. He will not be the one putting the private sector first.
The reality is that there are 1,000 fewer GPs and the number is falling. It is no wonder that more and more people are writing to me every week saying how difficult it is to get a GP appointment. GPs are the bedrock of the NHS. We need more of them.
I had a letter this week from Anne, who is retired. Until recently, she cared for her mother at home. She wrote:
“The NHS pay a private nursing home for mum’s care…day after day we experience a catalogue of disasters. I can’t leave my mum knowing that her needs aren’t catered for, so I spend hours at the nursing home”.
What action are the Government taking to deal with the substandard care that providers give in the private care sector, which is so upsetting for so many people?
I say to the right hon. Gentleman and to Anne that I fully understand that people want to have the confidence and reassurance of knowing that the care their loved ones receive is of a good quality. That is why this Government have put in place the various steps to ensure that we are looking into the quality of care provided in those sectors.
The right hon. Gentleman talks about the shadow Health Secretary recognising the needs of patients. I think he was saying that he recognises the needs of patients, which is why the private sector will be used in some cases. The former Health Secretary, now the Mayor of Manchester, said that
“the private sector puts its capacity into the NHS for the benefit of NHS patients, which I think most people in this country would celebrate”.
The shadow Health Secretary is dedicated to the NHS, not to handing it over to private contractors. That is the difference.
The Care Quality Commission said last year that
“there is too much poor care”.
A fifth of care providers require improvement. Year after year, private sector care providers are letting down our elderly.
This year is the 70th birthday of the national health service—I pay tribute to all its staff over all of those 70 years—but the NHS reaches that milestone with the worst A&E waits on record, the worst delays for cancer referrals on record, falling numbers of GPs, falling numbers of nurses and the longest funding squeeze in its history, while this Government open the door to even more profiteering. Why does the Prime Minister not act now to end the siphoning off of billions of pounds from patient care, and give the NHS the funding it needs?
We do indeed pay tribute to all those who have worked in the NHS over its 70 years and those who work there today. We want to see a bright future for the NHS, which is why we will be coming forward with a long-term plan for it. What we see today is a national health service not only with more funding going into it, but, crucially, with more people being treated and more operations being undertaken. There are people alive today who have suffered from cancer and would not have been alive just eight years ago, because our cancer outcomes have improved. That is the reality of our national health service. What we also see is that this Government can put money into the NHS only because we have a balanced approach to our economy. What did we learn this week that the Labour party and the shadow Chancellor want to do? They want to “overthrow capitalism”. What would that mean? It would mean families paying higher taxes—[Interruption.] It is supported by parts of the Labour party; now we know where the Labour party really stands on this issue. I say to the shadow Chancellor and others: what would this mean? It would mean families paying higher taxes; more debt for our children in future; fewer people in jobs; and less money for our schools and hospitals. A Labour party that would bankrupt our economy would do lasting damage to our national health service.
My hon. Friend has put in a good bid and is a good champion for Cornwall on this issue. He is absolutely right to say that our industrial strategy identifies the role of new markets, such as space launch, in driving growth across the UK. That is why we are delivering a programme to ensure that companies can offer small satellite launch and sub-orbital space flight from UK spaceports. On the specific issue relating to Newquay and Cornwall, strong enthusiasm for this new opportunity is being shown by Newquay airport and other locations around the UK, which is why in March the Government brought forward the Space Industry Act 2018 to support them and we have made £50 million available to enable small satellite launch and sub-orbital flight from UK spaceports. The space agency is considering funding to help kick-start promising projects and will be making announcements shortly.
May I associate myself with the remarks of the Prime Minister on both Manchester and Grenfell?
The Windrush scandal has taught us that the UK Government’s “hostile environment” policy has targeted those who legally live here; young people who have grown up in the UK and know of nothing else face losing their lawful settled status because they simply cannot afford the paperwork. Home Office fees have increased by 148% since 2014. These children have the right to be here; the UK is their home. I am giving the Prime Minister the opportunity today: will she scrap these fees for young people, as she has done for the Windrush generation?
A minor who has indefinite leave to remain will have access to benefits and entitlements which put them on an equal footing to their British citizen peers, so a grant of British citizenship is not therefore required. Of course specific exemptions from application fees are provided to several groups with limited means, such as stateless people, victims of modern slavery or domestic abuse, asylum applicants and children who are looked after by a local authority. And the Children Act 1989 imposes a general duty on local authorities to promote the upbringing of children in need by providing a range and level of services appropriate to those children’s needs, regardless of their status.
That simply is not good enough. We are talking about up to 120,000 young people in this country. We are talking about young people who live here, who have to wait 10 years and pay up to £10,000 to achieve permanent right to remain. It is shocking. The Government are guilty of creating a generation of undocumented citizens without the rights that many of us take for granted. Will the Prime Minister change her policies that target young people, and will she meet me and my hon. Friend the Member for Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East (Stuart C. McDonald) to resolve this issue?
First, the right hon. Gentleman cites a figure that I certainly do not recognise as the cost that he suggests applies for an application for citizenship here in the United Kingdom. I repeat the point that I have made: a minor who has indefinite leave to remain will have access to the benefits and entitlements that put them on an equal footing to their British citizen peers. A grant of British citizenship is not required in order for someone to access those rights and benefits.
The daily mile is an excellent programme. It is simple and inclusive and, as my hon. Friend says, it can successfully engage in physical activity children who would otherwise not undertake that physical activity. This gives me the opportunity to congratulate my hon. Friend on running the London marathon for two of his local charities: Corby Nightlight and Crazy Hats Breast Cancer Appeal. Well done to my hon. Friend for doing that. I certainly agree that we want more schools to adopt the active approach and the daily mile.
Order. The hon. Gentleman’s question must be heard. [Interruption.] It is his question. He has a right to ask his question and he will ask his question. The question will be heard and the answer will be heard. That is the way it has always been and that is the way it will continue.
I am grateful to you, Mr Speaker—and I will be heard.
After all these defeats, apparently we need the right type of crony. There are now more than 800 cronies, donors and aristocrats in that circus down the corridor, embarrassing this nation and mocking any notion of democracy. How many more is the Prime Minister going to appoint? When will enough be enough?
Actually, the total size of the House of Lords has fallen since I took office in July 2016. From the sound of what he says, I think the hon. Gentleman is making a bid for himself to be put in the House of Lords. He needs to speak to his leader.
I thank my right hon. Friend for raising what is a very important issue. I am sure that Members on all sides of this House will join me in offering our deepest sympathies and condolences to Councillor Miriam Lewis and the right hon. Member for Chorley (Sir Lindsay Hoyle). [Hon. Members: “Hear, hear.”] I thank my right hon. Friend for bringing this website in memory of Natalie to my attention. I am happy to offer my full support to the project, which I am sure will provide much-needed help and advice to those who are in the most difficult and painful of circumstances.
We have, of course, changed the law to introduce a new domestic abuse offence of coercion and control in intimate and familial relationships. Since the introduction of that offence, there have been almost 300 successful prosecutions. That shows what a problem this issue is out there. We are always looking for what more can be done and, in our consultation on transforming the law on domestic abuse and violence, we are currently looking for ideas on how the offence can be further strengthened, to ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice.
Of course, as we are building more homes—and we need to build more homes for people—we want to ensure that those homes are fit for purpose. There are standards that house builders have to abide by, and also a number of ways in which it is possible to raise these issues, including where there are defects in the homes that are being built.
We now have the highest cancer survival rates ever, as I mentioned earlier. The latest figures show that an estimated 7,000 or more people are surviving cancer after successful NHS cancer treatment compared with three years ago, but there is still more to be done. My hon. Friend is absolutely right that early diagnosis is an important element of that. We are looking at how the development of smart technologies, which allow us to analyse great quantities of data quickly and with a higher degree of accuracy than we have through the intervention of human beings, can be used to ensure that we get that earlier diagnosis. By 2033, we want to see at least 50,000 more people each year being diagnosed at an early stage of prostate, ovarian, lung or bowel cancer.
As the hon. Lady will know, it is for the local NHS to make decisions about the future of local health services; these matters are not determined in Whitehall. I understand that the Sunderland and the South Tyneside hospital trusts have formed an alliance to improve the sustainability, quality and performance of hospital services. Local commissioners did consult the public and they agreed a number of service changes in February, which will improve services for patients.
As my hon. Friend says, on Monday, I did announce that we will use data, artificial intelligence and innovation to transform the prevention, early diagnosis and treatment of chronic diseases by 2030. I have just referenced, in response to my hon. Friend the Member for York Outer (Julian Sturdy), the fact that we want to see at least 50,000 more people each year being diagnosed at an early stage of prostate, ovarian, lung or bowel cancer. That will mean that, every year, around 22,000 fewer people will die within five years of their diagnosis compared with today. We are also committed to the highest possible standards in using data, which is why we brought forward the Data Protection Bill and have announced our intention to create a new centre for data ethics and innovation. Big data gives us a huge opportunity to improve services to patients in the NHS, but, of course, we must use that data very carefully, and patients need to have the confidence that it is being used carefully, and that is what we will do.
I look forward to meeting the hon. Gentleman, with the young carers, and I am sure that that will be a really interesting meeting. I am pleased that we will have the opportunity to hear directly from them.
On school funding, as the hon. Gentleman knows, the new national funding formula is providing for a cash increase for every school in every region, as well as protected funding for those with additional needs, but it is important that the Department for Education is helping to bear down on costs that schools are experiencing. That is exactly what my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education is doing—ensuring that the Department is giving support to schools where it is needed.
My hon. Friend draws attention to a very important sector in our economy. The motor industry does play a very significant role in our economy.
Our exit from the EU provides us with an opportunity to forge a new role for ourselves, to become that great global trading nation and to have those other trade deals around the world, but we also need to ensure that we provide as much certainty as we can at an early stage. That is why we are working with businesses and other stakeholders, including the motor industry, and looking for as free and frictionless trade as possible between the UK and the EU—because we want to see that trade flowing freely and those integrated supply chains being able to work as well as possible. That is what we are working for in our future partnership.
I think that I answered comments about the national health service in response to the Leader of the Opposition, but I will just reiterate: this Government are committed. We are putting extra funding into our national health service; we are committed to a long-term plan for our national health service that will give it certainty and sustainability over a longer period of time than through the annual budget-making process; and we are committed to a national health service that remains free at the point of delivery.
The Prime Minister knows that stem cell transplants are the only lifeline for leukaemia patients. Tragically, children such as five-year-old Kaiya and 11-year-old Rajie, whose families are in Parliament today for a donor awareness event, have only a 21% chance of finding a donor match because there are simply not enough donors registered from an Asian background. Childhood leukaemia affects children of every ethnic group. Will the Prime Minister commit to leading a nationwide donor registration drive to help to save the lives of hundreds of children suffering from leukaemia, like Kaiya and Rajie?
I thank my right hon. Friend for raising this issue, and for highlighting it with the experience of children like Kaiya and Rajie. I know that she is doing a lot of work to raise awareness of the lack of donors from Asian backgrounds, particularly with her event today in Parliament. We support efforts to raise awareness of the need to recruit more stem cell donors from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds. More than £20 million has been provided to NHS Blood and Transplant and Anthony Nolan for stem cell donations since 2015, and that includes very specific stipulations about the numbers of newly registered donors with units stored in the UK cord blood bank who must be from BAME backgrounds, and specific funding to support the recruitment of donors from BAME backgrounds. Of course more needs to be done. I am happy to voice my support for my right hon. Friend’s event, which I think is continuing to raise awareness of this important issue.
That is a decision for the owners of Wembley. It is a private matter; it is not a matter for the Government.
Just over five years ago, the Francis report was published, at the instigation of my hon. Friend the Member for Stone (Sir William Cash), and since then there have been major improvements in patient safety throughout the NHS. Just in relation to County Hospital in Stafford, will my right hon. Friend congratulate the staff there, who have seen a great improvement over the years, with the result that in A&E we are now seeing more patients a day over 14 hours —I wish it was 24 hours—than we did previously over 24 hours, and the 95%-plus target being met on a weekly basis?
The Francis report was very important. It highlighted an area of deep concern about what had been happening at the local hospital. I welcome what my hon. Friend says about County Hospital and the work that is being done there. Excellent work is being done to provide safety to patients, to provide more treatments for patients, and to provide those services to his constituents and others.
May I paraphrase our former colleague, the late, great Eric Forth? Prime Minister, I believe in the free market, I believe in individual freedom and individual responsibility, and I am suspicious of the nanny state. Am I still a Conservative?
The Prime Minister and the Labour Leader of the Opposition—[Interruption.]
Order. Let us hear the full eloquence of the right hon. Gentleman’s flow and the flow of his eloquence.
The Prime Minister and the Labour Leader of the Opposition both agree that we should leave the single market and leave the European Union customs union, and that the public should not have a final say on the Brexit deal, so will the Prime Minister dispense with our tradition of party political point scoring and, in the spirit that I am setting, publicly thank the leadership of the Labour party for its help and support in making Brexit happen?
First of all, I am not sure about the position of the Labour party, because it is talking about a second referendum. Secondly, can I just say to the right hon. Gentleman that there is nobody in this House who knows more about party political point scoring than the Liberal Democrats?
Thank you for calling me at 12.43 pm, Mr Speaker. Your stewardship in allowing Back Benchers to get in to question the Prime Minister is much appreciated.
Prime Minister, how are the European Union negotiations going?
They are going with purpose, and with good intent and good will on both sides. We have negotiators in Brussels this week doing further work on those negotiations, and we are determined to deliver a good Brexit for the United Kingdom.
Mental health is now the No. 1 public health concern for a third of our country. Its importance has jumped 16 percentage points in the past year alone, yet the joint report published last week by the Health Committee and the Education Committee said that the Government’s strategy for young people’s mental health “lacks any ambition” and will fail a generation. Will the Prime Minister commit to think again and go back to the drawing board to ensure that we afford every young person in our country the best start in life?
We have committed to ensure that 70,000 more children and young people have access to high-quality NHS mental health care by 2020-21. We recognise the importance of young people’s mental health because something like half of mental health problems later in life started before the age of 14. That is why one of the initiatives the Government have taken is to ensure that staff in schools are trained to better identify mental health problems, and are better able to ensure that young people with mental health problems get the treatment and support that they need.
It is important, as the hon. Lady says, that mental health has risen up the scale of people’s concerns. I would like to think that that is partly because we have ensured that there is greater awareness of the issue of mental health. Everybody in the House has a job to ensure that we remove the stigma attached to mental health so that people feel able to come forward when they have mental health problems.
Does my right hon. Friend share the surprise that I felt, as a former Marks & Spencer employee, at the news that the Scottish National party Administration have bullied Marks & Spencer over the use of the word “British” and the Union flag on British produce? Will she stand with me against that petty bullying, and support companies that are proud of Scottish and British produce?
I absolutely agree with my hon. Friend. We should all be proud of Scottish and British produce, and of produce from any part of our United Kingdom. It is frankly appalling that the Scottish Government did not want to see the Union flag and the word “British” on produce. It is not only appalling; it fails to reflect the vote that took place in Scotland, which showed that people in Scotland want to stay part of the United Kingdom.
Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust is struggling to recruit doctors because of immigration rules. One example is an experienced paediatric doctor who has applied for a visa every month for six months, but has now given up because he has been rejected six times. What can the Prime Minister say to my constituents to reassure them that Home Office delays will not impact on the safety and health of their loved ones at this time of greatest need?
We keep the issue of tier 2 visas in relation to the health service under review. We have already taken steps. We took steps a while back to ensure that the numbers could be adjusted to reflect the need for nurses, and we continue to look at the situation in relation to doctors.