Will the Leader of the House please give us the forthcoming business?
The business for next week will include:
Monday 2 July—Estimates day (3rd allotted day). There will be a debate on estimates relating to the Ministry of Justice, Department of Health and Social Care and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.
Tuesday 3 July—Estimates day (4th allotted day). There will be a debate on estimates relating to the Department for Education and Her Majesty’s Treasury that relate to grants to the devolved institutions.
At 7 pm, the House will be asked to agree all outstanding estimates, followed by a motion relating to the appointment of trustees to the House Of Commons Members Fund.
Wednesday 4 July—Proceedings on the Supply and Appropriation (Main Estimates) Bill, followed by remaining stages of the Ivory Bill, followed by Opposition day (allotted half day). There will be a debate on a motion in the name of the Scottish National party, subject to be announced.
Thursday 5 July—General debate on the principle of proxy voting, followed by a debate on a motion on the future of the transforming care programme. The subject for this debate was determined by the Backbench Business Committee.
Friday 6 July—Private Members’ Bills.
The provisional business for the week commencing 9 July will include:
Monday 9 July—Consideration of a business of the House motion, followed by proceedings on the Northern Ireland Budget (No.2) Bill.
Alongside the news that the EU withdrawal Bill received Royal Assent, there are a couple of other things to celebrate in Parliament this week. First, the House of Commons Library reaches the ripe old age of 200; that is 200 years the House has benefited from this crucial service and for that we are very grateful. Secondly, the Voice & Vote exhibition has launched in Westminster Hall and is open right through to October. Visitors can see just how far women in politics have come since they were hidden behind the brass grilles above this very Chamber. In this Vote 100 year, it is bound to be a hugely popular event. I hope many will come to Westminster to relive those achievements. Finally, it is National Democracy Week next week. There is a huge programme of events taking place right across Whitehall and I look forward to being a part of it.
Thank you. I echo very much what the Leader of the House has just said about the magnificent and celebratory exhibition in Westminster Hall, and in echoing that I urge people attending our proceedings today if they have a little spare time and have not already viewed the exhibition to do so. An enormous amount of specialist loving care and preparation have gone into it and, like the Leader of the House, I am very proud of the exhibition. I joined the Lords Speaker and the Chair of the Women and Equalities Committee on Tuesday evening formally to open it, and it is well worth seeing.
I thank the Leader of the House for announcing the business; we are back to a week and a day.
When the Leader of the House tables a change in Standing Orders, will she give the Opposition sight of the motion? We did not have that when there was a change from three to five days in the estimates motion. There was no prior discussion through the Whips Office or the usual channels. Can she let us know the reasons behind the change?
May I also pick up on what the Leader of the House said about me a couple of weeks ago? She said I was not
“fulfilling the democratic will of the people of Walsall.”—[Official Report, 14 June 2018; Vol. 642, c. 1102.]
My constituency may have voted to leave, but one ward voted to remain and my job—and the job of all Members—is to balance the 48% and the 52%. Our duty is to act in the best interests of all our constituents and the whole of the UK. We have to hear the evidence on the impact. Perhaps she will rephrase that and wait for the Electoral Commission report on the leave campaign during the referendum. I am sure she will find time to debate that report in Government time and, in the meantime, join me in congratulating the excellent journalist Carole Cadwalladr in winning the George Orwell prize for her investigative work with the whistleblower Christopher Wylie, which resulted in an apology from Facebook and the collapse of Cambridge Analytica because they misused personal data.
Saturday is the International Day of Parliamentarism—I think that is how it is pronounced—a new day that was agreed by the United Nations, which adopted a resolution on the interaction between the UN, national Parliaments and the Inter-Parliamentary Union. Of course, this Government voted down the fact that Parliament is sovereign last week. They do not want to give Parliament a final say. The Leader of the House will know that that had nothing to do with the negotiations; all that Parliament wanted was to be sovereign and to have a final say on the terms of the deal.
We need that final say because the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union first told us that there were no sectoral analyses, then, after pressure from the Opposition, he published them. He then said that there was no preliminary analysis on our exiting EU; then he published it. Now he says that there is a White Paper, but it is apparently written in invisible ink. We need to know when it will be published. Will the Leader of the House tell us when that will happen? Will she also tell us whether the Trade Bill and the Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Bill will return before the recess? They seem to be stuck in a legislative logjam, and we do not appear to have anything to do after 9 July. Will she table the next stages of those Bills?
How do we mark Armed Forces Day on Saturday? The Opposition Labour party has called for proper investment in our armed forces so that the UK can retain its rightful place as a tier 1 military nation, and I am pleased to see that the Defence Secretary has now joined us in making that call. Will the Leader of the House tell us when the Government will make time for a statement on restoring our armed forces to a tier 1 military nation?
It was Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Day yesterday. We have heard what the Foreign Secretary thinks of business, and the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care joined in last Sunday. The Tory leader in Wales has had to resign over his anti-business comments. Business leaders have rightly raised their concerns, in a measured way, about what they are going to do to plan for their workforce and for their companies. And, as if to underline the Government’s anti-business credentials, they have now turned off the switch on the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon. This seems to be an anti-business, anti-innovative Government.
The Leader of the House has announced an estimates day on the NHS. When can we have a debate on Torbay—another council that is about to collapse? It was a pioneer in integrated care. As a member of the Health Committee, I visited Torbay, where I saw an integrated service that tracked “Mrs Smith” from the start of the process in social care, through the NHS and back out again. They told us that, when the Health and Social Care Bill became an Act, they would not be able to pool the budgets. When we went to Denmark, they wanted to look at our system. They looked at Torbay and reminded us about “Mrs Smith”.
The Government seem to be too busy fighting among themselves to fight for this country. We have the Defence Secretary at loggerheads with the Chancellor, who has had to concede to the Health Secretary, promising money that the Chancellor said he did not have. The Chief Secretary to the Treasury has said that the Environment Secretary is talking nonsense, and the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union has apparently pulled a white rabbit out of a hat, rather than a White Paper. The Leader of the House has also joined in, saying that the Environment Secretary and the Trade Secretary are tearing to shreds the Prime Minister’s preferred option for the customs partnership. There’s loyalty for you.
I want to join the Leader of the House in talking about some positive aspects. My hon. Friend the Member for Torfaen (Nick Thomas-Symonds) is having a discussion on the political life of Nye Bevan. He will be speaking on the NHS in the Macmillan Room on Wednesday and, with your kind permission, Mr Speaker, hosting a reception in Speaker’s House. I also want to celebrate 200 years of the Library, which is absolutely fantastic. Again thanks to you, Mr Speaker, there will be a reception in Speaker’s House. I want to join you and the Leader of the House in thanking Melanie Unwin and Mari Takayanagi, who have taken four years to curate the Voice & Vote exhibition in Westminster Hall. I, too, encourage all Members and their constituents to visit that fantastic exhibition.
The hon. Lady has asked about estimates day debates. I am sure she is aware that estimates are laid annually rather than sessionally. This means that the Government must request supply from the House twice a year. The motion tabled by the Government and agreed by the House on Tuesday made provision for next week’s debates to take place in line with the recommendations of the Liaison Committee and the Procedure Committee, and in accordance with Monday’s resolution of the House about the subject of the debates. She claimed not to know any of that, but I am sure that, if she were to ask, she would find that those are the clear conventions of the House.
The hon. Lady asked about the legislative programme and claims that no progress is being made. I say to her again, as I often do, that 36 important Bills have been introduced so far this Session; that is absolutely in line with other parliamentary Sessions. Nineteen Bills have been sent for Royal Assent already, hundreds of statutory instruments have been passed by each House, and seven draft Bills have been published.
The hon. Lady likes to imply that important business is not going on, yet just yesterday we had the Second Reading of the Offensive Weapons Bill, which seeks to make it harder for young people to buy knives and acid online and seeks to ban possession of such awful things as zombie knives, knuckle dusters and “death stars”. Those are incredibly important domestic pieces of legislation that really matter to the country, if not the Opposition. Our energy price caps Bill is on track; the Tenant Fees Bill will make renting easier and fairer; the Ivory Bill will introduce the toughest ban in the world; and our Data Protection Act is already making sure that the UK maintains our gold standard in data protection. It is extraordinary that the hon. Lady does not seem to be aware of this important legislation.
The hon. Lady says that the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill is an affront to Parliament; I do not think that of a Bill on which more than 280 hours of debate took place, to which there were more than 1,400 amendments and to which both Houses have contributed significant changes, or of a Bill that will give certainty for citizens and businesses in this country as we leave the EU in March 2019. That is what the people of this country, including in Walsall—the hon. Lady’s part of the country—voted for: a democratic vote of the majority of the people. All Members across the House should welcome that.
It is a great shame that Opposition Members are all over the place—some in the Aye Lobby, some in the No Lobby, some sitting on their hands and some just disappearing from this place altogether. I found it extraordinary that the Opposition chose to vote against programme motions earlier this week, but then disappeared; having lost the programme motion, they had nothing further to say on the subject. It is absolutely astonishing—not on the part of the Government, but on the part of the Opposition. They do not know what they are doing.
The hon. Lady talked about the armed forces, and I absolutely pay tribute to their amazing work at this important time. But again, I gently point out that it is the Government side of the House that has enshrined the armed forces covenant in law; has provided nearly £500 million from LIBOR bank fines to support armed forces charities and other good causes; has provided £200 million for the Forces Help to Buy; has allowed £68 million on upgrading service family accommodation; and is providing far more support for veterans than ever before. The armed forces do a fantastic job and we will continue to support them. We will continue to have a £37 billion defence budget and to be the second biggest defence spender in NATO. That is incredibly important for the security and safety of people in this country.
The hon. Lady asks about business and Brexit. She likes to suggest, as Opposition Members have, that not much consultation is going on. I can tell her that Department for Exiting the European Union Ministers alone have undertaken more than 500 recorded engagements with businesses since July 2016. The Secretaries of State for DExEU and for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, along with the Chancellor, have an EU exit business advisory group, involving the directors general of the CBI, the Institute of Directors, the EEF, the British Chambers of Commerce and the Federation of Small Businesses. We have hosted many CEOs from a range of businesses across the economy at events at Chevening House.
It is this Government who are listening to the needs of businesses; that is why we have negotiated for an implementation period, which was welcomed by those businesses. That is absolutely vital. It is a great shame that Opposition Members cannot seem to decide what they support. They are certainly not supporting a successful Brexit for the United Kingdom in March 2019. Fortunately, it is this Government and our Prime Minister who are determined to achieve a Brexit that will work for all parts of the United Kingdom.
Will my right hon. Friend find time for a debate on noise pollution? You and your deputies, Mr Speaker, do an admirable job in dealing with noise in this Chamber, but the same cannot be said about Southend West at the moment. I am receiving increasing complaints from local residents about noise from various venues, not to mention the thorny problem of aircraft noise.
As ever, my hon. Friend raises an interesting point, and one that is of great importance not only to his constituents but to many across the country. The Government are committed to making sure that noise is managed effectively in order to promote good health and quality of life. To avoid significant noise impacts, we have strong protections in place in our planning system, in our environmental permitting systems, in our vehicle and product standards regulations and, of course, in our noise abatement legislation. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs will be engaging closely with stakeholders in the months ahead on what more we can do to effectively manage noise in ways that best address the country’s needs.
I thank the Leader of the House for announcing the business for next week. I fully endorse what she said and what you said, Mr Speaker, about the Voice & Vote exhibition in Westminster Hall.
As Gareth Southgate’s finest get ready to face the might of Belgium, the Prime Minister, almost ironically, is off to Brussels today. I wonder who will fare better in the battles with Barnier’s barmy bureaucrat army. Where Gareth Southgate has Harry Kane as his mercurial, talismanic front man, the Prime Minister has, well, the Foreign Secretary and his woeful disciplinary record and tendency to mouth off at his own side before being offered up for transfer. Where Southgate’s side is a well-organised, disciplined unit, the Prime Minister’s could not be more shambolic and undisciplined—they are more likely to score a series of own goals. As all the St George’s flags go up today, we can all join in: we only sing when we’re leaving.
May we please have a debate on all this dark money that is running rampant through some political parties in this House? Earlier this week, an investigation by BBC Northern Ireland shone a shocking light on the practices of former Scottish Conservative vice-chair Richard Cook and some of the leave campaign’s funding. The investigation raises further questions about donations to the Scottish Conservatives.
The shady Scottish Unionist Association Trust has given or loaned some £319,000 to Conservative candidates in Scotland. This trust has no official address and no history of transparency but has made donations to at least two Scottish Conservative Members. I have asked the Electoral Commission to fully investigate the Scottish Unionist Association Trust—this murky organisation has been bankrolling the Tories in Scotland for the past few years—but we need a full debate on this dark money, as I fear we have seen only the tip of the Scottish Tory dodgy donations iceberg.
Lastly, the Scottish schools have broken up for the summer holidays. Whereas Members representing English constituencies will again benefit from being able to spend the full summer holidays with their school-age children, we from Scotland will not. On behalf of all Scottish Members here today, I thank the Leader of the House once again.
The hon. Gentleman did not say who he will be supporting today. Is it Belgium or is it England? Is it the Prime Minister or is it Michel Barnier? It would be interesting to know the answers, but I appreciate that it is for me to answer the questions, and I absolutely assure him that I will be supporting England all the way. I would go a step further and say that I will always support the entire United Kingdom.
What about the Prime Minister?
I fully support the Prime Minister, and I think she is doing a superb job of representing the interests of the entire United Kingdom as we seek a good Brexit.
The hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire (Pete Wishart) asked about the Electoral Commission, and this is a very serious issue. There are Scotland questions on 11 July, and I expect and anticipate that he will raise the question then, which would be the appropriate point.
I am very aware and very concerned that schools in Scotland break up sooner than schools in other parts of the United Kingdom. As I promised I would, I have sought a childcare solution for Scottish Members, and I understand from feedback that it is not exactly what they wanted. I am keen to try to help with this, and I do understand. It is difficult for all of us when we want to spend time with our children in the holidays, and I am keen to meet the hon. Gentleman and his colleagues to discuss what more we can do to facilitate some of their children being able to spend a bit of time enjoying themselves here while, at the same time, having time with their parents.
I think the hon. Member for Dudley South (Mike Wood) is sporting a kind of England tie, and we should hear from the fellow. His tie is very natty indeed.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Britain has a record number of outstanding breweries, including four in my constituency and the excellent Hook Norton Brewery in that of my hon. Friend the Member for Banbury (Victoria Prentis), whom I am meeting this afternoon. Might we have time for a debate on the opportunities after Brexit to restructure beer duty in order to support not only our excellent brewers, but our vital community pubs?
I know my hon. Friend chairs the all-party group on beer, which promotes great UK beers. I have a number of brewers in my constituency who have had the pleasure of bringing a barrel to the Strangers’ Bar here in Parliament. We are all big supporters of brewers in our own areas, and he is right to point out the opportunities Brexit provides. These beers are superb UK products, and we need to do everything we can to promote the excellent and rising exports of British food and drink as we leave the EU.
In the aftermath of yesterday’s events in Russia, I am just wondering whether the Leader of the House can explain to the House what the word “schadenfreude” means.
I know this is a big ask, but I really would welcome it if, through the usual channels, we could get an early indication of the time allocations for the Backbench Business Committee in both the run-up to the summer recess and the two weeks in September, as we have to try to plan ahead for those eventualities. Lastly, yesterday I had the privilege of hosting a very successful lobby by providers, workers and clients of the care sector for adults with learning difficulties and disabilities. There is a big problem with back pay for sleep-in workers, which has not yet been resolved. May we have an early indication or a statement from the Government about how that is progressing, because the sector is becoming very uneasy about it and some contractors are actually thinking about handing in contracts and leaving local authorities with the burden of looking after their clients, and that will be a big problem?
I feel I should say that I felt quite sad for Germany, as it was a difficult blow yesterday—
Sorry, but I did feel some sympathy there. We will absolutely take on board the hon. Gentleman’s request for as much notice as possible of Backbench Business Committee days in the run-up to the recess and in our September sitting. I will take that away and discuss it with my right hon. Friend the Chief Whip. The hon. Gentleman also raises the important issue of adults with learning disabilities. He will be aware that the subject has serious implications for the charities sector, with many organisations facing significant bills should what he suggests be the solution on back pay. The Government are looking carefully at the issue, which could be a useful subject for a Backbench Business Committee debate—he could apply to himself for that. I know the Government would welcome any debate on a resolution to this very tricky issue.
Being a footballing aficionado yourself, Mr Speaker, you will know that England’s progress in the World cup has spawned a patriotic, heartwarming display of flags in homes across the nation. It is time that Government caught up with the people. The Department for International Trade was the first this morning to raise the cross of St George. Will the Leader of the House arrange for a Minister to come here to assure us that all Government buildings will fly the flag, as this is an urgent matter? You know that this is about even more than sport. When that which unites us is greater than any division, communal pride and shared endeavour nourish the national interest and nurture the common good.
How very beautiful.
My right hon. Friend is never short of things to say about anything, which is a great relief to the House. As the Prime Minister said yesterday, it is her intention to fly the England flag over Downing Street not only today, but next year when the women’s world championships take place. That is important, and I entirely support the equality there, but I also encourage all other Whitehall Departments to consider whether they, too, can support England in the crucial battle this evening.
I thank the Leader of the House for what she said and the right hon. Gentleman for his characteristically eloquent, almost poetical, inquiry. In response to what the Leader of the House said on the Government’s behalf, I am keen that the House shows its support for the England team in the World cup, as I would be if any of the other home nations were competing, as I hope that they will be in 2022. I have therefore decided that the House of Commons will indeed fly the St George’s flag for the next England game, which will be on Monday 2 July or Tuesday 3 July, dependent on the outcome of today’s match against Belgium. I know that I speak for the whole House in wishing the three lions the best of luck tonight.
I have been mugging up on the hon. Gentleman’s illustrious local government career over the past half an hour. Llwchwr and Lliw unitary district council benefited from the hon. Gentleman’s membership of it between 1972 and 1979, when he was an august lecturer at Swansea University. I am sure the hon. Gentleman is pleased to be reminded of that important part of his distinguished career, and the House is now also aware of it.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. I also thank all the people who put together that great exhibition, from which we will all benefit. Quite soon, we ought also to celebrate the emancipation of working-class men—men without property—who waited a long, long time to get the vote. It was only in 1892 that Kier Hardy was the first Labour MP elected—ironically for West Ham.
I have a very serious question about health. Yes, we have had some interesting and positive news about there being more money for the health service, but may we have a focused debate on the way in which so many health trusts and communities are blighted by bad private finance initiatives? They are not going to go away and many areas, including Huddersfield, will never overcome the barriers that we have to good health provision until someone sorts out the PFI burden.
I heartily agree with you, Mr Speaker: were any of the other nations of the United Kingdom in the World cup, we would of course all be shouting for them. I absolutely agree with that. I also wholeheartedly agree with the hon. Gentleman that we should celebrate the right of working-class men to get the vote. I am afraid that that is slightly overshadowed, albeit understandably, by the first women getting the vote, but he is nevertheless right to point out the significant triumph of working-class men getting the vote in that same Act. I join him in commending them.
The hon. Gentleman raised an important point about health and the issues relating to PFIs and what they have done. I remember that when I was a Back-Bench member of the Treasury Committee, we published a widely viewed report, which included a wide range of participation, on PFI and some of the horrors of how it had damaged finances, not only in the health sector but in schools and so on. The hon. Gentleman will be aware that great efforts were made to see what could be done to ensure that future PFIs did not suffer from the same problems. I encourage him to raise the issue at Treasury questions next Tuesday, because although he asked about PFIs for hospitals, it is the Treasury that can actually influence what happens with PFIs, both retrospectively and going forward.
I draw the House’s attention to the fact that Tottenham or ex-Tottenham players are scoring almost all the goals in the World cup.
I wish to raise a serious point: the impending closure of the Swaminarayan School in Neasden means that 1,000 pupils and their parents will lose the school of their choice, and Hindu education in north-west London will be extremely damaged as a result. Will my right hon. Friend find time in the Government agenda for a debate on religious education, because parents should be able to choose the type of education that they wish for their children?
My hon. Friend raises an important constituency matter. I encourage him to seek an Adjournment debate about the particular school he mentioned. The need for parental choice is of course absolutely key. However, I am sure he would join me in celebrating the fact that now, overall, 1.9 million more pupils are in good or outstanding schools than in 2010, and 89% of schools in England are now rated as good or outstanding, up from 68% in 2010. This Government have taken education in a good and strong direction, including in respect of parental choice, but I encourage my hon. Friend to seek to speak to Ministers directly.
Can we have a statement on the Government’s support for business? I note that the Leader of the Conservatives in the Welsh Assembly has resigned following his inflammatory remarks about Airbus after it expressed its reasonable concerns about Brexit. Who would have thought that senior Conservatives would turn their back on business?
The hon. Gentleman will know that it is this Government and it is the Conservatives who, over the years, have always backed businesses. We have presided over lowering corporation tax rates to ensure that businesses are more competitive and presided over reducing regulation that creates enormous burdens for businesses. As I said to the hon. Member for Walsall South (Valerie Vaz) when she made her accusations about business in the run-up to Brexit, it is this Government who have been listening to businesses all the way through. It is the reason why we have sought an implementation period for our departure from the European Union to ensure that there is continuity for business. That is vital. There is enormous engagement going on, and that will continue to be the case as we seek a good trade deal that works for businesses in the UK as well as for those in the EU 27.
On Saturday, Forres will host the European pipe band championships for the final time. Every year since 2013, when it was first held, more than 20,000 visitors have gone to Grant park for this event, and the natural amphitheatre makes it very highly regarded by competitors from around the world. Can we have a debate on the success of piping at Forres, which will also allow us the opportunity to congratulate the army of volunteers who have put in so much effort to make this a truly world-class event?
As ever, my hon. Friend is raising what sounds like an excellent constituency event. May I particularly commend him, because, as an assistant referee, he could right now be taking part in the World cup, but he has chosen instead to be here in this place representing his constituency? I join him in congratulating all those involved in the European pipe band championships. I know how successful they have been with countless hard-working volunteers. More than 100 bands from across the world are due to attend on Saturday. I do wish them all a fantastic day.
It is really not good enough simply to cancel the Swansea Bay lagoon and put the whole issue of lagoon technology for renewable energy at risk. North Wales also has proposals for a lagoon, which, following the Hendry review, is now completely up in the air. Will the Minister give time for a debate on whether lagoon technology has a future?
The right hon. Gentleman will be aware that the Government have looked very carefully at the issue of the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon, and at the other projects as well. As he will be aware, the Swansea Bay proposal would cost £1.3 billion to build, but would have produced only around 0.15% of the electricity that we use each year, which is a capital cost more than three times as much per unit of electricity as Hinkley Point C. Therefore, it simply was not good value for the taxpayer.
However, I stress that this Government have been absolutely committed to success in Wales, as demonstrated, I think, by abolishing tolls on the Severn bridge by the end of 2018; by the city and growth deals that have been signed for Cardiff and Swansea; by the deals that are being negotiated for north Wales; by the Government’s willingness to look at a deal for mid-Wales as well; and by the £150 million for the Swansea Bay city deal, which will deliver £1.3 billion of investment to the region and 9,000 jobs. This Government are fully committed to the success of Wales commensurate with good value for taxpayers’ money.
Next Friday, 63 Bills will be offered for Second Reading. None of them will be debated. Four of them are in my name: one to end voter fraud; another to abolish hospital car parking charges; another to have a Business of the House Committee; and another to have an independence day bank holiday on 23 June. A senior Whip will jump up and object to all those Bills. It is a complete farce. Does the Leader of the House agree that the private Member’s Bill system needs reform, and that the Government will continue to block every private Member’s Bill that does not have a Second Reading debate?
The Government are fully committed to the success of both the process and the reality of private Members’ Bills. The number of PMBs passed under this Government and the coalition Government far exceeds that of the last Labour Government. In the 2005 Parliament, 22 private Members’ Bills received Royal Assent. In 2010, 31 private Members’ Bills received Royal Assent; and if we include the 2015 to 2017 Parliament, the number is more than double that achieved in 2005. There is no question but that there are some very important private Members’ Bills, including the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation and Liability for Housing Standards) Bill of the hon. Member for Westminster North (Ms Buck) and the Stalking Protection Bill from my hon. Friend the Member for Totnes (Dr Wollaston). These are very important measures that the Government are pleased to support. The Select Committee on Procedure reviewed the PMB process in the last Parliament and the Government responded to its reports. Should the Committee choose to look further at the PMB process, the Government and I will of course look closely at its recommendations.
On the football theme, with a German husband, obviously last night was fairly traumatic in our household, although it does spare me from having to watch another several weeks of football. Quite unexpectedly for Conservative Members, let me say that we wish the England team well. They are having great success and it is great to see them not suffering from being put away in military camps, as has been the case in the past.
On a serious note, the scandal in Gosport has again raised the issue of whistleblowers and their importance to patient safety. May we have a debate in Government time on the reform of the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998? The legislation is 20 years old and frankly does not provide any protection to whistleblowers; when they come forward in good faith, they discover that they are throwing their careers down the pan. That is wrong and it is dangerous.
With regards to the hon. Lady’s remarks about the football, may I say that every cloud has a silver lining?
My husband will not be happy if he hears this.
I did say that I felt very sorry for the Germans; the hon. Lady can pass that on to him. I thank her for confirming that she and Members of the Scottish National party wish the England team luck. That is no surprise to hon. Members across the House. We are a family with ancient, historic, cultural and familial links that we should celebrate at all times.
The hon. Lady raised an incredibly important point about the Gosport review and the independent panel’s report. As she knows, the Health Secretary came to update the House on the findings of the Gosport review as soon as he was able last week. I am sure that there will be further reports from Ministers on how we intend to tackle the matter, but the hon. Lady makes a very sensible suggestion, which I encourage her to raise directly with Ministers.
It has been a particularly unpleasant summer for some residents in towns such as Thatcham and Newbury, and in the area of my constituency neighbour, my hon. Friend the Member for Reading West (Alok Sharma), because of illegal encampments by Travellers. Would my right hon. Friend consider an opportunity in this House for colleagues who have experienced similar problems in their constituencies to raise the need for a change in the law? The situation is totally unacceptable for law-abiding people whose lives have been made a misery by the selfish and illegal actions of these individuals.
My right hon. Friend raises an issue that, unfortunately, crops up time and again in this place, as many hon. and right hon. Members have grave concerns about illegal Traveller encampments in their constituencies. He will be aware that we have recently had debates on the subject, both in this Chamber and in Westminster Hall. The Government are now looking at whether there are sufficient powers and it is a matter of enforcement, or whether more powers are needed to enable local authorities to deal effectively with what is a really serious problem for local communities.
Last week I asked the Leader of the House to outline how the Government would update us on progress on their serious violence strategy. She was not entirely sure on how but said that they would do so. As part of the early intervention and prevention aspect of the work, can we have a debate on adverse childhood experiences?
I would certainly support a debate on adverse childhood experiences. In fact, someone I have worked with for many years who is a real expert in that subject was here only this week for a Select Committee inquiry into adverse childhood experiences and the impact on early brain development. The hon. Lady is absolutely right to raise the very serious issue of the impact of appalling early experiences on young people who then find themselves on the conveyor belt into a life of crime. I would welcome a debate on that. I have said to her that Ministers will come forward with further updates, and that remains the case. If she wants to write to me, I can take it up directly with Ministers on her behalf, but in the meantime, I strongly urge her to seek a Backbench or Adjournment debate to raise the issue of ACEs.
Responsible waste management is vital to increase recycling and reduce landfill, but it ought not to be a tortuous or overly expensive process for small businesses. Some create very little waste, which can be managed alongside domestic refuse at no additional cost to the business or the environment. Can we have a debate on Bolton Council’s extreme interpretation of the law, which results in less recycling, more landfill, small business fines and harassment?
My hon. Friend is quite right to raise that important constituency issue. Businesses are responsible for finding their own waste operator, so that they can choose one whose charges fit their budget. Some councils collect business waste but will charge for that. He is right that we intend to review how business waste is handled. We want businesses to recycle more and to play their part in reducing waste to landfill. More detail of that will be in the resources and waste strategy that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs will publish in autumn.
In terms of the loyalty test, this London Scot always supports England—except when they play Scotland. I hope the whole House wishes the Prime Minister well in negotiations with Monsieur Barnier; it is not the best day to be in Brussels, but that is another matter.
Can we have a statement from the Ministry of Justice on the operation of first-tier tribunals, especially with regard to section 24 powers, which appear to be failing so badly? I have written and have failed on four occasions so far to secure an Adjournment debate on the subject, so anything the Leader of the House can do would be very much appreciated.
I thank the hon. Gentleman for putting on the record his views on the football prowess of the United Kingdom. Perhaps we ought to have a survey of all Members, so that everyone can put their priorities on the record. This is fast becoming a serious and important issue.
The hon. Gentleman raises a key point about first-tier tribunals. There are Justice questions on 10 July, and I encourage him to raise that directly with Ministers then, or if he wants to write to me, I can take it up on his behalf.
In my constituency and across the wider NHS Grampian area, there has been a surge in deaths over the past year linked to the use of the drug alprazolam, a tranquiliser that is commonly marketed under the brand name of Xanax. The drug is not available on the NHS, but an investigation by my local newspaper, the Evening Express, showed that the drug can be obtained within minutes online. The rate of fatalities in north-east Scotland has been described as a public health emergency, and while the biggest rises were in areas such as Grampian, Police Scotland has said that this is a national problem that needs to be addressed. Does my right hon. Friend agree that the House must debate this urgent matter?
My hon. Friend is absolutely right to raise that important and concerning issue. In Scotland, health and justice are devolved matters. However, misuse of drugs such as Xanax, which is the brand name for alprazolam, is a cause for concern across the whole of the UK, and we remain vigilant to take any measures deemed necessary to address those issues. For example, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency is currently running a behavioural change campaign to warn people about the dangers of buying drugs online. He is right to raise that, and I encourage him to seek an Adjournment debate, so that he can take it up directly with Ministers.
Last week, I attended a fantastic assembly at St Vincent’s RC school in Norden in my constituency, and I pay tribute to all the work done by the pupils and teachers on the Send My Friend to School “Make Schools Safe” campaign. May we have a debate in Government time on such campaigns, and on how we can help our international partners achieve sustainable development goal 4 on quality education for all?
I join the hon. Lady in congratulating St Vincent’s school on its work. Many young people are taking part in these fantastic campaigns. She will be aware that we will have International Development questions next Wednesday— 4 July—and I encourage her to raise the question of what more can be done directly with Ministers then.
A recent report provided evidence that trade could be increased by £12 billion and 150,000 jobs created in the north of England if seven major ports, including Immingham in my constituency, were given free port status, which would clearly be a massive boost to the economy post-Brexit. Will the Leader of the House find time for a debate in Government time to explore these great opportunities?
I am certainly interested in the issue of free ports, and my hon. Friend is right to raise the potential of ports such as Immingham. We will have Transport questions on Thursday 5 July, when he may like to take that up directly with Ministers.
The Transport Committee’s report out today confirms that regions such as Yorkshire and the Humber have not received a fair share of rail funding for years and that the formula used by the Department for Transport is unfair to northern regions. May we have a debate in Government time on what exactly the Government will do to remedy this unfair situation and give regions such as mine the transport system that we deserve?
We in the Government are embarking on the biggest rail investment programme since the Victorian era. Thanks to our £48 billion investment in the rail network, we are rebuilding stations up and down the country, improving the carbon footprint and enabling many hundreds of thousands more passengers to use the rail network. The hon. Lady raises a very important issue about the fairness of infrastructure spending in the different regions. She will be aware that we have Transport questions on 5 July, when she may want to raise this specific issue with Ministers.
Last week, along with several other Members of the House, I was able to attend the royal highland show. May we have time in this place for a debate to allow us to congratulate the organisers of the show, particularly the food producers, farmers and other exhibitors who put on such a fantastic show of British farming?
I absolutely join my hon. Friend in congratulating all those involved in the royal highland show. Every year, the show demonstrates the very best of the UK’s world-leading food and drink sector. It is a testament to all those involved that such large crowds flock to it. I gather that nearly 200,000 visitors attended this year’s show. There is no doubt that it is the premier fixture in Scotland’s farming calendar, and I understand that it generates over £200 million for businesses.
Mr Speaker, I warmly welcome your announcement about flying the St George’s flag over this building next week. I, too, was sorry to see Germany exit the World cup yesterday, mainly because I had Germany in the parliamentary Labour party sweepstake.
Will the Leader of the House join me in welcoming the official opening of the Denby Dale and District men’s shed in my constituency recently? The volunteers there are absolutely phenomenal. Whether it is to go along and do a few crafts or simply have a cuppa and a chinwag, these men’s sheds and men’s clubs do wonderful work, particularly in addressing the issue of men’s mental health and social isolation. May we have a debate on what men’s clubs bring to our society?
I am deeply sorry that the hon. Lady has lost her stake. I am sure it was not too great a stake, but she probably had high hopes after drawing Germany in that sweepstake.
The hon. Lady raises an incredibly important point. Men’s sheds do amazing work to try to improve men’s mental health. This is often forgotten, but as we know, a key reason for death, particularly in young men, is suicide due to mental health problems. I absolutely join her in congratulating all those involved in the men’s shed work in her constituency, and I wish them every success with it in the future.
Nether Whitacre Parish Council in my constituency has highlighted the challenges its rural villages face from non-compliance with planning regulations in the green belt, saying that regular abusers of the planning system ignore requests from the local planning authority to remove temporary buildings. Following the recent Government consultation, can we have an urgent debate on how planning enforcement powers can be strengthened to further protect our countryside from unauthorised development?
My hon. Friend is a strong campaigner for his area. As he knows, local planning authorities have a wide range of enforcement powers and strong penalties for non-compliance available to them to tackle unauthorised development. It is for them to decide how and when to use those powers, but as we have discussed, the recent consultation sought views on what, if any, further powers might be useful, particularly to help bring proceedings to quicker conclusions. We are looking at the responses to the consultation, and an announcement on the way forward will be made as soon as possible.
The Transport Committee, which published its report this morning, says that the
“Government must increase support for regions short-changed on rail spending”.
It also criticises the cancellation of rail electrification schemes. With the cancellation carnage at TransPennine and the already cut-down service under the emergency timetable from Northern Rail, and given that the Prime Minister has not yet responded to the One North campaign by northern newspapers, can the Secretary of State for Transport please come to the House to give a statement about what is happening about rail in the north?
The hon. Lady is right to speak up for her area. She will recall that the Secretary of State for Transport was here just last week for an Opposition day debate to talk about the rail situation, and he was keen to answer all questions pertaining to rail. We have Transport questions next Thursday, on 5 July, and I encourage her to take this up directly with him then.
I want to pick up on the point made by my hon. Friend—he really should be right honourable by now—the Member for Perth and North Perthshire (Pete Wishart) about childcare. No sooner will we come back from the conference recess than Scottish schools will go off on their October mid-term breaks, sometimes for two weeks. I would be very grateful if the Leader of the House were willing to meet me and others with an interest to see how the family room could be used for that purpose, rather than, as often happens, as a mobile office or, indeed, a World cup viewing room. If we could have that meeting, it would be appreciated.
As I said to the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire (Pete Wishart), I am keen to help provide a solution to this problem and would be very happy to meet the hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends to discuss it further.
I drew Panama in our office sweepstake, so my Sunday was not so good—my cup doth not runneth over. As the World cup continues, will the Leader of the House join me in celebrating Bristol’s Easton Cowboys and Cowgirls, who have grown from a mates’ football kick-about to a loved Bristol sports club, social organisation and campaigning force, showing the world, through their activities, how football truly helps both world peace and community spirit?
I would have thought that the hon. Lady would be delighted to lose her stake, because it enabled England to face Belgium this evening, but nevertheless I am of course delighted to join her in congratulating her local community football group. It is true that sports of all sorts, but particularly football clubs, can engage young people and communities and do so much for their local communities. I wish them every success.
I, too, send my best wishes to the English team in the World cup and welcome your initiative, Mr Speaker, to fly the flag. Across Northern Ireland, flags are flying everywhere—for a different reason, of course, but none the less they are flying, and our support for the English team is there.
Recent research conducted by Christian Solidarity Worldwide demonstrates that more than 1,000 people were killed in attacks by Fulani herder militia in farming communities in the five months between 1 January and 1 May. The Fulani herder militia is believed to have murdered more men, women and children in 2015 to 2017 than Boko Haram. The 2017 global terrorism index estimates that 60,000 people have been killed in the violence since 2001, hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced and crops and livestock worth billions have been destroyed. There is concern that there could be full-scale civil war. If ever there was a need for a debate, this is the time.
I thank the hon. Gentleman for his confirmation of support for the England football team. That was not in any doubt, but we are grateful for the confirmation. He raises, as he often does, an appalling example of human rights abuses, which are of grave concern to the House wherever and whenever they occur around the world. He may like to take the matter up at International Development questions on Wednesday 4 July, in order to hear directly from Ministers what the United Kingdom can do to protect the human rights of people around the world.
As one of 38 Co-operative MPs in the House—we are the third-largest party grouping—I look forward to celebrating Co-operatives Fortnight, which kicks off on Monday, by visiting the Hawthorn housing co-operative in my constituency. I have been reading with great interest the Co-operative UK’s publication about the co-operative economy in 2018, which highlights the huge breadth of co-operative movements and mutual societies across the United Kingdom. Will the Leader of the House consider holding a debate in Government time about the huge importance of co-operative mutuals for the growth of our economy in the UK?
I absolutely applaud the hon. Gentleman for raising the value of the co-operative movement across the UK. I am a big fan of credit unions, which operate on a similar basis; they do so much to help people learn to save as well as borrow. The work that they do is incredibly valuable. I join him in congratulating the co-operative movement on all its efforts, and encourage him to seek a Back-Bench debate, so that he may share with other hon. Members their own experiences.
My constituent, Ms Tomasiak, applied for an EU registration certificate last May, after which her documents, including a Polish passport, were lost when the Home Office erroneously sent them to the wrong address. May we therefore have a statement or a debate in Government time regarding the issue of compensation payments, with a view to reconsidering why there is no process to forward-fund the costs incurred by families challenged by financial circumstances, in obtaining photographs and replacing documents, and their travel expenses and loss of earnings, in similar such cases?
The hon. Gentleman raises a very concerning constituency issue, and he is absolutely right to do so. I know that Home Office Ministers would be concerned to hear about it, and I encourage him to take it up directly with them; or if he wants to write to me directly, I can do so on his behalf.