The business for next week will be:
Monday 5 November—A general debate on the Dame Laura Cox report on the bullying and harassment of House of Commons staff, followed by a general debate on road safety.
Tuesday 6 November—A general debate on the centenary of the armistice.
The business for the week commencing 12 November will include:
Monday 12 November—Second Reading of the Finance (No. 3) Bill.
Tuesday 13 November—Opposition day (18th allotted day). There will be a debate on an Opposition motion, subject to be announced.
Wednesday 14 November—A debate on an Humble Address relating to the Prince of Wales’s 70th birthday, followed by Second Reading of the Healthcare (International Arrangements) Bill.
Thursday 15 November—A general debate on the veterans strategy.
Friday 16 November—The House will not be sitting.
Today marks the start of Men’s Health Awareness Month, which is an opportunity to raise awareness of the health—including mental health—issues that affect men, including suicide. In the UK, men remain three times as likely to take their own lives as women, and I wish good luck to everyone taking part in events this month.
During the short recess, I will be taking part in two events here in Parliament: the annual Youth Parliament debate in the Chamber; and the international women MPs’ conference, where female parliamentarians from around the world will come together to mark the centenary of some women winning the right to vote in the UK. Next week will also see Hindus celebrate the victory of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance. I am sure the whole House will join me in wishing all those celebrating the festival of light a very happy Diwali.
Before the next business question, we will have commemorated the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day. Many will attend services of remembrance throughout the country to honour the great sacrifice made by so many men and women during the war. Following discussions with your office, Mr Speaker, I advise all Members that on Tuesday 6 November, the House’s sitting will be suspended from 1.45 pm to 3.15 pm, so that Members can attend the remembrance service in St Margaret’s church. Wherever we are on the 11th day at the 11th hour, we will remember them.
I am grateful to the Leader of the House for what she said about the upcoming session of the UK Youth Parliament on 9 November. I am delighted that she will be here and I believe that the shadow Leader of the House will be here, too. I look forward to chairing those proceedings for the 10th successive year. The Youth Parliament is a huge credit to the young people of this country, and I hope that if Members happen to be available, they might be willing to pop in and demonstrate their support for the future of our democracy and of our country.
The Leader of the House has clearly done her daily mile today! I thank her for the forthcoming business and ask again for the Easter recess dates. Will she confirm that there is no truth in the rumour in the other place, where they think they may not get the February recess? Will she confirm that we will definitely have the February recess?
I was going to ask about the immigration White Paper, which the Minister for Immigration said would be coming forward “very soon”—it was due a year ago—but it seems that the Minister may have something more important to explain, because she might have misled the Home Affairs Committee. It seems that she said one thing and her Department has put out a statement saying something different. Will she come to the House to explain what the exact position is?
Is the Leader of the House aware that the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union may be in the same position? He said in a letter dated 24 October that he was
“happy to give evidence to the committee when a deal is finished and currently expect November 21 to be suitable.”
Has a deal been signed? Has it been signed off by the Cabinet? Does the Secretary of State know something that the House does not? When will he come to the House to explain what he said, which seems to be at odds with his Department? Has the Cabinet signed off the financial services plan that we have heard about this morning?
Will the Leader of the House ensure that both those Ministers come to the House to explain their position as soon as possible—perhaps on Monday? Will she also ensure that the Secretary of State for International Trade comes to the House? According to a written ministerial statement on the trade remedies authority published last Friday, the Secretary of State seems to be appointing people to a body that does not yet exist—it does not have any legal status and we have not even debated it in the House. That is three Ministers so far.
Will the Leader of the House please explain the blatant breach of the ministerial code in the Government’s not enforcing the rule established by clause 9.5 of the code, which states that the Opposition should be provided with a copy of a statement? I do not think one was given to the Leader of the Opposition before the Budget statement. When is the Leader of the House going to stand up to this abuse of process? The Government are tearing up the Commons rulebook; no wonder they do not want any other rulebook.
The Leader of the House mentioned the Youth Parliament session next Friday; I am sure that you prefer chairing those debates, Mr Speaker, to chairing Prime Minister’s questions. It is the Youth Parliament’s 10th time here, so will the Leader of the House ensure that time is scheduled for a debate on whatever particular issue the Youth Parliament votes to be most important? That would be really helpful. The Opposition also welcome the Women MPs of the World conference, and we thank the Department for International Development, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Camberwell and Peckham (Ms Harman) for their work. We also thank all the staff who have worked hard behind the scenes to ensure that the conference is a success.
The House was seen in a good light last Friday, when we debated important Bills. It was a productive day, with the House at its best. The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Bill, promoted by my hon. Friend the Member for Westminster North (Ms Buck), passed its Third Reading; the Organ Donation (Deemed Consent) Bill, promoted by my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry North West (Mr Robinson), passed its Third Reading; and the Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration Etc.) Bill, promoted by the hon. Member for East Worthing and Shoreham (Tim Loughton), passed its Report stage and Third Reading. There were some powerful speeches by Members last Friday, and it would be a pity if the Government did not support that last Bill all the way through Parliament.
The Mental Health Units (Use of Force) Bill promoted by my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon North (Mr Reed) has received its Third Reading in the other place. It has cleared both Houses and will now become law. It is known as Seni’s law, in memory of Olaseni Lewis, who died in September 2010 after being restrained by 11 police officers, and it crucially restricts the use of force against mental health patients. To follow up on a point of order raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant) earlier this week, will the Leader of the House announce additional days for private Members’ Bills as the House seems to be doing so well?
This is Justice Week. The Treasury’s report shows that the resource budget for the Ministry of Justice will be cut by £300 million, and there is nothing about legal aid. Access to justice is a fundamental necessity for a properly functioning society. There is nothing for local government. Walsall Council has proposed ending the community alarm system. Many vulnerable people, particularly those living alone, will be unsafe or will have to pay £14 a week, and the cost of services is shifted on to council tax payers. Our Walsall Manor Hospital A&E is desperate for extra money, but it has to bid for it.
What about the “little extras” for teachers’ pay? Since 1992, Governments have implemented the School Teachers’ Review Body’s recommendation in full. This year’s is for 3.5% but, flouting convention, the Secretary of State for Education has ignored it, which means that nearly 60% of teachers will not get the recommended pay rise. Will the Secretary of State for Education come to the House and explain that?
Members should note an email from the Jewish Leadership Council, which is collecting messages of support for the community in Pittsburgh following the heartbreaking murder of worshippers at the Tree of Life synagogue. I encourage all Members to send those messages, and we send our condolences to them. People go to a synagogue to pray. We also send our heartfelt condolences to the families, friends and wider Leicester community of those who perished in the helicopter crash last Saturday.
We will not be here next week, as the Leader of the House said, but we will be in our constituencies commemorating the ultimate sacrifice of people giving up their lives to save others. I welcome the suspension of the sitting of the House next Tuesday, Mr Speaker, so I thank you for that, as it means that we can all attend St Margaret’s. The Royal British Legion has commissioned a special “khadi” poppy—that is a type of cotton —to pay tribute to the huge contribution made by the Commonwealth in the first world war. More than 1.3 million Muslim, Sikh and Hindu men volunteered with the Indian Expeditionary Force, and Indian troops were awarded more than 13,000 medals for gallantry, including 11 Victoria Crosses. Let us remember the contribution of everyone—men and women around the world—and let us stop the hate of each other and work for tolerance and peace.
Let me end on a slightly upbeat note: Lewis Hamilton—champion, champion, champion, champion, champion. We congratulate him and also British engineering. Finally, I wish everyone a happy Diwali as we move from the darkness of recent times into light and new beginnings.
What the shadow Leader of the House says about Lewis Hamilton is absolutely right and should be trumpeted from the rooftops, but we should also congratulate Roger Federer on winning the Swiss indoors tournament for the ninth time—his 99th career title. I was there to see him in Basel and it was pretty spectacular stuff.
Of course, Mr Speaker, we all love tennis, but I have to say that Lewis Hamilton is part of a Brackley-based team in my constituency, so I am delighted to join the hon. Lady in congratulating the team on that amazing triumph.
I also join the hon. Lady in sending our condolences to the families of all those who perished in Pittsburgh. It really was the most appalling attack, and it should be the case that those who pray and worship should be able to do so in freedom and safety. I also join her in giving our condolences to the families of all those who died in, and were affected by, the appalling helicopter crash at Leicester football ground. That was a real tragedy and one that I know moved many people, not least my own apprentice, who was at that match and very deeply affected by it. The hon. Lady was right to raise those issues.
The hon. Lady asked about the Easter recess and asked me to confirm that we will have our February recess. We will have our February recess. I can confirm that we will have the short recess from 6 November to 12 November; that we will rise for the Christmas recess on 20 December, returning on 7 January; and that we will rise at close of business on Thursday 14 February, returning on Monday 25 February. Further recess dates will be announced in the usual way. I would just gently say that I was moved to look back through time and I discovered that in 2010—the last year of the Labour Government—the Easter recess date was announced on 18 March 2010, just 12 days before the start of that recess. I sincerely hope to be able to improve significantly on that performance by the hon. Lady’s Government.
The hon. Lady raised the question of the no-deal scenario for EU citizens. To be clear, the Government have confirmed that
“in the unlikely event of not reaching a deal with the EU the UK will honour its commitment to all EU citizens, and their family members, resident by 29 March 2019 that they will be able to remain in the UK.”
The hon. Lady also asked about what was said in the Home Affairs Committee. I can simply confirm that employers already need to carry out right-to-work checks on EU citizens and that will not change. EU citizens need to provide their passport or ID card.
The hon. Lady asked about the comments of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union. As all hon. Members know, the Prime Minister has said that we are 90% to 95% of the way there in negotiating what is a very complicated trading arrangement for the future, as well as withdrawal arrangements for the UK as we leave the European Union. There are still some significant questions to be answered and we are working at pace to achieve those answers. My right hon. Friend will update the House as soon as possible.
The hon. Lady asked about international trade. Questions to the Department for International Trade will take place on 15 November, so I hope that she will be able to direct her questions to Ministers then.
As the hon. Lady mentioned, I think that we will all be delighted to hear the debates of the Youth Parliament in this place. The young people will be very welcome and I look forward to speaking to some of them myself—they are the future.
I share the hon. Lady’s happiness at the progress of some private Members’ Bills, and I am glad she is pleased that the Government have been able to help the progress of some of them. I commend all hon. Members who brought forward their private Members’ Bills last week and assure the House that I intend to bring forward further PMB dates very soon.
With regards to justice and the hon. Lady’s concerns about the budget for legal aid, a debate in Westminster Hall at 2 pm today will provide an opportunity for Members to ask questions. With regard to the Budget response on education, questions will take place on 12 November, and I hope that hon. Members will attend.
I want to finish on a slightly upbeat note. At the Budget, the Chancellor was able to inform the House that unemployment is at its lowest rate since the 1970s; that youth unemployment is at a new record low; that the number of children living in workless households is at a record low; that real wages are rising; that the gender pay gap is at a record low; that the share of jobs on low hourly pay is at a record low; that our economy is continuing to grow; and that borrowing this year is at its lowest level for 16 years. These are real things, being delivered by a Conservative Government, that the whole House should share in enjoying, promoting and supporting during the Budget votes later today.
My right hon. Friend knows well that we are extremely concerned about this case. The UK has been active in calling for answers about the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi, which we have condemned in the strongest possible terms. The Prime Minister spoke to King Salman on 24 October and reiterated our desire for a credible explanation following a full investigation. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has announced that those who have been implicated in Mr Khashoggi’s murder would be prevented from entering the UK. We will continue to press the Saudis to co-operate fully with the Turkish investigation.
I thank the Leader of the House for announcing the business for next week.
A chill is in the air and, like winter, Brexit is coming. The undead White Walkers of the ERG have breached the wall and Westminsteros is under siege. While the Prime Minister is no Mother of Dragons, she does have her fire-breathers to contend with, and she might just be about to be consumed by the flames. In the battle with the 27 kingdoms, we are told apparently to expect 21 November as the date for a Brexit agreement, only for DExEU to issue a statement downplaying the significance of that date. Can the Leader of the House explain what exactly is going on? When will we have the meaningful vote, on what conditions and what basis will it be put to the House, and what range of options will we have to consider? Can she assure us that the meaningful vote will not be a meaningless vote?
Later today, we will be voting on the Budget resolutions. We in the SNP are very pleased that the Chancellor has listened to our representations to freeze duty on whisky. However, we are not too happy about some of the other issues to do with the Budget. On Tayside, we are extremely disappointed that the UK Government did not match-fund the Scottish Government in the £200 million pledge for the Tay cities deal, breaking the arrangement whereby each Government contributes equally. Can we have a debate on city and regional deals in Scotland, and ensure that the UK does not short-change communities north of the border again?
I want to support the calls by the shadow Leader of the House regarding EU nationals. We really do need a statement from a DExEU or Home Office Minister. Apparently only 650 of the 3.5 million people who need to apply for settled status have gone through the process. The Immigration Minister said in the Home Affairs Committee that determining people’s status would be tricky during the planned two-year transition period. This is raising all sorts of alarm, concerns and anxieties in constituencies right across the United Kingdom, where EU nationals now need to be absolutely reassured about their status here, so will the Leader of the House ensure that we have a Minister at the Dispatch Box on Monday so that we can question them about what is going on?
The hon. Gentleman mentions various excerpts from “Game of Thrones”. All I would say to him is: “You know nothing, Jon Snow”—and I am afraid that that is often the case in this place. However, I shall hope to be able to enlighten him.
On the meaningful vote, it is absolutely the case that this House will be invited to give its views and to lend its support to the deal that the United Kingdom will be seeking to agree with the European Union. It will be vital that we have that approval in order to proceed. Such a motion will be a motion of the House and it will be amendable. But to be very clear, it will be important—as I said last week and, I think, the week before—that the Government have the permission of the House to go ahead with a deal that has been agreed. If they do not have that permission, they will not be able to proceed with that deal. I do hope that that clarifies the matter for the hon. Gentleman.
I am delighted that the hon. Gentleman is pleased that whisky duty has been frozen. I am more pleased that good old Northamptonshire gin duty has been frozen. Perhaps we can compare notes at our next one-to-one meeting.
The hon. Gentleman asks what else has been done for Scotland. First, I would like to congratulate him: I gather that his latest MP4 record, EP5, is out. In fact, my team logged in and listened to one or two of his tracks this morning. I do wish him every success. It is available from all good retailers, in case hon. Members wish to purchase it. [Interruption.] You have the opportunity, Mr Speaker, to buy the hon. Gentleman’s latest record. It is going to be fantastic.
On the hon. Gentleman’s point about what else has happened as a result of the Budget, the Chancellor has announced that the Scottish Government’s budget will increase by over £950 million through to 2021, before adjustments for tax devolution. There will be £150 million invested in the Tay cities deal. We continue negotiations on the borderlands and Ayrshire deals, and we will begin formal negotiations on a Moray deal. As an ex-Energy Minister, I am particularly delighted that we continue to support the oil and gas industry in Scotland—a vital sector for Scotland—to ensure that Scotland becomes a global hub for decommissioning. We will continue to support the United Kingdom in every way that we possibly can.
Over the last two nights, I have had the pleasure of hosting very full community events in the House to celebrate the cultural and spiritual side of Diwali. There are no business questions next week, and I shall be attending 11 temples on Hindu new year. May I invite my right hon. Friend to wish Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists “Shubh Diwali” for next week and, if she finds time, to accompany me on one of those visits to a temple?
By the calculations of the officers of the Backbench Business Committee, we have had 24 Chamber days in the last 16 months, when the Standing Orders suggest that we would get 27 days in a normal 12-month sitting period. We are three short already, and we do not have any allocation of time in the week beginning 12 November. I want to express my disappointment to the Leader of the House, on behalf of the Committee and Back Benchers across the House who have heavily subscribed but unallocated debates yet to be heard on subjects such as protection for homebuyers in new build properties, appropriate treatment for sufferers of ME, the Rohingya refugee crisis, International Men’s Day or victims of Equitable Life. All those and others are as yet unheard debates, but we have no allocation of time yet again. I am disappointed.
I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman is disappointed. He will realise that it was important to prioritise the Budget debates this week. Standing Orders specify that the Backbench Business Committee is allocated 35 days each Session, and, as I acknowledged last week, although this is an extended Session, the Committee has already had more than the number specified in the Standing Orders. I will work closely with him, however, to find other dates.
I point out gently that in response to requests from hon. Members for Government time to be given to debates that have also been priorities for the Backbench Business Committee, we have held debates on subjects such as the use of folic acid, the centenary of Armistice Day and, importantly, road safety, which I know the hon. Member for Bradford South (Judith Cummins) has been keen to pursue. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will bear with me, and I of course will seek Back-Bench time as soon as possible.
The Leader of the House, in replying to the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire (Pete Wishart), confirmed that we are going to have a meaningful vote on the Government’s agreement when it comes back from Brussels, and she confirmed that we are going to have meaningful votes, because there will be amendments to that motion. She was of course right to say that the Government cannot ratify the draft agreement if this House rejects it, but does she accept that the meaningful votes on the amendments mean that if an amendment is passed, the Government will feel that they should go back to Brussels and try to negotiate a deal as amended by the majority of this House? I hope she is not reverting to the argument “It’s the deal we’ve got or no deal at all,” which the Government were defeated on when we debated the withdrawal Bill earlier this year.
My right hon. and learned Friend is absolutely right to point out the facts of the case, which are that the Government will bring forward a vote on the deal that they have negotiated, it will be an amendable motion of the House, and should the House amend that motion, the Government would take action on those amendments. However, I must point out to the House again that having negotiated a particular deal with the European Union, it may well not be possible for the Government to proceed on the basis of an amended motion. Whether the House will be asked to decide whether it agrees that the Government negotiate on the basis of the agreed deal will be a matter for the House.
Over 1 million young people participated in the UK Youth Parliament’s “Make your Mark” campaign, and ending knife crime has topped the ballot as young people’s No. 1 priority. As has already been said, that will be debated in the Chamber on 9 November, and I will be joining the young people for that debate here. This is a clear priority, so I will ask for the fourth time: when will the Government schedule a debate on their policy of using a public health approach to tackling violence?
As I have previously said to the hon. Lady, I wrote to Home Office Ministers in response to her questions in this place two weeks ago. I am waiting for a reply, about which I will update her directly. She has also written to me on this issue and I have taken it up, as I said I would. A few months ago, she requested Government time for a debate on our serious violence strategy, which I was pleased to be able to provide, so there was a debate quite recently on that subject. Furthermore, as I understand it, the Youth Parliament will be debating this next week as one of the issues that it has raised. On 2 October, the Home Secretary announced further measures to address violent crime, including a consultation on a new legal duty to underpin a public health approach to tackling serious violence, as well as a new £200 million youth endowment fund and an independent review of drug misuse. I hope to have further updates once I hear back from Home Office Ministers.
Last week, the chief exec of Somerset County Council wrote a rather pathetic begging letter to the Government. This week, we discover it is going to spend £10 million on one building. May we have a debate in this place on local government finance, so that chief execs across the country get the message that this is not up for grabs? Local government funding matters to us all?
At Forest Hill School in my constituency, class sizes have gone up but per pupil funding is down by £191. The Chancellor’s money for “little extras” equates to just £45 per students, which goes nowhere near restoring the cuts to schools in my constituency. When can we have a stand-alone debate in Government time on education funding?
I hope that the hon. Lady will be as delighted as I am that there are now 1.9 million more children in good and outstanding schools than there were in 2010, and that 86% of schools in England are now rated good and outstanding, which is up from 68% in 2010. Many more children are getting the opportunity of a good education than under the previous Government. She is absolutely right to raise the issue of school funding. We are investing £1.3 billion in our schools, so the schools budget will rise by about £2.6 billion over this year and next, which means per pupil funding is protected in real terms. If she has a particular question, she may wish to ask it at Education questions on Monday 12 November.
The chair of the National Police Chiefs Council, Sara Thornton, is reported in this morning’s media as having suggested that the police should refocus and concentrate more on burglary, shoplifting and violent crime. That is something my constituents would widely support. Will the Leader of the House find time for a debate on this so that the Government can make their position clear?
My hon. Friend is quite right to raise the importance of good policing in reducing the number of traditional crimes as well as in dealing with the recent rise in serious violent crimes, such as knife crime and the problem of county lines. He will be aware that we have increased the total investment resources available to the police by over £460 million, and announced a significant increase in counter-terror police funding for next year. It is for police and crime commissioners to decide the priorities in their own areas. My hon. Friend may well wish to seek an Adjournment debate so that he can discuss the issues in his own constituency.
Order. As the House will be aware, it has been my custom and practice to try to call everybody at business questions. Very occasionally, I have not been able to do so, but that has been the norm. It will not be possible to do so today, and it is only fair to give the House notice that I want to run this for another 10 minutes or so, but not beyond that because 77 hon. and right hon. Members wish to speak in the final day’s debate on the Budget.
The Leader of the House might be aware of early-day motion 1768 in my name, which concerns my constituent Delsie Gayle who was racially abused on a Ryanair flight from Barcelona.
[That this House notes the entirely unprovoked and racist verbal attack on Ms Delsie Gayle onboard a Ryanair flight from Barcelona to London; further notes that Ryanair failed to move the perpetrator but instead moved Ms Gayle to another seat; points out that Ryanair have still not contacted Ms Gayle or any member of her family; condemns Ryanair's tolerance of a clear case of racism; and calls on the airline to conduct an immediate inquiry and to offer an unreserved apology to Ms Gayle.]
Ryanair moved her and not the abuser, and has since not contacted the family, either directly or indirectly. May we have a debate on racism?
The Director-General of the National Crime Agency has drawn attention once again to the problem of so-called county lines, which the Leader of the House mentioned a moment ago, and which involves drug networks that extend from urban to rural areas. Lynne Owens reported that 1,500 county lines are now operating in Britain, and it is feared that thousands of children are being used to move drugs. This is a case of feckless so-called recreational drug users—no doubt disproportionately drawn from the privileged bourgeois liberal class—making life a misery for those who are less privileged. Edmund Burke said that good order is the foundation of a good society, so may we have a statement from a Home Office Minister, in Burkeian terms, describing how good order can be maintained?
My right hon. Friend raises an issue that concerns all hon. Members across the House, and the Government’s serious violence strategy is looking at what more we can do to prevent young people from getting involved in that appalling criminal lifestyle. We are investing significant sums through a new early intervention youth fund, and we are providing millions of pounds through the Home Office anti-knife crime community fund to help communities that are tackling knife crime.
In my constituency many horse riders have written to me expressing their dismay that in the review of The Highway Code that has been announced, there is no mention of horses or their riders. May we have an urgent debate on the review of The Highway Code? I obviously welcome anything that makes things safer on our roads, but we cannot ignore the plight of horses or their riders—it is too important.
I am delighted that next week we will be able to debate the centenary of the Armistice. In a similar manner, as we approach the last few weeks of the suffrage centenary, may we have a debate on the sacrifices made by those brave women in their fight for the right to vote? What more can we do to celebrate that important anniversary?
My hon. Friend is right. This year has already seen some amazing commemorations and it is not over yet. Next week we welcome female MPs from around the world to a conference held in this Chamber, and 21 November is Ask Her to Stand Day in Parliament, which is organised by 50:50 Parliament. On the 100th anniversary of the Parliament (Qualification of Women Act) 1918, I hope that every Member will invite a “bloody difficult woman” from their constituency to Parliament, to see for themselves the difference that they could make through a career in public life.
Many if not all of us in this place will have constituents or loved ones—perhaps even ourselves—who depend on the continued and reliable availability of lifesaving medicines. Given that the Prime Minister did not quite give a guarantee to my right hon. Friend the Member for Ross, Skye and Lochaber (Ian Blackford) on Wednesday that that will continue should we leave the European Union, will the Leader of the House find time for a debate to reassure the public that there is no danger of a loss of those medicines?
I think that we all pay tribute to the amazing work done by unpaid carers. They need as much support as possible. My hon. Friend may wish to raise this issue directly with Ministers from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government at its next question time.
Two months ago, the Government were told that they were no longer compliant with the Human Rights Act 1998 in relation to widowed parent’s allowance. When will we have a statement that will allow the 3.3 million cohabiting couples, should they lose a partner, to access that benefit for the benefit of their children at a time of great loss in the family?
The hon. Lady raises a very important issue. I advise her to raise it in a parliamentary question direct to Ministers, as it does need a specific answer. She will be aware of the Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration Etc.) Bill, promoted by my hon. Friend the Member for East Worthing and Shoreham (Tim Loughton), which aims to enable opposite sex civil partnerships and which I certainly hope will go some way to providing a solution for cohabiting couples.
Figures from the Federation of Small Businesses in Scotland last week revealed that Moray has the highest share of women who are self-employed. May we have a debate on this issue, so my right hon. Friend can join me in congratulating outstanding businesswomen such as Pearl Hamilton, herself a member of the FSB Scotland policy group, and encourage more women in Moray and across the country to become self-employed?
I join my hon. Friend in congratulating outstanding local businesswomen in Moray. Since 2010, UK female entrepreneurship has grown. There are now 1.2 million female-led small and medium-size businesses in the UK. According to Women’s Enterprise Scotland, women-led businesses contribute over £5 billion to the Scottish economy. However, I agree with Pearl that more needs to be done. My hon. Friend will be pleased to know that in September the Treasury launched a review of the barriers faced by women entrepreneurs.
On Saturday 28 October, a gunman walked into the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh and opened fire, killing 11 innocent Jewish worshippers. This horrifying attack is part of a wider global trend of rising antisemitism and intolerance of freedom of religion or belief. In the UK alone, there has been a 40% increase in reported race and hate crime, which is mainly targeted towards Muslims and Jews. Will the Leader of the House agree to a statement on this very pressing issue?
The hon. Gentleman raises an issue that has already been discussed here today. We all send our condolences to the families and friends of those who were attacked in such a barbaric way. There can be absolutely no excuse for any form of religious or racially motivated attack of this nature.
More and more residents in my constituency are using mobile apps to communicate with neighbours to discuss security in their community. For instance, the Neighbourhood Watch app allows residents to pass on and receive news of crime with their local police force. May we have a debate on the benefits of mobile technology in promoting community safety and reducing neighbourhood crime and on how best we can support Neighbourhood Watch groups across the UK?
My hon. Friend raises a really interesting idea. I am sure that a Neighbourhood Watch app would be of great interest right across the United Kingdom. I encourage all hon. Members to raise it locally, so they can see whether it would be of value in their communities.
At a packed meeting this week of the all-party group on the post office network, we were told by Post Office Ltd that its flawed consultation is going to continue with the closure of post offices and that input from MPs would just be “noted”. May we have a proper debate in this House? It is not good enough that this public service is a back office of WHSmith. We need to hold a Minister of the Crown to account.
I understand that the matter was discussed in yesterday’s Budget debate and there will be further opportunities today. As I made clear last week in business questions, the Post Office does not intend to reduce the number of available post offices. It is changing the way those resources work. For many communities, the post office provides more flexible opening hours and is therefore quite helpful in providing banking and post office services.
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his question and I am really sorry to hear about this—I am sure that it is extremely frustrating for his commuters. This is, of course, a commercial matter between Govia Thameslink Railway, the ATM operator and the ATM network provider, but he might like to apply for an Adjournment debate to raise the issue more widely and see whether Transport Ministers can do anything more about it.
Today, I am wearing a special poppy pin from Poppyscotland, with a poppy and a ship’s bell marking the loss of HMY Iolaire, when at least 201 men perished of the 283 on board off Stornoway at the end of world war one. It is being suitably marked in Scotland, as it should be. As we approach Remembrance Sunday, however, I wonder whether the Leader of the House can offer a statement from the Ministry of Defence on the loss of HMT Lancastria on 17 June 1940 off Saint-Nazaire in Brittany during world war two. With an estimated 4,000 dead, it is the largest single ship loss in UK maritime history, yet it has never been properly recognised for relatives to remember their loved ones. Will the Leader of the House look to help right this historic injustice?
I completely sympathise with the hon. Gentleman’s desire to raise this issue here in the House. We have a full debate on Tuesday on the centenary of the Armistice. That would be an appropriate time to raise the issue of ships lost during the second world war; I am sure that would be in order and he can raise his questions directly then.
This week, the National Football League has announced four regular season games to be played here next year—two at Wembley and two at Tottenham Hotspur’s ground. Could we have a statement next week from the Government on the development of American football in this country?
I am thrilled to hear about this exciting, new and no doubt televisual opportunity. My hon. Friend will be aware that we have just had Digital, Culture, Media and Sport questions, and if he wants to raise it further, he should perhaps do so through a parliamentary question to Ministers.
This weekend in Newport, we will, as always, be commemorating the Chartist uprising of 1839. We have had excellent events and exhibitions to commemorate women’s suffrage this year. What more can we do in the House to debate and commemorate the role of those in the Chartist movement who came before them and the ordinary people whose struggles and sacrifices, as in Newport, have shaped our democracy in this place?
I am grateful to the hon. Lady for raising this issue, which is clearly very important not just in her constituency but across the country. If she attends the Commonwealth women’s conference, she might find the opportunity there to raise this issue, which I am sure will be of interest to women across the world.
Following my question to the Prime Minister yesterday, has the Leader of the House seen my early-day motion 1754 about cutting cancer treatment travel costs for families with young children?
[That this House recognises the immense cost of travel for families driving to specialist hospitals for cancer treatment for their child; notes with concern that research carried out by children’s cancer charity, CLIC Sargent, found that thousands of families of children and young people with cancer across the UK are currently facing an average 60-mile round trip to get their child to life-saving treatment; further notes that the cost of these journeys can mount up to £180 a month when treatment is at its most intense; understands that these extortionate costs are plunging thousands of families into debt; and urges the Government to set up a Young Patient Travel Fund to assist struggling families with these unavoidable expenses.]
Estimates by CLIC Sargent suggest that families are paying £180 a month to look after their children in taking them for treatment. May we have a debate on this subject?
I am very sympathetic to my right hon. Friend’s question, and I certainly did hear the Prime Minister’s reply yesterday. It is vital that we do everything we can to support people, particularly children, who are suffering from cancers. He will be aware that the NHS’s long-term plan is looking at what more can be done to support children with cancer, and I encourage him to seek an answer directly from Ministers.