I am sure the whole House will wish to join me in offering our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Guardsman Mathew Talbot of the 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards, who sadly died in anti-poaching operations in Malawi.
I am also sure Members from across the House will want to join me in sending my very best wishes to Their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Sussex on the birth of their son.
Monday marked the beginning of Ramadan—a time of peace, devotion and charity. I know Members from across the House will want to join me in saying to Muslims in the UK and across the world, “Ramadan kareem”. Later today, I will host a reception to celebrate Vaisakhi and the immense contribution that the Sikh community makes to this country.
This week marks 20 years since the 1999 Scottish Parliament and National Assembly for Wales elections. Two decades on, we remain committed to strengthening devolution within the United Kingdom. As we leave the European Union, we will bring new powers and responsibilities to Holyrood and Cardiff Bay.
This morning, I had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others. In addition to my duties in this House, I shall have further such meetings later today.
I agree with all the tributes paid by the Prime Minister.
Data from the TUC suggests that 780,000 people are on zero-hours contracts, and that two third of them would prefer guaranteed hours. A constitute of mine lives in privately rented accommodation and works two jobs on zero-hours contracts. After getting his third job on a zero-hours contract, his rent went up. He and his family survive, but only by using a local food bank. Will the Prime Minister end these burning injustices and ban zero-hours contracts?
My hon. Friend raises a very important point. We recognised that we have been asking schools to do more and responded with the highest level of school funding on record, and we introduced the new national funding formula to make the distribution fairer, but of course it is still the case that local authorities are responsible for determining individual schools’ budgets from the overall sum they have received. They have a responsibility, and I am sure that hon. Members will look to their local authorities to make sure that where schools should be receiving extra money, the local authorities are passing it on. But I will also ask those at the Department for Education, who will have heard my hon. Friend’s question, to write to her in more detail about it.
I join the Prime Minister in sending condolences to the family and friends of Guardsman Mathew Talbot, who died while on anti-poaching activities. It is a reminder of the diverse work that the armed forces do, and we thank them for it and for the help they are giving to the people of Malawi. I join her also in welcoming the birth of the baby to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, and, along with all of us, in recognising and enjoying Ramadan and Vaisakhi at this time. It is important to show the diversity of this country and celebrate all religious festivals.
I hope the whole House will also join me in congratulating a great football team: Manchester City, on winning the women’s FA cup. In view of Liverpool’s amazing performance last night, perhaps the Prime Minister could take some tips from Jürgen Klopp on how to get a good result in Europe.
Our national health service is our country’s greatest social achievement. Its staff show amazing dedication, but this Government’s failures are taking their toll. An NHS staff survey found that 40% of staff had reported suffering work-related stress in the past year alone. Can the Government explain why staff are being so severely let down by this Government?
First, may I say to the right hon. Gentleman that when we look at the Liverpool win over Barcelona last night, we see that it shows that when everybody says, “It’s all over and your European opposition have got you beat. The clock’s ticking down, it’s time to concede defeat”, actually we can still secure success if everyone comes together.
The right hon. Gentleman asks about staffing in the NHS. For too long Governments have failed to produce the proper workforce planning to give our staff in the NHS the care they deserve. It is this Government, with their long-term plan, who are ensuring that we give that care to staff. NHS staff work hard, caring for patients, and this Government will care for NHS staff. It is only because we are able to give the NHS its biggest cash boost in its history and to give it that long-term plan that we will deliver for NHS staff.
Under the last Labour Government, NHS investment rose by 6% a year, but under this Government it has barely reached 1.5%. Five thousand nurses and midwives from European Union countries have left the NHS in the past two years, and there are 100,000 staff vacancies across the NHS in England alone. The Royal College of Radiologists recently said the shortage of cancer doctors “puts care at risk”. What is the Prime Minister doing to remedy this dangerous situation?
What have seen this year? We have seen the numbers of doctors and nurses in the NHS at their highest level in its 70-year history. As I say, our NHS staff work hard 24/7 and their dedication is second to none. I am proud of our NHS. He talks down our NHS. Let us just remember this: at the last general election, the Labour party promised to give the NHS less money than the Conservative Government are giving it. The Labour party in government would crash the economy, which would mean less money available for the NHS. And who is the only party in government that has cut funding to the NHS? It is the Labour party.
Nobody on this side of the House ever talks down the NHS—it is Labour’s greatest achievement. The principle of healthcare free at the point of need as a human right was a Labour achievement, and every Tory MP voted against it.
Today is World Ovarian Cancer Day. As for all cancers, the early diagnosis of ovarian cancer is essential. In February, almost a quarter of patients waited more than two months to start cancer treatment following a GP referral—the worst performance on record. Will the Prime Minister apologise to the thousands of cancer patients who are enduring weeks of unbelievable stress and worry while they wait to start the treatment that, to have a better chance of survival, they should be able to start quickly after they have been referred?
We recognise the importance of the early diagnosis and treatment of ovarian cancer, of other cancers and of other conditions as well, which is why a key part of the 10-year plan—the long-term plan for the NHS that is being put forward under this Government—is about early diagnosis. We recognise the importance of that. The right hon. Gentleman might like to reflect on the fact that there is a part of the United Kingdom in which the urgent cancer treatment target has not been met since June 2008. Where is that? In Wales, under Labour.
Under the NHS in Wales, more people are surviving cancer than ever before. We should welcome the work that has been done.
The Royal College of Radiologists said,
“our workforce projections are increasingly bleak”,
and almost half of all women with ovarian cancer reported having to visit the GP three times before they were referred for a test. Today, we learned that GP numbers are experiencing their first sustained fall for 50 years. GPs often play the vital role in the early identification of cancers and other serious problems. Does the Prime Minister think it is acceptable that one third of people who need an urgent GP appointment on the day that they ask for one are being turned away because of the shortage of GPs?
We recognise that GPs are a vital part of the NHS, and there are actually more GPs in the NHS today than there were in 2015. We have made it easier for people to access their GPs by ensuring that GP surgeries are open for more days of the week. We are incentivising GP trainees to work in hard-to-recruit areas and making it easier and quicker for qualified doctors to return to the NHS. Under our NHS long-term plan, we will see—for the first time in its 70-year history—the proportion of funding for primary medical and community care increasing as a percentage of the NHS budget. That is because it is this Government who recognise the importance of primary care in our national health service, and it is this Government whose careful management of the economy means there is money available to put into our national health service.
Mr Speaker, if you go to any A&E department in the country, you will find that staff are under enormous pressure precisely because there is a shortage of GPs available to see people in the first place. At the same time as he promotes private GP services, the Conservative Secretary of State for Health and Social Care is overseeing the biggest drop in NHS GPs for 50 years. One in 10 GPs are now seeing twice as many patients as is safe for them to see—that is the pressure they are under. The NHS has failed to meet its A&E waiting time target for nearly four years. In March this year, more than one in five patients waited more than four hours to be seen. Will the Prime Minister, on behalf of the Government, apologise to the tens of thousands of people waiting for too long in deep distress just to get seen at an A&E department, because of the pressure A&Es are under?
We recognise the importance of these targets in the NHS. That is why one of the elements of the 10-year long-term plan in the NHS—funded by the biggest cash boost in the NHS’s history, which was given by this Conservative Government because of their good management of the economy—is to ensure that we are improving those targets. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman would like to stand up and apologise for the fact that the A&E waiting-time target has not been met not for four years, but for over a decade under a Labour Government in Wales.
The reality is that, under a Tory Government, spending and investment in the NHS is less than it was under Labour, and, even with the Prime Minister’s funding announcements, that remains the case. The complacent attitude and platitudes hide the reality that, under the Tories, our health service is going through the longest funding squeeze in history: 20,000 jobs in mental health units are unfilled; public satisfaction with GP services is the worst on record; cancer treatment delays are the worst on record; A&E waiting times are the worst on record; and, tragically, infant mortality is rising. Will the Prime Minister admit that the Government have failed the health service, failed NHS staff, and, therefore failed the patients who rely on the NHS?
There are more people alive today because our cancer treatment has improved than would have been the case in 2010. At the previous election, someone said that an extra £7 billion for the NHS would
“give our NHS the resources it needs to deliver the best possible care for patients.”
I wonder who that was. It was none other than the Leader of the Opposition. Are this Government giving the NHS £7 billion? No! Are they giving it twice that—£14 billion? No! They are giving the NHS £20 billion. I am proud of this Government’s record and the Conservative party’s record on the NHS. It is the Conservative party that is giving the NHS its biggest cash boost in its history. It is the Conservative party that is giving it a sustainable 10-year long-term plan to ensure that it is there for people in the future. Under the Conservative party, we have seen more nurses and more doctors in our national health service dedicated to caring for patients. That is only possible because it is the Conservative Government who manage our economy and manage our public finances. A Labour party in government would crash our economy, meaning less money for the NHS, less money for its staff and less care for its patients.
My hon. Friend has raised an important issue and I thank her for doing so. I recognise the importance of this for many parents. Currently, parents can use the shared parental leave and pay scheme to take up to six months off work together, or to stagger their leave and pay so that one of them is always at home with their child in the first year. We are evaluating the shared parental leave and pay scheme. We want to see how we can improve the system for parents. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy hopes to publish findings on this issue later this year.
It has been 113 days since the Prime Minister’s deal was rejected by Parliament. A month of Tory talks with Labour, and we are still no further forward. The clock is ticking down and yet the Prime Minister is silent. When exactly will this House have an update from the Prime Minister?
I had hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would join me in congratulating the Earl and Countess of Dumbarton on the birth of their child.
We are indeed talking with the Labour party. The public gave this House a very clear message last week—that they want us to get on and deliver Brexit. It is absolutely right that we do so, and we are working on an agreement that can command a majority of this House. If the right hon. Gentleman is so keen for us to get on with delivering Brexit, why did he not vote for the deal in the first place?
Scotland does not want a Labour-Tory Brexit stitch-up. Scotland voted to remain, and once again—with no Scottish representation in the talks—our nation is being ignored. Does the Prime Minister think that this is good enough for a supposed Union of equals? She must confirm today that any deal will be put back to the people for a final say.
I have had talks with the right hon. Gentleman in the past on the issue of the Brexit deal. I have also discussed the matter with the First Minister of Scotland, and it has been made clear that any discussions on these matters should be with the First Minister. On the question of a second referendum, I remain absolutely of the view, as I have always been—I am not going to change my answer to him—that we should be delivering on the result of the first referendum that took place.
My hon. Friend is absolutely right to congratulate AFC Fylde, who I believe are known as the Coasters, on their recent success. We wish them the best for the play-off final at Wembley. AFC Fylde is a very good example of how clubs can engage with their local communities. We want to see these partnerships taking place, as they lead to excellent work in communities. We are currently investing more money than ever in community football programmes and facilities, and we fully intend the funding levels in this area to continue. We have regular meetings with the FA and Premier League to encourage this activity at a local level, but my hon. Friend is right to congratulate AFC Fylde not only on their success on the pitch, but on the changes that they are making to lives in their community through the work they are doing there.
I commend the hon. Lady for her work on the APPG. We are working on providing the Green Paper on social care. She complains that it has been delayed for a matter of months, but may I remind her that the last Labour Government had 13 years to deliver a sustainable social care system, and they did absolutely nothing?
I thank my right hon. and learned Friend for the work that the all-party parliamentary group for British bioethanol is doing on this issue. E10 would help to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, but it is not approved for use in all petrol vehicles. Any decision to introduce the new grade of petrol must balance the needs of consumers with the emissions reductions it could help to deliver. We will be publishing our next steps on E10 petrol later in the year. I am sure that the Department for Transport will study with interest the findings of the APPG’s inquiry into the issue.
I answered the question about a second referendum earlier and my view has not changed in the few minutes since I did so. I believe that we should deliver on the first referendum. But can I challenge the right hon. Lady on what she said? It is not right that outside the European Union those children have no future. This country has a bright future outside the European Union, and that is the message she should be giving to her constituents.
My right hon. Friend has raised an important issue, because obviously the Palace of Westminster is recognised over the world as a symbol of democracy, and the decision that was taken by Parliament to approve the restoration and renewal programme was a huge step towards its protection. As he says, we will be introducing the Bill today, and I am pleased that we are able to do that. The decision to move to Richmond House was of course a matter for Parliament. I understand that although Richmond House will be substantially redeveloped, the proposals will retain Richmond Terrace and the Whitehall façade. I am sure that, as he indicated at the end of his question, he will agree with me that it is imperative that Parliament keeps the total bill as low as possible.
Obviously the hon. Gentleman has set out a very specific case and I will ensure that the Department looks at that case. It is—[Interruption.] I will ensure that the Department looks carefully at the case that he has set out. It is an important issue. The Department for Work and Pensions has been doing work to ensure that appeals can be heard in a timely fashion to give people that confidence and reassurance.
I commend my hon. Friend, who is a regular and consistent champion on these issues of environment and climate change. We are looking at the result of the review that was undertaken by the independent committee in relation to our targets for the future. We have, as I am sure she would agree, a good record in our decarbonisation and changes to emissions that we have been undertaking over recent years. We will look very carefully at the report and make a formal response to it in due course.
We recognise the concerns about the level of knife crime. That is why I will be chairing the first serious violence taskforce this afternoon, following the summit we held a few weeks ago, bringing all parts of Government together to ensure that we are putting all efforts into dealing with this issue. Diverse elements need to be addressed, and we need to ensure that we turn young people away from violence. That is being done in various ways across the country, and Government are clear about the need for us to work with local authorities and others across the board to deal with this very difficult issue.
I know the Prime Minister will welcome the news that Asia Bibi, who was persecuted for her faith, is on her way to Canada, which has offered her sanctuary. I think everyone wants to know the Prime Minister’s answer to this question: why did Canada offer sanctuary to Asia Bibi, but the United Kingdom did not? Will future such cases of religious freedom be looked at differently by the United Kingdom?
I join my hon. Friend in welcoming the reports that Asia Bibi has been able to travel freely and can now make decisions about her future. Our concern was always her safety and security. We were in close contact with the Government of Pakistan and a range of international partners who were considering the offers that would be available to Asia Bibi. Canada made this offer, and we felt it was right and appropriate that we supported that offer. That is important. We have a proud record of welcoming people here who have been persecuted because of their faith, and we will continue that record, but in individual cases like this, it is important for international partners to work together with the key aim constantly of ensuring that the safety, security and best interests of the individual are put first and foremost.
As the hon. Lady knows, we are making around £1 billion extra available for police this year, which includes a significant amount of extra money available for the Metropolitan police. Extra money is also being put into violence reduction units in hotspots around the country, including London, to ensure that we deal with the issue of serious violence, which the Government take very seriously and will be dealing with in a number of ways across Departments.
My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has tried her best. Nobody could fault or doubt her commitment and sense of duty, but she has failed. She has failed to deliver on her promises. We have lost 1,300 hard-working councillors, and sadly the public no longer trust her to run the Brexit negotiations. Is it not time to step aside and let someone new lead our party, our country and the negotiations?
First, may I say to my hon. Friend that I am sorry that we saw so many good Conservative councillors lose their seats last week, often through no fault of their own? I have been a councillor; I know the hard work and dedication that it takes. I have also been a councillor who has stood in an election against a difficult national background under a Conservative Government, so I know what that feels like as well. I thank all those councillors for their hard work, and I congratulate those Conservative councillors who won their seats for the first time across the country. May I also say to my hon. Friend—[Interruption.] No, wait for it. Actually, this is not an issue about me, and it is not an issue about her. If it were an issue about me and how I vote, we would already have left the European Union.
At the risk of starting a trend, we have had Liverpool, AFC Fylde and now Sheffield United, and I am happy to congratulate it in the way the hon. Gentleman suggests.
On the issue of education, as I have said, more money is available. We are making more money available in every area for every school. That is what this Government are doing. In his own area, he sees several thousand more children in good and outstanding schools; that is important. The Labour party may talk constantly about the money going into schools, but what matters is the quality of education that children receive. More children in his area in good and outstanding schools, the disadvantage attainment gap narrowed and more disadvantaged young people going to university—that is a good record. It is a record this Government can be proud of.
May I, too, congratulate the Duke and Duchess of Sussex? As I former member of the Coldstream Guards, may I pass on my sympathy to the family of Guardsman Mathew Talbot, who has recently been killed?
May I congratulate the new Secretary of State for Defence on her appointment? It is a highly privileged position to be in, and she will be responsible for sending our brave men and women into dangerous positions. To do that, she must gain their respect and get to know them. Does my right hon. Friend agree that that is, in itself, a full-time job?
First, may I take the opportunity my hon. Friend has given me to commend the former Secretary of State for Defence for his commitment to the armed forces—the men and women of our armed forces?
My hon. Friend is absolutely right that, obviously, as Secretary of State for Defence my right hon. Friend will be needing to get to know the men and women of our armed forces. I have to say that I think my right hon. Friend, as a former Minister in the Ministry of Defence and a Royal Naval reservist, starts from a very good position to do that. May I also say to my hon. Friend, on the implication of his question, that there is a lot to be done in our armed forces on the questions of equality? I think my right hon. Friend is absolutely the right person to be dealing with that issue, as well as ensuring that she is speaking up for and promoting the best interests of the brave men and women of all our armed forces.
Given the 2017 law requiring everyone in China to co-operate with that communist country’s intelligence services, would it not be naive to the point of negligence to allow Huawei further to penetrate our critical national infrastructure, and should we not be grateful to all those Ministers, present and former, who have opposed this reckless recommendation?
We are taking a robust risk-based approach that is right for our UK market and network and that addresses the UK national security needs. The UK is not considering any options that would put our national security communications at risk, either within the UK or with our closest allies. No one takes national security more seriously than I do, and I say to my right hon. Friend that I think my record speaks for itself.
It is under this Government that we see the lowest gender pay gap. It is this Government that introduced the race disparity audit, which is, finally, properly shining a light on public services and what is happening for people from different communities. On the issue that the hon. Lady raises about jobs in the digital sector, the industrial strategy deals with AI and digital as one of its grand challenges. The industrial strategy is exactly about ensuring that the economy works for everyone and that the sorts of jobs that she is talking about are available for people across this country.
I was pleased to welcome the Prime Minister to North East Lincolnshire last Friday evening to mark success in the local elections. It is good to know that the Cleethorpes constituency now has two Conservative-controlled unitary authorities. The Prime Minister will recall that the new council leader, Philip Jackson, and I mentioned to her the Greater Grimsby town deal. I know that she will want to push that forward as part of the industrial strategy, which she has just mentioned. Will she agree to facilitate meetings for me and the new council leader to push it forward?
I take this further opportunity to congratulate the new leader of North East Lincolnshire, his new councillors and the whole Conservative council group on taking control of North East Lincolnshire last week, and indeed to congratulate my hon. Friend on his work in campaigning to secure that excellent result. He is absolutely right; he and the council leader made that point about the town deal, and I will facilitate meetings between my hon. Friend, the council leader and the Ministers responsible.
I call on the House to celebrate 20 years of devolution, and I look forward to the nation of Wales taking our proper place among the nations of Europe.
Today, 32-year-old Imam Şiş of Newport is on his 143rd day of indefinite hunger strike, and the condition of his health is now critical. He is one of many Kurds on hunger strike around the world, including four others in the UK, protesting the treatment of Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan, who is imprisoned in Turkey and whose human rights are clearly breached by the Turkish Government. The hon. Member for Newport East (Jessica Morden) and I, along with 48 other MPs and Welsh Assembly Members, have today written to the Foreign Secretary asking him to apply pressure on Turkey to uphold the human rights of the Kurds. I am confident that the Prime Minister respects the urgency and gravity of the situation. Will she please commit to intervening?
The right hon. Lady has raised an important issue. We absolutely expect Turkey to undertake any legal processes against prisoners fairly, transparently and with full respect for the rule of law. That includes ensuring access to appropriate medical treatment. The British ambassador in Ankara has discussed the wider issue of hunger strikes with the Turkish authorities, but we will continue to encourage the Turkish state to uphold the human rights of hunger striking detainees, including access to medical treatment. As the right hon. Lady says, she and others have written to the Foreign Secretary, and I will ensure that the Foreign Secretary addresses the issue urgently.
Our GPs are a very special group of public servants, and it is good news that we have recruited them in record numbers over the last two years. Will the Prime Minister do everything she can to make sure that we look after their job satisfaction, and specifically to help them with the pensions penalty that some of them face in their mid-50s, which is driving some of them out of the profession?
I thank my hon. Friend for his comments about GPs. They are indeed a vital part of our NHS—they are the bedrock of our NHS—and that is why, as I indicated earlier in response to the Leader of the Opposition, I think it is so important that the long-term plan includes extra investment in primary and community care. The new, historic five-year contract for general practice announced in January was developed in partnership with the BMA, and it will provide greater certainty for GPs to plan ahead.
Another way in which we can help GPs is by providing funding, which we will see, towards up to 20,000 extra staff in GP practices, helping to free up doctors to spend more time with the patients who need them. As my hon. Friend has indicated, we are committed to recruiting more GPs—an extra 5,000—as soon as possible, and to ensuring that they can maintain their careers and continue to provide services to their patients as they do, day in and day out.
Medomsley detention centre in my constituency was a living hell for the boys and young men sent there from across the UK in the ’70s and ’80s. Rape and torture were commonplace. So far, 1,800 men have bravely come forward to say they were affected. Some of those young men reported that abuse decades before the first person was convicted for some of the crimes committed. Nearly a year ago I met the Home Secretary, along with a victim of abuse at Medomsley, to make the case for a public inquiry. Many of the victims are not covered by the inquiry into child sexual abuse because of their age. We need to know what happened at Medomsley. We need justice for survivors and we need to make sure it never happens again. Will the Prime Minister please say that we will have an independent public inquiry into the abuse at Medomsley detention centre?
I take very seriously the issue the hon. Lady raises and what happened at Medomsley detention centre. The independent inquiry into child abuse is looking into historical cases of abuse in state institutions. It is doing so on a step-by-step basis in the areas it is looking at. I am surprised at the statement she made that the Medomsley detention centre cases were not able to be covered by that inquiry and I will certainly look at that issue.
Along with Scottish colleagues, I was pleased to welcome the Prime Minister to Aberdeen on Friday. The Prime Minister will be aware that the SNP Scottish Government want to postpone devolved VAT powers and delay social security powers, and have U-turned on the air departure tax. Does the Prime Minister agree that it is time for new leadership in Scotland? It is time for Ruth Davidson in Bute House.
I absolutely agree with my hon. Friend. What do we see from the SNP Government in Scotland? We gave them powers over welfare payments, which they asked for—not used. It was an SNP manifesto commitment to cut air passenger duty. They have the power. They are not going to use it. But what are they using? They have used their power to change taxes, so that people doing a job in Scotland are being charged more tax than those doing the same job south of the border. When given the chance to help people, they reject it. When given the chance to take more money out of people’s pockets, they take it. It is certainly time for Ruth Davidson in Bute House.