Skip to main content


Volume 718: debated on Wednesday 13 July 2022

Q11. We now know that every ambulance service in the whole country is in a critical state, but last week, well before the current national heatwave emergency, my constituent Mrs Meacham died after waiting for hours for an ambulance—an excruciating and prolonged delay. Her daughter tells me that the family tragedy was not caused by the staff, but by cutbacks by this Government. In any event, without immediate and drastic action we cannot be sure that there will not be many more Mrs Meachams. Does the PM accept that we are now living through an emergency health crisis? Given the disastrous state he is leaving the NHS in, why is he still in Downing Street? (901108)

The hon. Gentleman talks about staffing levels: the NHS now has a record number of people working in it, with 10,900 more nurses this year than there were last year and 6,000 more doctors. On ambulances, and he is right that this is absolutely critical, the crucial thing is to help the hospital staff to move patients through the system. Too often, I am afraid, it is impossible because a proportion of the patients sadly are in delayed discharge and that is making life very difficult for the ambulances as they come up to hospital. That is why it is so crucial that this Government, in addition to everything else we have done, are fixing social care and helping patients out of hospital. That is why we put in the £39 billion, which unfortunately his party voted against.

Q9. I thank the Prime Minister for all he has done to help to level up Stoke-on-Trent. The number of workless households in our city has halved over the past decade of Conservatives in government. Does he agree that the best way to level up Stoke-on-Trent is to get more people in well-skilled, better-paid employment opportunities? (901106)

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. The Leader of the Opposition knows a lot more about Stoke Newington than he knows about Stoke. [Interruption.] That is absolutely true. I am proud that we are getting young people into work up and down the country. I was at an event last night to celebrate the 163,000 kickstarters who we have helped into work. That is our ambition—to help people into good jobs. I am proud to say that I leave office with unemployment at roughly 3.8%; when Labour last left office it was at 8%. That is the difference between them and us.

Q12.   Last night’s “Panorama”, and the joint investigation with The Times newspaper, have exposed yet more evidence of unlawful killings by special forces, this time in Afghanistan. Previously, the Government and the Ministry of Defence were determined to sweep this under the carpet, but those who serve in uniform, and the public they protect, deserve better. These are not vexatious claims from campaigning lawyers; they come from within the armed forces, and from our allies in Australia. Will the Prime Minister commit to an Australia-style independent inquiry, as backed by General Lord Richards? More broadly, has the case not been made again for democratic oversight of special forces? (901109)

It is a long-standing practice, I think accepted on both sides of the House, that we do not comment on special forces. That does not mean that we in any way accept the factual accuracy of the claims to which the hon. Gentleman has alluded; nor does it mean that anybody who serves in Her Majesty’s armed forces is above the law.

I warn other Members that the matter is sub judice—I allowed the question because it was very general, which is the only way I would allow it to be discussed at the moment.

Q10. In the past few years, campaigning and persistence have led to the construction of a new children’s A&E, and this year a new main A&E, for Northampton General Hospital in my constituency. To build on that success, the town now needs an urgent treatment centre. Does the Prime Minister agree that that would be a hugely welcome step in providing top-quality healthcare in Northampton? (901107)

As I mentioned earlier, we are engaged in a massive programme of improvements and building and rebuilding in our NHS estate. With great respect to my hon. Friend, he is going to have to continue to lobby for this decision. The local NHS bodies will have to make up their minds on it, but I am sure he will continue to make lively representations.

Q13.   Last week the Prime Minister was forced to announce his intention to resign after Ministers who supported him only days earlier changed their minds. Of course, people are allowed to change their minds, and this should be recognised. Why do the Prime Minister and his MPs believe that this principle applies everywhere except in Scotland, where the people delivered a clear mandate to the Scottish Parliament to hold an independence referendum? (901110)

As I understand it, the people of the SNP are currently deciding what to do with the right hon. Member for Ross, Skye and Lochaber (Ian Blackford). Heaven forfend that they should change their minds.

Q14. Forty years ago, 10 young people from Rugby’s West Indian community travelled to a house in New Cross Road, London for a birthday celebration for former Rugby resident Yvonne Ruddock. Tragically, there was a fire at the house where the party was held, and two of the group never returned home; others were traumatised. The fire cost 13 people their lives and has been the subject of two inquests, both of which were inconclusive. Those who survived, and the families of the bereaved, are calling for a further investigation. Does the Prime Minister agree that the appointment of the new Metropolitan Police Commissioner provides an opportunity to re-examine the events of that time? (901111)

I know from my own experience of running the city the anguish that that particular tragedy caused and the deep feeling that surrounds it, and I thank my hon. Friend for raising it. Whatever my own views, this is a matter for the independent Metropolitan Police Service, and I am sure that the new commissioner will consider what he has just said.

Q15. While the Prime Minister was editor of The Spectator, he published a poem about exterminating “The Scotch…a venomous race!” He previously stated that “a pound spent in Croydon is far more of value to the country…than a pound spent in Strathclyde.”He called for an ending of the Barnett formula and stated that an MP from a Scottish constituency should not be Prime Minister. Given his anti-Scottish views and his abject failure as a Prime Minister, why does he think he has the right to try to block a democratic vote for Scotland to choose its future away from this corrupt Westminster? (901112)

May I say to the hon. Gentleman that after three years of listening to this delirium of monotony from the Scottish nationalists, I really think they need to change the record? What the people of this country want is a focus on the cost of living, on the economy, on schools and on standards in schools—those are the things he should fix, and that is to say nothing of the tragedy of drug deaths in Scotland, which the SNP still has not done anything to address. Everything I have seen has taught me that whether it is Ukraine, covid or furlough, there is absolutely no doubt that we are better off working together.

On behalf of the Ukrainian community that is at the heart of Kensington, I send huge thanks to the Prime Minister for his support for Ukraine.

Yesterday was the first anniversary of the devastating flooding that affected more than 1,000 homes in my constituency. People in basement flats lost all their belongings and many people are still in temporary accommodation. Will my right hon. Friend back my fight to ensure that we get serious investment in infrastructure in west London from Thames Water?

I know the problem of which my hon. Friend speaks very well. There is no single solution to tackling surface water flooding, but she is absolutely right in wanting to put more pressure on Thames Water to try to come up with sustainable solutions. That has to be done working with partners and councils, and with developers as well.

A few short weeks ago, Zara Aleena was walking home through Ilford. She was dragged off the street and brutally murdered. Zara’s family made a touching tribute to her life. They said:

“She was authentic and refused to try and impress anyone, but she impressed us. She was the rock of our family.”

Last week, on 8 July, another woman was stabbed in St Johns Road, just yards from my family’s church that I have attended for 15 years, so I know the area like the back of my hand. Women in Ilford should not have to police themselves or impose curfews on their behaviour when they just want to go about their daily business. Will the Prime Minister commit to a greater allocation of policing funding targeted on specialist knife crime into Ilford and across all that part of north-east London? In addition, what measures will the Government take that will make a difference to the lives of women? Will they toughen sentences for rape, stalking and domestic violence and put in place proper police support to end the epidemic of violence in this country against women and girls?

Before the Prime Minister answers, let me say to Members that, although I have allowed the matter to be raised, we should be careful about going into detail on the first person because the case is sub judice. I am sure the Prime Minister can answer the question in general terms.

I thank you for your guidance, Mr Speaker. I think we can safely say how much we sympathise with the victim and her family. Knife crime is a scourge, and I believe there are many different solutions, but one of them unquestionably is allowing the police to do more stop and search and making sure we have more police out on the street. That is why we have made the massive investments we have, and I hope that those investments will continue. I am sure that they will.

Rape and serious sexual offences—offences particularly against women—are a matter that is incredibly important to the whole House, and they are something we have worked on very hard over the past three years. We have done everything we can; not only have we introduced more streetlights, but we have invested more in independent sexual violence advisers and domestic violence advisers and all the people we need to give victims the confidence they need to get cases to trial, which is such a problem. In addition to putting more police out on the streets and specialist units to tackle—[Interruption.] Yes, we have. We have also introduced tougher sentences for rape and serious sexual violence. I have to say I am amazed that it is still the case that the party of the Leader of the Opposition voted against those tougher sentences. That was a great mistake, and I think they should take it back.

Order. At the start of Prime Minister’s questions, the hon. Members for East Lothian (Kenny MacAskill) and for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath (Neale Hanvey) persistently denied the authority of the Chair. In their absence, I wish to proceed to name them, and I call on the Leader of the House to move the relevant motion.

Kenny MacAskill, Member for East Lothian, and Neale Hanvey, Member for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, were named by the Speaker for wilfully disregarding the authority of the Chair (Standing Order No. 44).

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 44), That Kenny MacAskill and Neale Hanvey be suspended from the service of the House.—(Mark Spencer.)

Question agreed to.

I understand that the right hon. Gentleman wants to raise a point of order relevant to his question to the Prime Minister.

As a former Minister, I am very aware of the information that is given to Ministers and Prime Ministers when they are going to be answering questions, especially when they are pre-informed of a question. The information the Prime Minister was given was that my hospitals trust had looked at all options for the decision on a new hospital in my part of the world. That is not correct, and I want to put it on the record that the Prime Minister has been misled by my trust. It is not the Prime Minister’s fault that he had that information.

I am not going to carry on the debate raised in the question, but the right hon. Gentleman has certainly put the matter on the record. I am sure that the trust will be hearing of it as he sits down.