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Business of the House

Volume 734: debated on Thursday 22 June 2023

10.53 am

The business for the week commencing 26 June will include:

Monday 26 June—Consideration of Lords amendments to the Financial Services and Markets Bill, followed by consideration of a Lords message to the National Security Bill.

Tuesday 27 June—Opposition day (19th allotted day). There will be a debate in the name of the official Opposition—subject to be announced.

Wednesday 28 June—If necessary, consideration of a Lords message, followed by Second Reading of the Holocaust Memorial Bill.

Thursday 29 June—General debate on the fishing industry, followed by general debate on artificial intelligence. The subjects for these debates were determined by the Backbench Business Committee.

Friday 30 June—The House will not be sitting.

The provisional business for the week commencing 3 July includes:

Monday 3 July— Second Reading of the Economic Activity of Public Bodies (Overseas Matters) Bill.

Tuesday 4 July—Estimates day (4th allotted day)—subjects to be confirmed.

Wednesday 5 July—Estimates day (5th allotted day)—subjects to be confirmed.

At 7 pm the House will be asked to agree all outstanding estimates.

Thursday 6 July—Proceedings on the Supply and Appropriation (Main Estimates) (No. 2) Bill, followed by a general debate on building safety and social housing, to mark six years since the Grenfell Tower tragedy, followed by business to be determined by the Backbench Business Committee.

Friday 7 July—The House will not be sitting.

It might also be helpful for the House to know that, following further discussions with the Procedure Committee and Mr Speaker, it is the Government’s intention to bring forward a motion next week for the House to consider the extension of the proxy voting scheme for ill health and injury.

I thank the Leader of the House for announcing the business. Today we celebrate the 75th anniversary of the arrival of the first people from the Windrush generation. They made their homes in cities such as Bristol. They built their lives here, they had their children here, and we are proud of the contributions they made throughout their whole lives. After years of their dedicated public service in the NHS, transport and industry, I have to ask, why are the Government treating these now 60, 70 and 80-year-olds so badly?

The Home Office has failed to process more than 2,000 of the claims for compensation. More than a third have been waiting more than six months for a decision. It is expensive and complex, and just getting to that point is hard enough. A lack of access to affordable legal advice is stopping people from even applying for compensation. Can the Minister tell us when the Home Office will clear that backlog and give people the compensation they are owed? What are the Government doing to make the process fairer and more efficient? Will she ensure that those who need it get specialist help? There is a deep sense of injustice in communities such as mine in Bristol. Will the Leader of the House please ask the Home Secretary to come to the House and make a statement, so that the people we represent can get the answers they deserve?

Order. Can I just say to Members looking at their watch that the shadow Leader of the House has up to five minutes?

I have done only 90 seconds.

I thank the Leader of the House for stepping up while the Prime Minister stepped aside in Monday’s vote to start restoring trust in democracy. It is a very low bar, but a big improvement on her predecessor but one, who tried to rip up the standards system when faced with a similar situation. As grateful as I am, it must have been difficult for the Leader of the House, with no Prime Minister to rally the troops, no Cabinet colleagues on the Front Bench to cheer her on and a roll call of Johnson’s sycophants behind her. I am afraid to say that the Leader of the House looked a rather lonely figure on the Government Front Bench—a Tory version of Greta Garbo; glamourous, but all alone. For most of the debate, she was seemingly the only Cabinet Minister holding the torch for any level of standards in public life. However, I know she will be pleased that her powers of persuasion worked wonders over some of her Back Benchers. In fact, more than 100 of them backed her motion.

The current Prime Minister was perhaps slightly less pleased and more nervous that the sword-carrying second favourite to replace him secured an unexpected amount of support. If so many Tory Back Benchers found the strength to do the right thing, why couldn’t the Prime Minister? Not only did he fail to vote, but he was too weak to utter a single word of substance on this issue. We do not know where this Prime Minister stands on standards. Can the Leader of the House tell us whether the Prime Minister plans to sit out all future votes on integrity, professionalism and accountability? Where was he?

The Leader of the House famously once reassured this House that another Prime Minister was not hiding “under a desk”—words immortalised on the BBC’s “Newscast” intro. I hear news from the parliamentary Press Gallery reception that she is a big fan of the podcasts, so I will end by tempting her to update “Newscast” and this House: is that where the Prime Minister really was on Monday evening—hiding under a desk?

First, I join the hon. Lady in saying how good it was this week to see the Windrush generation, and all their contributions to our nation, treasured and celebrated. The Windrush scandal—the injustice done to those people when they had given so much of themselves, and their families’ lives, to this nation—is a tremendous stain. I shall certainly ensure that the Home Secretary has heard what the hon. Lady said. She will know that the Home Office has stepped up bespoke surgeries for colleagues on other matters in our casework; I am sure that that could be extended to any cases of the Windrush generation that Members are dealing with.

I shall take all compliments that the hon. Lady gives me about my glamour, but I was not alone on Monday. Many Cabinet colleagues were in the same Lobby as us, as were the Chief Whip and the Prime Minister’s Parliamentary Private Secretary. I repeat what I said in the debate: whatever hon. Members thought about the motion that we were presented with on Monday night—whether they agreed or disagreed with it, or agreed and disagreed with various aspects of it—we are entitled to exercise our right to vote in either Lobby, or not to vote at all. I stressed that I very much feel that people should be left in peace to determine the course of action that they deem correct.

The hon. Lady has not said this, but some of her colleagues have pointed to my colleagues and called them cowards. I do not have time to look into the character of each colleague who was not in the same Lobby as us, but of the Conservative Members who abstained or voted against the Privileges Committee, 20 of them are veterans. Between them they have more than 253 years of service. I do not know how many medals they have between them, but one of them has a distinguished service order. These people are not cowards; they are honourable and decent people, and they did what they thought was right. I would say to anyone beating up on Members of this House for voting one way or another, or abstaining, “Even though I no longer have a sword, back off!” I hope that the hon. Lady, who has been nodding, would agree with that. We are at our best when we have that approach to these matters.

I appreciate that we have had a lot of debate this week and are awaiting news on rate rises from the stresses that our economy is under. I was disappointed to hear the lack of confidence expressed this week by those on the Opposition Benches in the resilience and capability of our nation. It does not survive contact with the facts. Last year, British exports to the EU were at their highest since records began. We are the largest service exporter in the world. The UK’s trade balance with the EU has improved. We now have the highest growth of any G7 nation in the last two years, and rank third globally as a priority investment destination.

We are the second nation in the world to have a stock of foreign direct investment worth $2 trillion. We are Europe’s most attractive destination for financial services. We have a trillion-dollar tech economy, and the largest life sciences, film and TV sectors in Europe. We have more people in work than ever before. We are modernising our statute book and can legislate to suit our needs and values on online safety, gene editing and data reform, just to give Members a few examples. We have identified £1 billion-worth of savings in red tape for UK firms and we are reducing compliance costs. We have given UK regulators the ability and resources to make sovereign decisions about globally significant mergers and acquisitions, and now have control over all aspects of our fiscal policy, the way we procure and how we grant subsidies, our taxes, and VAT.

We have scrapped 6,000 tariff lines. We have left the common fisheries policy and many of our ports have had a massive increase in sales; Brixham has gone from £40 million to £70 million in eight years. We now have an agricultural regime that supports the foundations of food production. Free trade agreements and state-level memorandums of understanding will increase our market share in goods and services. On freeports, Teesside alone is estimated to create 18,000 highly skilled jobs.

Are we still at the heart of Europe? Do they listen to us? Does NATO? Yes, they damn well do. I am proud of Britain’s leadership, seen again this week on Ukraine. Ditto AUKUS. Ditto the Atlantic partnership and declaration, and our work at the World Trade Organisation. The British public should be confident in the nation and the decisions that it took, even if Labour is not.

I would vote for that. Windrush deserves prominence, but we should not forget SS Ormonde, which landed in Liverpool in 1947 and SS Almanzora, which landed in Southampton in 1947.

The Leader of the House has announced the debate on the holocaust memorial. In that debate I will say that I look forward to a holocaust memorial being built within two years at a far lower cost, but I will argue to detach the learning centre from it and to have a fast competition for a more appropriate memorial, so that most of the money can be spent on the education centre.

My question to the Leader of the House follows a question I put to the veterans Minister in Cabinet Office questions. Will the Government please consider giving the Cabinet Office more power to decide which of those people still stuck in Afghanistan should be given permission to come to this country, such as the person I mentioned, who had been secretary to a governor in a province? I have written to my right hon. Friend in the Cabinet Office and to the Minister for Security in the Home Office, and I hope that the Leader of the House will consider whether more power should be given to that Department, as the Ministry of Defence is failing to extract people who served this country?

I thank my hon. Friend for what he said about the important Holocaust Memorial Bill. There are many different views about the right approach, but we can all agree that we want something done swiftly. It would be great to ensure that as many survivors as possible could be around to witness its fruition.

I completely understand his concern for the brave people in Afghanistan who were associated with the coalition’s work. He is obviously doing all that he can to ensure that his suggestion is heard by Cabinet Office colleagues, but I will make sure they have heard what he has said.

“Eternal Father, Strong to Save”, written for those in peril on the sea, is one of my very favourite hymns. It calls to mind the dangers that those brave enough to venture forth on sometimes stormy waters can face, whether those who travel down to its very depths or those risking their lives to escape war, persecution, famine or drought. Our hearts go out to all those currently lost and their loved ones, but the contrast in approach to recent events is telling. Where were the same levels of energy and resources to help the 750 poor souls crowded on board the vessel that capsized near Greece last week, in what will surely rank among the worst catastrophes in the Mediterranean in recent history?

It is a source of tragic irony that this year’s Refugee Week immediately follows that horrific incident. It also reflects a growing global humanitarian crisis on which this UK Government continue to turn their back. Seeking asylum is a human right, but rather than providing safe and legal routes, this Government choose to abdicate their responsibilities under international human rights law, from the Afghan resettlement scheme to Rwanda deportations and the refugee ban Bill. While Ministers continue to reflexively parrot “stop the boats” to questions on the topic, this week the UK’s leading medical bodies called for an urgent meeting with the Government, warning that plans to detain children indefinitely under the Illegal Migration Bill pose the risk of “unimaginable levels of harm” to their physical and mental health. Can we have a debate on the long-term health impact of that legislation and Government’s immigration and asylum policies?

Scotland stands ready to accommodate refugees and asylum seekers. Glasgow remains the local authority with the most dispersed asylum seekers in the UK, while Scotland has taken in 20% of all Ukrainian arrivals under the sponsorship schemes. If the Home Office really wanted to assist, rather than enriching Tory-appointed private contractors it could provide the necessary funding for local authorities across the UK. Today, over 110 million people have been forcibly displaced from their homes. That figure will only grow in the coming years. [Interruption.] Can the Leader of the House and her fellow advocates of global Britain tell us how they intend to step up to meet the challenge?

The hon. Lady is shouting loudly because I am coughing! This is not a good way to do things. We have to get a grip of time, because a lot of Members want to get in, and we must look after them.

First, I thank the hon. Lady for the sentiments she expressed about the rescue operation taking place as we speak. I was proud to say the naval prayer at the armed forces flag-raising ceremony that many Members attended. She is right to point out the dangers of crossings on the Mediterranean and right to refer to that appalling situation. Clearly, investigations are ongoing with regard to the coastguards’ activities. I remind Members that it was in a similar incident a few years ago that more people were lost in one night crossing the Mediterranean than were lost on the Titanic. That is why we must use every means at our disposal to stop people-trafficking operations and ensure we have a refugee and asylum system—not just in the UK, but a global set of rules—that enables us to direct finite financial resources to help those most in need and to take people who are lingering as we speak in refugee camps and other places, rather than one that encourages people to make dangerous crossings and puts funds in the way of people-trafficking organisations. I would just stress that to her.

We speak about many topics and matters, but we sometimes forget the personal impact on individuals of the polices our Governments make. One individual this week, Fergus from Inverness who worked in the legal profession for many years and will shortly be drawing his pension, is really dismayed at what is happening in Scotland. He is against the deposit return scheme and wants someone to come and sort that out; he is against the ill- thought-out marine protected areas; he is against the SNP’s transition from oil and gas; and he is against the SNP riding roughshod over UK equality Acts. What would be the hon. Lady’s advice to Fergus? What would she suggest to him, given that Fergus is an SNP Member of the Scottish Parliament who this week voted to support a motion of no confidence in his own Government’s co-leader? I have some advice for Fergus: fill out an application form to join the Conservative party and hand it to my hon. Friend the Member for Moray (Douglas Ross), who is standing up for his country- men and his nation.

First Bus, without any warning or consultation, recently announced major changes to bus services in Newcastle-under-Lyme, including, most significantly, the withdrawal of the No. 4 service to Audley and Wood Lane from 2 July—in less than a fortnight’s time—which will mean that people will not be able to get to work or college. Does the Leader of the House agree that it is not appropriate for bus companies to do that after so little consultation with local residents? I am grateful to the interim managing director for agreeing to meet me tomorrow, but may we have a debate about the way bus companies do such things with so little warning and consultation with local residents?

I congratulate my hon. Friend on standing up for his local community. Whatever changes and adaptations are made to services, they need to be done in consultation with residents. If that has not happened, there needs to be a pause to enable that to happen. These are incredibly important services and that is why we have been backing local bus services with a further £300 million over the next two years, which includes £140 million to combat any indications of reductions in service.

On Tuesday, the Backbench Business Committee heard applications for estimates day debates. Following the hearings, we selected the following subjects for debate: the spending of the Department for Work and Pensions; the spending of the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero on measures relating to energy infrastructure; the spending of the Department for Education on adult and post-16 education and further education colleges; and the spending of the Ministry of Justice on His Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service. Those four debates will take place on Tuesday 4 July and Wednesday 5 July, but not necessarily in that order.

We have had a number of occasions recently when the House has adjourned early or relatively early on Government business days. If the Leader of the House and her colleagues have any inkling in advance about such early finishes in future, there is the possibility that the Backbench Business Committee, in conjunction with applicants, might be able to fill the void and conjure up debates to fill the space. We have mentioned that in the past. If Government business were to run to time when we had something lined up, we would just park it and bring it back at a future date. We are always trying to be flexible, but we are also trying to be helpful.

The hon. Gentleman is always flexible and helpful, and I thank him for the helpful advert of his Committee’s deliberations. He makes a good suggestion. I want to ensure that Members have time to debate matters, particularly legislation, but if they do not want to take it up, we should still use our time well in this place. I will follow up his suggestion with him.

Canadian Solar and Windel Energy are proposing to build a solar plant in Rutland and the Stamford villages. This week, the Planning Inspectorate published my response, but they redacted the words “Modern Slavery Act”, all mentions of the Uyghur and even quotes from the Energy Secretary. On top of that, The Times has reported deeply inappropriate approaches from those companies, asking me to drop my opposition in return for a school, a playground, a swimming pool or something I might like. They say that it has been done before. Who can I go to in Government to ask for advice on whether the Planning Inspectorate can make those redactions and for support in dealing with a deeply inappropriate approach?

That does sound inappropriate. I have some experience of dealing with similar companies in my constituency. It is difficult for colleagues when some of our concerns refer to, for example, issues of national security or other matters that are slightly outside the Planning Inspectorate’s direct lane. I will write to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and ask for some advice. It is difficult for colleagues—we do not wish to put Ministers who may make decisions further down the line in a position that they cannot be in, but we also need advice. I shall see what advice I can get for my hon. Friend so that she can ensure that the right thing happens.

I thank the Leader of the House and all Members for their warm words about the Windrush generation. Actions speak louder than words, and as the right hon. Lady said, the personal impact that Government policies have on individuals can be forgotten. With 74% of claims not being resolved, more people are likely to die before their claims are resolved. Will the Leader of the House not just speak to, but work with the Home Secretary to simplify and accelerate the Windrush compensation scheme?

I thank the hon. Lady for what she said. The media have highlighted this week cases such as she described. Whether it is the Windrush scheme or other compensation schemes that are administered by the Government, it is very much understood that the payments need to be swift. We do not want to add further injury to the damage already done. I know that the Home Secretary takes the matter very seriously, but I assure the hon. Lady that I will do all I can from my office to ensure that people get their compensation in the shortest possible time and to facilitate any cases that hon. Members have where that is not happening.

With the prospect of the Victoria Tower being refurbished on the exterior, will my right hon. Friend assure me that the interior will be done at the same time? I have heard that there may be a quirk in the Parliamentary Buildings (Restoration and Renewal) Act 2019 that means that we can do only the outside, and that we will have to do the inside later, which may add considerably to the cost.

My right hon. Friend is very knowledgeable on those subjects. I can tell him that that argument has been put forward to me by other quarters, but I have looked at it and there is no impediment to the outside and the inside of the tower being done at the same time. I know that I speak for Mr Speaker and others when I say that we want the work to be done well, with the least disruption, while also ensuring that there is value for money for the taxpayer.

Supporting the Privileges Committee report on Boris Johnson earlier this week, the Leader of the House said

“the integrity of our institutions matter.”—[Official Report, 19 June 2023; Vol. 734, c. 585.]

Mr Johnson’s actions were not right, and they were not honourable. The Leader of the House is also Lord President of the Privy Council, so can we have a statement from her, in that role, on whether she would recommend that Boris Johnson be stripped of his title as a right hon. Privy Counsellor?

I understand why the hon. Lady and Members are exercised about this matter and cross at the former Member for Uxbridge and South Ruislip and former Prime Minister. As a matter of information, such a thing would be advice from the Prime Minister given to the King, and I would prefer His Majesty to be kept out of such matters. The threshold, for people who have been booted off the Privy Council previously—for example, having committed financial fraud—is much higher than the situation we were discussing on Monday. I understand where she is coming from and her motivation, and the integrity of all these systems is very important, as I said on Monday, but I do not think it is an appropriate course of action in this instance.

This morning I was contacted by Leyland police, which executed a warrant on a property in Leyland and discovered items of such concern that it arrested a gentleman at the property and put an extensive cordon to protect people’s safety in the Broadfield Drive area. Can the Leader of the House advise me on how I can best communicate my gratitude to the Minister for Crime, Policing and Fire for the swift action that Lancashire police has taken today, which has almost certainly kept the British public safe?

I hope all will be well in my hon. Friend’s constituency. She has arrived at her own solution. I will make sure that the Policing Minister has heard her remarks. On behalf of the whole House, we should thank her local force for its proactive policing and for all it is doing in this ongoing investigation to keep the community safe.

I refer to my declaration of interest. Pneumoconiosis, the coal dust lung disease, is still prevalent in coalmining communities and is still a major cause of death. National Union of Mineworkers advice centres are reporting that Government lawyers have become increasingly difficult on applications for compensation. Can we have a debate in Government time on how the Government can assist, rather than resist, these compensation applications from families who have lost their loved ones?

Given that the relevant Department’s next questions will not be until after the summer recess, I will write on the hon. Gentleman’s behalf to make sure it has heard his concerns. As with all such cases, if I can facilitate surgeries and engagement with the relevant officials in that Department, I am always happy to do so.

There is an emerging scandal that the drone technology and other sophisticated weaponry being used by Russia in Ukraine, having been supplied by Iran, uses technology supplied by British universities. My right hon. Friend the Member for Haltemprice and Howden (Mr Davis) raised this with the Prime Minister yesterday, and the Prime Minister agreed that a cross-Government investigation will take place. I have written to the Secretary of State for Business and Trade with full details, and it is quite clear that this is an emerging scandal and a threat to our national security.

At the same time, the executions continue in Iran. There have been attacks this week by the Albanian police on the Ashraf peace camp for Iranian refugees, and there is pressure on the French to prevent the Iranian resistance from holding its conference next weekend. Can we have a debate in Government time on Iran’s nefarious activities, and on making sure our national security is safeguarded?

I thank my hon. Friend for his questions, as he raises a number of concerning issues. I thank him for all the work he is doing to bring this matter to the attention of the Business and Trade Secretary. He will be aware of what the Prime Minister said yesterday, but I shall make sure that that Department knows he has also raised this matter today.

The Renters Reform Coalition held a parliamentary drop-in event yesterday to brief Members on the forthcoming Renters (Reform) Bill, but the RRC and many other stakeholders are becoming concerned that it is more than a month since the Bill had its First Reading. Will the Leader of the House therefore enlighten them as to when the Second Reading debate on this crucial Bill will take place?

I know that that Bill is of great interest to many Members, in all parts of this House. The hon. Gentleman will know that I will say that I will announce business in the usual way, but I am optimistic that he will not have long to wait.

I thank the Leader of the House for confirming the Second Reading debate next Wednesday on the Holocaust Memorial Bill, which will facilitate the holocaust memorial to be built in Victoria Tower Gardens. Does she agree that that is a good opportunity for Members from across the House to work together to deliver this memorial, which is a commitment of successive Governments and will be a fitting memorial to those remarkable survivors of the holocaust and those people who have given so much of their lives to holocaust education?

I thank my right hon. Friend for his kind remarks, and I agree entirely with his sentiments. Again, let me reassure him that we are doing all we can to make sure that this is brought forward in the swiftest possible time. The House of Commons has a working group to ensure that any work on restoration and renewal or other things is deconflicted with the work going on to produce this important memorial. It will also be very important to the ongoing work of education on those appalling events.

The Leader of the House will know that we are about 30 minutes away from what is likely to be difficult news for homeowners and renters across the country, with expected rises in interest rates, on top of rising food prices, on top of the energy price hikes that they have seen. I have been speaking to people from businesses in my constituency that are locked into long-term energy deals that they cannot get out of. That is having a huge impact on their businesses and on their ability to employ people and generate growth in our economy. Will she ensure that a statement is made by a relevant Minister on what is being done to ensure flexibility in the energy market for business customers, so that they are not locked into ridiculously high prices if wholesale prices come down?

I thank the hon. Gentleman for raising an issue that is frequently raised at business questions. As with previous questions, I will make sure that the Secretary of State has heard what has been said today. The hon. Gentleman will know that the next departmental questions are on 4 July and I encourage him to put that question directly to the Secretary of State then.

Pupils have been denounced as “despicable” for failing to accept the reality of a fellow pupil who identified as a cat. May we have a debate on Confucius, for it was he who observed that the most difficult thing is to search a dark room for a black cat, particularly when there is no cat?

I thank my right hon. Friend for not only the question, but the typically dramatic way in which he asked it. I shall leave Confucius aside and deal with the heart of the matter he is getting at. Obviously, the Department for Education is currently reviewing guidance to schools on these matters and I understand that the Education Secretary has launched an investigation into the incident to which he refers.

Today, on the 75th anniversary of the arrival into the UK of the Windrush generation, which included my grandparents, I have written to the Home Secretary, along with other politicians and leading public figures, to call on her to right the wrongs of the Windrush scandal. May we have a Government statement on the compensation scheme and, more importantly, moving that scheme to an independent body so that those from the Windrush generation can finally get justice?

The hon. Lady adds her voice to others we have heard in the Chamber on this matter. As with them, I will ensure the Home Secretary has heard her remarks, and I am aware of calls for the matter to be moved to the Cabinet Office.

Following the Prime Minister’s AUKUS submarine agreement, Rolls-Royce has announced it is creating over 1,100 new jobs in a massive expansion of its Raynesway plant, in my constituency of Mid Derbyshire. That is fantastic news for the whole local economy. Will the Leader of the House arrange for a statement about the benefits that the AUKUS agreement will have for UK businesses, and for the 200 apprentices per year who will start at the Rolls-Royce nuclear skills academy and have the opportunity to work on world-leading submarine technology?

I congratulate my hon. Friend on that fantastic news and thank her for the role she has played in championing those incredibly important parts of our supply chain, which enable us to be as proud of our defence sector as we are. The AUKUS deal is so much more than a submarine deal. It is about our trade and our interoperability, and will contribute to our prosperity and security. I congratulate all those involved in it. She will be able to raise the matter at the next Defence questions, on 26 June.

The Leader of the House will know that people living in rural communities have disproportionately higher costs, for example because of transport and older buildings, than people living in urban areas. I have asked time and again of her Government to take some cognisance of those living off the gas grid, who are effectively subsidising those on the gas grid, and to do something about equalising things for them while they face increased mortgage rates and food price inflation, on top of everything else. Can we finally have a debate, in Government time, on the pressures on rural communities and the need to do something to help them?

The hon. Gentleman will be aware of the recent strategy produced by the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, looking at precisely these issues and everything that rural communities need to thrive. I will make sure she and the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero have heard his concerns. The hon. Gentleman can raise the issue with the DEFRA Secretary on 6 July.

This is Drowning Prevention Week. Three weeks ago, in Bournemouth, a 17-year-old boy and a 12-year-girl drowned in the sea close to the pier. It is thought there was a sudden rip tide. The girl’s name was Sunnah Khan and she lived in Buckinghamshire. Her mum, Stephanie, came to see me on Monday to ask me to help to avoid similar accidents in the future. Can we have a debate, in Government time, on ways to raise awareness of the dangers of open water, especially the risks of rip tides, as a tribute to Sunnah and to 17-year-old Joe, who died on the same day, and to all those who tragically lose their lives through drowning each year?

I am sure I speak for all of us when I say how sad we are to hear of that appalling tragedy and the loss of Sunnah. Our thoughts are with her family at this incredibly difficult time. My hon. Friend raises a timely question, because with the warmer weather more people are likely to take to the water. It would be an excellent topic for a debate. I thank him for advertising his interest and I encourage him to apply for one, as I think it would be well attended.

Earlier this year, Capita experienced a cyber incident and data breach. Among the data potentially accessed, was information relating to members of the Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme. Many of my constituents in Barnsley are now very concerned that their details might be used fraudulently. Will the Leader of the House commit to a statement on what is being done across Government to support everyone impacted by the breach, what discussions have taken place with Capita and what action has been taken to protect against future breaches of this nature?

I am very sorry to hear that. I know that this will be a matter of great concern to all those who may have had their data hacked in that way. Obviously, I cannot discuss the individual case with the hon. Lady today, but I can reassure her that Government take a proactive role in this. Prior to the incident, they will have been working with that organisation to ensure that it had not lost information, that systems were backed up and that there were some basic tools in place. I know, too, that they will have oversight of the ongoing incident and I can reassure her on that point. If she needs any further assurance, I will write today to the Cabinet Office and the Government’s One HMG cyber lead to make them aware of her interest in this matter.

On this 75th anniversary of the arrival of the Empire Windrush, when we celebrate the contribution of the Windrush generation and the wider black community in Britain, can the Leader of the House commit to having a debate on health disparities, so we can ensure that every action is being taken to tackle the problem, which means that, for so many black women, maternity healthcare outcomes are poorer than they are for women from other ethnic groupings? This is an important issue and we need to tackle it.

I thank my right hon. Friend for what she said about the Windrush generation and add her remarks to the growing letter that I will be penning to the Home Secretary. She is also right to point to the importance of tackling health disparities. Of course, part of the damage that was done to many of those from the Windrush generation was that they were denied access to the healthcare that they should have had. I know that in some services, including maternity care, as she mentions, there are concerns about poor outcomes for particular groups. I shall make sure that the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care has heard her concerns, but she will know that he is gathering data on integrated care boards to make sure that we really understand where people are letting local residents down.

This Sunday in Glasgow, we will see the start of the Baton of Hope tour of Great Britain. It is visiting 12 cities across Great Britain and will reach Newcastle on Tuesday 27 June. I hope to be there to meet the organisers. They are meeting with a simple message: “Where there is HOPE, there is a real opportunity to save lives”. The organisation was founded by Mike McCarthy and Steve Phillip, who lost their sons, Ross and Jordan, to suicide. It will reach Downing Street on 6 July. Can we have a debate in Government time, please, on suicide prevention, because suicide is preventable and not inevitable?

I thank the hon. Lady for what she said about that incredible organisation—I think people from that organisation came to Parliament recently to meet a number of colleagues—and for advertising that they will be back in Whitehall and Westminster on 6 July. This is an ongoing issue that is particularly affecting men. Many hon. Members will be concerned about it. I am sure that, if she applies for a debate, it will be well attended.

My right hon. Friend the Member for New Forest West (Sir Desmond Swayne) has just highlighted that the absurd campaign to rewrite the biological reality of sex reached new heights this week, with a teacher branding a child “despicable” for refusing to accept a classmate was a cat. This comes after an investigation has found that schoolchildren are being allowed to identify as horses, dinosaurs and, in one case, a moon. This type of indoctrination in our education system is deeply disturbing and must be addressed. The rights of parents and children simply must come first. Will my right hon. Friend find time for a debate on the steps the Government can take to ensure that our young people are not being exposed and indoctrinated with such nonsense in our schools?

My hon. Friend will know that the Department for Education is reviewing the relationships, sex and health education statutory guidance and is expecting that to go out to public consultation later this year. A huge amount of work has gone into this and the review is being carried out by an independent expert panel, with input from health, children’s development, curriculum experts and safeguarding. He can ask the Education Secretary about this at the next Education questions, on 17 July.

Bracken is a fern that is widespread in upland parts of the United Kingdom. It is carcinogenic and is the breeding ground for ticks, which give people Lyme disease, which can be fatal. My own wife had Lyme disease and it was very unpleasant. The only herbicide that controls bracken is called Asulox, and the Scottish Government have just banned it. It is still allowed in England, but it has been banned in Scotland. Understandably, hill farmers and the National Farmers Union have been in contact with me to express their extreme anger at this move. Can the Leader of the House advise me how we can persuade the Scottish Government to change their mind?

I fully understand the hon. Gentleman’s concerns about this and I will make sure that the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs also hears his comments. There are clearly potential health impacts, which I understand are taken into account when those decisions are made, but I think he is right to raise this as a matter of concern and I shall do what I can to assist him in getting some expert advice.

Can we have a debate on the critical value that oil and gas companies and, crucially, their employees provide—not just energy security for today, but delivering the transition to net zero in the future? Does the Leader of the House agree with the former leader of Aberdeen City Council, Councillor Barney Crockett, who yesterday announced his resignation from Labour on the basis of the Labour party leader’s ideological plans to decimate this vital industry? Whether it is the SNP’s presumption against new oil and gas or Labour’s “Just Stop Oil” approach, is it not the case that only the Conservative party has a pragmatic and sensible approach to making the energy transition a success?

My hon. Friend makes some clear and important points and I completely agree with him. I think the best way I can assist him, given that I will be printing out a Conservative party application form for Fergus, is to print one for Barney too.

Many of my constituents in Putney, Roehampton and Southfields, and Ahmadiyya Muslims across the country, are concerned about the increasing persecution of members of the Ahmadiyya community in Pakistan and the impact that that is having here in the UK. I visited Pakistan this year and saw that persecution, the danger to life faced in schools, jobs, housing and places of worship, and threats to the right to vote. Pakistan is a wonderful country, but this is a blight on their country and very concerning to constituents across the UK. Can we have a debate in Government time on this issue?

I thank the hon. Lady for shining a spotlight on this tragedy. She will know that the next questions to the Foreign Office are on 18 July, and I encourage her to raise that matter there. However, given that there will be cross-party and cross-House support on the issue, she may also like to consider applying for an Adjournment debate.

Hundreds of thousands of people live on unadopted roads, with no speed restrictions, no traffic calming and no pedestrian crossings. On Fraserfields Way in Leighton Buzzard, there have already been a number of accidents. To me, it is a road safety no man’s land, with the answer lying somewhere between Barratt Homes, the developers, and Central Bedfordshire Council. Will the Government act to minimise the amount of time that residents have to live on these dangerous roads, so we can prevent accidents?

I thank my hon. Friend for raising this important matter. Usually hon. Members do so in the wake of an accident, so I congratulate him on getting ahead of that and trying to prevent one from happening. I understand his concerns and I will certainly make sure that the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and the Transport Secretary hear his remarks. I also suggest that my hon. Friend might like to raise this on 10 July with the former, who is likely to be able to assist him in his campaign, which again I congratulate him on.

“We are paid handsomely for the job we do and if you need an extra £100,000 a year on top then you should really be looking for another job.” Those are not my words, although I agree with them, but the words of the hon. Member for Ashfield (Lee Anderson). I therefore read with much interest this week that the hon. Gentleman has a show starting tomorrow on GB News, for which he will be paid the sum of £100,000. With that in mind, can we have a debate in Government time on MPs’ second jobs, and does the Leader of the House agree with 100G Lee?

We did have a debate on those matters—I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman attended it. He will know that the Standards Committee looked recently at this matter and, after much deliberation, felt very much that, as we have had these conversations ad infinitum in this place, what he is suggesting is not the best course of action. I direct him to the Standards Committee report; it made other recommendations, which the House adopted, and in it he can read why that suggestion was not supported by the House.

Order. I trust that the hon. Gentleman notified the hon. Member for Ashfield (Lee Anderson) that he was going to raise that matter.

Among other services, post offices across Cheadle handle currency transactions and parcel postage, and they have even picked up the pieces after bank closures left customers in the lurch. Now they are concerned about the impact on customers should the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency contract be lost. For people who need to renew their driving licence or vehicle tax, or get a permit to drive abroad, access to a post office is essential, particularly for the digitally excluded. Post offices are at the heart of all our communities, so will my right hon. Friend make time for a debate on the value of post offices and how we can ensure their long-term sustainability?

I thank my hon. Friend for her question and the campaign she is running to ensure that her local residents have access to those vital services. I am sure that she could apply for a debate, and I know that she has taken part in many debates touching on this matter. She will also be interested to know that the next Business and Trade questions are on 29 June and, with regard to DVLA services, the next Transport questions are on 13 July.

Diabetes UK estimates that in 2022 there were 7,000 excess deaths because of diabetes, and there is huge regional variation in the care provided to diabetes patients depending on the effectiveness of their integrated care board. Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin is the worst performing ICB in England, with only 25% of patients receiving all eight recommended checks in 2021 and 2022. That is a serious problem—people’s health is at stake—so may we have a debate in Government time on improving preventive care for diabetes patients, which would ultimately save lives and save the NHS money?

I should say that I used to be a director of Diabetes UK, which does fantastic work. As I mentioned in an earlier answer, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care is looking into the data. Previously, we had to rely on organisations such as Diabetes UK to collect such data on local services in their area. He is doing that, and I have been in discussion with him about how to make that data available to Members so that we can track the performance of our local health boards. The hon. Lady is absolutely right: if people get the good year of care that they should for diabetes, we will save the NHS a fortune. I thank her for raising that point.

A few months ago, I was lucky enough to visit the Wharfedale air cadets squadron in Ilkley to oversee some of the science, technology, engineering and maths-related activities that they have been involved in. Recently, I joined the Keighley air cadets for a special occasion: the new cadets were enrolled and we oversaw the dedication of their new squadron banner. Without doubt, young people benefit enormously from their involvement in the cadets, developing new transferable life skills. With Armed Forces Day fast approaching, will the Leader of the House join me in thanking all volunteers who go above and beyond, giving up their time week in, week out to aid and support cadets not only in Keighley and Ilkley but across the country?

I thank my hon. Friend for highlighting the work of his local air cadets, whom I visited in a former role—they are absolutely wonderful and amazing. I also thank him for reminding us that this is Armed Forces Week—Saturday is Armed Forces Day and yesterday was Reserve Forces Day—and I hope that all Members will take this opportunity to celebrate and thank our armed forces and, critically, their families for their work.

York has long had one of the greatest local housing allowance disparities, and now that mortgages are going up and prices are going up for private renters, many people are having to leave their homes. Can we have an urgent statement on the setting of the broad rental market areas and the disparity that it creates in setting LHA levels?

I thank the hon. Lady for raising that matter. She will know that she can raise it with the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities on 10 July, and I encourage her to do so. I will also ensure that he has heard her concerns about the matter and encourage his officials to get in touch with her.

Pubs play a really important role across our communities and local economies. In Burnley and Padiham, we have places like the Woodman, the Royal Butterfly, the Bridge Inn and the Railway Inn, and I suspect every Member could give a massive list of pubs that are important. I know from speaking to pub landlords that the cost of living is having a real impact on their viability. Could we have a debate in Government time on how we can support pubs, so that they stay at the heart of our local communities?

I am sure I speak for all Members when I say that we completely agree with my hon. Friend’s praise for these very important community assets. They are not just where we can get a decent pint; they also provide a social network for people, and some have community services run out of them, such as post offices. They are at the heart of our communities and we should treasure them. I agree that a debate would be very well attended. I encourage him to apply for one, and I will also ensure that the relevant Department has heard his concern that we should continue doing all we can to support these important community assets.

In 2014, this House voted to end the Liverpool care pathway. However, in April 2020 it appears that it was reintroduced under the guise of National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guideline NG163 as a treatment for agitation and breathlessness. Can we have a debate on NG163 and why this national health guidance ordered the use of huge volumes of benzodiazepines and opiates, which are respiratory suppressants, for people who are already breathless?

I shall certainly make sure that the hon. Gentleman’s remarks have been heard by the Health Secretary. The Liverpool care pathway was ended, and there was a great deal of focus on what really good-quality end of life care should look like. Of course, part of that was the Government’s support for and elevation of the profile of the role of hospices, which I know all Members greatly value. I shall make sure that the Health Secretary has heard his concerns.

The Leader of the House and I both represent great naval cities, so I am sure she will share my disgust at the illegal looting and salvage of second world war Royal Navy ships sunk in the East Java sea. Those wrecks are war graves and the last resting place for hundreds of Royal Navy sailors lost at sea. Will she agree to a debate on how we can ensure the protection of war graves at sea, and how we can encourage the Foreign Office to ensure that there is better diplomatic protection and that the nations around those war graves are looking after them and respecting the lives of the people who were killed in support of our country?

I completely agree with the hon. Gentleman. We have been appalled at the desecration that has gone on. This is not an easy task for those nations. I agree that, where we can give support, we should. It is also very important that we understand the importance of particular artefacts. I know that the bells have been retrieved from some of those wrecks, for example, and are in our dockyards. These are graves, and it is appalling that people are raiding them, whether it be for artefacts or, more appallingly, just for scrap metal. I shall ensure that both the Defence Secretary and the Foreign Secretary have heard his remarks.

My question is about redundancy modification orders again, I am afraid. On 3 May, I received a response from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities saying:

“Announcements will be set out in the usual way.”

Will the Leader of the House explain what that actually means, considering that I first raised the question of redundancy modification orders in this place on 22 March 2018?

I thank the hon. Lady for her question, and also for her diligence in pursuing this matter. My team works very hard with Departments and parliamentary teams to ensure that they understand what Members need and why. The moral of the story is that if you send a one-line reply after a Member has been contacting your Department for many months, the Leader of the House will insist that an official from your Department meets with the hon. Lady so that she can be properly briefed on the matter.

There are 9,900 families—20,000 people—in my constituency facing an increase in their mortgage of about £1,800 per household. They are facing a crisis already. Is it not the case that the Government are using the old philosophy first expressed by John Major: “If it isn’t hurting, it won’t be working”? The truth is that it is not working for the many, but it is working for the few—it is hurting the many, but only working for the few. Can we have a debate in Government time to discuss this cruel, unequal and devastating economic orthodoxy that is damaging so much of our country? We need a new economic settlement.

First, I would say to the hon. Gentleman that myself and this Government appreciate how people are feeling at this time. People feel that they are being clobbered from all sides, particularly those on fixed incomes; whether it is housing costs, food inflation or energy prices, it is a very difficult time for many people in this country. As he knows, we have this perfect economic storm, exacerbated by things that are going on around the world at the moment. We have to weather that storm, and we are going to do all we can to see individuals and families through this tough time. That is why we have a £94 billion support package for the cost of living, and we are adapting that package and listening to people’s needs as they change.

With particular reference to mortgages, I refer the hon. Gentleman to what the Prime Minister said yesterday. It is a priority for us, and we have increased support for the mortgage interest scheme and given new responsibilities to the Financial Conduct Authority with regard to a consumer duty to help mortgage holders. This is a matter we take very seriously. I am not sure that I have convinced the hon. Gentleman, but I hope I have assured households that we are going to do everything we can to get them through this time.

This week marks the 40th anniversary of the execution of 10 Iranian Baha’i women. They were all given the choice of renouncing their faith or facing the death penalty. Of course, they did not renounce their faith and were murdered by the Iranian authorities. One of them was a 17-year-old student called Mona, who wrote:

“Freedom is the most brilliant word, but there have always been powerful and unjust men who have resorted to oppression and tyranny… Why don’t you let me be free to say who I am and what I want? Why don’t you give me freedom of speech so that I may write for publications or talk on radio and television about my ideas? Yes, liberty is a Divine gift, and this gift is for us also, but you don’t let us have it.”

That was 40 years ago, and those words are as true today as they were in 1983. Since those murders, the memory of those women has brought the plight of the Baha’is to the attention of the international community and inspired the careers of UN prosecutors, and it still feeds into the fight for women’s rights in Iran today. I know that these matters are very close to the heart of the Leader of the House, as they are to the hearts of many Members. Will she join me in paying tribute to the legacy of these incredibly courageous and remarkable women?

On behalf of us all, I thank the hon. Gentleman for using business questions to shine a spotlight on some of the world’s most persecuted people, especially women and girls. The Baha’i women and girls he refers to showed incredible bravery in the ordeal that they faced. As he knows, we have announced eight packages of human rights sanctions on Iran since October last year, and more recently, the Foreign Secretary launched the international women and girls strategy in March of this year. We will continue to stand up and speak out for these incredibly brave people.

Order. I thank the Leader of the House and the shadow Leader of the House for their presence throughout the entirety of the statement on business.