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Business of the House

Volume 736: debated on Thursday 13 July 2023

The business for next week includes:

Monday 17 July—Consideration of Lords message to the Illegal Migration Bill, followed by consideration of Lords message to the Social Housing (Regulation) Bill [Lords], followed by consideration of Lords message to the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill, followed by motion relating to an appointment to the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority.

Tuesday 18 July—If necessary, consideration of Lords message to the Illegal Migration Bill, followed by consideration of Lords amendments to the Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill, followed by motions to approve the draft Environmental Civil Sanctions (England) (Amendment) Order 2023 and the draft Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) (Amendment) (England) (No. 2) Regulations 2023 followed by, if necessary, consideration of Lords message.

Wednesday 19 July—If necessary, consideration of Lords message to the Illegal Migration Bill, followed by motion to approve the Russia (Sanctions) (EU Exit) (Amendment) (No. 3) Regulations 2023 (SI, 2023 No. 713), followed by debate on the Committee on Standards’ report on all-party parliamentary groups, followed by, if necessary, consideration of Lords messages.

Thursday 20 July—The Sir David Amess summer adjournment debate. The subject for this debate was determined by the Backbench Business Committee.

The House will rise for the summer recess at the conclusion of business on Thursday 20 July and return on Monday 4 September.

I thank the Leader of the House for the forthcoming business.

The Leader of the House did not announce a date for the debate and vote on the House of Commons Commission’s proposal to introduce a new process for dealing with MPs accused of violent or sexual offences. We both agree this mechanism is needed to reduce the risk of harm to all those who work on and visit the parliamentary estate. Colleagues and staff need clarity and want to see progress. Given that our original plan was to get the motion through before the summer recess, could she give us a date for when the vote will happen? I know that, like me, she believes this is incredibly important. We have worked hard on it together, and I therefore hope she will sort this imminently.

Once again, the Government wasted another week of precious time in this House pushing their unworkable, immoral and illegal asylum Bill. They could have just accepted the common-sense, human rights-focused amendments from the Lords. I thank their lordships for, again, sitting so late last night to try to repair the damage that the Government are intent on causing.

Meanwhile, it is left to Labour to introduce proposals that will make a difference to the lives of working people. Yesterday, we set out our plan to accelerate the production of electric vehicles: our plan to create 80,000 jobs, power 2 million electric vehicles and add £30 billion to the UK’s economy. No wonder it passed unanimously. The Government have presided over a 37% fall in car production since 2010, with seemingly no ambition to reverse it. Instead of tearing down unnecessary trade barriers with our friends and neighbours in the EU, as Labour would do, they are happy to see the imposition of 10% tariffs. How will that help us to export more of our Great British cars? Our Opposition day motion was successful, not a single MP voted against it, so will the Leader of the House tell us what steps the Government will be taking to act on Labour’s motion and when? This is about growing our economy, bringing down the cost of living, creating quality jobs and tackling climate change. Labour has a plan. Where is the Tories’ plan? The next Labour Government will be on the side of everyone building the cars of the future in Britain.

Finally, I hope the Leader of the House had an enjoyable evening yesterday at the Prime Minister’s so-called “unifying hog roast” in Downing Street. I wonder whether she managed to catch up with the right hon. Member for Mid Bedfordshire (Ms Dorries). You would not think it if you’ve been looking out for her in Parliament, but I understand that she has been pretty busy. She has failed to turn up here for more than a year, but she has had time to present her own TV show, write her own Daily Mail column and even pen a book. That is a lot to fit in between strops over being denied a peerage. On that, the Cabinet Secretary said he has referred the Member to the Government Chief Whip over reports that she sent forceful messages to civil servants about her non-peerage. He also said he was seeking further advice on whether the Honours (Prevention of Abuses) Act 1925 could come into play. Can the Leader of the House clear up this mess and tell us if this is being properly investigated?

Despite all of that, the Prime Minister is still happy for that Member to be listed as a Conservative. Is this all people can expect from their Tory representatives? She said that she would resign with “immediate effect”. Does the Leader of the House have an update for the people of Mid Bedfordshire? Perhaps she could give a dictionary definition of the word “immediate” for the Member. When will the people she is supposed to represent get the chance to elect a Labour MP, who will actually show up for working people?

First, let me deal with that last point. The hon. Lady will know that such matters that were raised at the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee are not ones for me, as the Leader of the Commons, or indeed for the Chief Whip—they are matters for the Cabinet Secretary. Standards and ethics are very important and they are important rules, but clearly there are some grey areas.

I very much enjoyed the hon. Lady’s painting a picture of Labour as guardians of our border security and champions of economic growth. Given her mention of automotive manufacturing, I am surprised that she did not welcome the £6 billion investment announced this week by Renault-Geely, which comes on top of the £17 billion investment from Japan; the UK is doing rather well on that front.

I take issue with the portrait the hon. Lady painted of her party, as we cannot rely on Labour for the things she said. We cannot rely on it to protect our borders. The Labour party has voted a total of 36 times to weaken our Illegal Migration Bill. We cannot rely on Labour for growth or to balance the books. I believe the current total is £48 billion of unfunded spending commitments and counting. We cannot rely on Labour to support the NHS. In Labour-run Wales, the only place in the UK where the NHS budget has been cut—not once, but three times—people are twice as likely to be waiting for treatment. This is an approach to our NHS that the Leader of the Opposition describes as a “blueprint” for health. And we cannot rely on Labour to defend this nation. While our Prime Minister was heading off to the NATO alliance to strengthen that alliance, 12 Labour Front Benchers were undermining it by supporting the treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons, which is incompatible with NATO membership—they included a shadow Defence Minister. So more debt, no growth, worse care, weaker defence and open borders is what we can rely on Labour to deliver.

Knife crime is a scourge on our society, as we all know in this place. In my constituency, the James Brindley Foundation is doing an amazing job, working to raise awareness of the need to take action to educate young people. Will my right hon. Friend join me in commending the work of the foundation and also the Conservative councillors at Walsall Council, who led a fantastic debate on Monday night to back the foundation’s campaign and petition to get the dangers of knife crime put on the school curriculum?

I thank my right hon. Friend for the work she is doing, alongside Andy Street, on tackling this issue. She will know that across the country we have a good record on these matters. Since 2010, violent crime in England and Wales has fallen by 41%, which is fantastic and a huge tribute to all working on the issue. However, the west midlands has the highest recorded rate of knife crime throughout England and Wales, and I know my right hon. Friend and hon. Friends from that area are holding the police and crime commissioner to account on that poor record. I congratulate her on what she is doing. I am sure that if she were to secure a debate on this issue, it would be well attended.

It is good to be back after a short absence on parliamentary business. First, I request a debate on conventions of this House. Normally, my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen South (Stephen Flynn) would have responded to the Prime Minister’s statement on NATO, but as we were not given any advance notice of that important statement, unlike His Majesty’s loyal Opposition, he was unable to be in his place to respond. There is a conventional expectation to be notified of such statements beforehand, as we should be made aware to ensure that we can scrutinise the Government properly. Will the Leader of the House take that up with her Government?

While I was away, I notice the Leader of the House had a day trip to Scotland. I hope she received the kind of warm welcome we always give to people visiting from afar. On her very brief visit, she will have been in a nation where not a single day has been lost in the health service to strikes; where the Government and teachers got together and negotiated a deal; where there is no profit motive when people turn the tap on for water in their homes; where water quality is among the best in Europe; where social policies, such as the Scottish child payment, have been universally welcomed; where unemployment is lower than the UK as a whole and economic growth faster; and where we continue to attract levels of foreign direct investment second only to London.

On her return to this place, she, like me, was no doubt depressed to be back under a regime that has given Scots the catastrophe of Brexit against our will, a debt burden greater than our entire GDP, crippling increases in mortgages, rents and food prices, and the expectation of the highest tax burden in Britain since the second world war by 2027-28. What a great thing it is to be governed by people so incompetent they cannot spend £1.9 billion on desperately needed housing in England—by the way, I hope the devolved nations can keep their Barnettised share of that, as we will certainly use it—and apparently cannot tell the difference between decriminalisation and legalisation, as Scotland’s Government try to take action to address drug deaths. The current approach of criminalising users, advocated by her Government, is clearly not working.

Finally, could we have time for a debate on the Government’s progress on their five doomed pledges? As always, I ask the Leader of the House to answer the questions first, before she reads out her next leadership bid script.

I will be laser-focused on what the hon. Lady raises. First, let me point out that she is incorrect. There has been some incorrect reporting with regards to £1.9 billion being handed back to the Treasury by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. The bulk of that spend still sits with that Department. The hon. Lady will know that we have delivered 2.3 million additional homes since 2010, the lion’s share of which are affordable homes. Our current build rate is up 108%, compared to when we first took power. It is important to point that out, and I thank her for allowing me to correct that incorrect line that has been running.

I think the hon. Lady is slightly delusional regarding the SNP’s record. She talks about trying to tackle drug deaths. The SNP has the worst record of managing this problem, the worst record of drug deaths in Europe and does not fare well with regard to water pollution. That may have been a reason the SNP put out a complaint about the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; it wanted her to go to Holyrood to be drilled by SNP colleagues there. But it is this House that will hold the Secretary of State to account. So her colleagues will have to enjoy their biscuits without “Coffey” in Holyrood, which makes for a nice change from their Westminster colleagues, who I understand have been having a lot of meetings with their Chief Whip—with coffee, but without biscuits.

On the hon. Lady’s final point on today’s statement, I shall look into that, because it is a courtesy and people should expect to be able to see statements in advance. She did a very good job of filling in for her colleague, who probably wanted to be here and I certainly would have liked to hear what questions they would have asked. After all, the SNP, which wishes to have an independent Scotland in NATO, does not realise that that is incompatible with its position on nuclear weapons, as stated by the former First Minister, and with the fudge on this issue that the current First Minister has proposed and that is in the SNP’s White Paper on the matter.

I take this opportunity—again, I thank the hon. Lady for affording me it—to remind all hon. Members that, if we pay lip service to the deterrent and that is all we do, if we waiver in our total commitment to it and if we are no longer credible, it ceases to become a deterrent and, when it ceases to become a deterrent, we become a target.

Can we have a debate on the House of Lords? We have had endless debates on whether they should be elected and there seems very little consensus—it is just creating gridlock between the two Houses—but the House of Lords should surely be a revising Chamber. That is its strength; it is full of experts. But we have seen with the Illegal Migration Bill their determination to amend a Government Bill to a huge extent: they virtually want to kill it off, rather than simply improve it. Can we try to achieve consensus on getting people in the House of Lords who actually want to be working peers and to improve legislation, and give power to the House of Lords Appointments Commission to consider the suitability of candidates, not just their propriety?

My right hon. Friend raises some very good points. I gave the Commons tally for the number of times that Labour had voted against our important Bill in this place. I think the tally in the Lords is 29 times. The House of Lords, as he will recognise, does an incredibly important job in scrutinising and, we hope, improving legislation. My hon. Friend the Chairman of the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee has launched an inquiry into such matters. My right hon. Friend will also know that one of the most vocal set of voices for reform of the Lords does actually comes from the Lords itself.

I know that we are just about to go into the last week of the parliamentary Session before the summer recess, but the Backbench Business Committee is still very much open for business. We still welcome applications for debates in the first two weeks of September, after the summer recess. There are a number of anniversaries in September to celebrate, so we could have debates about International Literacy Day, World Atopic Eczema Day, United Nations International Day of Peace, or International Day of Sign Language. If anyone is interested in those subjects, the anniversaries of which are in September, please bring forward an application.

I wonder whether the Leader of the House would be kind enough to give us early notice if she is at all considering giving the Backbench Business Committee any time in the week beginning 18 September, the two days before the conference recess. We would very much welcome early notice of that.

I think it was at the beginning of last week that the England and Wales Cricket Board received the report of the Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket, which sadly but not surprisingly found that there is institutional racism, sexism and class discrimination across the game of cricket—a much loved game and a much loved sport across the whole country. We have had a fan-led review of governance in football, the recommendations of which still need to be implemented, but can we now have a debate on the subject of a Government-sponsored fan-led review of governance in cricket? It looks like it is very much needed.

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his regular advert for the Backbench Business Committee. I assure him that we will certainly give him early notice; I hope that is his experience of my office, as we understand why that is important.

On the substantive matter that the hon. Gentleman raised, I will make sure that his concerns and interest in this matter are noted by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, whose next questions are on 20 July. The hon. Gentleman, of all people in this place, knows how to apply for a debate in the usual way.

This week I was delighted to host members of the Westminster Youth Council, led by the brilliant youth MPs Myra Soni and James Balloqui. I have worked with the Westminster Youth Council over the last 10 years or so, and every member I have met is highly eloquent, interested in improving their neighbourhoods and passionate about building a better future for all. Will the Leader of the House find Government time in which hon. Members can debate how we in this place can support and encourage organisations to bridge the gap between young people and policymakers?

I congratulate my hon. Friend on all the work she has been doing with the Westminster Youth Council, and I am sure the whole House would join her in praising the involvement of Myra and James. These are incredibly important structures that are enabling people from a diverse range of backgrounds to get experience, to participate and to raise their aspirations. I thank my hon. Friend for her work in this regard.

My Bath constituency has a vibrant night-time economy. More than 1 in 10 workers across the south-west work regularly on night shifts, but the health and wellbeing impacts of night-time working cost the UK economy and businesses over £50 billion a year because of absence, fatigue and lower productivity. My local hospital, the Royal United Hospital, has now agreed to look into support services for their night-time shift workers. Can we have a debate in Government time to discuss the challenges and health impacts of night-time working, and how we can support these vital working people?

I thank the hon. Lady for raising this important point. I think it is well understood that getting enough sleep and not having sleep stress is incredibly important to people’s personal health and wellbeing. We know that the pattern and lifestyle of shift workers in particular makes them vulnerable to certain health conditions. This would be an excellent topic for a debate. The hon. Lady will know how to apply for one, but I shall certainly make sure that the Health Secretary has heard her remarks.

Why is health still the poor relation in section 106 funding and what urgent actions are the Government taking to address this? The capital for primary care expansion is rarely provided for large new housing developments; this causes resentment towards new housing, which we desperately need to get young people on the ladder. One current development in my area gives nearly half a million pounds for education, nearly a quarter of a million pounds for environmental mitigation, £100,000 for children’s play equipment, and only £50,000 for health. It’s crackers—people are really angry about it.

I can very much appreciate why people are so angry about the matter and it is clear that my hon. Friend is angry too. He will know that we are introducing the new infrastructure levy, which we hope will help to address some of these issues but, clearly, on developments that have already taken place, if there is a deficit in the services being provided, that is a serious concern. As Health questions are not for a little while, I will make sure that the Secretary of State has heard what my hon. Friend has said today, and I will ask whether my hon. Friend can meet officials from the Department to see what additional funding may be available to ensure that every one of his constituents gets the healthcare service that they absolutely need and deserve.

I need to correct a statement I made to the Leader of the House two weeks ago, when I said that the Governor of the Bank of England was earning £10,000 a week. I was wrong and I apologise. He is actually earning £11,500 a week, so when he makes statements to middle and lower-income earners that they should exercise wage restraint, does it not feel a bit like the old ruling class idea, “You lot should do as I say, but not as I do”? Can we have a debate on high pay as soon as possible please?

The hon. Gentleman will know that the salary of the Governor of the Bank of England is not within my remit, although many other things are. However, he raises an important point, and that was why the Prime Minister was so keen to stress that we will get people through this. That is why we are putting together a cost of living package totalling £94 billion, covering energy, household support and many other things. These are difficult times and we are facing a pretty unique storm, in part because of and exacerbated by the war in Ukraine. We must get through this. The country will get through it. We know that the British people are stoic and we will give them every possible help we can. Hopefully the tide will turn and we can all look forward to better times.

We recently had some very positive expansion of electric vehicle charging points in Harrogate and Knaresborough, but the progress made across our country has been quite mixed, especially in rural areas. One reason is the different approaches being taken in both planning and delivery of electric vehicle charging points. We had a question on this topic from the hon. Member for Linlithgow and East Falkirk (Martyn Day), so I think there is significant colleague interest in electric vehicle charging points. Please can we have a debate to explore the different methods in use around the country and to establish what is working best?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. If we want to get people to make the transition to these new technologies, we have to make it possible for them. They should not be anxious about range or about their ability to go and plug in a vehicle somewhere and recharge the battery. He makes an excellent suggestion and sharing best practice is always a good idea. I shall ensure the two relevant Departments are notified of his request, but I also encourage him to apply for a debate.

May we have a debate on digital innovation and jobs of the future? The Children’s Parliament members whom I met as chair of the crypto and digital assets all-party parliamentary group described themselves to us as the “digital generation”. They knew far more than many of the Members present, and said:

“It is vital that digital skills, coding and AI development are available as training to all those seeking careers of the future.”

The hon. Lady raises a very important matter. She will know that it is absolutely at the forefront of the Education Secretary’s work looking at the future skills we need in this country and ensuring that there is a route to developing them. I shall ensure that the Secretary of State hears what the hon. Lady has raised. She will know that there is an Education questions before the end of this Session, and I also encourage her to apply for a debate.

Some 11 months ago, a constituent received a parking charge notice from District Enforcement Limited, but he is having great difficulty getting in touch with the company to dispute it. I have since contacted the company nine times, including via email and in writing to its corporate address, but received just one response, which did not provide any support. It is entirely unacceptable that the company is almost impossible to reach in the event of a dispute. Can we have a debate on the actions of parking enforcement companies such as District Enforcement Limited and what steps can be taken to ensure they are held to account for their decisions?

That is a shocking case. It is difficult for people to resolve such matters if they are not able to get hold of the companies. My hon. Friend will know that there is a parking code of practice, which was brought into statute in 2019. I shall make sure that he receives a copy of that code and information on what he can do if he thinks that the company is in breach of it—that is a serious thing. We could have a debate on the matter, and I am sure that it would be well attended, going by the sounds of support that he has had, but I think a much better course of action would be for District Enforcement Ltd to listen to what he has said and to the mood of this House, and do the right thing by picking up the phone this afternoon.

In 2015, my constituent Colin Anderson was involved in an accident at Boulby potash mine. It left him with chronic post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety and stress on his memory. Unlike others injured in the accident, Colin has had to fight the Department for Work and Pensions every step of the way, and despite being awarded industrial injuries disablement benefit for life, he is still being denied the appropriate level of personal independence payment. Can we have an urgent debate on why, under this Government, the default of the DWP is always to cause misery instead of helping people?

I am very sorry to hear about that case. I will certainly ensure, given that Work and Pensions questions are not until the autumn, that the Secretary of State hears the case that the hon. Lady has raised. I encourage officials from that Department to meet her at the earliest opportunity to resolve the situation.

My right hon. Friend will be well aware that the judicial review brought by the councils of Harrow, Hillingdon, Bromley, Bexley and Surrey against the Mayor of London’s extension of the ultra low emission zone has now been heard, and we are awaiting the judge’s decision. He has given a commitment to try to release the decision before 31 July. Whatever the decision, it will have ramifications not only in London but across the country, so can she arrange for a statement to the House on the position if the decision is announced before we rise for the summer? In Uxbridge, 25% of vehicles are non-compliant at the moment. Does she agree that the people of Uxbridge can send a strong signal to the Mayor of London by voting for Steve Tuckwell as their new MP?

My hon. Friend raises an important point. People who live in suburban areas are particularly reliant on vehicles. Public transport will get them to certain appointments, but households and businesses need to use cars. This is causing huge anxiety and stress at a time when people can least afford to absorb those additional costs, so I understand why it is such a concern both to households and to businesses. I know that that concern is shared by many in the House—certainly on the Conservative side—and that if he applied for a debate, it would be well attended.

I would be grateful if we could have a statement from Ministers to explain a recent change in DWP practice, whereby it will no longer accept consent authorisations sent in by email from third-party advice and advocacy organisations. For urgent matters, posting the documents adds a delay, so I think we could benefit from that change being reversed so that emails are accepted.

The hon. Gentleman makes an important point and a very helpful suggestion. I will certainly write to the Department for Work and Pensions to inquire about that change. Many people, including MPs, rely on third parties to make their case for them and to deal with some pretty complex issues, so I will follow that up and ensure that all colleagues know what the situation is.

The Leader of the House will be concerned to learn that every three-day doctors’ strike costs Kettering General Hospital a quarter of a million pounds, and every five-day strike costs it more than £400,000. That money could be better spent on reducing the waiting lists and improving patient care. Will she make a statement urging the doctors to withdraw their completely unrealistic 35% pay demand and to get back to work so that Kettering General Hospital can get back to work on cutting the waiting lists and improving patient outcomes?

My hon. Friend raises understandable concerns. I hope that we will soon see an end to this type of action. I do not think it helps the situation. It is political cynicism of the worst kind to tell people who are wanting more pay that the best way to make ends meet is to drive those ends further apart, because of course, those people missing work will also be missing pay. There will be an update to the House shortly on public sector pay, but it is in everyone’s interest to ensure that people are back working, doing the jobs they love, and that we bring these issues to an end.

Can we have a debate on secondary ticketing? As the father of a Swiftie— I know that the shadow Deputy Leader of the House, my hon. Friend the Member for Newport East (Jessica Morden), is the mother of a Swiftie—I was appalled to see that, within an hour of tickets going on sale for the Taylor Swift concert at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, a ticket was on sale in the lower tier for £3,352 on Viagogo. Why have the Government not done more to protect our daughters from these sorts of rip-off merchants?

That is a shocking example. There is one further session of Department for Culture, Media and Sport questions before the summer recess, and I encourage the hon. Gentleman to raise that matter with the Secretary of State.

On Sunday last week, I was very fortunate to attend the 10th anniversary of the Watford peace garden. It is run by the Watford Interfaith Association, and the team there do an incredible job. Reflecting on faith, I made the point in my speech that when we have peace in ourselves, we often do not want to cause conflict with others. The garden is a safe space for people to garden, have tranquillity, have space for their mental health and wellbeing, and talk about the faith that they share; it is also for those with no faith at all. May we have a debate on the important role that interfaith organisations play in our communities across the UK?

It sounds a wonderful place, and I congratulate my hon. Friend and all in his community for having created such an important asset for the local community. The relevant Department will not be having a Question Time before the autumn, so I will ensure that the Secretary of State knows about this wonderful place. My hon. Friend might like to invite the Secretary of State to come and have a look, and I am sure that if he were to apply for a debate, it would be well attended.

Once again the BBC finds itself mired in scandal, sleaze and cover-up, so can we have a debate on the BBC where we can debate whether its culture has really changed, as we were promised some years ago? We could also debate whether the public should still be forced to buy a television licence to view live television, even if they do not wish to watch the BBC’s output, and whether the BBC is fit to be the nation’s self-appointed arbiter of truth and transparency through its Verify unit.

I would commend to all colleagues the House of Commons Library as a fantastic source of independent truth and fact, if anyone is interested in those things. The hon. Gentleman is sat next to the Chairman of the Backbench Business Committee, the hon. Member for Gateshead (Ian Mearns), who will have heard his request for a debate, and I encourage him to apply for one. There are many matters related to the BBC that are of concern to Members across the House. We frequently have questions raised about the BBC, whether it is local radio, the BBC Singers or standards and ethics and professional competence. I am sure it would be a well-attended debate.

It has been claimed that Blackpool Transport, a wholly owned subsidiary of Labour-run Blackpool Council, is considering spending taxpayers’ money on buying 90 zero-emission buses from China instead of buying British ones. I am sure the Leader of the House will agree that it is beyond farcical that UK taxpayers’ money intended to buy British-built buses could be used to import poorer-quality vehicles from China and ultimately end up in the pockets of the Chinese Government. Will the Leader of the House find time for a debate on the importance of supporting British manufacturers and supply chains in local government procurement?

The hon. Gentleman raises a very important question. Although this is not necessarily the case for buses, many other capabilities and manufacturing capabilities should be should be sovereign capabilities. As he will know, that is absolutely what we do through the integrated review and other work that is done across many Departments. Of course, as well as cost and value, we want to ensure that whatever equipment is being purchased is resilient. That will be a factor, but the hon. Gentleman has put his concerns on record, and I hope his local authority is listening.

Many arts organisations do impressive work in education outreach across the country. Examples include the brilliant create day run by the Royal Opera House, which engaged 2,000 students and teachers from Hounslow, Thurrock, Coventry and Doncaster; the excellent Music Makes Me initiative from the Tri-borough Music Hub, which involved 1,000 young people from three London boroughs performing at the Royal Albert Hall; and the Bath Philharmonia, which this week showcased in this House the great work it does with young carers. I know that theatre companies such as the Donmar Warehouse and the Royal Shakespeare Company also do brilliant education outreach work.

However, valuable as that work is, it is rapidly becoming a substitute for arts education in schools, and not all schools can benefit. Students from state-funded secondary schools have had their hours of arts education cut dramatically since 2010. Arts subjects such as music and drama are rapidly becoming the preserve of only those families that can afford to pay for them. As such, I ask the Leader of the House whether we can have a debate in Government time on the provision of arts education in state schools.

The hon. Lady raises a very important point, and the House has made its view known—many Members in the Chamber today support her. The UK is not just STEM-powered; it is STEAM-powered, and our arts and creative industries are vital to that. Of course, many of the organisations she has paid tribute to, from the Royal Opera House to the Royal Albert Hall, do incredible outreach work. To give a quick plug, the late Sir David Amess’s charity, the Music Man Project, will again be performing at the Royal Albert Hall next year, and I hope that many colleagues will go and listen to it. I will make sure that the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport has heard the hon. Lady’s views, and she will have a chance to question her on these matters before the summer recess.

I echo the comments of the hon. Member for Cardiff West (Kevin Brennan). Having secured Taylor Swift tickets for my daughter, I know that the face value of tickets these days is bad enough, let alone the resale value, which is an absolute crime.

My constituent, who works for Capita, got in touch to express his concern about the recent data breach and Capita’s fairly basic offer of support. The Communication Workers Union is also concerned about the extent of personal data that has been compromised, and is seeking urgent clarification. Can we have a debate on cyber-crime and data breaches to ensure that Capita’s response—indeed, all organisations’ responses—to breaches can be improved and perhaps standardised?

I thank the hon. Gentleman for that question. The relevant Department will not be available for a questions session until the autumn, so I will make sure that the Cabinet Office has heard his concerns. Of course, when we are dealing with cases for our constituents on such matters, technical advice and support is available. If the hon. Gentleman has any issues accessing that, he should please let me know, and I will be happy to assist.

A Blaenau Gwent constituent has been ripped off by the funeral planning company Safe Hands, and it looks like the Financial Conduct Authority and the Treasury have been slow to act. I wrote to the FCA in January, but got a reply only yesterday after five and a half months, so while an investigation is in hand, that was a very poor response. Can we please have a Government statement? Thousands of people across the UK look to have been badly let down.

The hon. Gentleman has raised a very concerning issue. I do not know whether he has raised it with the Ministry of Justice, which I think is the lead Department for that sector; if not, I would encourage him to do so. The next Justice questions are not until the autumn, so if the hon. Gentleman will give me some further details about the case, I will write to see whether we can do anything to get it resolved. It is a serious matter and, given the nature of what people are dealing with, a very unfortunate one.

The Government are about to sign off the comprehensive and progressive agreement for trans-Pacific partnership, which does not designate eggs as a sensitive sector despite representations to do so from the British Egg Industry Council, Compassion in World Farming and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. That trade agreement will permit eggs to be imported from countries such as Mexico that use conventional battery cage practices, despite such practices being outlawed in the UK. Can we have a debate in Government time to review the criteria that the Government used to make that decision, and the impact it will have on British egg producers, animal welfare, environmental protections and food safety standards?

This is an incredibly important accession to a £9 trillion market. In addition to the opportunities that it will bring to producers and service companies in the UK, it will be a key factor in increasing high-wage jobs, so it is very important. However, we obviously want there to be no roll-back of our environmental and other standards—animal welfare standards are absolutely critical. The hon. Lady will know that at some point, legislation will be brought forward on these matters. There are clear mechanisms for this House to scrutinise such trade agreements, but I will also make sure that the Secretary of State has heard the hon. Lady’s interest in this area, as the relevant Question Time is not until the autumn.

The right hon. Lady will be aware of concerns that not enough financial support is available to meet the special educational needs of some of our most vulnerable young people. In my borough, that has led to two special needs schools contemplating setting deficit budgets. It has led to applications for a new 290-space special school being refused three times now by Ministers, and has also led to many parents being deeply worried about the level of support that will be available for their child in September. Would she be good enough to help facilitate a meeting for me with the appropriate Education Minister to discuss these issues?

This matter is incredibly important to this Administration, and has been since 2010, from the Green Paper that was produced under the coalition Government to the steady increases in the SEN funding that is available. It is absolutely right that every child in this country is enabled to reach their full potential. The hon. Gentleman will know that the next questions to the Secretary of State for Education are on 17 July, and I encourage him to raise the matter then. Whether it is capital funding or other provision, we must make sure that every child gets what they need to thrive.

The publication of the findings of the Women Against State Pension Inequality campaign survey documents the devastating impact of the unfair pension treatment of 1950s-born women. One in four struggle to afford basic essentials such as food, and one in three have fallen into debt in the past six months, with one WASPI woman dying every 13 minutes. Will the Leader of the House make a statement setting out her support for a speedy completion of the ombudsman’s report and a prompt response from the UK Government as to how they will recognise and address the appalling injustices suffered by WASPI women?

I thank the hon. Lady for her question. As she will know, that is a matter for the Department for Work and Pensions. Given that there will not be an opportunity to talk to the Secretary of State in this House until the autumn, I will make sure that he has heard what the hon. Lady has said today. The ombudsman is also not a matter for me.

This Sunday, Luton airport celebrates its 85th anniversary. The airport is essential to Luton’s local economy, responsible for many good jobs, and as a wholly community-owned airport, has provided £180 million over the past 25 years for community investment projects. It is now aiming to be the UK’s greenest airport with the most far-reaching environmental measures, so would the Leader of the House provide Government time for a debate on the contribution that airports such as Luton must make in order for the UK to meet its climate commitments?

I thank the hon. Lady for affording us all the opportunity to send our congratulations, and I hope there are good celebrations taking place to mark this moment. Regional connectivity is absolutely vital, and of course Luton airport also serves our capital. It is fantastic that it has managed to do so much for social value in the community as well, and I applaud it for its ambitious environmental objectives. I am sure that, if she were to apply for a debate, it would be well attended. It may be a topic she wishes to include in any contribution she makes to the Sir David Amess Adjournment debate, but she will also know that there will be opportunity in the autumn to raise it again on the Floor of the House.

The UK Government state that supporting research and development and small businesses is one of their priorities, yet Roddenloft Brewery in my constituency has had two R&D claims with His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs for almost a year now. HMRC keeps wrongly stating that it has not submitted the information on the correct forms —I have seen a copy of the forms that were submitted. Can we have a Government review of HMRC’s processing abilities and timescales on research and development tax claims, and get Roddenloft Brewery the support it deserves?

I am always happy to help the hon. Gentleman get complex cases resolved. If he would let my office know about the contact he has had with HMRC, I will do my best to assist him in being able to speak to somebody who will get this resolved for his very important local business.

I thank the Chair of the Backbench Business Committee, my hon. Friend the Member for Gateshead (Ian Mearns), for raising the issue of exclusion in cricket based on gender, race and social class. It is a really important issue, and I hope the Leader of the House will allocate time for a debate on that.

On a more local matter, one of the most recognisable features in my constituency of Stockport is the viaduct, which was built in the 19th century to carry the then Manchester and Birmingham Railway across the River Mersey. Sadly, I receive regular correspondence about the upkeep of the structure. Constituents are concerned that parts of the viaduct have fallen into disrepair, and are worried for its ongoing integrity and appearance. Separately, in another part of the constituency many homes are around land belonging to Network Rail, and while the trees and vegetation provide screening from the railway lines, many constituents are concerned that the trees and vegetation are not tended, leaving their homes affected by overgrowth. Will the Leader of the House grant a debate in Government time on the refurbishing and maintenance of Network Rail land and properties, please?

I thank the hon. Gentleman for raising these matters. He will know how to apply for a debate. I would also suggest to him that these are matters that the local authority should be helping to get resolved. I think many options for doing that would be in its gift, and I would expect it to be talking directly to Network Rail on these matters. I will make sure that the Department for Transport has heard what he has said, as there will not be opportunity to raise this at questions for some time.

The wife of a constituent of mine is in Sudan waiting for a visa approval, but her safety is at huge risk, and they have been given no timeline as to when her visa might be approved. Will the Leader of the House ask the Home Secretary to meet me to discuss the case and to come to this House to give a statement on Sudan asylum cases?

I am sorry to hear about the hon. Lady’s case. She will know that my office stands ready to assist her on this. The Home Office is able to meet colleagues—it is still running that service to enable them to meet officials to resolve cases—and if she has any difficulty in obtaining that service, she should let me know. I will also make sure that the Foreign Office has heard her concerns.