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Business of the House

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:05 pm on 20th January 2011.

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Photo of George Young George Young The Leader of the House of Commons 12:05 pm, 20th January 2011

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for the points that he makes. He asks for a debate on the Health and Social Care Bill, and he is getting one, as I have just announced, so all the issues that he has just raised can be dealt with then. We made a commitment, which his party did not, to spend more on the NHS, and we are reforming it to put more resources into front-line services. Against that background, the prospects for those on waiting lists or those concerned about waiting times are better under this Administration than they would have been had his party been elected.

The right hon. Gentleman asks for a debate on disability living allowance, and I recognise the concerns about that. He can have a debate about DLA: again, I announced that there would be a debate on an Opposition motion the week after next, so he can choose to debate DLA. I recognise the concern, but I hope he accepts that there are complicated issues. There are contractual obligations on certain care homes to make provision for some elements of mobility; some local authorities have requirements as part of their contracts with care homes to make provision for mobility; and people in residential homes are by and large sponsored by social services, but some are sponsored by the NHS, so different conditions apply. On the broader issue, we are consulting to see how the specific provisions on DLA will be introduced, and primary legislation will be necessary to make any changes to its mobility component.

Under the previous regime the Forestry Commission sold many thousands of acres without any requirements at all, but if the current proposals go through there will be specific requirements on those who acquire assets from the national forest to continue to make provision for access and other concerns-requirements that do not apply at the moment. So making transfers from the Forestry Commission to other owners will not have the adverse consequences that the right hon. Gentleman suggests.

We had an exchange on petitions that achieve a certain number of signatures, which my hon. Friend the Deputy Leader of the House answered. If the trigger is reached and a petition hits the 100,000 mark, it becomes eligible for a debate, and its future is then decided by Natascha Engel, who is in her place.

I have a lot of sympathy with the right hon. Gentleman's point about a topical slot for those Departments with 30-minute Question Times: the Department for International Development and, I think, those for Scotland and Wales.