The business next week will be as follows:
[The details are as follows: There will be a debate on universal credit implementation: monitoring DWP’s performance in 2012-13, Fifth Report from the Work and Pensions Committee, HC 1209, Session 2013-14, and the Government response published as Second Special Report, HC 426, Session 2014-15.
The lead Department is Work and Pensions.
There will be a debate on the implementation of the common agricultural policy in England 2014-20, Seventh Report from the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, HC 745, Session 2013-14, and the Government response published as Seventh Special Report, HC 1008, 2013-14.
The lead Department is Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.]
At 10 pm, the House will be asked to agree all outstanding estimates.
The provisional business for the week commencing
I should also like to inform the House that the business in Westminster Hall will be as follows:
I thank the Leader of the House for announcing next week’s business. On Monday, we will have the first allotted day for the debate on the estimates. That is an arcane and opaque process that does little to scrutinise the actual spending of the Government. Does the Leader of the House agree that we need to reform the estimates process to ensure real scrutiny? Will he support my call for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to answer questions in the Chamber on the estimates, separately from the Budget, and for each Cabinet Minister to have a yearly Budget question and answer on spending in their Department?
On Tuesday, we will debate the Modern Slavery Bill, which the Opposition support but which in some areas does not go far enough. Will the Leader of the House tell us whether his Government will accept our amendments to provide statutory legal guardians for child victims of trafficking, and greater transparency in supply chains to ensure that companies do much more to prevent slave labour?
Yesterday, private Members’ Bills were formally introduced. Labour Members brought forward a series of Bills to tackle the scourge of zero-hours contracts, to strengthen the minimum wage and to protect the NHS. However, all Conservative Members could do was cheer yet another Bill on the UK’s membership of the European Union. [Hon. Members: “Hear, hear.”] They are at it again. While we bring forward practical solutions to the crisis in living standards, all they can do is bang on about Europe.
It has been a year and a half since what was billed as the Prime Minister’s last speech on Europe, but what have we seen since? A Prime Minister too afraid to stand up to the Eurosceptics in his own party has been suffering rebellion after rebellion. The more they bully him, the more he appeases them by picking fights in Europe. The trouble is that he keeps losing. Only this Prime Minister could come to the Chamber and claim that losing 26-2 is actually a triumph. If that is what success looks like, I would not like to see what happens when he fails.
We have a PR Prime Minister who cannot deliver the goods. He promised to protect the NHS and keep waiting lists down, but four years later cancer waits have increased by nearly half. Two thirds of people cannot see their GP within two days and the A and E waiting time target has now been missed every week for almost a year. Instead of getting his facts wrong and smearing the Welsh health service, the Prime Minister should listen to the chair of the British Medical Association, who said that the NHS is
“palpably fraying at the edges”.
Will the Leader of the House finally admit that people cannot trust the Tories with the NHS? Will he arrange for a debate in Government time, so that the Secretary of State for Health can come clean about the scale of his failure?
The Government are living in a parallel universe. The Chancellor claimed that we are “all in this together” but Government figures show that in the last two years 1 million more people fell into absolute poverty. Lord Finkelstein, the Tory peer and one of the Chancellor’s closest confidantes, let the cat out of the bag recently when he said that future Tory cuts will
“undoubtedly fall on poor people”.
Does the Leader of the House agree with him, and will he tell me whether Lord Finkelstein was present last night at the Tory summer ball, where, I am told, a bottle of champagne was auctioned for £45,000? [Interruption.] Was that cheap champagne? We now know that last year’s event was attended by six billionaires, 73 financiers, the owner of a strip club and the judo partner of Vladimir Putin. While the Chancellor’s hedge fund mates and dodgy donors are getting tax cuts, millions of Britons are living in poverty, and now the Chancellor’s ally says they can only expect it to get worse. So can the Leader of the House arrange for a debate in Government time on the meaning of “all in this together”?
The Conservatives recently tried to rebrand themselves as the worker’s party. They produced that beer and bingo advert aimed at people they think of as proles, but this week they have had to abandon a photo-shoot for working-class MPs because they could find only 14 of them. That is far fewer than went to Eton. It is becoming harder for them even to pretend they are in touch with real life: Sir Richard Ottaway thinks that Londoners who cannot afford the soaring rents should get on their bikes to Manchester; the family business of Richard Benyon is buying up swathes of social housing, trebling rents and threatening mass evictions; and a Tory councillor in Coventry thinks that people who use food banks are selfish.
The Tories say they have changed on Europe, they say they have changed on the NHS and they say they have modernised the Conservative party, but we all know the truth: no matter what spin they put on it, it is the same old Tories.
I am grateful to the shadow Leader of the House for responding to the business statement, and to her and her colleagues for giving me the opportunity to announce the business for next Wednesday. She asked about reforming the estimates. As she knows, I am not proposing any reform of the estimates process as such, but Select Committees have considerable latitude and potential to undertake inquiries on departmental expenditure plans and, through the Liaison Committee, to bring forward, on estimates days, opportunities for the House to debate those. I recall that when I was Health Secretary the Health Committee undertook an annual substantive inquiry on all aspects of the health budget. That is not true of all Select Committees, but it is an important pointer to the direction in which we may go. She will be aware that the Public Administration Committee is in discussion with the National Audit Office and often emphasises the importance of NAO support, not only to the PAC but to other Select Committees, in the scrutiny of departmental expenditure.
The hon. Lady asked about the Modern Slavery Bill. Its Second Reading is coming up next week, so, if I may, I will leave things until that debate. We agree on the principles, and I hope the legislation will be of substantial importance. We need to get it right, but, working together, not least with the benefit of the pre-legislative scrutiny, which has been important in that context, I am sure we will have an opportunity to respond to the issues she mentions.
The hon. Lady referred, as did the Leader of the Opposition, to the NHS. I remind her that the Prime Minister was in no sense smearing the NHS in Wales. On the contrary, he was setting out some simple facts.
The decisions that the Labour party has made on the NHS in Wales should be understood by people in England as well as by people in Wales. The Labour party has cut the budget for the NHS by 8% in Wales, whereas this year this coalition Government are increasing the budget for the NHS by £3.5 billion. Over this Parliament the NHS budget will increase by £12.7 billion—that is a real-terms increase. That is what is enabling the NHS to deal with rising demand and very large number of additional patients: 1.3 million more accident and emergency attendances; more than 1 million more in-patient admissions; 6.5 million more out-patient appointments; and 3.5 million more diagnostic tests. Those are substantial increases in demand, and the NHS, with a small real-terms increase, is coping extremely well with that—better than in Wales, where the budget has been cut. For that reason, the latest report—the 2014 report—from the Commonwealth Fund in America put the UK at the top of its comparison of leading health systems across the world. We can be proud of that. All the data on which it is derived, contrary to what the shadow Health Secretary was saying, relate to the experience of the people in this country, in the health service, under this coalition Government.
The hon. Lady asked about private Members’ Bills. I am looking forward to debating those Bills, not least the EU Referendum Bill of my hon. Friend Robert Neill on
The Prime Minister’s speech, the Bloomberg speech, was important as it made it clear to the people of this country that they had a right to expect us to enter into a renegotiation of our terms that would lead to reform and give them a choice. As the Prime Minister has said, at the end of the day it is the people of this country who will have a choice. He has fought and won in Europe before. He won in getting us out of the banking bail-out in which the Labour party would have left us. He got the budget cut. When we had a Labour Government, they gave away part of the rebate. Our Prime Minister protected the rebate and cut the budget, and that is important. He will win those battles again.
Finally, I did have the pleasure of going to the summer party last night. I did not see my noble Friend Danny Finkelstein—[Interruption.] I did not buy the champagne, which was bought not for drinking purposes but because it was signed by Margaret Thatcher. [Hon. Members: “Yes!”] The highlight of the evening was not the auction but a speech by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, who illustrated the positive achievements of this coalition Government and the increasing likelihood of a Conservative victory at the next general election.
I gently remind colleagues that they might like to focus their questions on next week’s business.
Can we have a debate on the eminent suitability of Derby as the location for the HS2 college? The land is vacant and it is a brownfield site. We can offer apprenticeships and everything that the HS2 college requires, and we are celebrating 175 years of the rail industry in Derby. It is the best place in the country for such a project, so I wish to have a debate on that.
I understand and applaud my hon. Friend for her support for that project and for her constituency. She will know that the HS2 college will act as a national college, operating on a hub and spoke model, with a main site linking a network of providers across the country. We launched a consultation to identify the most suitable main site for the new college. Bids were assessed and four locations were shortlisted: Derby, Birmingham, Doncaster and Manchester. Those locations gave presentations to support their bids on
Will the right hon. Gentleman ask the Foreign Secretary to make an urgent statement in which he condemns the murder by Israeli terrorists of the Palestinian, Mohammed Abu Khdeir, who was kidnapped yesterday? The murder was the outcome of the hysteria that was deliberately provoked by the Israeli Prime Minister following the kidnap and murder of three Israeli teenagers. Will he ask the Foreign Secretary to send our sympathy to the family of Mohammed Abu Khdeir; to join the American Secretary of State, John Kerry, who has described the murder as “sickening”; and to make it clear to the Israelis that we expect nothing more than the hunting down and bringing to justice of the murderers of this poor boy?
The right hon. Gentleman rightly calls these murders sickening, as are all murders of teenagers. The Government very much condemn the abduction and murder of the Israeli teenagers and the abduction and murder of the Palestinian teenager. It is vital that those who are responsible are held accountable, and in that respect we welcome Israel’s commitment to bring those responsible to justice and President Abbas’s firm condemnation of the abduction of youngsters. It is essential, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, to avoid any action or rhetoric that could lead to further loss of life, and events such as these highlight the importance of reaching a negotiated two-state solution with the benefits that that would bring to all Israelis and Palestinians. I will of course, as he asks, draw his comments to the attention of the Foreign Secretary. As he knows, the Foreign Secretary and his colleagues are assiduous in keeping the House informed of events in the middle east. These events and others in the middle east are of serious concern.
BT is still using its position as a monopoly supplier to hold up the roll-out of rural broadband. May we have time to discuss that in this place? I have just had the latest list from my constituency and it is pitiful how many places have been enabled. The time has come to send a clear message to BT from the House of Commons that we have had enough of its using its position to blackmail the people of this country and to slow down high-speed roll-out.
As my hon. Friend knows, BT has won many contracts across the country to provide the roll-out of broadband. As he will have heard during questions to my right hon. and hon. Friends in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the overall progress of broadband roll-out is now very impressive, but we must ensure that it reaches many parts. We both know how frustrating it is that, despite the rapid increases in demand for broadband services, in areas where the infrastructure for superfast access to broadband has not been put in place, services are deteriorating rather than remaining stable. It is vital, and I endorse what my hon. Friend says: we need BT and other contract providers—but principally BT—to be well aware of the requirements to put every effort into meeting and, if possible, exceeding their contractual commitments on superfast broadband.
I endorse everything said by my right hon. Friend Sir Gerald Kaufman, but on a domestic issue raised earlier by my hon. Friend Ms Eagle, may I suggest that we have a statement or a debate on political funding so that we may try to find out how many Ministers have been involved in meetings and social events with some of the richest people in this country in order to raise cash? Must the Tory party always prostitute itself with an election looming? And the Tories have the impertinence to criticise trade unions!
I have to tell the hon. Gentleman that there is no prohibition on social events, although perhaps he wishes for one; I am not sure. As far as I am aware, only one political donation in this country buys influence and that is the political donation made by the trade unions to the Labour party, with £12.6 million donated by Unite since Edward Miliband became the hon. Gentleman’s leader. They are now demanding the appointment of a Cabinet Minister for trade unions, no less, whose purpose will be, they say, to bring home the bacon. Since they already decide the candidates for the Labour party, determine the policy of the Labour party and effectively control the leadership of the Labour party, that is some bacon—or perhaps I should say some bacon sandwich.
Will my right hon. Friend find time for a debate on the publication of the Chilcot report? As someone who attended the debate and changed my mind on how to vote because of what the then non-working-class Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair told the House of Commons, I think that it is essential that the Chilcot report is published as soon as possible without redactions so that the House can judge the veracity of what we were told on that momentous occasion.
Those of us who did not support the invasion of Iraq in 2003 are as anxious as my hon. Friend to see the Chilcot report. In his letter of
Each and every time a Government Minister is asked about zero-hours contracts, they reference their hope to ban exclusivity clauses, but there are far more problems associated with zero-hours contracts than that, and many other ways in which people are exploited. May we therefore have a debate on zero-hours contracts in Government time?
The hon. Lady will be aware that the provision that Ministers refer to is in the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill. There will be an opportunity, as I announced in the provisional business, for that to be debated.
Control of discretionary social funds passed from the Department for Work and Pensions to local councils on
My hon. Friend makes an interesting point, which might benefit from an application for an Adjournment debate, not least because there may be other Members elsewhere in the House who feel strongly, as he does, about this and their local authority’s decisions.
Boxing, swimming, running and cycling, though not all at the same time, are incredibly well followed and practised sports across Northern Ireland. Will the Leader of the House make time for a debate on the legacy of the Commonwealth games so that we can see how the benefit of those wonderful games will be applied to sportspeople across Northern Ireland?
The hon. Gentleman makes an interesting point. I do not know whether we have time available before the Commonwealth games for such a debate. We are very much looking forward to the Commonwealth games, which will be a tremendous event, and to the opportunity to see this country, not least Scotland, showcasing itself as a venue for great sporting achievement. In that context, in Cambridge and in my constituency, we are also very much looking forward to seeing the Tour de France coming through on Monday.
At the end of this month NatWest bank proposes to close the final bank branch in Harrow Weald high street, which will have a devastating effect on businesses and individuals in the area. The key point nationally is why banks are allowed to close the last branch in a high street. May we have a debate in Government time on the future of retail banking and the effects on the high street?
I know that my hon. Friend raises a point that will be of interest to many Members across the House, not least at the moment when there is a sort of secular change taking place in the structure of retail banking, with the withdrawal of retail banking from many high streets, including in my own constituency, and the loss of the last remaining bank in some villages. It is difficult to go anywhere else for that kind of access. My hon. Friend and other Members might exploit the opportunity, through the Backbench Business Committee or otherwise, to see whether there is demand among Members for such a debate. He is a member of the Backbench Business Committee, so I know that he is familiar with how that Committee works.
It is two years since the Chancellor halved the bridge tolls on the Humber bridge, and figures out this month show that local car users have saved £19 million in crossing tolls. At the same time the number of Humber bridge crossings have gone up. Businesses have also saved money through the halving of heavy goods vehicle tolls. May we have a debate next week on how our long-term economic plan is helping the Humber? That would give us an opportunity to explain to the House why the HS2 college should be in Doncaster.
I am glad that my hon. Friend can illustrate with evidence the success of what the Chancellor of the Exchequer has announced. It is part of the broader process of ensuring that we have effective infrastructure to support the growth that our long-term economic plan is generating. I am delighted that it is having that effect on infrastructure, as well as on employment, which is going up, and on the deficit, which is coming down, and with taxes now being able to be brought down and with education and skills being promoted, not least through apprenticeships. That is all very much part of the long-term economic plan for regeneration on Humberside.
During the first and second world wars the majority of engineers in Britain were women, yet today women make up only 7% of the engineering work force, the lowest percentage across Europe. Iceland has 43%. May we have a debate on how we can ensure that women understand that engineering is a first-class career option, for example with companies such as Ford in Bridgend?
I have every sympathy with what the hon. Lady says and absolutely agree with the principle of trying to bring more women into engineering. Clearly that is very much in our interests, by supporting the further rebalancing of the economy and the growth in manufacturing. It has been pursued by successive Governments. I remember working as a civil servant, way back in 1980, on the Young Engineers campaign, and Women into Science and Engineering was established at that point too. That was 34 years ago and we have still not succeeded. We must ensure that engineering is at the forefront of careers advice, that there is support for the right courses and, indeed, that engineering role models are made available to young women.
May we have an urgent debate on the independence of think-tank charities? Last year the Institute for Public Policy Research took up to £40,000 in donations from the TUC and then published a report calling for—wait for it—more trade union power. It looks more like a sock puppet than an independent think-tank charity.
I am interested in what my hon. Friend has to say. He might want look for opportunities to raise the matter himself, perhaps in an Adjournment debate. In any case, I think that it is an important subject for all of us to be aware of. Wherever we are engaged in public policy making, I hope that it will be evidence-based and objective. One of the Nolan principles is objectivity. That should be as true for those who seek to influence policy as it is for those who make it.
Last night I attended a function organised by the all-party group on rail in the north at which Northern Rail set out its future investment programme. Unfortunately, it will only go as far north as York. At another recent meeting, Network Rail outlined its proposals for the next control period, none of which will go beyond York. The current disparity in public infrastructure spending between London and the north-east is 520:1. May we have a debate on when this Government will put that right?
The hon. Gentleman will be aware, not least from the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s speech at the beginning of last week, of the importance that we attach to the further promotion on infrastructure that enables all parts of the United Kingdom to have maximum access to the economic growth being generated by this Government’s long-term economic plan. High-speed rail will clearly make a significant difference, but there are many other projects being promoted by Network Rail. I will draw the attention of the Chancellor and the Secretary of State for Transport to the point the hon. Gentleman makes as we approach the publication later this year of the infrastructure plans for the next 10 years.
Order. It is both exceptionally cheeky and thoroughly disorderly for Sir William Cash to be seeking to catch my eye at business questions, for which he arrived almost half an hour late. I do not doubt that he has a point of the highest importance in his mind, and of which he thinks the House needs urgently to be informed, but there are other mechanisms, including points of order, whereby he might be able to realise his objective. Meanwhile, I am concerned for his leg muscles and advise him to remain in his seat. I call Mr Nigel Evans.
Thank you, Mr Speaker; I will ask my hon. Friend’s question for him.
I want to be helpful to the shadow Leader of the House because of her view that Conservative Members are rabid fanatics obsessed with the issue of Europe. Will the Leader of the House find time next week for a debate on Europe in order that we can praise the Prime Minister for his valiant standing up for British interests against the election of President Juncker? We could also look at reform of Europe. There has to be something wrong when we spend £30 million of our money by sending it abroad to youngsters who have never set foot in the United Kingdom via the payments that we give in support to these children. I believe that we now have the support of Germany on this. I think it is therefore an area where real reform can now be made.
I noted the reports this morning about debates in the Bundestag about exactly these issues of transfer payments and benefit payments to other countries. That highlights the fact that there is a growing sympathy for what our Prime Minister and members of this Government have been saying about the necessity of the free movement of peoples being about free movement for the purposes of work, not of access to benefits, and that will form part of our reform programme. I cannot promise an immediate debate, although my hon. Friend will have noted that next week’s business includes a debate on the justice and home affairs opt-out.
Does the Leader of the House agree that it is disgraceful that a very high percentage of children up and down our country never get to visit the British countryside? May we have an early debate on access to the countryside? Will he join my campaign, which is an all-party campaign that includes some very good Members on his Benches, to get 150 people in every constituency to read a countryside poem on video, thereby raising £5,000 that will go towards getting schools in poorer areas of our country to visit the countryside to love it and learn about it?
I have every sympathy with what the hon. Gentleman says. I am fortunate enough to have, and to live in, a constituency that is predominantly in the countryside, and I very much appreciate what a privilege that is. It is something that is not necessarily available to people in cities and urban areas, and we should give them access to it. I am very engaged with what he describes about the reading of poetry. I will talk to my hon. Friends at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs about ways in which his admirable objective can be pursued.
There is concern among residents in my constituency that the two hospitals that serve it, based in Grimsby and Scunthorpe, are having to share more and more services and the different specialisms at each location. May we have a debate to explore the reasons for this? Much of it is driven by medical professionals, which is quite right, but, as the Leader of the House will appreciate, it causes considerable concern to constituents.
I completely understand what my hon. Friend says. As he says, this is, and should be, clinically led, and it should be evidence-based. He will recall, no doubt, that this has been happening over the years; it is a steady process, not something that started under this coalition Government. It is sometimes the necessary consequence of securing access to sufficient staff with sufficient expertise and sufficient regular practice to be able to provide a 24/7 service; we need a 24/7 NHS. It should not, however, lead to a loss of access that has a damaging impact on outcomes; it should be outcomes-based. In relation to his local area, I will ask my hon. Friends at the Department of Health to respond specifically to his point.
I think that the Prime Minister in this House and my noble Friend Baroness Warsi in the House of Lords yesterday made it clear that while this nomination is one for the Prime Minister, it is open to the scrutiny Committees of the House to request, as they could on any nomination for commissioner, that evidence be given to them. It will be a matter for the nominee concerned as to how to respond.
Earlier this week, my hon. Friend Heather Wheeler raised the case of Keith Williams in Justice questions. He was released early from prison by the Parole Board, completely and utterly against the wishes and views of the victim of his terrible crimes. May we have a debate on how we can make sure that the victim’s views are paramount in the criminal justice system, so that before anybody is released on parole, moved to an open prison or released on temporary licence, the views of the victim are taken fully into account and put at the top of the priority list? Such a debate would also showcase the fantastic work of organisations such as Families Fighting for Justice.
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for making his case very well. I will ask my colleagues at the Ministry of Justice to respond directly to him. I am sure he will find further opportunities for a debate, perhaps on the Adjournment or elsewhere, in order to raise the issues properly. I hope he recognises that, through legislation and other action, the Government have sought continuously to put the interests of victims at the forefront of the criminal justice system.
As secretary of the all-party group on steel and metal related industry, I have received a response from the Exchequer Secretary declining to meet us. Given that this week, in announcing the devastating loss of 400 jobs in south Wales, Karl Köhler, head of Tata Steel Europe, cited problems with Government policy, such as business rates and delays in getting help for energy intensive industries, will the Leader of the House prevail on his colleague to meet the all-party steel and metal related industry group?
I was aware, of course, of the very sad loss of jobs at Port Talbot and sympathise with the hon. Lady’s constituents. I will discuss the issue with my ministerial colleagues. There may be a question about where ministerial responsibility lies: given what the hon. Lady has said, it probably lies more with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills than directly with the Treasury.
This week is create UK week, giving us the opportunity to reflect on the £70 billion-a-year contribution to the economy from the creative industries. In my constituency there is an ever-expanding creative industry, providing some 1,200 jobs in the video games sector in my area alone. May we have a debate about the contribution of creative industries to our economy?
I understand the important role played by our creative industries, including the video games sector, in our economic recovery. Indeed, I think that was illustrated by the replies given by my colleagues to the preceding questions to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. The creative sector is worth £71 billion to our economy, with its employment figure growing at five times that of the economy as a whole. It is a great success and we are committed to working with the creative industries to take the strategy forward. Create UK was launched just yesterday in order to make further progress, and I hope my hon. Friend’s constituency, which is such a leading location for firms in the sector, will be able to fully benefit from the strategy.
Last week’s Sunday Express reported that a suspected terrorist was freely supporting and encouraging young Britons to travel to Syria to fight jihad. May we please have a debate in Government time on what additional powers we may need to introduce for returning radicalised young people who have been fighting jihad in Syria and Iraq?
I understand completely the seriousness and importance of the point raised by the hon. Lady. There will be Home Office questions on Monday. We also intend to introduce powers under the Serious Crime Bill, which is currently in the House of Lords, relating to extraterritorial jurisdiction in relation to acts concerned with terrorism, preparation for terrorism and similar. I know I may be asking the hon. Lady to wait a little, but this House will have an opportunity to debate that Bill in due course.
Salisbury cathedral’s repair programme has been ongoing for 27 years at a cost of £1 million a year. Therefore, I am very pleased to know that the Government’s first world war centenary repair fund offers an opportunity to provide a boost to the work at the cathedral. Will the Leader of the House make time for a ministerial statement on the outcome of the application, so that Salisbury cathedral can make use of that much-needed funding?
I am very glad that we have been able to give support to our cathedrals, which are a wonderful aspect of our overall heritage, especially as they are often the focus of commemorative events. Indeed, I was able to be with the Royal Anglian Regiment at a commemorative event in Ely cathedral just the Sunday before last. The cathedrals that have been successful in securing grants from the first world war centenary repair fund will be announced in a written statement on
Will the Leader of the House find time for a debate on transport connectivity in the north of England? This week, there was a suggestion—thankfully, a misleading one—that Denton and Reddish South stations may be forced to close. A review of the northern franchise is coming up. Frankly, it is no good for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to come up to Manchester to talk up improved connectivity between the city regions in the north of England if transport cuts make it more difficult to get to those city regions.
I do not think that the hon. Gentleman can talk about transport cuts at a time when we have an unprecedented scale of Network Rail investment in the largest rail investment programme since the Victorian era. What he said was equally misplaced in that it is absolutely appropriate, at the same time as we are investing to try to deliver improvements in the existing rail network, for the Chancellor to express his views about what the vision might be for further developments in connectivity in the years ahead.
Last week, my hon. Friend Julian Smith and I attended an export fair run by UK Trade & Investment at Ripon race course. It was timed to coincide with the increased international attention on our area with the Tour de France departing from Yorkshire this weekend. The event was designed to encourage more companies to be exporters. May we please have a debate to consider the importance of export growth in our long-term economic plan and rebalancing our economy, and what more can be done to support British companies seeking to export?
My hon. Friend is absolutely right. I am delighted that he and our hon. Friend Julian Smith are actively supporting businesses and UKTI, working together to achieve that. Other business organisations were no doubt party to it as well. We do need—and, happily, we are seeing—a growth in exports. Indeed, I note that the greatest growth in exports has been in the west midlands. Off the back of the Tour de France and the focus on the area’s attractions, Yorkshire might be able to come forward in encouraging people to undertake more exporting and get to the front of the pack.
May we have an urgent debate on support for NHS trusts, such as my Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, which have difficulties in recruiting key staff? It is vital that essential services are maintained, and the debate might consider the creation of a central pool of senior clinical staff who can help out at short notice.
I will draw the attention of my right hon. and hon. Friends at the Department of Health to that idea. As I know from past experience, it is sometimes possible to have collaborative arrangements between NHS trusts precisely to ensure that there is such support. The NHS works together, and it is the job of NHS England to ensure that it does so in order to deliver safe and effective care to patients. Where that is at risk in any location, it is important to provide support.
I am delighted that under this Government, because of the resources we are putting in and the savings we are making in administration—delivering £5.5 billion savings on administration in this Parliament, with recurring savings of £1.5 billion a year thereafter—we have been able to have some 16,000 more clinical staff and some 19,000 fewer administrative staff. That shift into front-line care is at the heart of enabling trusts, such as my hon. Friend’s, to deliver services in future.
This week, finally and at long last, the European Court of Human Rights has made a sensible decision about something. Given that it has this week decided that the ban on Islamic veils in France breaches no one’s human rights, will the Leader of the House or another Minister make a statement to the House next week to say that Her Majesty’s Government intend to introduce such legislation in this country? We will never have a fully functioning, fully integrated multicultural society if growing numbers of our citizens go around with their faces covered.
Has my right hon. Friend seen my early-day motion 207 on excessive hospital car-parking charges?
[That this House notes that hospital parking charges can be a huge burden on patients and visitors at a vulnerable time in their lives; further notes that Nottingham City Hospital and Queen’s Medical Centre charge £4.00 for one hour of parking, that Royal Free Hospital, Guy’s Hospital, St Thomas’s Hospital, and Chelsea and Westminster Hospital charge £6.00 for two hours of parking, that Royal Free Hospital, Guy’s Hospital, St Thomas’s Hospital and South Bristol Community Hospital charge £12.00 for four hours of parking, that Royal Free Hospital charges £72 for one day of parking and £504.00 for one week of parking; recognises that these charges are disproportionate and onerous for patients; therefore condemns these hospitals and others which charge similar fees; and urges the Government to consider ways to reduce the cost of hospital parking.]
My right hon. Friend will be aware that 109 colleagues from all sides of the House have signed a draft Back-Bench motion on the issue. Despite Government guidance stating that hospital car parking charges should be fair and proportionate, 80% of NHS hospitals in England continue to charge their staff, visitors and patients extortionate amounts to park on their sites. May we have a statement on the issue and will he do all he can to deal with it?
I have read my hon. Friend’s early-day motion and had the pleasure of hearing him and colleagues make their application for a debate to the Backbench
Business Committee. It will be for that Committee to determine whether a debate should take place. I will say—I freely admit that this is a personal view—that although there is a hospital in my constituency with very high parking charges, I am concerned about deciding simply to subsidise or pay for car parking, as happens in Wales. This is money that would otherwise be available for clinical—
It is a simple fact that that money would otherwise be available for clinical services. When the NHS in Wales is underperforming on standards and achievements relative to England, one has to reflect on whether that subsidy could form part of the problem.
Earlier this year, Argentina absurdly started issuing a 50 peso note with a map on it of the Falklands Islands, in the colours of the Argentine flag. Far more sensibly, in contrast, earlier this year my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced a new £1 coin, which will be more secure and reaches back to the heritage of our coinage. May we have a statement from the Treasury as to whether the tails side of that new £1 coin could feature the coat of arms of the Falkland Islands and of other overseas territories, in the same way as England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland feature?
The hon. Gentleman was too self-effacing to draw to the attention of the House that he is himself a renowned vexillologist.
Indeed, Mr Speaker. I will draw my hon. Friend’s views to the attention of the Treasury. I forget the precise title of his role in this regard, but the Chancellor is responsible for the Royal Mint, and there is an advisory committee to help him in that role, so it may be a matter of taking independent advice rather than of the Government imposing their own view.