The business for next week is as follows:
The provisional business for the week commencing
I thank the Leader of the House for announcing next week’s business. I read in TheTimes this morning, rather than hearing in his future business, that the Government plan to rush through their controversial plans for English votes for English laws as early as next week. We have had no detail on those proposals, and no debate is scheduled. Apparently, the Government plan to change Standing Orders and avoid having to legislate. As this is a matter of serious constitutional significance, may I ask the Leader of the House to confirm what his plans are, when he intends to bring them before this House, and how he intends to ensure that all Members have a proper chance to have a say in any change?
At his Mansion House speech last night, the Chancellor pledged to pass a law to ensure that he keeps his own promises. It is easy to see why he needs one, given his abysmal economic record in the previous Parliament. He missed his own deficit reduction target, leaving himself a deficit of £75 billion, and he borrowed £200 billion more than he said he would five years ago. It is no wonder that he needs an emergency Budget to clear up the mess he left himself in. He sprayed around £25 billion of unfunded election spending commitments, and he has no idea where he will find his £12 billion of social security cuts. Is the British Chambers of Commerce not right to say that the Chancellor is just as likely to miss his latest deficit target as he was to miss all the rest?
Last night, the Governor of the Bank of England declared in the City that the age of irresponsibility was over, and he called for tougher rules to drive out continuing major market abuse. Instead of political trickery to distract us from the Chancellor’s record, may we have a debate in Government time on the fair and effective markets review, and a statement from the Chancellor on the legislative action he plans to take better to control ethical drift in the City?
At the weekend, I actually thought the Prime Minister had broken the habit of a lifetime and done something prime ministerial by putting the interests of the country ahead of those of his party. At the G7, he briefed the press that his Ministers would have to back his position on the EU or else. He even dispatched the ever dutiful hon. Member for Stockton South (James Wharton) to warn on the “Today” programme that Ministers who do not agree with the Prime Minister would have to quit the Government. But a few hours later, he was in full retreat. By Monday lunchtime, the Bavarian hills were alive with the sound of U-turns. I know that before the election he admitted that he cries at “The Sound of Music”, but it is not “Edelweiss” that gets him now; it is “How do you solve a problem like Back Benchers?”—talk about the Con Trapps!
Last week, I highlighted the Leader of the House’s poor record on answering written questions, and I am beginning to worry that his old habits are returning. I have now asked him this question twice but have had no answer. Given that the Prime Minister has pre-resigned, and the UK Independence party leader has unresigned, will the Leader of the House, who is a notable Eurosceptic, tell us whether he will have to resign to fight for a no vote in the looming referendum?
It has not been a good week for the smaller parties. UKIP launched an attack on Sainsbury’s supermarket because it mistakenly thought a supermarket chain was funding the EU referendum yes campaign; it has attacked the LGBT community as “bigots” after being banned from London Pride, the irony apparently being completely lost on it; and last night its former chief of staff went on TV and said that UKIP is full of
“rag-tag, unprofessional, embarrassing people” and revealed that it had had to lock certain doors because the people behind those doors were too embarrassing to be seen.
And what about the Scottish National party? The vaingloriously self-styled Scottish 56 have now been in Parliament for nearly a month. They promised to make the Scottish lion roar at Westminster—
But, as we hear, so far it has been more of a whimper. As of Friday, of the 1,300 oral questions asked of Government, as far as I can see they have barely managed one each. They tabled what they thought was a reasoned amendment to the Second Reading of the Scotland Bill, but it was so badly drafted that it was ruled out of scope and not selected, so they could not even vote on it. They tried to amend the European Union Referendum Bill, but forgot to put their leader’s name on the amendment. I am sure it was just a coincidence that the name of Alex Salmond appeared at the top instead.
To cap it all, one of the SNP’s most senior Members, who has been here since 2005—
Let me start with English votes for English laws, which the hon. Lady raised at the start of her remarks. I urge her not always to believe everything she reads in the papers. We will shortly make proposals on this front and we will discuss them in the House. There will be time for hon. Members on both sides to give them consideration and there will be a full and proper debate on them. We will naturally ensure that the House gets the opportunity to give them full consideration, as all parties would expect, and I will, of course, discuss them with her and with the other parties when we are ready to do so.
On the Mansion House speech last night and the Chancellor’s plans, the hon. Lady should take a look in the mirror when she talks about those who should be taking note of the need for better management of our economy. I remind her that this Government and our predecessor the coalition have over the past five years brought down step by step the largest peacetime deficit in this country’s history. Why did we have to do that? Because of the actions of the Labour party in government, by its own admission and that of many of its leading lights. I have been reading with great interest in The Times this week the post-mortem of Labour’s election defeat. What comes through most strongly is that the party never got to grips with the fact that it messed up the economy. If we need good practices in this country in future, it is to make sure that Labour does not wreck things again.
The hon. Lady also referred to the comments made by the Governor of the Bank of England. If she wants a debate on the fair and effective markets review, as I said earlier there are two Opposition days coming up shortly. The Opposition are, of course, free to have that debate. If it is a question of ensuring good practice in the City of London and in our banking sector, I ask her to remember who it was who knighted Fred Goodwin. This party has nothing to be ashamed of in our work to sort out a massive problem that we inherited. Labour Members should be embarrassed about how they changed regulation, knighted the people who messed things up for us and now pretend that none of that ever happened.
The hon. Lady asked me about resignation. I am rather enjoying our Thursday exchanges, but I reassure her that the first person to leave our discussions at the Dispatch Box will not be me. When she becomes deputy leader of the Labour party, as I am sure she will, she will be moving on to a new job in the very near future and I will be facing a new person across the Dispatch Box.
I am not only a little concerned by the fact that the hon. Lady has had only one new declaration this week; I am worried that I may be a jinx on Labour contests embarked upon by people who shadow me. Only this week I discovered that Sadiq Khan, who was my shadow in the previous Parliament and who is standing to be the Labour candidate for Mayor of London, has not even got the support of his own constituency party—it is voting for Tessa Jowell. May I seek the hon. Lady’s reassurance that her constituency party is supporting her for the deputy leadership of the Labour party?
Finally, this week has seen one of the great sporting events of this country in my constituency, and I have to boast about it. It is of course the Epsom derby, a magnificent event, attended by large numbers of people, a great race, a fine finish, a worthy winner in Frankie Detorri. I offer my congratulations to everybody involved in making it such a successful event. But the attention of the bookies is turning this week to a different race, a race that is taking place rather closer to this Chamber. Each morning at around 7 o’clock a queue of Labour Members of Parliament forms, a queue of Scottish National party Members of Parliament forms, and when the door opens there is an unseemly race for the seats. Given that Mr Skinner is involved in that race, I am concerned for his welfare, and I wonder whether we should order a health and safety investigation to make sure that no one is injured in this daily fracas.
Order. Perhaps we can return to the important subject of the business of the House for next week. I look with some confidence to a senior stateswoman in the House to provide an example of the brevity that is required on these occasions. I call Mrs Cheryl Gillan.
My inspirational constituent, nine-year-old Archie Hill, has Duchenne muscular dystrophy, and with his parents Gary and Louisa has been campaigning to get NHS access to Translarna, the first treatment to address the underlying genetic cause of Duchenne muscular dystrophy. The process for clearance by NHS England was stopped in December 2014 but the decision is due in the next few weeks. May we have an urgent debate to reinforce the desperate need for this drug for those individuals whose quality of life could be drastically improved by immediate access to Translarna?
I suspect that many of us in the House have constituents and families of constituents who have come to see us, having experienced the dreadful impact of Duchenne muscular dystrophy, and our hearts go out to all those who suffer from this dreadful disease. The matter will be debated in Westminster Hall next week. It is a matter that is very much on the agenda of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health. I know that he will make more information available to the House shortly.
I thank the Leader of the House for announcing next week’s business.
—as one can hear. When it comes to opposition, it sometimes helps to actually oppose, rather than voting with the Conservatives for two weeks in a row—Labour voting with the Tories, the Tories voting with the Labour party. The SNP Benches are where the real opposition takes place.
We all immensely enjoyed the Chancellor’s Mansion House speech, and I understand that we are about to have a statement, not from the Chancellor but from a junior Treasury Minister, about the plans to sell off RBS shares at a knock-down price. I hope we are also going to hear something about the other stuff that was mentioned in the Mansion House speech last night, not least the proposal to put in place plans for a fiscal surplus, binding future Governments. To me that looks like setting in stone this Government’s austerity plans and balancing the books on the backs of the most marginal and vulnerable in our community, so we need to hear clearly the Government’s intention in that regard.
Next week we have two days on the Floor of the House to consider amendments to the European Union Referendum Bill, and there are still outstanding issues in relation to 16 and 17-year-old voters, the franchise and the date of the election. If the referendum date is not changed, we could face the ridiculous and absurd prospect next May of 16 and 17-year-olds being ID-ed in the ballot station as they get around to the business of voting in the Scottish Parliament elections, and being booted out and not allowed to participate in the EU referendum. We need to hear clearly that the Government are ruling out any prospect of an EU referendum on the date of the Scottish Parliament elections.
Lastly, it is quite clear now that the Government intend to rush through their plans for English votes for English laws. It may not be next week or the week after, but they have already said that there will be no legislation and no scrutiny. There are huge constitutional issues in this, not least for you, Mr Speaker, as you will be placed in an invidious political situation, where you may be asked to certify whether I and my hon. Friends can vote on significant issues that may have an impact on our constituents. We need a full and proper debate about this. We need to hear when the Leader of the House will bring forward the proposals and how we are to have full consultation and a full debate.
I have noticed the battle taking place between the two parties across the Floor of the House over who is the real Opposition. I suspect that battle will continue for some considerable time. All I would say to the House is that while it is going on, we will carry on governing the country and doing the right thing for our constituents.
The hon. Gentleman made a comment about the speech made at the Mansion House last night by the Chancellor of the Exchequer and talked about austerity. I do not think he quite understands what a basic and simple concept this is: it is a good idea that people live within their means. That is what we stand for. It is his party that stands for irresponsibility, and that irresponsibility is what got this country into a mess in the first place. It is absolutely right that we should be responsible in the future. I am just disappointed that Scottish nationalists simply do not understand that.
On the European Union Referendum Bill, of course I have seen the amendments SNP Members have tabled. They will be debated next week and we will see whether the House supports them.
On English votes for English laws, as I said earlier, we will talk to all parties in the House. Hon. Members will have time to respond and there will be a full debate in this House.
It will be decided by this House—by Members of Parliament, each one, individually, with one vote. SNP Members keep missing a point on this: we are not simply talking about changes for the future; we are also talking about the situation today. There are issues that affect my constituency on which Pete Wishart can vote, but there are very many issues that affect his constituency on which I cannot vote. There are real issues of fairness in devolution and we intend to deliver that fairness.
The Leader of the House recently joined me on a visit to Cannock Radio, and I am sure he agrees that it is a fantastic example of a small start-up business that provides an invaluable service to the local community. May we have a debate on the issuing of FM licences to local community radio stations such as Cannock Radio?
I very much enjoyed my visit to Cannock Radio, which I thought was a great example of a community radio station that is starting to have a real impact locally. I understand my hon. Friend’s point and know she will raise the matter with our right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, and perhaps seek an opportunity for an end-of-day debate on the Floor of the House.
May I ask the Leader of the House for an urgent debate in Government time on the ongoing migration crisis in the Mediterranean? Such a debate would give us all the opportunity to put on record our thanks to those serving on board HMS Bulwark, but it would also give us time to discuss the wider migration crisis and the terrible plight of refugees from Syria.
I believe that this is one of the matters that should be brought before the House shortly, and we are looking at that now. I share the hon. Lady’s view of the work being done by our armed forces, particularly the crew of HMS Bulwark, who are doing an amazing job in the Mediterranean. It is clear that the situation in the Mediterranean is not sustainable. A long-term solution will have to be found; we cannot go on and on with lives being lost in the way they have been. It is very much on the Government’s agenda, and it should and will be on this House’s agenda.
Order. May I very gently point out that Members who were not here for the Leader of the House’s statement should not expect to be called? People must be present at the start and stay if they wish to be called.
The news of any job losses is disappointing, and it is concerning to hear this week that HSBC intends to make 8,000 staff redundant. Equally concerning is the news that it is considering moving its headquarters from the City of London. Will my right hon. Friend make time for a debate in which the Government can highlight what is being doing to ensure that London maintains its position as a global city and the global centre for professional and financial services?
We will all have been deeply disappointed by yesterday’s announcement by HSBC. We extend our good wishes, sympathies and concerns to all those affected, and I know that all the relevant authorities will do their best to help mitigate the impact of the change. It is vital that we maintain the competitiveness of our banking sector—something the Chancellor of the Exchequer addressed last night. A Treasury Minister will be at the Dispatch Box shortly to talk about the issues raised last night, so my hon. Friend might have an opportunity to raise those concerns directly.
Foetal alcohol spectrum disorder affects at least 7,000 children born every year in this country. A new all-party group on foetal alcohol spectrum disorder will hold its inaugural meeting on
I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on the work he is doing. That is one of those issues that divide no one in this House politically. We all have an opportunity to be champions for those affected by some of the most dreadful diseases and health problems in our society. My right hon. and hon. Friends in the Department of Health will have noted what he said, but I will ensure that his concerns are passed on to them and that they get back to him and indicate when a statement will be made.
That has been a matter of concern for the Government, and indeed for the previous Government, over the past few years. We are working hard with providers, applying a push where necessary, to ensure that rural broadband is rolled out as fast as possible, and I know that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport is working hard on the issue. I suggest that my hon. Friend writes to the Secretary of State, and I will ensure that his comments are drawn to the Department’s attention today. I also advise him to raise the matter at the next Culture, Media and Sport Question Time.
I also point out to the House that, in order to preserve the unique character of business questions, colleagues need to relate their questions to the business of the House for next week. That simply requires a Member, in pursuing the point of his or her choice, to remember to ask for a debate or a statement in the following week.
May we have a debate in Government time on Lord Carter’s report on how £5 billion could be saved in the NHS between now and 2020, with particular reference to how, following the Lansley reforms, the Government would find it difficult to insist on value for money in foundation trusts?
We are grateful to Lord Carter for the work he has done in that report. The NHS faces significant financial challenges, and finding further efficiencies will be an important part of meeting them. The Health Secretary appears before the House regularly, and I expect that he will update the House in the near future on how he intends to respond to the report.
In the interests of Members’ health—particularly yours, Mr Speaker—may we have a debate next week on the lighting in the Chamber? Is the Leader of the House aware that in 1988, when we voted for lighting in the Chamber, we lost daylight when the yellow film was put over the windows, but we gained these huge chandeliers? It is now possible—I will write to you about this, Mr Speaker—using liquid crystal display privacy glass to restore daylight to the Chamber and to cut the cost of the chandeliers by half by putting in LEDs, which would cut the carbon footprint by two thirds. Can we debate that next week?
I am sure, Mr Speaker, that you and I agree that my hon. Friend should write to us both with something we can put before other members of the Commission when it first meets.
Will the Secretary of State make time available next week for an extended debate on the subject of hospitals in south-west London—a debate he might like to participate in—so that we can look at the issue of funding for St Helier hospital? As £290 million was guaranteed under the coalition Government, I want to ensure that that funding is available when plans come forward for the hospital.
The right hon. Gentleman and I share an interest in this issue because we share the same NHS trust. I am concerned to make sure that both hospitals have a successful future. If he wants to raise the issue, I suggest that he looks to bring forward an Adjournment debate. I suspect that we have not ended the period of debate locally. I know that we will both continue to be champions for our own communities.
May we have a debate or a statement next week about fly-grazing and straying horses? This problem is affecting many constituencies, and it has got significantly worse since the alterations to regulations in Wales. It is a big problem that the RSPCA and the police are struggling with.
I am very much aware of that issue. Many of our constituencies are affected by fly-grazing, and there are genuine animal welfare concerns about what is taking place. My hon. Friend is a seasoned requisitioner of Adjournment debates—she has one on Bangladesh next week—and I am sure that the subject she has raised is another on which she can continue with that.
Mr Speaker—[Interruption.] I have selflessly discovered, purely for the benefit of colleagues, that if they ever want some easy fame, they should merely wander into the wrong Lobby and go to the washrooms. That seems to work a treat.
On a serious matter, may we have a statement in Government time on the financial support mechanisms for onshore wind—the cheapest form of renewable generation? Since an article in The Sunday Telegraph a week last Sunday, there has been huge uncertainty in the industry, affecting jobs, investment and businesses. Surely the Department of Energy and Climate Change should not be briefing newspapers when it seems to be unaware of the situation and the outcomes.
I noticed with interest this week that a police spotter helicopter appeared to sight a big cat in Glasgow; whether there is any connection, I do not know. The Energy Secretary will appear before this House in 10 days’ time, and that might be an opportunity for the hon. Gentleman to raise the issue with her directly.
I am very proud of the contribution made to my constituency by a significant number of the Nepalese community. Indeed, many of them came to this country following their service in the Brigade of Gurkhas. Given that that history extends back to 1815, may we have a debate in Government time in order to discuss the contribution made to the British Army in the past 200 years by the Gurkha regiment?
We all owe a debt of gratitude to the Gurkhas, who have served this country over a very long period. I congratulate my hon. Friend on the work he does with the Nepalese community and with the Gurkhas. I also congratulate him on his re-election to this House. We will come back to this matter regularly. There will be opportunities to debate defence issues, and he will no doubt want to use those to raise the role of the Gurkhas, to praise them for what they have done, and to ensure that we have proper welfare support for them.
Before our mission in Iraq creeps beyond the 900 mark, should we not debate the calamitous decisions that sent 632 of our brave British soldiers to their deaths in Iraq and Helmand, lest we again try to punch above our weight militarily, which always leads to our dying beyond our responsibilities?
It is important to say that we all face a real threat from the growth of ISIL in the middle east, and it is right that the international community comes together to combat that threat. I remind the hon. Gentleman that our role in Iraq today—it is only Iraq, not Syria—is at the invitation of the Iraqi Government. That is a big difference from what happened 10 years ago.
Eleven thousand of my residents in Heathfield have been without a post office since the postmaster and freeholder unexpectedly left. We have been told that it will take at least three months to get a new post office, despite the local council providing a free parking berth. May we have an urgent debate to discuss why it takes Post Office Counters Ltd so long to bring in temporary, and indeed permanent, replacements for all constituents represented in this House?
First, may I welcome my hon. Friend to his place? I know he will be a very effective representative for his constituency, and it is clear that he has already started in that vein. My advice to him is that, while he could table questions or secure a debate, going directly to the organisation itself can, in my experience, be a very effective way of delivering results more quickly, and I urge him to do that.
Britain has a persistent and enormous trade deficit with the rest of the European Union, amounting to more than £1 billion a week and equivalent to 1 million lost British jobs. That is being driven by the overvaluation of the pound against the euro, the exchange rate having risen by a third since the post-crisis drop. May we have a debate on this serious economic misalignment and the damage it is inflicting on British manufacturing?
One of the great myths in this country is that manufacturing collapsed under a Conservative Government. In fact, it was during the 13 years of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown that manufacturing in this country fell by almost a half as a proportion of our national income. We have spent the past five years trying to turn that around. I am very pleased that this country now makes more cars than the whole of Italy. There is a lot still to do—we have a lot of mess to clear up—but people should not think that the problems of our trade deficit and our manufacturing sector were caused by Conservative Members; we are the ones who are trying to fix them.
Next Thursday we will debate the European Union Referendum Bill in a Committee of the whole House, but unfortunately, if the Government make two statements, and if there also happens to be an Urgent Question, we would have only two and a half hours to debate the Bill, which means that we would only have time to discuss the first group of amendments. Could the Leader of the House make a statement next week to change the situation so that we can go past the moment of interruption in order to discuss the second group of amendments? Could he also try to ensure that no Government statements will curtail debate on that very important Bill in a week’s time?
I understand my hon. Friend’s concerns. It is very important that the House has a full opportunity to debate the Bill. There is already a considerable amount of time available in the system for that, but I want to make sure that hon. Members on both sides of the House feel they have a proper opportunity to debate the amendments.
We have already heard this morning of concerns about broadband, and those concerns are shared by all parties in all parts of the UK. The Leader of the House has already indicated that there is Government time available on
I know that the issue is a matter of concern to Members on both sides of the House and in different kinds of constituencies. Of course, we will from next week have opportunities to debate matters of general concern on those days allocated for them, and I expect that subject to make an early appearance on that list.
Could we have time to debate the problem of rural roads? More and more lorries are getting larger and larger, and they are not able to use a lot of rural roads. When they are supplying supermarkets in rural areas, they are blocking roads. In places such as Exmoor, which I cover, that is becoming a serious problem. Please could we have time to discuss the situation?
Unfortunately my hon. Friend has just missed Transport Questions, but I will make sure that his concerns are drawn to the attention of the Secretary of State. My hon. Friend is absolutely right to say that there is a propensity—I suspect due to a dependence on sat-nav—for unsuitable vehicles to use roads that simply are not wide enough for them. I encourage all organisations that have logistics operations, including haulage firms and the major supermarkets, to make sure that their drivers take a smart approach to planning where they are going to go, and do not just simply follow the sat-nav.
Could we have a statement or debate in Government time on when the request for proposals for maritime patrol aircraft will be issued, and could that statement include a commitment to base such aircraft in Scotland?
Many of us would like to see the fullest realisation of the Prime Minister’s vision for European Union reform and a fundamental change to our relationship with it. Will the Leader of the House make time for a statement next week, and in subsequent weeks, to make sure that we are appropriately updated on the process of renegotiation?
I commend my hon. Friend for his work in this vital area and for his responsible approach. He is right to focus on the need for renegotiation and for a changed relationship. The status quo in our relationship with the EU is simply not in the interests of this country. What surprises me is that Labour Members have decided to support a referendum, but still appear to believe that the status quo is in our national interest, when it palpably is not. They need to make their minds up.
May we have an urgent statement or debate next week about the Cancer Drugs Fund decision not to make the drug sunitinib available on the NHS? My constituent Adrian Steel, who has kidney cancer, is having to pay for his treatment. May we have a debate on that as soon as possible?
I am aware of the concerns, and these are difficult and sensitive issues. Our system was rightly established by the previous Labour Government to assess the effectiveness of drugs and whether they should be made available on the NHS. Some decisions are controversial and difficult for those affected by those illnesses. I will ensure that the right hon. Gentleman’s concerns are passed today to the Department of Health. I know Ministers will want to return to the issue at an appropriate moment.
The number of young people in and around Andover in my constituency who have tragically died at their own hand in the past few years has reached disturbing levels. Further, Veterans in Action, a charity based just outside Andover, is currently on a round-Britain tour raising awareness of post-traumatic stress disorder. Bearing in mind the striking maiden speech of my hon. Friend Johnny Mercer, can the Leader of the House be persuaded to make time for us to debate mental health issues, and particularly mental health provision to veterans and young adults?
I take the issue very seriously. It is disturbing for all of us that the number of young male suicides has risen to a level not seen in a generation in this country. We need to get to grips with the problem. I am pleased that, in the last Budget before the general election, the Chancellor said he would make additional funding available for mental health work in the national health service. I commend all those who are working in my hon. Friend’s constituency and elsewhere both to raise awareness and to find ways to tackle the problem, which I know will come before the House regularly. I suspect there will be cross-party support for a debate in one of the Backbench Business Committee slots.
Responsibility is paramount in top pay awards. There are times when it is necessary to pay a substantial sum to get the right person, but many of us in the House will share the hon. Lady’s concerns that organisations such as Channel 4 need to get top pay awards right, and need to be very careful about how they approach them. Next Thursday, we will debate the European Union (Referendum) Bill, so that might not be the best day to slot in a debate on top pay awards, but those standing for the chairmanship of the Backbench
Business Committee will have heard her. Perhaps they will want to address top pay awards more broadly, and not simply in relation to the circumstance she mentions.
We are fortunate in Colchester to have a fantastic zoo. I urge Opposition Members to visit so they can work on their roar.
Colchester is one of the fastest-growing towns in the country. Tens of thousands of homes have been built, but with inadequate infrastructure to support them. Will the Leader of the House make time for a debate on infrastructure in areas where there is high housing growth?
That is a significant challenge. We need to build more houses to ensure that the next generation can get on to the housing ladder, but we need to do so sensitively to protect the environment in which people live. That is a major priority for the Government. Of course, we must have the infrastructure in place to achieve that. That is why we are investing in roads and rail, and why we are seeking to ensure that, as our economy develops, we have an infrastructure fit for the 21st century. I assure my hon. Friend that, when he finds the moment at questions or through the Adjournment debate system to take those issues to Ministers, they will listen extremely carefully to the challenges his area faces.
The Leader of the House referred earlier to an upcoming debate on Translana, the Duchenne muscular dystrophy drug. In Prime Minister’s questions yesterday, the Prime Minister said that unfortunately, because he was off to the EU summit, he could not meet the six young boys going to Downing Street to seek his support in getting the drug for themselves. I am now writing to the Prime Minister to secure a meeting between them and Muscular Dystrophy UK. Will the Leader of the House help me to secure that meeting?
I will certainly pass on the hon. Lady’s request to the Prime Minister. He did mention that he had had a meeting with an affected family and one of the young people who was going to No.10 Downing Street. I know that in different circumstances he would have wished to meet them and I will certainly pass on her request.
All of us in government would dearly like to see the Chilcot report published, but as it is an independent report it is out of our hands. It is in the interests of the country to get the report published, to see the full the details of what it says, to learn any lessons and to ensure that mistakes are not made in future.
Is the Leader of the House aware that every Member of this Parliament has at least 1,000 constituents with undiagnosed heart arrhythmia, or irregular heartbeat? Many of those who have been diagnosed are given the wrong treatment—even something as awful as an aspirin. Three wonderful new drugs approved by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence will stop people going from heart arrhythmia to a stroke. Can we make all Members aware of this real problem facing our constituents?
I commend the hon. Gentleman for making the House aware of that. He makes an immensely important point. This does affect people. A support group was set up recently by one of the Conservative association members in my constituency to help those affected. There is a great network of people who know and understand the condition, but I encourage him to continue to work to make Members aware. We can be a valuable conduit to people who have experienced problems and can tell them some of the things out there to help them to solve them.
Television programmes such as “Inside the Commons” have improved the public’s understanding of the workings of this House, including among those in my constituency. Will my right hon. Friend make a statement on the possible implications of any refurbishment programme at the Palace of Westminster on the workings of this House?
I congratulate my hon. Friend on his election to this House and welcome him to this great building. I regard it not only as a vital heart to our democracy, but one of the great historic buildings of the world. It is absolutely the case that it faces big challenges. Hon. Members will have received an email from the Clerk yesterday inviting them to a briefing next week on the independent report on how we make sure the building has a long and successful future. There are some interesting and difficult challenges ahead. There are some difficult decisions to take. Instinctively, I think it is important that this building remains consistently at the heart of our democracy and that we do not end up being forced to move somewhere else.
Dairy farmers in my constituency are struggling with falling milk prices and the failure of First Milk to represent them properly. If this is affecting the Stirling constituency it must be affecting constituencies across the country. Will the Government bring forward a debate or make a statement on this most urgent of issues?
I absolutely understand the issues the hon. Gentleman raises, which are shared by dairy farmers in the constituencies of many hon. Members on both sides of the House. Questions to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs will be next Thursday. I advise him to raise the issue directly with the Secretary of State then.
I welcome the statement that we will shortly have the Second Reading of the Education and Adoption Bill. Will the Leader of the House give consideration to a specific debate on school standards and Ofsted inspections? I know that Ofsted inspections are of concern to many hon. Members. It would give us an opportunity to highlight recent cases, such as Suffolk One Sixth Form College in my constituency, which, due to the excellent work of staff and pupils, has just moved from good to outstanding?
We are fortunate in this country to have some excellent schools that do a first-rate job for our young people and raise standards in a way that is essential to our future, but some schools do less well and some need a bit of a push, and Ofsted does an important job in making that happen. The purpose of the Education and Adoption Bill—the education piece of it—is to ensure we have the right mechanisms to continue to drive up standards. I hope that my hon. Friend will use that debate to raise some of the success stories in his constituency, and to address our strategy to ensure that things carry on getting better.
The under-10 metre inshore fishing fleet in coastal communities around England is urgently waiting to know when the Leader of the House will lay before Parliament the proposals in the Conservative manifesto to reallocate fishing quotas towards the under-10 metre fleet. When will this be coming forward?
I cannot give the hon. Gentleman an exact date, but the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs will be before the House next Thursday. I suggest that he puts his question to her then. I know she will try to be helpful.
Resources committed to key components of our foreign policy soft power capabilities, including the British Council and the British World Service, continue to fall at a time when the significance of soft power continues to rise. Will my right hon. Friend at least consider a debate in the Chamber on the importance of soft power, which is often referred to in passing but has never been properly debated, given that in this information age winning the story is just as important as winning any battles or conflicts?
I am concerned that the House has an early opportunity to debate some of the international challenges we face, and I hope that when we have secured the right opportunity my hon. Friend will raise what I believe is a very important issue.
The Leader of the House referred to investing in rail and roads earlier. Today’s Hull Daily Mail reports that the long-awaited upgrade of the A63 at Castle Street, which is vital to the Hull economy, will be delayed into the 2020s, as will the rail electrification. Both are essential and were promised in this decade. May we please have a debate in Government time on whether the northern powerhouse is no more than a slogan for places such as Hull?
The northern powerhouse is absolutely not just a slogan for places such as Hull. It is in the interests of everyone’s economic future that we have a strong set of northern towns and cities to provide a counterbalance to the south-east, generating the technologies, growth and businesses we need for the future. I cannot comment on what is reported in the hon. Lady’s local paper today, but I know that my right hon. Friend the Transport Secretary will take note of her concern. She should seek to contact him directly or raise the issue with him the next time he is before the House, but I am clear that the Government have invested, and will continue to invest, in our infrastructure to ensure that it is fit for the 21st century.
Further to the question from my hon. Friend Sir David Amess about the Chilcot inquiry, I would be grateful if we had a statement confirming that no former Members will be sent to the other place until the Chilcot inquiry has been published, enabling Members to scrutinise the inquiry and the recommendations of the House of Lords Appointments Commission and to have access to all the relevant information before anyone is sent to the House of Lords?
I know that the Prime Minister and the team in No. 10 Downing Street will have listened carefully to what my hon. Friend has said. I cannot guarantee that no former Member will find a new role in the near future, but, as for those who might be more closely linked to what took place, I am sure that his comments will be carefully noted.
The Government recently boasted of being the workers’ party, which many of my constituents find absolutely laughable. If they really are the workers’ party, why are they planning to punish hard-working, low-income families with a £5 billion cut to child tax credits? When can we have an urgent debate on these proposals?
First, may I congratulate the hon. Lady on her wisdom, because I believe that she is the only Labour MP this week to add her name to the shadow Leader of the House’s tally? I hope she can persuade many more of her hon. Friends to do the same in the next few days.
We have seen the most enormous drop in unemployment across the country, and we have the lowest unemployment claimant count that we have had in this country for about 40 years. If that is not a sign of being the party of the workers, I do not know what is.
My hero of the week is Adam Armstrong. When an error with his name was made in an online booking with Ryanair and he asked them to change it, they wanted £220. He quickly worked out that if he changed his name by deed poll to what it said on the booking and got a new passport, he could do it at under half the price. Genius! May we have a debate on aviation so we can expose these rip-off practices and put a stop to them?
We should always commend innovation when we see it, and that was certainly a fine example of innovation. There is, of course, another simple solution: “If you don’t like flying Ryanair, you can always try flying easyJet”.
May we have a statement or a debate in Government time on why, at a time when this Government can find £100,000 million for Trident renewal, more than 1,500 RAF service personnel will lose their jobs over the next five years, further undermining our conventional defences?
Where we and the SNP differ is that in an increasingly unstable world, with a whole variety of new challenges, this does not seem to be a moment to scrap our nuclear deterrent. That is a point of difference and a point of principle between us, but Government Members stand by what we believe in.
Today is the deadline for the planning inspectorate to make a recommendation to Ministers at the Department of Energy and Climate Change after a long-running and hugely expensive public inquiry into the proposed Navitus Bay offshore wind farm. Will my right hon. Friend find time for a debate on whether it is appropriate for this proposal to remain confidential until the Secretary of State publishes her decision on
I can understand the challenge my hon. Friend faces in trying to remember all the Conservative MPs in Dorset—there are now so many of them in his part of the world. As always, my hon. Friend is a powerful advocate for his constituency and for the county of Dorset. I know that the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change will have listened carefully to what he said. It is a sign of the concern about this matter that an Adjournment debate has been called next Monday by my hon. Friend Richard Drax. I know that my hon. Friend Conor Burns will want to make a point in that debate. I have no doubt that the Secretary of State will have listened carefully to my hon. Friend, but she has to do this job properly in her role as assessor of the issues.
My constituent Mr Len Jones has seen the value of his British Airways pension put at risk by the trustees’ decision to change the basis on which those pensions are uprated. May we have a debate on the responsibilities of pension trustees to pension holders?
I am aware of this issue because a constituent of mine is similarly affected. It is a difficult set of circumstances, and these are matters for the pension funds, the trustees and British Airways. I know that the hon. Lady and other Members feel strongly about this, so I suggest she raise the issue at Work and Pensions questions or seek to requisition a debate on the subject either on an end-of-the-day Adjournment or in Westminster Hall.
Fortuitously, Education questions are on Monday, so my hon. Friend will have an opportunity to raise a topical question there. My view is that we have to be immensely careful before developing any playing fields. We are going to see increased need for housing in future, but increased need for housing means increased need for recreation. We must make sure we have adequate supporting facilities to support the development of housing.
May we have a debate in Government time on accountability in the NHS? Under the current system, we raise an issue with Ministers, who say it is a role for NHS England, which does not respond. A serious complaint that I put to Ministers was passed to NHS England 11 weeks ago, but I have had no reply. There is a lack of accountability, and we need to debate that.
It is unacceptable for Members of Parliament not to receive from NHS England a proper response to concerns. For many years, members of the public and Members here have argued that the NHS should not be a political football and that politicians should not be directly involved in the day-to-day running of it. That is what the last Government did, and I think we have ended up in a better place for it. Of course, it is not acceptable, as I said, that inquiries are not responded to. I will make sure that the hon. Gentleman’s concerns are drawn to the attention of the Secretary of State, who can act for him.
Order. I shall almost certainly not be able to accommodate everyone—there are simply too many Members wishing to speak—but maximising the number of contributors requires single, short supplementary questions, without preamble, and characteristically pithy replies from the Leader of the House
Given the widespread interest in productivity, may we have a debate that will allow Members to identify their priorities for improving productivity throughout the United Kingdom?
I believe that the Labour party has decided to use its Opposition day for a debate on productivity, which will provide an opportunity to remind Labour Members of their very poor record in that regard.
I will not give details of our plans today, but I will tell the hon. Gentleman that Members will have an opportunity to respond and a proper opportunity for debate. I shall set out our plans shortly.
On Sunday, I was present for the unveiling of a new defibrillator on the outside wall of the Bay Horse Inn, a pub in the village of Roughlee. May we have a debate on the excellent North West ambulance service “Cardiac Smart” campaign, which aims to improve survival rates among those who experience out-of-hospital cardiac arrests?
I pay tribute to my hon. Friend, who is one of two Members who are volunteer responders. I commend him for his role in that extremely important work. I also commend his local ambulance service for what it is doing, which is enormously important. Effective first response and the presence of defibrillators can make the difference between life and death. The Government take it very seriously, and we are therefore providing additional funds for more defibrillators around the country to try to save lives.
Any stabbing is both unacceptable and tragic for those involved. It would not be right for me to comment on the specific case because it is under investigation, but, by chance, the Home Secretary is sitting on the Bench near me and will have heard the hon. Gentleman’s comments. I know that she will choose to respond in due course when she can, given that the matter is currently being investigated.
The loss of a family pet is a painful process, but it is amplified when the loss of that pet is caused by malicious poisoning by a neighbour. May we have an urgent debate on sentencing for the crime of poisoning animals and on animal welfare issues?
My hon. Friend has obviously experienced a shocking circumstance in his constituency. These are dreadful acts, and of course it is right and proper for them to be dealt with by the full force of the law. As I said earlier, the Home Secretary is sitting next to me, and I am sure that she heard what my hon. Friend has said.
In the last Parliament, the other place passed unwanted, ill-thought-out laws on caste discrimination, causing a great deal of concern in the Hindu community. The Government have said that they do not intend to enact those unwanted laws. May we have a statement on when the Government will repeal them?
Enfield’s Labour council is putting our green belt at risk by buying up farmland such as Sloemans Farm. May we have a statement that will make it clear that Enfield’s green belt is safe in the Conservative Government’s hands?
During the general election campaign, the Prime Minister made some strong commitments in relation to the green belt. I can reassure the hon. Gentleman that, regardless of who owns the land, green belt provisions will still apply. The fact that his local council has decided to buy land does not mean that its decision will be given the go-ahead by the Planning Inspectorate or that it will be able legally to develop the land unless it is appropriate for it to do so.
Will the Leader of the House join me in passing his best wishes to those who were injured in Monday’s horrific crash on the M62, which closed part of the motorway for 20 hours? May we have an urgent debate on trans-Pennine motorway links, so that we can discuss congestion, alternative routes and new exits for the M62?
Our sympathies go out to everyone involved. We wish those who were injured a speedy recovery and commend all the members of the emergency services. Our firefighters cut people out of crashed cars, and our paramedics save lives. They do a fantastic job for all of us, as they clearly did in this instance. I will ensure that my hon. Friend’s concerns are drawn to the attention of the Transport Secretary, but he may also wish to consider applying for an Adjournment debate.
A lot of work has been put into this, and I hope a successful resolution will be reached. I encourage my hon. Friend to talk directly to the Secretary of State about this matter, but I will make sure his concerns and wishes are passed on.
I am very concerned to ensure the House has a proper opportunity to debate matters related not simply to aid and international development but also the challenges we face around the world, and I give my hon. and learned Friend a commitment that I will work to ensure there is an early chance to do so.
Neuroblastoma is a rare aggressive cancer affecting just 100 children a year in the United Kingdom, including Ruby Laura Young in my constituency, a two-year-old who is battling to save her life. May we have an urgent debate on the assistance available to all those suffering from this disease?
I absolutely understand the concerns my hon. Friend raises; a little boy in my constituency, Adam Bird, died four years ago as a result of this dreadful disease. There is an opportunity next week in Westminster Hall to raise and debate this issue. I know the Health Secretary will be listening carefully because when children are affected in this terrible way it is a matter of concern to us all.
May we have a debate into the damning Ofsted report into the inadequacies of Sandwell children’s services, which was published last week and points to failures of leadership over a long period of time and a failure to protect the most vulnerable children in Sandwell? May we have a debate to see what the Government can do?
My hon. Friend is right to be concerned when a local authority appears unable to properly address child safeguarding issues. As we all know, we have seen terrible events in other parts of the country where this has happened. One would not wish to see it happen in Sandwell. My hon. Friend is absolutely right to raise the issue. I suggest that he come to the House on Monday to raise it directly with the Education Secretary and he may also, depending on the context of the debate, have an opportunity the following week to do the same in the debate on the Education and Adoption Bill.
May we have a statement from the Government on the progress of the Perry review into the decriminalisation of non-payment of the TV licence and any indication of when the review will be completed and available to this House?
The review is due to be completed in the next few weeks. I know my right hon. Friend the Culture Secretary will wish to update the House as soon as possible after that.
May we have a debate on the difficult situation many people, including in my constituency, find themselves in when county court judgments laid against them for non-payment of costs are made if solicitors offering no win, no fee arrangements and their insurers go bust?
May we have a debate on what the Government can do to make life easier for small businesses by cutting red tape? In the last Parliament, we had the one-in, one-out rule, then the one-in, two-out rule. Now that the Government are not constrained by the Liberal Democrats, surely we can have one in, three out, four out or even five out?
I absolutely agree with my hon. Friend. I cannot promise whether it will be one in, three out, four out or five out, but I can promise him that my right hon. Friend the Business Secretary has plans to save £10 billion in costs by reducing red tape during this Parliament, which will make a real difference to business.
I was very impressed by the work I saw when I visited my hon. Friend’s constituency. Our country depends on people who are prepared to get involved in their communities. They can make a real difference. That is clearly what is happening in his constituency. I note his request.