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[1st Day]

Part of Debate on the Address – in the House of Commons at 6:58 pm on 21st June 2017.

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Photo of Keith Vaz Keith Vaz Labour, Leicester East 6:58 pm, 21st June 2017

My hon. Friend is absolutely right about what happens when people have to try to fill in those forms and then submit them to the Home Office, where there is a backlog of 400,000 cases, as those of us who do immigration work will know. They simply do not get a reply, so simplifying the application process, and perhaps moving it to a local level, would be the way to move forward.

There is no health Bill in the Gracious Speech. I know of your interest in diabetes, Mr Deputy Speaker, and your regular attendance at the all-party group on diabetes, which I chaired in the last Parliament. I declare an interest as someone who has type 2 diabetes. My right hon. Friend Ms Abbott, whose 30th anniversary celebration I will be attending tonight, recently found out that she has type 2 diabetes. What I would like to see, and what I think the House would like to see—this is certainly what the group has talked about many times—is a recognition of the need for individuals to be tested so that they know whether they have diabetes. More than that, once people are tested for diabetes, they need to be given compulsory education. There must be structured education for those with diabetes with regard to diet and lifestyle. Far too often, all the GPs do is prescribe tablets for individuals with type 2 diabetes, or inject type 1 diabetics with insulin. It is very important that we pass some legislation on structured education.

As we know, 3.5 million people—6% of the population—have been diagnosed with diabetes in the United Kingdom, and that figure is likely to rise to 5 million by 2025, representing almost 10% of the population. As we also know, treatment accounts for 10% of the national health service budget, so prevention is extremely important, and I am disappointed that we do not have a Bill on this subject.

I know it is not fashionable to do so, but I want to thank George Osborne, who has left this House, for his sugar tax, which he introduced before he left and I hope is still on track. Of course, Mr Osborne has not gone to the other place, as others have done; he has gone to a higher place—the editorship of the Evening Standard—but his legacy on the sugar tax is something that we all celebrate.

I have two final points, the first of which is on Yemen. There are others in this House who have been here for longer than me—Mr Mitchell came into the House with me 30 years ago—but I cannot remember a Queen’s Speech debate in which the Prime Minister did not refer to foreign policy. I know that the Prime Minister talked about Brexit, but we heard no mention of foreign policy. I would have liked to have heard something about Yemen. Yemen is of course a country that is very close to my heart—I was born there and I chair the all-party group on Yemen. Ten thousand people have been killed in the civil war in Yemen so far, 3.2 million people have been internally displaced, and 14.1 million people—half the population—have none of their basic healthcare needs met.

I pay tribute to Flick Drummond for the work that she did in this House, to Angus Robertson for the number of times he led on Yemen during Prime Minister’s questions, and to Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh for what she did when she was in this House. All of them made a huge contribution. I also thank Mr Ellwood for his outstanding work as Minister. He always engaged with the all-party group and we will miss him. We know that he has been replaced by Alistair Burt, but he was an outstanding Minister as far as Yemen was concerned.

My final point concerns one of my youngest constituents, who died during the election campaign. All of us will have read about the case of Evha Jannath, the 11-year-old girl who died at Drayton Manor park on 9 May 2017. The inquest is pending, and Staffordshire police and the Health and Safety Executive are conducting inquiries. I thank both organisations for the work they have done, but serious questions remain about the rides that young people take at theme parks such as Drayton Manor. We will need a full inquiry into what happened so that we can understand how it happened and prevent such a thing from happening to young children in the future.

This will be a rollercoaster two years. I know that our attention will be not only on Westminster but on Belfast, because of the role that the Democratic Unionist party will play. I think that its Members have already returned to Belfast to begin their work. I hope that we can be constructive, that we can create lasting legislation and that we do not just spend all our time talking about Brexit. There is important work to be done, and I know that Members—especially the newer ones—all want to participate in it.