Business of the House

– in the House of Commons at 11:10 am on 16th November 2017.

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Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

The business for next week is as follows:

Monday 20 November—Motion to approve a Ways and Means resolution relating to the Taxation (Cross-Border Trade) Bill.

Tuesday 21 November—Continuation of consideration in Committee of the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill (day 3).

Wednesday 22 November—My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer will deliver his Budget statement.

Thursday 23 November—Continuation of the Budget debate.

Friday 24 November—The House will not be sitting.

The provisional business for the week commencing 27 November will include:

Monday 27 November—Continuation of the Budget debate.

Tuesday 28 November—Conclusion of the Budget debate.

Wednesday 29 NovemberOpposition day (5th allotted day). There will be a debate on a motion in the name of the Scottish National party. Subject to be announced.

Thursday 30 November—Debate on a motion on treatment of SMEs by RBS Global Restructuring Group, followed by debate on a motion on mental health and suicide within the autism community. The subjects for these debates were determined by the Backbench Business Committee.

Friday 1 December—Private Members’ Bills.

I should also like to inform the House that the business in Westminster Hall for the remainder of November will be:

Monday 20 November—Debate on an e-petition relating to the TV licence fee.

Thursday 23 November—General debate on anti-bullying week, followed by general debate on the 100th anniversary of the Air Force (Constitution) Act 1917.

Monday 27 November—Debate on an e-petition relating to university tuition fees.

Tuesday 28 November—General debate on Dr Elsie Inglis and the contribution of women to world war one.

Thursday 30 November—General debate on deafness and hearing loss.

Mr Speaker, thank you for sending out notification today of the extension to the telephone helpline service to include staff of the Commons and of the other place. This will help ensure that all staff can access the counselling support they need, both by phone and in person, and can raise any grievance or complaint they wish to make. I am sure this will be widely welcomed across the estate.

I take the opportunity to thank the Members of the Youth Parliament who filled this Chamber last Friday with energetic and passionate debate. They did themselves proud, and I wish them the best with their future campaigns.

I also congratulate the thousands of organisations hosting UK Parliament Week events this week. I had an excellent evening with the Wootton scouts in my constituency to answer their questions on Parliament, and I am sure many colleagues have had and will have similar events.

Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Speaker of the House of Commons, Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Chair, Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Chair, Commons Reference Group on Representation and Inclusion Committee

I completely endorse what the Leader of the House has just said about the sitting of the UK Youth Parliament last Friday, about which I hope I was suitably expansive and congratulatory at the time. I also echo what she said about Parliament Week. I am glad that she herself has invested in it and derived satisfaction from it.

Photo of Valerie Vaz Valerie Vaz Shadow Leader of the House of Commons

I thank the Leader of the House for the forthcoming business. I note that next Tuesday we have day three of our consideration of the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill—cheer!

Photo of Valerie Vaz Valerie Vaz Shadow Leader of the House of Commons

That is day three of eight. We are talking about clause 5 and schedule 1. Can the Leader of the House confirm that the deadline for new clauses and amendments is 5.30 pm today? I have asked her previously about proper notice being given for Members, in the interests of our democracy, so will she ensure that she gives Members proper notice of consideration of Bills and ensure that this does not happen again? Can she say whether the Committee of the whole House will be completed before Christmas recess, which begins on 21 December? Will the Bill be in the other place before the Christmas recess? My friends in the other place are keen to help out.

Will the Leader of the House ensure that the List of Ministers’ Interests is updated, as it was last updated in December 2016? This is vital not just for Ministers, but for Members, because some of them, such as John Redwood, may have another position. It seems that in an article, in his other job as an investment manager, he said it is:

“Time to look further afield as UK economy hits the brakes”.

Will the Leader of the House therefore say whether it is Government policy for Government Members, in their other jobs, to advocate not investing in the country?

It is difficult to understand how the Government cannot know the size of the divorce bill. Surely the Chancellor will have to know this amount of money, because he has to set his Budget. This just smacks of more fiscally incompetent government. The way the Government dealt with the Paradise papers, including in the response they gave to my right hon. Friend Dame Margaret Hodge earlier this week, was appalling. We have had the Panama papers and the Paradise papers, and now we have the invisible papers—the so-called “impact assessments” on the 58 sectors; first, they exist and then they do not exist, and then they exist in a form that is incomprehensible to everyone apart from Ministers. The deadline for providing these to the Committee is next week, because the Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, Mr Baker said he needed “three weeks” from the time the motion was passed by this House. He said there was a mixture of “qualitative and quantitative analysis”, but I am sure the Chair of the Select Committee, my right hon. Friend Hilary Benn is perfectly capable of analysing those papers. As the motion was very clear, will the Leader of the House give a commitment that the invisible papers will be available and say when they will be delivered, given that the motion was passed by this House?

The invisible papers are rapidly leading to an invisible Cabinet. Some may have missed it but there seems to be a new game in town: “‘I’m a Cabinet Minister get me out of here!” The week before last one left the Government and last week another did so, and another comes before a Select Committee and makes a mistake on Government policy, putting a young family at risk. This is a heartless Government—[Interruption.] Listen to the evidence: 38 days before Christmas eviction notices are being sent out following a policy that is flawed and cruel, denying people a chance to manage their life; if the Government think universal credit does not have an effect, will the Leader of the House say why a major housing association has stated that the arrears rate for those claiming the new benefit is about three times higher than that for other tenants? That is the evidence, and that evidence calls for a pause in the roll-out of universal credit.

I note that there is to be a debate on tuition fees in Westminster Hall next week, but we would like the Minister for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation to come to the House to make a statement and explain why the chief executive of the Student Loans Company has been sacked. Given that his Department is a major shareholder, with 85%, will the Leader of the House ensure that the Minister comes here, particularly as some students have overpaid their loan by £10,000 and the budget is £100 million? [Interruption.] It is in the papers today—it is in The Times.

Finally, I come to House matters. Will the Leader of the House say what day and time has been allocated for the debate on the restoration and renewal programme? She has previously talked about December, but given the Budget debate and the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill, we do not have many days left before the Christmas recess. I, too, wish to remind everybody that they have three days left of #Parliamentweek2017. This was kicked off brilliantly by the ninth sitting of the Youth Parliament, and we have you to thank, Mr Speaker, for allowing it to sit here. Its Members are fantastic, treating this House with such respect and listening to the arguments on both sides. We can learn lots of lessons from them. On your behalf, I thank all the staff and volunteers who co-ordinated the whole day. Their topics for the year ahead were “Votes at 16” and “A curriculum to prepare us for life”. As the Leader of the House said, Parliament’s education service has ensured that 4,000 events are taking place throughout the country, with more than 900 primary schools and more than 300 secondary schools taking part. I thank them all for their efforts in educating the next generation on democracy.

Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

I think both the hon. Lady and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the enthusiasm of the young people in the Youth Parliament in this place. I absolutely endorse what she said about our pleasure at young people’s interest in our democracy and politics.

On her question about tabling new clauses and amendments to the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill, the deadline is the rise of the House today. She asked whether the Committee of the whole House on the Bill will be completed by Christmas. She will be aware of the usual procedure: because it is difficult to project forward with absolute certainty for a lengthy period of time, we will continue to update the House every week about the future business in the usual way, as far as we are able to do so.

The hon. Lady suggested that the Government are somehow not clear on our negotiations with the EU. Far from it: the Government are entirely clear. We are seeking to get the best possible deal for the United Kingdom when we leave the European Union in March 2019, as stipulated by the triggering of article 50. The entire Government are working to that end.

The hon. Lady mentioned the Paradise papers. Since 2010, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs has secured £160 billion more in tax revenues as a result of steps taken to reduce tax avoidance and evasion. The Government have taken a lead in efforts on greater international tax transparency. My right hon. Friend the former Prime Minister took enormous steps to ensure that our Crown dependencies, overseas territories and other international colleagues and friends work with us to make sure that we stamp out tax avoidance and evasion. Nobody has done more than this country to achieve that.

The hon. Lady asked about the 58 impact assessments. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union has made it clear that he is working with the Chairman of the Exiting the European Union Committee, Hilary Benn, to find a way forward that will make sense of the impact assessments in such a way that they can be useful. We must balance that with the need not to hamper the negotiations, while at the same time providing maximum transparency.

The hon. Lady asked about universal credit, which has been discussed many times in the House. To be clear: universal credit is being rolled out very slowly and all the lessons learned are being taken on board. More than 50% of those on universal credit are now receiving an early payment so that they can manage their finances. The Government have listened to the views of the House and taken steps to improve the roll-out of universal credit.

The hon. Lady asked about the Student Loans Company. I encourage her to direct her question to the relevant Department, perhaps through a parliamentary question on the specifics of the issue with the chief executive of the Student Loans Company. I am sure she would agree that it is not helpful for a public servant effectively to undermine the work of the company they are managing on behalf of the Government.

The hon. Lady asked about the debate on restoration and renewal. She will know as well as I do that we are seeking to bring a motion to both Houses as soon as possible. It is our intention to do that before the House rises for Christmas but, as ever, that will of course be business permitting.

Several hon. Members:

rose—

Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Speaker of the House of Commons, Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Chair, Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Chair, Commons Reference Group on Representation and Inclusion Committee

Order. Before I call the first Back Bencher, I should advise the House that there is a statement by the Leader of the House to follow on an extremely important matter of great interest to Members in all parts of the House. Thereafter, we have two debates to take place under the auspices of the Backbench Business Committee, to which more than 30—from memory, I would say 35—Members have submitted an application to speak. Those debates have to finish by 5 o’clock. Thereafter, there are two further matters that are potentially debatable for a total of three hours. That may very well not happen, but it could, so there is a premium on brevity. First, if colleagues were late, I ask them please not to stand and try to take part; that is not fair. Secondly, can people please ask single-sentence questions without preamble today? I know that the Leader of the House will respond with characteristically pithy replies.

Photo of Martin Vickers Martin Vickers Conservative, Cleethorpes

Last week, at the transport in the north debate, I raised the matter of the long-dormant plans to extend the M11 up to the Humber bridge. Such a move would be a great boost for the midlands engine and the northern powerhouse. Can the Leader of the House find time for a debate?

Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

My hon. Friend is a big champion for his constituency and for the north, and I encourage him to seek an Adjournment debate on that very matter.

Photo of Pete Wishart Pete Wishart Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Constitution), Shadow SNP Leader of the House of Commons, Chair, Scottish Affairs Committee

I thank the Leader of the House for announcing the business for next week. May I also congratulate the Youth Parliament on the proceedings last week? Is it not strange that we invite young people to this House to have a debate and then send them away and tell them that they cannot participate in our democracy until they are 18?

It has been only a couple of weeks since the last business questions, but two weeks in politics must seem like an eternity for this Government. In that time, they have managed to lose two members of the Cabinet, and the Brexit civil war now raging would actually put the Roundheads and Cavaliers to shame. We should fear not, because the Environment Secretary has apparently been auditioning at Cabinet meetings for the role of Chancellor by, according to his colleagues, using lots of “economicky” words, so all is not lost.

Mr Speaker, I wrote to you this week, stating that, in my view, the Government are in contempt of this House for not forwarding the Brexit analysis papers as instructed by a binding motion of this House. It is entirely up to you how you respond to this, Mr Speaker, but, yesterday, I noted that, in response to a point of order, you said that the Government have a three-week period starting from the Minister’s statement last week to comply with the instructions of this House.

I must say, Mr Speaker, you have been characteristically generous to the Government in allowing them three weeks, because that motion had no time limit attached to it. I ask the Leader of the House today, will we see those papers next week? Will we see them in full, without any redactions or qualifications, and will they be supplied to the Brexit Committee as instructed by this House?

Finally, it is the Budget next week, and we are all very much looking forward to it. Listening to the Prime Minister yesterday, it seems that the Scottish National party has been successful in ensuring that Scottish police and fire services will be exempt from VAT. A single Scottish police force is something that all parties in Scotland have supported over the years. I am sure that the Leader of the House will want to welcome that and thank all the other parties of this House for getting behind the SNP in this campaign.

Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

I reiterate only that the Government are fully committed to making a success of Brexit and of fulfilling our domestic agenda. That is absolutely where we stand. On the impact assessment papers, I told Valerie Vaz that we will comply with the motion of the House, but that there is a balance to be struck between ensuring that we act in the best interests of the public—in the national interest—and complying with the wishes of the House. On the hon. Gentleman’s third point on a single Scottish police force, of course the UK Government will support and ensure, in every way we possibly can, that it is a success.

Photo of John Lamont John Lamont Conservative, Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk

The Leader of the House may be aware that, last week, the official Businesses in Scotland 2017 report showed that the number of businesses per person is 27% higher across the United Kingdom compared with Scotland. May I ask my right hon. Friend for a debate on what the Government can do to support business start-ups across the UK, especially when the Scottish Government are doing all they can to chase them away?

Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

My hon. Friend makes a very important point. I know that he as well as the Government are working hard to support businesses and entrepreneurs right across the United Kingdom. However, as he points out, many of the levers to growth are devolved to the Scottish Government, not least business rates. It is in their power to make Scotland an even more attractive business destination. I am sure that he and many of my hon. Friends will be encouraging the Scottish Government to focus less on a second independence referendum and more on turning Scotland into one of the most attractive places in the world for doing business.

Photo of Ian Mearns Ian Mearns Chair, Backbench Business Committee

I thank the Leader of the House for the business statement. May I make a special plea for as early notice as possible of any Back-Bench Business Committee time after the Budget in the run-up to the Christmas recess? In particular, there is a time-sensitive application for a debate on fisheries from Mrs Murray. The hon. Lady has asked for that debate to be held as close to, but before, the Fisheries Council meeting in Brussels on 11 and 12 December, so I make a special request for that debate to be held on 7 December, if at all possible.

On a personal note, tomorrow is 17 November, which marks the four-month anniversary of the Tyne and Wear MPs’ letter to the Secretary of State for Transport. This matter has been raised in this House at Transport questions on 19 October and in the debate on transport in the north on 6 November. We sent a follow-up letter on 12 September, but we have not yet had a holding response, never mind a response. This is beyond the pale—four months is well beyond Cabinet Office recommendations for ministerial replies to MPs’ letters.

Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

The hon. Gentleman knows that we will always give him as much notice as we can of Back-Bench time. I am grateful to him for raising the specific point about fisheries, which is a matter of huge interest to many of us across the House; I will see what can be done. With regard to his letter to the Transport Secretary, Transport questions will be held on 30 November, but if he wants to write to me, I will certainly take up his point with the Department.

Photo of Rachel Maclean Rachel Maclean Conservative, Redditch

I was not expecting to be called, Mr Speaker—thank you. Will the Leader of the House please advise me how best to raise in this House the issue of the £29 million that is ready and waiting for the Alexandra Hospital in Redditch? It wants to start the work, and the patients are looking forward to the investment and the improvements in our health service for which they have waited a long time. Will she help me to speed up this process?

Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

My hon. Friend is a great champion for the NHS care in her constituency. I encourage her to seek an Adjournment debate so that she can hear directly from Ministers about exactly what more can be done.

Photo of Nicholas Dakin Nicholas Dakin Opposition Whip (Commons)

Today is World Pancreatic Cancer Day. Last night, the all-party parliamentary group on pancreatic cancer launched its report “The Need for Speed: Diagnosing Pancreatic Cancer Earlier, Giving Patients a Chance of Living Better for Longer”. May we have a statement from the Government about what progress is being made to tackle the disease?

Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

I share the hon. Gentleman’s concern about this devastating type of cancer. I encourage him to raise the matter at Health questions or to seek an Adjournment debate. Some of these specific health issues can benefit significantly from more focused attention.

Photo of Alec Shelbrooke Alec Shelbrooke Conservative, Elmet and Rothwell

Last week, the Labour chair of the plans panel on Leeds City Council referred to those who are opposed to the destruction of the green belt in my constituency as “sharp-elbowed NIMBYs”. May we have a statement from the relevant Minister on the quasi-judicial responsibilities of plans panel chairs and the course of action available to applicants, and my constituents in Elmet and Rothwell, when councillors breach those responsibilities?

Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

I am sure that my hon. Friend heard the Prime Minister say yesterday that we will continue to protect the green belt. He raises an important point. It is vital that local councillors, like everyone in public life, behave in a way that inspires the confidence and trust of the electorate. My hon. Friend is right to raise his constituents’ concerns. There are some options that he might want to consider if he feels that councillors have breached their responsibilities. There is a code of conduct, required by all local authorities, that applies to local authority members, and there are procedures for considering complaints where members have breached that code of conduct.

Photo of Anna McMorrin Anna McMorrin Labour, Cardiff North

We have seen various reports on the growth of fake news, and growing evidence of Russian involvement in the EU referendum and in our politics. Is it not time that we regulated the social media platforms? The chief executive and the chair of Ofcom both say that Facebook and Google are media companies and should be regulated as such. May we have a Government debate on bringing these companies under UK law on this issue to ensure that their content can be trusted?

Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

The hon. Lady is absolutely right to raise this very concerning issue. The Government recognise the need to protect the reliability and objectivity of information—it is an essential component of our democracy. We are working with industry to ensure that high-quality online news media have a sustainable future and, at the same time, that low-quality and fake news is not commercially incentivised. To date, we have not seen evidence of successful interference in UK democratic processes, but, naturally, we would take robust action should there be evidence that this has happened in the United Kingdom.

Photo of Douglas Ross Douglas Ross Conservative, Moray

In a disgusting and unacceptable snub to the people of Moray, excessive delivery charges are often applied, and in some cases companies refuse to deliver to Moray at all, because we have an AB and an IV postcode. Can we have a debate in the House so that I and other Members can raise this issue and the Government can explain how they will work with me and other interested parties to right this wrong?

Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

My hon. Friend has raised this issue a number of times, and he mentioned it in his maiden speech. It is an unjust state of affairs, and I completely agree that the people in his constituency deserve as good a service as people elsewhere in the UK. Retailers do have legal obligations to provide clear information about delivery charges, and I would be very concerned if they did not. I am sure the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy would be happy to hear the specifics for his local area. I know he has applied for a Westminster Hall debate, and I am sure a number of Members will be very interested to take part in it.

Photo of Alan Brown Alan Brown Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Transport), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Infrastructure and Energy)

Over a month ago, I wrote to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs over his assertion that it was too difficult to unpack the allocation of common agricultural policy convergence uplift funding. When will I get a response to that letter? Will the Leader of the House confirm that it is not too difficult to unpack that allocation and that it is simply a matter of a Government decision?

Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

If the hon. Gentleman would like to write to me, I can take that up with DEFRA on his behalf, but I cannot address the specifics personally.

Photo of Mike Penning Mike Penning Conservative, Hemel Hempstead

A year ago, I and my constituents were furious when the urgent care centre in my constituency was closed overnight. We were categorically promised by the chief executive of the acute trust that that was temporary—if it was not temporary, it would be illegal, because the trust had not consulted. It still has not consulted, we are a year on and the trust is looking to downgrade the centre. Can we have a debate on the way consultations work—or, frankly, do not work—in our constituencies?

Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

My right hon. Friend raises what sounds like an extremely worrying development. He will be aware that all significant service change proposals must meet the Government’s four reconfiguration tests of support from clinical commissioners, clinical evidence, patient and public engagement, and support for patient choice. Additional NHS England guidance is that proposed changes should be tested for their impact on overall bed numbers in the area. My right hon. Friend is absolutely right to raise this issue. He may wish to take it up at Health oral questions or through an Adjournment debate for his hospital.

Photo of Tom Brake Tom Brake Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (International Trade), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Exiting the European Union)

Will the Leader of the House make time available to discuss the 58 sectoral reports? I suggest this needs to be done before or shortly after 28 November, because if Ministers have not delivered by then, an allegation of contempt will be made against them. A debate would enable us to discuss why, far from there being extra money for the NHS, more money is being spent on lawyers, and more money will be spent on customs staff and on duplicating a whole range of EU regulators—none of which, of course, was mentioned by the leave campaign.

Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

I have twice now given the response on the 58 impact assessment reports. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union will comply with the request of the House, but there is a balance between looking after the public interest and making sure we do not damage our negotiating stance, while at the same time complying with the House’s request.

Photo of Bob Blackman Bob Blackman Conservative, Harrow East

This Sunday, the Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and Women will proudly parade at the Cenotaph, remembering the comrades who fell in conflicts. It is also Mitzvah Day, when thousands of people from across the UK will come together to help the poor and needy. Could my right hon. Friend therefore find Government time for a debate on volunteering so that we can celebrate those who give their time voluntarily for no reward?

Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

I share my hon. Friend’s gratitude and enthusiasm for those who volunteer. So many services are provided and so much good is done by people who offer their time for nothing, just to provide help and support to their fellow man, and I thoroughly encourage him, as the subject has been raised a number of times by Members across the House, to seek perhaps a Bac-Bench or a Westminster Hall debate on this subject. I know that many Members would be interested in taking part.

Photo of Barry Sheerman Barry Sheerman Labour/Co-operative, Huddersfield

Can I urge the Leader of the House to take more seriously what the Prime Minister said this week about Russian interference in our democratic processes—not just here but right across Europe, not just in terms of social media but money flowing here, both in the referendum campaign and in our general election? We have not had any motion in this House on that subject—no Select Committee, and our Intelligence and Security Committee is only announced today. Can we not get on with it—scrutinise, bring the spooks in, GCHQ, get some answers?

Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Speaker of the House of Commons, Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Chair, Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Chair, Commons Reference Group on Representation and Inclusion Committee

I could not keep up with the hon. Gentleman, but I reckon there were at least six sentences there. I would remind colleagues that I was appealing for single-sentence questions, preferably without lots of semi-colons.

Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

Mr Speaker, I think the hon. Gentleman’s grammar was perfectly acceptable. He raises an incredibly important point. I think the Prime Minister was absolutely clear—she is extremely concerned about interference by Russian sources, and she is looking at this very carefully. She could not have been clearer. I think he should be reassured by that.

Several hon. Members:

rose—

Photo of Philip Hollobone Philip Hollobone Conservative, Kettering

Will the Leader of the House write a joint letter, with the Chairman of the Backbench Business Committee, to all the Chairmen of Select Committees, reminding them that they have opportunities to make a statement to the House whenever one of their reports is published? We have today had a publication from the Home Affairs Committee. It would have been interesting to ask the Chairman of that Committee questions about a report.

Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

I would be delighted to do such a thing, if Ian Mearns is happy to do the same. I gather that it was in fact raised at the Liaison Committee, but I think that is a very good idea. I thank my hon. Friend.

Photo of Yasmin Qureshi Yasmin Qureshi Shadow Minister (Justice)

Before the Leader of the House came into the Chamber, she will have heard the discussion about Primodos. The report published yesterday had already been published a week before, but not formally. The conclusion of that report was different from the one actually published yesterday. In light of that and of what she heard earlier, would she please consider having a debate on this matter in Government time, and will she also ask the Secretary of State for Health to come to the House to make a statement?

Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

Mr Speaker, I am very pleased that you granted the urgent question, giving the Minister the opportunity to come and answer some questions. I encourage the hon. Lady, if she was not satisfied with the level of information, to seek a further debate—perhaps a debate in Westminster Hall or an Adjournment debate in the House—to further probe this subject.

Photo of Jo Churchill Jo Churchill Conservative, Bury St Edmunds

This weekend we celebrate St Edmund’s Day, commemorating Edmund the Martyr; some people think he should be the first patron saint of the UK, not St George. Will the Leader of the House join me in thanking everybody and welcoming their celebration this weekend, and would she—and indeed you, Mr Speaker—like to come and see the town of the first patron saint of England?

Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

Mr Speaker, I am sure you and I would thoroughly enjoy such a visit. My hon. Friend represents a very beautiful constituency, with that world- famous cathedral dedicated to St Edmund. It is great that he has been commemorated in this way, and I am delighted to share her pleasure at the celebrations taking place.

Photo of Chris Bryant Chris Bryant Chair, Finance Committee (Commons)

I am not at all reassured by what has been said about Russia, because the answer that the Leader of the House gave today was completely different from what the Prime Minister said, and what the Foreign Secretary said in Committee. The Prime Minister says, “Mr Putin, we know what you are up to.” Well, could she come and tell us what he is up to, because it seems to include targeting individual Members of this House on a regular, daily basis and making sure that the democratic process is undermined? It did not reassure me to hear that she says they have not seen “successful” examples. Well, I think they were pretty successful in the Brexit referendum.

Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

The Prime Minister was quite clear that we are taking this extremely seriously, and that she is gravely concerned. The hon. Gentleman will be aware that the Government are investing nearly £2 billion to protect the UK from cyber-attack. We have been absolutely clear about the work we are undertaking to ensure that there is no interference in the electoral process. The Government are continuing to work with the Electoral Commission on the issue of imprints on electronic materials. I realise that the hon. Gentleman will never be satisfied. He may wish to seek an Adjournment debate or a Westminster Hall debate in order to make sure that a Minister comes to answer his specific concerns.

Photo of Andrew Bowie Andrew Bowie Conservative, West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine

Might the Leader of the House grant a debate in Government time on the implications for cross-border safety and the delivery of policing resulting from the Scottish Government’s plan to abolish the British Transport police in Scotland by integrating it fully with Police Scotland? The British Transport Police Federation, rail operators and, ultimately, many of my constituents who use the east coast main line are deeply concerned about this issue, which will have an impact on both sides of the border.

Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

My hon. Friend raises an incredibly important point. He is of course aware that the decision to integrate the functions of the British Transport police into Police Scotland is devolved, but I recognise his concerns about this approach. He will also be aware that our colleagues in the Scottish Parliament are raising those concerns with the Scottish Government. I have also been very clear that the UK Government will work with the authorities to ensure that overall policing, including policing across the border, remains as effective as it currently is.

Photo of Caroline Lucas Caroline Lucas Co-Leader of the Green Party

We believe that the Government are about to give the green light to the first UK fracking in six years, in North Yorkshire. Can we have an urgent debate on how that is compatible with our climate change objectives, given that the Committee on Climate Change has said that three key tests have to be met? The Government have not met them, yet we believe the decision in Ryedale is imminent.

Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

The hon. Lady and I have discussed this very issue on a number of occasions, and she is well aware that for the UK’s energy security we will need continued access to gas for many years to come as we move to a renewable, zero-carbon-electricity future, but that it is not possible to do that overnight. Fracking is one industry that represents a huge opportunity for the UK, and our regulatory environment for it is the safest in the world.

Several hon. Members:

rose—

Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Speaker of the House of Commons, Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Chair, Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Chair, Commons Reference Group on Representation and Inclusion Committee

Order. I am looking to move on to the statement at midday, so it looks as though several colleagues will lose out, but I know that Mr Chishti will want to ensure that that does not happen, so he will ask a question of one sentence and preferably no more than about 20 words.

Photo of Rehman Chishti Rehman Chishti Conservative, Gillingham and Rainham

Thank you, Mr Speaker—no pressure. Will the Government consider having a special medal of service for this year for all our emergency services in light of all the work they have done in these challenging times—the terrorist attacks in this country and the Grenfell disaster?

Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

My hon. Friend raises a point that I am sure all colleagues across the House would be delighted to join with. If he writes to me, I will certainly take the matter up with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

Photo of Lloyd Russell-Moyle Lloyd Russell-Moyle Labour/Co-operative, Brighton, Kemptown

Following another successful Youth Parliament, which the Leader of the House addressed, Mr Speaker chaired and I attended as chair of the all-party parliamentary group on youth affairs, when will the Government dedicate Government time to debating and voting on votes at 16, as that is one of their priorities and our debate was cut so short on our last sitting Friday?

Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

I am glad that the hon. Gentleman found time for that debate on votes at 16. He will realise that the issue does not command 100% support across the House, but I am sure he will find other opportunities to debate it in the near future.

Photo of Rebecca Pow Rebecca Pow Conservative, Taunton Deane

May we have a debate on the success of the Government’s record in cutting carbon emissions while at the same time fostering business productivity? I say that in light of the fact that the Minister for Climate Change and Industry, my hon. Friend Claire Perry, is in Bonn as we speak, with lots of innovative businesses that have done so much in this field. We are global leaders and we should shout about it.

Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

My hon. Friend has used her passion and experience to campaign on environmental issues ever since she has been in the House. She is right to point out that reducing carbon and growing our economy are now entirely compatible. We should all seek opportunities to praise and continue to develop the excellent work that is ongoing.

Photo of Nick Smith Nick Smith Opposition Whip (Commons)

Today’s Financial Times reports concerns over a “feeding frenzy” by “unscrupulous” pensions advisers targeting steel workers in south Wales. Can we have a statement from the Government and action by the Financial Conduct Authority?

Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

I am concerned to hear about the issue the hon. Gentleman raises and I encourage him to write to the Department, or to take part in oral questions, on that specific point, which seems to be of great concern.

Photo of Chris Green Chris Green Conservative, Bolton West

May we have a debate on the importance of rotary clubs in our communities, and will my right hon. Friend join me in highlighting the charitable fundraising that clubs, such as Bolton Lever rotary club, do for incredibly important local and international charities?

Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

My hon. Friend praises those who do so much work just to help their fellow man. Again, as I said to my hon. Friend Bob Blackman, I absolutely commend them for their work. I encourage Members to seek a debate soon to enable us to highlight some of the work that is carried out.

Photo of Alison Thewliss Alison Thewliss Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Cities), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Treasury)

The universal credit roll-out has already commenced in Northern Ireland, but women who have conceived a third child due to rape and the organisations this Government expect to help them still do not have clarity about whether they will face prosecution under section 5 of the Criminal Law Act (Northern Ireland) 1967. Again, for the umpteenth time, may we have a debate, an oral statement or anything on the implications of the two-child limit and the rape clause for women and organisations in Northern Ireland?

Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

The hon. Lady raises an incredibly important point. She will be aware that, in England, any such claim from a woman who has conceived a third child through non-consensual sex will not be dealt with by a Department for Work and Pensions or Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs member of staff; they will simply take in the claim and receive support and professional third-party advice, and we will not require any evidence of a criminal conviction or a judicial finding. It is very important that we continue to work with Northern Ireland to ensure that that policy is implemented as far as possible. It is a devolved matter, but we will continue to seek to influence the outcome.

Photo of Peter Bone Peter Bone Conservative, Wellingborough

The Sun newspaper today published pictures of BBC workers asleep at their desk at the BBC News channel, although I cannot find any report about that on the BBC. Will the Leader of the House arrange for a statement or a debate on this next week?

Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

Mr Speaker, I feel slightly stumped. My hon. Friend raises what I am sure is an important point, and I sincerely regret if the reporters are so tired that they fall asleep on the job.

Photo of Vernon Coaker Vernon Coaker Labour, Gedling

Incredibly, the Prime Minister said yesterday that police budgets were protected. I have to say that that is news to Nottinghamshire police and many other forces across the country. May we have an urgent statement on police funding so that the Government can explain how the budget has been protected given that Nottinghamshire police has lost £54 million over the past five years and, if nothing changes, will lose £16 million over the next two years?

Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

I can tell the hon. Gentleman that we protected overall police funding in real terms at the 2015 spending review, that the 2017-18 police funding settlement maintains protection for police spending in a fair deal for them and that we have increased the police transformation fund to £175 million this year. He will be aware—and no doubt delighted, as I am—that crime has fallen by about a third since 2010, according to the independent crime survey for England and Wales. That is testimony to the excellent work done by our police forces, to whom we are all extremely grateful.

Photo of Layla Moran Layla Moran Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Education)

The Leader of the House may be aware of the case of my constituent Bernie Ross, a former UEFA executive, who has been missing from Oxford since 18 October. It is believed that he may be in France or Switzerland. UEFA will not help him, and the family are struggling to get information from police forces in EU member states. Will the Leader of the House use her good offices to see whether the relevant Departments can give the family any assistance and get Bernie Ross home for Christmas?

Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

I am very sorry to hear about the hon. Lady’s case. If she writes to me about it, I will certainly take it up on her behalf.

Photo of Anna Soubry Anna Soubry Conservative, Broxtowe

Will the Leader of the House confirm immediately that Nottinghamshire police is about to recruit—indeed, is recruiting—an extra 120 police officers?

Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

I am delighted to hear my right hon. Friend’s news direct from the horse’s mouth. Again, I just want to pay tribute to the excellent work of our police forces right across the United Kingdom.

Photo of Vernon Coaker Vernon Coaker Labour, Gedling

Are you calling her a horse?

Photo of Anna Soubry Anna Soubry Conservative, Broxtowe

I am a mutineering horse.

Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Speaker of the House of Commons, Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Chair, Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Chair, Commons Reference Group on Representation and Inclusion Committee

Order. I think the Leader of the House was referring to the right hon. Lady in the spirit of saying that she was the authentic voice of her people, just as the hon. Gentleman is the authentic voice of Gedling. [Interruption.] Order. Forget horses. We cannot have an ongoing turf war between Nottinghamshire Members.

Photo of Chris Bryant Chris Bryant Chair, Finance Committee (Commons)

That was the worst joke this year.

Photo of Liz McInnes Liz McInnes Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)

Will the Leader of the House inform the House when the results of the consultation on the penalties for causing death by dangerous driving will come before Parliament and be enshrined in law?

Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

If the hon. Lady writes to me on that point, I will certainly take it up with the Ministry of Justice on her behalf.

Photo of Jim McMahon Jim McMahon Shadow Minister (Communities and Local Government) (Devolution)

The Collective Spirit Free School in my constituency has closed, displacing 200 pupils. We have had an Adjournment debate on this, and I have met the Minister for School Standards, the regional schools commissioner and the National Audit Office, while we have also asked written questions and put in FOI requests, yet the Government still refuse to release the internal audit report on its financial probity and where the money eventually went. May we have a debate in Government time on the oversight of academies, free schools and university technical colleges?

Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

The hon. Gentleman raises a specific point about a school in his constituency, which would be highly appropriate for an Adjournment debate.

Photo of Grahame Morris Grahame Morris Labour, Easington

The A19 in my constituency is at a standstill following an accident. Will the Leader of the House join me in supporting the campaign in the local press for a review of safety on the A19, and will she support a specific debate on the A19 and investment in road infrastructure in the north-east?

Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

Transport questions will be held on 30 November, and I am sure that Ministers will be pleased to answer the hon. Gentleman’s specific question.

Photo of Paul Flynn Paul Flynn Labour, Newport West

When will those Members who visited Bangladesh last week have a chance to pass on to the House news about the dreadful suffering of the Rohingya people who have been cruelly persecuted, so that the issue is not forgotten about and remains visible to us? Their suffering is dreadful, the scale is unimaginable, and their help is pitiful.

Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

All Members of the House will share the hon. Gentleman’s concern about the plight of the Rohingya people. There are now believed to be more than 600,000 refugees in Bangladesh, and it is a major humanitarian crisis. The UK Government have given £47 million in relief, including £5 million to match the generous donations by the British public in response to an appeal by the Disasters Emergency Committee. There has been a Backbench Business Committee debate on the plight of the Rohingya, and I am sure there are further statements to come.

Photo of Hannah Bardell Hannah Bardell Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Trade and Investment)

The Resolution Foundation has revealed that one in three businesses admit to under-investing, with a staggering nine out of 10 of those firms citing economic uncertainty as a contributing factor. The prospect of a hard Tory Brexit poses a further threat to business, which needs financial stability to facilitate investment. May we have a debate in Government time on the future of investment in the UK?

Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

The Government are committed to a strong Brexit arrangement for the UK and our European friends that enables businesses to continue to thrive. The hon. Lady will be aware of the Government’s industrial strategy that seeks to put true force underneath particular segments of our industries, so that they can benefit from some of the amazing innovation, science and technology available in the United Kingdom.

Photo of Alex Sobel Alex Sobel Labour/Co-operative, Leeds North West

On 26 September the West Papuan people’s petition, signed by 1.8 million people—71% of the population of West Papua—was presented to the UN’s decolonisation committee. Yesterday, the International Academics of West Papua was launched in the Palace of Westminster. Will the Leader of the House join me in welcoming that collective expression of will, and may I ask for a debate on West Papua?

Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

I am happy to share the hon. Gentleman’s enthusiasm for the strength of that petition, and I encourage him to seek a debate in Westminster Hall or an Adjournment debate.

Photo of Madeleine Moon Madeleine Moon Chair, Defence Sub-Committee

Kernow clinical commissioning group is to remove free transport for kidney dialysis patients, and instead introduce a financial and medical assessment. As chair of the all-party kidney group, may I ask for a debate on that as it is terrifying kidney dialysis patients?

Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

I encourage the hon. Lady to seek to ask a question during Health questions, or an Adjournment debate, to focus on that specific issue.

Photo of Chris Stephens Chris Stephens Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Trade Unions and Workers' Rights)

The Department for Work and Pensions has awarded a contract for facilities management to a company called Interserve, which the media suggest is in major financial difficulty. May we have a statement or debate in Government time to address the concerns of the staff who are due to be transferred to that company?

Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

I encourage the hon. Gentleman to write to the DWP with his specific concerns. He will appreciate that it will consider carefully all contractors to whom it gives business, to ensure that they are in a financially solvent position.

Photo of David Hanson David Hanson Labour, Delyn

May we have a debate in Government time on the Burns report on Lords reform, so that we can once and for all put an end to hereditary peers in the Houses of Parliament?

Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

We all welcome the Lords’ review of their procedure. The right hon. Gentleman will be aware that it is not a priority for the Government to look at legislating for Lords reform, but we await with interest the conclusion of the Lords’ review of their own proceedings.

Photo of Jim Shannon Jim Shannon Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Human Rights), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Health)

There has been an increase in human rights abuses in China, with the torture, detention and persecution of Christians and Tibetan Buddhists. Will the Leader of the House agree to a debate on this very important matter?

Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

Right across the House, I think we all share a determination to see the rights of those of faith and of no faith upheld. The hon. Gentleman often raises very important points about rights abuses. I encourage him to seek a debate on the subject.