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The business for the week commencing
The provisional business for the week commencing
It does not happen often, but today it appears that there is competition for the highlight of the week that is business questions, and some Members seem to think they should be elsewhere. Voters across England will be casting their votes in council and mayoral elections, and we should celebrate again our vibrant democracy. All of us in this place know how much courage it takes to put oneself forward for election, and I am sure the whole House will want to join me in wishing good luck to all candidates today. I also say a big thank you to all the volunteers who man the phone banks and do the leafleting and canvassing. They do so much to support free and fair elections in the United Kingdom.
I thank the Leader of the House and associate myself with her comments about all those public servants out there. I am not sure what is happening in Northamptonshire, but I do not think they are having elections. I also thank her for presenting the forthcoming business, but we still get only a week and a day. As I am sure she will agree, it is very beneficial to Members to know what is coming up, because they want to prepare.
I wanted to make a point of order about this, Mr Speaker, but I did not want to misuse the system: many people are upset about what the Leader of the House said last week about the Criminal Legal Aid (Remuneration) (Amendment) Regulations 2018. At business questions, she accused the Opposition of being “tardy” in making a request for the debate on the statutory instrument
“having prayed against the SI one month after it was laid.”
In reality, however, it was prayed against well within time. She also wrongly claimed that it had been
“too late to schedule a debate within the praying period without changing last week’s business”.—[Official Report,
Vol. 639, c. 1030.]
But she and I both know that we have done that many times, and sometimes I have been monosyllabic in agreeing with the change of business.
At Justice questions last week the Lord Chancellor said that the Government are waiting for information from the Labour party. Will the Leader of the House please correct the record and say that the Opposition had prayed against the regulations, and that there was nothing else that we needed to do? They were prayed against on
My right hon. Friend Joan Ryan has prayed against the Immigration (Guidance on Detention of Vulnerable Persons) Regulations 2018, No. 410, and the Detention Centre (Amendment) Rules 2018, No. 411. When will that debate be scheduled? The statutory instruments were laid two days before the Easter recess.
It seems that the Government are playing KerPlunk with our money resolutions, pulling out Bills at will—[Interruption.] Hon. Members remember it! The Prisons (Interference with Wireless Telegraphy) Bill has got its money resolution, but there is nothing about the Property Boundaries (Resolution of Disputes) Bill, which was ahead of that Bill. When will we have a money resolution on the boundaries Bill?
I thank the Leader of the House for her letter on the statutory instrument tracker. She has made good progress on that, but the Hansard Society got in touch with me and said that it took them about seven years to get a unique statutory instrument tracker. It is very good and people have used it, so I wonder if there could be co-ordination between the two so we can do what you want to do, Mr Speaker, which is to make the House open, accessible and transparent to everyone.
I do not think the Leader mentioned the debate on nurses’ bursaries on Wednesday. I hope that is still on, because it is a vital debate. We are against the abolition of postgraduate nurses’ bursaries, which are so important to upskilling people and dealing with the skills shortage. A debate would be timely, because a Macmillan Cancer Support report published on Monday revealed that hospitals in England have vacancies for more than 400 cancer nursing specialists. Macmillan’s chief of nursing, Dr Karen Roberts, is concerned that cancer nurses are being run ragged and that some patients may not be receiving the specialist care they need. We all know someone who has been through the whole process—I know of two friends—and cancer nursing specialists are absolutely fantastic when people are going through such a difficult time. They need help and support, and we cannot have them doing two or three jobs at the same time. May we have a statement from the Secretary of State for Health on the problems facing the NHS cancer workforce?
The breast cancer screening scandal is taking place on the Health Secretary’s watch, and according to the King’s Fund, there is a £2.5 billion funding gap in social care. There has been no statement on the collapse of Allied Healthcare, which is one of the biggest providers for the elderly and the vulnerable. We need to know what impact assessment has been made, because the company is currently in a voluntary arrangement that means that it does not have to pay into the pension fund. May we have an urgent statement on that next week?
Last week I raised the article in The House magazine on restoration and renewal, which announced that the shadow sponsor board should have 12 members, with five external members, including the chair, but a majority of parliamentarians representing the main parties of both Houses. External members of the board will be appointed and a former first civil servant commissioner will chair the panel. I would be grateful if the Leader of the House could say when that decision was made and who made it. She will know that the Olympic sponsor body was chaired by the noble Baroness Jowell, so there was always accountability to Parliament. Representatives of all the main parties chair Select Committees and carry out their roles with distinction. A non-parliamentarian chairing the sponsor body is not recommended in the joint report and was not in the motion, so will she please make a statement to update the House on what has actually been agreed on restoration and renewal?
The Leader of the House may have some influence over the members of the Brexit Cabinet Committee, so will she suggest that, instead of just talking in that Committee and positioning themselves as the next Prime Minister, they actually visit the borders in Ireland and Dover? They could practice their power stance—you can’t see it, Mr Speaker, but I am doing it right now and it is quite scary—and we could enjoy our bank holiday. The Leader of the House and I have scheduled a sunny day for the spring bank holiday—we wish everyone a very happy and restful weekend.
The hon. Lady raises a number of issues, and I will try to address each one.
As the hon. Lady will know, it is perfectly normal for the Government to give as much notice as possible of future business while still being able to meet the changing schedule.
I am glad the hon. Lady is pleased that the Government have brought forward time to debate negative statutory instruments that have been prayed against. She asks specifically about the statutory instrument on nursing bursaries. That has been brought forward for discussion next Wednesday. She says that the Criminal Legal Aid (Remuneration) (Amendment) Regulations 2018 were not too late in being brought forward. I gently remind her that the convention is that where a reasonable request has been made for Government time for a statutory instrument that has been prayed against, the Government will seek to give that time. These are all parliamentary conventions, but she will appreciate that there was not much time and it would have required an emergency change to the business for me to have been able to comply. I hope that that settles that issue.
The hon. Lady asks about money resolutions on private Members’ Bills. I was delighted to bring forward for debate the money resolutions on various private Members’ Bills, and others will be coming forward in due course.
The hon. Lady asks about the statutory instrument tracker. As she acknowledges, I wrote to her telling her about the tracker, which the Parliamentary Digital Service is bringing forward to enable Members to have more information in a more timely fashion about statutory instruments, and I am glad she welcomes it.
The hon. Lady asks about nursing. I am delighted, as I am sure she is, that there are 12,900 more nurses on our wards than there were in 2010 and that the Government have introduced the nursing associate role and the nursing degree apprenticeship, both of which routes mean that people can train and earn as they learn. We have committed to training up to 5,000 nursing associates in 2018 and up to 7,500 in 2019. That is good news for our fantastic NHS and will provide more support for our hard-working nurses, who are under pressure.
The hon. Lady raises the issue of breast screening. She will be aware that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health came to the House yesterday to make a statement—as soon as he found out what had happened—and has commissioned an independent review of the NHS breast screening programme to look at these and other issues, including processes, IT systems and further changes and improvements that could be made to the system to minimise the risk of this happening again. The review is expected to report in six months, and as she will know, my right hon. Friend has also promised that every woman failed through this error, if registered with a GP, will be contacted by May. It is incredibly important that we put this right.
Finally, the hon. Lady asks about restoration and renewal. A paper on governance went to the House of Commons Commission a couple of months ago. She was at the meeting of the Commission where the papers were circulated, discussed and agreed to. The Commission has, therefore, agreed the governance arrangements.
Will the Leader of the House arrange an urgent debate on the need to take immigration issues out of the Home Office and establish a new Department to deal with them? These issues go back to the hangover from the end of empire and go forward to the development of a robust and effective programme after Brexit that is consistent with an open and confident Britain, and to the introduction of a digital identity platform. Does she agree that this is first-order business and requires serious consideration?
My right hon. Friend raises the very important issue of the immigration system. He will be aware that the Prime Minister and the previous Home Secretary have apologised unreservedly for the mistakes made in the case of the Windrush generation. It is incredibly important, as was made clear in yesterday’s Opposition day debate, that we improve the systems, and very often changes to Government can actually hold us back. The package of measures to bring greater transparency for Members and constituents includes monthly updates to the Chair of the Home Affairs Committee with the latest position on detention, removals and deportations. There is also the independent external oversight and challenge of a lessons-learned review that is already under way to establish how members of the Windrush generation came to be entangled in measures designed for illegal immigrants, why that was not spotted sooner and whether the right corrective measures are now in place. As he will be aware, the new Home Secretary has asked for a report and will bring it back to the House before the summer recess.
I thank the Leader of the House for announcing the business for next week.
I cannot believe how busy it is around here today—haven’t you all got local elections to attend to? I wish all the candidates in today’s local elections in England all the very best. There is a titanic struggle going on between the party of Brexit and the, um, other party of Brexit. There is another titanic struggle going on this country—around the Cabinet table, between those who are opposed to a customs union and those who are really, really opposed to a customs union. Meanwhile, our heroes in ermine continue to thwart the Government on the repeal Bill. The people’s aristocrats—the people’s donors and cronies—are showing a great example of what taking back control looks like. Will the Leader of the House tell us how much time she is prepared to set aside for Lords amendments? There are now 10 for us to address. Is she prepared at this stage to look at using the Parliament Act if the people’s peers continue to defy the Government?
And well done to the Government—they actually came out to play yesterday in an Opposition day vote. They bravely trooped through the Lobby to stop the Government disclosing details about the Windrush victims. Well done the Conservative party! Are we now going to see a new approach from the Government? Are they now prepared to play a proper democratic role in Parliament and vote on all Opposition debates when Divisions are called? It is called “democracy”, Leader of the House, and it is a vital component and cog in what is called “a Parliament”.
Lastly, we are not what I would call inundated with critical Government business. We are grateful that the Leader of the House will look at some of the money resolutions for private Members’ Bills, but is there not a case for having more time available for some of the private Members’ Bills that we are considering? Some excellent Bills are kicking around, particularly the one presented by my hon. Friend Angus Brendan MacNeil. Let us give them some more time—let us see if we can find a bit more parliamentary time to progress these Bills. It would be a popular move; will the Leader of the House support it?
It is fantastic to see so many of our Scottish colleagues across the House here today, more than punching above their weight, as they always do. The hon. Gentleman is having his usual dig at the other place, which does not surprise me. Nevertheless, although he will appreciate that I may not agree with them, I certainly uphold its right to improve and scrutinise legislation. Their lordships fulfil a very important role, and of course, we will ensure that there is a good and appropriate amount of time for this House to scrutinise the amendments that they have put forward.
The hon. Gentleman talks about the fact that the Government voted yesterday. I remind all Members, as my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary said, that putting right the very seriousness unfairness to the Windrush generation must not mean taking resources away from the teams who are working very hard in the Home Office to help those who have been affected. That is why the Opposition’s motion was rejected; it was a deliberate party political attempt to distract the Home Office from putting right what is a great unfairness. We cannot allow ourselves to be distracted from that work.
The hon. Gentleman raises the legislative programme. I can tell him and all hon. Members that so far, we have introduced 27 Bills. In fact, it may even be 28—that number might be one out of date; I need to track down that last introduction. That is a very good number of Bills this far along in a Session. Eleven Bills have already been sent for Royal Assent. We have passed hundreds of statutory instruments in each House and seven draft Bills have been published. In addition, there are six Brexit Bills before Parliament, with others to come, so I simply do not accept that there is any lack in the legislative programme. We look forward to bringing forward further Bills in due course.
On the hon. Gentleman’s point about private Members’ Bills, I point out that there has been some great progress, including last week in the Mental Health Units (Use of Force) Bill from Mr Reed. The money resolution has been agreed for the Prisons (Interference with Wireless Telegraphy) Bill—another very important Bill—and I congratulate Chris Bryant, whose Bill completed its House of Commons stages last Friday with Government support. Of course, the Government are delighted with the proposals from Ms Buck and my hon. Friend Tim Loughton on their Bills as they approach Committee stage. There is a lot more to be done, but we are making progress on some very good private Members’ Bills.
May we have a debate on the Career Ready scheme? That would allow me to highlight the fact that, at the recent UK national awards, not one but two of the winners were from Moray. Jennifer Walker from Milne’s High School won the UK science, technology, engineering and maths award, following an internship with Chivas Brothers, and she is now looking to have a career in the distilling industry. We are also extremely proud in Moray to have the overall UK winner, Kiara Ross, from Elgin High School. She had a troubled early period at school—she was excluded several times—and was about to leave education altogether. Following her involvement with Career Ready, she now has four offers for university and is looking to pursue a career in law. Will my right hon. Friend join me in congratulating Kiara and Jennifer on their outstanding successes and everyone in Moray who is involved in the Career Ready project? We can see that it really does transform lives.
Those are brilliant achievements by Jennifer and Kiara, and I am delighted to extend my sincere congratulations to them. My hon. Friend often brings the successes of his constituents to this place, and he is an excellent champion for Moray.
Career Ready’s annual awards recognise individuals who demonstrate outstanding commitment to the Career Ready programme, including the programme in Scotland. Having had seven apprentices myself during my seven years in Parliament, I have loved being able to help smart and committed young people to get as much as possible out of their apprenticeships before graduating to an exciting role in life.
As you will remember, Mr Speaker, last Thursday, a Backbench Business Committee debate had to be withdrawn because of pressure on time resulting from statements and urgent questions. The debate had been nominated by the Liaison Committee, and I hope that it will be possible to reschedule it as soon as possible. The subject was the use of plastics.
I echo the warm wishes expressed by the Leader of the House for people who are standing in local elections today. Before first coming to the House, I served on Gateshead Council for 27 years, being elected and re-elected on nine occasions, so I know about the stresses that candidates undergo on days such as today. I wish them all the very best, particularly my own party’s candidates in Gateshead.
There has been an application to the Backbench Business Committee for a debate on
Let me say first that 27 years on a local council is a fantastic record. Many people in the country have achieved enormous public service, and we salute them all.
The hon. Gentleman asks about the rescheduling of debates. Last week, he asked me if we could secure time for the “third time lucky” debate on the treatment of small businesses. I am delighted to see that the Backbench Business Committee has now rescheduled that debate. I look forward to receiving the hon. Gentleman’s letter about the sensitive nature of
May I also wish candidates luck today? Most of them will lose. The first time I stood for Parliament, I lost by a mere 36,000 votes to Mr Neil Kinnock, so my message to them is “Keep trying”.
Money resolutions should follow Second Readings as night follows day. A sitting of the Public Bill Committee considering the Parliamentary Constituencies (Amendment) Bill is scheduled for next week, but it will go nowhere, because we have no money resolution. The Leader of the House said that we would have money resolutions “shortly”. To ensure that Parliament is transparent, may we have some clarification of these terms? Does “shortly” mean within the next six months; does “soon” mean within the next 12 months; and does “the autumn” mean some period before
As my hon. Friend is aware, the House has approved 13 sitting Fridays for private Members’ Bills in the current Session, in line with Standing Orders. During a debate on
“Given that we have…announced that this will be an extended Session, we will… expect to provide additional days”.—[Official Report,
Vol. 627, c. 636.]
I pointed out that in the extended parliamentary Session of 2010-12, the House had agreed to four extra days for private Members’ Bills, which were approved “at a later date”, during 2011. In line with Standing Orders, remaining stages of Bills will be given priority over Second Reading debates on any additional days provided for private Members’ Bills. I am already discussing with business managers when those proposals can be presented, and will let the House know in due course.
Yesterday, I met the Minister for Employment and asked him whether the Department for Work and Pensions had any plans to consider automatic split payments of universal credit. I did not receive a positive response, but this is a serious issue for my constituents and for many charities that work with the victims of domestic abuse. I am sure that the Department would benefit from hearing voices on both sides of the House. May we have a debate on the issue, in Government time?
I am sympathetic to what the hon. Lady says, and many Members have raised issues and concerns about UC. I encourage her to raise the specific point about split payments at the next opportunity at Department for Work and Pensions questions, or indeed to seek an Adjournment debate as it is a specific proposal for improving fairness, particularly to women suffering domestic violence.
I was lucky enough to attend the NHS Borders Celebrating Excellence awards in Kelso on Saturday evening; it was a wonderful event, paying tribute to the dedicated hard-working NHS staff across the Scottish borders. Will the Leader of the House allow a debate to pay tribute not only to those who were nominated and won awards at that event, but to the NHS staff across Scotland and the United Kingdom who work so hard to keep us fit and healthy?
My hon. Friend is absolutely right, and I congratulate all the winners and nominees of the Celebrating Excellence awards in Kelso. He mentions the debt of gratitude we owe to all NHS workers, and I am sure that all of us in the House would agree that our doctors, nurses and carers do so much for us and we must always be grateful to them. We are pleased that the latest NHS staff survey shows that more staff would recommend the care their organisation provides to their own family and friends than ever before, which is good news for morale within our NHS.
My constituent Malcom Richards was the victim of a financial scam advertised on the internet, losing £39,000 in a bitcoin scam that purported to be backed by members of “Dragons’ Den”. This is a similar issue to that raised by Martin Lewis in his challenge to Facebook. May we have a debate in this House to highlight such cases and make sure that internet-based companies that take paid advertising know that they have to take their responsibility for protecting the public seriously?
The hon. Lady raises a very important issue. The problem of financial scams is persistent, and it seems that the scammers constantly find new ways to attack people. I encourage the hon. Lady to write to the Financial Conduct Authority on this point and to raise it at Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport questions on
The new Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government clearly has some quite big decisions to make in respect of Northamptonshire County Council and particularly the way forward in restructuring local government, which to my mind needs to be led by the existing local authorities engaging thoroughly with the communities they represent. Has the Leader of the House had any indication that there will be a statement next week?
My hon. Friend will appreciate that the new Secretary of State has had quite a significant task in getting his feet under the table, but I know he is determined to come forward with a new proposal, and he will be doing so in due course, as soon as he can once he has been able to consider the options.
May we have a debate on Finn’s law, which would protect service animals harmed in the line of duty? Finn was a police dog who sustained multiple stab wounds from an assailant and saved his owner’s life in the line of duty. However, little can be done currently under the law as dogs are seen as property. So may we have this urgent debate to change the law and protect the service animals that serve us so well?
The hon. Lady is right to raise this issue, and I know that all Members will be very sympathetic to the subject she raises. We are a nation of animal lovers, and do so much in their duty to help and support us. I encourage the hon. Lady to seek an Adjournment debate so that she can raise this issue directly with Ministers, to see what more can be done to protect service animals.
My hon. Friend raises an important issue. We need to protect the quality of our air in the United Kingdom, and he will be aware that the Treasury has brought forward proposals to promote cleaner fuels as well as to eradicate the use of fossil fuels in transport altogether. Nevertheless, he is right to point out—as he often does—the need to support those who did the right thing, as they were encouraged to do by the last Labour Government, in turning to diesel. Of course we are now dealing with the consequences and the impact on air quality in this country.
I want to thank you, Mr Speaker, for the kind words that you, the Leader of the House and the shadow Leader of the House have said about our predecessor, Michael Martin, this week. I know that those words have meant a lot to his family at this difficult time. In the best tradition of my predecessor, I want to raise a constituency issue. I should like to congratulate City Building, based in the heart of my constituency, which is now one of Scotland’s largest construction companies and operates the largest apprenticeship programme in Scotland. I congratulate the company on achieving the Queen’s award for enterprise in the sustainable development category. It is the only company in Scotland to achieve that award this year. Will the Leader of the House arrange a debate in Government time to celebrate and debate the great companies that have won the Queen’s award for industry, to help to promote those companies internationally?
I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on again paying tribute to his constituency predecessor, who served the House very well over a long period. I am also delighted to join him in congratulating the firm in his constituency on its award and all those companies that achieve the Queen’s award for industry and contribute so much to the strength of our economy. Finally, I would like to mention this Government’s target of 3 million apprentices during this Parliament. We already have 1.2 million new apprentices, which is giving many more young people the chance to have a decent career.
May we have a debate on flexibility in our mental health services? The Government are rightly committed to increasing resources in those services, but that needs to happen alongside flexibility. A constituent of mine finds it incredibly difficult to get appointments at the time of day that is suitable for her condition, which tends to mean in the afternoon. She is almost always offered appointments in the morning. May we have a debate on this, because it is vital that we not only commit more resources to mental health services but ensure that those resources are sufficiently flexible for the needs of patients?
My hon. Friend raises an incredibly important point, and I am sure he will welcome the fact this Government are committed to parity of esteem between mental and physical health. Spending on mental health has increased to a record £11.86 billion, with a further £1 billion on top of that by 2021. Nevertheless, he is right to say that we need to look at flexibility and access, and I can tell him that, by 2020, every patient arriving at A&E experiencing a mental health crisis will have access to psychiatric liaison, so that they can get to the right treatment as quickly as possible, which of course includes flexibility in timetabling.
We had an excellent debate in Westminster Hall yesterday on the subject of plastics in our oceans. The one point on which there was unanimous agreement among the 17 Members who took part was that it was ridiculous for us to be debating the reduction of plastic waste when we ourselves were surrounded by the little plastic cups that we use in Westminster Hall and in Committee rooms. Surely, it must be possible for Members in Westminster Hall and on the Committee corridor to be given proper glasses. That would make us feel as though we were just as good as the Leader of the House and the shadow Leader of the House.
The right hon. Gentleman is exactly right to raise this issue. I can tell him that a number of Members decided to give up plastic for Lent, which was quite a challenge in this place, as he rightly suggests. Before Lent, they wrote to the Administration Committee asking it to look into eliminating single-use plastics, and it has committed to doing that. As I understand it, we are now using up existing supplies before moving to new arrangements, so I think progress is being made. I should also like to take this opportunity to point out that, later this year, we will publish a new resources and waste strategy setting out how we will work towards eliminating all avoidable plastic waste by 2050.
Last week, the Public Accounts Committee described the Government’s management of the rail franchises as a
“multi-faceted shambles causing untold misery for passengers.”
May we have a debate in Government time about ending passenger misery on Europe’s most expensive railways and bringing them back into public ownership?
Franchising has seen £6 billion of private investment put into our railways, but rail passenger numbers have doubled since 1997-98. The Government are committed to investing nearly £48 billion on maintenance, modernisation and renewal to deliver better journeys and fewer disruptions. The railways have never been so popular, and the Government are doing everything we can to improve the system. The hon. Lady’s solution of taking over the railways is no solution whatsoever. She might not, but I can certainly remember the days of enormous delays and appalling service. Her solution does not propose how services would be paid for or improved or how to deal with the demands of modern passengers, but the Government’s proposals do.
May we have a statement from the Government on the current Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency dispute regarding changes to the driving test and the appropriate risk assessments? Does the Leader of the House believe that it is acceptable for the DVSA to reject Department for Transport advice and refuse ACAS talks to resolve the dispute?
The hon. Gentleman raises an important point. If I remember rightly, there is a big employment issue in his constituency with DVLA staff. [Interruption.] Perhaps that is not correct. Well, I encourage the hon. Gentleman to take up the issue, perhaps in an Adjournment debate, but I have every sympathy for what he says.
I am so chuffed that the Government are now adopting all my legislative proposals that I have another one. We should have an acquired brain injury Bill to guarantee that anybody who has a traumatic brain injury and receives hospital treatment then gets a rehabilitation prescription, so that they can be brought back to as full a life as possible. I know that the Leader of the House is sympathetic, but if she is not quite convinced of my Bill, perhaps she could come to the meeting on concussion in sport on Tuesday morning that has been organised by the all-party parliamentary group on acquired brain injury or to the lobby meeting that we are organising on Wednesday afternoon in Committee Room 17 after Prime Minister’s questions—I know she is free—to push for this change.
I am delighted that the hon. Gentleman is delighted with the progress of his private Member’s Bill. He has raised the important issue of acquired brain injuries before, and ABI can be devastating not only for the victim but for their family and friends. He is right to keeping pressing for a change, and I am very sympathetic. If he wants to bring forward specific proposals, I am sure that Ministers would be keen to hear them.
North Lincolnshire Council is removing its core funding grant for Citizens Advice North Lincolnshire at short notice, thus jeopardising the excellent work that it does locally. May we have a debate on the value of Citizens Advice and the importance of local councils supporting their citizens advice bureaux?
I join the hon. Gentleman in congratulating citizens advice bureaux on their amazing work. In my constituency, they provide advice on how to switch energy supplier or how to claim to benefits. They really do go above and beyond, and I know that many people heavily rely on them. As it is a specific constituency issue, I encourage the hon. Gentleman to raise the matter at departmental questions or to seek an Adjournment debate.
Mr Speaker, you may have noticed that Liverpool made the champions league final last night and, indeed, Arsenal may make another European final tonight. However, because both those European events are not listed, nobody will be able to view them on free-to-air television. Only those with BT Sport or, as in my case, those who are travelling to Kiev on
The right hon. Gentleman points out that some major sporting events are on free-to-air television, but the champions league is not one of them. I certainly encourage him to seek ways to raise and promote the idea that such things should be included on free-to-view TV. Having stood for election in Knowsley South in 2005 and having had the great pleasure of meeting the great Stevie G, who is sadly no longer in the team, Liverpool has been my football team, but I must yet again point out to you, Mr Speaker, that rugby is the best game as far as the Leadsom household is concerned.
I raised this in my maiden speech, and the issue remains the same today. Far too many of my constituents are having enormous problems accessing adequate broadband connectivity. A group of constituents living near the Queen Mother’s old holiday home, the castle of Mey, came to see me last weekend about this very problem.
It would be churlish of me to point the finger at the Scottish Government, and of course I will not do so today, but let me put it this way: somewhere in the interface between the Scottish Government and the UK Government things are not right, and far too many of my constituents are losing out. Does the Leader of the House agree that broadband is for all the UK, regardless of which part of the UK we live in, and borders are completely pointless? Does she agree we should have a debate on this important issue?
I agree with the hon. Gentleman that the delivery of broadband is key to modern infrastructure. He will be aware that, only recently, there has been a debate on the roll-out in Scotland. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport originally provided funding through the Scottish Government for the roll-out in Scotland, but it has decided to go via local councils in the next wave of funding to try to improve and speed up the roll-out of broadband. I completely agree that the delivery of broadband is essential, and I encourage the hon. Gentleman to seek the co-operation and urgent attention of the Scottish Government.
Last Saturday, I met a group of constituents who have bought homes on a new estate. They are now being charged huge and spiralling maintenance fees by a firm called Gateway, which was founded by the developer Persimmon. I understand this is happening on thousands of new estates across the country, so may we have a debate in Government time on what we can do about it?
The hon. Lady raises an issue that affects many, and I am also aware of the problem of these fees being charged completely unfairly. The Government are looking closely at this, but she might wish to seek an Adjournment debate to ensure the matter has the urgent focus it deserves.
My constituent Yvonne Sommerville is a special operations paramedic and an RAF reservist. Because of a medical condition, which does not affect her vision, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency has refused to renew her public service vehicle licence, taking away her right to drive ambulances. Despite that, her employer—the Scottish NHS—and specialist consultants say she is fit to drive. This is putting a personal strain on her and is having an impact on the NHS, although she is still allowed to drive paramedic vehicles. Of course, she is now not allowed to drive buses for the RAF. May we have a Government statement on how we can tackle and challenge such DVLA decisions and standards?
The hon. Gentleman raises a very concerning constituency issue, and I am sure he will appreciate that safety, and therefore taking a cautious approach, is vital in all these matters. We have Health and Social Care questions on
Mr Speaker, I am sure you will share my horror that this year’s Kidney Cancer UK patient survey found that over 51% of kidney cancers are diagnosed as a result of an unrelated scan. There is a huge problem with GPs not identifying and finding early treatment for kidney cancers, some of the photographs of which are pretty horrific. May we have a statement about what the Government are doing to raise awareness of kidney cancer and to develop a simple, cheap and effective test that will give early diagnoses and allow treatment to take place?
This is, of course, an incredibly important health issue. The hon. Lady will be aware of the enormous advances in cancer care, both from a medical point of view, and with the Government’s commitment to the cancer drugs fund and to improving the speed of diagnosis and treatment of different cancers. She is highlighting a specific cancer, a subject that would lend itself very much to an Adjournment debate or a Westminster Hall debate, so that hon. Members who have similar constituency concerns can raise them.
May we have a debate in Government time about how the Department for Work and Pensions treats people? My Shettleston constituent Ciara Steel was diagnosed with Asperger’s at 15 and a half, but now that she is over 16 she has been called back again for an assessment to check that she still has it. May we have a debate about this very serious issue?
I am very sympathetic to the issue the hon. Gentleman raises. Of course, we look carefully at ensuring that checks on people who have ongoing conditions are not unnecessarily burdensome, but he raises an important specific point, which he might want to raise at Health questions.
My constituents are very concerned about matters relating to immigration: they are concerned about what will happen to EU27 citizens post-Brexit and to UK citizens working in the EU post-Brexit; they are concerned about immigration law relating to those who have arrived from the Commonwealth between 1948 and 1973; and they are concerned about refugee rights. Will the Leader of the House have a word with her newly appointed Home Secretary colleague to ask him whether he will bring forward the White Paper on the immigration Bill sooner rather than later? Will there be proper time for debate on the immigration Bill, so that we can debate these issues properly in this place?
I am sure all hon. Members will be pleased to see that the new Home Secretary is the son of immigrants to this country and has made clear his personal commitment, based on his own experiences, to ensuring fair and sympathetic immigration procedures.
On the hon. Lady’s specific question, we are considering a range of options for the future immigration system, and based on evidence we will set out initial plans and publish a White Paper in the coming months, with a Bill to follow. That new system will be based on evidence, including from the Migration Advisory Committee, and on engagement with a range of stakeholders, including businesses, universities, the devolved Administrations and NHS leaders. It is clear that people in the UK want this Westminster Government to be in charge of our borders, but to have a sympathetic and fair-to-all immigration system, and that is what we intend to have.
This afternoon’s Order Paper shows a Westminster Hall Back-Bench debate on the impact of social care on NHS provision. Members got barely 24 hours’ notice that this debate was going to be held, which obviously made it difficult for the Whips Offices to arrange speakers—yes, I was one of those who succumbed to the charms of those in the Whips Office and agreed to speak. Ironically, given that it looks as though the main Chamber business will finish well ahead of schedule, had that debate been scheduled in here it could have started as soon as the rest of the business had finished. As things stand, there is a good chance that everything else will have finished and that debate will then be carried on in a complete vacuum, giving very little prominence to an important subject. First, will the Leader of the House explain why Members received so little notice that that important debate was taking place? Secondly, will she look at the procedures of the House to see whether there is a way in which Westminster Hall business can be brought forward, as can business of the Chamber, if time and circumstances should permit?
Today, as I mentioned, some Members have unfortunately not been able to accept the offer of a debate, so there is a particular reason why today short notice was given—scheduling business has been rather last minute. In response to the hon. Gentleman’s more general point about whether business can be brought forward in this Chamber when business stops early, I can say that that would be a dangerous precedent, on the grounds that it would presume, in effect, that time for debate on certain topics in this place would be shortened. That is why the Government and the business managers always seek to ensure that adequate time is given for debate, and that we do not try to second-guess how many Members will want to speak and for how long.
The national health service throughout the UK sends a wide range of reminders to patients for procedures such as inoculations for children and screening for cervical and, of course, breast cancer. It is crucial public health work. May we have a statement to provide reassurance to people throughout the UK that all the systems for contacting patients are working effectively?
The hon. Gentleman is right that there is a wide range of screening activities in the NHS, and that notices and reminders are sent out frequently for all sorts of different screening programmes. As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care set out yesterday, there will be a review of the lessons learned, which could of course be applied to forms of screening other than the failed breast cancer screening programme that we need to take urgent steps to rectify.
I have a constituent with dual UK and Venezuelan citizenship who has been unable to acquire a UK passport because of the UK Government’s one-name policy. She has tried to change the name on her Venezuelan passport to her married name, but because of insurmountable problems, including corruption and complete estrangement from her ex-husband, she has been unable to do so. May we have a debate on the UK Government’s rules on the issuing of passports, which are preventing my constituent from receiving the passport that is rightfully hers?
May we have a debate on the future of the defence estate in Scotland, particularly in respect of the investment that has been promised at Leuchars in my constituency? We need to ensure not only that that is a long-term investment but that any investment is family friendly, so that service personnel who travel with family members have the right resources to be able to settle in.
We all pay tribute to the excellent work of all our armed forces, wherever they are based throughout the United Kingdom. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence is committed to ensuring the wellbeing of our armed forces, wherever they are posted. The hon. Gentleman raises an important point about the longevity of the new arrangements in his constituency; I encourage him to seek a Westminster Hall or Adjournment debate so that he can raise those issues directly with Ministers.