The business for next week will be as follows:
The provisional business for the week commencing
I am sure that the whole House will have enjoyed marking the 100th birthday of our fantastic Royal Air Force. The celebrations culminated in a spectacular flypast, and gave us a good opportunity to thank the RAF for its service. We also had the superb, heartwarming news this week that the 12 Thai boys and their football coach had all been successfully rescued by a Thai-led international team, including British expert divers. We wish them all a full and speedy recovery.
Finally, it was not to be, but we are all incredibly proud of the efforts of our England football team and the wonderful Gareth Southgate in the World cup. That bodes very well for a bright future for the team.
I am not quite sure whether I should thank the Leader of the House for the future business, because it is an absolute outrage that an Opposition day that was allocated for Wednesday has been taken away. Will the Leader of the House please explain why we have lost our Opposition day? This is a cynical move by the Government—a Government who are in a minority—and an abuse of power. I am apoplectic with rage, and there is more to come.
The White Paper that was supposed to be published today was given to the press at 9 am, in lockdown. My hon. Friend Wayne David went to the Vote Office and was told that it would not be available until 1 pm. There is to be a statement, and Members will have to come to the House to speak about the White Paper. Worse still, the Leader of the Opposition and the shadow Exiting the European Union Secretary will get the White Paper only half an hour before the statement. This is outrageous. I know this is a back-of-the-envelope Government; that is the business they are in—they are certainly not in the business of a democratic Parliament and allowing Parliament to decide what it should ask the Secretary of State. We are not in a position to do that. This is an outrage. Will the Leader of the House make a statement either later today or on Monday explaining why there was this shambles about the White Paper? It has taken the Government two years—[Interruption.] Would you like me to sit down, Mr Speaker? You look poised to say something.
As is not uncommon, I was just conferring with the chief procedural adviser, the Clerk of the House, but I am now all ears. I am always listening to the hon. Lady, and this morning is no exception; please continue.
Thank you, Mr Speaker; I wish the Government were all ears, but they are not. It has taken them two years to agree a position, and now it seems that there may be two White Papers: the ex-DExEU Secretary apparently produced a White Paper at Chequers. So we need to know about this; we need to have a proper debate on whether the Government’s White Paper is the settled position. This is typical of the new DExEU Secretary; welcome to his world—authoritarian and cynical.
The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said he hoped that the agriculture Bill would be published before the recess. Will it? And when will the migration and fisheries and the withdrawal agreement and implementation Bills be published?
As the rest of the world is moving forward, the Government are moving backwards. There is a remake of “Oceans 8” with women in the lead, but not for the reshuffle: the new positions are all filled by men, and we need to congratulate, I suppose, the heckler-in-chief Chris Heaton-Harris who is now a DExEU Minister.
The Leader of the House may want to correct the record. In a BBC “Newsnight” interview on Tuesday she said that as Leader of the House she took the withdrawal Bill through Parliament. I think it is clear that she did not: it was the DExEU team that did that. She also said that
“who we should all be pointing our guns on is those negotiators in the EU”.
Will she retract that inflammatory statement, particularly as this is a negotiation, not a battle?
The Leader of the House seems to be picking up the inflammatory statements of the President of the United States. As he lands in the UK, children are still being reunited with their parents. CNN has footage of reunion between a child and her mother after being separated for 55 days and toddlers going to court without representation; we are reminded what a cruel policy this is. The person who instigated that policy will be meeting our sovereign. And let us also remember that that person is not a native American. He is not one of the First Nations; he was an immigrant himself.
As this seems still to be unclear following the urgent question of my hon. Friend Louise Haigh, will the Leader of the House place in the Library the total costs of policing the visit, for all the places, including under the devolved Administrations, that the President is going to for his business interests and leisure?
We know that the President has had private discussions with various Members about our leaving the EU, but there is more work to be done. This is a complicated process; it is not just “yes” or “no” on a ballot paper. According to the House of Commons Library, the UK will leave up to 1,256 international agreements to which the EU is party, and the Financial Times has reported that the UK will need to renegotiate 759 separate EU agreements with 168 countries. The International Trade Committee said that the number of EU trade and trade-related agreements
“appears to be a matter of some uncertainty” and warned of trade with 70 nations
“falling off a cliff edge” if the Government did not act quickly enough to roll over the EU trade deals. May we have a debate to update the House on what the Government have in place to ensure that the UK’s international agreements continue to apply as we leave the EU?
Further to the urgent question of my right hon. Friend Mr Lammy, may we have an urgent debate on an apparent change of Government policy and whether the hostile environment policy has ended? It seems that we only found out after Kieran Trippier’s goal—and I join the Leader of the House in thanking the England team; we dared to hope.
I also thank one of our amazing public servants, Sir David Behan, who stepped down as chief executive of the Care Quality Commission yesterday. He served six years in post and had a distinguished career in the health and social care sectors spanning over 40 years. He took over the CQC and managed to turn it around; I know many hon. Members will receive alerts on any institutions inspected by it, and they are very helpful. We wish him well, and hope that he can use his expertise to train further public servants.
All of us in my office had an outing to see that amazing moment in history, the fly-past that took place this week. On behalf of the Opposition, I want to wish the RAF and all who have served in it a very happy 100 years. Finally, we have some good news. The first parliamentary baby has been born. My hon. Friend Cat Smith has given birth to Elijah, and we send our good wishes to her and to Ben and Eli. We hope that Eli and all the other babies will enjoy the baby blimp that is soon going to be flying over London.
I am grateful to the hon. Lady for telling us about Cat Smith and her new arrival, Elijah. That is great news for the whole House. We should also celebrate the news from our Liberal Democrat colleague, Jo Swinson, who has given birth to Gabriel. So we have some great prophets coming along, and I hope that they will be the foretellers of a fantastic future—
Angels and prophets, indeed. This is a wonderful precedent for this place.
The hon. Lady asked about the business. She will be aware that provisional business is announced for the future, and the business that was announced last week was indeed provisional. The Standing Orders set out that there will be 20 Opposition days, with 17 for the largest party. The Government have a good record on providing Opposition days, and we will continue to do that. I am always happy to consider all reasonable requests.
The hon. Lady asked about the Brexit negotiations. These are complex negotiations, as she has just acknowledged. The White Paper will set out the clear way in which we will give effect to the Cabinet agreement at Chequers. The intention is to stick with the red lines that were set out by the Brexit referendum—that we will be leaving the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, that we will no longer be paying our EU subscription, that we will be ending free movement, that we will be leaving the single market, the customs union, the common agricultural policy and the common fisheries policy, and that we will be able to trade freely with the rest of the world. This is a complicated negotiation, and we are determined to achieve success in it. What this proposal will set out to achieve is that we meet our red lines while also addressing those of the European Union. It is fully our intention that the EU will come to the table and start negotiating with the same level of sincere co-operation that we are all signed up to as members of the EU.
The hon. Lady mentioned by name the Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, my hon. Friend Chris Heaton-Harris, and not in the most charming of terms. I hope that she warned him she was going to mention him. Perhaps she would like to pay tribute to his years as a Member of the European Parliament, which have given him unique insight into the managing of the day one preparations. That will be vital for our country.
The hon. Lady also mentioned the visit of the President of the United States. Is it not fantastic that we live in a free democracy where we are free to set out our own thoughts? Is it not also great that our Prime Minister is meeting the President in order to set out those areas where we want to collaborate and also those areas where we disagree? We made it very clear at the time that we did not agree with the idea of separating children from their parents, and we were pleased that the President signed an Executive order to put a stop to that. That was very important.
The hon. Lady asked whether we could have a debate on free trade deals. Yes, we can—on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday next week. I hope that she is pleased with that. She also asked whether we could have some Home Office questions answered. We have Home Office questions on Monday. I therefore hope that she is happy with the progress that is being made.
I thank the England team for making us roar again, because football does matter and they certainly exceeded our wildest expectations. Will my right hon. Friend find time for a debate on the “do not resuscitate”—DNR—protocols? It can often be traumatic when someone is called to a hospital and asked whether they want their loved one to be resuscitated. This is a profound and dark subject, but it is certainly one that Parliament should consider.
DNR decisions are traumatic and distressing, so my hon. Friend is right to raise them for consideration. Resuscitation guidance is produced jointly by the Resuscitation Council, the British Medical Association and the Royal College of Nursing, and it suggests that decisions should be made only after sensitive discussions between healthcare professionals and those close to the patient. However, the Select Committee on Health and Social Care may be interested in considering the topic, so I encourage my hon. Friend to take up how we can improve awareness of and guidance on DNR decisions.
I thank the Leader of the House for announcing the business for next week. As the nation awoke with a collective hangover this morning, we can only wonder what could have been. If only David Cameron had not used a vote on EU membership as a means to unite a divided Conservative party! But well done Gareth Southgate, who has done what this miserable Government could never do: unite England under one true leader.
At last, the long-awaited White Paper is being launched this morning, and it probably represents the last chance for this divided shambles of a Government to take forward their chaotic Brexit. It has been launched in the usual shambolic way, however. I just received word that we received the White Paper at 11.53 am, and I presume that that was the same for the Labour Front-Bench team, too. That is no way to progress such important business in the House and shows great disrespect to Members. I hope that the Leader of the House can give some account of what has happened this morning because she failed to respond to the shadow Leader of the House.
There is some good news for the Leader of the House; she is a reasonable shot at 12:1 to take over from the beleaguered Prime Minister, but she is somewhat behind Mr Rees-Mogg, who comes in at 5:1. I think it is accepted that this Prime Minister is but one more resignation away from a leadership challenge, so I say to the Leader of the House, without cliché, that if the call of history comes, it is who dares that wins.
I think the nation is appalled by the arrangements for the visit of President Trump. This is a man who demonstrates the worst attributes of misogyny. He scapegoats migrants and displays appalling Islamophobia, yet the Government are rolling out the red carpet. Scotland will be protesting his visit based on what his presidency represents, not our friendship with the United States. Perhaps we can have some sort of debate about what he means for relations between this country and the United States.
Finally, Mr Speaker, you may have seen some delightful children with Scottish accents running around the place this week. That is because their parents are Members of Parliament and the Scottish school holidays have started. Surely we can design a recess that takes account of all summer holidays throughout the UK. Please, make this the last year that this happens.
The hon. Gentleman asks about the White Paper, and I am sure that he will be delighted, as will all hon. Members, that the new Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union will be making a statement following business questions; there will be the opportunity to ask questions then. In addition, there will be a general debate on the White Paper next week.
Turning to the visit of the US President, I want to make it clear to all colleagues that the objectives of the visit are to recognise and celebrate the unique and close bond between our two countries, to strengthen our bilateral relationship across prosperity, trade, security and defence and to have open, frank discussions on key issues. Opposition Members may like to think that we should simply turn our backs and have nothing to do with the US President, but that means never being able to put our point across. A responsible Government always seek to maintain a close relationship—one where the Prime Minister or the President can pick up the phone at short notice or meet in person to make their case. That was demonstrated emphatically when President Trump strongly supported our response to the Salisbury attack, expelling 60 Russian intelligence officers and encouraging other allies to join our co-ordinated response. The relationship is vital for open and frank engagement.
On childcare, I can tell the hon. Gentleman that I, too, have children who have been running around this place. It is not only Scottish MPs who have childcare issues to resolve; parents right across the United Kingdom have to deal with the school holidays. The whole of Parliament cannot possibly go into recess for the entirety of all the school holidays in order to facilitate childcare arrangements. That is not acceptable to the people of this country, who expect to see their elected politicians working pretty much 24/7 to represent their interests. That said, the hon. Gentleman will be aware that I had a very productive meeting with the SNP Chief Whip and I have agreed to try to facilitate arrangements that will suit SNP Members during the October recess, which is a particular problem for them. I look forward to making progress on that.
I note from the exchanges that the White Paper has been made available to those on the Front Benches. I must say that those on the Back Benches have an equal interest and it is a matter of great regret that we have not seen it yet, although I understand the point about the statement that is about to be made. It raises very serious questions. Will my right hon. Friend guarantee that we have a proper dialogue, not merely a listening process, because this matter affects the whole of our democratic self-government into the future? Will she also take account of the fact that the European Scrutiny Committee yesterday issued a summons to Mr Oliver Robbins to appear before it on
My hon. Friend has been truly assiduous in his scrutiny of all things to do with the UK’s relationship with the EU over many years. The House owes him a debt of gratitude for his careful consideration of these issues. As he would expect, the House will have the opportunity to debate and listen carefully to views right across the House, as happened with the EU withdrawal Bill, on which we had 290 hours of debate and 1,400 amendments were tabled and considered. There will be a general debate on the White Paper next week and further debates and opportunities to discuss the Government’s proposals in the White Paper, including in the statement to follow.
I have to admit to being slightly puzzled, bemused, perplexed and mystified by the Leader of the House’s business statement this morning, because it seems that the business on the 19th and the 24th is business that was determined by the Backbench Business Committee but is no longer under the aegis of the Committee; it looks like the Government have taken back those dates and put on general debates, but on the topics determined by the Committee. I feel a bit perplexed about that. It means that my hon. Friend Alex Cunningham will not be able to lead off in the debate on the tobacco control plan and that Bob Blackman will not be able to lead off in the debate on matters to be raised before the forthcoming Adjournment, if the Government take back control. I do not know why they have done that.
Also, there is an anomaly with the timing of business in this place. When we return on
I sympathise with the hon. Gentleman’s point about Westminster Hall—it does sound quite difficult to manage—and would be happy to help him if I can. On the debates on tobacco and the pre-recess Adjournment, I think he can celebrate the fact that it means he will have extra Back-Bench business days while also having debates that the Committee was keen to have.
I went along to the Vote Office at the same time as Wayne David, and there was no EU White Paper there. It is strange that the press had it at 9 o’clock in the morning. That is not how this place should be run. Referring to “the White Paper” is a bit confusing, however, because we now know there are two White Papers. The first was developed by Ministers and officials and sent to all Departments for comment and was in line with the Government’s policy at the time, which united 98% of Conservative MPs. We now know there is a second White Paper, developed by officials and Spads in No. 10 and which none of the Ministers saw. If we are to have a general debate next week, it would be really useful if both White Papers were presented. Maybe the House could then divide on which one it prefers.
My hon. Friend is always full of great ideas for how to proceed. I suggest that he takes this up with the new Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union in the statement to follow.
Here is the problem: the Government do not have a majority, there is a majority against every single option that has thus far been presented on Brexit and trying simply to unite the Conservative party will, in the end, fail. If the Government are to act in the national interest, rather than in just the party interest, they will have to stop all this jiggery-pokery about trying to hide things from the rest of the House by presenting the White Paper only when the Minister sits down after talking about it. All of that has to stop. The House has to act in the national interest, and the Government have to stop all the nonsense and start bringing all of us on board, otherwise they will be relying on emergency powers to take us through the next year.
The hon. Gentleman is absolutely wrong on all counts. He will be aware that the Cabinet met last Friday. Today is Thursday, a few days later, and the Government are coming forward with that White Paper to set it out to the entire House, with a debate next week. Valerie Vaz has already complained about the fact we have facilitated a debate.
My right hon. Friend the new Brexit Secretary is about to come to the House to make a statement to enable all hon. Members to quiz him. What Chris Bryant and all hon. Members need to understand is that this is a complicated negotiation and that what the Prime Minister is seeking to do is to ensure that we can stick to the red lines we have agreed while, at the same time, sticking to the red lines that the EU has set out. That makes it extraordinarily complicated but also extraordinarily clever, and it is worthy of very careful discussion and debate. [Interruption.]
Order. It is obvious that there is very considerable unhappiness in the House, and I have heard what the Leader of the House has said. There are conventions on these matters, not all of which will commend themselves to the House. It is not by any means unknown or unprecedented for copies of a document to be issued after a Minister sits down. However, I hope that the Leader of the House might want to reflect on the extent of unhappiness at the idea that the document might not be available to colleagues at the point at which they have the opportunity to question the Secretary of State about it—I put it no more strongly than that. There are conventions, and I am not saying that what the Government are doing is unprecedented.
The right hon. Lady can think it is good or not think it is good—it is entirely her choice. I do not mind. I am simply stating the factual position, but I think it is important to be sensitive to the fact that there is very considerable upset at the idea that people will not have seen a document about which there is to be a statement and upon which the Secretary of State has come to be questioned. People observing our proceedings from elsewhere might think that is a slightly curious state of affairs.
I was going to make my normal plea for us to leave the building at the end of this month and lock it down for three months so we can get on with repairing it, but I am struck by what has been said, particularly by you, Mr Speaker. I am a friend of the Government and, frankly, I think it is pretty bad that journalists were given this document at 9 am when we Back Benchers have had no chance to read it. If I am lucky enough, I will ask a question on the statement. You will not want me beetling out of the Chamber to try to read the document. How can I possibly understand it? Of course I could do what I normally do and rubbish it before I have even read it but, as Chris Bryant said, we are supposed to be a grown-up Parliament. It would have been possible for the Government to have taken us into their confidence and to have allowed us to start reading the document half an hour ago, at least.
The hon. Gentleman has spoken, as he always does, with great eloquence. If I may say so, the Leader of the House will take what view she wants of what he says, but he has said it with very considerable style. I think there will be a feeling about the matter, but let us hear what the Leader of the House has to say.
As ever, my hon. Friend Sir Edward Leigh is absolutely charming and puts it very well. I am delighted to speak to my right hon. Friend the new Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union on this subject. I hear the concern of the House, but the House will also have heard that this is not without precedent. As I put it to the hon. Member for Rhondda, these are difficult times and these are complicated negotiations. It was only last week that the Cabinet agreed a way forward, and I think all hon. Members should accept that the Government are coming to the House as soon as possible to set out the plans and to enable the House to discuss them thoroughly.
The Leader of the House will recognise the vital work by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency to keep the public and road users safe, but she might not be aware that the DVSA has been in dispute with its staff for the past three years. Before the recess, can we have a statement from the Secretary of State for Transport and a commitment to intervene as a matter of urgency so we can engage meaningfully with management and the Public and Commercial Services Union to end this expensive, damaging and demoralising dispute?
I am not aware of that particular dispute, but the hon. Gentleman might be aware that there are Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy questions next week. Perhaps he could take it up with Ministers who can look into it for him.
I join my right hon. Friend in congratulating the Royal Air Force on its 100th anniversary. In particular, I congratulate the Tactical Supply Wing in my constituency of Stafford. I also declare an interest in that my grandfather was a member of the Royal Air Force when it was founded. He is the reason I am in this country and a proud Briton; he was born in Canada and came over.
Can we have a debate on the emergency service within the national health service? Ten years ago, the Royal Stoke University Hospital was due to be made smaller, and in fact was made smaller, and now there is a recognition that additional beds are needed. A few years ago, my constituents also realised that Stafford Hospital needed its A&E, even when experts said it did not. It is clear that we need all the A&E departments we have across the country and that there should be a moratorium on any further closures. Can we have a debate on that? The common sense of ordinary people often sees better than experts.
First, I pay tribute to my hon. Friend’s amazing support for his hospital in Staffordshire. All hon. Members will recognise that he has worked tirelessly to try to improve the position for all his constituents who use that hospital. Of course, he is absolutely right that any decisions about hospital provision are required to be discussed and consulted on locally, including with local health providers, which are better placed to know what is needed in their area. I am sure he will be delighted to hear of the increased funding— 3.4% in real terms each year, on average—that will be given to the NHS in this its 70th year. I remind him that we have Health and Social Care questions on
The hon. Gentleman raises an important point. There is an enormous recognition right across the world of the extraordinary work of Nelson Mandela in the truth and reconciliation process that took place in South Africa when he became its President. It was quite extraordinary and I do not think we have seen anything like it anywhere else in the world. It is always a great pleasure to see the statue of Mandela in our own Parliament Square, and I congratulate and wish the best of luck to the hon. Gentleman’s Scottish organisation that is seeking to set up a memorial in Scotland.
About a year ago, I held an Adjournment debate in this Chamber about young Harry Whitlam, who was killed by a drunk-driver of a tractor. This man was three and a half times over the limit and he crushed Harry, in a totally avoidable accident—[Interruption.]
I apologise to the hon. Gentleman, but the acoustics have not been great in the Chamber this week and a number of times Members have not been fully heard. I heard someone who wanted to hear the hon. Gentleman saying that he could not hear. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman could just boom a bit.
It is not often that has been requested of me.
Harry was 11 when he was killed by the tractor. As the accident took place on private land on a farm, the driver could only be charged under health and safety legislation and he got an 18-month sentence—for a totally avoidable accident. In my earlier debate, I asked for the law to be looked into so that we could get parity of esteem, whereby accidents on private land should have the same consequences in law as accidents on public land. The Under-Secretary of State for Transport, my hon. Friend Jesse Norman, met me, the family and their solicitor last October. I have received letters since then outlining that the Government want to move forward with this but it is a complicated case. Tomorrow, it will be one year since I had that Adjournment debate and I am no clearer as to where the Government are on this. May I therefore ask my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House whether the relevant Minister could come to the Chamber to give us a statement on where this sits and how progress is being made?
This is a really tragic case, and my heart goes out to Harry’s family. I am pleased that my hon. Friend secured an Adjournment debate, as this is clearly something the Government need to look closely at. I am also pleased that the Under-Secretary of State, who is responsible for road safety, met him and Mrs Whitlam to discuss the tragic death of her son. I can tell him that I have been reassured that discussions are taking place between the road safety Minister and the Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work to look at what more can be done, but I encourage my hon. Friend Alec Shelbrooke to write to both Ministers asking for a joint update on his specific point about a law change. If he wishes to write to me, I can take it up with them on his behalf.
May we have a debate on the apparent reluctance of the Ministry of Defence to take out child maintenance from its employees’ salaries? My constituents have battled for months, with the support of the Child Maintenance Service, but to no avail. It seems that children are suffering and the MOD is dragging its feet. I have talked to other Labour Members about this and it seems it is not a rare occurrence. Surely it is easier to take money from salaries than to go through an expensive court case. This is a hugely important issue for families for whom child maintenance is an important and valid part of their budget.
The hon. Lady is raising an important point. It is not something I was aware of, but I can assure her that this Government have done a great deal to enshrine in law the armed forces covenant, to ensure that we are providing much better support for veterans in terms of their housing, accommodation and so on. A lot has been done, but she raises an important point and I suggest she seeks an Adjournment debate so that she can ask Ministers directly what they can do to help.
May we have an urgent debate on the importance of equality under the law in promoting community cohesion? If I were to gain access to land illegally, cause damage and leave a large amount of litter, I would expect the full force of the law to come down on me in terms of paying for that damage and the clear-up costs, and my constituents would expect the same. Last year, about £250,000 was spent in my constituency cleaning up after Travellers. Houghton Regis Town Council has just had to spend another £4,500 after an incursion on the green. People are fair-minded, but they want the law to apply to everyone and that helps us all to live peacefully and well together.
My hon. Friend is absolutely right to raise the issue of littering. Whether we are talking about fly-tipping or the mess left by people who are camping illegally, more needs to be done. This is certainly one of the top five or six issues that people raise when they are asked what the problems are in their communities. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is taking this very seriously, having introduced the first English national litter strategy. He is right to raise this and he may well want to seek an Adjournment debate so that he can discuss it further with Ministers.
The cross-party Youth Violence Commission is publishing its interim report next Wednesday. Will the Leader of the House commit to reading its recommendations and help me to secure the required debates in Parliament with all the relevant Departments on this extremely important issue?
The hon. Lady frequently raises in this place the issue of serious violence, and she is right to do so. I commend her for her work in this area. I was pleased to be able to give a debate in Government time on the serious violence strategy, and she will be aware that on a number of occasions Ministers have come to this place to discuss what more can be done. We also have the Offensive Weapons Bill coming forward, which will try to make it much harder for young people to access serious weapons. I absolutely accept her invitation to read the report on youth violence carefully and to work with her to see what more can be done in this area.
I led the most recent delegation to the Kurdish region of Iraq a few weeks ago. We visited the Iraqi Parliament, and we were thrilled and delighted that the Kurdish Parliament is forming its first all-party group on the UK. May we have a debate on how we continue to work on our fantastic bilateral relations with the Iraqi Kurds and how we can help them to strengthen their institutions, Parliament and fledgling democracy?
My hon. Friend, as chairman of the all-party group on the Kurdistan region in Iraq, is right to be delighted that Kurdistan will have an all-party group on the UK. That kind of bilateral development of a relationship is incredibly important, and he might like to seek a Westminster Hall debate so that all hon. Members can talk about their experiences in supporting the Kurdish region.
The Minister for Health has assured me that he is working hard to appoint a contractor to complete the new Liverpool University Hospital, whose construction has remained at a standstill since the collapse of Carillion more than six months ago. It is very unclear whether there is any real sense of urgency and whether the Treasury is co-operating with the Department of Health and Social Care. May we have a statement on this, as the people of Liverpool need to know what is going on and, above all, they need their new hospital?
The hon. Lady is right to highlight the importance of this hospital to her constituents. If Carillion was involved, I can understand that she may have specific concerns. We have Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy questions and Health and Social Care questions on the last day before the recess, which provides two opportunities for her to raise those specific points about her local hospital.
The Leader of the House highlighted the spectacular RAF display we saw in London this week. The military theme continues on Sunday with a documentary entitled “Dunkirk: The Forgotten Heroes” being shown on Channel 4. It features one of my constituents, Donald Smith from Forres, whom I have had the pleasure of meeting in my time as MP for Moray. May we have a debate about the contribution the military make to a country and the contribution that so many heroes such as Donald Smith have made, to ensure that they are truly never forgotten?
It was fantastic to see the crowds of people who turned out to cheer the RAF fly-past. There can be no better reassurance of our determination to remember the bravery and dedication of our current and former service personnel. I pay tribute to Donald Smith, who is one of those to whom we owe an extraordinary debt. We do, of course, observe Armed Forces Day and Remembrance Day as an important gesture every year to show our gratitude to all those who protected our country.
Stoke’s The Sentinel newspaper is this afternoon presenting a petition to the Prime Minister at No. 10 as part of its NHS SOS campaign. Following on from the question from Jeremy Lefroy, may we have a debate in Government time on the need for proper investment in our NHS and for a truly integrated health economy?
I am sure that the hon. Lady will welcome the enormous increase in health funding that the Government have agreed, which will be worth 3.4% in real terms each year from 2019-20 to 2023-24. She asks for a debate on health; we have had several health debates and plenty of opportunities for discussion, and there will be many further chances to debate health issues, not least at Health and Social Care questions on the last day before the recess. All Members might like to know the excellent statistics coming from our NHS. For example, Sir Simon Stevens, the chief executive of NHS England said:
“What’s been achieved in England over the past three years?... Highest cancer survival rates ever—latest survival figures show an estimated 7000+ more people surviving cancer after successful NHS cancer treatment compared to three years prior.”
This is about not only cancer treatment but the thousands more operations being carried out and millions more people being seen. The NHS is in very good hands with this Government.
This past Saturday, it was a genuine pleasure to welcome the mayor of Achères in northern France to Stonehaven in my constituency, where a twinning agreement between the two towns was signed. Will the Leader of the House agree to hold a debate in Government time on the importance of twinning arrangements and the benefits that they can bring? As we are leaving the EU, such arrangements demonstrate that we are not leaving Europe and that the bonds of friendship and co-operation with our neighbours across the channel will continue and endure.
My hon. Friend is absolutely right. The UK Government recognise the value of effective partnerships between strong and active communities right across Europe and throughout the wider world. That is why at the UK-France summit in January the Prime Minister was proud to announce our intention to support a new generation of links by bringing together mayors, leaders of city regions and others as they address today’s challenges. Jointly with the French Government, we have set an objective of having 10 new twinnings every year until 2022. I congratulate my hon. Friend on raising in this place the success of his local twinning ceremony.
As I have said frequently in this place, we will bring forward all the Brexit legislation, as we need to, in good time before we leave the European Union, and that includes publishing the White Paper. To be clear, this is a complicated negotiation. Normally in a parliamentary Session, we have the issues of getting the Government’s legislation through with Parliament scrutinising it. What is unique about this period is that a careful negotiation is also going on with our EU friends and partners, so we have to look carefully at policy at the same time as legislation. We will continue to do that.
Agricultural shows play a vital role in the social, economic and cultural life of communities right across the country. With the Royal Welsh show—the largest agricultural show in Europe, if not the world—taking place in my constituency the week after next, may we have a debate on the value of agricultural shows to rural communities? Will my right hon. Friend join me and the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs at the Royal Welsh show?
I am rather delighted to confirm to my hon. Friend that I will be coming to the Royal Welsh show the week after next. I am very much looking forward to visiting the first ever UK Government stand, run by the office of the Secretary of State for Wales. My hon. Friend is right that agricultural shows play an important part in rural life and are a great way to demonstrate the best of British food and farming.
Will the Leader of the House join me in congratulating Coia’s Cafe in my constituency, which is celebrating its 90th anniversary, serving delicious Italian food to the people of Glasgow? The café was opened by Carmine and Amalia Coia, Italian immigrants to the city, and has been run by the family ever since. It is currently owned by Alfredo and Antonia Coia, the third generation of the family to run the business. In this era of the hostile environment, may we have a debate in Government time on the amazing contribution that the Scots-Italian community have made to our country over the past century?
I am disappointed that the hon. Gentleman has not asked me to come and join him there—it sounds fantastic. I congratulate the Coia family for their contribution to Scottish food and to the life of Scotland and Glasgow in particular. The hon. Gentleman will appreciate that there have been and will continue to be many opportunities to discuss and debate the amazing contribution made by so many EU and other migrants to this country and their value in this country.
This week, I have had meetings with both Transport for the North and Highways England to pitch a case for investment in the M56, which is clogged up and overcrowded, but all roads—pun intended—seem to lead back to a decision made at the Department for Transport. May we have a debate on the Government’s forthcoming road investment strategy part 2, so that we can make the case for extra investment for the M56?
I am glad that the hon. Gentleman mentioned the Government’s review of the strategic road network, which will be very important. I am absolutely sure that Ministers will come to the House to set out the plans as soon as they are able to.
Since 2010, we have seen eight Housing Ministers, with the latest one on the ministerial merry-go-round, Kit Malthouse, having once said that he was happy to make life “more uncomfortable” for homeless people. I genuinely have not seen any improvement, not just in my constituency but here in London and in our other big cities. It seems as though there has been a real deterioration. Will the Government make a statement or provide time for a debate on what progress they have made on eradicating homelessness?
The hon. Lady is absolutely right to raise the issue of homelessness. We do not want to see anybody homeless or sleeping rough. We have pledged to halve rough sleeping by 2022 and to end it by 2027, and homelessness fell last year. We have committed more than £1.2 billion to tackling homelessness and rough sleeping. She might like to know that we have Housing, Communities and Local Government questions on Monday
On Wednesday next week, I will chair a session of the all-party group on terminal illness in which we will take evidence on the impact of benefits on the terminally ill. May we have a debate in Government time on the difficulties, indignity and hardship suffered under the UK Government’s welfare policies, as outlined by the Motor Neurone Disease Association and Marie Curie and in the personal testimony of the dying?
The hon. Gentleman raises the serious issue of how terminally ill people are treated. It is absolutely clear that if somebody has a terminal illness they need to be treated with the utmost sensitivity. There is no need for people to self-certify that they have a terminal illness, and they now have several options as to how they would like to progress through the welfare system. They can appoint a representative, such as a doctor or friend, to provide representation for them. These things are all incredibly important. If the hon. Gentleman wants to raise a specific case, I encourage him to take up it with Ministers directly.
Following months of disruption, Northern Rail has now announced a compensation scheme for season ticket holders, but no special arrangements are being made for those who suffered disruption but did not hold season tickets, and delay repay simply does not meet the inconvenience that they suffered. May we have a debate on the compensation schemes offered to rail passengers?
We have all been really frustrated—sometimes at first hand, but very much on behalf of our constituents—by some of the appalling delays for rail passengers. They have been completely unacceptable, and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport has taken strong action to try to put the timetabling right and to ensure that all lessons are learned. It is vital that passengers get the compensation they deserve, which is why we have put in place a scheme for them to claim back up to 100% of their fares.
I was going to ask the Leader of the House for a debate on the Brexit White Paper, but she has already announced one. Instead, may we have a debate on another shambles involving multiple plans that is running behind schedule—the electrification of the south Wales main line, which we have heard has now been delayed to an undetermined date? Great Western Railway services are regularly being cancelled or delayed, or are breaking down, offering an appalling service to my constituents in Cardiff South and Penarth.
The hon. Gentleman will be aware that this Government are presiding over the biggest investment in the rail network since Victorian times. That is absolutely vital. On electrification, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has made it clear that we want to ensure that the funding will count and that we take advantage of the best technologies to give passengers the improved journeys that they rightly expect, while avoiding unnecessary disruption.
Durham is currently reviewing its strategy to tackle obesity, including childhood obesity, and has identified a huge problem with the availability and take-up of community sports facilities. That is perhaps not surprising given the massive cuts to the council since 2020. Following a week when we have all been concentrating on sport, will the right hon. Lady make time for a debate on how her Government can better fund community sports facilities?
The hon. Lady is absolutely right to raise the importance of sport, particularly this week. Hopefully, we will not just be sitting on our sofas watching it, but getting up and taking part in it. She is right that, in schools, sport, as well as an active lifestyle, is absolutely key, and I hope that she will be looking carefully and feeding into the Government’s obesity strategy as we come forward with the next phase.
GP at Hand, a partnership between GP surgeries and Babylon, a private company, is distorting the primary care system not only in my constituency, but across London, according to the British Medical Association, by using a loophole to sign up tens of thousands of mainly young and elderly people from across the region for online medical services, thus leaving other GPs to deal with more complex and expensive conditions. May we have a debate on private sector involvement in the NHS where this puts profit above patient care?
The hon. Gentleman raises what sounds like a very concerning case, and he is right to do so. I encourage him to seek an Adjournment debate so that he can raise his specific concerns directly with Health Ministers.
Owing to cuts by the Tory-controlled council, Scunthorpe’s citizens advice bureau is having to make redundancies, and now I hear that a loss of Lotto funding means that the Grimsby-based CAB is also having to look at its staffing. These centres are so important to the residents across northern Lincolnshire. The staff are highly trained and always professional, so, please, may we have a debate on the future funding of citizens advice bureaux?
I pay tribute to all of the excellent work of citizens advice bureaux right across the country. They are so often staffed by volunteers who are really trying to help their fellow citizens; it is absolutely vital work. The hon. Lady is right to raise the question of funding. It is for local authorities to make those decisions, but she might like to seek a Backbench Business debate so that all Members can share their views about what more can be done to support citizens advice bureaux.
I wonder whether the Leader of the House might find some time for this House to make some suggestions to President Trump’s itinerary. I notice that, at the moment, he seems to be going to castles, country houses and golf courses. In the light of her comments about having frank and open discussion, I wonder whether we could include in his itinerary a visit to Scunthorpe steelworks, a woman’s refuge and Winston Churchill’s home at Chartwell?
The hon. Lady might appreciate that it is slightly above my pay grade to decide the itinerary of the President of the United States. I do take her point that, often with these types of visits from Heads of State, it is very difficult for them to go to all the parts of the country that we would like them to visit. Nevertheless, this will not be the last time, and I suggest that she make her views known to the Foreign Office direct and she can put in that bid very early on.
My constituent, Mr Robb, was diagnosed with cancer in 2015, and he was subsequently awarded contribution-based employment and support allowance. In September, he qualifies for his state pension, but he is having to undergo another ESA questionnaire and attend a work capability assessment. His doctor is annoyed, too, because he is having to complete a Department for Work and Pensions form outlining my constituent’s medical conditions—all for a benefit that my constituent will not access until he gets his pension. May we have a statement about introducing a Government policy with a cut-off date for benefit reassessments when people are approaching pension age?
The hon. Gentleman raises a very specific constituency case, and I am very sympathetic. If he would like to write to me, I would be happy to take it up directly with Ministers on his behalf.
On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I am grateful to you, Mr Speaker, because I know that you are accommodating me while the Leader of the House is still on the Bench, and I appreciate that. I have given both the Leader of the House and Mr Liddell-Grainger notice that I intended to raise this issue.
Mr Speaker, you will be aware that Travellers are recognised as a protected race under the Equality Act 2010. I appreciate the correspondence of the Leader of the House with me today, but Traveller groups have told me that they found the exchange on
I obviously wanted the hon. Lady to have the opportunity to put her point, and the Leader of the House was notified of that and was perfectly content with that as far as I am aware and there seems to be an apposite quality about this exchange. If the Leader of the House wants to say something, we look forward to hearing her.
What the hon. Lady fails to mention is that I also said to her that I was extremely disappointed that she appears to have deliberately chosen to misunderstand my words. It was quite clear from what I said that I was talking about the problem of illegal encampments. She has attributed to me views that I do not hold. I have the utmost respect and regard for the history and the way of life of the travelling communities. I was utterly offended by her letter and I am offended by her point of order. I sincerely hope that she will consider carefully trying to arouse this offence to a travelling community where none was intended and absolutely none was given.
We cannot continue the debate. [Interruption.] Order. I have heard what the Leader of the House has said. We cannot have a debate on the matter today. If there is a procedural point, I will hear it, but if there is just a difference of opinion, we had better leave it there for now. The hon. Lady has expressed her point with considerable force, and the Leader of the House has responded in similar vein, putting her point of view and that seems to be appropriate.