I have been asked to reply.
My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister is in Portsmouth today, with other world leaders, to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D-day landings. The commemoration will involve more than 4,000 personnel in D-day events in the United Kingdom and France and representatives of every country that fought alongside the United Kingdom in Operation Overlord—and, appropriately, our former adversaries as well. I am sure that Members in all parts of the House will want to join me in paying tribute to the sacrifice of those who fought to secure the liberty and peace that we enjoy today, and to the courage which made possible the restoration of democracy, human rights and the rule of law to our continent of Europe. I am also sure that the whole House will want to join me in sending our very best wishes to our Muslim constituents here in the United Kingdom, and to Muslims around the world who are celebrating Eid al-Fitr.
I had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others earlier today, and I shall have further such meetings later.
As my right hon. Friend has said, today in Portsmouth and tomorrow in Normandy, we honour the veterans and the 150,000 British, American, Canadian and other allied troops who led the charge to liberate Europe from the real Nazi scum. Does my right hon. Friend agree that, when a minority of hate-fuelled demonstrators yell “Nazi scum” in the faces of American tourists and intimidate others who are legitimately welcoming the visit of the American President, however we may take issue with him—and when, regrettably, they are spurred on by certain hon. Members—they attack the greatest alliance of free nations, and demean the memory of those brave troops and veterans whose sacrifice secured the right of all of us to free speech and lawful protest?
I agree with every word that my hon. Friend has just said. It is worth our reminding ourselves that the fact that we and our neighbouring countries across the channel enjoy today the freedom to express our views publicly, to assemble and demonstrate our points of view, and to argue peacefully against one another in this place, is derived from the courage and the sacrifice of the wartime generation, whether from the United Kingdom, the United States of America, or our other allies. We should remember and salute that courage and that sacrifice, and should not demean it by engaging in the sort of disgraceful behaviour to which my hon. Friend has referred.
It is a pleasure to step in on behalf of my colleagues today and, indeed, to stand opposite the right hon. Gentleman. I echo his comments about the marking of the 75th anniversary of the D-day landings, which are being commemorated in Portsmouth today. We must never forget the extraordinary sacrifices of all those who landed in Normandy on that day, and the achievements of our servicemen and women who came together to fight fascism and protect our freedom.
I, too, wish a happy Eid al-Fitr to all our Muslim friends throughout the United Kingdom. Let me also express solidarity with all the women who are fighting pension injustice in court and outside Parliament today.
I congratulate both English teams who competed in the Champions League final on Saturday. It pains me, as a Manchester United fan, to congratulate Liverpool on their victory, although—fair play—Liverpool fans did rename “Margaret Thatcher Square” in Madrid “Jeremy Corbyn Square”. I reckon that that deserves brownie points, even from a Man United fan.
Yesterday, the Prime Minister had to repeat to President Trump a journalist’s question about whether the NHS was on the table as part of a United States trade deal. Given that the Prime Minister was silent on the matter, perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will clarify the Government’s position. Will the Tory party give US companies access to the NHS—yes or no?
May I first welcome the hon. Lady to these new responsibilities for her and agree with her comments both about D-day and the success of English football teams in the two most recent European finals, and also wish both the English and Scottish women’s elevens well in their forthcoming matches?
I welcome the hon. Lady. I feel slightly sorry for Emily Thornberry, who I have become used to jousting with and who seems to have been dispatched to internal exile somewhere else along the Opposition Front Bench. The hon. Lady perhaps needs to watch out because I think there is a lesson there: anybody who outshines the dear leader at the Dispatch Box risks being airbrushed out of the politburo history at the earliest opportunity.
The Prime Minister has been very clear and she spoke for everyone in the Government and on this side of the House: when it comes to trade negotiations, the NHS is not, and will not be, up for sale.
The right hon. Gentleman is full of the banter today, Mr Speaker.
The President certainly seemed to think the NHS was on the table yesterday. So does the Trade Secretary, but who knows who speaks for the Government at the moment? The Prime Minister did nothing to allay concerns yesterday, so I hope she was more forceful in raising climate change with a President who initiated the US withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement, opened up record amounts of land for oil and gas drilling and called climate change a hoax. Can the right hon. Gentleman confirm whether yesterday the Prime Minister made any attempt to convince the President that climate change is in fact real?
Yes, the Prime Minister did raise climate change with the President yesterday and she made it clear at their joint press conference yesterday afternoon that she had done that. We are very proud of this country’s commitment to the international agreements to reduce global carbon emissions and we have a better track record in reducing those emissions than any other G7 member state.
The statistics that the right hon. Gentleman referred to relate to emissions cuts since 2010, when the UK benefited from policies put in place by the last Labour Government—policies that have since been dismantled. But how much authority do this Government actually have on this issue? Three current Cabinet Ministers have denied the scientific consensus on climate change, and several of those standing in the Tory leadership contest have close links with organisations and individuals promoting climate denial. It does not bode well. Figures released in April show that the UK is set to miss its own carbon budgets by an ever-widening margin. Would the right hon. Gentleman like to explain why the Government are off track in respect of meeting their own targets?
We are not off track in respect of meeting those targets. Since 2010, the United Kingdom has decarbonised our economy faster than any other G7 country. We generate now a record amount of electricity from renewable energy sources and we have just gone through the longest period in our history without relying on electricity generated from coal. That stands starkly against what appears to be the Labour party’s declared policy, which is to reopen the coal mines but not actually to burn the coal that they mine.
Let me be clear: the Labour party does not condone the reopening of any coal mine to be used for energy purposes. Once again, the right hon. Gentleman refers to climate emissions reductions that were implemented using Labour party policy—Labour policies that have since been dismantled. Not only are the Government failing to meet their targets, but last year actually saw the smallest drop in carbon emissions in the last six years: just 2%. At that rate it would take until the end of the century to reach net zero emissions. Just yesterday, the Financial Times reported that the Government are accused of trying to “fiddle its emissions figures”, ignoring their official advisers. So let me ask the right hon. Gentleman a simple policy question: the Labour party has committed to banning fracking. Will the Government ban fracking and allow new onshore wind in England—yes or no?
What the Government are committed to is to reducing emissions in line with our domestic and global targets. We have not only met but outperformed our first and second carbon budgets, and we are on track towards meeting the third. For some time into the future, there will be a need to use gas as a transitional fuel, but it is much less polluting than other forms of hydrocarbon-based energy and it will therefore be a good source during the transition period while we make ready to move to a completely decarbonised economy.
This is absolutely staggering. The Government promote fracking, which is backed by only 12% of the public, yet they effectively block onshore wind, which is backed by 79% of the public. New solar is down 94% and home insulation is down 98%. Parliament has declared a climate emergency, yet there is no evidence that this Government take it seriously. We need a green industrial revolution to tackle climate change. The Swansea tidal lagoon alone would have required 100,000 tonnes of steel, mainly from Port Talbot, but the Government refused to back it. Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us what the Government have actually done to support our steel industry since signing the steel charter?
If we look at what is actually happening in the real world, rather than at the ideological tracts that the hon. Lady appears to spend her time reading, we see that there are already about 400,000 jobs in low-carbon businesses and their supply chains throughout the United Kingdom, with scope for much more low-carbon growth to support up to 2 million jobs in the future. We have now received advice from the independent Committee on Climate Change about how to time and to legislate for our transition to a completely decarbonised economy, and we will be bringing forward later this year our decisions on how and when we will be taking that action.
The independent Committee on Climate Change has repeatedly criticised the Government’s approach to decarbonising our economy. I note that there was not a single word in the right hon. Gentleman’s response on what support the Government will provide for the steel industry, and people from Redcar to Scunthorpe know that his empty rhetoric will not solve their catastrophe. Climate change is an existential threat. To safeguard our future, we will need to mobilise all our resources, just like we did when we rebuilt Britain after the second world war. If we took the challenge seriously, we could create hundreds of thousands of jobs in low-carbon industries, reverse decades of decline in our de-industrialised areas and lead the world in renewable technologies, but the Government are letting us down. They have recklessly run the clock down on Brexit, and is it not the truth that their failure is now running down the clock on our planet?
The hon. Lady asks about Government help for the steel industry. The answer to her question is that we have provided taxpayer-funded subsidies to cut energy costs in the steel industry. We have also supported globally, and introduced here, trade defence measures to shut out unfair competition and the dumping of steel. When I was in Sheffield a few days ago, I talked to specialist steelmakers in South Yorkshire who welcomed this Government’s commitment to the advanced manufacturing centre there and to the work we are doing on technical and vocational training. They were optimistic about the future of steelmaking and manufacturing in this country under the policies that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has been taking through. When I looked at the hon. Lady’s video about the Labour party’s new commitment to what it terms a green industrial revolution, I saw that it concluded with a focus on words about renationalisation and bringing industries back into public ownership, as if that were the way forward. We know from the CBI that the cost of that would be £176 billion, taken from the pockets of taxpayers throughout the United Kingdom. That money could be used to build 3 million new homes. Those Labour policies would put at risk the finances of decent working families in every part of this country.
Somerset has been helping to illustrate the huge national challenge that we face in social care through a powerful “Panorama” programme, the final part of which airs tonight. Will my right hon. Friend join me in paying tribute to all those in caring roles and commit to addressing their funding needs fully?
I thank my hon. Friend for highlighting this important issue. We are committed to ensuring that people of all ages have access to the care and support that they need; that is why we have given local authorities access to nearly £4 billion more for adult social care this year.
However, we recognise that we also need to make sure that best practice is observed across all local authorities and NHS trusts, where the evidence is that delayed discharges are higher in some areas than others. We will be publishing the Green Paper at the earliest opportunity to set out the hard strategic choices that will face the Government, whoever leads the Government in the months to come, and to describe proposals to ensure that the social care system is sustainable over the longer term.
I associate myself and my Scottish National party colleagues with the comments of others. Our thoughts are with the veterans gathered in Portsmouth today to commemorate the anniversary of D-day. Today is also World Environment Day—an important reminder that climate change remains the biggest challenge facing the world. I also wish a very happy Eid Mubarak to all those celebrating across the UK today.
Yesterday, Donald Trump said that the NHS was “on the table” in the trade talks with the UK. Today, he says he is not so sure. This is someone who does not even believe in climate change—a President who simply cannot be trusted. Why, then, are the UK Government so obsessed with pursuing a trade deal that puts Scotland’s NHS at risk?
The Government are not putting the NHS at risk in Scotland or anywhere else, and the Prime Minister has made that very clear indeed. What I fear is putting standards at risk at the NHS in Scotland is the SNP’s obsession with constitutional matters and the referendum rather than focusing on the better delivery of public services.
We have the best performing NHS in the UK, with the highest number of GPs per head of population. If this week has proven anything, it is that there is no guarantee that our NHS is safe. In 2014, Westminster promised that Scotland’s NHS would be in public hands for as long as the people of Scotland wanted that. But now this Tory Government are actively working to deny the Scottish Parliament the powers to safeguard our NHS and protect our public services.
The truth is that, under this Government, Scotland will not have a veto—we may not even have a say. The Scottish Government will never allow our precious NHS to be signed away in a Tory-Trump trade deal. If the Minister and his fellow MPs cannot make that same pledge here today, they will never, ever be forgiven.
At the risk of repeating myself, under this Government, and under the stewardship of anyone on the Government Benches, the NHS is not going to be up for grabs in a trade negotiation with the United States or with anybody else at all. When the hon. Lady talks about the need for a voice for Scotland, she ought to have more confidence in the ability of herself and her colleagues to represent the interests of Scotland here in debates and in the Committees on which they sit. At the moment, they are leaving it to my 13 Conservative colleagues to be the true voice of Scotland.
I know from personal experience what it takes to win a seat from the Labour party, and hold it. Does my right hon. Friend agree that every community in this country needs a strong voice in this place? The people of Peterborough have the opportunity tomorrow to elect Paul Bristow to give them that voice and to replace the failed Labour MP who ended up in jail.
I know the right hon. Gentleman is just a stand-in while the vultures circle, but what does he think of the legacy left by the Prime Minister? This is a deeply divided country in which 14 million people live in poverty, in which 130,000 preventable deaths have been caused by austerity since 2012, in which 17,000 people have died while waiting for disability benefits and in which homelessness is soaring and destitution is rife. A UN rapporteur has described Britain as defined by a “harsh and uncaring ethos.” I do not want to personalise this, because everyone on the Government Benches is responsible, but what kind of legacy is that?
The legacy of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister will be a country in which income inequality is down and wages have been rising faster than inflation for more than a year. We have the lowest unemployment since the 1970s and record numbers of people in jobs. It is about time that Laura Pidcock stopped talking our country down. On this side of the House, we want to raise our country up.
Does my right hon. Friend think it acceptable that people with access to large sums of money are able to bring about private prosecutions in a way that undermines freedom of speech in this country?
Let me say two things. First, I believe that freedom of speech is one of our most precious inheritances from previous generations, and we should do everything we can in this place and outside to uphold that principle. When it comes to any specific case, it would clearly be wrong for me to pass comment on something that is before the courts.
Last weekend my constituency suffered yet more serious violent crime, some in the public domain and some not, including the murder of 18-year-old Fahad Mohamed Nur and a knife attack on the congregation leaving Dar Ul-Isra mosque following Ramadan prayers. Since 2010, under Liberal Democrat and Conservative Governments, South Wales police funding has been cut by nearly £61 million. Police officers in Cardiff are running on empty. What will it take for this shambles of a Government to accept responsibility for public safety and give South Wales police the funding it desperately needs?
South Wales police is actually receiving up to £290 million of funding in the current financial year, which is an increase of £19 million on the last financial year. To get to grips with serious crime—no one would have anything but sympathy for the victims to whom she refers and their families—we also need to look at what drives young men in particular, towards gang membership and participation in violent crime. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, in partnership with other Ministers, is now leading that work, which I hope will bring benefits to the hon. Lady’s constituency and many others.
The motor industry is vital to the economy of Rugby and the west midlands, so is my right hon. Friend concerned to see that UK manufacturing statistics from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders show that in April production fell by 44% because of factory shutdowns for the expected uncertainty of a 29 March Brexit? Does he agree that this should act as a wake-up call to ensure that the same thing does not happen again on 31 October by leaving the EU with a deal that takes away the uncertainty that is so damaging to our manufacturers?
My hon. Friend makes a very important point; the car industry is one of the most important sectors—but by no means the only one—in this country that relies heavily on just-in-time, cross-border supply chains with enterprises in other member states of the European Union. That is why the Government remain focused on ensuring that our departure from the EU is smooth and orderly, and with a deal that allows for those just-in-time supply chains to be protected.
Of the many collective challenges we face, none is more essential—more urgent—than climate breakdown. The legislation required to commit the UK to phasing out carbon emissions entirely by mid-century is simple and has almost certainly been drafted, and this House could pass it in a matter of days. This issue is simply too pressing to wait for later this year or a future Administration. We have the parliamentary time, so what possible reason can the Minister give for why the Government cannot commit to enshrine net zero emissions into law now?
May I first congratulate the hon. Gentleman and his partner—I have looked at his Twitter feed—on the imminent birth of their second child later this year? I wish both he and his partner well. On his question, it was this Government who went to the independent Committee on Climate Change to ask for advice about how, and over what timeframe, to make that move to complete decarbonisation. We have only very recently received that advice. It will clearly need to be considered within Government, and we want to bring forward our decision at the earliest possible opportunity, because I share his view of the importance of getting on with this.
Difficult times often call for new leadership and a new vision, so will my right hon. Friend join me in supporting Councillor David Greenhalgh’s vision for the regeneration of Bolton, his bids to the future high streets fund and the recovery of Bolton, after 40 years of Labour misrule?
I thank my hon. Friend for highlighting this initiative in Bolton. As he knows, high streets are changing, and the Government are committed to helping communities such as Bolton to adapt to that change. We have already set in hand the £675 million future high streets fund, and we welcome Bolton Council’s applications, which are being assessed, alongside other applications. We will make an announcement about the places that are successful later this summer, and I know that my hon. Friend will continue to be a very doughty champion for his city.
My local NHS is cutting GP hours while it and NHS England are forced to subsidise a private company, Babylon GP at hand, which has sucked up more than 50,000 patients for its controversial app-based system, undermining GPs across London and beyond. Given that the Health Secretary is Babylon’s biggest cheerleader, why should my constituents trust this Government to keep the NHS public any more than they would trust Donald Trump?
NHS England is, I understand, increasing the baseline funding of the Hammersmith and Fulham clinical commissioning group to ensure that it is not financially disadvantaged by hosting GP at hand. But to improve its service to patients, the NHS is going to need to embrace innovation. Digital technologies such as those used by GP at hand do offer convenience for patients and often allow clinicians to work more efficiently. That is why our new GP contract gives everyone the right to digital first primary care, including web and video consultations from 2021, if that is what they want to receive.
Seventy-five years ago tonight, the first steps in the liberation of Europe were taken by the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, when they flew by glider to liberate Pegasus bridge. As the Dakotas over Normandy commemorate this feat, will my right hon. Friend join me in celebrating and commemorating all the ordinary and yet extraordinary men and women, from every corner of our country, who turned the tide of the war in freedom’s favour?
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for highlighting the particular example of Pegasus bridge and the heroism shown by servicemen from our two counties. He is right that today we need to pay tribute to the men and women who took part in the success of Operation Overlord, from whichever part of the United Kingdom or from whichever allied country they came.
Far too many people in our uniformed public services are taking their own lives, but we do not know the true extent of the tragedies ass Ministers do not require the data to be collected. Does the Minister agree that the police, armed forces and prison services should follow the lead of the fire service and record the number of people in their service who take their own lives?
The hon. Gentleman makes a good point. I know that he is due to meet Ministers from the Ministry of Justice fairly soon to talk about whether the MOJ could introduce similar practices for its services; I will draw his question to the attention of the Minister for Policing, to see whether a comparable meeting can be established with the Home Office.
Petts Wood in the London Borough of Bromley is designated an area of special residential character, but it has suffered from inconsistent decision making at the hands of the unaccountable Planning Inspectorate. Will my right hon. Friend use his good offices to help me to secure the meeting that I have long been requesting but that the Planning Inspectorate has for some reason consistently declined?
I am happy, in the first instance, to ensure that my hon. Friend has a meeting with the relevant Minister in the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. I hope that that will enable him to find a way forward.
It would be a gross discourtesy if it were otherwise. It is extraordinary that the hon. Gentleman should have to ask for a meeting, but there we are. He is going to get his meeting.
The US President said yesterday that the NHS would be on the table in any trade negotiation, and the Prime Minister did not intervene to stop him. The Lib Dems and Tories voted through the Health and Social Care Act 2012, which opened up the NHS to the US market, and 10% of it is already privatised. The Brexit party leader has no issue with US private healthcare insurance replacing our NHS. No party can be trusted with our NHS—except the Labour party. Is Labour now the only hope to save our NHS?
One does get a bit sick of these scare stories after a while. The hon. Lady might like to pretend otherwise, but the majority of contracting out to the private sector in the NHS did not take place under a Conservative Administration; it took place under the Labour Government, with Andy Burnham urging that it be accelerated. The truth is that during the NHS’s 70-year lifetime, it has had more years under Conservative stewardship than under Labour stewardship. If we look at what is happening today, we see the NHS getting the biggest cash boost ever in its history and a long-term plan for its future, made possible by Conservative policies.
I remind the House of my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests.
I echo what the Minister said about our teams that are going to the World cup and their performances later this month. This country is further represented by the three match officials who have been selected: Sian Massey and Lisa Rashid from England, and my colleague from Scotland Kylie Cockburn. Will my right hon. Friend join me in congratulating them on the dedication, commitment and ability as match officials that has seen them called up to the World cup, and will he wish all our match officials a successful and productive tournament?
I felt that perhaps the shop steward for the amalgamated union of association football officials was speaking then. I am very happy to join my hon. Friend in congratulating Sian, Lisa and Kylie on their having been selected as assistant referees. It is a first-class achievement and I wish them, as well as both teams, all success for the World cup.
Pupils from St Gregory’s Primary School in my constituency recently wrote to me regarding the problem of plastic pollution in our environment. They rightly pointed out the damage that plastic waste causes to marine life and human life as it makes its way up the food chain. As a result, they are calling on the Government to introduce a deposit return scheme that will reduce the amount of plastic that ends up in landfill and in our oceans. On this World Environment Day does the Minister agree with the pupils of St Gregory’s Primary School?
I think I can give the hon. Lady an encouraging message to take back to the pupils of St Gregory’s school, which is that, under the leadership of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment, the Government have launched a resources and waste strategy, which includes consulting on plans to introduce consistent recycling for all households, consulting on a deposit return scheme to drive up the recycling of cans and bottles and plans for producers to pay the full cost of managing packaging waste for extended producer responsibility. I think that that makes a good package.
Thirty years ago this week, some 2,000 democrats—maybe more, but we will never know the number—were murdered in Tiananmen Square. Even now in China, a great firewall prevents Wikipedia, Google and others from communicating with the Chinese people. Although China has moved on, does my right hon. Friend not think it the height of hypocrisy that those who demonstrated against the President of America chose not to demonstrate against the President of China when he came here?
My hon. Friend makes a telling point about the inconsistency in standards among some leading members of this House. It was indeed 30 years yesterday since the tragic and shocking events in which so many people lost their lives while protesting peacefully in and around Tiananmen Square. The sad truth today is that people in China are still unable to exercise their right to protest peacefully—a right given to them by international agreements to which the Chinese Government have signed up. We continue to urge the Chinese Government to respect citizens’ freedom of association, assembly, expression and other fundamental rights and freedoms as is supposed to be enshrined in China’s constitution as well as in international law.
I guess that, when President Trump’s visit was thought up months ago, the plan was that the UK would have left the EU. “Take back control”, they said, but what we saw this week was a vision of things to come: of razzle dazzle concealing the reality of sovereignty reduced to sycophancy. Some 68% of Welsh exports go to the EU. Only 14% of Welsh exports go to the US. Post-Brexit, the British Government will have to choose which deal to strike. Which deal would the Minister prioritise?
If the hon. Lady had been studying the various publications from the Government, she would have seen that our objective is to have a very close, deep future partnership on trade and other matters with our neighbours in the European Union while, at the same time, having the freedom to pursue trade deals with other parts of the world, including with the United States. I ask the hon. Lady to pause before condemning the state visit by the elected Head of State and Government of our staunchest ally at a time when we commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D-day landings and trying to criticise that for political purposes. We can disagree with President Trump—any of us is free to do so—but he is here as the elected Head of State of our staunch consistent ally and we should honour and respect him during that visit.
My right hon. Friend will be aware from his recent visit to Cornwall of the development potential of the space sector there. Therefore, I am sure he will join me in welcoming the announcement yesterday of £7.8 million of Government support for the development of Europe’s first horizontal spaceport in Cornwall. Will he also join me in congratulating all the Spaceport Cornwall team on their successful bid? Will he use his offices to ensure that the Government do everything they can to make sure that the regulations are in place to allow satellites to be launched as soon as possible? While he is on his feet, will he congratulate the Cornish rugby team on its excellent win on Sunday against Cheshire to become county champions?
I am delighted to congratulate the Cornish rugby team, as my hon. Friend invites me to do. I was also very pleased to see the decision being made to give that support to the Cornwall spaceport initiative. I remember very vividly meeting representatives of the spaceport during my visit to Goonhilly Earth Station earlier this year. There are some really exciting commercial opportunities available for Cornwall and the United Kingdom.
In July 2016, my constituent Mr Goff was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a form of blood cancer. He was treated with two lines of chemotherapy, and he initially responded well, but he had recurrent infections that required antibiotics. He went into remission in 2018, and his personal independence payment was stopped in December 2018. Mr Goff appealed the decision. Despite the fact that he was receiving treatment, his appeal was refused. In February, he was told that his cancer had relapsed—it is incurable. He is now being told that his mobility car will be repossessed this week. Removing his PIP will leave him short of money, unable to get to most of his daily appointments and at risk of infection when travelling on public transport. I appeal to everybody on the Government Benches: show some compassion. Someone intervene and stop this injustice.
The hon. Gentleman will appreciate that I do not know any more about the detail of his constituent’s case than what he has just set out before the House. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions is in her place on the Front Bench and will have heard what he said. I shall ask her to make sure that a Minister from that Department speaks to the hon. Gentleman urgently to get to the bottom of what has happened.
The National Readership Challenge launches today, and I particularly recommend to colleagues the conclusions on further education in the Government’s post-18 education review—to reverse the decline of core spending, to increase the unit funding rate and to allow for three-year funding plans. Does my right hon. Friend agree that that should be essential reading for Treasury Ministers before the autumn spending review and that more funding for further education would be very welcome?
My hon. Friend makes a very important point about the vital role that further education plays not only in equipping young men and women with the skills they need to give them good career opportunities, but often also in providing a passport to higher education at a later stage in their careers. The Augar review provides a blueprint for how we can make sure that everybody can follow the path that is right for them, and my hon. Friend is right to say that we need to study Augar’s conclusions carefully in the run-up to the forthcoming spending review.
Police Scotland prepared a report for the Crown Office on extraordinary rendition flights stopping at Scottish airports. Counter-terrorism officers and the Lord Advocate have made it clear that they require full access to the unredacted Senate intelligence committee report from the United States Government, who have so far refused to provide it, and that is prohibiting them from determining whether a crime was committed. Given that intelligence sharing is supposed to underpin our relationship with the US, has anyone from the Government raised this issue with President Trump while he has been here? If not, will the right hon. Gentleman pledge to do so on behalf of Scotland’s law enforcement agencies before President Trump departs UK soil today?
Unsurprisingly, and in line with precedent under all Governments, I am not prepared to discuss security intelligence matters on the Floor of the House, but I will draw the hon. Gentleman’s question to the attention of those of my colleagues in the Government who are directly responsible for these areas of policy.
My thoughts today are with my 94-year-old step-father, who has once again returned to Normandy to remember that it was soldiers, sailors and airmen from not only the UK and the US, but our allies—especially those all over the Commonwealth—who fought for our lives. May we use this moment to thank them, to thank those who serve in our armed forces today and to thank our Prime Minister, who, in her last few days in the job, is serving our country with great dignity?
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for her question. I am sure she will be able to take back to her stepfather a salute from the entire House for his service and that of his comrades in Normandy 75 years ago. I agree with every word she said.
Twelve months ago, the Prime Minister told this House that she wanted a speedy resolution to the funding row between NHS England and Vertex regarding the drug Orkambi to treat cystic fibrosis. My seven-year-old constituent Oliver Ward wrote to the Prime Minister recently asking what progress she has made. Could the Minister please give Oliver some good news and tell him that he need not get up every day worrying about this terrible injustice?
I shall ask the Health Secretary or one of his team to contact the hon. Gentleman at the earliest opportunity to try to give Oliver the news that he wishes for.
May I assume that it relates to matters that cannot wait until after the urgent questions—not because of the fullness of the hon. Gentleman’s diary but because the matter appertains to exchanges that have just taken place?
Oh, very good.
Speaking on a day on which we commemorate the freedom of Europe, it came to my attention at the weekend that a fellow member of the Council of Europe—the Georgian state, and especially its Ministry of the Interior—will not provide security during Pride month to the first ever Pride march through Tbilisi. Given the history of anti-LGBT violence funded by the Russian state in previous years, I wonder, Mr Speaker, how we can convey not only to the Government of Georgia but to its ambassador in the United Kingdom that this House is not only concerned but gravely disappointed by their limitation on human dignity within the Georgian nation.
The hon. Gentleman has partly achieved his objective by the ruse—and I will call it the ruse—of a point of order, which conceivably could have been the substitute for a question that he might have wanted to ask. If that was his objective, he has achieved it. I cannot speak for the House as a whole, but to judge from debates that have taken place in this Chamber in recent years, my strong sense is that his point will have struck a chord. The idea that such a march should not be able to take place within a safe space, with its participants’ physical security underpinned, offends very strongly against our instincts, so I hope that such measures as are necessary to be taken by Georgians will be taken.
More widely, if I heard the hon. Gentleman correctly, he made what struck me as a wholly uncontroversial observation about the record of the Russian state in human rights generally and, more particularly, the protection—or rather the non-protection—of the rights of LGBT people. That is a profoundly unsatisfactory state of affairs, and it is about time it became more civilised in these important matters. [Interruption.] It is always good to have the sedentary support of Michael Fabricant, and I thank him for what he has said.