Summer Adjournment

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:22 pm on 25th July 2019.

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Photo of Jeremy Lefroy Jeremy Lefroy Conservative, Stafford 2:22 pm, 25th July 2019

Most women will be going to a consultant-led unit in Stoke, Wolverhampton or Walsall. I understand that, and they may have received advice from their GP on the issue—this has to be clinically led—but I very much value the stand-alone unit in Stafford and want it to continue.

We also have a problem with shortage of general practitioners in Stafford. In fact, there is a shortage across the country, so I welcome the new medical schools that are being opened. I am delighted that my wife, who is a GP, was up in Sunderland this week giving some training at the new medical school, which is about to be opened. I welcome the ones that are going to be opened in Chelmsford and other places.

I want to raise a few other issues, such as visas, including for foreign spouses and partners. Many people have come to my surgery with real problems in getting visas, including visas to visit, let alone visas for residence, and those issues need to be looked at more sympathetically, as does the issue of visas for visitors from Africa. Last week, the hon. Members for Glasgow North (Patrick Grady) and for Newcastle upon Tyne Central (Chi Onwurah) and I published a report on the difficulties that African visitors have in getting visas. These are Government officials and business people. I had one case recently involving the headmaster of a school in Ghana who was coming to visit his brother for a couple of weeks—a very distinguished man. Of course he does not want to stay in this country—he would much rather go back and teach his students in Ghana—but it has taken ages and he still does not have that visa. We must, must do better and I urge all Members to read the report that we jointly produced.

Turning to business, this is a minor matter, although not so minor for those affected by it—bailiffs. The behaviour of bailiffs has been considered by the House and new rules have been put in place. However, there is also the matter of fees. Sometimes, fees go up enormously—exponentially—over time. We should look at capping bailiff fees. I understand that bailiffs are necessary; their role is important in enforcing payment of debt, but it must be carried out in a reasonable manner.

We also need to look at the infrastructure for charging electric vehicles. We talk about needing to move to electric transportation. Quite frankly, the charging infrastructure is very poor. It is getting better, although not nearly fast enough, but the grid is simply not there to support it, nor is the generating capacity. I have asked questions about this in the past. I believe that we are too complacent. If we are to move to electric vehicles fast—we are making them in the west midlands and in Sunderland—we need the infrastructure to support that.

Finally, two issues. First, I welcome the start, after about 30 years of discussion, of the African continental free trade area. This will be tremendous for the African continent, but also for all those such as the United Kingdom who wish to trade and invest far more with our friends and neighbours across the Mediterranean in Africa.

Secondly, I have recently had the pleasure of being appointed to the Environmental Audit Committee. We have heard that Natural England is grossly underfunded and cannot do the work that needs to be done on all these fantastic sites of special scientific interest, so I ask the Treasury to look carefully at restoring the funding that has been cut from Natural England.