It is a pleasure to follow Cat Smith and to reply from the Treasury Bench.
This afternoon’s debate took place at a time when the Westminster hothouse was even hotter than normal—over 39° C. Hon. Members will I am sure be keen to return to their communities to serve their constituents in cooler climes and, I hope, with cooler temperatures. Not all of us, however, can boast the sun, the sea and the splendid ice cream of which Mrs Moon is so justly proud.
My right hon. Friend Mrs May reminded us in her speech yesterday that our primary role in this place is to do the best to look after our constituents. I thought that point was encapsulated very well by Mr Sweeney, but it was apparent in all the passionate contributions made this afternoon by all the Members present. I am just sorry, Madam Deputy Speaker, that my winding up cannot possibly do them all the justice they deserve.
I found out to my surprise the other day that some Members in our sister Parliament in Canberra sit for constituencies named after people rather than geography. If the same principle applied to our parliamentary procedures my vote would be—the hon. Member for Lancaster and Fleetwood alluded to this—for the evening Adjournment debate to be referred to as “the Strangford”, whereas my hon. Friend Sir David Amess has made this particular debate his very own. We always await his contribution with interest and he never fails to disappoint either this House or the many constituents whose problems he brings before us. I recall being taught at school that without cities, civilisation could not rise. It is similarly axiomatic that without hearing of Southend’s claim to be a city, this House could not rise either.
In opening the debate, my hon. Friend raised many points that will be best answered, I fear, by the Departments concerned, but I was glad to hear him talk about school funding, which is a very active issue in my Horsham constituency as well. I hope that like me, he was encouraged by the positive and robust comments made by our right hon. Friend the Prime Minister in his statement this morning.
My hon. Friend Jeremy Lefroy is a dashing Member of the House and it is no surprise to hear that he joined the police in a successful raid on drugs perpetrators. He also raised the importance of housing regulations, particularly in the context of environmental standards. That passion is shared by the Government. I remind him of the words of my right hon. Friend Mr Hammond in the last Budget and I am sure that my hon. Friend will continue to push on this issue.
My hon. Friend Fiona Bruce raised the dreadful issue of trafficking and prostitution—an issue that was brought home to me by the charity Streetlight in my constituency. I understand that her report on this was launched at 4 o’clock this afternoon. I admire her for being in her place; it is a fine example of multi-tasking in this Chamber.
My hon. Friends the Members for Stirling (Stephen Kerr) and for Moray (Douglas Ross) always speak with such passion and effectiveness on behalf of their constituencies and of Scotland as a whole. I visited my hon. Friend the Member for Stirling in his constituency—it was a great pleasure—and I look forward to visiting Moray in due course and hearing more about the benefits of the city deal.
My hon. Friend James Cartlidge spoke with great passion about an issue in his constituency on which he is hugely engaged. He has put his developers firmly on notice.
Turning to my hon. Friend Bob Blackman, on
Turning to Opposition Members, there were many great speeches on the other side of the House this afternoon. Susan Elan Jones, the chairman of the all-party group on charities and volunteering, said in a brilliant speech that she would be satisfied if, as a result of her contribution, just one person started helping the RAF Benevolent Fund. I am certain, having listened to her speech, that it will have been far more effective than that.
Turning to my Sussex colleague, Lloyd Russell-Moyle, one of the highlights of the parliamentary year for me was listening to his Adjournment debate back in November, on World AIDS Day, when he spoke with such passion. He raised a point of great passion again today—his schools—and I would love to debate it with him. Now is not the moment, but I am certain that he will pursue that in his normal, assiduous way.
Wes Streeting made a speech of two halves. I preferred the first half—the optimistic half—but he spoke with great passion throughout. I know—because I know him—that whatever his views on my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, he will bear no ill will or ill harm to any Member of this place, but the hon. Gentleman made his point in his customary manner.
I had the privilege of briefly serving under Stephen Timms when he was a Minister in the Treasury. He had a reputation then as being a courteous, detailed and effective Minister. He is clearly deploying the same skills in this place on behalf of his constituent—a case that seems very strange and which I am sure he will continue to pursue.
Mary Glindon spoke movingly of those facing alcohol dependency issues and the importance of the alcohol charter.
The hon. Members for Keighley (John Grogan) and for Oxford East (Anneliese Dodds) expressed the passion of many—of all our constituents—on the issue of climate change. The hon. Lady, in particular, referred to the challenges being faced by those in the developing world because of climate change, which affects us all.
The hon. Members for Bridgend (Mrs Moon), and for Preston (Sir Mark Hendrick), and indeed Chris Stephens, in his summing up on behalf of the Scottish National party—I remember vividly replying to his maiden speech all those years ago—all spoke about or touched on universal credit. I am familiar with many of the issues that they raise, not least through the Horsham District food bank and Citizens Advice in my constituency. Universal credit is a better system than that which preceded it, but that does not mean that it cannot be improved. I urge all hon. Members to continue to raise, as I know they do, individual cases with the Department concerned.
Mr Lewis forcefully called on the Government to look again at avoidable deaths from epilepsy, in the context of a constituent who had suffered a personal loss. I hope, as does he, that real good can come out of her campaign, and out of the tragedy to which he referred.
Nick Smith spoke with great knowledge—and pith, which was very welcome in this debate—on pension mis-selling. I am sorry that the knowledge is the result of a dreadful scam having been inflicted, it appears, on his constituents and members of the British Steel pension scheme. We all utterly condemn the scammers. I am sure that we will hear much more from him on this subject.
Stewart Malcolm McDonald made a compelling speech on Ukraine and Russia, and was supported in that by John Woodcock, who followed him, and who also raised concerns about the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust that I am sure will have been heard by the relevant Department.
The hon. Member for Glasgow North East spoke with passion about the imminent closure of the Caley railway works in his constituency. I wish him well in his discussions with the Scottish Minister with responsibility for transport, and I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will remain in close contact with my hon. Friends in Government.
Jim Fitzpatrick, with whom it is a pleasure to serve on the all-party parliamentary group on credit unions, spoke effectively, as ever, on a range of issues regarding housing in Tower Hamlets—a subject that he always speaks on with great authority, and will continue to do so. Lyn Brown speaks well on behalf of her constituents; today she chose a broader theme and a global outlook, but spoke with equal passion, determination and force.
We heard a little bit of history from Rachael Maskell. She put her hopes for the future of the beautiful city that she represents in the context of its deep historical roots as Eboracum and Yorvik. She spoke passionately of York as a living, breathing, vibrant city, where planning works on behalf of all York’s citizens.
Many hon. Members will be very aware of the benefits to school students of a proper diet and breakfast. Siobhain McDonagh spoke convincingly and with great knowledge of what sounds like a tremendous scheme in her constituency, and with huge passion on the Shooting Star children’s hospice. As she pointed out, no Adjournment debate would be complete without a contribution from Jim Shannon. Just for fun, and for our benefit, he contributed in both English and Ulster Scots, and we were grateful for it. He revelled in his passion for the land, and raised the acute issues faced by many of his constituents who work on it. We were grateful for his contribution.
Many hon. Members raised the dreadful plight of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe. Even while we are not sitting, she and her family will firmly remain in our thoughts, as the Foreign Office continues to work on their behalf. There were many valuable points raised that I regret I have not had time to address; I am sure that they will be spotted and picked up by the Department concerned. It remains for me to thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker, your fellow Deputy Speakers, the Clerks, and all the officers of this House for all their work—all the officers who keep us informed, briefed, fed and watered, and, above all, safe.
The hon. Member for Southend West referred to the importance of education. We will all have had teachers who helped guide us here. I think of one of my English teachers as I wish all hon. Members a brief
“time for frighted peace to pant”,
as we prepare for fresh-winded “accents of new broils” when this House resumes. Have a good summer.