Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.Donate to our crowdfunder
I am most grateful to be called to speak on this first day of the Queen’s Speech debate. I echo colleagues’ remarks about the excellence of the speeches that we heard at the beginning from my hon. Friends the Members for North East Derbyshire (Lee Rowley) and for Truro and Falmouth (Sarah Newton).
I do not know whether you recall, Madam Deputy Speaker, that the House of Commons gift shop used to sell a fridge magnet featuring the words of a certain British comedian, Spike Milligan. My hon. Friend Sir David Amess remembers it. Those words were “One day the don’t knows will get in, and then where will we be?” I fear that there is a danger that we shall be known as the “don’t know Parliament”.
“Ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation;
you were deputed here by the people to get grievances redress’d…In the name of God, go!"
My hon. Friend is nodding.
I pray, in the earnest sense of the word, that on Saturday this House determines this matter of Brexit. I speak as a just-remainer who represents a midlands constituency that voted 60/40 out. I believe I have a moral duty to get my constituents out of Europe, and that the authority of the electorate—we delegated power to the electorate—supersedes anything passed by this House. It may be a legal nicety that the referendum was not legally binding, but woe betide this House if it ignores the will of the people.
We need a bit of luck in politics, and I cannot believe my luck seeing the Minister of State for Health my hon.—or probably right hon.—Friend Caroline Dinenage sitting on the Front Bench, because I am intending to talk about health. Of course, one of the problems with the Queen’s Speech is that if we try to talk about the subject we wish to talk about someone like you, Madam Deputy Speaker, gets up and says “We have to restrict the debate to four”—or three or two—“minutes,” so we end up with no debate at all. As my perspicacious hon. Friend the Member for Southend West knows and pointed out, one of the joys of being lucky enough to be called on the first day, however, is that we might get a chance to make a longer speech, so I am particularly grateful to be called, and I want to talk about the health measures in the Queen’s Speech and, if I have time, say a word about the environment.
I absolutely welcome the 40 new hospitals that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has committed to, and I am particularly excited because Leicester, with the Royal Infirmary, the General and Glenfield, is going to be part of that massive hospital upgrade programme. I would like to think that when my right hon. Friend the Health Secretary came to Hinckley and saw what we were doing there—he visited an integrated healthcare clinic, where he saw chiropractors and massage therapists working together, apart from the main hospital—that might have influenced his decision.
Madam Deputy Speaker, it will be no secret to you and possibly the Minister of State that I have argued pretty much all my parliamentary career for integrated healthcare. I note that an integrated healthcare Bill was referred to in the Queen’s Speech, but I do not think it is quite the integration that I have been looking for, which is a wider range of treatments available on the NHS. I will go further today, in what might be my last speech—it will certainly be my last contribution to a Queen’s Speech debate—in what has so far been a 32-year career as I am standing down and say that, despite my support for these 40 hospitals, I think we need a new health paradigm. If we look around at what is happening outside—the Attenborough effect, worries about plastics and the Antarctic, not to mention activities recently—we can see that what we really need now is a sustainable healthcare policy. [Interruption.] My hon. Friend Bob Stewart is getting a phone message.