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Health and Social Care

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:51 pm on 16th January 2020.

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Photo of Edward Argar Edward Argar Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care) 4:51 pm, 16th January 2020

It is a pleasure to wind up a debate on such an important issue as our NHS and social care, and it was marked by the many well-informed contributions from hon. Members on both sides of the House. Those contributions reflect the pride we all feel in our NHS and how important it is to our constituents.

Before moving on to the maiden speeches, I want to highlight the powerful contributions from my right hon. Friends the Members for Old Bexley and Sidcup (James Brokenshire) and for South West Surrey (Jeremy Hunt) and Emma Hardy. I can tell the hon. Lady that I believe we already have a date in the diary for February, so I look forward to meeting her and discussing the issues she raised.

Given the short time remaining, I intend to focus on today’s maiden speeches, so I hope the House will forgive me if I do not take interventions on this one occasion. All the maiden speeches we heard today were of an incredibly high quality, and all those who have spoken will play a full role in keeping both Front-Bench teams on their mettle in the months and years ahead.

I will start with my hon. Friend Dehenna Davison. She spoke deeply movingly about her father and what drives her politics. I congratulate her on already bringing the same passion and determination to ensure that her constituents’ views are heard that she demonstrated in her fantastically successful election campaign. I suspect that we shall all hear a lot more from her in the months ahead.

My hon. Friend Dean Russell mentioned that he had never really thought he would be here, but having heard him I can see exactly why he is here and why the people of Watford put their trust in him. In response to one of his comments, I say that one’s height—I look at you Madam Deputy Speaker, and I think of the Lord Chancellor and my old friend the former Member for Rutland and Melton—does not directly correlate to the influence that one can have in this place.

Amy Callaghan made an eloquent speech setting out passionately the principles that govern her politics and that she brings to representing her constituents. Her dedication to her constituency and to Scotland was clear in her remarks.

Florence Eshalomi showed that she will be as strong a voice for her constituents as her predecessor. She spoke very movingly about her mother, and I hope she will let me say that I suspect her mother would have been deeply and rightly proud if she could have seen and heard her speech in the House today.

My hon. Friend Elliot Colburn spoke powerfully on behalf of his constituents. He fought an excellent campaign, and he spoke charmingly and well about his predecessor. He spoke up for his hospital, and I know he will continue to do so, but he was also clear in informing his constituents of why they should ignore the scaremongering they may have heard over many years. In him, they have a strong local champion.

Munira Wilson steps into big shoes—indeed, big dancing shoes—and, judging by her speech today, I think she will have no trouble filling them. I hope her contribution today will be the first of many from her on health-related matters.

There may be something about Members for Ealing North, but James Murray demonstrated that they all display a good sense of humour in this place, and he is continuing that tradition. He was active as a deputy Mayor of London, and I am sure he will bring that experience, expertise and commitment to his new role. I welcome him to the House.

Feryal Clark spoke movingly and powerfully about the diversity of her seat. She spoke about the importance of that diversity, and of how we should all protect, encourage and champion such diversity. I am sure she will be a diligent and determined champion not only for that but for all her constituents.

Sarah Owen spoke powerfully of the importance of social care and getting it right. Again, she demonstrated a sense of humour in her remarks, which I am sure will mark her future contributions. We look forward to hearing more from her.

Finally, I have known my hon. Friends the Members for Sevenoaks (Laura Trott), for North West Norfolk (James Wild) and for Peterborough (Paul Bristow) as friends over many years, and they have served at the heart of Government and in this place in previous roles. They bring that same dedication and talent to serving their constituents. They spoke incredibly well, demonstrating their experience and passion, and I suspect we will be hearing a lot more from all three of them in this House and in national politics.

The election has broken the deadlock in this House, giving our country a majority Government who are not just getting Brexit done but repaying the trust placed in us by the public to deliver the people’s priorities. The Opposition Front Bench may speak about their commitment to the NHS, but this Government and this Secretary of State for Health and Social Care are actually delivering on our commitments. They are ambitious commitments, but they are the right commitments.

We are delivering the longest and largest cash settlement in the history of the NHS, and we are providing the investment that the NHS itself said it needed. We are delivering the biggest and boldest hospital building programme in a generation. We are delivering new treatments and new technologies to deliver world-class, world-leading and safer care. We are working to find consensus to address the injustices in social care and the inequalities in mental health. For too long, Governments of all shades have not given those issues the priority that this Government will now give them.

It is clear that the Conservative party is the party of the NHS. We have protected and prioritised the NHS for 44 years of its 71-year history when we have been in government. Under this Conservative one nation Government, under this Conservative one nation Prime Minister and with this Queen’s Speech, we will continue to do so. These legislative reforms will strengthen our NHS and put it on a secure and stable footing for the future.

We will ensure a publicly funded NHS, free at the point of use and accessible according to need not ability to pay, and an NHS that is not for sale and never will be; an NHS true to its founding principles but, crucially, an NHS that is ready for the challenges of the future. It is there not only for our generation but for future generations. The NHS belongs to all of us; it is the people’s NHS and this Government are there for it. I commend this Queen’s Speech to the House.

Question put, That the amendment be made.