Business of the House

– in the House of Commons at 11:38 am on 7th July 2022.

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Photo of Mark Spencer Mark Spencer Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

It will be a pleasure. The business for the week beginning on 11 July will include the following:

Monday 11 July—Consideration of a Business of the House motion, followed by all stages of the Energy (Oil and Gas) Profits Levy Bill, followed by debate on motions relating to the Liability of Trade Unions in Proceedings in Tort (Increase of Limits on Damages) Order 2022 and the draft Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses (Amendment) Regulations 2022.

Tuesday 12 July—Remaining stages of the Online Safety Bill (day 1), followed by a debate on a motion on restoration and renewal of the Palace of Westminster.

Wednesday 13 July—Consideration in Committee of the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill (Day 1).

Thursday 14 July—A debate on a motion on Srebrenica, followed by a general debate on protecting and restoring nature at COP15 and beyond. The subjects for these debates were determined by the Backbench Business Committee.

Friday 15 July—Private Members’ Bills.

The provisional business for the week commencing 18 July includes the following:

Monday 18 July—Consideration in Committee of the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill (Day 2).

Tuesday 19 July—Conclusion of consideration in Committee of the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill (Day 3).

Wednesday 20 July—Conclusion of remaining stages of the Online Safety Bill.

Thursday 21 July—Business to be determined by the Backbench Business Committee.

The House will rise for the summer recess at the conclusion of business on Thursday 21 July and return on Monday 5 September.

Photo of Thangam Debbonaire Thangam Debbonaire Shadow Leader of the House of Commons

I thank the Leader of the House for the forthcoming business, although his Government are clearly not in any position to deliver it. The Prime Minister is resigning—we are hearing on Twitter that Cabinet appointments may be happening—and we have had Bill Committees cancelled this morning. There is no doubt, as we have been saying for months, that this Government are simply unable to govern. Inflation has reached its highest for 40 years; 59 members of the Government—when I last printed out a copy of this speech—have resigned; economic growth is grinding to a halt; the hours-in-post Chancellor spent his first day on the job asking his boss to quit rather than planning for how we will deal with the cost of living crisis; and, as backlog Britain bulges, the Attorney General has been on television announcing her leadership bid. This is far beyond a mere distraction; this is a Tory Government paralysed by sleaze and scandal. In a shameful act of desperation, the Prime Minister is dragging the country down with him as he goes, and I am afraid his party has propped him up to do it.

Even if the Prime Minister is now Prime Minister in name only—frankly, that situation needs to change—there appears to be no one left to drive the work of the Government forward in Whitehall. The Leader of the House is constantly telling me that his Government are getting on with the job. They are clearly not. We were told that appointments would be made last night, but we are still waiting for ministerial posts in the Treasury, Education—there is no one there—Justice, Environment, Employment, Housing and Levelling Up. The flagship Levelling Up Department has been levelled to the extent that I think there is only one Minister left standing. When will these Ministers be replaced? What qualifications does someone now need to be a Minister in this Government? Who knows? Not only are the Government unable to carry out their basic functions in Whitehall, but the business of this House cannot proceed.

The Leader of the House may know that the Paymaster General has referred questions about cancelled Bill Committees to him, so I will ask him: what is happening to today’s Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill Committee, which should have been going for, I think, 12 minutes by now? When will that be rescheduled? The Northern Ireland Secretary resigned just a few hours ago. Where does that leave the Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill? What is the plan for all of this?

The Leader of the House has announced business on the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill for 13, 18 and 19 July. Considering the seriousness of that legislation and the impact it has on our country’s reputation, and the fact that this Prime Minister is now a caretaker only, what mandate do the Government have to proceed? This is affecting not just primary but secondary legislation. During the passage of the Building Safety Bill, the Minister admitted that there were unresolved issues that needed statutory instruments passing to protect leaseholders. Is there anyone who can sign these SIs?

In an excruciating appearance before the Liaison Committee yesterday, the Prime Minister admitted he had met a former KGB agent who had links to Putin, without officials being present, in Italy when he was Foreign Secretary. I am glad that my right hon. Friend Yvette Cooper was able to ask questions about that this morning with your permission, Mr Speaker, but not a single one was answered. This is about security. If my right hon. Friend is unable to get answers in the context of a chemical weapons attack on British soil in which British people died, how can this be a Government who are functioning? I ask the Leader of the House, with the greatest respect: how does any of this look like a functioning Government?

Week after week, the Leader of the House has failed to answer my very specific questions on the appointment of a new ethics adviser. Given the new revelations regarding Lebedev, surely he will agree with me today—I hope he will also answer my question—that a new ethics adviser is needed. Can he tell us when this vacancy will be filled? Can he guarantee that the investigations that were ongoing prior to Lord Geidt’s resignation will be completed? The first duty of any Government, as we all know, is to keep their people safe. When the Security Minister resigns in the morning, we cannot allow the vacancy to drift into the evening, let alone the weekend, and for this Conservative party to continue putting national security at risk.

Every single Tory MP—every single one—should take a long, hard look in the mirror and ask themselves how we got here with a Government who have collapsed before our eyes. They are putting the British people through an excruciating and dangerous act of desperation with a caretaker Prime Minister who, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford said, is even more dangerous as a caretaker than as Prime Minister. I may disagree with the Leader of the House politically, but I have huge respect for his office and for that of the Prime Minister. They propped him up, they were complicit, they have overseen 12 years of stagnation, declining public services and empty promises. We need a fresh start with a Labour Government.

Photo of Mark Spencer Mark Spencer Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

There is a very clear difference between the hon. Lady and me. Now is the moment for calmness and professionalism, not for ranting and overexcitement.

The hon. Lady mentioned national security and, before we proceed, we should recognise that today is the 15th anniversary of the 7/7 bombings. The Home Secretary is the Minister responsible for national security, and she is in office—she is still Home Secretary—and in control of our national security. There is no issue on our national security at any level at this moment in time.

I have presented the business of the House, and there are Ministers in place to deliver the programme for the next two weeks. The hon. Lady asked how we will proceed with the Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill. If she had been paying attention, she would know that we have concluded the Bill in this House. She is very concerned about legislation, but there were only four Labour Members in the House to consider the Bill. That is how seriously they take the troubles in Northern Ireland, and there were zero Liberal Democrats. Only four Labour Members could be bothered to turn up to debate the Bill.

The hon. Lady mentioned the chemical weapons attack in Salisbury. She supported a Leader of the Opposition who wanted to send the evidence back for Russia to consider. Just pause for a moment and think about who she supported at that moment in time.

Photo of Mark Spencer Mark Spencer Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

It is all right heckling and saying we have nothing to say, but we are getting on with the business of Government in a calm way. Some Public Bill Committees will not run today, but they will be back up and running very soon.

The hon. Lady finished on Lord Geidt. I declare my interest, but I am assured that processes are in place and that these matters will continue to be reviewed. The result of those processes will come forward very soon.

Photo of Nusrat Ghani Nusrat Ghani Conservative, Wealden

As the Leader of the House continues to have confidence in the Prime Minister, my question requires a simple answer. Does he agree with the Prime Minister that, if a complaint is raised against a Member of Parliament that is so grave it triggers an investigation, that Member of Parliament or Minister should not be promoted or continue on the Front Bench? My question is simple: does he agree with the Prime Minister?

Photo of Mark Spencer Mark Spencer Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

I am not sure how that question is relevant to the business of the House in any way, shape or form. If my hon. Friend wants to apply for an Adjournment debate on any matter, she is welcome to do so.

Several hon. Members:

rose—

Photo of Pete Wishart Pete Wishart Chair, Scottish Affairs Committee, Shadow SNP Leader of the House of Commons, Chair, Scottish Affairs Committee

And the Leader of the House is away! Has he not been curiously quiet over the past 24 hours? He was one of the few Johnson loyalists left standing last night. I thought we might find him in the bunker this morning, chained to the radiator with his beloved Prime Minister—but I can reassure him that he is a rank outsider to take over from the Prime Minister, at something like 80/1, which is a long shot even for him.

What a mess they have made of this. This Prime Minister cannot even leave the scene without almost burning down the House. He is the first Prime Minister in history who, when receiving that tap on the shoulder, told the men in grey suits to get stuffed. Surely there is no way on earth that he can remain as any sort of caretaker, particularly given all the big issues we have to consider and address as we go through the summer. He is more of an undertaker than a caretaker.

What a joke of a business statement, with a Government at half capacity! There are barely enough Ministers to respond to debates and to answers the questions, and business has been cancelled for the rest of the day. What happens to all the vacant positions? Will people all now return to their posts? Does the former Levelling Up Secretary now get his job back?

We need to debate this Prime Minister’s legacy. He will go down as one of the worst Prime Ministers in history, at one of the worst possible times. In just three years, he has managed to decimate our international reputation, our economy and our democracy. We will now have our fourth Prime Minister in six years, so perhaps the problem is not with whoever leads that shower over there. People ask the SNP why we want independence for Scotland. I am not asking that this morning. Independence would mean that we would never again get another Prime Minister whom we had not voted for, like him. Isn’t it funny that one of the last acts of the man who has trashed so much of the democracy in the UK was to write to our First Minister to try to deny democracy to our nation. He has now gone, and Scotland will soon be gone too.

Photo of Mark Spencer Mark Spencer Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

Once again, there was not much in there that was relevant to the business of the House. We await the Prime Minister’s statement this afternoon. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that vacant positions will be refilled as the reshuffle progresses today and tomorrow, and the Government will continue to function in a professional way and deliver for the people of the United Kingdom.

Photo of Andrew Selous Andrew Selous The Second Church Estates Commissioner, The Second Church Estates Commissioner

May we have an urgent debate in Government time, because I have already had a debate in Westminster Hall, on increasing general practice capacity where we have huge increases in population? The Leader of the House faces similar issues to those I have in my constituency; they exist all over the country. Such a debate would show to our constituents that, notwithstanding what has gone on in the past few days, the Government get this and take the issue seriously, and that serious work will take place on this issue in the next few weeks and months.

Photo of Mark Spencer Mark Spencer Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

I pay tribute to my hon. Friend, who has done a lot of work on this matter, and to his leadership on it. He will be aware that we are investing £1.5 billion to create an extra 50 million GP appointments by 2024. We want people to feel confident that when they have a problem they can see a GP face to face. This is worthy of further debate and I know that he will continue to press. I encourage him to seek a debate in this House.

Photo of Ian Mearns Ian Mearns Chair, Backbench Business Committee, Chair, Backbench Business Committee

I am very grateful, Mr Speaker. I thank the Leader of the House for announcing the business and the Backbench Business Committee debates for 14 July. Let me also give the House notice that on 21 July, which has been allocated to the Committee, our proposal is to have a debate in the first half of the day on United Kingdom sanctions for human rights abuses and corruption.

For quite a few years, the final Thursday before the summer recess has been allocated, when allowed, to a debate on, “Matters to be raised before the forthcoming summer Adjournment”. The Committee has agreed that, to honour his memory, it would be a fitting tribute to Sir David Amess, who was cruelly taken from us last October, if that debate was renamed the “Sir David Amess Summer Adjournment Debate”. Sir David was renowned among our colleagues for his regular appearances at our Committee and his impressive contributions to pre-recess Adjournment debates. I raised this matter briefly in the House after Sir David’s loss and had the support of the then Leader of the House. I have written to the Chair of the Procedure Committee, to you, Mr Speaker, and to the current Leader of the House to this effect.

Photo of Mark Spencer Mark Spencer Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

I pay tribute to the hon. Gentleman and to his Committee for the work that they do, and I thank him for announcing the debate that he mentioned. From the Dispatch Box, I offer my full support for his recommendation to call the debate the Sir David Amess debate. I hope I have the opportunity to respond to the hon. Gentleman and to other Members in that debate, and I think it is a very fitting tribute that he has introduced.

Photo of Pauline Latham Pauline Latham Conservative, Mid Derbyshire

This may seem mundane given the drama that is happening around us, but it is important to my constituents because we have several fantastic sustainable businesses. I recently met Kit Change, which makes leggings and sporting tops out of recycled plastic bottles, and 3rd Rock, which makes sustainable climbing activewear out of old carpets and discarded fishing nets. Such businesses are really important and I have discussed with them the challenges and opportunities they face, particularly in relation to financing. Please could we have a debate in this House about financing for small businesses that focus on sustainability and ethical sourcing of products?

Photo of Mark Spencer Mark Spencer Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

This is not a trivial matter: such businesses up and down this country are the backbone of our economy. The Government provide extensive business support for small and medium-sized enterprises, including sustainable businesses. The British Business Bank programmes support more than 1.77 million smaller businesses with £89 billion-worth of finance. My hon. Friend will have the opportunity at Business, Enterprise and Industrial Strategy questions next week if she wants to highlight the fantastic recyclables businesses in her constituency.

Photo of John Cryer John Cryer Labour, Leyton and Wanstead

I associate myself with the comments made a few minutes ago about David Amess, my former neighbour.

One of the many consequences of rising energy prices is that hundreds of swimming pools in this country face closure in the next few months. This was raised this morning at Digital, Culture, Media and Sport questions, but technically it is not a matter for that Department; it has more to do with the Treasury and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. If we have any Ministers left in those Departments, can we have a statement on how this potential crisis will be tackled with all the implications for future generations?

Photo of Mark Spencer Mark Spencer Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

The hon. Gentleman asks a very important question. I have swimming pools in my constituency that are struggling with the rising cost of global energy. It is something that the Government understand and take very seriously, which is why we have poured in billions of pounds of support. I hope the local authorities can find it within their means to help and support those swimming pools that are under pressure. There may be an opportunity to raise that next week at BEIS questions, under the energy portfolio.

Photo of Matthew Offord Matthew Offord Conservative, Hendon

The 7th July remains a very painful day for many Londoners—it is 17 years since 52 of them were murdered in London. Five of those victims were people who had direct connections with Hendon, including Anthony Fatayi-Williams, who walked past me just two hours before his death.

My constituent, nine-year-old Precious, has a neuro- generative disease resulting in complex health conditions, including scoliosis. Her medical team has advised that she needs an operation to insert MAGEC rods into her spine to correct this. Their use was suspended in 2020 due to safety concerns, but they have been cleared for procedures in the United States and other countries, as a modified version has been implemented. Precious’s family and the spinal team at Great Ormond Street Hospital have been waiting more than six months for the approval of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency. Can a Minister come to the Dispatch Box to update us on progress on approving this desperately needed technology for my constituent?

Photo of Mark Spencer Mark Spencer Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

I thank my hon. Friend and join him in paying tribute to the 7/7 victims. I may have inadvertently said that today was the 15th anniversary, but I think he is right that it is the 17th anniversary.

I am sure that the whole House sends its best wishes to Precious. I can assure my hon. Friend that the MHRA is taking this matter very seriously. I understand that he has written to the chief executive of the MHRA, which will be providing a full written response in due course.

Photo of Florence Eshalomi Florence Eshalomi Labour/Co-operative, Vauxhall

I associate myself with the remarks of the Leader of the House on the 17th anniversary of the 7/7 bombings, and remember the 52 victims who died. It serves as a reminder that London will never be cowed by terrorism.

At a time when we need stability across the Government, we have seen that the Minister for Crime and Policing has been appointed to another role. The fact that the Met police, along with six other police forces, are in special measures does not give my constituents in Vauxhall the confidence that this Government are stable. Can the Leader of the House please outline when there will be a reappointment to that important post?

Photo of Mark Spencer Mark Spencer Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

I thank the hon. Lady for her question and her comments about 7/7 and recognise the cross-party support on matters of national security. I can assure her that a reshuffle is taking place. It is my understanding that that is a very important role and will be filled very soon. I am sure that she will be able to question the new Minister in due course.

Photo of Bob Blackman Bob Blackman Conservative, Harrow East

As we commemorate the terrorist attacks on London, people should remember that the day before was a day of great joy when London was awarded the Olympics, but our memory of that is tinged with sadness because of the terrorist atrocities that took place the following day. Over the course of the pandemic, the Department for Transport has continued to bail out Transport for London to cover the loss of income from fares. However, the Department has rightly refused to cover the cost of the Mayor of London’s not doing what he should have done to deal with TfL’s finances. The current deal runs out next weekend, I believe. We desperately need an announcement from the Department for Transport on what will happen after next weekend on financing for London transport, because we cannot continue in a position where the Mayor of London refuses to take the action required to reduce costs.

Photo of Mark Spencer Mark Spencer Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

I recognise the challenges that Londoners will face if the transport system does not operate. My hon. Friend is right to draw attention to the amount of support that the Government have offered, and to hold the Mayor of London to account. I will pass on his comments directly to the Secretary of State, but I hope the Mayor of London will take firm action, get a grip on Transport for London and not rely on the cash from the Government that he is requesting.

Photo of Chris Bryant Chris Bryant Chair, Committee on Standards, Chair, Committee on Standards

All the events of today sort of started with the Prime Minister throwing the kitchen sink at trying to preserve Owen Paterson in post, which of course the Leader of the House was also instrumental in. The Standards Committee has produced a new code of conduct. It is ready to go, and we have published it. Although there has been a form of appeal in the past, we have also published a new procedural protocol that would put in place a formal appeal through the Independent Expert Panel, which is chaired by a High Court judge, Sir Stephen Irwin. We cannot use that, including for new cases, unless the Government table the motions. I had hoped we would do that before the summer recess. I urge the Leader of the House to think again about the past week and whether there is a means of doing this before the summer recess. Otherwise, there is a real danger that we will be in legal jeopardy because we will not know how to deal with an individual case that might come along that might be just as serious as that of Owen Paterson.

Photo of Mark Spencer Mark Spencer Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

I thank the hon. Gentleman for the work he has done and for the work of the Committee. We had the final reports late last week, I think, and the Government are now considering them. I know he is keen to move forward, as are the Government, but I do not think it will be possible to have that debate before the summer recess. I am happy to sit down with him at some point over the next week to try to arrange a time when we can plan our way forward.

Photo of Daniel Kawczynski Daniel Kawczynski Conservative, Shrewsbury and Atcham

My right hon. Friend will know that this year alone we are spending nearly £190 billion of taxpayers’ money on the NHS. Spending on the health service is increasing every year as a percentage of overall Government spending. We are very proud in Shropshire that my right hon. Friend Philip Dunne and I secured £312 million for major modernisation of our local A&E services, but not a penny of that money has been spent, four years after we secured it. Can we have a debate in Government time about the quality and efficacy of various levels of NHS management? Certainly, I am starting to lose confidence in my trust.

Photo of Mark Spencer Mark Spencer Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

I pay tribute to the work my hon. Friend does holding local health authorities to account in Shropshire. He will be aware that the Government have introduced a £39 billion package through the health and social care levy—a huge investment in our health services—but he is right that that must also go hand in hand with reform and restructure to ensure that taxpayers’ money is invested properly and spent efficiently.

Photo of Barry Sheerman Barry Sheerman Labour/Co-operative, Huddersfield

Will the Leader of the House, who of course knows more about what has been going on in No. 10 and the Government than anyone else, take seriously the fact that this is a national crisis and a national emergency? Perhaps pro tem, just for the next two weeks and through the recess, there should be some serious co-operation between those on the Opposition and Government Front Benches to serve the national purpose.

Will the Leader of the House address another matter? I do not know how we do this. When dear David was killed and when Jo was killed, I had the assurance that their families would be well looked after, but evidence has come to me that that is not the case. Could we have a proper way of finding out how we look after the families of victims killed when they are doing their job as parliamentarians, because what I have heard recently reflects very poorly on this House?

Photo of Mark Spencer Mark Spencer Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

I am more than happy to pursue that away from the Dispatch Box if the hon. Gentleman wants to raise it with me privately and send me the information that he is in possession of. Clearly there is a responsibility for us to look after families of those people who sadly were brutally murdered. It is worth reaffirming that there are support mechanisms out there for security through the Speaker’s Office and through the security services within the House of Commons. If any Members are concerned about their own security or that of their family, there is support out there.

Photo of Alison Thewliss Alison Thewliss Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Treasury)

At the Treasury Committee on 6 June, the now former Chancellor promised action in weeks on what he called the extraordinary profits of electricity generators, sparking significant uncertainty about renewables investment in Scotland. Nothing in the business statement presented today deals with this proposal. Before the recess, will the Leader of the House restore confidence and help Scotland’s net zero ambitions by confirming that the current Government will not go ahead with these half-baked plans?

Photo of Mark Spencer Mark Spencer Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

We have announced the Energy (Oil and Gas) Profits Levy Bill, which is coming to the House very soon, so the hon. Lady will have the opportunity in those debates to question the Minister at the Dispatch Box. But I think we can afford the new Chancellor of the Exchequer a little time to find his feet and then come to the House, and I am sure she will have the opportunity to question him when he does.

Photo of Kerry McCarthy Kerry McCarthy Shadow Minister (Climate Change and Net Zero)

I should not actually be here at the moment—I should be in the Committee on the Genetic Technologies (Precision Breeding) Bill, but unfortunately we lost the Minister yesterday. We have a new Minister who is even now swotting up ferociously for this afternoon’s sitting, but it is an incredibly technical Bill and it is not very well drafted; it is very flawed. Does the Leader of the House really think that that Minister, with no disrespect to her, is going to be a position to take us through the remaining stages of the Committee by this afternoon?

Photo of Mark Spencer Mark Spencer Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

The Bill Committee will meet at 2 o’clock this afternoon. I can assure her that the Minister of State in that Department is very informed on this matter —is right across the detail of it—and I am sure the Bill Committee will proceed with great speed at 2 o’clock this afternoon.

Photo of Ian Paisley Jnr Ian Paisley Jnr Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Communities and Local Government), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Culture, Media and Sport)

I welcome the fact that the Leader of the House has not listed any business on the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill for 12 July, given that celebrations about the glorious revolution will be taking place on that day and a number of Northern Ireland Members would not be available, but I also welcome the fact that he has listed it for three days—the 13th, the 18th and the 19th. Will he confirm that as personalities are changing at the top, the policy on the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill will not change and it is the Government’s intention to complete this business by the end of this Session? Could I recommend to him the evidence that the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee received from the renowned international law expert, Professor Alan Boyle of Edinburgh Law School, in which he confirmed that all his advice to the Government is that the Bill does not breach international law?

Photo of Mark Spencer Mark Spencer Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

I can assure the hon. Gentleman that the Bill will continue on the dates that have been announced. He will be aware that it is a Foreign Office Bill. The Foreign Secretary remains very much in her place, and I hope he will be in his place to scrutinise the Bill as it progresses.

Photo of Marsha de Cordova Marsha de Cordova Labour, Battersea

May I associate myself with the comments of the Leader of the House and many other Members across this House on the 17th anniversary of the 7/7 terror attacks?

For the good of this country, we need a functioning Government, and at this precise moment we do not have one. Many Government Departments are without Ministers. Over the past month, I have met many Ministers and corresponded with them in writing on very important matters that matter to the people of Battersea. Can the Leader of the House give me an assurance that I will get timely responses at the earliest opportunity?

Photo of Mark Spencer Mark Spencer Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

I can offer the hon. Lady that assurance. Ministers are being appointed as we speak. Those vacancies will be filled, she will get a timely response and her constituents will receive the service they deserve.

Photo of Wera Hobhouse Wera Hobhouse Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Justice), Liberal Democrat Shadow Leader of the House of Commons, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Women and Equalities)

In Bath, we have soaring ambulance waiting times, NHS dentists and GPs are in crisis, and the cost of living emergency is bringing misery to scores of my constituents. There is no functioning Government left. How is it possible that the Prime Minister can continue in office even as a caretaker, amidst the chaos he has created? Will the Leader of the House bring forward a debate and a vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister?

Photo of Mark Spencer Mark Spencer Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

It is good to see the hon. Lady back in her place for business questions. I know she has missed a couple, and I hope she is now well. I can assure her that there is a functioning Government. There are a few vacancies that are currently being filled, and they will be filled very soon and the level of service will continue at the high level it has for some time.

Photo of Derek Twigg Derek Twigg Labour, Halton

In view of the comments from the Secretary of State for Defence at the Defence Committee this week on the ongoing situation in Ukraine, may we have an urgent debate in Government time to examine the need to increase defence spending and the number of defence personnel?

Photo of Mark Spencer Mark Spencer Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

The hon. Gentleman will be aware of the commitment we made of extra cash for Ukraine and the security situation there. I hope he recognises that warfare is changing and the requirements of the MOD have changed over the past few decades, and that is why the MOD has been reviewing its requirements. We have a Secretary of State who is very much across his brief and very much in place and who will remain so for the near future.

Photo of Stephen Doughty Stephen Doughty Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and International Development)

Before the chaos of the past 24 hours, I had been promised a meeting with the former Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Michael Gove, over the issues affecting my constituents relating to fire and building safety defects and the lack of co-operation with the Welsh Government about commitments from developers done on an England-only rather than a UK-wide basis to remedy those defects. Will the Leader of the House be able to assist me in getting a meeting with whoever is newly appointed to that role? These are serious issues affecting thousands of people.

Photo of Mark Spencer Mark Spencer Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman is aware, but my right hon. Friend Greg Clark has been appointed to that Secretary of State role. I shall pass on the hon. Gentleman’s comments directly to my right hon. Friend and make sure that we can arrange a meeting for him with the Department as soon as possible.

Photo of Patricia Gibson Patricia Gibson Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Housing, Communities and Local Government)

If the Prime Minister is permitted to remain in post until October following a leadership election, the Government of the UK will be in a state of paralysis until that time, with more than 25 ministerial vacancies and important Bill Committees cancelled across the House today. It seems that the Prime Minister is still only supported by political giants such as the right hon. Members for Mid Bedfordshire (Ms Dorries) and for Dumfries and Galloway (Mr Jack). No wonder the people of Scotland are deciding in increasing numbers that they are better off taking their future into their own hands. Will the Leader of the House make a statement setting out the importance of a Prime Minister who has lost the support of his own MPs and is now unable to govern resigning immediately so that an interim Prime Minister can be appointed?

Photo of Mark Spencer Mark Spencer Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

I understand that the Prime Minister will make a statement later, and we await that statement with anticipation to see what is said, but I can assure the hon. Lady that the Government will continue to work away. She says that a number of Committees have been cancelled. In fact, some of them have just been rearranged and will continue in the usual way.

Photo of Ruth Cadbury Ruth Cadbury Shadow Minister (International Trade)

I associate myself with the remarks about 7/7. Hounslow Council lost a wonderful social worker, Ojara Ikeagwu, on that day. One of the key tasks of Government involves the basic functions that currently seem to be collapsing, such as the issuing of visas and passports. Members are not getting answers. Can the Leader of the House explain how the basic parliamentary tools of scrutiny will be addressed, such as getting answers to questions, whether oral or written, where there are either no Ministers or the Ministers are so new that they will take time to get their feet under the table?

Photo of Mark Spencer Mark Spencer Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

The hon. Lady will be aware that where there is a vacancy, Ministers will be appointed very soon. The function of those Departments will be up and running quickly, and I can assure her that there are many talented people on the Benches behind me who will be able to take up those roles. [Hon. Members: “Where are they?”] They are probably all waiting by their phones. I can assure her that once they are in place, they will be ready to give her the level of service that she requires.

Photo of Diana R. Johnson Diana R. Johnson Chair, Home Affairs Committee, Chair, Home Affairs Committee

We had a wholly unsatisfactory response this morning from the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, Vicky Ford, to the urgent question from the shadow Home Secretary, my right hon. Friend Yvette Cooper about the meeting on 28 April 2018 between former KGB officer Alexander Lebedev and the then Foreign Secretary, now Prime Minister. Will the Leader of the House please arrange for a fully briefed Minister to attend the House on Monday to give a statement setting out the facts of what happened and who was told, particularly in light of what appears to be a clear breach of the ministerial code and potentially a criminal offence being committed?

Photo of Mark Spencer Mark Spencer Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

As the right hon. Lady said, there was an urgent question this morning. There are matters of national security pertinent to this, and not all of them can be vocalised from the Dispatch Box due to their sensitivity. I will make sure I pass on her comments to the relevant Department, and I am sure they will respond in due course.

Photo of Navendu Mishra Navendu Mishra Opposition Whip (Commons)

I was pleased to learn recently that Davenport station in my constituency is to be finally awarded Access for All funding to make accessibility improvements, but Stockport station, which had almost 4.5 million passengers per annum pre-pandemic, still requires significant capital investment to ensure it is safe and accessible for all. It is the fifth-busiest station in Greater Manchester, but unfortunately we have leaky roofs, which often make platforms unsafe, and lifts are out of use. If there are any Ministers left in the Department for Transport, can the Leader of the House allow Government time for a debate on train stations across Greater Manchester to address these serious health and safety and accessibility issues?

Photo of Mark Spencer Mark Spencer Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

I pay tribute to the hon. Gentleman for raising the matter. Disability access at our stations is important, and that is why the Department for Transport has invested millions of pounds in our rail infrastructure up and down the country. He will have the opportunity to raise that matter again in Transport questions on 15 September. I know from my own constituency that there are a number of challenges with railway stations that need improvements to allow disability access.

Photo of Deidre Brock Deidre Brock Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Wales), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

openDemocracy tells us that 18 Ministers have refused to publish official diaries of the meetings they held during the pandemic, including the former Health Secretary, Matt Hancock and the Prime Minister. The new Chancellor, Nadhim Zahawi tells us that we will see “evidence and transparency” from the ministerial team and the Prime Minister in the future. Can we have a statement about the importance of the Government ensuring evidence and transparency in governmental business, that Ministers’ diaries are made available to the public for scrutiny and also that distinctions between official, political and personal meetings are properly defined for the future?

Photo of Mark Spencer Mark Spencer Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

The hon. Lady will be aware that there are strict rules around these sorts of declarations. I do not think it is possible to publish the diaries of all Ministers, as there are security implications about regularly publishing specific diary engagements, particularly for some Ministers who have security briefs. There are strict rules around what should be declared and the timelines around that.

Photo of Alex Sobel Alex Sobel Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

As we know, it is the end of days for this Prime Minister. It is also the end of days for this parliamentary Session before summer recess. The Leader of the House might not have seen the interview on the BBC this morning, where the Leader of the Opposition said that if the Conservative party do not get rid of the Prime Minister shortly,

“Labour will, in the national interest, bring a no confidence vote—because this can’t go on”.

Will the Leader of the House guarantee that 21 July will be the last day of this session, or will he try to bring that forward to avoid a vote?

Photo of Mark Spencer Mark Spencer Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

I have announced the business for the next two weeks. The House will rise on 21 July. We await the Prime Minister’s statement this afternoon; I am not about to pre-empt what he may or may not say, but I assure the hon. Gentleman that the functions of government continue and will continue to move forward.

Photo of Kim Johnson Kim Johnson Labour, Liverpool, Riverside

The Public and Commercial Services Union is opposing the closure of Toxteth jobcentre in my constituency, along with other centres nationally, and challenging the proposed 91,000 job cuts across the wider civil service and the attacks on pay terms and conditions across Government Departments. Will the Leader of the House grant an urgent debate in Government time so that we can scrutinise the Government’s plans to negotiate with PCS to avoid jobcentre closures and attacks on pay and conditions?

Photo of Mark Spencer Mark Spencer Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

The hon. Lady is perfectly at liberty to apply for a Westminster Hall or Adjournment debate on that matter. It is worth recognising that there is huge global inflationary pressure and we as a Government must act responsibly with fiscal responsibility to ensure that we do not add to that inflationary pressure. That will require some pay restraint across the country.

Photo of Barry Gardiner Barry Gardiner Labour, Brent North

Last week, at business questions, I raised the issue of redundancies in the Royal Mail. I apologise to you, Mr Deputy Speaker, because I may have inadvertently misled the House when I said that there were 1,400 agreed redundancies and 900 in dispute. The actual figures are that 1,250 redundancies were achieved at Royal Mail and 542 are in dispute. The Leader of the House was good enough last week to say that he would raise the matter of the disruption to service with the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, who I understand is still in his post. Has he done so? If so, will we get an urgent statement from the Business Secretary about the current disruption to postal services across the country?

Photo of Mark Spencer Mark Spencer Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

The direct answer is yes, I have written to the Secretary of State. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will get a copy of my letter in his inbox very soon, if he has not already. I know that Royal Mail has also written to the hon. Gentleman directly. I have not yet had a response from the Secretary of State; if I get one before he does, I will forward it to him.

Photo of Rachael Maskell Rachael Maskell Shadow Minister (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)

Greater than the crisis in Downing Street is the crisis in the Donbas and across Ukraine, but the Prime Minister remaining in office plays into Putin’s hands and undermines President Zelensky. Will the Leader of the House convey my concern, and that of many hon. Members, to the Prime Minister that he cannot continue in office if he wants to support the people of Ukraine? Will the Leader of the House bring a statement to the House about the impact of the Prime Minister’s behaviour on our foreign policy?

Photo of Mark Spencer Mark Spencer Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

I gently say to the hon. Lady that we await the Prime Minister’s statement this afternoon and I do not want to pre-empt what he may or may not say. Most people in the country will recognise that he has been the leading voice in the world in taking the fight back to Putin and supporting Ukraine. He has shown great global leadership on the matter and if it were not for him and his efforts, Russia would now be in Kyiv and, probably, across the whole of Ukraine.

Photo of Jim Shannon Jim Shannon Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Human Rights), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Health)

Yesterday, the Yazidi Justice Committee published its report, “State Responsibility and the Genocide of the Yazidis”, on the murder and mutilation of women and families, and lives that have been destroyed forever. It is undoubtedly difficult reading. It highlights the duty of Governments to prevent genocide occurring when a high risk has been identified. Given the situation in Afghanistan and the current threats to the Hazaras, it is time to debate how the United Kingdom can help to prevent future genocides. As I do every week, because these are important issues to raise in the House, I ask whether the Leader of the House will make time for a debate on that important matter.

Photo of Mark Spencer Mark Spencer Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

I have not had the opportunity to read the report, which sounds harrowing. The hon. Gentleman is a true champion of religious freedom around the world, which the Government take seriously. I will pass on his comments to the Foreign Secretary, who shares his concern about the terrible actions that some states commit around the world.

Photo of Helen Morgan Helen Morgan Liberal Democrat, North Shropshire

Since my election, I have been campaigning on ambulance response times in Shropshire. As a result of that campaign, local health leaders have been preparing for a visit from the Minister for Health, Edward Argar, in the coming weeks to see how they have been doing to improve the situation. My understanding is that the Minister resigned yesterday evening, so that visit is on hold, postponed or maybe even cancelled. Can the Leader of the House bring forward a debate in Government time on the national ambulance situation? People are dying avoidable deaths not only in North Shropshire but across the country and it is time that the Government got a grip of it.

Photo of Mark Spencer Mark Spencer Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

The hon. Lady will have the opportunity to question the Secretary of State directly at Health and Social Care questions on 19 July. I hope that she will recognise the huge investment that the Government have made in our health services up and down the country. We are working hard to improve ambulance waiting times and to support her constituents and those across the whole of Shropshire.

Photo of Nigel Evans Nigel Evans Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

I thank the Leader of the House for his statement today, on what has clearly been a busy day for him, and for responding to questions for over three quarters of an hour.