Business of the House

– in the House of Commons at on 29 June 2023.

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10.33 am

Photo of Penny Mordaunt Penny Mordaunt Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

The business for next week is as follows:

Monday 3 JulySecond Reading of the Economic Activity of Public Bodies (Overseas Matters) Bill.

Tuesday 4 July—Estimates day (4th allotted day). There will be debates on estimates relating to the Department for Work and Pensions; and the Ministry of Justice, in so far as it relates to His Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service.

Wednesday 5 July—Estimates day (5th allotted day). There will be debates on estimates relating to the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, in so far as it relates to energy infrastructure; and the Department for Education, in so far as it relates to adult education, post-16 education, further education and colleges. At 7 pm, the House will be asked to agree all outstanding estimates.

Thursday 6 July—Proceedings on the Supply and Appropriation (Main Estimates) (No. 2) Bill; followed by a general debate on building safety and social housing, to mark six years since the Grenfell Tower tragedy; followed by a motion on the role and status of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. The subjects for those debates were determined by the Backbench Business Committee.

Friday 7 July—The House will not be sitting.

The provisional business for the week commencing 10 July includes:

Monday 10 July—Debate on the first special report of the Committee of Privileges; followed by remaining stages of the Electronic Trade Documents Bill [Lords]; followed by Second Reading of the Northern Ireland Budget (No. 2) Bill.

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

I thank the Leader of the House for announcing the forthcoming business. I am glad she has announced that the Government will follow precedent and allow MPs to approve the Privileges Committee special report released this morning. Its conclusions are clear; it found that senior Tory parliamentarians took it upon themselves to undermine the procedures of this House, and shamefully that includes a serving Minister and a former Leader of the House. The report noted that the matter was made more difficult because two of the Members mounting the most vociferous attacks on the Committee did so from the platform of their own hosted TV shows. That undermines democracy and undermines this House. We owe it to the members of the Privileges Committee to give them our support.

Frankly, it is about time that the Prime Minister showed up and showed some leadership. If he does not stand up for standards, what does he actually stand for? I urge this House to endorse the report a week on Monday. That matters, because the public need to be able to trust the system we have. When Ministers mislead the House, whether intentionally or not, and fail to correct the record, or when an MP, a Minister or, worst of all, a serving Prime Minister lies to this House, and thereby to the public, the public need to know that we have proper processes for dealing with that, which we do. By undermining this Committee, the Members risk undermining democracy itself.

As we found out during last week’s vote, when it comes to upholding standards, this Prime Minister stands down. Is that what he is planning to do again with this report? Is he really still happy for senior MPs in his own party to undermine and attack Britain’s democratic institutions? Is it not time that he personally condemned those who sought to override Parliament’s standards system to get one of their own off the hook?

We have breaking news that the plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda has been ruled unlawful. I am sure the Leader of the House was expecting me to welcome the long-awaited impact assessment for that Illegal Migration Bill—I would call it the bigger migration backlog Bill or, now, the unlawful migration Bill. I use the words “impact assessment” with a heavy dose of irony, as it does not tell us how much the Bill would cost or what the impact of any of its policies would be, so it is not much of an impact assessment, is it? The Leader of the House has previously described impact assessments as very handy and most helpful, and I could not agree more. Why did the Government wait so long to publish the impact assessment and then publish this one, which is neither handy nor helpful? Is that perhaps why she should not be surprised—nor should any of us—by the breaking news from the court?

While the current Prime Minister focuses on keeping Boris Johnson’s sycophants in his own party happy, introduces new laws which by his Government’s own admission will not work and now seem to have been found illegal, and swerves scrutiny, people up and down the country are left facing the cost of Tory mortgage penalties and soaring rents. The Leader of the Opposition, a man of honour and integrity, will restore trust in politics. He will show leadership on the issues that matter to working people and act immediately to bring down the cost of living.

Photo of Penny Mordaunt Penny Mordaunt Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

May I first put on record my delight at hosting my Royal Navy squadron, the 2nd Mine Counter Measures Squadron, this week? I thank all Members who came to see and thank them—particularly you, Mr Speaker, and I thank you for addressing them.

I am delighted that this week we announced the consultation on the Oliver McGowan code of practice on statutory learning disability and autism training. I want to place on record my huge respect for the McGowan family, especially Paula McGowan OBE, Oliver’s mum, for all that she has done to prevent the tragedy that happened to her family from occurring to others. I also send my good wishes to all celebrating Eid.

The hon. Lady raised the matter of the Privileges Committee’s special report, which was out at 9 am. I hope that the fact that a debate on it was announced in the business statement reassures the House about how seriously the Government take matters of privilege. I reiterate that it is in the House’s interests that we have such a Committee; it is there to defend our rights and privileges, and it is absolutely vital that Members of this House be prepared to serve on such Committees, so we are very happy to bring forward a debate on the report.

The hon. Lady mentioned the breaking news of the Court of Appeal judgment. It was a mixed judgment, because although what she says about the ruling on the policy is absolutely true, the Court also confirmed that Rwanda is a safe third country. This is clearly a matter for the Home Office to update the House on. We respect the Court’s decision, and I think there will be a statement later today from the Home Secretary on that.

The hon. Lady knows that I have pushed Departments to make sure that impact assessments are published in a timely way; they are important. I hope all Members of the House will also consider the impact of us not having systems that are fit for purpose. We have to direct our finite resources for these matters at the people we need to help. If our asylum systems are overloaded and we are not able to send back people who do not have the right to be here, we are not using the finite resources we have effectively.

The hon. Lady mentions the cost of living crisis, particularly as it relates to housing costs. I understand how frightening and stressful those costs can be; it makes life incredibly complicated when people have to juggle how they will get through the week. These are very difficult times, and we are determined to ensure that families and individuals can get through them. There are unprecedented global challenges that we are having to deal with; for example, we have to stick to the plan on Ukraine, and not waver in our support. As Members will have heard in the Chancellor’s statement on Monday, we have increased support for mortgage interest schemes, and there are all the other things that we have done regarding providers. There is also the new consumer duty placed on the Financial Conduct Authority, and of course there is the £94 billion for cost of living support measures. We will do everything that we can to ensure that families get through this difficult time, and further business will be announced in the usual way.

Photo of Peter Bottomley Peter Bottomley Father of the House of Commons

On yesterday’s Order Paper, the first listed item of business, subject to urgent questions and statements, was the Holocaust Memorial Bill. There was a notice on the Order Paper that the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities would make a statement on the estimated cost of the memorial. The statement says, in column 13WS of Hansard, that the House was to be updated on the forecasted costs

“Ahead of Second Reading of the Bill”—[Official Report, 28 June 2023;
Vol. 375, c. 13WS.]

That written statement was not available at the end of Prime Minister’s questions at 12.36. It became available in the Library at 13.51, over an hour and a quarter later. It was not mentioned by either Minister in the debate on the Bill, and no Member of this House knew about it.

Will my right hon. Friend say to parliamentary Clerks, if not to the Cabinet, that that is no way to treat this House? Information that is important to the House should be available for a debate, especially as the statement said that the estimated cost of the memorial had gone up from £102 million to £138 million—an increase of over a third in one year. I hope she will agree that that is not the way to treat this place.

Photo of Penny Mordaunt Penny Mordaunt Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

I thank my hon. Friend for raising this matter and for his contribution to the debate yesterday. He will know that I take these matters very seriously. We have stood up some additional training for the parliamentary teams and Clerks in Government Departments. We—my noble Friend Lord True and I—have also brought all the permanent secretaries over to Parliament and told them exactly what Members need to conduct their business well. He will know that I have also conducted, with the Commission, a survey of all Members to see what more we can do to ensure that they can do their job in the most effective way. I will certainly write to the Department and make sure it has heard his remarks today, and I will feed it back to the permanent secretary.

Photo of Richard Thomson Richard Thomson Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Wales), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Northern Ireland), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Trade), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Business)

I thank the Leader of the House for the business and I endorse everything that the shadow Leader of the House said in relation to standards.

I would like to begin by paying tribute to former Scotland manager Craig Brown, one of two great Scots we lost this week. Winifred Margaret Ewing changed the course of Scottish politics when she won her triumphant by-election victory to this place in Hamilton in 1967. Winnie had the distinction of serving across three different Parliaments and opening the Scottish Parliament in 1999. There is no one who did more to popularise and internationalise the cause of Scottish independence. We will miss her greatly.

In Scotland this week, the iconic Caledonian Sleeper rail service was returned to public ownership, where it joined ScotRail, LNERLondon North Eastern Railway—Northern Rail, Southeastern, Transport for Wales and TransPennine Express. Although they are often referred to as operators of last resort, experience shows that they make excellent operators of first resort. Perhaps the conclusion to draw is that some things just naturally belong in public ownership, like the water industry in Scotland. Given the current travails of Thames Water, may I suggest that the Leader of the House make time available for a debate on why the public interest should always take precedence over private profit not only in the rail sector but in the provision of water?

I understand that it is the Leader of the House’s custom and practice to spend almost as much time responding to what the SNP spokesperson says as criticising public services in Scotland. Before she gets to that, may I ask that she make time for debates on why six police forces in England continue to remain in special measures and why a report published today shows that NHS staff sickness in England has hit a record high, so that we can find out what the Government intend to do about it?

This is the first time that I have had the honour of responding for my party at business questions. As much as I am looking forward to the Leader of the House’s responses, I am looking forward very much to the inevitable YouTube clip that will follow. In Victorian times, similarly sensationalist outputs were often referred to as “penny dreadfuls”. I very much hope that the Leader of the House does not disappoint in that regard.

Photo of Penny Mordaunt Penny Mordaunt Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

I shall try to rise to the challenge. I thank the hon. Gentleman for stepping in today.

May I start by welcoming the fantastic export figures that Scotland recently announced? They are a fantastic tribute to Scotland’s incredible creative businesses and producers, and I congratulate them on that.

I very much enjoyed the hon. Gentleman’s discussing rail travel in Scotland with no regard to the Scottish nationalist Government’s record on ScotRail. While we are on the topic of transport, I was briefly cheered this week that ferry services—[Interruption.] No, this is good news. I was cheered that ferry services were being stood up on the Uist route, but then news reached me that, due to demand outstripping availability, anyone in a camper van was not allowed to use them. I am sure it is nothing personal.

I do not wish to give a long answer, as it would upset the hon. Gentleman and you, Mr Speaker, although I am very sorry that again the SNP has taken an enormous amount of time over the past week to discuss independence but not cancer care, drug deaths, failing education standards, violent crime—at its highest since 2014—or its dismal record on climate change policies. I hope it will get back soon to talking about the issues that constituents are facing.

Photo of Pauline Latham Pauline Latham Conservative, Mid Derbyshire

This morning, I spoke to a national police conference about the police’s new powers, under my Marriage and Civil Partnership (Minimum Age) Act 2022, which came into force this year, to tackle child marriage. The school summer holidays are traditionally when many young girls and boys are taken abroad to be married. Please could we have a statement about the preparations made to prevent child marriages this summer, including through criminal charges against those seeking to arrange such marriages?

Photo of Penny Mordaunt Penny Mordaunt Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

May I thank my hon. Friend for her continued efforts on this very important matter. She will know that our dedicated forced marriage unit helps hundreds of victims a year and is providing support and advice to anyone in the UK. She will also know that the next Home Office questions are on Monday; I encourage her to raise this matter there, but I will also ensure that the Home Secretary has heard her desire for an update.

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

I thank the Leader of the House for the business statement.

The Backbench Business Committee formally agreed this week that, if awarded the time, on Thursday 13 July two debates will be held on behalf of the Liaison Committee. The subjects will be the second report of the Foreign Affairs Committee, “The cost of complacency: illicit finance and the war in Ukraine”, and the third report from the Health and Social Care Committee, “Workforce: recruitment, training and retention in health and social care”. If we are awarded the time, it is our intention to hold the second Sir David Amess memorial debate, otherwise known as matters to be raised before the forthcoming Adjournment, on the last day before the summer recess.

As chair of the all-party group for football supporters, may I express my sympathy for the family of Craig Brown? He always struck me as a football manager who, in dire circumstances, would keep his head when all around were losing theirs. He was a bastion of football and a manager of great renown for about four decades. I send my sympathy to his family. He was a rock of Scottish football.

Yesterday, at Prime Minister’s questions, I asked the Prime Minister whether he would find time for primary legislation on the scourge of the indeterminate number of youngsters—roughly 140,000—who are missing from school altogether in England. The Education Secretary nodded when I asserted, having been told by the Minister for Schools, that primary legislation would be required to set up a national register to track those children and first, keep them safe, and secondly, try to get them into education. Will the Leader of the House please use her efforts in Cabinet to find time for primary legislation for this very important piece of work?

Photo of Penny Mordaunt Penny Mordaunt Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

May I join the tributes paid by the hon. Gentleman and Owen Thompson to Craig Brown? I am sure the whole House would want to join those sentiments. I thank Ian Mearns for the helpful advert of forthcoming debates that his Committee is looking to schedule. I also thank him for his support and ideas about the Westminster Hall sitting hours changes that we have made this week—all credit to him for that suggestion and innovation.

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right to raise this very important issue of so-called ghost children. It is vital that local authorities really understand where those children are and whether they are in school settings that are not Ofsted inspected, as opposed to being home schooled. I know that the Education Secretary is looking at this matter with urgency. I have had discussions with her and her officials about it. The hon. Gentleman is right about primary legislation, but we are also looking at the data held by different Departments to help us get a clearer picture now of where those children are.

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

I strongly agree with doing something for the children missing from education.

May I ask the Leader of the House what the Government can do to assist local authorities in getting education, health and care plans completed within the 20-week guidelines? Very few local authorities—sadly, including mine—are managing to do that. It really matters. I have one primary school where 17 of the 27 children arriving in year R in September have some level of special educational needs and disabilities, and five have statements. There will be a £30,000 extra cost out of existing budgets just for that one class alone. Could we please have a statement from the Government, or time to debate this issue, to see what we can do to assist local authorities with those challenging issues?

Photo of Penny Mordaunt Penny Mordaunt Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

My hon. Friend has raised a very important matter. As he will know, we are providing support through reforms, but we are providing workforce support as well. We are setting up regional expert partnerships through the £70 million change programme, and in order to increase specialist provision locally we are investing £2.6 billion in new special school and alternative provision places. That includes 33 new special schools, with a further 49 in the pipeline. Provision is vital, as is ensuring that people have access to it. We are also providing an additional 5,000 early years special educational needs co-ordinators. I shall ensure that the Department for Education knows of my hon. Friend’s interest in this vital issue.

Photo of Luke Pollard Luke Pollard Shadow Minister (Defence)

On 21 February this year, during a Home Office statement on the Plymouth shootings in which we lost five people, the Minister for Crime, Policing and Fire, Chris Philp, said that it would take the Home Office 60 days to reply to the inquest findings, including a report from the coroner on how to avert any further such tragedy. That 60-day period expired today.

We were promised another oral statement and a chance for Members to scrutinise the Government’s response, but that response has been downgraded to a written ministerial statement, which means that Members of Parliament—including local MPs such as me—cannot ask questions on behalf of the families who are grieving and who want to avert a repeat of this tragedy. When will we have opportunities to bring Home Office Ministers to the House to ask them why they rejected so many of the coroner’s recommendations, which would have made gun laws better and safer for all our communities so that a tragedy such as the one we saw in Plymouth could never be repeated?

Photo of Penny Mordaunt Penny Mordaunt Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

The hon. Gentleman has raised a vital matter. Public safety is an issue for all of us, but for the families left grieving in the wake of that terrible event, what he has requested will be a key piece of information. He will probably know that a written ministerial statement was published today, and he will also know that we are investing £500,000 in a new training programme for police firearms licensing officers.

These matters are important to many Members, but particularly to the hon. Gentleman and his colleagues in Portsmouth. Home Office questions will take place on Monday, and I suggest that he raise this issue then, but given the sensitivities involving the families, I shall also ensure that the Home Secretary has heard what he has said today.

Photo of Siobhan Baillie Siobhan Baillie Conservative, Stroud

As the chair of the all-party parliamentary group for wetlands, and as a lover of WWT Slimbridge, which is in my constituency, I was thrilled to learn that the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust had secured £21 million from Aviva. That is a massive endorsement which will make a huge difference to the creation of, and research on, salt marshes. Big business tends to be given a tough time by eco-campaigners, but many companies are investing in trying to improve the environment. Will my right hon. Friend agree to look into the work that WWT is doing around the country, and would she consider attending some of our parliamentary events, with or without her sword?

Photo of Penny Mordaunt Penny Mordaunt Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

I should be very happy to attend some of those events, but it will have to be without my sword, because unfortunately the Tower of London would not let me take it home. I am sure all Members agree that my hon. Friend should be congratulated, as should those in her local area, on securing this fantastic investment to restore a coastal salt marsh that is key to so many species. As she will know, through our landmark Environment Act 2021 we have legally binding targets to halt and reverse the decline in species and reduce the risk of their becoming extinct. These environments and habitats are vital to biodiversity. So I say to my hon. Friend, “Good on you—well done”, and I shall be happy to help her in any way I can.

Photo of Christine Jardine Christine Jardine Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Scotland), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Women and Equalities), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Cabinet Office)

First, I associate myself with the remarks that have been made about Craig Brown. In my previous career as a journalist, I was fortunate enough to meet Mr Brown on several occasions. He was a gentleman and our thoughts are with his family.

A recent report by Shelter revealed just how bad homelessness has become in Scotland’s four main cities, with Edinburgh being the worst case. Figures show that 5,000 people are living in temporary accommodation, including more than 2,000 children. That is a tenfold increase since 2002. Given the shortage of financial support from the Scottish Government for local authorities and the fact that homelessness is not confined to Scotland, is the Leader of the House willing to set aside time for a debate on how we can kick-start a co-ordinated approach with agencies to tackle this growing problem, and on how we can increase the number of social houses and the financial support available to local authorities?

Photo of Penny Mordaunt Penny Mordaunt Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

I thank the hon. Lady for raising this important matter. As she knows, we have provided more than 2.2 million additional homes and delivered 632,600 affordable homes since we came to office. We have also helped many people take that step on to the property ladder. However, this is about not just housing supply but a whole raft of challenges that individuals and families face, and I know that this is a concern to many Members across the House. I am very happy to make sure that the Department has heard her call for time on the Floor of the House, and her plea has also been heard by the Chair of the Backbench Business Committee, Ian Mearns, who is sitting behind her.

Photo of Jon Trickett Jon Trickett Labour, Hemsworth

The Governor of the Bank of England earns more than £10,000 a week. The Bank made billions of pounds in profit from last year’s catastrophic mini-Budget, and the bonuses that are jointly earned by his staff add up to more than £23 million. How can he use his lofty position to criticise workers who are struggling to get a pay increase, when pay rises have fallen so far behind inflation? Can we have a debate in Government time to discuss this issue and bust the myth that wages are somehow creating the inflation problem that we have at the moment?

Photo of Penny Mordaunt Penny Mordaunt Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his question. I shall not rehearse the arguments that were made at Prime Minister’s questions yesterday, but pay restraint is an important part of our getting through this very difficult time and, in particular, tackling inflation. The next opportunity to question the Treasury team on this matter is not until after recess, so I shall make sure that they have heard his concerns.

Photo of Sam Tarry Sam Tarry Labour, Ilford South

This morning, I spoke to a leading figure in the night-time and festival industry. Since 2014, the Home Office has allowed drug testing to take place at many festivals, potentially saving hundreds of lives. Just over a month ago, there was a screeching U-turn from the Home Office that was inexplicable to many festival organisers across the country. We had Glastonbury last weekend and we have many more festivals coming up across the rest of the summer.

For me, harm reduction has to be the focal point when organising those fantastic musical events. I would like a debate in Government time that gets to the bottom of that inexplicable Home Office U-turn, because in prior times the Home Office sanctioned this activity taking place on site at festivals, with Home Office branding. In fact, it has even permitted Greater Manchester police and Avon and Somerset police to allow this stuff to take place, as well as having their own forensic early warning systems in place, so that people can participate and make adult, informed choices about what they are and are not going to do in a much safer way.

Photo of Penny Mordaunt Penny Mordaunt Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his question, and I know that this is of concern to other Members. Our position on this issue has not changed: drug testing providers must have a licence to test for controlled drugs, including at festivals. We have always had that condition in place and we have made that clear, and law enforcement has always had a responsibility to uphold that legal requirement. We have not received any applications for drug testing at major festivals this summer, and we continue to keep an open dialogue with any potential applicants. He will know that Home Office questions are on Monday, so he may wish to pursue the matter with the Department.

Photo of Alan Brown Alan Brown Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Energy Security and Net Zero)

My Norwegian constituent has made her life here with her Scottish husband and their son. She should be welcomed, but she had to win her right to residence via the courts. Six months on, her life is in limbo because the Home Office has not issued a biometric residence permit, which is preventing her from working, from accessing healthcare and from leaving the country. Can we have a statement on Home Office timescales for issuing residence permits? What can be done to expedite matters for my constituent, whose lawyer says this is the worst delay he has ever encountered?

Photo of Penny Mordaunt Penny Mordaunt Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

I am sorry to hear about that unfortunate case. The hon. Gentleman will know, because I have advertised it many times—including, I think, to him—that the Home Office is offering surgeries and bespoke services to all Members, either face-to-face or remotely. He will know that Home Office questions are on Monday, and I encourage him to raise this matter with the Home Secretary and her Ministers.

Photo of John Martin McDonnell John Martin McDonnell Labour, Hayes and Harlington

I preface my remarks by saying that I completely appreciate how busy Ministers are and the workload they carry, which is why I have never before raised such a concern in Parliament.

On Sunday, there was a demonstration by detainees at Harmondsworth detention centre in my constituency. I emailed the relevant Minister on the various email accounts that are available to us, and I simply wanted to know what was happening. I was concerned about the welfare of the detainees and staff, many of whom are my constituents, and I received no response on Sunday. I thought that, in the normal run of things, we would have had either an oral or written statement on Monday, as we have had in the past. Nothing happened, so we contacted the Minister’s office again. Nothing happened on Tuesday, so we contacted the office again, and no response.

As you know, Mr Speaker, I also sought to raise the matter in the House on Tuesday, but other business understandably took precedence. I contacted the Minister’s office on Wednesday and basically said that, if I had not heard anything by noon, I would be raising a point of order. Twenty minutes before noon, I received a reply, which was inaccurate.

I understand how busy people are, but this is just unacceptable behaviour when I have constituents and others contacting me about this incident. There are continuing problems, so I ask the Leader of the House, first, to raise this with the Ministers concerned and say that this behaviour is not acceptable. Secondly, I would welcome a debate in the House on what is happening at Harmondsworth, because there are continuing concerns about the welfare of both detainees and staff, and this has continued year after year without resolution.

Photo of Penny Mordaunt Penny Mordaunt Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

I am sorry to hear about the right hon. Gentleman’s experience. When there are particular incidents and situations, it is important that Members are able to get hold of the relevant people quickly, whether that be officials or Ministers. If he could take the trouble to send me an email with the details of what happened, I would be very happy to raise it with the Department.

Photo of Gavin Newlands Gavin Newlands Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Transport)

I add my condolences to the families of Winnie Ewing and Craig Brown. Scotland has lost two legends, of politics and football, this week.

The Immigration Minister’s answer to my hon. Friend Alison Thewliss on Tuesday drew a pretty furious response from the Scottish Refugee Council, among others. The Minister said that

“the SNP does not house refugees in Scotland.”—[Official Report, 27 June 2023;
Vol. 735, c. 152.]

The truth is that Scotland has housed more Syrian and Ukrainian refugees per head than his own Government. Moreover, the largest hotel for asylum seekers in the UK is in my constituency.

This needs to stop. Mr Speaker, when you and your deputies are asked about the accuracy of a ministerial response, you rightly say it is not a matter for the Chair. May I therefore ask the Leader of the House for a debate on changing the Standing Orders of this House so that we can make Ministers more accountable for the answers they give at the Dispatch Box?

Photo of Penny Mordaunt Penny Mordaunt Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

That is a timely question, because the Procedure Committee has just produced a report on “Correcting the record”. Its recommendations are that the obligations on Ministers should be extended to all Members of this House. We take these matters very seriously. It is clear that if incorrect information has been given to the House—I do not know the details of the particular matter the hon. Gentleman raises—the record should be corrected, and in my experience that is what Ministers do.

Photo of Ellie Reeves Ellie Reeves Shadow Minister (Justice)

I recently met a group of residents who live in a new build block that has a heat network. That means that they cannot access the domestic energy market and are not protected by the price cap, which leads to extortionate costs. More than 50% of London’s 200,000 homes supplied by heat networks are social housing, meaning that some of the poorest Londoners have been subject to uncapped bills. May we please have a debate on what can be done to protect those users from the wildly fluctuating energy market?

Photo of Penny Mordaunt Penny Mordaunt Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

I thank the hon. Lady for raising this issue. I encourage her to attend the next question session for the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, which is next Tuesday, and raise it there. That Department is also running surgeries because of the complexity of the issues and the casework that hon. Members are dealing with in relation to the energy market and schemes such as the one she outlines. I encourage her to sit down with officials and have that bespoke surgery with them.

Photo of Christian Wakeford Christian Wakeford Opposition Whip (Commons)

This weekend, Bury football club has its first outing, away at Thackley, since it went into administration in 2020. As this is such a pivotal moment in the club’s history, will the Leader of the House join me in wishing Bury FC the best of luck for its first new season? Will she also pay tribute to the fans and volunteers who have worked tirelessly to make this happen? Up the Shakers!

Photo of Penny Mordaunt Penny Mordaunt Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

I know that all Members of this House take great interest in ensuring that our wonderful football clubs survive and thrive. As someone who was a shareholder in Portsmouth football club and saw it through the largest and fastest ever community buy-out, I know how difficult that can be. I take my hat off to all the volunteers who have kept Bury FC going and kept it playing, and I wish it all the luck at the weekend.

Photo of Andrew Bridgen Andrew Bridgen Reclaim, North West Leicestershire

Our language constantly evolves, with new words coming into common usage. Unfortunately, myocarditis is just such a word; very few of us would even have heard of it barely two years ago. When will the Government look into the reasons behind the explosion in cases of myocarditis, especially among the young, particularly given that this week evidence has emerged that it is affecting some new-born babies? May we have a statement and an urgent debate on this issue?

Photo of Penny Mordaunt Penny Mordaunt Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

I encourage the hon. Gentleman to raise this issue with the Department of Health and Social Care. He will know that the next questions to the Secretary of State and his team are on 11 July. They will have in the Department people looking at particular therapy areas and they will also have good oversight of what research is taking place, whether in academia, research institutions or the third sector.

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

Is the Leader of the House aware that more than 40 years ago the Daily Mail, I believe it was, said that the Father of the House, Sir Peter Bottomley, and I were road safety nuts because we led the campaign for seatbelt legislation? All these years later, we have succeeded in saving many, many lives. However, there is evidence that some people are no longer obeying the seatbelt legislation as well as they could and that children are being killed. Is she aware that the World Health Organisation said last week that the biggest killer of children and young people worldwide is not disease, but death on the road? Will she help us by enabling a debate in Government time about how we can help, worldwide, to stop this killing of children?

Photo of Penny Mordaunt Penny Mordaunt Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

I thank the hon. Gentleman for all the work he does on those issues. As I know from my International Development Department days, he is right that road traffic accidents are one of the biggest killers and causes of trauma around the world. It is important to remind people of their obligations under the law and that such measures are a very good idea. I congratulate him on all he has done to secure those laws.

Photo of Amy Callaghan Amy Callaghan Scottish National Party, East Dunbartonshire

I add my condolences to the families of Winnie Ewing and Craig Brown.

I thank the Leader of the House for her commitment and her dedication to ensuring that there is proxy voting in this House.

Having had a recent issue of a dangerous dog in Milngavie, East Dunbartonshire, which attacked and killed another dog, will the Leader of the House prioritise animal welfare and make Government time for the recently dropped Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill?

Photo of Penny Mordaunt Penny Mordaunt Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

I thank the hon. Lady for what she says about the proxy voting scheme. I thank her for the efforts that she has taken to ensure that the scheme is available to Members and their votes can be secured, and for sharing her experiences in the debates leading up to the scheme coming to fruition.

On her question, several hon. Members have raised the matter of the escalating number of attacks. The hon. Lady will know that we are committed to the measures in the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill, but we will be bringing them forward in a different way, and I will announce that in the usual way.

Photo of Tim Farron Tim Farron Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Communities and Local Government)

One thing that unites rural communities is our concern about access to medical services, which often challenge us. Will the Leader of the House make time for a debate on overnight medical cover in rural communities? From August, the out-of-hours provider of GP services in Cumbria has chosen to get rid of the on-call clinician at the Westmorland General Hospital in Kendal between 2 am and 8 am on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. That will mean that people in medical need in our community will need to wait for a clinician, if one is even available, to travel from Barrow-in-Furness or Penrith, up to an hour further away. Today we have launched a campaign to fight that cut, but should Parliament not protect vulnerable people in rural communities from damaging decisions such as that?

Photo of Penny Mordaunt Penny Mordaunt Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

I thank the hon. Gentleman for raising that important matter. He will know that the next health questions are on 11 July and he can raise the issue then. I reassure him that the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, my right hon. Friend Dr Coffey, is focused on all aspects of rural life, as demonstrated in her recent report, so he may also wish to raise the matter with her.

Photo of Gerald Jones Gerald Jones Shadow Minister (Wales), Opposition Whip (Commons)

Sarcomas are cancers that can affect any part of the body, inside or outside, including muscles, bones, tendons, blood vessels and fatty tissues. Sarcoma is rare; 15 people are diagnosed every day in the UK, but that is still around 5,300 people a year, including families in Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney. Awareness of sarcoma is low, which limits the funding available for research. Will the Leader of the House facilitate a debate so that the House can raise awareness of sarcoma, which will undoubtedly help the vital need for research funding going forward?

Photo of Penny Mordaunt Penny Mordaunt Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

I thank the hon. Gentleman for raising awareness of the issue. He will know that the work we have done since we took office in 2010, not only at the Department of Health and Social Care but with the Minister for Life Sciences, has involved sharing intellectual property, enabling smart people around the world to work on these problems and collectively arrive at greater innovation faster. That is vital to creating innovation and ensuring that our NHS can take up new treatments and faster diagnostics. I thank the hon. Gentleman for raising the subject.

Photo of Justin Madders Justin Madders Shadow Minister (Future of Work), Shadow Minister (Business and Industrial Strategy)

On 2 August, it will be the 50th anniversary of the Summerland fire disaster on the Isle of Man. It was a terrible tragedy in which 50 people lost their lives, including family members of my constituents and of other Members’ constituents. I was astonished to learn that the House has never debated that terrible tragedy, so I tried to secure a debate in Westminster Hall next week, when the relevant Department will be responding, but I was unsuccessful. I will apply for an Adjournment debate, but if that is not possible, will the Leader of the House give us some time before the recess to debate the matter? It is important that we get matters on the record before the 50th anniversary.

Photo of Penny Mordaunt Penny Mordaunt Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on getting that matter on the record today. I know that it will mean a great deal to his constituents that he has done so and that he is doing everything he needs to do to secure a debate. There will be further opportunities for him to raise the matter, but I shall make sure that the relevant Department has heard what he has said today.

Photo of Ian Byrne Ian Byrne Labour, Liverpool, West Derby

My hon. Friend Paula Barker and I have written twice to the Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Neil O’Brien, requested an urgent meeting with him, and tabled early-day motion 1283 regarding the imminent closure of Park View Medical Centre in my constituency of Liverpool, West Derby.

[That this House notes with deep concern the proposed closure of the Park View Medical Centre; notes that the medical centre is located in Tuebrook in the constituency of Liverpool West Derby and also provides GP services to many constituents of Liverpool Wavertree; recognises that the medical centre has been at the centre of the community for decades and provides vital primary care services to constituents in one of the most deprived areas of Liverpool; notes with alarm that the Liverpool Integrated Care Board has written to all patients at the practice to inform them that it will be closing in July and that all patients will be transferred to GP practices within 1 mile radius of the building; places on record that local residents have voiced their strong opposition to the closure of Park View Medical centre and are campaigning to save this vital service; notes that the Members for Liverpool West Derby and Liverpool Wavertree have written to Cheshire and Merseyside ICB to ask that they revisit the decision to close Park View Medical Centre with the upmost urgency and to request meaningful discussions to consider the urgent steps that can be taken to save the service and protect its long-term future; and calls on the Department of Health to support the wishes of the local community and to take all steps available to keep the Park View Medical Centre open to protect the health and wellbeing of the whole community and future generations.]

The whole community is furious with the decision by the integrated care board and they are calling on the Government to assist. Will the Leader of the House make Government time for a debate on the impact of primary care service closures and make representations to the Minister concerned to respond urgently to our letters, so that Park View can be saved for the long-term health and wellbeing of all of my community?

Photo of Penny Mordaunt Penny Mordaunt Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

These local services are obviously very important. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will know how much they mean to his constituents. He can raise his concerns directly with the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care on 11 July, but one thing that the Secretary of State is doing is ensuring that we have additional data on the performance of the hon. Gentleman’s integrated care board so that he can benchmark it against others across the country. Having medical centres that people can access and that are in their local community is vital for good patient outcomes, and that is a big step forward that the Secretary of State has made.

Photo of Martyn Day Martyn Day Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Health and Social Care)

I am concerned about the desperate condition of the sons of my constituent, Mr Omar, who were unable to collect their visas and passports from the embassy in Sudan owing to the war in April, since when they have managed to travel to Ethiopia. After a very long and difficult journey, they are malnourished, out of money, in need of medical treatment and have been waiting for two weeks for a visa vignette. I have been told repeatedly that there is no timescale for the issuing of that. Will the Leader of the House please ask the Home Secretary to make an urgent intervention in this case and make a statement to give us a timescale for future such cases?

Photo of Penny Mordaunt Penny Mordaunt Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

I am very sorry to hear about the case that the hon. Gentleman raises. He will know that we have Home Office questions on Monday. However, following this session, I shall make sure that he has the contact details of the Home Office official who is overseeing these bespoke surgeries for Members. I encourage him to set up such a meeting today.

Photo of Richard Foord Richard Foord Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Defence)

“Blessed are the cheesemakers.” That may be so, but exporting cheese from the south-west has become more challenging in recent years. Barber’s farm is a 191-year-old business. It claims to be the world’s oldest family cheddar cheese maker and is based in Ditcheat, between Somerton and Frome. On exporting, it says that it has become

“a paperwork nightmare that can lead to cheese and chilled foods stuck at ports everywhere.”

Please can we have a debate in Government time to ensure that west country farmers and producers can more easily export their dairy products?

Photo of Penny Mordaunt Penny Mordaunt Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

I thank the hon. Gentleman for raising that important matter. He will know that our exports are the highest since records began. The export support service and the other schemes that are run by the Department for Business and Trade are offering bespoke support to businesses. I have made use of that in my own constituency. Officials from those services may visit that business or have a remote call with it to take it through how they can assist. Whether it is by finding the business an agent or helping it with particular elements of bureaucracy, it is a very effective service and I have to say that it has dramatically increased exports in my constituency, so I encourage him to do that.

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

In the past month, more than 230 churches have been burned, at least 64 Christians have been killed, and 10,000 people have been displaced in the Indian state of Manipur in violence against the Kuki-Zomi tribal people. The scale of this violence is vast and, because of internet blackouts, it is very difficult to know the true extent of what is happening; the figures that I have given are conservative estimates only. As the Leader of the House represents all of us in this House to the best of her ability, will she convey our concerns about the risk of atrocity crimes in this region and ask the appropriate Minister to write to me explaining the steps that are being taken to help de-escalate this very critical situation?

Photo of Penny Mordaunt Penny Mordaunt Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

I thank the hon. Gentleman again for raising the plight of people who often do not have the spotlight shone on what they are having to endure. I will certainly make sure the relevant Minister has heard his concerns and ask them to write to him with an update on the situation. He will know that we remain committed to defending freedom of religion or belief and to promoting respect and tolerance between communities.