John Spellar: May I bring the Minister back to the core issue, which is that there are two separate but linked problems: the business model and the performance of these companies? Like Carillion, Capita seems to be part of the over-concentrated, over-leveraged, dividend-and-bonus-exploiting culture that relies on the state to bail out failure. Capita incompetence is only too clear from its lamentable...
John Spellar: If these matters are so pressing, urgent and obvious, why have we been having September sittings, which enormously disrupt any programme of work?
John Spellar: It is the same on the Opposition side.
John Spellar: Would the Minister therefore be interested to know that the LGA did an assessment of Sandwell, as it does of boroughs around the country, which said that Sandwell had strong and stable financial management and a clear intention and track record of protecting frontline services? That is what the Conservative-dominated LGA said.
John Spellar: As the Minister has 10 minutes, will he give way?
John Spellar: Give way!
John Spellar: rose—
John Spellar: Oh—we have quite a bit of time. If the constituents whom the hon. Gentleman encounters in Rowley Regis, part of the borough that I live in, are so disillusioned with Labour, why is every one of their council representatives Labour, and with substantial majorities? That is the real test of public opinion, is it not?
John Spellar: Well, you’re misleading the House—
John Spellar: I said I am sure the hon. Gentleman is inadvertently misleading the House.
John Spellar: Do not the various elements that my right hon. Friend is describing show the indivisible nature of Hezbollah? It does not have separate wings but is one criminal terrorist entity.
John Spellar: My reaction to this much heralded, hokey-cokey statement is, is that it? Although the voice was Williamson’s, the hands were clearly Hammond’s. Will the Secretary of State confirm whether the programme is still fiscally neutral? Why does it not say that increases in security expenditure will not be at the expense of defence? Why does it rehash the same old tired call for so-called...
John Spellar: The Minister will be aware that concerns are growing that trail hunting is being used as a cover for illegal hunting. This was recently brought into focus by the invasion of a cat sanctuary—run by the well-known Celia Hammond Animal Trust—in East Sussex by a pack of hounds from the Romney Marsh hunt. What action will the Government take against those who continue to hunt illegally?
John Spellar: I thank the Minister for giving way and for the information that he is providing to Members of Parliament. The Midland Metropolitan Hospital has a site management in place and a series of contractors. Given that those contractors are now locked out of the site, they will be going off to undertake other work, so increasing costs will have to be borne. There will also be disruption to the work...
John Spellar: rose—
John Spellar: Like other colleagues, I shall not detain the House for long. Many relevant points have already been made by the hon. Member for Rochford and Southend East (James Duddridge). I think that there is concern about this appointment. Quite apart from more general questions as to the role of the Electoral Commission and whether it is a body that has been losing its way, which is a wider debate for...
John Spellar: I echo the concerns of my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Riverside (Mrs Ellman). The new Midland Metropolitan Hospital now towers over the terraced housing in the Smethwick part of my constituency. Despite a delay due to a design failure, work is now proceeding apace and it is two thirds completed. What will the Government be doing about ensuring the flow of funding and work so that...