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Julian Knight: My constituent Daniela Tassa has lost her hair while being treated for secondary breast cancer. Sadly, Miss Tassa has been turned down by Solihull clinical commissioning group for a hair replacement treatment called intralace. Is there any guidance that Ministers can offer CCGs when it comes to the sanctioning of such hair replacement treatments?
Julian Knight: If he will make a statement on his departmental responsibilities.
Julian Knight: Given the recent naming of the TS Royalist—the sea cadets’ flagship—what importance does the Secretary of State attach to our cadet forces in providing training and discipline to young people? Will he join me in visiting one of the cadet centres in my constituency?
Julian Knight: Does my right hon. Friend agree with me and the CBI that the EU should take some lessons from the UK and adopt more flexible labour markets?
Julian Knight: I am very interested in my hon. Friend’s analysis of the buy-to-let mortgage market. I would point out, however, that the oversight of that market has been far better under this Government with their regulation of financial services than during the Labour party’s time in government.
Julian Knight: Is my hon. Friend aware that just prior to the financial crash, the then Labour Government were running an underlying fiscal deficit equivalent to 6% of GDP—twice the level recommended for the EU? Is it not a bit rich, therefore, for Labour Members to dish out advice on both the management of the banks and government finances?
Julian Knight: Many hard-working homeowners in my constituency take in lodgers to meet their mortgage repayments. However, the rent-a-room tax-free threshold has remained unchanged at £4,250 a year since 1997. Now that the deficit is being paid down, would it not be a positive step to help aspirational homeowners by raising the rent-a-room tax-free threshold?
Julian Knight: Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. I am particularly delighted that I may not be taking an intervention on this, my second speech to this place. I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Hertsmere (Oliver Dowden) and the hon. Member for Sheffield, Brightside and Hillsborough (Harry Harpham) on their very fine maiden speeches. Productivity is an excellent subject to debate, because raising...
Julian Knight: What assessment he has made of the effects of automatic enrolment on private sector pension saving.
Julian Knight: With 135,000 firms set to auto-enrol their employees from January, does my hon. Friend agree that the work of non-governmental groups such as the Solihull-based Chartered Institute of Payroll Professionals is key to the successful delivery of auto-enrolment and to meeting the savings challenge of 11 million Britons who are currently failing to put enough away for their retirement?
Julian Knight: I pay tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Sherwood (Mark Spencer) for securing the debate. He is a strong advocate for his constituency and for the midlands as a whole. I declare an interest: I worked for the BBC from 2002 until 2007. I was the BBC News personal finance and consumer affairs reporter, based—I hasten to add—in London. The motion is about BBC investment in the east and...
Julian Knight: Obviously, I would never countenance mass civil disobedience over the matter, but something will certainly be shared on social media later. A lot of people are interested in the debate. I am following on my iPad the live blog by Trinity Mirror Midlands’s Birmingham Post online, which is looking into this. Perhaps that is something that will spread around.
Julian Knight: That is an interesting idea and I would hope that the BBC would play such a role; it would if it were doing its job properly. It is ridiculous that the Mailbox seems to be full of the HR department, rather than of people making programming for our enjoyment. If the BBC were to do its job properly and to be genuinely representative of the strength of the east and west midlands, we would be...
Julian Knight: The hon. Lady is spot on. The BBC has created a bipolar organisation that transports people from London to Manchester. There is no real regional diversity to its broadcasting. I am horrified to learn of the BBC Asian Network’s being moved from Leicester to London, a prime example of that. I commend the campaign by Trinity Mirror and The Birmingham Post, and in particular the journalist...
Julian Knight: My hon. Friend makes a good point. Regional broadcasting seems to be seen as an expense to be endured, rather than something that would deliver value for viewers and listeners, be valued and reconnect the BBC with the wider public once again. Many Members here are of a certain age and can remember the time of mass broadcasting, with the shows of Morecambe and Wise getting 20 million viewers....
Julian Knight: The hon. Lady said that the BBC “embraces” the nation. However, we noted during the referendum campaign that the Scottish National party was very angry with the BBC, and claimed bias in that respect. Given that the modern BBC does not embrace regional broadcasting, as we are discussing today, is it fulfilling that true national broadcaster remit?
Julian Knight: On apprenticeships, does the hon. Gentleman have any thoughts about pay differentials within the BBC? According to the latest reports, 91 BBC staff members currently earn more than the Prime Minister, while many people who do the programming, such as broadcast assistants, broadcast journalists and senior broadcast journalists, might take home a quarter of that. They are the ones putting in...
Julian Knight: I have seen similar documentation. Does the hon. Gentleman agree that, with the BBC, it always seems to be a case of jam tomorrow for the midlands? We want our jam today, or at least in time for the next charter renewal.
Julian Knight: Will the hon. Lady give way?