Bim Afolami: I want to take the hon. Gentleman up on his point about personal debt levels. Does he agree that it is because this Government’s fiscal management has been so sensible—and recognised as such by the international markets—that interest rates have been kept low? This means that personal debt repayments are now lower on average than they were when the Labour party left office.
Bim Afolami: To be more accurate, was not the Chief Secretary to the Treasury actually talking about a percentage of the total GDP of the state, and not the quantum amount? The heart of her argument was that if we continue to grow the economy as we are doing, we will have much more money for our public services. That was the real core of the point she was making.
Bim Afolami: The hon. Gentleman’s speech illustrates the big dividing line between the two sides of the House. The Chief Secretary is concerned with people and consumers having access to high-quality, well-paying jobs and high-quality public services; the Opposition and the hon. Gentleman are obsessed with vested interests and the producers, many of which are not providing a good service to the...
Bim Afolami: My right hon. Friend is making a very powerful speech. Does she agree that the Government’s approach is about practically achieving the best outcomes for people, whereas Labour’s approach is ideologically driven and will lead the country into more debt and more borrowing?
Bim Afolami: On debt interest repayments, will my right hon. Friend explain further how even a relatively modest rise in interest rates would make what is currently £50 billion of interest repayment completely unmanageable if Labour got in and we had a run on the pound?
Bim Afolami: Financial services are critical to thousands of my constituents and to the country as a whole. Will the Prime Minister take this opportunity to update the House on the progress made on ensuring that our future trade deal with the European Union includes an agreement on financial services?
Bim Afolami: Does my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State recognise the strong business case for the merger between Luton and Dunstable University Hospital and Bedford Hospital in terms of delivering value for money for our local health economy?
Bim Afolami: It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Evans. It is also a pleasure to be in this debate. I commend my hon. Friend the Member for Sutton and Cheam (Paul Scully). As has been said, the number of Members of Parliament here for a Westminster Hall debate is extraordinary, and shows how much Members and constituents care about this. I will be brief because it is important that...
Bim Afolami: Yes, sometimes systems do not work and, as I said, I believe that in this case the Minister should get involved, but we also need to look at the processes. Members of Parliament cannot come to the House and demand action for every single drug. We need to build in better processes for NICE so that when there is a drug such as Orkambi, which deals with a chronic condition and can make a...
Bim Afolami: My constituent, Mr Dixon-Dyer, is in his early 30s. He and his wife have a baby on the way. That gave him such an impetus that he came to me, because he wants to be around for that child’s life. I want him to be around too. I hope the Minister takes note of the strength of feeling, which as he will be aware is not typical for a Westminster Hall debate, and looks kindly on the proposal.
Bim Afolami: On a recent trip to Washington with the Public Accounts Committee, it was notable that officials from both the International Monetary Fund and the US Treasury were very positive about Britain’s leadership in tackling money laundering. Will the Minister further explain the work the Government are doing on a multilateral and international basis to ensure that this issue is dealt with not...
Bim Afolami: Will the Minister explain the Government’s approach to special educational needs funding in Hertfordshire and other areas? There is concern in many quarters that additional funding allocated to children with special needs is not being adequately ring-fenced at a local level.
Bim Afolami: Hitchin and Harpenden, which are both small towns, have a thriving independent retail sector, but in recent months they have reported that things are getting harder for them. Will the Minister reassure me that the Government are doing everything they can to help independent small retailers in thriving market towns?
Bim Afolami: Does not the Bill show the Government’s general approach to intervention in markets, which we have heard a lot about this afternoon, which is about markets not as a means in themselves, but as a means to an end, which is good, cheap and reliable energy for the British people?
Bim Afolami: My hon. Friend knows a great deal about this issue. Is not the point that this is not a price freeze but a price cap? Those two things are different and allow a sensible regulator, as the right hon. Member for Don Valley (Caroline Flint) suggests, to set a ceiling rather than an absolute price.
Bim Afolami: As the Chancellor knows, investment in infrastructure is key to ensuring that we can build the thousands of homes that this country needs. Will the Chancellor agree to meet me, other Hertfordshire MPs and the leader of Hertfordshire County Council to discuss how we might be able to do that in Hertfordshire, where we need to deliver about 100,000 new homes?