All 40 Parliamentary debates on 11th Oct 2016

Tue 11th Oct 2016
Tue 11th Oct 2016
Tue 11th Oct 2016
Small Charitable Donations and Childcare Payments Bill
Commons Chamber

2nd reading: House of Commons & Money resolution: House of Commons & Programme motion: House of Commons
Tue 11th Oct 2016
Tue 11th Oct 2016
Tue 11th Oct 2016
Tue 11th Oct 2016
Higher Education and Research Bill (Tenth sitting)
Public Bill Committees

Committee Debate: 10th sitting: House of Commons
Tue 11th Oct 2016
Higher Education and Research Bill (Ninth sitting)
Public Bill Committees

Committee Debate: 9th sitting: House of Commons
Tue 11th Oct 2016
Digital Economy Bill (First sitting)
Public Bill Committees

Committee Debate: 1st sitting: House of Commons
Tue 11th Oct 2016
Digital Economy Bill (Second sitting)
Public Bill Committees

Committee Debate: 2nd sitting: House of Commons
Tue 11th Oct 2016
Tue 11th Oct 2016
Tue 11th Oct 2016
National Citizen Service Bill [HL]
Lords Chamber

1st reading (Hansard): House of Lords
Tue 11th Oct 2016
Investigatory Powers Bill
Lords Chamber

Report: 1st sitting (Hansard): House of Lords & Report: 1st sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Tue 11th Oct 2016

House of Commons

Tuesday 11th October 2016

(7 years, 9 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Tuesday 11 October 2016
The House met at half-past Eleven o’clock

Prayers

Tuesday 11th October 2016

(7 years, 9 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Prayers mark the daily opening of Parliament. The occassion is used by MPs to reserve seats in the Commons Chamber with 'prayer cards'. Prayers are not televised on the official feed.

This information is provided by Parallel Parliament and does not comprise part of the offical record

[Mr Speaker in the Chair]

Oral Answers to Questions

Tuesday 11th October 2016

(7 years, 9 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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The Secretary of State was asked—
Julie Elliott Portrait Julie Elliott (Sunderland Central) (Lab)
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1. What steps he has taken to support GPs in prescribing effective interventions to change behaviour and promote physical activity.

Baroness Blackwood of North Oxford Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Nicola Blackwood)
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The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence recommends that exercise referral schemes should be provided for people at increased risk of ill health, and it is right that such schemes are developed on a local basis to meet the needs of the population. Our NHS five year forward view strategy prioritises prevention, and the GP physical activity clinical champion programme has taught more than 4,500 healthcare professionals to provide advice on physical activity in routine clinical consultations.

Julie Elliott Portrait Julie Elliott
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In the north-east, only 33% of adults participate in weekly sport, compared with 38% in London. This has a knock-on effect on people’s health throughout their lives. What are the Government doing to address these geographical health inequalities?

Baroness Blackwood of North Oxford Portrait Nicola Blackwood
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The hon. Lady is absolutely right to raise this question. Inactivity costs England an estimated £7.4 billion a year, and regular physical activity reduces the risk of developing many health conditions by between 20% and 40%. People who exercise regularly can reduce their risk of developing certain kinds of cancer. We are particularly pleased that, in addition to the GP physical activity clinical champion programme, Public Health England has secured funding from Sport England to pilot an education cascade model involving midwives, physiotherapists and mental health nurses and, with the support of the Burdett Trust for Nursing, will soon be launching a pilot involving 21 clinical nurse champion programmes to embed this knowledge in practising nurses. It will, however, be up to local areas to ensure that they make the best of these programmes by targeting them at their local area.

John Cryer Portrait John Cryer (Leyton and Wanstead) (Lab)
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On the behaviour part of the question, what can the Minister do to combat what seems to be an emerging picture of over-consumption of painkillers and to enforce NICE guidelines on their use?

Baroness Blackwood of North Oxford Portrait Nicola Blackwood
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The hon. Gentleman raises an important issue relating to drug and alcohol misuse. We have prioritised this question as one of the local statutory requirements. We have given £16 billion to local health authorities for public health delivery, and we will expect them to prioritise this issue.

Sharon Hodgson Portrait Mrs Sharon Hodgson (Washington and Sunderland West) (Lab)
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Lack of physical activity contributes to obesity. With today’s Health questions falling on World Obesity Day, as I am sure the Minister is aware, it is vital that we recommit our efforts to reversing rising obesity levels in the UK. An opportune moment would have been the childhood obesity strategy—sorry, the plan—that was published over the summer, but sadly it did not go far enough. Therefore, will the Minister commit today to ensuring that the plan is fully realised as a preventive strategy to change behaviours and help to make the next generation healthier than the last?

Baroness Blackwood of North Oxford Portrait Nicola Blackwood
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I congratulate the hon. Lady on her appointment. I am particularly pleased to see her in her place. She has played an important role in the all-party parliamentary group on breast cancer. We are very proud of the childhood obesity plan. It is based on the best available evidence, and it will make a real difference to obesity rates in this country. The Government are also consulting on the soft drinks industry levy, and we have launched a broad sugar reduction strategy. She is absolutely right to say that we must now work hard to ensure that we deliver on that with the NHS, local authorities and other partners as we move into the delivery phase of the plan. We are proud that it is a world-leading plan.

Johnny Mercer Portrait Johnny Mercer (Plymouth, Moor View) (Con)
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2. If he will visit Plymouth to discuss how its city council has pooled health and social care budgets.

David Mowat Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (David Mowat)
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Plymouth has gone further and faster in integrating health and social care than many parts of the country have done. The integrated fund that it has set up covers housing and leisure as well as health and care. I would be delighted to visit Plymouth and to learn more about how the fund is working in practice.

Johnny Mercer Portrait Johnny Mercer
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As my hon. Friend points out, Plymouth has taken innovative steps to try to address some of the funding inequalities at play within the Northern, Eastern and Western Devon clinical commissioning group. However, between the calculated spend and the actual spend, there is a funding shortfall of £30 million. Will he agree to work with local MPs, stakeholders and those involved in the wider Devon sustainability and transformation plan to develop a written agreement to address these inequalities?

David Mowat Portrait David Mowat
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My hon. Friend refers to the time lag that can exist between target and actual funding. When I visit, I will be delighted to meet stakeholders not only to understand the allocation issues to which he refers but to congratulate the health and social care leadership on the progress they have made with their fund and on the above-average satisfaction ratings that have been achieved in Plymouth.

Ben Bradshaw Portrait Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab)
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12. When the Minister is in Devon, will he meet patients’ groups and NHS staff, who are very worried about the proposals under the Government’s Orwellian Success regime, which include the closure of scores of community hospital beds, including the only community hospital beds in Exeter at Whipton hospital? Although it may make sense to integrate, and it certainly makes sense to move money from beds and buildings to better care for people in their homes, does he accept that it is simply not deliverable against a backdrop of massive cuts in social care budgets?

David Mowat Portrait David Mowat
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Yes, I am happy to meet in that context. The right hon. Gentleman is right that the Success regime is about a transfer of resources from the community hospitals to care at home and domiciliary care. That is not necessarily the wrong thing to do, but it must be done right, and I am happy to meet.

Sarah Wollaston Portrait Dr Sarah Wollaston (Totnes) (Con)
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I welcome greater integration, but the Minister will be aware that there are grave concerns about the effect of cuts to social care on the NHS. More and more patients are spending greater time in more expensive settings in hospital when they could be better looked after in their own homes or in the community, but cuts to social care make that impossible. Will the Minister set out what appraisal the Government are making of the effect and the damage to the NHS of cuts to social care?

David Mowat Portrait David Mowat
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My hon. Friend is right: social care funding is tight. It is also true to say that those parts of the country that do the best in this regard—there are some that do considerably better than others—have integrated social care and health most effectively. On the budget itself, there is some disparity among different local authorities. About a quarter of local authorities have increased their adult social care budget by 5% or more this year.

Simon Danczuk Portrait Simon Danczuk (Rochdale) (Ind)
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3. If he will publish the full scientific evidential basis for his Department’s alcohol consumption guidelines; and what representations he has received on those guidelines.

Baroness Blackwood of North Oxford Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Nicola Blackwood)
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The scientific evidence for the UK chief medical officer’s low-risk alcohol guidelines is available on the gov.uk website. The guidelines were published in August, following testing through public consultation to ensure that the advice is as clear and usable as possible. We received 1,019 responses to the consultation.

Simon Danczuk Portrait Simon Danczuk
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There is an overwhelming scientific evidence base that shows the health benefits of moderate drinking—something to which I can attest. Does the Minister not agree that the chief medical officer should highlight those benefits more?

Baroness Blackwood of North Oxford Portrait Nicola Blackwood
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For many people, drinking alcohol is part of their normal social lives, and we are perfectly clear that these guidelines are advisory. They are in place to help people make informed decisions about how they drink and decide whether they want to take fewer risks with their drinking. They are not designed to label everyone who drinks as a problem drinker or to prevent everyone who wants to drink from drinking, but I point out to the hon. Gentleman that Rochdale has more than double the number of admissions to hospital where alcohol is a factor than the best authorities in England.

Lord Davies of Gower Portrait Byron Davies (Gower) (Con)
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Following on from that answer, will the Minister reassure the House that public health guidance given to consumers of alcohol is realistic and will not undermine responsible drinking campaigns, penalise responsible drinkers or damage the vital role that pubs play in our communities?

Baroness Blackwood of North Oxford Portrait Nicola Blackwood
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As I have said, these guidelines are simply intended to be advisory. They are intended to give the best possible information and advice and to put all the evidence in one place so that people can make the best possible decisions with their drinking.

Greg Mulholland Portrait Greg Mulholland (Leeds North West) (LD)
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Campaigners on alcohol abuse have acknowledged the importance of the pub, which is a controlled sociable environment in which to enjoy a drink compared with the unrestricted supermarkets. Will the Minister have a word with her colleagues in the Department for Communities and Local Government who continue to preside over a system in which profitable wanted pubs are demolished and in which supermarkets are built on the site against the wishes of local communities?

Baroness Blackwood of North Oxford Portrait Nicola Blackwood
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The hon. Gentleman plays a very important role as chair of the all-party save the pub group and has been a dogged campaigner for the pub. We are very clear that social drinking is not the target of these low-risk guidelines. I am happy to meet and discuss this issue with my DCLG colleagues.

Maggie Throup Portrait Maggie Throup (Erewash) (Con)
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Sadly, very few people are aware of the link between alcohol consumption and obesity and of the long-term impacts of life-limiting diseases—not just cirrhosis. To ensure that the impact of obesity is integral to the alcohol consumption guidelines, will the Minister, on World Obesity Day, put tackling both adult and childhood obesity even higher up the Department’s agenda?

Baroness Blackwood of North Oxford Portrait Nicola Blackwood
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The hon. Lady is right to raise the hidden risks of alcohol consumption, which is exactly why a widespread analysis of the evidence was conducted through this guideline exercise. She is right to say that obesity should be a top priority for the Government. We will analyse her question and look into it.

Rob Marris Portrait Rob Marris (Wolverhampton South West) (Lab)
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4. What estimate he has made of the value of assets funded by PFI health projects which will remain in private ownership after the contracts for those projects have concluded.

Philip Dunne Portrait The Minister of State, Department of Health (Mr Philip Dunne)
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Between 1997 and 2010, 103 NHS hospital PFI schemes reached financial close, creating liabilities for the NHS of £77 billion. Three legacy PFI schemes have been signed since 2010 on stricter terms, with liabilities of £1.7 billion, and one scheme has been signed under the new PF2 model, worth £340 million. In nearly all cases, except for a few of the early schemes, ownership of the hospital reverts to the NHS at the end of the PFI contract. But even in those schemes, the NHS always has the first option on whether to end or continue with the contract.

Rob Marris Portrait Rob Marris
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Effectively, those figures will mean even more debt for the next generation. Will the Minister commit the Government to abandoning all PFI? It always was an idiotic scheme. No more PFI, no more PF2, etc—just abandon it, Minister.

Philip Dunne Portrait Mr Dunne
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The hon. Gentleman has a consistent track record in opposing PFI, even when the vast majority of the schemes were put under contract by the Government of which he was a member—so I will not take any lectures from him about how to deal with PFI. We will continue to use the new stricter terms as and when appropriate.

Norman Lamb Portrait Norman Lamb (North Norfolk) (LD)
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The National Audit Office concluded that the PFI contract for the Norfolk and Norwich hospital was a bad deal for the taxpayer and for the NHS, yet last year Octagon Healthcare made a record profit as the Norfolk and Norwich’s finances sank ever further into the red. Will the Minister consider making a formal approach to Octagon Healthcare to ask it to forgo part of its profit to help confront the enormous financial black hole that the trust faces?

Philip Dunne Portrait Mr Dunne
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We have provided access for seven of the worst affected trusts with obligations under PFI to a support fund of some £1.5 billion to help them with those obligations. I am not sure whether Norfolk is one of them; I suspect that it is not. I would be happy to talk to the right hon. Gentleman about this, but rather than raising his hopes inappropriately I have to say to him that many of the schemes are too costly to divert resource to pay them off completely.

Steve Baker Portrait Mr Steve Baker (Wycombe) (Con)
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5. If he will take steps to ensure that clinical commissioning groups publish their proposals for implementing the NHS “Five Year Forward View”.

David Mowat Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (David Mowat)
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The “Five Year Forward View” will be delivered through sustainability and transformation plans which are currently being developed by clinical commissioning groups in collaboration with local authorities and providers. NHS England expects that all STPs will be published, although in some areas discussions are already taking place.

Steve Baker Portrait Mr Baker
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I am led to understand that in Wycombe we should expect no dramatic changes and possibly no publication of a strategic plan. Does my hon. Friend agree that public confidence would be much enhanced by the clear articulation in public of a strategy for meeting the “Five Year Forward View”?

David Mowat Portrait David Mowat
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I agree with my hon. Friend, and I will try to give a clear answer. NHS England is determined that all 44 areas will publish their plans shortly. For those that have not already done so, publication will take place after the formal checkpoint review at the end of October. Areas are working to different timescales, but the plans will all be published by the end of November. For the avoidance of doubt, that includes the STP for Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West.

Seema Malhotra Portrait Seema Malhotra (Feltham and Heston) (Lab/Co-op)
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The NHS “Five Year Forward View” called for a radical upgrade in prevention and public health. How does the Minister square that with the Government’s subsequent cuts to public health, including £200 million in-year cuts and further cuts expected by 2020?

David Mowat Portrait David Mowat
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The STP process is an attempt to upgrade our public health and mental health provision and cancer outcomes. Every STP will be expected to provide an assessment of local public health priorities and the timetable for progress towards that.

Lord Vaizey of Didcot Portrait Mr Edward Vaizey (Wantage) (Con)
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Wantage community hospital in my constituency has recently closed because of the threat of Legionnaires’ disease, and it will not reopen until we have finally concluded consultation on the sustainability and transformation plan—if it reopens at all. This consultation has been delayed, and that naturally worries my constituents. Will the Minister join me in urging Oxfordshire to get on with consulting on this very important plan, so that we can have a reasonable discussion?

David Mowat Portrait David Mowat
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I will join my right hon. Friend in doing that. I am not familiar with the specifics of the Wantage case, but it does not sound right that it is an ongoing thing that is not fixed quickly.

Keith Vaz Portrait Keith Vaz (Leicester East) (Lab)
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May I congratulate the Minister on his appointment to the Front Bench, as well as the Under-Secretary of State for Health, the hon. Member for Oxford West and Abingdon (Nicola Blackwood), on hers? I am sure that they will do a terrific job in their posts.

As a type 2 diabetic, I am very concerned about the fact that local clinical commissioning groups are just not providing information on preventive work against diabetes. Will the hon. Gentleman confirm that diabetes will be referred to once these plans have been published?

David Mowat Portrait David Mowat
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I will confirm that. There is a national diabetes plan, as the right hon. Gentleman will be aware. Diabetes is one of a number of long-term conditions in which these plans are charged to deliver improvements, and it would not be acceptable for a plan to be signed off or completed unless progress on diabetes had been made.

David Tredinnick Portrait David Tredinnick (Bosworth) (Con)
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When the Minister looks at new treatment options in the forward view, will he consider the example of Velindre NHS Trust in south-east Wales, which treats 1.5 million cancer patients every year and is now using reflexology, reiki healing, aromatherapy, and breathing and relaxation techniques to alleviate anxiety, pain, side effects and symptoms? If that was more widely spread over the health service in England, cost savings and patient satisfaction would increase.

David Mowat Portrait David Mowat
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The STP process is locally led, not led from the centre, but I would expect clinical judgments of the type mentioned to be made if they could be confirmed on the basis of scientific and trial-based evidence.

Julie Cooper Portrait Julie Cooper (Burnley) (Lab)
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Central to the aim of the five year forward plan for the NHS is a sustainable health service in which all patients receive the right care at the right time in the right place. With that in mind, can the Minister tell me what action he is taking to address the problem of delayed hospital discharges, which have risen by 20% so far this year? That amounts to an additional 926 people every day condemned to stay in hospital longer than is medically necessary.

David Mowat Portrait David Mowat
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First, may I welcome the hon. Lady to her post and wish her luck in the new job? There has been an increase in delayed discharges in England over the past year. Only a part of that increase is due to difficulties in the integration between social care and the NHS—a large part of it comes from within the NHS itself—but it is not uniform across local authorities. Indeed, many local authorities are improving in this regard. What is very clear is that those making the most progress the most quickly are those that have gone furthest in integrating social care and healthcare.

Michelle Donelan Portrait Michelle Donelan (Chippenham) (Con)
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6. What the timetable is for the review of the diagnosis, treatment and transmission of Lyme disease announced on 10 May 2016.

David Mowat Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (David Mowat)
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The Department of Health has commissioned three separate reviews on the diagnosis, treatment and transmission of Lyme disease. The work will be carried out by the epicentre of University College and be clinically driven and evidence-based, and it will be published in late 2017.

Michelle Donelan Portrait Michelle Donelan
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Although I am delighted that the Government are looking into this serious and important disease, as the reviews progress thousands of people contract Lyme disease each year, particularly in areas such as Wiltshire, and they can receive inadequate treatment, so will the Minister look into speeding up these reviews?

David Mowat Portrait David Mowat
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It is fair challenge that this work is high priority, and we need to go as fast as possible, but we are working with research teams. The work will be trial-based and needs to be as definitive as possible. In the meantime, early diagnosis is the key way to make progress. Public Health England continues to work with GPs and the public on it.

Richard Arkless Portrait Richard Arkless (Dumfries and Galloway) (SNP)
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My mother recently died of motor neurone disease. In some areas of my constituency, there are 13 sufferers per 10,000 people, whereas the UK average is two per 100,000. Will the Minister please agree to meet me and representatives of the Motor Neurone Disease Association to discuss how the UK Government could lend their weight to combating this awful and debilitating disease?

David Mowat Portrait David Mowat
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Yes, I would be happy to meet the hon. Gentleman to discuss that subject.

John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
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I am extremely grateful to the Minister for his response on that matter.

Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP)
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Bearing in mind that cases of Lyme disease have quadrupled in the past 12 years, and that some of those cases have been in my constituency of Strangford in Northern Ireland, what has been done with the devolved Assemblies in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to ensure that a UK-wide strategy is put in place to address this trend and to provide effective diagnosis and treatment?

David Mowat Portrait David Mowat
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The principal thing that we need to do with Lyme disease is to make progress on diagnosis, treatment and transmission through a definitive approach. When the results of the study that I mentioned are published, of course they will be available across all parts of the United Kingdom.

Andrew Bridgen Portrait Andrew Bridgen (North West Leicestershire) (Con)
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7. What steps his Department is taking to improve NHS procurement.

Philip Dunne Portrait The Minister of State, Department of Health (Mr Philip Dunne)
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I agree with my hon. Friend that this is an important area. In his report earlier this year, Lord Carter identified potential annual savings of £700 million from reducing the variation in procurement performance between providers. We have announced a first tranche of 12 standardised products for all NHS providers to use; this will boost procurement volumes and bring about economies of scale, securing lower prices. These initial products, including commodity items such as gloves and needles, cover £100 million of trust spending. We expect this to result in savings of up to 25%.

Andrew Bridgen Portrait Andrew Bridgen
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Innovative private sector suppliers have successfully partnered with the NHS since its inception, and it is quite right to say that for that relationship to be sustainable, those suppliers must make a profit. However, does the Minister agree that rogue companies that exploit the NHS’s lack of commercial expertise could be named and shamed, because they are making a lot of money at taxpayers’ expense?

Philip Dunne Portrait Mr Dunne
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We believe that the right approach to securing procurement savings is to take advantage of the immense amount of data available across the NHS. That is why we have set up the purchasing price index benchmarking tool. Data on more than £8 billion of expenditure, covering over 30 million separate procurement transactions, has been collated and will be analysed. We will use that information judiciously to save the taxpayer money. We think that that is the right way to start, rather than naming and shaming.

Chris Leslie Portrait Chris Leslie (Nottingham East) (Lab/Co-op)
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I urge the Minister, when thinking about national procurement and national commissioning, to look at the national strategies that can underpin them—for example, at why we need to renew the national stroke strategy. Some 100,000 people a year suffer a stroke, and nearly 1 million people in this country have had a stroke. They care very much about rehabilitation and other services.

John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
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The Minister’s challenge is to relate that very important matter to the equally important issue that happens to be the subject of the question: procurement.

Philip Dunne Portrait Mr Dunne
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I am grateful to you, Mr Speaker, for drawing the hon. Gentleman’s attention to the fact that the topic is procurement. The hon. Gentleman is right to highlight the fact that we have looked at an acute heart treatment strategy. We are creating centres of excellence across the country to ensure that if people suffer from an acute heart incident or a stroke, they are treated by the specialists who will give them the best prospects for recovery.

Lord Bellingham Portrait Sir Henry Bellingham (North West Norfolk) (Con)
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8. What progress his Department is making on turning around hospitals in special measures.

Jeremy Hunt Portrait The Secretary of State for Health (Mr Jeremy Hunt)
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In the last four years, 29 trusts have been put into special measures; that is more than one in 10 of all NHS trusts. Of those, 12 have now come out, having demonstrated sustainable improvements in safety and quality of care. There are nearly 1,300 more doctors and 4,200 nurses working in trusts that have been put into special measures.

Lord Bellingham Portrait Sir Henry Bellingham
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The Secretary of State will be aware because he visited it last year, that the Queen Elizabeth hospital in my constituency has come out of special measures. It has made excellent progress, not least by introducing Saturday lists for in-patients and putting in place numerous measures to transform the out-patients department. Will he join me in paying tribute to all staff of the hospital, particularly the chief executive, Dorothy Hosein, and the chairman, Edward Libbey, for the excellent progress that they have made?

Jeremy Hunt Portrait Mr Hunt
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I am very happy to do that, and I very much enjoyed my visit to the QE with my hon. Friend a couple of years ago. This is a very good example of how trusts can be transformed when they go into special measures. Since coming out of special measures, the QE has opened a state-of-the-art laparoscopic theatre, got a dedicated breast unit, and expanded its A&E. It has got 72 more nurses over the past few years. It is a good example to many other trusts in special measures, and it shows that that really can be a turning point, bringing about benefits for patients and staff.

Derek Twigg Portrait Derek Twigg (Halton) (Lab)
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The problem is that many trusts are still in a financial mess and have a deficit. If hospitals and the wider health service are to solve that, they need more funding, and councils, too, need funding for care. What is the Secretary of State doing to fight for more funding for his Department to ensure that we deal with those problems properly?

Jeremy Hunt Portrait Mr Hunt
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The hon. Gentleman will have noticed that in last year’s spending review the NHS got the biggest funding increase of any Government Department. We have committed to the NHS’s own plan, which asks for £10 billion more a year during the course of this Parliament in real terms. However, I do not disagree that there are still very real financial pressures in the NHS and particularly in the social care system. The trusts that are delivering the highest standards of care are those with the lowest deficits. Delivering unsafe care is one of the most expensive things people can do, which is why this is an important agenda.

Chris Green Portrait Chris Green (Bolton West) (Con)
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15. Will the Secretary of State join me in congratulating all the staff at Bolton NHS Foundation Trust, which has recently been rated “good” by the Care Quality Commission just four years after it was deemed to be a red risk. It is now in the top 25% of trusts.

Jeremy Hunt Portrait Mr Hunt
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The staff at Bolton have done a fantastic job. I absolutely congratulate them, and I thank my hon. Friend for his work in supporting them as well.

Barry Sheerman Portrait Mr Barry Sheerman (Huddersfield) (Lab/Co-op)
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The Secretary of State will know that in my own area of Calderdale and Huddersfield there is a dreadful situation for the trust that has been caused by the behaviour of the clinical commissioning group and the way in which it procures. He has received a large petition from thousands of people in the Huddersfield area about the closure of the A&E. Will he look at that seriously and intervene, because the competence of local CCGs is not up to the mark?

Jeremy Hunt Portrait Mr Hunt
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I am well aware of that issue and have received a number of representations from hon. Members on both sides of the House. There is a mechanism by which these issues end up on my desk—they have to be referred by a local council’s overview and scrutiny committee and then I get an independent recommendation—but I will look at this carefully if that process is followed.

Maria Miller Portrait Mrs Maria Miller (Basingstoke) (Con)
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To cope with rapid population increases in my constituency, Basingstoke has advanced plans to build a critical treatment hospital and cancer centre, with the support of more than three quarters of the population. Does my right hon. Friend expect sustainability and transformation plans to provide clear, timely direction on plans for this new model of care in the community?

Jeremy Hunt Portrait Mr Hunt
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I can absolutely reassure my right hon. Friend on that. One of the main purposes of STPs is to make sure that we deliver our cancer plan, which will introduce a maximum four-week wait between GP referral and ultimate diagnosis. If we get it right, that might result in around 30,000 lives a year being saved, so this is a big priority for every STP.

Imran Hussain Portrait Imran Hussain (Bradford East) (Lab)
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9. What steps he plans to take to address shortfalls in staff recruitment and retention in the NHS.

Philip Dunne Portrait The Minister of State, Department of Health (Mr Philip Dunne)
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I join the Secretary of State in welcoming the dedication and commitment of everyone who works in the NHS. We are taking active steps to encourage more people to become doctors, nurses and support staff. Only last week, my right hon. Friend announced a commitment to recruit an additional 25% of doctors to train in the NHS, which is 1,500 more doctors on top of the 6,000 currently trained every year.

Imran Hussain Portrait Imran Hussain
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Net temporary and agency staff expenditure has risen by 40% since 2013. It accounted for 8% of total staff expenditure in 2015-16, which equates to £4.13 billion. Does the Minister agree that rising agency costs point to a recruitment crisis, and will he make a statement to the House outlining his plans to address that crisis?

Philip Dunne Portrait Mr Dunne
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

We recognise, absolutely, that bills for agency staff have become unsustainable, which is why we have taken deliberate action, including by introducing price caps on hourly rates last November, which has had a significant impact on reducing agency costs. In the year to date, agency costs are some £550 million less than they were last year.

Jeremy Lefroy Portrait Jeremy Lefroy (Stafford) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I welcome last week’s announcement about the increase in the number of medical school places. What plans does the Department have to ensure that there are sufficient clinical training places for those medical students?

Philip Dunne Portrait Mr Dunne
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I can reassure my hon. Friend that there is considerable excess demand from UK-based students to train to become a clinician in this country—only half of those who apply to train in medical school are accepted at present—so we are confident that there will be plenty of take-up for those extra places. With regard to clinical placements, we are in discussions with universities, colleges and teaching hospitals to ensure that there are adequate numbers of places.

Philippa Whitford Portrait Dr Philippa Whitford (Central Ayrshire) (SNP)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I welcome the 25% expansion in medical student places, but I reject tying that to the elimination of 25% of overseas doctors who currently work in our NHS. With 10% of posts unfilled and ever-rising patient demand, the Secretary of State must know that we will always need international graduates in the future. Does he not recognise that he is creating unrealistic expectations and conflict with this idea of a British-only medical service?

Philip Dunne Portrait Mr Dunne
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am grateful to the hon. Lady for giving me the opportunity to set the record straight and stop this scaremongering, which is undoubtedly unsettling many of the very valuable doctors, nurses and other foreign nationals who are currently providing vital services to the NHS. Last week’s announcement was about adding more doctors to be trained who are UK-based. We are not changing any of the present arrangements for international students being trained here, or doctors and nurses working here.

Philippa Whitford Portrait Dr Whitford
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The Government might not be changing their position right now, but with one in 10 posts currently unfilled, and given the rhetoric used last week, how does the Minister expect us even to retain foreign doctors, let alone attract them to fill those posts?

Philip Dunne Portrait Mr Dunne
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

There was no rhetoric used. In making that announcement, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister used no rhetoric whatsoever regarding the very valuable contribution of foreign clinicians to our health service, and that remains the case.

Nick Boles Portrait Nick Boles (Grantham and Stamford) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Staff shortages this summer led United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust to introduce a temporary closure of Grantham A&E, causing huge concern to my constituents. Will the Secretary of State agree to meet me and Jody Clark, the founder of a local campaign group, to discuss how we can resolve this unacceptable situation?

Philip Dunne Portrait Mr Dunne
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am well aware, from representations made by my hon. Friend and other neighbouring MPs, of the concerns that that has caused locally. The Secretary of State has already indicated to me that he does intend to meet my hon. Friend and campaigners in due course.

Jonathan Ashworth Portrait Jonathan Ashworth (Leicester South) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The Minister says that no rhetoric or scaremongering was used last week. Can he explain to the House what the Prime Minister meant when she said:

“there will be staff here from overseas in the interim period until the further numbers of British doctors are trained and come on board in terms of being able to work in our hospitals”?

What did that mean? What should we expect next—ambulances plastered with “Go home” slogans?

Philip Dunne Portrait Mr Dunne
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

That is exactly the kind of ill-judged remark I have been talking about, and I am surprised that the hon. Gentleman has used it in his first appearance in his new post. By the way, I congratulate him on that new post, but I very much hope that he will use more measured language in the future, rather than spreading that kind of inappropriate rumour. The interim period referred to is the period during which doctors will be trained. We will not get new doctors coming in under the increased allocation until 2023, and during that time we will clearly need to use all measures to ensure that we fill the spaces that I acknowledge we have across several of our hospitals.

Jonathan Ashworth Portrait Jonathan Ashworth
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I appreciate the Minister’s warm welcome, and I can tell him that I am very much looking forward to shadowing the Secretary of State, but his comments on ill-judged remarks should be directed at the Prime Minister, not me. We have seen 8,000 fewer nurses, student nurse bursaries are set to be cut, there is a reliance on agency staff and a failure to train enough doctors, and now, after six years in office, the Government are talking about self-sufficiency. Given the concerns that these plans do not go far enough, will the Minister tell us what steps he will take to ensure that no staff from the EU lose their jobs, and will the NHS still be able to recruit from the EU if necessary post Brexit?

Philip Dunne Portrait Mr Dunne
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Health Ministers have been very clear about reassuring all the 53,000 EU citizens working in our NHS that their roles are secure. Regarding clinicians, I remind the hon. Gentleman that, although we have some vacancy rates, which are acknowledged, we now have 7,800 more consultants employed in the NHS than in May 2010, 8,500 more doctors than in May 2010, and over 10,500 more nurses working on our wards. We have gone through a very consistent policy of recruiting more people to work in the NHS under this Government.

John Baron Portrait Mr John Baron (Basildon and Billericay) (Con)
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10. What steps his Department is taking to model the potential cost savings to the NHS budget of earlier diagnosis of cancers.

David Mowat Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (David Mowat)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The independent cancer taskforce highlighted the report “Saving lives, averting costs”, which identified cost savings resulting from earlier diagnosis, in particular for colon, rectal and ovary cancers. We have committed to a further £300 million for earlier diagnosis, one major product of which will be the 28-day diagnosis standard to which the Secretary of State referred earlier.

John Baron Portrait Mr Baron
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

In welcoming the Minister to his post, may I highlight evidence to show that early diagnosis, in addition to making for better survival rates, offers substantial cost savings? Colon cancer costs £3,000 per patient per year to treat at stage 1, compared with over £12,000 if it is diagnosed and treated at stage 4. We have a shortage of health economists in the NHS, so will the Minister go further and actually commission a study to look at this issue on behalf of the taxpayer, because it requires further detail?

David Mowat Portrait David Mowat
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

We agree that early diagnosis saves lives and can lead to cost savings. Just as an example, we know that GP referrals are up by 91% since 2010—an additional 800,000 people are getting early diagnosis—and we are beginning to see the results of that coming through in the one-year survival figures. On my hon. Friend’s specific point about further study, Public Health England and Macmillan have commissioned recent studies on modelling, one part of which will be on the cost impact of earlier diagnosis, and we look forward to seeing the results of those studies.

Bridget Phillipson Portrait Bridget Phillipson (Houghton and Sunderland South) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

GPs play a central role in the early diagnosis of cancer. In the 1990s, Sunderland was one of the most under-resourced areas in England in terms of the GP workforce, and we now face a similar and growing problem, even though action was taken then. Will the Minister set out how he intends to make sure not only that we train more family doctors, but that they are encouraged to work in areas where there is an acute shortage?

David Mowat Portrait David Mowat
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

We are training 3,250 extra GPs every year, and we have a target of 5,000 additional doctors working in general practice by 2020. However, as well as new GPs, we must do much better with retention. That means keeping the GP population that we have, and there are a number of steps that the Government are taking to do that. On the specific point about Sunderland, there is a bursary scheme that is aimed at attracting GPs to areas where they may not necessarily have wished to work previously.

Simon Burns Portrait Sir Simon Burns (Chelmsford) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

11. What estimate his Department has made of the amount accrued to the public purse from efficiency savings in the NHS since May 2010.

Philip Dunne Portrait The Minister of State, Department of Health (Mr Philip Dunne)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

In 2010 a target was set by NHS leaders to make £20 billion of efficiency savings by 2015 in order to make more funds available for treating patients and to allow the NHS to respond to changing demand and new technology. Under my right hon. Friend’s inspirational leadership as a Health Minister, the NHS broadly delivered on this original challenge, reporting savings of £19.4 billion over this period. All these savings have been reinvested into front-line NHS services.

Simon Burns Portrait Sir Simon Burns
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

As Members would imagine, I warmly welcome that answer from the Minister. Would he confirm that those savings were achieved through greater efficiency and effectiveness in the delivery of care and by cutting waste in the NHS that occurred between 2002 and 2007? Can he confirm that the benefit of that achievement to the NHS is that not a single penny of those savings goes to the Treasury, but is reinvested in the NHS and front-line services?

Philip Dunne Portrait Mr Dunne
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My right hon. Friend managed to include several questions in his impressive supplementary. I can confirm that much of the waste that took place in the years he cited—2002 to 2007—related to projects of the previous Labour Government that they themselves then cancelled, such as the IT project. I can also confirm that savings generated in the NHS are kept in the NHS. Lord Carter, whose report I referred to earlier, has identified £5 billion of efficiency savings, which we hope to deliver during this Parliament.

Justin Madders Portrait Justin Madders (Ellesmere Port and Neston) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

There is a distinction to be drawn between realistic efficiency targets and systematic underfunding. Only last month, Simon Stevens told the Public Accounts Committee that for three of the next five years

“we did not get what we originally asked for”.

Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, also said last month that

“we’ve got a huge gap coming… it’s the chairs and chief executives on the front line…who are saying they cannot make this add up any longer.”

On funding, the Government keep saying that the NHS is getting all that it has asked for; those actually running the NHS say something quite different. Who is right?

Philip Dunne Portrait Mr Dunne
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The hon. Gentleman stood on a manifesto 18 months ago in which his party was not prepared to commit the funding that our party was prepared to commit. Labour committed £5.5 billion to the NHS; we committed £8 billion, and we have delivered £10 billion.

Colleen Fletcher Portrait Colleen Fletcher (Coventry North East) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

13. What steps his Department is taking to reduce the number of men who take their own life.

Jeremy Hunt Portrait The Secretary of State for Health (Mr Jeremy Hunt)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Tragically, suicide is now the biggest single cause of death in men under 50. There are 13 suicides every day, of which three quarters are men. I am currently reviewing our suicide strategy to make sure we leave no stone unturned in trying to reduce the totally unacceptable level of these tragedies.

Colleen Fletcher Portrait Colleen Fletcher
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Yesterday marked the launch of the mental health awareness and suicide prevention campaign called “It takes balls to talk” across Coventry and Warwickshire. The campaign is a public information programme targeted at male-dominated sporting venues, which aims to direct men to help and support when they need it to promote positive mental health and reduce the incidence of male suicide. With suicide being the single most common cause of death in men under 45, will the Secretary of State take the opportunity to welcome and support this important new campaign?

Jeremy Hunt Portrait Mr Hunt
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am happy to do just that. I would like to thank the hon. Lady for bringing up this very important and difficult issue. We are making progress in reducing suicide rates, but we can do an awful lot better. The thing that troubles me most is that nearly three quarters of people who kill themselves have had no contact with specialist NHS mental health services in the previous year, even though in many cases we actually know who they are because, sadly, most of them have tried before. I am very happy to commend the “It takes balls to talk” campaign. She may want to put the campaign in touch with the national sport mental health charter, which is another scheme designed to use sport to try to boost the psychological wellbeing of men.

Helen Jones Portrait Helen Jones (Warrington North) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

A recent survey showed that one in four members of the emergency services experienced mental health problems, and that a number of them experienced suicidal thoughts. What is the Secretary of State doing to protect our vital paramedics and other ambulance staff, and to ensure that they get the support they need in dealing with absolutely appalling situations?

Jeremy Hunt Portrait Mr Hunt
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Again, I thank the hon. Lady for raising that. She will be pleased to know that the NHS has introduced a scheme, backed with funding, to encourage NHS trusts to look after the mental wellbeing of their own staff. I particularly want to pay tribute to the courage of people who work in the air ambulance service, because they see—day in, day out—some of the most difficult and distressing cases. They have to cope with the pressure of that when they take it home every day, and we all salute them.

Oliver Dowden Portrait Oliver Dowden (Hertsmere) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

14. What clothing and other support the NHS provides to elderly people discharged from hospital into care homes for the first time.

David Mowat Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (David Mowat)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Every patient discharged from hospital into a care home should have a care plan or discharge assessment. This should include a clear assessment of their needs, covering transport, carers, GP notification, medication and, where necessary, clothing requirements.

Oliver Dowden Portrait Oliver Dowden
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I have been approached by a number of constituents concerned about cases of elderly and vulnerable people who have been discharged from hospital straight into care homes, often without any basic personal effects or clothing because their family cannot or are not willing to supply them. Does the Minister recognise this, and what can the Government do to tackle it?

David Mowat Portrait David Mowat
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

As I said earlier, there is a national process in the form of the care plan. Where the family is not able to or will not provide support, typically the voluntary sector is asked to do so. If that does not work, local authorities can increase the personal expenses allowance to provide clothing. I am interested to hear about the cases that my hon. Friend mentions in his constituency, and I am very happy to talk to him to understand better why the process has failed there.

John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

And have a cup of tea with the fella.

Luke Hall Portrait Luke Hall (Thornbury and Yate) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

T1. If he will make a statement on his departmental responsibilities.

Jeremy Hunt Portrait The Secretary of State for Health (Mr Jeremy Hunt)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Last week, I announced plans to make the NHS self-sufficient in the supply of newly qualified doctors by the end of the next Parliament. We recognise the brilliant work that is done by the many outstanding overseas doctors who work in the NHS and have made it clear that, whether or not they are from the EU, we wish that work to continue post-Brexit. However, as the fifth largest economy in the world, Britain should be training all the doctors it needs. While there will always be beneficial exchanges of doctors and researchers between countries, we have a global obligation to train enough doctors for our own needs, otherwise the inevitable consequence will be to denude poorer countries of doctors whose skills are desperately needed.

Luke Hall Portrait Luke Hall
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Thornbury health centre is crying out for redevelopment to cater for the growing local population. Will my right hon. Friend meet me, representatives of the health centre and NHS Property Services to see how we can take a co-ordinated approach that will move the health centre forward?

Jeremy Hunt Portrait Mr Hunt
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I can do better than that, because I have said that I am prepared to go to the health centre. I remember a very good visit to Thornbury community hospital during the general election campaign. I understand what those at the health centre are trying to do and they are absolutely right to be thinking about how they can improve out-of-hospital services.

Barbara Keeley Portrait Barbara Keeley (Worsley and Eccles South) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Will the Secretary of State look into the creation of a sideways move for a chief executive of a trust that was criticised for failing to investigate patient deaths? Six weeks after the special recruitment exercise by Southern Health, Katrina Percy has resigned from her advisory role, with a substantial 12-month salary payoff that has been signed off by the Department of Health and the Treasury. The campaign group, Justice for LB, has called that “utterly disgraceful” and I agree. Will the Secretary of State investigate?

Jeremy Hunt Portrait Mr Hunt
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I agree with the hon. Lady that the way this case was handled was by no means satisfactory. The truth is that it took some time to establish precisely what had gone wrong at Southern Health. As this House knows, because we made a statement at the time—I think it was an urgent question, actually—there was a failure to investigate unexplained deaths. I do not think the NHS handled the matter as well as it should, but we now have much more transparency and we do not have a situation where people go on and get other jobs in the NHS, which happened so often in the past.

Tania Mathias Portrait Dr Tania Mathias (Twickenham) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

T4. What will the Government do to scrutinise and assist the London ambulance service, which has had an appalling and consistently poor record on call-out times for category A emergencies?

Philip Dunne Portrait The Minister of State, Department of Health (Mr Philip Dunne)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My hon. Friend is right to highlight the fact that the London ambulance service is in special measures and has been for some time. I visited it this summer and am pleased to confirm that some £63 million of additional funding has been provided to the ambulance service since April 2015. The service is starting to make significant inroads in increasing the number of paramedics who are available on call, with some 250 more being added over the last couple of years.

Paula Sherriff Portrait Paula Sherriff (Dewsbury) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

T2. Last October, the then Health Minister, the right hon. Member for North East Bedfordshire (Alistair Burt), confirmed that my constituency fell far below the national average in terms of NHS dental provision. In fact, it is one of the worst in the country. Unfortunately, nothing has changed since then. Does the Secretary of State believe it is acceptable that my constituents, including many children, are unable to get an NHS dentist?

David Mowat Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (David Mowat)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

It is clearly unacceptable if the situation that the hon. Lady sets out is the case. I am happy to meet her and work with her to take the action that is needed to make things better.

Fiona Bruce Portrait Fiona Bruce (Congleton) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

T6. The Government have provided a welcome increase in funding for mental health support, yet it does not appear to be reaching my constituency effectively, particularly for children. Now there are concerns that the Millbrook unit at nearby Macclesfield hospital might close. Will the Secretary of State look into those concerns?

Jeremy Hunt Portrait Mr Jeremy Hunt
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am very happy to do that. My hon. Friend is right to highlight the fact that the provision of mental health services to children is one of the biggest weak spots in NHS provision today. It is an area that we are putting a big focus on. I would be happy to talk to her about the situation in her constituency.

Danny Kinahan Portrait Danny Kinahan (South Antrim) (UUP)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

T3. I know that this is a devolved matter, but I look forward to the Union working together on it. In Northern Ireland, the health service is in crisis. To give cancer as an example, 6.7% of those with breast cancer are called in to be checked within 14 days—not 100%—and yet we have 392,000 people on the waiting list. Will the Secretary of State or his officials meet us to find a better way forward, so that we can all work together?

David Mowat Portrait David Mowat
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I have made it clear that we should all be working together to defeat cancer. We know that the best way of doing so is early diagnosis. We have made a lot of progress on that in England over the past few years but have a lot further to go. We are of course willing to talk to the devolved Administration about what they can learn from us—and perhaps vice versa.

Maria Caulfield Portrait Maria Caulfield (Lewes) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

T7. Will the Secretary of State look again at the decision not to fund second stem cell transplants for adults and children with blood cancers, given the significant clinical evidence of their benefit for those who relapse? He should not just take my word for it but should take it from the Anthony Nolan Trust and the 36 specialists who have written to him asking him to review the decision.

David Mowat Portrait David Mowat
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

This is a very difficult area, but decisions on priority are clinically driven and must continue to be based on peer-reviewed data. The most recent review determined that less than one third of second transplants would result in survival after five years; that is why they were not funded. There will, however, be a further review next April, and to the extent that the data have changed there will be a new evaluation at that time.

Fiona Mactaggart Portrait Fiona Mactaggart (Slough) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

T5. Deer Park medical centre in Witney faces closure, and patients will be dispersed a long way into other practices in an area where one in four already waits more than a week to see their GP. Duncan Enright, who is Labour’s candidate in the Witney by-election, is campaigning to save the centre. Will the Secretary of State reward his campaign by saving it today?

Jeremy Hunt Portrait Mr Jeremy Hunt
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The Conservative candidate in the Witney by-election will be saying very clearly that because of the extra funding from this Government we are aiming to have 5,000 more doctors working in general practice by the end of this Parliament, something that would not have been possible with the increase of less than half that amount promised by the Labour party.

Wendy Morton Portrait Wendy Morton (Aldridge-Brownhills) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

T8. As Ministers will be aware, this week is baby loss awareness week. Access to neonatal cots and neonatal transport services are vital parts of the care of premature and sick babies. What assurances will my right hon. Friend give that his Department is continuing to review the findings of the Bliss report, and when can we expect to hear more?

Philip Dunne Portrait Mr Dunne
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for raising baby loss awareness week. I am sure that, along with other hon. Members, she will be participating in the Backbench Business debate on that later this week. In February the independent maternity review, Better Births, made a number of recommendations, including on neonatal critical care. We are studying those recommendations and are due to report initial findings from our work in December.

Luciana Berger Portrait Luciana Berger (Liverpool, Wavertree) (Lab/Co-op)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I listened very closely to the Secretary of State’s comments earlier on mental health. On 9 December he stood at that Dispatch Box and said that

“CCGs are committed to increasing the proportion of their funding that goes into mental health.”—[Official Report, 9 December 2015; Vol. 603, c. 1012.]

However, my research shows that 57% of clinical commissioning groups are reducing the proportion they spend on mental health—yet another broken promise. When will we have real equality from this Government for mental health?

Jeremy Hunt Portrait Mr Jeremy Hunt
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I will tell the hon. Lady what this Government have done. We have legislated for parity of esteem for mental health. We are treating 1,400 more people every single day for mental health conditions compared with six years ago. We have a new plan that will see 1 million more people treated every year by 2020, including a transformation of child and adolescent mental health services. That is possible because we are putting into the NHS extra money that her party refused to commit to.

Andrew Stephenson Portrait Andrew Stephenson (Pendle) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

T9. Does my right hon. Friend agree that the Government have a moral obligation to end the raid on poorer countries for their skilled doctors and nurses and to make our NHS recruitment more self-sufficient?

Jeremy Hunt Portrait Mr Hunt
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. I find it extraordinary that the Labour party said that our plan to train more doctors was “nonsense”. We currently have 800 doctors in the NHS from Sri Lanka, 600 from Nigeria, 400 from Sudan and 200 from Myanmar. They are doing a brilliant job and I want them to continue doing that job, but we have to ask ourselves whether it is ethical for us to continue to recruit doctors from much poorer countries that really need their skills.

Margaret Greenwood Portrait Margaret Greenwood (Wirral West) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I was alarmed to read at the weekend that NHS chiefs are warning that hospitals in England are on the brink of collapse. Is it the Government’s intention to cut the public supply of healthcare in order to create demand for a private healthcare system, or will they give the NHS the additional funds it needs?

Jeremy Hunt Portrait Mr Hunt
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Let me remind the hon. Lady that the party that introduced the most outsourcing to the private sector was her Labour Government under the previous Health Secretary, Alan Milburn. Our view is that we should be completely neutral as to whether local doctors decide to commission their care from the public sector or private sector. We want the best care for patients.

Seema Kennedy Portrait Seema Kennedy (South Ribble) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I welcomed last week’s NHS Improvement report which states that there are now sufficient staff for Chorley and South Ribble hospital’s A&E department to reopen, but I am dismayed that the trust is delaying the reopening until January next year. Will the Minister reassure me that he will work with me and other stakeholders to oblige the trust to open as soon as possible?

Philip Dunne Portrait Mr Dunne
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My hon. Friend has been a doughty champion of Chorley, in combination with another Member of the House and local campaigners, who visited the Houses of Parliament yesterday to meet local MPs. While welcoming the reopening of the A&E from January, I am happy to continue to work with my hon. Friend to see whether it can be brought forward.

John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The other doughty champion of the hospital is of course the right hon. Member for Chorley (Mr Hoyle), who regularly deputises for me in this Chair. I am sure the House will want to acknowledge that important fact.

Emma Lewell-Buck Portrait Mrs Emma Lewell-Buck (South Shields) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I heard the Minister’s response earlier. He was of course right that sustainability and transformation plans are led locally, but he failed to acknowledge that the Government have given a mandate to make cuts attached to STPs. Without consultation, my local hospital has been downgraded. What on earth will the Secretary of State say to my constituents who may lose loved ones because they have had to travel miles further to another hospital?

David Mowat Portrait David Mowat
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

If I may, I will give a quote:

“To reshape services over the next 10 years, the NHS will need the freedom to collaborate, integrate and merge across organisational divides.”

That comes from the 2015 Labour manifesto. The STP process is designed to bring about better care and health, and better productivity. We should be critical friends of the process because we all want a better national health service.

Lucy Allan Portrait Lucy Allan (Telford) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Local health commissioners have concluded that Telford’s brand new women and children’s centre, which serves some of the most deprived populations in the country, should be closed and moved to a more affluent area where health is better than the national average. The commissioning process has lost the confidence of local people. Will the Secretary of State intervene and ensure that local health commissioners fulfil their legal duty to reduce health inequalities?

Jeremy Hunt Portrait Mr Jeremy Hunt
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank my hon. Friend for standing up for her constituents—it is absolutely right that she should do so. She would agree that that has to be a local matter led by commissioners locally, but she can be reassured that we are always watching what is happening to ensure that people follow due process, and that the results of any changes proposed benefit patients as intended. I will therefore watch very carefully what is happening in Telford and in Shropshire more broadly.

Dennis Skinner Portrait Mr Dennis Skinner (Bolsover) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

About half a dozen times in the last hour, the Secretary of State has bragged about the extra money he is putting in to the national health service, so why is Bolsover hospital, like many others that have been referred to in the past half hour, due to close? Why are neighbouring hospitals in countless constituencies in Derbyshire closing? Why does he not use some of that money to save the Derbyshire hospitals?

Jeremy Hunt Portrait Mr Hunt
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The extra money we are putting in to the NHS is going to better cancer care, better mental health care and better GP provision—it is going to all the things that Members on both sides of the House know matter. It will also mean that we can support our hospitals better. With our ageing population, we will continue to have great demand for hospital care, but the best way to relieve pressure on those hospitals is to invest in better out-of-hospital care, which has not been done for many years.

Philip Hollobone Portrait Mr Philip Hollobone (Kettering) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Kettering general hospital is treating a record number of patients with increasingly world-class treatments, yet despite being located in an area of rapid population growth, due to an historic anomaly, the funding for the local clinical commissioning groups is among the worst in the country in relative terms. What can Her Majesty’s Government do to correct that?

Jeremy Hunt Portrait Mr Hunt
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am happy to look at that particular funding issue for my hon. Friend. I know that Kettering hospital is under a great deal of pressure. The one thing that it could do to relieve its financial pressures is to look at the number of agency and locum staff that it employs. As with many hospitals, there are big savings to be made in that respect in ways that improve rather than decrease the quality of clinical care.

Karin Smyth Portrait Karin Smyth (Bristol South) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The Secretary of State will be aware that the Public Accounts Committee has questioned both the Department of Health and NHS England on the parlous state of NHS accounts this year, following the comments by the Comptroller and Auditor General. It is clear that STPs are the only plan on the table. Will the Secretary of State make clear his support to the NHS to deliver the STPs in the teeth of opposition from his own Back Benchers? If he will not, what is plan B?

Jeremy Hunt Portrait Mr Hunt
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I do not recognise the picture the hon. Lady paints about opposition to STPs. We need to ensure we have good plans that will deliver better care for NHS patients by bringing together and integrating the health and social care system, and improving the quality of out-of-hospital plans. While we are in a period where those plans have not been published there will obviously be a degree of uncertainty, which we will do everything we can to alleviate, but she is right to say that these plans are very important for the future of the NHS. The process has our full support.

Kevin Foster Portrait Kevin Foster (Torbay) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The Secretary of State will be aware of the concern in my constituency about the future of Paignton hospital, which prompted hundreds to turn up to a recent meeting. Does he agree with me that it is vital the clinical commissioning group, in publishing its plans, does not just publish what it will remove but the details of what it will replace them with?

Philip Dunne Portrait Mr Dunne
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Considerable efforts are going into sorting out some of the historical challenges in the provision of both acute and community care in Devon. I hosted a meeting for a number of colleagues who are concerned about this and I am happy to continue to engage with colleagues across the county.

Lilian Greenwood Portrait Lilian Greenwood (Nottingham South) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Two years ago, Nottingham University Hospitals NHS trust privatised support services, including cleaning, handing them over to Carillion in an effort to save money. Since then there have been shortages of equipment, shortages of staff and an appalling decline in standards of cleanliness. Will the Secretary of State condemn Carillion for putting patients at risk? When will he ensure that hospital services in Nottingham are properly funded?

Jeremy Hunt Portrait Mr Jeremy Hunt
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The decision on whether to outsource services must be a matter for local hospitals. I know that that hospital has been struggling with its deficit. I have been to visit the hospital myself and I know it has been trying very hard to improve clinical care. If the contract is not working and the quality is not right, I would expect the hospital to change it, but it must be its decision.

None Portrait Several hon. Members rose—
- Hansard -

John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am sorry, but, rather as in the health service under any Government, demand has exceeded supply and we must move on.

John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I was keeping the hon. Lady waiting for only a moment, so that there was a due sense of anticipation in the House. That sense now definitely exists.

Implementation of the 1995 and 2011 Pension Acts

Tuesday 11th October 2016

(7 years, 9 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text
Barbara Keeley Portrait Barbara Keeley (Worsley and Eccles South) (Lab)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I am grateful for the chance tonight to present petitions calling for fair transitional arrangements for 1950s-born women affected by changes to the state pension age. That group of women is bearing an unfair burden. When the Pensions Act 2011 was debated, Government Ministers promised transitional arrangements to ease that burden, but those have not materialised, leaving women in my constituency and many others across the UK facing hardship, stress and worry.

I will read out the full text of the petition but, as you have said, Mr Speaker, other Members need not do so. In addition to presenting a petition on behalf of constituents in Worsley and Eccles South, I am presenting petitions from the following constituencies: Ashford; Basildon and Billericay; Basingstoke; Beverley and Holderness; Bexhill and Battle; Birmingham, Hall Green; Birmingham, Perry Barr; Blackley and Broughton; Blackpool North and Cleveleys; Blackpool South; Boston and Skegness; Bosworth; Bournemouth East; Bournemouth West; Brecon and Radnorshire; Brentwood and Ongar; Bridgwater and West Somerset; Broadland; Bury South; Bury St Edmunds; Canterbury; Central Suffolk and North Ipswich; Chichester; Chippenham; Dartford; Daventry; Derbyshire Dales; Dover; Dudley North; Ealing North; East Devon; Exeter; Folkestone and Hythe; Gainsborough; Grantham and Stamford; Gravesham; Great Yarmouth; Halesowen and Rowley Regis; Hastings and Rye; Hemsworth; Hereford and South Herefordshire; High Peak; Huntingdon; Ipswich; Kenilworth and Southam; Lincoln; Louth and Horncastle; Ludlow; Medway; Rutland and Melton; Meon Valley; Mid Dorset and North Poole; Mid Sussex; Monmouth; Newark; Newbury; Newport West; Newton Abbot; North Cornwall; North Devon; North Dorset; North East Derbyshire; North East Hampshire; North Somerset; Plymouth, Moor View; Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport; Poole; Rushcliffe; Scarborough and Whitby; Sevenoaks; Shrewsbury and Atcham; Somerton and Frome; South East Cornwall; South West Devon; South West Hertfordshire; South West Norfolk; South Ribble; South Staffordshire; South Suffolk; Spelthorne; Stourbridge; Stroud; North Swindon; Taunton Deane; North Thanet; The Cotswolds; The Wrekin; Tiverton and Honiton; Torbay; Torridge and West Devon; Totnes; Truro and Falmouth; West Dorset; Wycombe; Wyre and Preston North; Wyre Forest; and Yeovil.

May I thank all those who have signed this petition across the country, and may I thank the Journal Office for all its work in registering the petitions?

The petition states:

The petition of residents of Worsley and Eccles South,

Declares that as a result of the way in which the 1995 Pension Act and the 2011 Pension Act were implemented, women born in the 1950s (on or after 6 April 1951) have unfairly borne the burden of the increase to the State Pension Age; further that hundreds of thousands of women have had significant changes imposed on them with little or no personal notice; further that implementation took place faster than promised; further that this gave no time to make alternative pension plans; and further that retirement plans have been shattered with devastating consequences.

The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to make fair transitional arrangements for all women born in the 1950s (on or after 6 April 1951) who have unfairly borne the burden of the increase to the State Pension Age.

And the petitioners remain, etc.

[P001709]

Lord Hanson of Flint Portrait Mr David Hanson (Delyn) (Lab)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I rise to present a petition on behalf of 485 residents of Delyn constituency, in north Wales, in the same terms as my hon. Friend the Member for Worsley and Eccles South. I have had nothing but support for the petition and for justice for the Women Against State Pension Inequality Campaign.

The Petition of the residents of Delyn.

[P001710]

Patricia Gibson Portrait Patricia Gibson (North Ayrshire and Arran) (SNP)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I rise to present this petition on behalf of the residents of North Ayrshire and Arran in the same terms. I present today 2,534 signatures on behalf of my constituents, who are deeply concerned about this social justice issue and wish to make their voices heard.

The Petition of the residents of North Ayrshire and Arran.

[P001711]

Lisa Nandy Portrait Lisa Nandy (Wigan) (Lab)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I rise to present this petition on behalf of hundreds of concerned residents of Wigan in the same terms as my hon. Friend the Member for Worsley and Eccles South.

The Petition of the residents of Wigan.

[P001712]

Maria Caulfield Portrait Maria Caulfield (Lewes) (Con)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I rise to present this petition on behalf of 350 of my constituents in Lewes in the same terms as that presented by the hon. Member for Worsley and Eccles South.

The Petition of the residents of Lewes.

[P001713]

Nicholas Dakin Portrait Nic Dakin (Scunthorpe) (Lab)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I rise to present this petition on behalf of many hundreds of residents of Scunthorpe constituency in the same terms as my hon. Friend the Member for Worsley and Eccles South.

The Petition of the residents of Scunthorpe.

[P001715]

Ronnie Cowan Portrait Ronnie Cowan (Inverclyde) (SNP)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I rise to present this petition in the same terms on behalf of the constituents of Inverclyde. It received 460 signatures.

The Petition of the residents of Inverclyde.

[P001716]

Jo Stevens Portrait Jo Stevens (Cardiff Central) (Lab)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I rise to present this petition on behalf of residents of Cardiff Central in the same terms as my hon. Friend the Member for Worsley and Eccles South. In addition, I am presenting a petition from the constituency of Wansbeck.

The Petition of the residents of Cardiff Central.

[P001714]

The Petition of residents of Wansbeck.

[P001942]

Paul Monaghan Portrait Dr Paul Monaghan (Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross) (SNP)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I rise to present this petition containing 2,156 signatures on behalf of the residents of Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross in the same terms as the hon. Member for Worsley and Eccles South.

The Petition of the residents of Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross.

[P001717]

Corri Wilson Portrait Corri Wilson (Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock) (SNP)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I rise to present this petition on behalf of the residents of Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock in the same terms as the hon. Member for Worsley and Eccles South.

The Petition of the residents of Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock.

[P001718]

Anne-Marie Trevelyan Portrait Mrs Anne-Marie Trevelyan (Berwick-upon-Tweed) (Con)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I rise to present 647 signatures on behalf of the residents of Berwick-upon-Tweed and Hexham constituencies in the same terms as the hon. Member for Worsley and Eccles South.

The Petition of the residents of Berwick-upon-Tweed.

[P001719]

The Petition of the residents of Hexham.

[P001943]

Neil Carmichael Portrait Neil Carmichael (Stroud) (Con)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I rise to present this petition on behalf of the residents of the constituency of Stroud in the same terms as the hon. Member for Worsley and Eccles South.

The Petition of the residents of Stroud.

[P001720]

John McNally Portrait John Mc Nally (Falkirk) (SNP)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I rise to present this petition on behalf of 276 residents of Falkirk in the same terms as the hon. Member for Worsley and Eccles South.

The Petition of the residents of Falkirk.

[P001722]

Kate Green Portrait Kate Green (Stretford and Urmston) (Lab)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I rise to present this petition on behalf of more than 400 residents of the constituency of Stretford and Urmston in the same terms as that of my hon. Friend the Member for Worsley and Eccles South.

The petition of residents of Stretford and Urmston.

[P001721]

Brendan O'Hara Portrait Brendan O’Hara (Argyll and Bute) (SNP)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I rise to present this petition on behalf of the residents of Argyll and Bute in the same terms as that of the hon. Member for Worsley and Eccles South.

The petition of residents of Helensburgh.

[P001730]

Diana Johnson Portrait Diana Johnson (Kingston upon Hull North) (Lab)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I rise to present a petition of 4,122 of my constituents in Kingston upon Hull North in the same terms as that presented by my hon. Friend the Member for Worsley and Eccles South. I also present a petition on behalf of the constituency of Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford.

The petition of residents of Hull North.

[P001727]

The petition of residents of Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford.

[P001825]

Martyn Day Portrait Martyn Day (Linlithgow and East Falkirk) (SNP)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I rise to present this petition on behalf of the residents of Linlithgow and East Falkirk in the same terms as that of the hon. Member for Worsley and Eccles South.

The petition of residents of Linlithgow and Falkirk East.

[P001729]

Margaret Ferrier Portrait Margaret Ferrier (Rutherglen and Hamilton West) (SNP)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I rise to present a petition in the same terms on behalf of 565 of my Rutherglen and Hamilton West constituents, who are rightly disgusted by this injustice and are calling for fair transitional arrangements to be put in place by the Government.

The petition of residents of Rutherglen and Hamilton West.

[P001726]

Liz McInnes Portrait Liz McInnes (Heywood and Middleton) (Lab)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I rise to present this petition on behalf of the residents of Heywood and Middleton in the same terms as that of my hon. Friend the Member for Worsley and Eccles South.

The petition of residents of Heywood and Middleton Constituency.

[P001728]

Patrick Grady Portrait Patrick Grady (Glasgow North) (SNP)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I rise to present this petition on behalf of residents of Glasgow North in the same terms as those of my hon. Friends.

The petition of residents of Glasgow North.

[P001724]

Marie Rimmer Portrait Marie Rimmer (St Helens South and Whiston) (Lab)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I rise to present this petition on behalf of the residents of St Helens South and Whiston in the same terms as that of my hon. Friend the Member for Worsley and Eccles South.

The petition of residents of St Helens South and Whiston.

[P001725]

Chris Law Portrait Chris Law (Dundee West) (SNP)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I rise to present this petition, which was signed by more than 1,000 of the constituents of the beautiful city of Dundee, in the same terms as that of the hon. Member for Worsley and Eccles South.

The petition of residents of Dundee West.

[P001723]

Lord Walney Portrait John Woodcock (Barrow and Furness) (Lab/Co-op)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I rise to present this petition, with 373 signatures, on behalf of the people of Barrow and Furness in the same terms as that of my hon. Friend the Member for Worsley and Eccles South.

The petition of residents of Barrow and Furness.

[P001731]

Jim Cunningham Portrait Mr Jim Cunningham (Coventry South) (Lab)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I rise to present this petition on behalf of hundreds of residents of Coventry South in the same terms as that of my hon. Friend the Member for Worsley and Eccles South.

The petition of residents of Coventry South.

[P001732]

Jason McCartney Portrait Jason McCartney (Colne Valley) (Con)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I rise to present a petition on behalf of the residents of Colne Valley in the same terms as that of the hon. Member for Worsley and Eccles South, signed by highly concerned residents in my constituency in support of fair transitional pension arrangements for women born in the 1950s.

The petition of residents of Colne Valley.

[P001733]

Gavin Newlands Portrait Gavin Newlands (Paisley and Renfrewshire North) (SNP)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I rise to present a petition on behalf of the residents of Paisley and Renfrewshire North in the same terms as that of the hon. Member for Worsley and Eccles South, in the interests of fairness, equality and natural justice.

The petition of residents of Paisley and Renfrewshire North.

[P001737]

George Kerevan Portrait George Kerevan (East Lothian) (SNP)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I rise to present a petition on behalf of hundreds of residents of East Lothian in the same terms as that of the hon. Member for Worsley and Eccles South. Let justice prevail.

The petition of residents of East Lothian.

[P001735]

Yvonne Fovargue Portrait Yvonne Fovargue (Makerfield) (Lab)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I rise to present this petition on behalf of the residents of Makerfield in the same terms as that of my hon. Friend the Member for Worsley and Eccles South, which 780 highly concerned residents have signed in support of the WASPI women.

The petition of residents of Makerfield.

[P001734]

Andrew Gwynne Portrait Andrew Gwynne (Denton and Reddish) (Lab)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I rise to present a petition signed by hundreds of my constituents in Denton and Reddish, and also a petition of the constituents of my hon. Friend the Member for Redcar (Anna Turley), in the same terms as that of my hon. Friend the Member for Worsley and Eccles South. The 1950s women have spoken—it is time for justice.

The petition of residents of Denton and Reddish.

[P001736]

The petition of the residents of Redcar.

[P001930]

Justin Madders Portrait Justin Madders (Ellesmere Port and Neston) (Lab)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I rise to present this petition on behalf of the residents of Ellesmere Port and Neston in the same terms as that of my hon. Friend the Member for Worsley and Eccles South.

The petition of residents of Ellesmere Port and Neston.

[P001738]

Calum Kerr Portrait Calum Kerr (Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk) (SNP)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I rise to present this petition on behalf of 760 of the residents of Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk in the same terms as that of the hon. Member for Worsley and Eccles South.

The petition of residents of Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk.

[P001739]

Steve Double Portrait Steve Double (St Austell and Newquay) (Con)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I rise to present a petition on behalf of the residents of St Austell and Newquay in the same terms as that of the hon. Member for Worsley and Eccles South. The petition calls on the Government to make fair transitional arrangements for all women born in the 1950s, who are most impacted by the increase in the state pension age.

The petition of St Austell and Newquay.

[P001740]

Chris Stephens Portrait Chris Stephens (Glasgow South West) (SNP)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I rise to present a petition on behalf of hundreds of residents of the Glasgow South West constituency in the same terms as that of the hon. Member for Worsley and Eccles South.

The petition of residents of Glasgow South West.

[P001741]

Rachael Maskell Portrait Rachael Maskell (York Central) (Lab/Co-op)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I rise to present this petition on behalf of the residents of York Central in the same terms as that of my hon. Friend the Member for Worsley and Eccles South, on behalf of all WASPI women.

The petition of residents of York Central.

[P001742]

Stewart Malcolm McDonald Portrait Stewart Malcolm McDonald (Glasgow South) (SNP)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

Similarly, I rise to present a petition on behalf of the constituents of the Glasgow South borough constituency in the same terms as that of the hon. Member for Worsley and Eccles South.

The petition of residents of Glasgow South.

[P001743]

Drew Hendry Portrait Drew Hendry (Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey) (SNP)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I rise to present a petition on behalf of the residents of the Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey—the concerned residents who have signed in support of the WASPI women—in the same terms as that of the hon. Member for Worsley and Eccles South.

The petition of residents of Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey.

[P001744]

John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I call Alex Chalk. Where is the fella? I call Scott Mann.

Scott Mann Portrait Scott Mann (North Cornwall) (Con)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I rise to present petitions on behalf of the residents of North Cornwall and of Camborne and Redruth in the same terms as the hon. Member for Worsley and Eccles South, and on behalf of our Cornish WASPI women.

The Petition of residents of North Cornwall.

[P001746]

The Petition of residents of Camborne and Redruth.

[P001747]

Alan Brown Portrait Alan Brown (Kilmarnock and Loudoun) (SNP)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I rise to present this petition on behalf of the residents of Kilmarnock and Loudoun in the same terms as the hon. Member for Worsley and Eccles South. It is signed by 160 people, but supported by many more due to the unfairness of the situation.

The Petition of residents of Kilmarnock and Loudoun.

[P001748]

Michelle Donelan Portrait Michelle Donelan (Chippenham) (Con)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I rise to present this petition on behalf of the residents of the Chippenham constituency in the same terms as the hon. Member for Worsley and Eccles South. It has been signed by 1,656 of my constituents, reflecting the level of local discontent on the issue.

The Petition of residents of Chippenham.

[P001750]

Ian C. Lucas Portrait Ian C. Lucas (Wrexham) (Lab)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I rise to present this petition on behalf of 982 residents of Wrexham in the same terms as my hon. Friend the Member for Worsley and Eccles South—thank you to her.

The Petition of residents of Wrexham.

[P001749]

Stewart Hosie Portrait Stewart Hosie (Dundee East) (SNP)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I rise to present this petition in the same terms as all the others, and add the voices of the ladies of Dundee East to the campaign for pension fairness.

The Petition of residents of Dundee East.

[P001756]

James Davies Portrait Dr James Davies (Vale of Clwyd) (Con)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I rise to present this petition on behalf of 473 of my constituents in the Vale of Clwyd in the same terms as the hon. Member for Worsley and Eccles South.

The Petition of residents of Vale of Clwyd.

[P001755]

Susan Elan Jones Portrait Susan Elan Jones (Clwyd South) (Lab)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I rise to present this petition on behalf of the residents of Clwyd South in the same terms as my hon. Friend the Member for Worsley and Eccles South.

The Petition of residents of Clwyd South.

[P001754]

Peter Aldous Portrait Peter Aldous (Waveney) (Con)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I rise to present this petition on behalf of 2,249 residents of the Waveney constituency in the same terms as the hon. Member for Worsley and Eccles South.

The Petition of residents of Waveney.

[P001753]

Michelle Thomson Portrait Michelle Thomson (Edinburgh West) (Ind)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I rise to present this petition on behalf of the many residents of Edinburgh West in the same terms as the hon. Member for Worsley and Eccles South.

The Petition of residents of Edinburgh West.

[P001757]

Mhairi Black Portrait Mhairi Black (Paisley and Renfrewshire South) (SNP)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I rise to present this petition on behalf of the residents of Paisley and Renfrewshire South in the same terms, and urge the Government to correct this appalling injustice.

The Petition of residents of Paisley and Renfrewshire South.

[P001752]

Melanie Onn Portrait Melanie Onn (Great Grimsby) (Lab)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I rise to present this petition on behalf of hundreds of residents of Great Grimsby in the same terms as my hon. Friend the Member for Worsley and Eccles South.

The Petition of residents of the UK.

[P001751]

Eilidh Whiteford Portrait Dr Eilidh Whiteford (Banff and Buchan) (SNP)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I rise to present these stylishly presented petitions on behalf of residents of the Banff and Buchan constituency and the Gordon constituency in the same terms as the hon. Member for Worsley and Eccles South, with 568 and 123 signatories respectively.

The Petition of residents of Banff and Buchan.

[P001759]

The Petition of residents of Gordon.

[P001758]

Roberta Blackman-Woods Portrait Dr Roberta Blackman-Woods (City of Durham) (Lab)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I rise to present this petition on behalf of the wonderful WASPI campaigners and 455 residents of Durham city on the same basis as my hon. Friend the Member for Worsley and Eccles South. I have been advised that I need to declare an interest because I fall into the relevant age group.

The Petition of residents of Durham.

[P001761]

Caroline Ansell Portrait Caroline Ansell (Eastbourne) (Con)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I rise to present this petition on behalf of more than 700 residents in Eastbourne and Willingdon in the same terms as the hon. Member for Worsley and Eccles South.

The Petition of residents of Eastbourne and Willingdon.

[P001760]

John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I call Douglas Chapman. Is the fella not here? No.

Alan Whitehead Portrait Dr Alan Whitehead (Southampton, Test) (Lab)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I present this petition on behalf of hundreds of residents of Southampton, the WASPI women of Southampton and the constituents of Southampton, Test in the same terms as my hon. Friend the Member for Worsley and Eccles South.

The Petition of residents of Southampton Test.

[P001762]

Albert Owen Portrait Albert Owen (Ynys Môn) (Lab)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I rise to present a petition on behalf of the residents of Ynys Môn in the same terms as my hon. Friend the Member for Worsley and Eccles South. The good people of Anglesey and north Wales want fair transitional arrangements and for the Government to act now.

The Petition of residents of Anglesey, North Wales.

[P001766]

Carolyn Harris Portrait Carolyn Harris (Swansea East) (Lab)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I rise to present this petition on behalf of the residents of Swansea East and the constituents of my hon. Friend the Member for Llanelli (Nia Griffith) in the same terms as my hon. Friend the Member for Worsley and Eccles South.

The Petition of residents of Swansea East.

[P001767]

Angela Crawley Portrait Angela Crawley (Lanark and Hamilton East) (SNP)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I rise to present this petition on behalf of the residents of Lanark and Hamilton East in the same terms as the hon. Member for Worsley and Eccles South. On behalf of the thousands of WASPI women, and in the spirit of true equality, I call on the Government to hear their voices and take action now.

The Petition of residents of Lanark and Hamilton East.

[P001768]

Craig Mackinlay Portrait Craig Mackinlay (South Thanet) (Con)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I rise to present this petition on behalf of 316 residents of Thanet South in the same terms as that of the hon. Member for Worsley and Eccles South.

The Petition of residents of Thanet South.

[P001769]

Rebecca Harris Portrait Rebecca Harris (Castle Point) (Con)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I rise to present this petition on behalf of the residents of Castle Point in the same terms as that of the hon. Member for Worsley and Eccles South.

The Petition of residents of Castle Point.

[P001770]

Gerald Jones Portrait Gerald Jones (Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney) (Lab)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I rise to present this petition on behalf of the residents of Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney in the same terms as that of my hon. Friend the Member for Worsley and Eccles South.

The Petition of residents of Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney.

[P001771]

Cat Smith Portrait Cat Smith (Lancaster and Fleetwood) (Lab)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I rise to present this petition on behalf of the residents of Lancaster and Fleetwood in the same terms as that of my hon. Friend the Member for Worsley and Eccles South.

The Petition of residents of Lancaster and Fleetwood.

[P001956]

Lord Coaker Portrait Vernon Coaker (Gedling) (Lab)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I rise to present this petition on behalf of many residents of Gedling, Nottingham East, Nottingham North, Sherwood, Rushcliffe, Ashfield, Mansfield and Derby South, in the same terms as that of my hon. Friend the Member for Worsley and Eccles South.

The Petition of residents of Rushcliffe.

[P001877]

The Petition of residents of Nottingham North.

[P001886]

The Petition of residents of Ashfield.

[P001894]

The Petition of residents of Gedling.

[P001911]

The Petition of residents of Mansfield.

[P001914]

The Petition of residents of Nottingham East.

[P001916]

The Petition of residents of Sherwood.

[P001917]

The Petition of residents of Derby South.

[P001918]

Owen Thompson Portrait Owen Thompson (Midlothian) (SNP)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I rise to present this petition from the residents of Midlothian in the same terms as that of the hon. Member for Worsley and Eccles South, on behalf of the many hundreds of residents who have signed.

The Petition of residents of Midlothian.

[P001781]

Angus Robertson Portrait Angus Robertson (Moray) (SNP)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I rise to present this petition, signed by 1,160 people, on behalf of the residents of Moray in the same terms as that of the hon. Member for Worsley and Eccles South.

The Petition of residents of Moray.

[P001776]

Jess Phillips Portrait Jess Phillips (Birmingham, Yardley) (Lab)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I rise to present the petition on behalf of the residents of Birmingham, Yardley in the same terms as that of my hon. Friend the Member for Worsley and Eccles South, which 587 concerned residents have signed. I thank the Yardley WASPI women for their hard work in collecting the signatures.

The Petition of residents of Birmingham Yardley.

[P001810]

Toby Perkins Portrait Toby Perkins (Chesterfield) (Lab)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I rise to present this beautifully bound petition on behalf of 1,146 residents of Chesterfield in the same terms as that of my hon. Friend the Member for Worsley and Eccles South.

The Petition of residents of Chesterfield.

[P001875]

Lilian Greenwood Portrait Lilian Greenwood (Nottingham South) (Lab)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I rise to present this petition on behalf of the residents of Nottingham South in the same terms as that of my hon. Friend the Member for Worsley and Eccles South. I congratulate the magnificent WASPI women of Nottinghamshire.

The Petition of residents of Nottingham South.

[P001876]

Catherine McKinnell Portrait Catherine McKinnell (Newcastle upon Tyne North) (Lab)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I rise to present this petition in the same terms as that of my hon. Friend the Member for Worsley and Eccles South on behalf of 227 of my constituents in Newcastle upon Tyne North—only a small proportion of the 4,000 women in my constituency affected by the 2011 changes alone—and also on behalf the residents of the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Stockton North (Alex Cunningham). They are asking the Government to right this injustice.

The Petition of residents of Newcastle North.

[P001858]

The Petition of residents of Stockton North.

[P001940]

Lisa Cameron Portrait Dr Lisa Cameron (East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow) (SNP)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I rise to present this petition on behalf of hundreds of residents of East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow, to address justice and pensions inequality, in the same terms as that of the hon. Member for Worsley and Eccles South.

The Petition of residents of East Kilbride.

[P001813]

Alison McGovern Portrait Alison McGovern (Wirral South) (Lab)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I rise to present a petition on behalf of hundreds of residents of Wirral South in the same terms as that of my hon. Friend the Member for Worsley and Eccles South—the brilliant Member for that constituency—with sincere thanks to the WASPI women of Merseyside.

The Petition of residents of Wirral South.

[P001817]

Hannah Bardell Portrait Hannah Bardell (Livingston) (SNP)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I rise on behalf of the residents of Livingston to present this petition of 530 signatures in the same terms as that of the hon. Member for Worsley and Eccles South. May this Government listen to the WASPI women across this country, and do them justice.

The Petition of residents of Livingston.

[P001819]

Tim Loughton Portrait Tim Loughton (East Worthing and Shoreham) (Con)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I am Spartacus, and I too rise to present this petition on behalf of the residents of East Worthing and Shoreham in the same terms as that of the hon. Member for Worsley and Eccles South, with hundreds of signatures collected in just two hours at Shoreham farmers’ market last Saturday morning.

The Petition of residents of East Worthing and Shoreham.

[P001821]

Marcus Fysh Portrait Marcus Fysh (Yeovil) (Con)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I rise on behalf of the people of Yeovil to present this petition in the same terms as that of the hon. Member for Worsley and Eccles South.

The Petition of residents of Yeovil Constituency.

[P001822]

Andy Burnham Portrait Andy Burnham (Leigh) (Lab)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

When it comes to fighting for their rights, the women of Leigh are the WASPIest of them all. That is why I rise to present one of the biggest petitions of them all, with well over 1,000 names. The message they have asked me to convey tonight is, “Prime Minister, we won’t go away until we have justice.”

The Petition of residents of Leigh.

[P001850]

Peter Grant Portrait Peter Grant (Glenrothes) (SNP)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

It is my privilege on behalf of the residents of Glenrothes and central Fife, and of the neighbouring constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for North East Fife (Stephen Gethins)—my good friend—to present this petition in the same terms as those that have already been presented this evening.

The Petition of residents of Glenrothes.

[P001824]

Chris Elmore Portrait Chris Elmore (Ogmore) (Lab/Co-op)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I rise to present a petition on behalf of hundreds of residents of Ogmore in the same terms as that of my hon. Friend the Member for Worsley and Eccles South.

The Petition of residents of Ogmore.

[P001823]

Sharon Hodgson Portrait Mrs Sharon Hodgson (Washington and Sunderland West) (Lab)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I rise to present a petition on behalf of 415 residents of Washington and Sunderland West in the same terms as that of my hon. Friend the Member for Worsley and Eccles South. I hope that these petitions will finally make the Government rethink their strategy and the unnecessary suffering caused to these WASPI women.

The Petition of residents of Washington and Sunderland West.

[P001826]

Emma Lewell-Buck Portrait Mrs Emma Lewell-Buck (South Shields) (Lab)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I rise to present this petition on behalf of the residents of the South Shields constituency in the same terms as that of my hon. Friend the Member for Worsley and Eccles South.

The Petition of residents of South Shields.

[P001773]

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies (Eastleigh) (Con)
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I rise to present this petition on behalf of the residents of the Eastleigh constituency, including Botley, Hedge End, West End, Bursledon, and of other areas, including the Southampton, Itchen and Southampton, Test constituencies, in the same terms as that of the hon. Member for Worsley and Eccles South; 92 signatures are enclosed.

The petition of residents of Eastleigh.

[P001827]

Jeff Smith Portrait Jeff Smith (Manchester, Withington) (Lab)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I rise to present petitions on behalf of the residents of Manchester, Withington, in the same terms as my hon. Friend the Member for Worsley and Eccles South.

The Petition of the Residents of Manchester, Withington.

[P001774]

Mark Durkan Portrait Mark Durkan (Foyle) (SDLP)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

Ditto, Mr Speaker. I rise to present a petition for fairness from concerned residents of the Foyle constituency in the same reasonable terms as the hon. Member for Worsley and Eccles South.

The Petition of the residents of Foyle.

[P001830]

John Healey Portrait John Healey (Wentworth and Dearne) (Lab)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I rise to present this petition from the residents of the Swinton and Silverwood wards in my constituency, who are among more than 50,000 south Yorkshire women hit by these unfair pension age changes, in the same terms as my hon. Friend the Member for Worsley and Eccles South.

The Petition of the residents of Wentworth and Dearne.

[P001833]

Stephen Phillips Portrait Stephen Phillips (Sleaford and North Hykeham) (Con)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I know this will come as a shock, Mr Speaker, but I rise to present a petition in the same terms as those of the hon. Member for Worsley and Eccles South on behalf of very many residents of the constituency of Sleaford and North Hykeham.

The Petition of the residents of Sleaford and North Hykeham.

[P001831]

Nigel Mills Portrait Nigel Mills (Amber Valley) (Con)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I rise to present a petition on behalf of 680 residents of Amber Valley in the same terms as the hon. Member for Worsley and Eccles South.

The Petition of residents of Amber Valley.

[P001772]

Robert Flello Portrait Robert Flello (Stoke-on-Trent South) (Lab)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

In the same terms, I salute the hundreds of WASPI ladies in Stoke-on-Trent South.

The Petition of residents of Stoke-on-Trent South.

[P001787]

Caroline Spelman Portrait Dame Caroline Spelman (Meriden) (Con)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I, too, out of solidarity, wish to declare an interest. I rise to present a petition on behalf of the constituents of Meriden, but also of the Burton WASPI group, in the same terms as the hon. Member for Worsley and Eccles South.

The Petition of residents of Meriden.

[P001837]

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (SNP)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I rise to present this petition on behalf of the residents of Ross, Skye and Lochaber in the same terms as the hon. Member for Worsley and Eccles South. It is gratifying to see so many women signing the petition and so many Members in the House today. Let us hope that the Government listen, do the right thing and use the surplus in the national insurance fund to bring forward mitigation.

The Petition of residents of Ross, Skye and Lochaber.

[P001848]

James Cleverly Portrait James Cleverly (Braintree) (Con)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I rise to present a petition in the same terms as that of the hon. Member for Worsley and Eccles South on behalf of the ladies of Braintree, and also, with permission, on behalf of the ladies of Saffron Walden.

The Petition of residents of Braintree.

[P001834]

Anna Soubry Portrait Anna Soubry (Broxtowe) (Con)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I declare an interest, having been born on 7 December 1956. Thank you, Mr Speaker, for allowing me, on behalf of my constituents of Broxtowe, to present this petition in the same terms as the hon. Member for Worsley and Eccles South.

The Petition of residents of Broxtowe.

[P001939]

Alex Chalk Portrait Alex Chalk (Cheltenham) (Con)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I rise to present this petition on behalf of the residents of Cheltenham in the same terms as the hon. Member for Worsley and Eccles South. I thank the Cheltenham WASPI women for their dogged and dignified campaign.

The Petition of residents of Cheltenham.

[P001745]

John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
- Hansard - - Excerpts

That was all very efficiently completed by my colleagues in under half an hour. Thank you very much indeed for your co-operation. We come now to the Adjournment. May I appeal to Members who are leaving the Chamber to do so quickly and quietly, so that the hon. Member for Halifax (Holly Lynch) can present her case and be heard?

Point of Order

Tuesday 11th October 2016

(7 years, 9 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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12:37
Paula Sherriff Portrait Paula Sherriff (Dewsbury) (Lab)
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On a point of order, Mr Speaker. It is rather frustrating to hear Ministers and some Back Benchers continually referring to the Government having invested, or intending to invest, £10 billion into our NHS over the course of this Parliament. You may be aware, Mr Speaker, that I sit on the Health Committee. I would like to read you the following extract from a report:

“Last year’s Spending Review announced that the NHS would receive an additional £8.4 billion above inflation by 2020-21. But whilst previous spending reviews define health spending as the whole of the Department of Health's budget, the 2015 Spending Review defines it in terms of NHS England’s budget, which excludes, for example, spending on public health”—

John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am extremely grateful to the hon. Lady. She is nothing if not persistent and she has put that thought on the record. I say to her in all courtesy, however, that she is not the first person to do this—I probably did it myself in the very distant past—and I do not suppose she will be the last. It is a very interesting point, but it is a continuation of debate. There is no matter for the Chair here. For that reason, and that reason alone, I must ask her to desist at this stage, but I have a feeling she will find ingenious ways of returning to her point on other occasions.

Perhaps we can leave it there, because we are short of time and I want to proceed. Unless there are further points of order—I am not exactly looking for them—then we will come on to the ten-minute rule motion. I call Conor McGinn.

Unlawful Killing (Recovery of Remains)

1st reading: House of Commons
Tuesday 11th October 2016

(7 years, 9 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Unlawful Killing (Recovery of Remains) Bill 2016-17 View all Unlawful Killing (Recovery of Remains) Bill 2016-17 Debates Read Hansard Text

A Ten Minute Rule Bill is a First Reading of a Private Members Bill, but with the sponsor permitted to make a ten minute speech outlining the reasons for the proposed legislation.

There is little chance of the Bill proceeding further unless there is unanimous consent for the Bill or the Government elects to support the Bill directly.

For more information see: Ten Minute Bills

This information is provided by Parallel Parliament and does not comprise part of the offical record

Motion for leave to bring in a Bill (Standing Order No. 23)
12:38
Conor McGinn Portrait Conor McGinn (St Helens North) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I beg to move,

That leave be given to bring in a Bill to establish a presumption against eligibility for parole in cases where a person, convicted of unlawfully killing another person, has not provided relevant knowledge in their possession for the purposes of facilitating the location and recovery of the remains of the victim; to create a separate offence of withholding such information; to make provision about the available sentences for such an offence; and for connected purposes.

For a parent to suffer the anguish of losing a child is beyond words, but the horror of having such a loved one murdered is surely too awful even to contemplate, so it is harder still, if even possible, to imagine the pain of being denied the chance to hold a proper funeral and lay that loved one to rest. My constituent Marie McCourt does not need to imagine it, because for 28 years she has been forced to endure what she describes as the special kind of torture of knowing she could die without ever discovering where her daughter’s body is or being able to lay her daughter to rest with the dignity she deserves.

Marie’s daughter Helen was murdered at the age of just 22 by Ian Simms in February 1988, as she travelled home from work in the village of Billinge in my constituency. In a landmark conviction, he was found guilty of murder based on overwhelming DNA evidence, even though Helen’s body was not found. For almost three decades, Marie has been tormented because he refuses to reveal what happened to her daughter’s body. Despite this brutal act of callousness and lack of remorse, he could soon be released from jail. This is not the justice that Marie and her family deserve. Killers who inflict this kind of suffering on their victims’ families should not be released on parole. That goes to the heart of the Bill I am bringing forward today.

Before I continue, I want to say something about Marie. She had Helen taken from her in the cruellest circumstances, only to be denied the sacred right to bury her daughter. Few could have found the strength to carry on, let alone mount such a formidable campaign to have the law changed so that others do not suffer in the way she has suffered. Her quiet dignity and powerful determination are an example to us all.

Our campaign for Helen’s law, led by Marie, calls on the Government to introduce a “no body, no parole” policy for murderers. The online petition has already attracted the support of over 340,000 signatures, and in February I was honoured to accompany Marie to No. 10 Downing Street to present the petition. The Government responded to the overwhelming public support for the campaign by asking the Parole Board to review the guidelines around convicted murderers. We await the outcome of that review, which is at least welcome progress, but as Marie has so eloquently and repeatedly said, this campaign is not just about her or Helen; it is about ensuring that others who find themselves in such horrific circumstances do not have such added pain visited on them.

Just yesterday, the Home Office revealed to me that since 2007 alone there have been 30 murders in England and Wales where no body has been recovered, but as it currently stands the English legal system does not require a convicted murderer, at the end of their determined tariff, to admit guilt or reveal the location of a victim’s remains before being released. Marie believes that if parole is granted to Helen’s killer, her hopes of finding her daughter will never be realised. As I have said, she is also determined that no other family should have to live that ordeal.

My Bill seeks to acknowledge, and in some cases mitigate, the pain and distress caused to the families of missing murder victims. There are three main elements to it: first, denying parole to murderers for as long as they refuse to disclose the whereabouts of their victim’s remains; secondly, passing a full-life tariff, denying parole or release, until the murderer discloses the location and enables the recovery of their victim’s remains; and thirdly, applying the rarely used common-law offences in murder trials without a body of preventing the burial of a corpse and conspiracy to prevent the burial of a corpse, disposing of a corpse or obstructing a coroner. In essence, the proposals are simple: if a convicted killer refuses to give information to reveal the location of a victim’s body, they should not be considered eligible for parole and they should stay in prison. The proposals would effectively mean a whole-life tariff for murderers who refuse to disclose the location of their victims and enable their remains to be recovered to give families a chance to pay their last respects.

Let me be clear: the modern system of parole is widely understood to involve a prisoner earning their conditional release through good behaviour. I believe in and support the rehabilitative purpose of our penal system, but while the current tariff system for the most serious crimes reflects the consensus that the majority will at some point be able to rejoin society, one is bound to ask in what sense a murderer who is content to torment the family of their victims in such a way could ever have earnt their freedom.

In recent years, Parliament and the legal profession have begun to take the rights of victims more seriously, and I believe that this Bill would be a further step towards ensuring that victims are at the heart of our criminal justice system—where they should always be.

Let me make it clear that the proposals in the Bill would not affect any individual’s fundamental right to maintain their innocence. The law changes I propose would not impinge in any way on the rights of convicted killers to retain full access and full recourse to the appeals process. It is worth noting, however, that in the case of Helen McCourt’s killer, his guilt has only been further confirmed at every single appeals stage because of enhanced DNA evidence against him.

Let me also say that my Bill will have no impact on the work of the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims’ Remains in respect of those referred to as “the disappeared”; nor would it impact on arrangements set out in relation to sentencing for offences committed during the troubles or indeed any future arrangements on addressing the legacy of the past in Northern Ireland. I want to acknowledge, however, that the pain and anguish felt by the families of the disappeared are the same as for any family who has lost a loved one in such awful circumstances.

We are not alone in this country in seeking to find a workable legal solution. In Australia, “no body, no parole” laws have already been passed at state level and are being examined at federal level. Quite simply, the introduction of Helen’s law is the only chance that the McCourts and other families like them have of securing some peace and the justice they deserve.

I want to acknowledge some of the families who are visiting Parliament today to attend this debate. Sheila Dolton and her daughter Nina are here. Their son and brother, Jonathan, was murdered in 2004. The family has continually written to his killer, begging for information about the son’s body, but has received no reply. Sam Gillingham was just 16 when her mum, Carole Packman, disappeared from the family home in Bournemouth in 1985, while Tracy Richardson’s mum, Michelle Gunshon, vanished in December 2004 while working at the NEC in Birmingham. Sadly, this Bill comes too late for Winnie Johnson who went to her grave never knowing where Moors murderers Ian Brady and Myra Hindley buried her 12-year-old son, Keith Bennett. But there is still time for Marie McCourt and other grieving mothers such as Joan Morson and Jean Taylor who also saw their children’s killers go to jail without revealing where their victims’ bodies lay. Denying a final resting place is perhaps the last heinous act by killers who have no place in a civilised society. The agony and torment caused to those who cannot lay a murdered loved one to rest is incalculable.

The families of victims quite rightly expect the law to act in their favour, instead of seeing the justice system rewarding with parole killers who decide to remain silent. For those who have had to face the loss of a loved one at the hands of a callous murderer, there is nothing we can do to make up for their loss, but if there is a way to help them receive the justice they deserve, we must take it. If there is a way to compel those who have committed the most awful crimes to assist in this task, we must do it. Most importantly of all, if there is a way to ensure that no family has to endure the suffering that Marie McCourt and so many others have, we—in this of all places—have a duty to act.

Question put and agreed to.

Ordered,

That Conor McGinn, Tom Tugendhat, Mr George Howarth, Siobhain McDonagh, Tom Elliott, Vernon Coaker, Marie Rimmer, Nusrat Ghani, Sir Jeffrey M. Donaldson, Carol Monaghan, Diana Johnson and Mr Alan Campbell present the Bill.

Conor McGinn accordingly presented the Bill.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 3 February 2017, and to be printed (Bill 73).

Aleppo and Syria

Tuesday 11th October 2016

(7 years, 9 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
12:49
Andrew Mitchell Portrait Mr Andrew Mitchell (Sutton Coldfield) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I beg to move,

That this House has considered the unfolding humanitarian catastrophe in Aleppo and more widely across Syria.

Thank you, Mr Speaker, for granting this emergency debate on the unfolding humanitarian catastrophe in Aleppo and more widely across Syria. Although it was I who moved the motion applying for the debate under Standing Order No. 24, it has the strong support of the all-party parliamentary group for Friends of Syria, particularly my co-chairman, the hon. Member for Wirral South (Alison McGovern), the hon. Member for Barrow and Furness (John Woodcock), and my hon. Friend the Member for Beckenham (Bob Stewart). I am most grateful to them for the work that they do in the all-party group.

I am particularly pleased to see that the Foreign Secretary is present. The whole House will be grateful for the importance that he attaches to the debate. He has written and spoken about Syria, and I know that it is a subject on which he feels strongly. We are very pleased that the House is to hear from him this afternoon on what I think will be his first debate as Foreign Secretary

Yesterday, Mr Speaker, you had a choice between a Standing Order No. 24 application for a debate on Brexit and another for a debate on Syria. Everyone in the House will know that you made the right decision, and you explained your reasons, but I now submit that the effects of the crisis in Syria on our children and our grandchildren will be every bit as great as the effects of Brexit. Today’s debate will be watched by many people: civil society across much of the world will take an interest in the tone and the view that the House of Commons adopts this afternoon, and that is a very good thing.

At about 10 o’clock this morning there was a series of further air raids on civilian areas in Aleppo, and there are already reports of yet further casualties, maimings and deaths. As we look back at the Syrian crisis over recent years, we see that, at every turn, progress towards a solution has, alas, eluded us. First, at a relatively early stage, there was the plan put forward by Kofi Annan, the former United Nations Secretary-General, who stated specifically that as Assad was part of the problem he would by definition be part of the solution. Kofi Annan believed that Assad should be part of the negotiations, but that was vetoed by the Americans, and indeed—alas—by the British Government. Now, many years later, we understand how important it is that Assad should at least be present at the initial negotiations. He is not going to be beaten militarily, in my view, and it is clearly right for him to be there for the early part of the negotiations, as the Syrian opposition accept. However, more time has been lost.

Secondly, there was Obama’s failure to stand by the red lines that he had clearly asserted on the use of chemical weapons. That was a disastrous decision, and one from which we will suffer in the future.

Thirdly, there was the failure to provide safe havens. Much of civil society believed in the importance of providing refuge for the—now—more than 5 million Syrian men, women and children who are on the move in Syria, having been driven out of their homes. Those safe havens could, with political will, have been set up in both Idlib, which is in the north of Syria, and Daraa, which is near the Jordanian border in the south. We could, as many people have advocated, have set up no-bombing zones, but we have not done so. Today, 5 million people in Syria and 6 million outside are on the move, often unprotected, unfed and unhoused. That is the reality: nearly half the country’s population of 22 million are on the move, either inside Syria or beyond its borders.

Tom Tugendhat Portrait Tom Tugendhat (Tonbridge and Malling) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My right hon. Friend is making a powerful case. Does he agree that, militarily, there is no reason why we could not enforce a no-fly zone when so many people are being affected? The helicopters that are dropping barrel bombs could easily be brought down by rockets based in Turkey or Lebanon, or, indeed, by our own type 45s in the Mediterranean.

Andrew Mitchell Portrait Mr Mitchell
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My hon. Friend knows far more about such military matters than I do. That is my understanding of the position: that a no-fly zone—and I will say more about this later—is perfectly feasible. It is a question of whether the international community has the political will to face down the Russians and the Syrian helicopters by setting one up.

Fourthly, there was the failure to secure unfettered access for the United Nations. It is unprecedented in recent years for those bent solely on looking after their fellow citizens to be unable to gain unfettered access to very dangerous zones. This gives me an opportunity to pay tribute to the extraordinary bravery of those who work in the humanitarian world, doing nothing other than try to assist their fellow human beings and bring them sustenance, help, medicine and support.

Albert Owen Portrait Albert Owen (Ynys Môn) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

What roles does the right hon. Gentleman envisage for Syria’s near neighbours and for the west, including Britain, in the protection of people in the safe havens to which he referred earlier?

Andrew Mitchell Portrait Mr Mitchell
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

That is an extremely good point, and I shall come to it shortly.

John Redwood Portrait John Redwood (Wokingham) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Is not the tragedy of Syria that none of us can imagine a future Syrian Government who would have both the power to take charge and the wisdom to govern in a peaceful and unifying way?

Andrew Mitchell Portrait Mr Mitchell
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I shall come to that point as well, but let me say now that the whole purpose of the efforts of the International Syria Support Group—and those of other elements, under Staffan de Mistura—is to answer the question that my right hon. Friend has so eloquently posed.

The fifth failure lies in the surrounding countries, particularly Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. Although they have acted heroically in dealing with the extraordinary number of people who have fled across the borders, often under gunfire, there has been a lack of support from the international community for countries whose populations have ballooned, given that one in three of the people in Jordan and Lebanon has fled from Syria. Britain has undoubtedly done her stuff. I am pleased to see that the Secretary of State for International Development is present; she can be extremely proud of the Department that she has inherited for the outstanding work that Britain has done in helping refugees in the surrounding countries—more, I might add, than has been done by the whole of the rest of the European Union.

Jeremy Lefroy Portrait Jeremy Lefroy (Stafford) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My right hon. Friend may well be aware that, in a fairly short space of time, far more Syrian than Lebanese children will be being educated in Lebanese state schools. Does that not speak volumes for the hospitality of the Lebanese?

Andrew Mitchell Portrait Mr Mitchell
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My hon. Friend has made his point with great eloquence.

We are not using the opportunity—if I may put it in that way—to provide an education for the children in the camps, given that they at least constitute a captive audience. Every child in a camp in one of the surrounding countries should be receiving an education. There should be education and training, and, indeed, there should be opportunities for the countries that are receiving all the refugees to have free access to the European Union for their goods and services. That is not happening. Moreover, because some countries have failed to pay their dues to the United Nations in some of the camps, the children and adults there are receiving only half the rations that they should be receiving, and they are down to starvation rations at that.

Tom Brake Portrait Tom Brake (Carshalton and Wallington) (LD)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I recently received a parliamentary answer from the Minister of State, Department for International Development, the hon. Member for Penrith and The Border (Rory Stewart), on the subject of air drops. He stated:

“The use of air drops to deliver aid is high risk and should only be considered as a last resort when all other means have failed”.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that it would seem that “all other means” have indeed failed?

Andrew Mitchell Portrait Mr Mitchell
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Not in respect of the camp. On the basis of my knowledge of these matters, I think that my hon. Friend the Minister of State was right to say that air drops should be used only as a last resort, but clearly they should be used if we reach that point.

The sixth and final barrier to progress has, of course, been the reception of refugees in Europe, where there has not been proper processing. Many of these people have cast themselves into the hands of the modern-day equivalent of the slave trader in the hope of reaching a more prosperous and safer shore. I think that Europe as a whole—which, admittedly, has its inward-facing problems—has failed to address this problem adequately, and to show proper solidarity with Greece and Italy as they tackle a very severe problem.

There are only two ways in which this can end: a military victory by one side or the other, or through negotiation. I submit that there is no way in which a military victory will be secured by any side in Syria. We must therefore hope that the fighting stops as soon as possible in order to create the space in which negotiations for the future can take place. We have all seen the heroic work that has been done by Staffan de Mistura, and the backing provided to him and the International Syria Support Group is essential. I will say more about that in a moment. To bring about a cessation in fighting we need the influence of the United Nations, of the great powers and of the countries in the region who have influence over some of the protagonists, in particular Iran and the Saudis. Where a country is able to exercise influence to stop the fighting and create the space for politicians to engage, in Geneva and elsewhere, it is absolutely essential that it should do so.

Nadhim Zahawi Portrait Nadhim Zahawi (Stratford-on-Avon) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I commend my right hon. Friend for securing this debate. Does he agree that the Russian military has a deep history with the Syrian military, and that it is in Russia’s gift to deliver a peace process? When we visited Russia as part of the Foreign Affairs Committee, the Russian politicians kept reminding us they wanted to be taken seriously by the whole world and that they were a serious power. In order to be taken seriously, however, they really should be following the rule of law and international law. They should not be aiding and abetting war criminals such as Assad.

Andrew Mitchell Portrait Mr Mitchell
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My hon. Friend makes an extremely good point.

The extraordinary misfortune of timing that I mentioned is being exacerbated by international attention being elsewhere. In Europe, Brexit, the issues with the euro, Greece, the German banks and the focus on migration have all meant that the focus has been on the symptoms rather than the causes of this conflict. In the United States, politicians have turned in on themselves as the election approaches, and Obama has underwritten an isolationist approach. However, there are people such as Senator Lindsey Graham and Secretary Kerry who are seized of the importance of this moment in tackling what Russia is doing. Then of course there is Russia, to which my hon. Friend the Member for Stratford-on-Avon (Nadhim Zahawi) has alluded. It is behaving like a rogue elephant, shredding international humanitarian law and abusing its veto powers in the UN Security Council. It is using the veto to protect itself from its own war crimes.

Caroline Lucas Portrait Caroline Lucas (Brighton, Pavilion) (Green)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The right hon. Gentleman is making an incredibly compelling case. The situation in Aleppo is beyond appalling. Does he agree that our own Government should follow the example of the French in supporting a referral of Russia to the International Criminal Court? Also, I completely understand the case that he is making for a no-fly zone, but does he recognise the risks involved in establishing such a zone? How would he best protect against the risk of an expansion of the mission if it were not initially successful?

Andrew Mitchell Portrait Mr Mitchell
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I shall come on to the hon. Lady’s second point in a moment. On her first point, I agree with her. The UN Secretary general called for such a referral only yesterday.

The attack on the convoy marked a new low, with 18 humanitarian workers killed, food and medicines destroyed and warehouses and medical facilities seriously damaged. We should be clear about what is happening in Aleppo. The Russians are not attacking military formations. They are not engaging with militias and fighters. They are attacking hospitals and a terrified population, which is now down from 2 million to under 250,000. People are hiding in the cellars and the rubble that is Aleppo today. Last week, the M10 underground hospital was attacked by bunker-busting bombs to break through its roof and by cluster bombs aimed specifically at harming and injuring individual people. The location of that hospital was known to every combatant. There is no doubt that attacking that hospital was an international war crime.

Jonathan Djanogly Portrait Mr Jonathan Djanogly (Huntingdon) (Con)
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My right hon. Friend is making an incredibly strong case. When it comes to Russia, are we not living in some kind of parallel universe? On the one hand, we see the Russians dropping bunker bombs on hospitals. On the other, we are allowing them to come and trade in our country as though nothing was going on. Do we not need a general review of our relationship with Russia?

Andrew Mitchell Portrait Mr Mitchell
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The Russians are doing to the United Nations precisely what Italy and Germany did to the League of Nations in the 1930s, and they are doing to Aleppo precisely what the Nazis did to Guernica during the Spanish civil war.

Jason McCartney Portrait Jason McCartney (Colne Valley) (Con)
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I join my right hon. Friend in supporting no-bombing zones, as well as aid drops in memory of our former colleague and my Yorkshire neighbour, Jo Cox. On the issue of no-fly zones, I served in the Royal Air Force on the no-fly zone over northern Iraq. Does he agree that one message we could send out from this House today would be that, using our E-3 Sentry AWACS reconnaissance aircraft, any war crimes perpetrated by air forces would be identified and logged, and that the perpetrators would feel the full force of the law as a result?

Andrew Mitchell Portrait Mr Mitchell
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My hon. Friend is on to an extremely good point.

Mike Gapes Portrait Mike Gapes (Ilford South) (Lab/Co-op)
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The right hon. Gentleman mentioned Guernica. In the 1930s, there was united condemnation of what the Nazis and their air force were doing in Spain in support of the fascist regime. Is it not time that we had a united, unambiguous, explicit, direct condemnation of what Putin is doing in support of Assad in Aleppo at this moment, not just from the Government but from the Opposition Benches unanimously?

Andrew Mitchell Portrait Mr Mitchell
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The hon. Gentleman is on to an extremely good point. What is needed is a concerted effort by the international community uniting to make Russia feel the cost of its support of and participation in the barbaric bombardment of Aleppo.

Lord Walney Portrait John Woodcock (Barrow and Furness) (Lab/Co-op)
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I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on securing this debate. His comparison with the actions of the Nazi regime and the League of Nations is very powerful. Is this not a warning to the United Nations that unless it fulfils its duties and faces up to the atrocities that Russia is perpetrating, it might well go the same way as the League of Nations did?

Andrew Mitchell Portrait Mr Mitchell
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That is the very point I was making.

We should single Russia out as a pariah. Like any bully, the Kremlin craves relevance, and it is winning as long as no one stands up to it. Russia must be confronted for its attacks on innocent civilians, both diplomatically and using hard power including sanctions and economic measures. We must seek to build support for multilateral military action to discharge our responsibility to protect. This is not about attacking Russia. It is about defending innocent civilians. It is about basic humanitarian decency and protection from the kind of barbarism and tyranny we hoped we had consigned to the last century.

Angela Smith Portrait Angela Smith (Penistone and Stocksbridge) (Lab)
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I completely concur with the right hon. Gentleman’s words about Russia and the atrocities that it is committing against the people of Syria, but should we not also look at this in the context of Russia’s previous actions in Ukraine and Crimea? Ought we not to remember that Russia as a state is increasingly out of control? It is not playing by the rules, and we absolutely have to confront its behaviour internationally.

Andrew Mitchell Portrait Mr Mitchell
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The hon. Lady makes an extremely powerful point. We cannot do this alone. We must use Britain’s outstanding connections, not least through our diplomatic reach, our membership of NATO, our relationship with America and our centrality in the European firmament—Brexit notwithstanding.

Robert Flello Portrait Robert Flello (Stoke-on-Trent South) (Lab)
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I am most grateful to the right hon. Gentleman, not only for securing this debate but for allowing so many interventions. Would it not be appropriate for the Government to bring forward a debate asking this House to put forward its views on Russia’s behaviour not only in Aleppo but in previous situations? We need the Government to lead on such a debate, so that the House can send out the very clear message that we are watching what Russia is doing and will not forget what it is doing, and that, when it comes to it, we will see those responsible answering for their war crimes.

Andrew Mitchell Portrait Mr Mitchell
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I think the hon. Gentleman would agree that, by having this three-hour debate today, we are moving some way in that direction.

I have a number of specific questions for the Foreign Secretary to address when he answers this debate. First, he has said that the UK is taking the lead on sanctions on Russia. Will he tell the House what steps the Foreign Office has taken towards increasing bilateral or EU sanctions on Russia itself? Secondly, there are plans for a new addition to the Nord Stream gas pipeline running from Russia to western Europe—Nord Stream 2—allowing Russia to bypass transit countries and, therefore, transit costs in eastern Europe. Will the Foreign Office be working with our east European allies to block the new pipeline?

Graham P Jones Portrait Graham Jones (Hyndburn) (Lab)
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I presume that we are talking about the gas pipeline that runs from Kurdistan through Turkey and the Black sea and bypasses Ukraine and the eastern provinces. The signing of that deal was agreed yesterday between Erdogan and Putin. A relationship seems to be building up between those two. Does the right hon. Gentleman have any view on that, because that movement of Turkey towards Russia is concerning?

Andrew Mitchell Portrait Mr Mitchell
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The Foreign Secretary has recently been in Turkey. I am sure that the House will be interested in his comments.

My third question for the Foreign Secretary is, what work has been done to catalogue and record human rights abuses—both individual and collective—in Syria? Will he update the House on the work of the Foreign Office, which was started and commissioned by the National Security Council in 2011, to collect evidence that can be used in the future to hold human rights abusers to account no matter how long it takes?

Fourthly, what steps has the Foreign Secretary taken with his colleagues in the Ministry of Defence to explore the feasibility of imposing and enforcing a no-fly zone over specific areas in Syria? Does he agree that, with the use of naval and air assets in the eastern Mediterranean, it is entirely possible both to monitor and enforce a no-fly zone with our allies? What steps will he take to make it clear to the international community that a no-fly zone is a matter of will and not of practicality?

Bob Stewart Portrait Bob Stewart (Beckenham) (Con)
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I have operated under a no-fly zone. It is practical and it can work, but it is quite difficult at a low level. That requires us to have seriously good surveillance over the target areas. If we have that, we can deal with it. We cannot have just a no-fly zone; we need good surveillance as well.

Andrew Mitchell Portrait Mr Mitchell
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I have no doubt that the Foreign Secretary will want to comment on those remarks, to which my hon. Friend brings his expert knowledge and understanding.

Ben Bradshaw Portrait Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab)
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As one of the four Opposition Members who did not oppose military action on that fateful day in August 2013, I fully support any measure to impose a no-fly zone. I assure the Government that, if they were to bring forward such a proposal, I will vote with them, and I guess quite a lot of my colleagues will do so as well.

Andrew Mitchell Portrait Mr Mitchell
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That is extremely welcome news both inside the House and outside.

I have one final point on the no-fly zone. Will my right hon. Friend make a specific point of meeting the former Prime Minister John Major to explore his experiences in imposing a no-fly zone and a safe haven in northern Iraq during the 1990s?

Kevin Foster Portrait Kevin Foster (Torbay) (Con)
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I thank my right hon. Friend for giving way and I congratulate him on securing this debate. Given the discussion that there is over a no-fly zone, does he share my concern that Russia has moved very advanced surface-to-air missile systems into Syria when clearly Daesh or the al-Nusra front do not have a fast-jet capability. At whom might those missiles be targeted?

Andrew Mitchell Portrait Mr Mitchell
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My hon. Friend makes a good point, but those S-300 missiles do not affect the viability of imposing a no-fly zone.

My final question for the Foreign Secretary is, what steps are he and his Department taking to support and enhance the work of the International Syria Support Group? Staffan de Mistura has said that the suspension of bilateral negotiations between the two chairs, US and Russia, “should not and will not” affect the existence of the group. What steps is Britain taking to provide financial, diplomatic and political support to the International Syria Support Group? This group includes all of the five permanent members, Italy, Turkey, Japan, Iran, and the key Arab countries. It represents the UN, the EU and the Arab League. It needs to be greatly expanded. There should be an office, for example, working with and adjacent to the Geneva talks. It should carry out work on the key ingredients for a peace whenever that may come, and we should give very strong support to it.

Toby Perkins Portrait Toby Perkins (Chesterfield) (Lab)
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May I add a question to the ones that the right hon. Gentleman has posed to the Foreign Secretary? He has spoken very powerfully. Members of the House have described Russia as a pariah. He has compared it with the Nazi regime of the 1930s. Is it not utterly ludicrous that, in two years’ time, the greatest sporting spectacle on earth—the World cup—will be held in Russia, but not a single country is pulling out of it? If we are really serious about sending a message to Putin that is heard on the ground, should we not be questioning whether the World cup should take place in Russia?

Andrew Mitchell Portrait