Business of the House

Debate between Lucy Allan and Mark Spencer
Thursday 14th July 2022

(1 year, 10 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Mark Spencer Portrait Mark Spencer
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Of course I entirely agree with my hon. Friend, and I pay tribute to the work that he does in his constituency. Antisocial behaviour will be one of the primary focuses of the £50 million-a-year safer streets fund. Next week is antisocial behaviour awareness week, and there will be a debate in Westminster Hall. The deployment of police officers is a matter for the local force, which is operationally independent, but I certainly think that antisocial behaviour is something on which it should focus.

Lucy Allan Portrait Lucy Allan (Telford) (Con)
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The independent inquiry into child sexual exploitation in Telford published its findings this week, providing an opportunity for the authorities to reflect on their failings and take responsibility for their mistakes. Telford and Wrekin Council, however, published a response suggesting that the child sexual exploitation had happened a long time ago, that the council had made improvements, and that many of the inquiry’s recommendations had already been implemented. There was no apology for the failings, no reference to having made any mistakes, and no commitment to change. Telford and Wrekin Council is in denial. May we have a debate on the report and the response of the authorities?

Mark Spencer Portrait Mark Spencer
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First, let me pay tribute to my hon. Friend. I know that she has worked tirelessly on this matter, and she is a huge champion for those people who have been victims. The scale of the abuse carried out in Telford and Wrekin was truly appalling. I understand that Telford and Wrekin Council has confirmed that it will accept all the inquiry’s recommendations and deliver all the suggested improvements, but we must ensure that the lessons are learned so that victims are protected and offenders are brought to justice. This is an important matter and I am sure that any debate on it would be well subscribed.

Business of the House

Debate between Lucy Allan and Mark Spencer
Thursday 30th June 2022

(1 year, 10 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Mark Spencer Portrait Mark Spencer
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The hon. Lady will have an opportunity directly to question the Secretary of State for Health on 19 July at health questions. I know she is tenacious in her pursuit of the challenge those families face, but I am sure the Secretary of State will have heard her comments and that she will be in her place on 19 July to challenge him directly.

Lucy Allan Portrait Lucy Allan (Telford) (Con)
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My constituent was asleep in his bed with his pregnant wife and a small child when a drunken neighbour started kicking in his door. He went to answer the door and was attacked. He needed 10 stitches to his face and mouth. The custody sergeant in this case decided that a caution was the appropriate sanction. We believe the punishment must fit the crime. May we have a debate on the issue of cautions where there is assault occasioning actual bodily harm?

Mark Spencer Portrait Mark Spencer
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My hon. Friend raises a very concerning case and I will pass on her question directly to the Home Secretary. The Government have made clear our determination to cut crime and make our streets safer; that is why this financial year we will invest £130 million in tackling serious violent crime, including £64 million for violence reduction units and our commitment to recruiting 20,000 more police officers before the next general election.

Business of the House

Debate between Lucy Allan and Mark Spencer
Thursday 26th May 2022

(1 year, 12 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Mark Spencer Portrait Mark Spencer
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I thank the hon. Member for her question, and I join her in expressing sympathy to those who were victims of the Battersea funfair disaster. I wish her well in her campaign to get a permanent memorial. I think what she mentioned about mental health is worthy of debate, and I would encourage her to apply for a Westminster Hall debate or an Adjournment debate where she could pursue that.

Lucy Allan Portrait Lucy Allan (Telford) (Con)
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Can I thank the Leader of the House for visiting the factory that makes Parliament’s magnificent encaustic tiles in my constituency this week? I am delighted that he enjoyed his visit as much as he did.

In Telford, we are getting ready to celebrate the Queen’s jubilee in style, with many fantastic events being organised by parish councils in every area of our community—bringing people together, and celebrating and giving thanks for the extraordinary service of Her Majesty. I want particularly to highlight the work of Hollinswood and Randlay parish council for its organisation of a platinum jubilee service and thanksgiving in Telford Town park on Saturday 4 June. Will the Leader of the House join me in thanking Telford’s parish councils and their clerks for their service to Telford, and may we have a debate on the important role that parish councils play in our communities?

Mark Spencer Portrait Mark Spencer
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I thank my hon. Friend for her question, and can I start by thanking the team at Jackfield for hosting me on Monday? I have turned into a bit of an art geek in that I am now walking around and looking at the tiles in Westminster to see the work they have done. Like many colleagues across the House, I rather take for granted this beautiful Palace in which we work—something that should be protected for future generations—and the art in this building is only here because of the excellent craftsmanship of companies such as those at Jackfield.

I join my hon. Friend in thanking parish councils. I think parish councils up and down the country, especially those in Telford, are doing great work. It is unpaid and it is often unrewarded, but without our parish councils our communities would be a little bit poorer. I cannot not mention Woodlands Primary School, which I also visited on Monday, where I was interrogated by those on the school council. It was a great visit, and their enthusiasm for democracy was refreshing.

Business of the House

Debate between Lucy Allan and Mark Spencer
Thursday 19th May 2022

(2 years ago)

Commons Chamber
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Mark Spencer Portrait Mark Spencer
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I join the right hon. Gentleman in paying tribute to Her Majesty the Queen. The jubilee will be a huge opportunity for the nation to recognise what a privilege it is to be alive at this time to see any monarch reach 70 years on the throne, particularly the amazing monarch we have now. I also share the right hon. Gentleman’s admiration for that generation. The next generation takes for granted our national security and safety; that generation went through huge turmoil and two world wars, so I understand what he says. If he gives me the details of the individual case he mentioned, I will of course take it up directly with the relevant Minister. Defence questions are on 13 June; if am not able to deliver by then, I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will raise the matter again at that opportunity.

Lucy Allan Portrait Lucy Allan (Telford) (Con)
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My constituent Leah Maries, from Woodside in Telford, is due to go on her first ever family holiday next week. Unfortunately, Leah’s plans are now in disarray because a passport renewal application that was received by the Passport Office in February 2022 has got stuck in the system. No amount of effort by the family or queuing in the Portcullis House hub has been able to rectify the problem. The Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, my hon. Friend the Member for Torbay (Kevin Foster), for whom I have great admiration and regard, is now personally on the case; however, may we have a debate on the inability of some Departments to deliver the basic and essential services on which millions of people, including Leah Maries and her family, rely?

Mark Spencer Portrait Mark Spencer
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Passport Office staff are firmly focused on ensuring that people receive their passports in good time for summer holidays. We have recruited an initial 500 staff since April 2021, and there are a further 700 arriving before the summer. We have an excellent civil service, which is working incredibly hard to deliver passports to people in good time. I am grateful to my hon. Friend for raising this issue, because we must be relentless in ensuring that people get their passports in good time.

Business Question

Debate between Lucy Allan and Mark Spencer
Thursday 12th May 2022

(2 years ago)

Commons Chamber
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Mark Spencer Portrait Mark Spencer
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I understand the hon. Gentleman’s enthusiasm for celebrating Manchester United winning anything, which is a rare event these days. He went on to make a very serious point about tumble dryers and whether they are causing fires in people’s homes. There are clearly a number of safety regulations that products in our homes should meet. It is worthy of further debate, and I am sure that he will be in his place to raise those matters with the relevant Ministers when they are at the Dispatch Box.

Lucy Allan Portrait Lucy Allan (Telford) (Con)
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Telford’s Princess Royal Hospital is still not doing elective orthopaedic surgery. Many of my constituents, such as Mr Graham Cotton, who is 68, are suffering severe and constant pain, having already waited since before the start of the pandemic for surgery. If a hospital trust decides not to do much-needed surgery, it is answerable to no one—not patients, MPs or Ministers. It has no responsibility or duty to find an alternative provider. May we have a debate on the accountability of the NHS? It is simply wrong that desperately needed care is not provided and that no one is accountable or responsible to the patient.

Mark Spencer Portrait Mark Spencer
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I thank my hon. Friend for her question. She is truly an assiduous campaigner on health challenges in her constituency and the whole of Shropshire. The Health and Care Act 2022 includes measures designed to improve accountability to enhance public confidence in our NHS. The Government plan to spend £8 billion over the next three years to tackle the elective backlog. Clearly, covid has given a number of challenges to the NHS and has caused those backlogs. The Government are committed to trying to resolve that and to helping health services catch up so that our constituents can get the operations they desperately need.

Business of the House

Debate between Lucy Allan and Mark Spencer
Thursday 21st April 2022

(2 years, 1 month ago)

Commons Chamber
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Mark Spencer Portrait Mark Spencer
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I join the hon. Lady in recognising the huge contribution that access to the open countryside can have on people’s physical and mental health. We are blessed in this country with hundreds of thousands of miles of public footpath to allow people to access the countryside, but I hope that she also recognises that, as well as a place of leisure, the countryside is also a place of food production and business. At this time of year, there are lambs in the fields, so it is quite important that people keep dogs on leads when accessing the countryside. Food production is a very important part of the UK economy and, as I have said, we must recognise that the countryside is a place not just of leisure, but of business and food production.

Lucy Allan Portrait Lucy Allan (Telford) (Con)
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The collapse of funeral plan provider Safe Hands has left 46,000 people facing the loss of their funeral prepayment plan. Moneys that should have been safely ring-fenced in a trust have been distributed to directors and shareholders in the form of loans and dividends. That amounts to financial misconduct. Can the Leader of the House ask a Treasury Minister please to work with the funeral plan industry and the Financial Conduct Authority to ensure that Safe Hands plan holders do not lose out, and to make a statement?

Mark Spencer Portrait Mark Spencer
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I thank my hon. Friend for her question on this important matter. The Treasury continues to monitor the implementation of regulation in the sector closely, to ensure that the transition to regulation is smooth. Dignity, one of the largest funeral plan providers, has committed temporarily to provide funerals to Safe Hands customers until 22 April, which addresses the short-term risk to consumers. The FCA is working closely with the sector to ensure a good outcome for Safe Hands customers over the long term. I will of course pass on her concerns to the Treasury.

Business of the House

Debate between Lucy Allan and Mark Spencer
Thursday 10th March 2022

(2 years, 2 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Mark Spencer Portrait Mark Spencer
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I congratulate the hon. Lady on her success with the early-day motion. I agree that this is an important issue, and that it is worthy of debate. If 500 of the hon. Lady’s colleagues are supporting her EDM, she should have no problem in securing a Backbench Business debate on the matter, or a Westminster Hall debate if she needs longer.

Lucy Allan Portrait Lucy Allan (Telford) (Con)
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The long-awaited report on maternity deaths and injuries at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust was due to be published on 22 March, but families in Telford have now been informed that its publication has been delayed. I understand that the delay will be short, but the Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, my hon. Friend the Member for Lewes (Maria Caulfield), had been due to give a statement to the House following the report’s publication, and I fear that the publication may now be pushed into the Easter recess and Members will not have an opportunity to put questions to the Minister. Please will the Leader of the House urge the Minister to ensure that the publication of this important report takes place before the recess?

Mark Spencer Portrait Mark Spencer
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My hon. Friend is a tenacious campaigner on this issue. The Department of Health and Social Care is working apace to secure a new date for the report’s publication. It has informed me that it expects that to be days rather than weeks later than the original date, and I understand that the Minister has written to all local MPs to update them on the position. She is also happy to meet local MPs to discuss it with them personally. I will ensure that she hears my hon. Friend’s question today.

Business of the House

Debate between Lucy Allan and Mark Spencer
Thursday 3rd March 2022

(2 years, 2 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Mark Spencer Portrait Mark Spencer
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I think that even the hon. Gentleman will concede that the Government have offered a huge amount of time. Last week, we had not only Defence questions, but three statements on Ukraine, three hours of debate on the Russian sanctions, Prime Minister’s questions, an Opposition day motion, a Backbench Business debate and Friday’s urgent question. This week, we have had three statements, three hours of debate on the Russian sanctions, PMQs and an Opposition day motion. The Government have provided a huge amount of time to debate these matters, and Foreign Office questions on 8 March will be another opportunity. The House will continue to debate and raise questions about these matters.

Lucy Allan Portrait Lucy Allan (Telford) (Con)
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In Telford, we have two bridging hotels for Afghan refugees, who have been there for seven months now. When I visited, they told me that they want to work, get settled into communities across the UK and rebuild their lives. I have tried to find out how much longer they must wait in limbo in the two Telford hotels, but I cannot get an answer. As we focus on the crisis unfolding in Ukraine, it is crucial that we do not forget the Afghans whom we welcomed last summer. Would the Leader of the House be kind enough to arrange for the Minister for Afghan Resettlement to come to the House to update us on the progress of the scheme?

Mark Spencer Portrait Mark Spencer
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My hon. Friend raises a very important point. This was the biggest mission of its kind in generations and the second largest evacuation from Afghanistan carried out by any country. Under Operation Warm Welcome, we are ensuring that Afghans arriving in the UK are able to rebuild their lives, find work, pursue education and integrate in their local communities. We are working closely with local authorities to bring forward enough offers of housing to provide every family with a suitable home as soon as possible.

Business of the House

Debate between Lucy Allan and Mark Spencer
Thursday 24th February 2022

(2 years, 2 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Mark Spencer Portrait Mark Spencer
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The hon. Lady raises an important issue. We have a proud record in the United Kingdom of supporting the world in getting vaccinated. I think we have done more than 1 billion doses of vaccine through COVAX, and it is important that we continue to do more. She is right to highlight the fact that in dealing with a global pandemic, we need to make sure that the world—the globe—is vaccinated, and I acknowledge her raising this matter.

Lucy Allan Portrait Lucy Allan (Telford) (Con)
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Further to the question from my neighbour, my right hon. Friend the Member for Ludlow (Philip Dunne), may I ask that the Minister who comes to the House to make the statement on the Ockenden review be the Secretary of State? I am in awe of the women who have come forward to that review, and it would be appropriate that it is the Secretary of State who makes the statement to the House.

Mark Spencer Portrait Mark Spencer
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I pay tribute once again to the work that my hon. Friend has done in raising this issue on many occasions. Obviously I cannot commit the Secretary of State to personally make that statement, if one is forthcoming, but I know that the Department will be keen to put it on the record and to give colleagues the opportunity to ask questions and challenge the response.

Business of the House

Debate between Lucy Allan and Mark Spencer
Thursday 10th February 2022

(2 years, 3 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Mark Spencer Portrait Mark Spencer
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I thank the hon. Gentleman for his warm words about the new Chief Whip. I, too, congratulate the Chief Whip on his appointment. He not only ran the hon. Gentleman’s campaign, but assisted the right hon. Member for South Northamptonshire (Dame Andrea Leadsom) with her bid to become leader of the Conservative party, which was equally successful.

Turning to the statutory instrument on Russian sanctions that is being laid before Parliament, clearly this is a sensitive issue. I am sure that the Foreign Secretary will keep the House informed on how the measures will be implemented and on what they are. I understand the hon. Gentleman’s desire to debate the instrument. I am sure that the Foreign Secretary will at some point update the House and the hon. Gentleman will then have the opportunity to question her.

Lucy Allan Portrait Lucy Allan (Telford) (Con)
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I warmly welcome the Leader of the House to his place. I can see that business questions on Thursday will continue to be the highlight of the week, and I thank him for that. I pay tribute to the former Leader of the House, my right hon. Friend the Member for North East Somerset (Mr Rees-Mogg). Thursday regulars will miss him, even though they might not admit to it. Members from across the House have certainly told me—

Lucy Allan Portrait Lucy Allan
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Yes, indeed. Members from across the House have told me how much they appreciate the diligence that my right hon. Friend the Member for North East Somerset showed in following up on their questions, and in highlighting their local campaigns. He was ably supported by the wonderful Leader of the House team, who we see in the Box.

Today is the last day for Members to participate in the consultation on proposed changes to standards on the conduct of MPs. Members have expressed concerns that their names could be made public and their comments used against them if they were to submit them online. Can the Leader of the House suggest a mechanism for how Members can participate in the consultation anonymously?

Mark Spencer Portrait Mark Spencer
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Let me put on record my thanks to my hon. Friend for her contributions to business questions and supporting my predecessor. It is indeed the last day for contributions to the consultation on standards. [Interruption.] The hon. Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant), the Chair of the Committee on Standards, tells me from a sedentary position that those will be taken anonymously. I encourage all colleagues to participate in that. This is an important issue on which we need to have cross-party support on how we move forward. I look forward to the findings of the Committee and debating them in future.