John BercowMain Page: John Bercow (Speaker) - Buckingham)
Department Debates - View all John Bercow's debates with the Cabinet Office
Coming from a Prime Minister who withdrew his own Bill, that seems a bit odd. My question was about somebody whose mother had died and who believes that that is because of the shortage of staff within the NHS. I had hoped that the Prime Minister would have shown some empathy and answered that question, because GP numbers are falling, there is a 43,000-nurse shortage in the NHS, and the NHS has suffered the longest spending squeeze ever in its history. The choice at this election could not be clearer. People have a chance to vote for real change after years of Conservative and Lib Dem cuts, privatisation and tax handouts for the richest. This Government have put our NHS into crisis, and this election is a once-in-a-generation chance to end privatisation in our NHS, give it the funding it needs and give it the doctors, nurses, GPs and all the other staff it needs. Despite the Prime Minister’s denials, our NHS is up for grabs by US corporations in a Trump-style trade deal. Is it not the truth—[Interruption.]
Despite the Prime Minister’s denials, the NHS is up for grabs by US corporations in a Trump trade deal. Is it not the truth—the Government may not like this—that this Government are preparing to sell out our NHS? Our health service is in more danger than at any other time in its glorious history because of the Prime Minister’s Government, his attitudes and the trade deals that he wants to strike.
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Q6. For more than 30 years, the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in Stanmore was promised a rebuild. Under a Conservative Government, we have the first phase of those medical facilities, to match the world-class treatment provided by the medical team there. However, there are two problems. The first is that the next phase is caught up in NHS bureaucracy, and the second is that two eminent non-executive directors have sadly been dismissed from the board. Can my right hon. Friend sweep away this NHS bureaucracy so that we can provide the medical facilities required, and also order an investigation into why the non-executive directors have been removed from the board by NHS London? 
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You know, Mr Speaker, I thought it was Prime Minister’s questions, not a rant from the Prime Minister. I have to say—[Interruption.]
Well, I certainly wish Mr Grant all the best for his future, because he is not coming back, like so many of the Scottish Conservatives. We hear that the Prime Minister will be coming up to Scotland in the election campaign. He will be welcome, because each time he comes to Scotland he drives up SNP support.
Scotland did not vote for Brexit and we will not have it forced upon us. Is it not clear that the Scottish National party is the only party standing up for Scotland’s interests and respecting our democratic decision to remain in the European Union? This coming election will be one of the most important in Scotland’s history. Only a vote for the SNP can secure the escape route for Scotland away from this Brexit mess, from the chaos of Westminster and from the austerity of the Tories, and protect Scotland’s right to choose our own future as an independent country in Europe.
I am sorry if I seemed to rant at the right hon. Gentleman, but if I may say so, he does rant quite a lot about independence for Scotland—he bangs on about it endlessly. Why does he go on about Scottish independence so much? It is because he wants to conceal what the SNP Government are actually doing in Scotland. They are wrecking it. They are diabolical for the Scottish economy. They have the highest taxes in the UK. They are not running either health or education well. That is why they are so monomaniacal about independence and smashing the Union.
There are some wonderful things happening in Scotland, and it is very often thanks to Scottish Conservatives, who are delivering £200 million for Scottish farmers—that is all thanks to the intercessions of Scottish Conservatives —as part of the biggest ever block grant from London to Scotland. It is Scottish Conservatives who can be relied upon, unlike any other party in Scotland—unlike Labour or the SNP—to keep the Union together: the most successful political partnership in history.
Q7. Mr Speaker, as your former Deputy Speaker, I want to say that nobody who has sat in that Chair has done more to defend and promote the rights of LGBTI people in this country and throughout the world. When so many people live in fear of being born the way they are, I salute you. Thank you.The Guardian reported last week that the largest number of happy people live in the Ribble valley, and I believe that the Prime Minister has the capacity to make them happier. Will he ensure that Ribble Valley gets its fair share of the 153 extra police who are coming to Lancashire, that we get our fair share of rural funding for health services such as the Slaidburn health centre and that we get equal funding per pupil in our schools? Finally, for the 57% who voted Brexit and for the almost 100% who believe in democracy, will he ensure that after the general election, when he is Prime Minister, he will deliver the Brexit people voted for? 
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Q2. Mr Speaker, I have never known this place without you here, and it is going to be different. It is a delight to see your children here watching today, because I know that, while you have a responsibility to Parliament, you also take your responsibilities as a parent incredibly seriously. And now to the Prime Minister.[Interruption.] Today is my son Danny’s 11th birthday. Thanks to the years of cuts voted for by the Prime Minister, my son Danny and hundreds of children in Birmingham, Yardley are in super-sized classes and are only being educated four and a half days a week. I do not want to hear his fancy stock answers about Brexit or Russia that he has been giving from his little folder or about how he is going to give more—[Interruption.] 
I do not want to hear the Prime Minister’s campaign-ad answer, because my son will not be able to go to school on Friday, and his campaign-ad answer does nothing for me as a parent. [Interruption.] I am so glad that they think it is really funny that children cannot go to school five days a week. The Prime Minister is responsible for the children in this country, and while he might struggle with that personally, will he today give a commitment that there will be a maximum number of children in every class post the election and that every single child will be able to go to school for five days a week?
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Indeed. As my right hon. and learned Friend knows, the advantage of the partnership we will build is that not only—[Interruption.] I am sure the talks will go well. We will have a zero-tariff, zero-quota arrangement with our European friends and partners. Under the current deal, which is a fantastic deal, we will also be able to do free trade deals around the world. There will be many ways in which we will stay very close to our European friends partners, but there will also be important ways in which we may seek to do things differently and better.
I have already mentioned animal welfare; I might mention tax breaks for new technology, I might mention cutting VAT on sanitary products, I might mention free ports. There are all sorts of ways to do this. I might mention different regulation on biotechnology or in many of the areas in which this country now leads the world. That is the opportunity for our country: to do a great free trade deal with our European friends and partners of a kind of which I am sure my right hon. and learned Friend would thoroughly approve, while also being a champion of free trade around the world. That is what we are going to do.
Q11. Mr Speaker, I know that everyone on this side of the House would like to associate ourselves with those comments about the Father of the House.One of the most consistent things I have seen in all my parliamentary casework is, I am afraid, too many children with special educational needs not getting the support they need. I know that their cause is something you personally support a great deal, Mr Speaker. This year, councils in England alone will overspend on their SEN budgets by more than £400 million. Even then, there is simply not enough resource in the system. How could any Government like the Prime Minister’s justify going ahead with cutting corporation tax to 18% when children with the greatest needs in this country are simply not getting what they should? 
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There will never be, because there could never be, a more eloquent and articulate Speaker than you, Mr Speaker; we will miss your style and your remarkable, encyclopaedic grasp of detail—and I will miss the literary references by the way, Mr Speaker.
Marcel Proust said the only—[Interruption.]
Marcel Proust said:
“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes”.
Hard-working British patriots who voted to leave the European Union with fresh eyes have in their sights the bourgeois liberal elite who are trying to steal Brexit from them. Will my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, as he is broadcast on the wireless and elsewhere and actually meets people in real life too in the coming days and weeks, simply evangelise this plain and straightforward message: back Brexit, back Britain, back Boris?
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Yes. I thank my hon. Friend for everything he has done to campaign on this issue. As he knows, the consultation on the new legislation was concluded only a few days ago. I can certainly give him the reassurance that we will bring forward legislation to ensure that, when there is no new evidence being provided, there are no unfair prosecutions of people who served this country faithfully and well.
Mr Speaker, I have been in Parliament for 32 years. I have seen many Speakers in the Chair and I must say you have been the best. As we say in the north-east—it’s not quite the language of the Welsh—you’re a canny laddie.
The WASPI women were given a bad deal on their pensions. Does the Prime Minister have any plans to put that wrong right?
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I thank my right hon. Friend for all the service he has given to this Government and this country. I remember vividly campaigning with him on one occasion when we were interrupted by a dog show. He has done particularly important work on conserving oceans. He has helped to ensure that this country has global leadership in establishing marine conservation areas around the planet. As you know, Mr Speaker, this country protects a vast expanse of the oceans, more than any country on earth, and it is thanks to the work of my right hon. Friend that we have put that issue at the forefront of our politics, protecting marine life and protecting not just the fish but the penguins as well. As he will know, a third of the world’s Emperor penguins are British. He has done a signal job of protecting those penguins and I thank him for it.