Madeleine Moon MP

Labour Member of Parliament for Bridgend

This Week in Parliament 25th - 29th November

This Week in Parliament 25th - 29th November

25th - 29th November:- This week I was able to lead a debate in Westminster Hall on the important subject of police procedures in dealing with people with mental health issues. It was a debate that featured contributions from MPs of all parties, and produced a lot of agreement. 

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Madeleine Moon MP
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25th - 29th November

This week I was able to lead a debate in Westminster Hall on the important subject of police procedures in dealing with people with mental health issues. It was a debate that featured contributions from MPs of all parties, and produced a lot of agreement. 

I also took the chance to make several points both on legislation to introduce mandatory plain packaging on cigarettes, and on the recent G8 summit on dementia. As well as this, there was a statement on the recent deal reached with Iran over their nuclear programme, and a Prime Minister's Questions dominated by payday loans.
Statement on Iran

Foreign Secretary William Hague came to the House to answer questions relating to the recent deal struck with Iran, that it would halt any further development of nuclear material in exchange for the weakening of economic sanctions.

Jack Straw (Blackburn, Labour): I hope that the Foreign Secretary accepts that it is crucial that the momentum is kept up. The agreements that we made between 2003 and 2006 were undermined not only by the difficulties in Tehran, but by a desperate Faustian pact that was developed between hard-liners in Tehran and hard-liners in Washington who fed off each other. That ended up with President Khatami being replaced by President Ahmadinejad. The United States helped to produce that situation.

Lastly, may I ask a question that follows on from the previous question? Will the Foreign Secretary make it clear to the Americans that if Prime Minister Netanyahu’s efforts at the United States Congress prevent President Obama from continuing with the negotiations, the UK, Germany, France and the EU will have to detach themselves from America and reach their own conclusions, along with other members of the P5?

William Hague (Foreign Secretary): I am grateful for the right hon. Gentleman’s remarks and I agree very much about the importance of maintaining momentum. It was possible to see that even over the past two weeks. The 10-day gap between the negotiations that took place two weeks ago and those this weekend brought forth a great deal of criticism in Iran, in the US Congress and elsewhere in the world that could easily have fatally complicated the efforts to reach agreement. Considering the months of work that need to go into the implementation of this agreement and into attaining a comprehensive and final agreement, it is vital to maintain the momentum all the way.

The agreements that the United States has made can all be implemented by Executive order. That does not mean that the debates in Congress are over. What happens in the US Congress is up to the United States. However, the right hon. Gentleman can be assured that the United States Administration are extremely strongly committed to this process. The leadership and persistence of Secretary Kerry were crucial in bringing about the agreement and the clarity of President Obama on the matter is clear. I do not think that we need, at this point, to start looking at the other scenarios that the right hon. Gentleman brought in of acting separately from the United States.

Sir Gerald Kaufman (Manchester Gorton, Labour):  It must be hoped that not only will this deal lead to Iran re-entering the international community, but that it will ameliorate oppressive aspects of its internal policies. Will the right hon. Gentleman point out to the Prime Minister of Israel, who yesterday said that nuclear weapons are the most dangerous weapons in the world—he should know because he has a stockpile of several hundred nuclear warheads and the missiles with which to deliver them—and who in addition refuses to sign the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, that any attempt to damage or attack the agreement in any way will be unacceptable and will be opposed?

William Hague (Foreign Secretary): As I have said, we would strongly discourage any country from seeking to undermine the agreement, but I have not seen any sign that any country will do so in any practical way. Every country in the world understands how serious that would be. Some may disapprove of the agreement, but they know it has been made by, among others, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, and that it must be given its chance. I believe it will be given its chance.
Health Questions

The Secretary of State for Health and his ministerial team answered questions relating to the Government's health policy. In particular, issues surrounding carers were raised several times with the Minister of State for Care.


Duncan Hames (Chippenham, Liberal Democrat): What steps he is taking to improve signposting to support and information for carers by health bodies and local authorities?

Norman Lamb (Minister of State for Care): The Care Bill will require local authorities to ensure that information and advice is available to their local populations, including carers, and to co-operate with health bodies in fulfilling this function. The Bill will extend carers’ rights to an assessment of their needs so that carers receive appropriate support and signposting to local services.

Duncan Hames (Chippenham, Liberal Democrat): I welcome those measures in the Care Bill to support carers, but for them to benefit from that support, they first need to be identified. It is estimated that only one in 20 carers of people with cancer, for example, receives a carer’s assessment. How does the Minister propose to get local authorities to work with the NHS and other health bodies to identify carers and ensure that their needs do not go unnoticed?

Norman Lamb (Minister of State for Care): The Care Bill will introduce a right to an assessment for all carers, which I think is an incredibly important advance for them. We are also giving money—£1.5 million—to the Royal College of General Practitioners and other bodies, including nursing bodies, to raise awareness of the vital role of carers in working with GPs to improve the care of those who need it.

Barbara Keeley (Worsley and Eccles South, Labour): I think the Minister is missing the point, though, in that carers of people with cancer do not have contact with local authorities. Macmillan Cancer Support found that half of those carers are not getting any support at all and do not know where to go for it. They do have contact, however, with GPs and hospital doctors, so what is the Minister going to do to make sure that GPs and hospital doctors identify carers and make sure that they get that support and advice?

Norman Lamb (Minister of State for Care): First, I pay tribute to the work of Macmillan. It does brilliant work, and this is a really important campaign because it will raise awareness. I do not think I am missing the point, because raising awareness among front-line professionals is critical, and local authorities will also have a duty through the Care Bill to co-operate with the health service and, of course, to integrate or join up care, all of which is in the interests of carers.

Alison McGovern (Wirral South, Labour): Carers—and, I hope, the Minister—local authorities and GPs will be distressed by this week’s report of care companies being investigated by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, almost half of which were found not to be paying the minimum wage. How does tackling that problem at the heart of our care system fit into the Minister’s plans to help support carers?

Norman Lamb (Minister of State for Care): I completely share the hon. Lady’s concern about care companies that do not pay the minimum wage. All care companies should meet their obligations in law to pay the minimum wage. HMRC has done a lot of work, focusing on the care sector, and I have been absolutely clear that there is an obligation for those care companies to meet their requirements under the national minimum wage legislation. We cannot get good care on the back of exploiting low-paid workers.

Prime Minister's Questions

Prime Minister's Questions was dominated by the news of a Government u-turn over they announced that legislation would be introduced to control and regulate the payday loan market. 

Ed Miliband (Leader of the Opposition): Following his U-turn on payday lending, can I ask the Prime Minister why he has moved in two short months from believing that intervening in broken markets is living in a “Marxist universe” to believing that it is a solemn duty of Government?

David Cameron (Prime Minister): As I have said, there are some dreadful practices that take place in the payday lending market. There are some very disturbing cases. And frankly, for 13 years, Labour did absolutely nothing about it. So I am proud of the fact that we have intervened to regulate this market properly, and we are also going to be putting in place a cap. But let me be very fair to the right hon. Gentleman: I followed very carefully his interview on “Desert Island Discs” and I think it is fair to say he is no longer a follower of Marx; he is loving Engels instead.

Ed Miliband (Leader of the Opposition): You would have thought the right hon. Gentleman would be spending his time trying to be the Prime Minister, Mr Speaker. What is surprising is that the Chancellor said, just a few weeks ago, that “attempts to fix prices…crush endeavour and blunt aspiration”. For the avoidance of doubt, can the Prime Minister reassure us that his U-turn had nothing to do with the prospect of losing a vote in Parliament the following day?

David Cameron (Prime Minister): I am sorry that the right hon. Gentleman has had a slight sense of humour failure. I do not think that is a very good start to these exchanges. I have done a little bit of research, and in three years he has never asked me a question about payday lending—not once, not a single question. I have been asked about all sorts of things. Look, it is right to intervene when markets are not working and people are getting hurt. That is what we are doing. Labour had 13 years. They looked at a cap in 2004 and they rejected it. That was when the right hon. Gentleman was working in the Treasury. We have looked at a cap. We have looked at the evidence from Australia, Florida and elsewhere. It is the right thing to do and I am proud that we are doing it.

Ed Miliband (Leader of the Opposition): Even by the right hon. Gentleman’s standards, this is a bit rich. On 22 May 2012, the Government voted against capping payday lenders; on 4 July 2011 they voted against capping payday lenders; and on 3 February 2011 they voted against capping payday lenders. We were for it; they were against it. Now clearly, he wants to claim that this is a principled decision, so can the Prime Minister explain why the Government intervening to cap the cost of credit is right, but the Government capping energy bills is communism?
Tobacco Packaging

As well as a u-turn on payday lenders, the Government announced that it would reconsider proposals for the introduction of plain packaging on cigarettes, despite ruling it out in July. I took the chance to make the point to the Health Minister that the Government needed to take action immediately instead of delaying any further. This was in contrast to Conservative MP Philip Davies.

Philip Davies (Shipley, Conservative): Idiotic, nanny state proposals such as the plain packaging of tobacco are what we expect from the Labour Party. What we expect from Conservative Ministers is for them to believe in individual freedom and individual responsibility, and to stand up to the health zealots and nanny state brigade who, if they could, would ban everything and have everything in plain packaging. Will the Minister commit to sticking to those Conservative principles and to ignoring the nanny state brigade of Labour Members?

Jane Ellison (Minister of State for Health): I know my hon. Friend feels strongly about this issue, but nobody is banning anything. Were the Government to proceed following receipt of the review, the proposal would be about packaging, not the ability to purchase tobacco. All the sorts of points that my hon. Friend has often articulated were well made during the consultation, which, as he knows, received an enormous response, and all the responses will be made available to Sir Cyril.

Mrs Madeleine Moon (Bridgend, Labour): Some 190 health organisations recognise that plain packaging will cut smoking, particularly among the young, and have urged action. Is this not just a further delay while the Government get their house in order so that they know how and when to introduce the legislation that is so urgently needed?

Jane Ellison (Minister of State for Health): The hon. Lady is right to say that many charities feel strongly about this issue and I was pleased that the chief executive for Action on Smoking and Health said this morning: “This decision is a victory for public health, for common sense and for future generations”.

Policing and Mental Health Debate

I led a debate in Westminster Hall on the topic of “police procedures in dealing with mental health issues”, specifically relating to how police officers are being expected to help those with mental health problems without the appropriate training. The entire debate, which featured a number of salient contributions from MPs from all parties, is available below.
Debate on Dementia

The final business on the Thursday concerned a backbench debate on the G8's recent summit on dementia and its findings. I made several points in the debate, as a number of very pertinent cases were raised by MPs from all parties.

Mrs Madeleine Moon (Bridgend) (Lab): Does the hon. Lady agree that part of the problem is the fact that we use the term “dementia” as if it is just one thing? There are many dementias and we must not focus just on Alzheimer’s. We must be aware of front temporal dementias, which affect younger people in particular, and ensure there is funding for research into that.

Tracey Crouch (Chatham and Aylesford, Conservative): I agree entirely. This is something that blights many conditions, including cancer. We talk about cancer investment, but there is little or no research funding for some cancers. Mesothelioma is a classic example, about which there is a debate on Monday.

Hazel Blears (Salford and Eccles, Labour): On the research side, I am delighted to say that tomorrow, Salford University will launch the Salford Institute for Dementia, bringing together the faculty of health and social care with departments dealing with the built environment, computers, IT, arts and media—showing the multidisciplinary approach that will apply. That group will draw together and disseminate research on living well with dementia. I think this is a fabulous academic development.

Madeleine Moon (Bridgend, Labour): I cannot say how much I admire my right hon. Friend’s championing of this cause. When it comes to universities, there are examples of research that have focused on ideas for prevention. We heard yesterday from Professor A. David Smith from Oxford about the vitamin B6 and B12 levels as a means of achieving this. Currently, it is not possible within the health service to have a test of homocysteine levels that would help to identify the problem. Could we not put that prevention in place; should we not be doing that now?

Hazel Blears (Salford and Eccles, Labour): My hon. Friend is absolutely right. I was horrified to learn yesterday that only 0.1% of research on dementia is spent on prevention. In every other area of public policy, such as education and social mobility, we are aware of the importance of investing in prevention, but in this area there is virtually no grant support, and that must change. I understand that in Norway and Sweden, tests for dementia are the norm. They are cheap once the investment has been made in the equipment, and the vitamin B12 research looks extremely promising. I hope that when the Minister responds he will say that that is something that our own national health service should take up.

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