Madeleine Moon MP

Labour Member of Parliament for Bridgend

This Week in Parliament 7th - 11th July

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A very busy week. I had three meetings to the House of Commons Defence Committee, chaired three meetings for an All-Party Parliamentary Group Inquiry, I spoke in a Westminster Hall Debate on organ donation, and I was able to contribute to Monday's statement about child abuse. 

Thursday also saw the introduction of a Data Bill that will be accelerated through Parliament before recess; the Government intends to have it passed before next Wednesday. If anybody has any opinions about this, please get in touch before the debate on Tuesday.

Child Abuse Statement


Yvette Cooper (Shadow Home Secretary): Child abuse is a terrible, devastating crime that traumatises children when they are at their most vulnerable and ruins lives. Perpetrators need to be stopped and brought to justice. Too often, the system has failed young victims, not hearing or believing them when they cried out for help, and failing to protect them from those who sought to harm them. There have been particularly troubling cases of abuse involving powerful people and celebrities, and the failure of institutions to act. As Members in all parts of the House and from all parties have made clear, when allegations go to the heart of Whitehall or Westminster, it is even more important to demonstrate that strong action will be taken to find out the truth and get justice for the victims.

The Home Secretary is right to announce today that she has changed her position on and response to child abuse, but I want to press her on the detail. We need three things: justice and support for victims; the truth about what happened and how the Home Office and others responded; and stronger child protection and reforms for the future. Any allegation that a child was abused, even decades ago, must be thoroughly investigated by the police. Will she tell us whether all the allegations uncovered or put forward in any of these investigations will be covered by Operation Fernbridge? Will the files that she said had been passed to the police go to Operation Fernbridge? We understand that it has only seven full-time officers working on it. Does she think that they have the resources and investigators they need? She referred to the importance of prosecutions when there have been child sexual offences. She will know that prosecutions have dropped in recent years. Does she believe that that is cause for concern, when recorded offences have increased?

Secondly, we need to know what happened when the allegations were first made decades ago. The Home Secretary will know that former Cabinet Ministers have said that there may have been a cover-up. The previous response from the Home Office was not adequate; the 2013 review to which she referred was not announced to Parliament, did not reveal that more than 100 files had gone missing, and has never been published. Will she tell the House whether she or other Ministers saw that review, and whether they were told about the missing files?

I welcome the involvement of Peter Wanless, who is well respected, but will the Home Secretary clarify whether this is simply a review of a review, or whether it will look again at the original material? Will this review have the power to call for further information, range more widely, and interview witnesses if necessary? She talked about publication of the review; does she mean the original 2013 review, the new review, or both? It would be very helpful to have transparency.

Thirdly, as the Home Secretary will know, I raised the issue of the need for an overarching inquiry directly with her in Parliament 18 months ago, when she made a statement about abuse in care homes in North Wales. She and the Prime Minister rejected the need for such an inquiry at the time, but I welcome her agreement to it now. There is currently a range of reviews and investigations in care homes, the BBC, the NHS and now in the Home Office. Also, more recently, there is an inquiry into events in Rochdale and Rotherham. At their heart, they all have a similar problem: child victims were not listened to, heard or protected, and too many institutions let children down. Reform of those individual institutions must not be delayed, but isolated reforms are not enough. An inquiry needs to draw together the full picture to look at the institutional failures of the past and to examine the child protection systems that we have in place that may continue to fail children today. An inquiry must also be able to take evidence from the public, in public, as the Hillsborough review was able to do. I welcome her comments on that and her decision to keep under review whether an inquiry has the powers it needs and whether a public inquiry is needed.

An inquiry must also cover the child protection system in operation today. The Home Secretary’s answer in Question Time to my question on the 75% drop in the number of criminals barred from working with children suggests that the Home Office is still too complacent in that area. I urge her to include the vetting and barring system and the current child protection system in the overarching review. It is important that we do not have systems in place that store up future child protection problems.

The cases that have emerged involving child abuse and sexual assaults by high-profile, powerful people and celebrities have been deeply disturbing, as has the failure of the system to stop them and to protect children and young people today. Previously, the Home Office had not done enough to respond, but I welcome the further steps that the Home Secretary has announced today. She will understand that that is why we seek assurances that the investigations will now be strong enough. She and I will agree that we need justice for victims, the truth about what happened and a stronger system of child protection for the future. People need to have confidence that the process will deliver justice for past victims and protect children in the future.

Theresa May (Home Secretary): The right honourable Lady shares my concern to ensure that we have proper safeguards and protection for children in the future and that not only are lessons learned but that action is taken as a result of those lessons being learned following the various reviews into both historical and more recent cases of child sexual exploitation.

The right honourable Lady asked whether all the matters that are felt to be for the police to investigate will be matters for Operation Fernbridge. Actually, a number of investigations are taking place across the country into historical cases of child abuse; it is not appropriate that all those investigations will be in relation to Operation Fernbridge. The National Crime Agency, for example, is leading on Operation Pallial, which is the investigation into potential sexual abuse in children’s care homes in north Wales, and other investigations are taking place elsewhere. All allegations do not necessarily go to a single force; they go to whichever force is the most appropriate to deal with the particular cases and to ensure that people can be brought to justice.

The right honourable Lady asked about the number of prosecutions and offences, which is a matter that is most properly for my right honourable and learned Friend, the Attorney-General, but she will have noticed that he is on the Treasury Bench and has noted her comments. My right honourable Friend, the Minister for Policing, Criminal Justice and Victims, answered a Parliamentary Question in 2013—in October 2013, I think—in which reference was made to the missing 114 files.

The Shadow Home Secretary asked what I had seen as Home Secretary. I saw the executive summary of both the interim report and the final report commissioned by Mark Sedwill. I did not see the full report for very good reason: the matters that lay behind the report were allegations that senior Members of Parliament—and, in particular, senior Conservative Members of Parliament —may have been involved in those activities. I therefore thought that it was absolutely right and proper that the commissioning of the investigation and the work that was done should be led by the Permanent Secretary at the Home Office, not by a Conservative politician.

The right honourable Lady asked a number of questions about lessons learnt. Some of those lessons are already being acted on. As I mentioned, the national group that my honourable Friend the Minister for Crime Prevention is leading has already brought forward proposals on how the police and prosecutors could better handle these matters, and it will continue with its work. That will of course feed into the work of the wider inquiry panel that I am setting up. I want it to look widely at the question of the protection of children. I want it to ensure that we can be confident that in future people will not look back to today and say, “If only they had introduced this measure or that measure.” We must ensure that the lessons that come out of the various reviews that are taking place are not only properly learned, but acted on.



Madeleine Moon (Bridgend, Labour): In the early 1980s, I was working in child protection in South Wales, and rumours such as those that have been circulating this weekend were also circulating then. Many of the people who were working in child protection in the 1980s have now retired. Will there be a confidential access line to enable such people to come forward and reveal what they saw happening at the time? Such material might not be suitable for a police inquiry, but it might well help to build a picture of what was prevalent then and of what engagement took place between the police and other authorities and those who had concerns about children being picked up at the end of the lane in large cars but found that they could get nowhere with those concerns.

Theresa May (Home Secretary): It is precisely in order to learn the lessons that we need to know what was going on, and the inquiry is obviously going to have to look quite widely in order to find that out. It will have to look at the documentary evidence from the reviews that have taken place. I do not want to dictate to the inquiry what it should do or how it should undertake its work, but I am sure that the chairman and the panel will be alive to the fact that, in order to get to the truth, they will need to hear from those who have felt unable to speak out in the past.

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmhansrd/cm140707/debtext/140707-0002.htm

Tuesday

Deputy Prime Minister's Questions
 

Charlotte Leslie (Bristol North West, Conservative): May I take the opportunity to welcome the “devolution revolution” represented in the growth fund announcement yesterday? Specifically, the announcement about the Henbury line—after a lot of pestering it shows that pester power can work—is very welcome. For local residents, having a loop line soon is an absolute priority, before housing in north Bristol creates absolute gridlock. Will the Deputy Prime Minister work with the local enterprise partnership to ensure that the public’s priorities are represented in the LEP’s priorities?

Nick Clegg (Deputy Prime Minister): First, I am very grateful to the honourable Lady for the phrase “devolution revolution”. We should have used that yesterday—it would, perhaps, have given us even more coverage. On the Henbury loop line, she is right to say that this has been warmly welcomed by the local community. I pay tribute to all the work she has done to make sure that that is the case. In terms of the plans the local enterprise partnership comes up with, the whole point of LEPs is precisely that they speak on behalf of the community and that they do not represent a top-down quango approach. My understanding is that as part of the growth deal with the west of England, we have agreed to co-invest in several jointly agreed priorities, including the MetroWest project, which reflect local needs and local wishes.

Harriet Harman (Shadow Deputy Prime Minister): With more people going to A and E, not least because of the difficulty of seeing their GP, the average time people spend in A and E has gone up, not down, despite what the Prime Minister tried to claim last week. Last year, nearly 1 million patients had to wait more than four hours in A and E—the worst year in a decade. Is the Deputy Prime Minister, like the Prime Minister, just going to deny this, or will he get his Government to do something about it?

Nick Clegg (Deputy Prime Minister): What I find so curious about the right honourable and learned Lady’s line of questioning is that it comes from the party of Mid Staffs and the party that doubled the number of managers. This is the party that refused to commit to the £12.7 billion funding increase that this Government put into the NHS. Above all, it was her Government who entered into outrageous sweetheart deals with the private sector that meant that a quarter of a billion pounds of taxpayers’ money was handed over to private sector health providers without helping a single NHS patient.

Of course we need to work hard to support our A and E services. They are under greater pressure than ever before, but her party’s approach—cutting the budget, employing more managers and not more nurses, and handing out sweetheart deals to the private sector—is not the way to do it.

Harriet Harman (Shadow Deputy Prime Minister): Does the right honourable Gentleman really think that the terrible things that happened in Mid Staffs were representative of the situation in our fantastic NHS as a whole? Shame on him! People will see that there is no chance of the Government sorting out the problems in A and E when they are just intent on pretending there is no problem. It is the same old story when the Tories are in power: the NHS is undermined and people suffer. Does he realise that his plan to differentiate his party from the Tories is doomed to fail while he is supporting the Tories on the NHS every step of the way and smearing the NHS as well?

Nick Clegg (Deputy Prime Minister): If the right honourable and learned Lady’s Government were not responsible for Mid Staffs, which Government were? They were in power at the time. The reports made it quite clear that it was because of the manic approach to targets that health professionals in Mid Staffs and elsewhere were taking such false decisions. Does she deny that her party still has not supported our budget increase for the NHS? Does she still deny that it was her Government who gave sweetheart deals to the private sector, and imposed botched privatisation and competition on the NHS? We do not need to take any lectures from her on the NHS.

Dennis Skinner (Bolsover, Labour): When is this coalition going to start breaking up? It is obvious that we have only nine months left for an election. At some point, the Deputy Prime Minister will have to make some announcement from that Box to say that it is breaking up.

I have an idea. There is a big march on Thursday, against pay levels, the wage freeze and everything else. Students will be on the march. The Deputy Prime Minister could join them. He could imagine that it is five years ago—he could take his little pledge card and promise them the moon. When is he going to do it?

Nick Clegg (Deputy Prime Minister): I still marvel and admire the zeal and energy with which the honourable Gentleman delivers every question—well, they are not questions really; they are a sort of outpouring of bile. This Government will see the course through to the end of this Parliament. We have legislated for a fixed-term Parliament. That is an important constitutional innovation. As I said earlier, I personally think that coalition Governments of different compositions are more likely in future. That is why, among many other reasons, it is important that we do what we say and see through this Parliament from end to end until May 2015.

Mr Speaker: It is my ambition one day to be as youthful and dynamic as the honourable Member for Bolsover.

Peter Bone (Wellingborough, Conservative): I understand that, to strengthen the coalition, there may be a reshuffle on Monday. How does that work? Does the Deputy Prime Minister have specific posts that he appoints, such as the post of Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills? Can he appoint only Liberal Democrats to those posts, or can he approach other Members? If so, does he have my mobile telephone number?

Nick Clegg (Deputy Prime Minister): There is no better way to finish Deputy Prime Minister’s questions than with the honourable Members for Bolsover and for Wellingborough. I am afraid I do not have the mobile telephone number of the honourable Member for Wellingborough. I am not going to ask for it; I hope he does not take that too badly. He is a versatile politician, but I do not think in anyone’s wildest imaginings he could ever approximate a decent Liberal Democrat.

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmhansrd/cm140708/debtext/140708-0001.htm#14070865000019

Organ Donation Debate

Madeleine Moon (Bridgend, Labour): I well remember watching the television as a child in 1967, hearing the news of Dr Christian Barnard’s first heart transplant and being absolutely amazed. It seemed like something out of a science fiction book, yet we have moved in a relatively short space of time so much further forward. The one area, however, where we have not moved forward is public recognition of the essential part they have to play in donating a life. We have to raise awareness of that and of transplantation’s possibility and viability. Government and surgeons can only do so much; the public are the vital missing component.

We have, as has been said, a large percentage of public buy-in to the concept of transplantation. Some 97% agree with it, but only 30% carry donor cards. I follow the honourable Member for Montgomeryshire, and he and I co-chair the all-party kidney group. That statistic is important, since those awaiting a kidney are the largest group of people requiring a transplant. Some 5,640 people are awaiting transplants. Since April this year, 457 people have received kidneys from deceased donors and 158 have received kidneys from living donors. Those who are still waiting and their families and friends are deeply worried that a donor will not be found in time. In the meantime, they face kidney dialysis, which is a lifesaving but traumatic event. For many, it happens three or four times a week, and their life is on hold.

I disagree with the honourable Gentleman on the initiative taking place in Wales. People frequently say things are half the size of Wales or have twice the population of Wales. We are always used as a measure, but I have long felt that we are a nation of 3 million people that has huge potential for trying new ideas and huge opportunities for breaking new ground. In Wales, 56 people were donors in 2012-13, enabling 211 organ transplants to take place. Some 200 people are on the waiting list in Wales. We have to look at anything that makes a difference. We are a small country and we have to be creative.

The Human Transplantation (Wales) Act 2013 comes into effect on 1 December 2015. Will it make a difference? It provides an opportunity to learn a lesson, not just for Wales, but for the whole of the United Kingdom and, hopefully, the whole European Union and the whole world. I held a debate in Archbishop McGrath, which is one of my local Catholic schools, and the students chose the subject. They wanted to debate it. As young people, they felt that the issue affected them. What was interesting was that over and over again, issues came up where we have to be up front politically and enter into the debate. There was a fear about harvesting and people being allowed to die because surgeons wanted their organs. They were shocked to find, when they did their research, that in reality someone has to die to be an organ donor, in the right way, at the right pace and in the right place at the right time. The best place to be an organ donor—or the worst place, depending how one looks at it—is a high dependency unit, because there is an idea of when someone will die and there can be time to find the person who needs to receive the organs, an available surgeon and an operating theatre.

I reiterate the issues raised by my honourable Friend the Member for Bristol East (Kerry McCarthy) on psychological preparedness, which we do not highlight enough. There is huge stress and strain on people waiting for an organ. Sometimes, when the day arrives, they cannot face it. They feel terror at the change in their life. People have minutes in which to respond, and we should not underestimate how traumatic that can be, or how traumatic survivor guilt can be, whether that is for the person who died so they can live or for those still on the waiting list. The person taken off the list has a chance to live, while others were turned down.

I will briefly talk about some constituents. Jean Schofield gave her kidney for her son, Mark, who has now had three transplants. It is not necessarily just one transplant that is needed; some people need a lot more. Her fear and anxiety over her son has made her a driven fundraiser. She is an absolutely amazing example of how people can give their energies to organ donation and to fundraising for research and support for those who suffer.

Katy Lloyd, who is 24 and from Bridgend, has cystic fibrosis, which was identified when she was four months old. I cannot begin to understand what her family must have lived with knowing that she would eventually need a double lung transplant. The tension and fear experienced by her parents every time she had a cold or fell ill must have been horrific. Following her transplant, Katy said, “I didn’t think about it. It was all I’d ever known.” Imagine if all you had ever known was that one day you would need to face such an operation and that your life was on hold. She has made a fantastic recovery and is a great example of the difference that an organ transplant can make.

Judith French, a great friend of mine, has polycystic kidney disease. Polycystic kidneys cannot be removed during transplants and continue to grow. She was unable to leave the house and had a frequent, urgent need to be near a bathroom. The transplant was wonderful, but she still has large and growing polycystic kidneys, which is like carrying around a big bag of potatoes. She has high blood pressure, a swollen stomach and back problems, but she was refused access to benefits because she had had her transplant. We must consider how the benefits system recognises that transplants do not necessarily end the difficulties that some patients face and that they may still need support.

Andy Eddy, whom I recently met at an all-party group meeting, is 48 and married with two children aged 11 and 13. He was a practising solicitor and was advised to have a hepatitis C injection. An unknown genetic defect meant that the inoculation—a positive step to protect his health—actually led to the destruction of his liver. He had liver disease and liver failure and faced a long, horrific wait on the transplant list while his health declined. His life has been turned around following his transplant. He joined the British transplant games as a volunteer, winning one silver and three bronze medals, and is now chair of Transplant Sport. I have written to the Minister about the games, because they should be held at the same time as national transplant week, because they help to show the difference that can be made by a donation. Someone can be taken from death’s door to athlete. That is how big the change can be and that is what we must ensure that people understand. Finally, it is vital that we get the message out about the need for conversations about one’s wish to be a donor. Talk to your family today about what you want. 

My husband has a motor neurone condition called Pick’s disease and I have power of attorney over his health. We went to see a consultant, who asked me, “On death, would you be willing for your husband’s brain to be donated for medical research?” I can still feel the shock at being asked that question. I said, “My husband still has the capability to make that decision. I want him to make it.” He said, “I want to do it.” I cannot imagine having that conversation at the point of his death. Such conversations must happen now while people are fit and healthy and they must be stark and serious. That is what I want to come out of today’s debate. I want families around Britain to be having those conversations, so we do not get refusals when people are carrying donor cards.

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmhansrd/cm140708/halltext/140708h0001.htm#14070866000001

Wednesday

Prime Minister's Questions
 

Ed Miliband (Leader of the Opposition): I join the Prime Minister in paying tribute to the way in which the organisers, the cyclists and the millions of fans made the Tour de France such a brilliant success for Britain. I was proud to be watching it on the streets, as I know he was. I was in Leeds with the hundreds of thousands of people who were lining the streets.

All of us have been horrified by the instances of child abuse that have been uncovered, and the further allegations that have been made. All the victims of child abuse are not just owed justice, but owed an apology for the fact that it took so long for their cries to be heard. Does the Prime Minister agree that all inquiries, including those conducted by the police and those that he has set up, must go wherever the evidence leads them—in whatever institution in the country, including our own—to get at what happened?

David Cameron (Prime Minister): I absolutely agree with the right honourable Gentleman. Child abuse is a despicable crime, and the victims live with the horror for the rest of their lives. It is absolutely essential that—in the two inquiries announced by the Home Secretary, and, indeed, in the vital police inquiries that are being carried out—no stone is left unturned.

The horror of the Jimmy Savile and Rolf Harris cases just shows what people were able to get away with. It was almost that on occasion they were committing crimes in plain sight, and it took far too long to get to the bottom of what happened and for justice to be done, and that is absolutely what this Government are committed to achieving.

Ed Miliband (Leader of the Opposition): On the issue of the 114 missing files at the Home Office, can the Prime Minister clarify when Ministers were first informed about this and what action they took? Does he agree that the review by Peter Wanless cannot be simply a review into the original review, but must seek to discover what happened to the files, who knew what about the files, and whether information was covered up, and that the Wanless review must also have full investigative powers?

David Cameron (Prime Minister): It was a Parliamentary Question last October that revealed the points about the 2013 inquiry, but what I would say to the right honourable Gentleman is that it is absolutely vital that Peter Wanless, who has an excellent record in this regard and will carry out the review in absolutely the right way, has all the powers he needs. Let us be absolutely clear: if he wants more powers, and if that inquiry wants greater powers and ability, they can absolutely ask for it. As the right honourable Gentleman says, the inquiry must go exactly where the evidence leads. We are determined to get to the bottom of what happened.

Ed Miliband (Leader of the Opposition): I agree that the most important thing is to clarify what actually happened to the files and why they went missing. I welcome the overarching inquiry that has also been set up by the Home Secretary. Can the Prime Minister say more about the terms of reference of that inquiry? Will he consider the very sensible recommendations made today by Peter Wanless around making the covering up of abuse a criminal offence and ensuring that there is an obligation on institutions to report abuse where it occurs?

David Cameron (Prime Minister): Taking the right honourable Gentleman’s second point first: should we change the law so that there is a requirement to report and make it a criminal offence not to report? The Government are currently looking at that, and both reviews will be able to examine that point and advise us accordingly. I think it may well be time to take that sort of first step forward.

On the issue of the terms of reference of the wider lessons learned review, we are discussing those at the moment; we are very happy to take suggestions from other parties in this House. A number of inquiries are being carried out into specific hospitals, including the Savile inquiries; there is the inquiry taking place within the BBC; and there other inquiries, including into Welsh children’s homes. The main aim and what is vital, as I have said before, is that the Government learn all the lessons of this review. Where the Elizabeth Butler-Sloss review can really help is by having a panel of experts who can advise us about all the things that need to change in all these institutions—for instance the Church; for instance the BBC; for instance the NHS; but also, if necessary, in this place and in Government, too.

Ed Miliband (Leader of the Opposition): I welcome what the Prime Minister said and clearly cultural change in this is absolutely crucial in all institutions. I want to turn to another matter: the health service. Last week the Prime Minister said that waiting times in accident and emergency had gone down, but within 24 hours the House of Commons Library had called him out. Average A and E waiting times have gone up. Will he now correct the record?

David Cameron (Prime Minister): What I said last week at Prime Minister’s questions is absolutely right, and if the right honourable Gentleman goes on the website of the organisation I quoted from he will see that. Also, if you remember, Mr Speaker, at the end of Prime Minister’s questions there were some points of order and I said very specifically that “the numbers waiting longer than 18, 26 and 52 weeks to start treatment are lower than they were at any time under the last Government.”

That was directly contradicted by the Shadow Health Secretary, and I just want to give the figures to the House now so people can see that I got my facts right. So, in April 2010 there were 217,000 people waiting over 18 weeks; it is now 186,000—lower. In March 2010 there were 92,000 people waiting 26 weeks for treatment; it is now 59,000—lower. And in terms of waiting 52 weeks —52 weeks!—for treatment, in April 2010 there were 21,000 people waiting that long; the figure now is 510—lower.

Ed Miliband (Leader of the Opposition): It is very obvious that the Prime Minister does not want to talk about what he said on accident and emergency, where the House of Commons called him out. Let us go to the common-sense definition of a waiting time in A and E. It is not how long someone waits to be assessed; it is the time between arriving at the A and E and leaving it. The number of people waiting more than four hours is at its highest level in a decade. Why does the Prime Minister not just admit the truth, which everybody in the country knows? People are waiting longer in A and E.

David Cameron (Prime Minister): The figures I gave last week are absolutely correct, and they are published by the Health & Social Care Information Centre: the average waiting time was 77 minutes when the Shadow Health Secretary was Health Secretary and it is now 30 minutes. The fact is that we can trade statistics across the Floor of the House, but I am absolutely clear that the health service is getting better. There is a reason why it is getting better: we took two big strategic decisions. We said let us put more money into the NHS—the Opposition said that was irresponsible; and we said cut the bureaucracy in the NHS, which they wanted to keep. That is why there are 7,000 more doctors and 4,000 more nurses, and why the Leader of the Opposition has made a massive mistake by keeping a failing Health Secretary as the Shadow Health Secretary.

Ed Miliband (Leader of the Opposition): I would far rather have the Shadow Health Secretary than the Government’s Health Secretary any day of the week. I will tell the Prime Minister what has happened in the health service. We had a top-down reorganisation that nobody wanted and nobody voted for, and it has diverted billions of pounds away from patient care. The contrast we see is between the complacent claims of the Prime Minister and people’s everyday experience. People are spending longer in A and E, and hospital A and Es have missed their four-hour target for the last 50 weeks in a row. While he tries to pretend things are getting better, patients, NHS staff and the public can see it getting worse right before their eyes.

David Cameron (Prime Minister): The right honourable Gentleman still has to defend the man who presided over the Mid Staffs disgrace, where standards of patient care were so bad that patients were drinking out of dirty vases because of standards in Labour’s NHS. The point is this: the reason we have been able to cut bureaucracy and the reason we have been able to put more money into the NHS is that we have taken difficult decisions, including having a 1% pay cap in the NHS. Of course, Labour said it would support that, but this week it has decided that it will back strikes instead. I have here the Labour briefing on strikes, which says, “Do we support strikes? No. Will we condemn strikes? No.” There we have it: that is his leadership summed up in one go. Have the Opposition got a plan for the NHS? No. Have they got a plan for our economy? No. Is he remotely up to the job? No.

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmhansrd/cm140709/debtext/140709-0001.htm#14070955000005

Thursday

Business Questions
 

Angela Eagle (Shadow Leader of the House of Commons): We now have the business until the summer recess. After six weeks of legislative lethargy, just like buses, all the Government’s Queen’s Speech legislation has come along at once, with 25% of it in just five days. On Monday we will debate the Childcare Payments Bill. Nursery costs have risen five times faster than wages since the election, but the Government have done nothing, and this Bill will not come into force until after the next election. Will the Leader of the House tell us why the Government will not support our plans to extend free child care from 15 hours to 25 hours? And will he tell us why with this Government it is always too little too late?

On Wednesday, we will debate the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill, which bears an eerie resemblance to the Deregulation Bill as it features such a random assortment of issues that virtually any new clause the Government care to produce is within its scope. Will the Leader of the House now give me a cast-iron assurance that the Government have no intention of tabling 45 new clauses and leaving just 43 minutes to debate them, as they did during the passage of the Deregulation Bill in the Commons? Will he tell us why the Governments do not back our plans to provide certainty for people working regular hours on a zero-hours contract?

A week on Monday, we will debate the Social Action, Responsibility and Heroism Bill, which has a title that is longer than its contents. The Government really are living in a parallel universe. The Passport Office has tried to claim that everything is okay, but it is still struggling with a backlog of half a million applications. The Prime Minister tried to claim that the NHS is getting better when it is actually getting worse and then we had the spectacle of the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions being dragged to the House surreptitiously to confirm while appearing to deny that the business case for the implementation of universal credit is yet to be signed off by the Treasury. The Secretary of State denied on the Floor of the House yesterday that the Treasury had ever questioned the financial viability of the business case for his pet project, but on Monday the Cabinet Secretary, Sir Jeremy Heywood, said that the Treasury played a role “in bringing to the Secretary of State’s attention that the project was way off track.”

That directly contradicts what the Secretary of State said yesterday and both cannot be true, so which is true? As the population ages, more people are in need of care, but this week figures show that the number of people receiving care has fallen by 5% in the past year alone. A report from the Public Accounts Committee warns today that despite the squeeze in adult social care, the Government do not appreciate the scale of the challenge. I was therefore surprised to read an e-mail from the Liberal Democrat Education Minister to party members that laments that “almost half of all carers are cutting back on essentials like food and heating.”

He fails to mention that that is because his Government have cut £3.5 billion from care services. The Deputy Prime Minister told the Radio Times this week that it takes a “steely side” and thick skin to get on in politics, but he failed to admit that Liberal Democrats also need two faces. I understand that Liberal Democrat MPs have been sent to Bedfordshire for survival training. At least they are finally admitting that they are an endangered species teetering on the verge of extinction.

This week, the Financial Times has revealed that the majority of candidates selected to replace retiring Tory MPs are white male Eurosceptics. In South Suffolk, the long list contained seven women but the shortlist was made up of three men. A former leader of the UK Independence party will contest South Thanet for the Tories. It has gone from the A-list to the Tea party. This week, the honourable Member for Hexham—a Conservative Member—admitted that he keeps the Prime Minister off his leaflets, that no one wants to keep hearing about Europe and that it is so lonely being a northern Tory that their regional group could meet in a lift. Where does that leave the Liberal Democrats?

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmhansrd/cm140710/debtext/140710-0001.htm#14071054000011

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