20 APR 2017

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: Food and Drink Sector

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health Committee

The fishing industry is vitally important to my constituency. Will the Minister update fishers there and around the UK about if, and when, the Government will trigger their intention to withdraw from the 1964 London fisheries convention?

 

George EusticeThe Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

My hon. Friend makes an important point: there is a 1964 London fisheries convention which has access arrangements for a number of countries. As we have made clear on numerous occasions, we are looking at this very closely, and, as the Prime Minister said just two weeks ago, we hope to be able to say something on this shortly.

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18 APR 2017

Syria and North Korea

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health Committee

Given the vile propaganda role of Asma al-Assad in propping up a murderous and barbaric war criminal, will the Foreign Secretary update the House as to what discussions he has had with the Home Secretary so that we can send a very clear message that such a role is incompatible with British citizenship?

Boris JohnsonSecretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

We do not discuss individual citizenship cases, as I am sure my hon. Friend knows, although I understand the feelings she is expressing. What I can tell her is that Asma al-Assad, in common with her husband, is certainly on the sanctions list.

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29 MAR 2017

Article 50

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health Committee

I welcome the Prime Minister's clear commitment to a positive, constructive and respectful approach to the negotiations that lie ahead. May I press her further on behalf of the fishing community in my constituency and around the United Kingdom? She will know that in the past these people have been badly let down during negotiations, so will she give an equally clear commitment that the fishing community will receive a sufficiently high priority during the negotiations ahead?

Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

I can confirm to my hon. Friend that we are very conscious of the needs of the fishing industry. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has been talking to the fishing industry. The Secretary of State and others have been looking carefully at the arrangements that will need to be put in place in the interests of the fishing industry, and that will be an important part of our considerations in future.

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27 MAR 2017

NHS: Reorganisation

Written Answer

Sarah Wollaston MP for Totnes

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, which sustainability and transformation plans contain no mechanism for engaging schools and colleges as active stakeholders.

David Mowat Under Secretary of State at the Department of Health

This information is not held centrally. Local areas are responsible for engaging with the staff, patients and the public, as well as organisations which may include schools and colleges, to further develop their plans.

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24 MAR 2017

Soft Drinks Levy

Written Answer

Sarah Wollaston Chair of the Health Select Committee

To ask Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of using money raised from the Soft Drinks Industry Levy to support (a) nursery schools and (b) private nurseries in accessing the Children's Food Trust accreditation scheme; and if he will make a statement.

This question was grouped with the following question for answer:

To ask Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he has assessed the potential merits of using money raised through the Soft Drinks Industry Levy to extend the free school meals scheme to (a) nursery schools and (b) private nurseries; and if he will make a statement.

Jane Ellison: Financial Secretary to the Treasury

The Government has already confirmed that, in England, we will invest the £1 billion revenue we originally forecast from the Soft Drinks Industry Levy during this parliament in giving school-aged children a better and healthier future, including through doubling the primary school PE and sport premium and expanding school breakfast clubs. The Secretary of State for Education recently set out further details on this, including £415m for a new healthy pupils capital programme. The Department for Education will set out more detail in due course.

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22 MAR 2017

NHS: Reorganisation

Written Answer

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, how many of the groups responsible for each of the 44 sustainability and transformation plans are consulting with schools and colleges in the development of those plans.

David Mowat The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health

Local areas are responsible for engaging with the staff, patients and the public, as well as organisations which may include schools and colleges. This information is not held centrally.

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21 MAR 2017

Education: Schools: Transport

Written Answer

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if she will publish a list of school transport plans with no mechanism for engaging schools and colleges as active stakeholders.

Caroline DinenageThe Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

The statutory responsibility for transport to education and training for children of compulsory school age and for 16 to 19 year olds rests with local authorities, enabling them to make decisions which best match local needs and circumstances.

Local authorities are required to consult a range of stakeholders including schools and colleges about their post-16 transport policies. When developing transport policies for children of compulsory school age statutory guidance strongly encourages local authorities to consult.

Local authorities publish transport policies for school age children and post-16 young people on their websites. The department does not assess these to determine the extent to which local authorities meet these expectations for consultation. Links to post-16 transport policies can be found at www.gov.uk/subsidised-college-transport-16-19.

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21 MAR 2017

DVLA and Private Parking Companies

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health Committee

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Ms Dorries, and it is a real pleasure to follow my hon. Friend Mr Rees-Mogg and the compelling points he made. I thank my neighbour, my hon. Friend Kevin Foster, for securing the debate. In the short time left, I will touch on unreasonable practices and appeals and make a few further points following on from my hon. Friend the Member for North East Somerset.

There are highly unreasonable practices going on. We have heard many Members give examples. In my area, Premier Parking Solutions, to which my hon. Friend the Member for Torbay referred, has a particular problem with its machines, which is affecting many individuals, particularly when number plate recognition is used in combination with a requirement to enter the vehicle's number plate manually. In many cases, the machines do not record the first number of that registration plate.

The issue is that, because number plate recognition is being used, individuals do not receive a notification until about 10 days to two weeks later, by which time most reasonable people, having parked legally and paid the correct amount, will have discarded the clutter from their windscreen—I do not take much joy in tidying my car, so that would not affect me. Even if individuals have retained their ticket and can clearly prove that there has been an honest error, they find their appeals are not being upheld.

The other problem we have is the disincentive to appeal, because those who appeal have to pay a higher charge if their appeal fails—and fail it will. I have a series of clear cases from individuals who can demonstrate—I suggest to the Minister it is beyond any reasonable doubt—that they have legally parked, fully paid the correct amount and left within the required time, but who are still being hit. If they carry through the appeal process, they find they get nowhere. If they then refuse to pay, they are hit with a series of harassing letters and ultimately receive letters from debt recovery agents, which has an impact on their credit rating. That practice is wholly unacceptable, and intervention from Members of Parliament does not make any difference, either.

I am afraid that our constituents are being caught, and that has consequences. I will read from part of a letter from one of my constituents, which sums up the problem:

"I am an honest lady in my late 60s and I have never had an experience like this before. I live in rented accommodation on a limited income—I am not financially secure. It will cause me hardship to pay this fine when I fully believed I was doing everything legally and correctly."

The letters go on. Another pensioner wrote to me:

"I am a pensioner and all this angst really upsets me...I will do as everyone else has done and pay the £60 within the allotted time and try to forget it—but I have to say the injustice really riles me."

That is the injustice to which my hon. Friend the Member for North East Somerset referred. He is right that the role of Government is to stand up to help those who are powerless against such practices.

It is not just pensioners—I hear this from across a spectrum of individuals—but we should ensure that particularly those who may have difficulty in entering details via these machines have their interests protected. I agree with hon. Members who have said that at the root of the problem lies the DVLA and its complicity in the process. Will the Minister use every power he has to ensure that it takes its role and responsibility seriously? It has a responsibility to ensure that such practices are not allowed to continue. I hope that in responding he will inform all Members here, and constituents following the debate closely, what the Government will do to ensure that justice is done for all our constituents.

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21 MAR 2017

Health: Topical Questions

Oral Answers to Questions

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health Committee

The NHS mandate was published yesterday, just days before coming into force. Can the Secretary of State set out the reason for the delay, because it allows very little time for scrutiny of this important document by this House? Will he also set out how he is going to prevent money being leached from mental health services and primary care to prop up provider deficits, so that we can meet objective 6 on improving community services?

Jeremy Hunt The Secretary of State for Health

My hon. Friend makes very important points. The reason for the delay was because about a month ago we had wind that we might be successful in securing extra money for social care in the Budget, and we needed to wait until the Budget was completed before we concluded discussions on the mandate. Our confidence as a result of what is in the Budget has enabled us to make the commitments we have made in the mandate, including making sure that we continue to invest in the transformation of out-of-hospital care.

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16 MAR 2017

Suicide Prevention Report

The Health Select Committee, which I chair, released it's report in to suicide prevention today and you may be interested to read it here.

I also spoke about this on the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 this morning and you may like to listen to this here. I spoke approximately 50 minutes in to the programme.

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