04 NOV 2019

Department of Health and Social Care: HIV Infection: Drugs

Written Answers

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health and Social Care Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons), Chair, Liaison Committee

  • To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many local authorities do not have a PrEP impact trial site.
  • To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to support local authorities that do not have a PrEP impact trial prepare for routine commissioning.
  • To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure that sufficient places are available in each clinic for the duration of the PreP trial.

Jo Churchill The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

Holding answer received on 04 November 2019

It has not proved possible to respond to the hon. Member in the time available before Dissolution.

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31 OCT 2019

Home Office: Immigration: EU Nationals

Written Answer

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health and Social Care Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons), Chair, Liaison Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what support is available for EU citizens with (a) dementia and (b) other similar health conditions when applying for settled status given the possibility that they may have lost the necessary paperwork.

Brandon Lewis The Minister of State, Home Department

The EU Settlement Scheme is designed to make it simple and straightforward for EU citizens and their family members to apply to stay in the UK after we leave the EU. We are looking for reasons to grant status, not reasons to refuse, and the scheme is performing well.

The Home Office has put in place a comprehensive vulnerability strategy to ensure that the EU Settlement Scheme is accessible for all, including those requiring someone to make an application on their behalf. We are also engaging with relevant stakeholders, such as the Department for Health and Social Care, the Local Government Association, the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services and the Devolved Administrations, to assess the needs of vulnerable groups and ensure they are met.

The Home Office has introduced a range of support for applicants, including assisted digital support at around 300 locations across the UK and the EU Settlement Scheme Resolution Centre, open seven days a week, to provide help and information by telephone and e-mail. We have also provided up to £9 million of grant funding to 57 voluntary and community organisations across the UK to enable them to mobilise services targeted at vulnerable EU citizens.

Regarding specific support for (a) those with dementia and (b) other similar health conditions, such as those without mental capacity, the Home Office has designed a scheme that allows applicants to consent to an appropriate third party to apply on their behalf. This means that care givers, family members and friends can provide the necessary assistance to those who need it.

The Home Office is aware that a range of vulnerable applicants may face significant challenges in securing evidence to support their application. For this reason, we will in such circumstances accept a range of evidence of identity and residence on behalf of an applicant, working with the person making the application to establish the applicant's eligibility based on all the evidence available. Caseworkers are trained to exercise discretion in the applicant's favour where appropriate.

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30 OCT 2019

Health and Social Care: Topical Questions

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health and Social Care Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons), Chair, Liaison Committee

May I thank you, Mr Speaker, for all the support you have given to Select Committees during your time in the Chair?

After a long period of engagement with patients, staff and partner organisations, the NHS has come up with a clear set of recommendations to the Government and Parliament for the legislative reforms it needs. I hope all political parties are listening to that. Will the Secretary of State confirm that he will accept all its recommendations, including the one that recommends scrapping section 75 of the Health and Social Care Act 2012 and other provisions, which would end wasteful contracting rounds in the NHS?

Matthew Hancock Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

I want to pay tribute to the hon. Lady for the work that she, her Health Committee and all its members have done on this legislation. I think that the legislation proposed by the NHS—with the support of the Select Committee, which will of course scrutinise it further—is an important step forward. I am delighted that Her Majesty committed in the Queen's Speech to legislation on the NHS, of which these proposals will be the basis.

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24 OCT 2019

Ministry of Defence: Red Arrows

Written Answers

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health and Social Care Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons), Chair, Liaison Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, whether the Red Arrows will go on tour to foreign countries in the next three years; and what recent assessment he has made of the effect on UK based air shows of future Red Arrows international tours.

Mark Lancaster The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence

The Red Arrows have a long history of overseas tours showcasing Britain at its best and will continue to undertake them. However, at this stage future overseas tours have not been confirmed.

The RAF fully considers the overall benefits of Red Arrows tours around the UK and weighs this against the benefits of displaying overseas.

Whilst overseas tours may limit the number of displays the Red Arrows can give in the UK during the summer display season, considerable effort is made to maximise the Red Arrows appearances in the UK. The RAF's other display assets including Typhoon, the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and the Falcons Parachute Team will continue to be available for airshows.

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23 OCT 2019

Speaker's Statement

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health and Social Care Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons), Chair, Liaison Committee

On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. Frankly, I am astonished that at such short notice the Prime Minister has sent a note to the Liaison Committee refusing to appear before us in the morning. This is the only Committee that can call the Prime Minister to account, and it allows us to ask detailed questions with follow up on behalf of the public. This is now the third occasion on which the Prime Minister has cancelled. May I seek your guidance, Mr Deputy Speaker, because this is entirely unacceptable?

Lindsay Hoyle Deputy Speaker and Chairman of Ways and Means, Chair, Panel of Chairs, Chair, Standing Orders Committee

I recognise that three times is very difficult, and quite rightly we have to hold all officers, even the Prime Minister, to account. However, I also recognise that these are very difficult times at the moment, and I would hope that the point of order has been listened to by Ministers and that we can come forward with a date for the Prime Minister to appear, but, more importantly, that the Liaison Committee can get that meeting in—and, as Chair, I recognise the need to do so. So, both ways, there is a need to try to make sure we can make this happen.

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23 OCT 2019

Speaker's Statement: The National Health Service

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health and Social Care Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons), Chair, Liaison Committee

It is a pleasure to follow James Brokenshire, who spoke so powerfully about his experience of the NHS and the importance of early diagnosis of cancer. He said in his opening remarks that we should have been discussing Brexit. I say to him and his colleagues that there is no version of Brexit that would benefit the NHS, social care, science and research or public health, so I urge him to look again at the way he has voted over recent days. That is something we heard compellingly and repeatedly—

Lucy Allan Conservative, Telford

Will the hon. Lady give way?

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health and Social Care Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons), Chair, Liaison Committee

I will not give way, simply because of Madam Deputy Speaker's comments about time pressures.

We heard those views on Brexit powerfully and consistently from all those who gave evidence to the Health and Social Care Committee, so I again urge the right hon. Gentleman to reconsider.

No debate about the NHS can take place without considering alongside it social care and public health. I start by thanking all those who work in all those sectors, who are working under pressure as never before. I reiterate the powerful points raised by the shadow Secretary of State for Health and Social Care. I will not repeat his points about the pressures, including the financial pressures, because I agree with him. However, as parties write, structure and frame their manifestos, I urge all colleagues to look at the evidence and at the asks of the NHS's workforce and leaders.

I welcome an NHS Bill in the Queen's Speech—I was going to ask the Secretary of State this, but unfortunately he has left his place, so I hope it will be addressed in the summing up—but have the Government looked carefully at the work that was done by the NHS, alongside the Select Committee, to frame those asks? People in the NHS were clear that they did not want another top-down administrative disorganisation of the NHS; they wanted something targeted. As was set out by my former colleague on the Select Committee, Dr Whitford, they want the scrapping of section 75. They want a common-sense approach to getting rid of the endless and wasteful procurement rounds. They want an approach that allows all parts of the NHS and partner organisations to work together more closely. I want to hear from the Minister in his summing up that the Government have heard that loud and clear, and that it will all be adopted, because it has cross-party support in the Select Committee and a very clear evidence base. That would help us to implement the long-term plan much more quickly.

I would also like the Minister to say more about when we will hear the Government's proposals for social care, because the knock-on pressures from social care on the NHS are enormous. Far too many people end up in far more expensive settings, where they do not want to be and where they are put at greater risk, for the want of good social care in our communities. This is a political failure. Two Select Committees—the Health and Social Care Committee and the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee—worked alongside a citizens' assembly to come up with a consensus approach. We have to get away from the back and forth of, "Is it a death tax?", "Is it a dementia tax?" The fact is that we already have a dementia tax in the NHS and social care. The result of the failure to grasp this issue and come up with a long-term solution is that 1.4 million people are going without the care they need. It is a failure on the part of all of us to grasp this problem and come up with something long term and sustainable.

We need to take a far more evidence-based approach to public health and prevention. To give an example of that, today the Health and Social Care Committee published our "Drugs policy" report. Last year, 2,670 people died as a direct result of drug use. That is an increase of 16% on the year before. That figure can be doubled if we include all the causes of preventable early death among people who use drugs. Again, we know what works. I urge the Government to look at the international evidence, to be bold and to consider making this a health responsibility—to say that we will help addicts and that we will radically improve treatment facilities.

There has been a 27% cut in resources for drug treatments, and as a result people are dying unnecessarily. I am afraid that we are not being bold enough in saying that we can save these lives and benefit people's wider communities if we are just prepared to take the step of destigmatising drugs and seeing drug use as an illness rather than something for which, for personal possession, people should be banged up in jail. We should allow our police forces to continue to go after the dealers—the Mr Bigs—rather than criminalise people, especially given that, frankly, we saw competitive drug-taking stories during the Conservative leadership election. I would ask whether any of those people would have been in the position they were had they had a criminal record.

The point is that people are dying completely unnecessarily because of our current policies. Our drug policies are failing, and they are particularly failing those who are dying, their families and all the wider communities that are being subjected to the harms of unnecessary acquisitive crime, discarded dirty needles and so forth. Let us look at the evidence, and let us be bold—not just on drugs policy, but on so many of the other things that are leading to serious health inequalities, such as childhood obesity. Let us be evidence-led in our policy and let us try to get away from the party divisions.

In closing, I would just like to express again my sincere thanks to all those who are helping us out there in our emergency services.

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21 OCT 2019

Preparations for Leaving the European Union

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health and Social Care Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons), Chair, Liaison Committee

Very serious concerns have been raised by shellfisheries about no-deal preparations for their sector. The Secretary of State will know that they have to have an aquatic animal health certificate alongside a raft of other red tape for each consignment. Mussel fishermen in my constituency are very concerned about that, because they have been told that they will need to give five days' notice, but their customers do not order with five days' notice. Will he ensure that officials from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs will meet me and my constituents to ensure that the problems that are arising will be addressed?

Michael Gove Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster

Absolutely, yes.

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21 OCT 2019

Speaker's Statement

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health and Social Care Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons), Chair, Liaison Committee

Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. May I make a helpful suggestion, which is that you send a photocopy of "Erskine May" to members of the Government? On a more serious note, the Government keep insisting that Members of this House should have the opportunity to change their minds. Is it not time that they extended the same courtesy to the British people?

John Bercow Speaker of the House of Commons, Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Chair, Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Chair, Commons Reference Group on Representation and Inclusion Committee

I note what the hon. Lady has said. The second point is a political one, to which I will not respond. In relation to "Erskine May", it is available free online. In relation to the same question convention, I simply make the point that when I pronounced on the same question convention on 18 March, one of the early responses came from an hon. Member who said:

"may I say how delighted I am that you have decided to follow precedent, which is something I am greatly in favour of?"—[Official Report, 18 March 2019;
Vol. 656, c. 778.]

He went on to make other supporting points. The person who responded in that way was none other than the Leader of the House, Mr Rees-Mogg. The Leader of the House was very much with me at that time on the same question convention. I take the same view seven months later, and it is for him to explain whether he does.

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19 OCT 2019

Prime Minister's Statement

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health and Social Care Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons), Chair, Liaison Committee

Evidence matters, Prime Minister. How can he possibly assure our constituents that this is a good deal if he has not carried out an economic impact assessment of what it will cost them? If he has carried that out, why on earth are we not able to see it as we debate this today?

Boris Johnson The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

I am grateful to the hon. Lady, but I direct her to the answers I have already given on that point. Many business groups have already come out in support of the deal because it gives certainty and stability and allows the country to move on. I think it will, as my right hon. Friend Stephen Crabb just said, unleash a great deal of investment in the UK.

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17 OCT 2019

Business of the House

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health and Social Care Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons), Chair, Liaison Committee

Could the Leader of the House please let us have an urgent debate on the serious issues facing shellfisheries? They are highly dependent on EU markets, and I am afraid that no-deal planning has been woefully inadequate. Mussel fishermen in my constituency still do not have guidance on how to export in the event of no deal after 31 October. Likewise, many crab fisheries have many—in some cases, all—of their pots in EU waters. Could we hear when we can debate this?

Jacob Rees-Mogg Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

The debate on the economy on Tuesday would be an opportunity to discuss the economy of the sea as well as the economy more narrowly.

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16 OCT 2019

Northern Ireland (Executive Formation etc) Act 2019

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health and Social Care Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons), Chair, Liaison Committee

As the Minister knows, Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom where women do not have access to safe abortion in the place where they live, and they are really looking forward to a change in the law. The Government have set out that they are talking to Church groups; can the Minister set out which women's organisations the Government have been talking to in advance of this very important and much longed-for change in the law?

Robin Walker Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Scotland Office) (jointly with the Northern Ireland Office)

The hon. Lady makes an important point. I can assure her that we have been engaging with a range of organisations, including human rights organisations, women's organisations and campaigns—[Interruption.] I would perhaps have to write to her with more detail.

Turning to the issue of abortion, one has only to look at the passionate and sincere demonstrations in recent weeks on both sides of this issue to appreciate that it remains a highly sensitive matter in Northern Ireland. I understand that there are many people in Northern Ireland who may, as the hon. Lady says, welcome the change. There are also many who would not. I would prefer, as would the Government, that the Northern Ireland Assembly was considering reforms of Northern Ireland's abortion law. This is, as I have noted, a highly sensitive devolved issue and as such it would be best addressed by Northern Ireland's locally elected and locally accountable political representatives.

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14 OCT 2019

Debate on the Address: [1st Day]

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health and Social Care Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons), Chair, Liaison Committee

Does my right hon. Friend agree that this is also a desperately anxious time for British citizens living elsewhere in the European Union who face not knowing whether they will be able have healthcare or what will happen to their pensions six months from now? This is intolerable, and entirely avoidable.

Jo Swinson Deputy Leader, Liberal Democrats, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Foreign Affairs), Leader of the Liberal Democrats

My hon. Friend is quite right. In this place, we often have the debates, the braying and the back-and-forth across the Dispatch Box, and it can feel like the pantomime or theatre, but this is people's lives that we are talking about, and some of them are sitting in the Gallery today. I was going to ask the Prime Minister, but he is no longer here, so I hope that the Ministers will have the courage to look Kristin, Margot, Bina and Jennifer in the eye and apologise for the anxiety that they have caused to them and to the 3 million other citizens from the EU27. Our country is better than this. We do not turn our back on those who have come over to be our doctors and nurses, teachers and carers. We do not turn our back on our family, friends and loved ones, and we do not turn our back on those who, like the rest of us, only want to make our country a better place. That is not who we are.

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08 OCT 2019

Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport: 5G

Written Answers

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health and Social Care Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons), Chair, Liaison Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps she is taking to introduce safety tests on the proposed 5G pilot projects.

Matt Warman The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

Safety must always be paramount in technological developments and there is no credible evidence 5G is harmful to human health. All proposed 5G Testbeds and Trials (5GTT) projects have to comply with the guidelines published by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection. ICNIRP is formally recognised by the World Health Organization. Public Health England's Centre for Radiation, Chemical and Environmental Hazards takes the lead on public health matters associated with radiofrequency electromagnetic fields, or radio waves.

The 5GTT has strict expectations that all grant funded projects will adhere to ICNIRP guidelines. A considerable amount of research has been carried out on radio waves and per PHE's advice we anticipate no negative effects on public health.

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08 OCT 2019

Department of Health and Social Care: NHS: Drugs

Written Answers

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health and Social Care Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons), Chair, Liaison Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment he has made of the availability of medicines in the event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

Edward Argar Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)

The Department is doing everything appropriate to prepare for leaving the European Union. We want to reassure patients that our plans should ensure the uninterrupted supply of medicines and medical products once we have left the EU.

The Department, as part of our EU exit preparations, is implementing a multi-layered approach to mitigate potential disruption to supply, which consists of stockpiling where possible, securing freight capacity, changing or clarifying regulatory requirements, procuring additional warehousing, working closely with industry to improve trader readiness and putting in place the National Supply Disruption Response to manage potential shortages. Further details can be found at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/medicines-and-medical-products-supply-government-updates-no-deal-brexit-plans

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health and Social Care Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons), Chair, Liaison Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will publish the Government's worst case contingency plans related to his remit on the UK's withdrawal from the EU.

Edward Argar Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)

Operation Yellowhammer is a cross-Government programme of work to ensure that the United Kingdom is prepared to deal with the potential reasonable worst-case scenario impacts of leaving the European Union without a deal.

On 11 September, the Government published planning assumptions for exiting the European Union without a deal at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/government-response-to-humble-address-motion

An updated version will be published in due course.

These include the Department's planning assumptions relating to the continuity of medicines and medicine supplies, the provision of healthcare to UK nationals within EU Member States, and the provision of adult social care after we have left the EU. The Department maintains robust operational plans to ensure the continuity of services from the National Health Service and wider health and social care system, regardless of circumstances, and will continue to do so.

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08 OCT 2019

Government Plan for Net Zero Emissions

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health and Social Care Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons), Chair, Liaison Committee

We have some of that information already, such as that last year we spent £26 billion on transport, but only £400 million of that was spent on active walking and cycling. Does the hon. Lady think that we need a shift of priorities so we are investing in green forms of transport that will also improve health?

Sarah Newton Conservative, Truro and Falmouth

The hon. Lady is absolutely right about the need to invest in cycling and walking infrastructure. Both of us, with many colleagues, participated in a debate in this Chamber on that very subject. The Government asked the Committee on Climate Change to consider what plans they need to put in place to enable us to reach that target; they are actively considering those plans and the Treasury is looking at the cost.

I have every confidence that the Government will produce detailed plans on how we are to reach the 2050 target, but I want them to set out clear milestones for the intervening period. Judging by conversations this morning with protestors, people think we will wait until 2050 to take any action, but we have already taken significant action, and the ambition is there to go further and faster. To give people hope and clarity, we need to set out the plans and milestones in detail so that people can see what is going on.

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03 OCT 2019

Ministry of Justice: Marriage: Humanism

Written Answers

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health and Social Care Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons), Chair, Liaison Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what plans he has to bring forward legislative proposals to amend section 14 of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 to give legal recognition to humanist marriages before waiting for the outcome of the Law Commission's review.

Wendy Morton The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

The Law Commission review that the Government announced this June is a fundamental review of the law on how and where people can legally marry in England and Wales. As part of that review, the Government invited the Law Commission to make recommendations about how marriage by humanist and other non-religious belief organisations could be incorporated into a revised or new scheme for all marriages that is simple, fair and consistent.

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health and Social Care Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons), Chair, Liaison Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, for what reasons the Law Commission is undertaking a review into humanist marriages.

Wendy Morton The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

The Law Commission review that the Government announced this June is a fundamental review of the law on how and where people can legally marry in England and Wales. The law has been added to over several centuries without any systematic reform.

As part of that review, the Government invited the Law Commission to make recommendations about how marriage by humanist and other non-religious belief organisations could be incorporated into a revised or new scheme for all marriages that is simple, fair and consistent.

The Law Commission has published the terms of reference for the review at https://www.lawcom.gov.uk/project/weddings/.

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health and Social Care Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons), Chair, Liaison Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what funding has been allocated to the Law Commission review of the law on marriage.

Wendy Morton The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

The Law Commission will review the law on how and where people can marry in England and Wales, and will provide recommendations for a simple, fair and consistent system which gives couples choice in to marry in a way that is meaningful to them. The cost of this project will be approximately £400,000.

This cost is for the resource for two years of a project team made up of one full-time lawyer, one full-time research assistant, a proportion of the time of a team manager and some travel, publication and translation costs (totalling approximately £150,000 per year) plus the cost of engaging a specialist academic (£50,000 per year).

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03 OCT 2019

Brexit Negotiations

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health and Social Care Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons), Chair, Liaison Committee

The principle of consent requires people to be able to weigh up the risks and benefits of the actual deal, as opposed to the promises that were made during the referendum. I am afraid that there are many detailed questions arising out of the Prime Minister's statement, and they cannot be answered in this format, so may I ask him when he will keep the clear commitment he gave to appear before the Select Committee Chairs in the Liaison Committee, and will he do so before Parliament prorogues?

Boris Johnson The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

I am absolutely committed to appearing before the hon. Lady's Committee, and she will have an answer within an hour of my departure from the Chamber this afternoon.

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02 OCT 2019

Department of Health and Social Care: 5G: Health Hazards

Written Answers

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health and Social Care Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons), Chair, Liaison Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment he has made of the level of risk to health posed by 5G connectivity.

Jo Churchill The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

Public Health England (PHE) has published a webpage about exposure to the radio waves from mobile phone base stations, including those for 5G networks, at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/mobile-phone-base-stations-radio-waves-and-health/mobile-phone-base-stations-radio-waves-and-health

This explains the health-related reviews and assessments have been performed, as well as the practical measures that are in place to protect public health.

PHE continues to monitor the health-related evidence applicable to radio waves, including in relation to base stations, and is committed to updating its advice as required.

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02 OCT 2019

Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Abd a-Rahman a-Shteiwi

Written Answer

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health and Social Care Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons), Chair, Liaison Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what representations he has made to the Israeli Government on the alleged shooting by the Israeli Defence Force of a 9 year old Palestinian boy, Abd a-Rahman a-Shteiwi on 12 July 2019; and if he will make a statement.

Andrew Murrison Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (Joint with the Department for International Development)

‚ÄčOur Embassy in Tel Aviv has raised the death of Abd a-Rahman with the Israeli authorities, stressing the importance of protecting civilians, especially children. The Government is very concerned at the high numbers of Palestinian children killed and injured by Israel Defense Forces in the West Bank and Gaza. We have raised the issue of excessive use of force, including use of live ammunition with both the Office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories and the Israeli Ministry of Defense.

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02 OCT 2019

Domestic Abuse Bill

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health and Social Care Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons), Chair, Liaison Committee

The Secretary of State may know that I took the Stalking Protection Act 2019 through the House and it received Royal Assent in March. Can he update the House on when it will come into force?

Robert Buckland The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice

I pay tribute to the hon. Lady for her work on this important issue and on getting that legislation through Parliament. I will make sure that that information is furnished to her in the course of the debate. Of course, we are brilliantly served by the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, my hon. Friend Victoria Atkins, and she will respond to the debate.

We have talked about the moral case for pursuing this issue, but there is also an economic case—a case of financial responsibility. Research has established that the cost of domestic abuse was approximately £66 billion for victims in England and Wales in the year ending March 2017. The biggest component of that cost is the physical and emotional harm incurred by them, but the cost to our economy and our health service is also considerable. Domestic abuse makes up one third of all violent crime reported to the police. The case for removal is clear, but the challenge is not easy. The dynamics are complex and mean that much domestic abuse is hidden. Victims face significant barriers in seeking help and difficulties in escaping from an abusive relationship. That is why we need a cross-Government, multi-pronged approach to tackling it. The Bill is not only part of that approach but demonstrates the breadth of our ambition in showing strong leadership and taking decisive action to help to end the suffering and harm.

......

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health and Social Care Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons), Chair, Liaison Committee

In my time as a GP and also as a forensic medical examiner, I learnt very quickly never to make assumptions about who are the victims of domestic abuse, or about how much courage it takes to come forward because of the extent to which such abuse isolates and terrorises its victims.

I pay particular tribute, as others have done already, to the hon. Members for Canterbury (Rosie Duffield) and for Bradford West (Naz Shah) for sharing their deeply moving personal stories. They will have done so much to encourage others to come forward and take that first step to safety—and this is about safety. Two women a week are killed at the hands of their current or former partners. We also need to do something about the under-reporting of the number of women who take their own lives as a result of being in abusive domestic relationships. We must ensure that there is proper reporting, and also better reporting of the gendered nature of this crime.

It is the job of this House to do all those victims justice and to make sure that the services are there to meet them when they come forward. Likewise, we must ensure that the criminal justice system responds rapidly and sensitively, and that services are also there for perpetrators and we do more on prevention and early intervention, because this crime goes through cycles of generations. Those who have witnessed terrible abuse may be more likely to become abusers themselves.

I will touch briefly on protection orders, on tackling variation, and on alcohol and services. I welcome the change in the Bill to domestic abuse protection orders rather than orders for domestic violence prevention. Those provisions will take us a lot further. It is encouraging that the Bill gets rid of the 28-day limit and that there will be an increased number of settings in which people can apply for the orders and more individuals who can do so.

There is much to welcome but, as the Minister has set out, that takes time. The Stalking Protection Act 2019 received Royal Assent in March, but sadly it will not come into force until the new year. However much we welcome the legislation, we know that there will be a delay. When the Minister responds to the debate, will she explain how we tackle variation in the existing orders? She will know from Home Office data that there is huge variation. For example, three orders were applied for in one assessment period in Cambridge, as opposed to more than 250 in Essex. There can be no reason for that kind of variation. Some data from Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary show that the use of the orders had gone down. Will the Minister set out what we are going to do to encourage the uptake of existing orders while we are waiting for the improved version to come into force?

I would particularly like to touch on the role of alcohol, because I do not think it has come up in the debate so far. Of course, alcohol is never an excuse for violent crime, but typically 25% to 50% of perpetrators have been using alcohol at the time of the offence. In particular, we know that there is a link with the very violent forms of domestic abuse—in those cases, alcohol is twice as likely to be involved. Will the Minister look at how we can take an evidence-based approach to alcohol in our policy? Will she set out what she is going to do to review alcohol policy so that we can make a difference to domestic abuse, as it is a significant factor?

Services must also be available for perpetrators. We are going to introduce protection orders, and it is welcome that there will positive as well as negative requirements. If people are referred, those services need to be in place so that they can respond. I am out of time, so I shall conclude.

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01 OCT 2019

Irish Border: Customs Arrangements

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health and Social Care Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons), Chair, Liaison Committee

Will the Minister accept that customs clearance sites would involve physical infrastructure, and that it would not matter whether they were at the border or some miles distant from it?

James Duddridge Chair, High Speed Rail (West Midlands - Crewe) Bill Select Committee (Commons) , The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union

I have been very clear that there will be no infrastructure on the border. I have also been clear that the proposals are currently under negotiation, and I will not go into the detail of those proposals in the House.

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01 OCT 2019

Social Care Funding

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health and Social Care Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons), Chair, Liaison Committee

Does my right hon. Friend accept that this could be done in a step- wise fashion? We could probably start immediately by introducing free personal social care for people at the end of their life, and we could then move forward to try to bring more people within that sphere. There is certainly a strong economic and moral case for introducing such care at the end of life.

Vincent Cable Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Health and Social Care)

That is a helpful and humane suggestion, and if we approach this whole question in terms of its practicality, rather than with abstract ideology, we might make some headway. What my hon. Friend suggests seems an eminently sensible way to start that process.

The last and most difficult issue is the one in which successive Governments have got hopelessly bogged down: the so-called catastrophe risk for the small number of people who are caught with prolonged expenses as a result of residential care. When I was in government the Dilnot report attempted to address that issue, but I think we have moved beyond that now. This is a classic problem of insurance, and it is now recognised in a way that it was not before—I think the current Prime Minister said this publicly—that the private insurance market cannot, and will not, deal with this problem. If there is to be insurance it must be social insurance, and large numbers of people will have to make a contribution to prevent the burden falling on a small number of unfortunates who contract long-term conditions, with all the costs involved.

That could be done in a variety of ways. One idea is a supplement to national insurance. Another idea from 10 years ago, which I had no problem with, is that if we are to solve the problem of people losing their inheritance, everyone who pays inheritance tax should pay a small supplement. That struck me as a good social insurance principle. Whether or not that formula was right, we have now got to a point of accepting that this is a social insurance problem, and there are different mechanisms for dealing with it. If we are reasonably grown up politically, we should find a way of closing that gap.

.......

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health and Social Care Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons), Chair, Liaison Committee

I begin by paying tribute to all the family carers and the care workforce, including those who looked after my mother-in-law Mary. It was only with their support that she was able to die where she wished: at home, surrounded by her loved ones. That support is not available to everybody, but it should be. For the want of good social care, far too many people unnecessarily end up in far more expensive hospital settings. We must act quickly, and I hope that the Minister will update us on when the Government will come forward with their consultative social care Green Paper, because it was promised two and a half years ago. Five publication deadlines have been missed, so when will we see that Green Paper?

I also hope that the Minister will confirm that she has looked at the Joint Select Committee inquiry by the Health and Social Care Committee and the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee, because the proposals provide a blueprint for how to move things forward. It contains practical suggestions that have been road-tested for their acceptability through a citizens assembly. I hope that she will also confirm that the principles set out in the document will form part of the Green Paper.

I am afraid that I am going to disappoint my right hon. Friend Sir Vince Cable, who said that this debate provided an opportunity not to talk about Brexit, because Brexit poses a grave threat to a fragile sector. The Yellowhammer documents make it clear that smaller providers face going to the wall within two to three months and larger providers within four to six months. I hope that the Minister will be able to comment on what action will be taken to mitigate that.

The effects include not only the impact of an increase in inflation on a fragile sector, but the impact on the workforce. As the Minister knows, the vacancy rate is already at 8%, which amounts to around 110,000 positions across social care. Some 8% of the workforce come from our partner EU27 nations, and many workers are deciding that it is no longer economically viable for them to remain in the UK due to changes in the exchange rate. Several careworkers have told me in tears that they no longer feel welcome in this country, which is horrific and should make us all feel a sense of great shame, but that is the reality. People face racist remarks in our country today despite decades of service to the most vulnerable in society. We cannot afford to lose them. We need to set out what will happen to ensure that the people in this workforce, many of whom will not meet the income thresholds, will be able to come here, share their skills with us and be welcomed.

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26 SEP 2019

Compliance with the European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 2) Act 2019

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health and Social Care Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons), Chair, Liaison Committee

The terms of the Benn Act are very clear, but so too is its intended purpose and spirit. The Minister has not been asked today whether the Government and the Prime Minister want to comply with the terms of the Act. He has been asked a very specific question: if, by 19 October, the House has not agreed to a deal or no deal, will the Prime Minister write the letter asking for an extension, as set out in the Benn Act? Can he answer yes or no, because I am afraid we have no clarity at all on that specific question today?

James Duddridge Chair, High Speed Rail (West Midlands - Crewe) Bill Select Committee (Commons) , The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union

We will obey the law.

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25 SEP 2019

Legal Advice: Prorogation

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health and Social Care Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons), Chair, Liaison Committee

What message does the Attorney-General have for his colleagues in government who have been smearing and undermining the Supreme Court judges? Some of this is not done in the heat of the moment: we have been hearing from one journalist that he has been sent copies of articles about Iranian judges, comparing Supreme Court judges to them. Is he going to give an unequivocal message to his colleagues that they should resign if they undermine the Supreme Court's independence?

Geoffrey Cox The Attorney-General

The judges do not exist immune from criticism. There is nothing wrong at all in any member of the public, be it a Member of Parliament or otherwise, criticising a court judgment, but what is wrong is that motives of an improper kind should be imputed to any judge in this country. We are defenders of the entire democratic constitution and we must be sure, in everything we say—I agree with the hon. Lady if this is what she means—that we do not impute improper motives. With the judgments, we can be robustly critical; with the motives, we cannot.

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09 SEP 2019

Points of Order

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health and Social Care Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons), Chair, Liaison Committee

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Thank you for being one of the great reforming Speakers; it is you who is trying to take back control for this Parliament, and others should learn from your example. You have also been a great champion of Select Committees, and, as Chair of the Liaison Committee, I would like to thank you for that. You have also been a champion of allowing Back Benchers to hold the powerful to account. That is what my point of order is about now, and it is further to a previous point of order. Not only are NHS staff entitled to raise genuinely held concerns about patient safety, but they have a duty to do so, and they must be able to do this without fear of intimidation or bullying from people in positions of power, including Members of this House. Last week, the Leader of the House made highly offensive comments about Dr David Nicholl. I reiterate: unless the Leader of the House comes to this place to make an apology from the Floor of the House, what message does that send to NHS whistleblowers and what does it mean for patient safety?

John Bercow Speaker of the House of Commons, Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Chair, Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Chair, Commons Reference Group on Representation and Inclusion Committee

I thank the hon. Lady for what she has said. She is an extremely distinguished denizen of the House, both in respect of her constituency work and of her chairing of very important Committees—the Health and Social Care Committee and the Liaison Committee. She speaks with considerable authority and gravitas by virtue of those roles and the reputation she has garnered. I do not want to pick an argument with the Leader of the House—he and I get on extremely well—but points have been made and the hon. Lady has underlined them. If she is dissatisfied, my advice to her is the advice I regularly give to Members wanting to know how they can take a matter forward—the word begins with "p" and ends in "t. My advice is: persist, persist, persist. There is nothing to prevent her from returning to the matter when we come back after the conference recess. On the Conservative Benches, Dr Lewis, who is not in this place—I believe he is chairing various Committees this afternoon or attending Committee meetings—taught me decades ago that in politics quantity, persistence and, above all, repetition are at least as important as the quality of your argument. It is not good enough to have a good point and make it once—you have to keep going. If I may say so, at the risk of causing some disquiet on grounds of courtesies, I would suggest to the hon. Lady that she should follow the Churchill adage in pursuit of her cause: KBO—keep buggering on—at all times.

................

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health and Social Care Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons), Chair, Liaison Committee

On a point of order, Mr Speaker, on behalf of the Liaison Committee. The Prime Minister gave an undertaking that he would appear before the Committee this Wednesday at 3.30 pm. The Committee met today, and we have written to the Prime Minister asking whether he will still appear, because—

John Bercow Speaker of the House of Commons, Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Chair, Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Chair, Commons Reference Group on Representation and Inclusion Committee

Order. I recognise the hon. Lady's sincerity and the strength of her conviction. If she wishes to contribute to the debate in an orderly way, on her feet, in a speech, because she has caught my eye, she can do so, but she should not use the device of a bogus point of order.

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05 SEP 2019

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: Agriculture: Subsidies

Written Answer

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health and Social Care Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons), Chair, Liaison Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps the Government has taken to reduce the complexity of environmental schemes for land holders.

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

The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) took on responsibility for Environmental Stewardship and Countryside Stewardship schemes in October 2018, and has introduced a number of measures on agri-environment schemes to make it easier for farmers and land managers to apply and make it simpler for them to administer.

The RPA has made improvements to the online service, including making more offers available to apply for online and allowing applicants to download application packs. It has simplified both the rules regarding the evidence we require and the guidance manuals. In addition the RPA has made changes to the processing cycle which has reduced completion times for applications, agreements, claims and payments.

Looking forward we are considering ways to drive further online uptake, make improvements to the information on GOV.UK, and whether there are further simplifications we can make to the scheme to support the transition to a new Environmental Land Management Scheme, subject to exit negotiations and funding.

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04 SEP 2019

European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 6) Bill

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health and Social Care Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons), Chair, Liaison Committee

Three independent and highly respected bodies—the Health Foundation, the Nuffield Trust and the King's Fund—have written an open letter to all MPs setting out in stark terms how there would be significant damage to health and care services from a no-deal Brexit and, more importantly, to the people who depend on them—the people we are supposed to be in the House to protect.

Hilary Benn Chair, Committee on Exiting the European Union

I agree with the hon. Lady. Other Members will have lots of other experience of the potential consequences. These are not risks that we should take with our economy, businesses, jobs, livelihoods and health. I hope these risks remind everyone in the House that, for all the focus on process, motions and procedure, this debate is about the impact that a no-deal Brexit would have on the lives of the people we represent.

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04 SEP 2019

Spending Round 2019

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health and Social Care Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons), Chair, Liaison Committee

This morning I met with NHS trust leaders from around the country; they painted an absolutely shocking picture of infrastructure that is crumbling, unsafe and broken. They welcome the unfreezing of £1 billion so that they can get on and fix some of that, but it does not go far enough; there is a £6 billion backlog, and they are asking for us to reach the levels of comparable countries in spending on NHS infrastructure. Will the Chancellor meet me to discuss their serious concerns and the measures that we need to take to move this forward?

 

Sajid Javid The Chancellor of the Exchequer

I thank the hon. Lady for welcoming one of the changes I made a few weeks ago, which was to unlock or bring forward £1 billion of new capital investment in our hospitals and an additional fresh £850 million on top of that to upgrade 20 hospitals. She makes an important point, but today's announcement is about day-to-day resource spending whereas she is talking about another important area, which is capital. I will make sure she gets the meeting with Ministers she wants.

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03 SEP 2019

Food and Rural Affairs: Agriculture: Subsidies

Written Answers

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health and Social Care Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons), Chair, Liaison Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with reference to the statement entitled Health and harmony: the future for food, farming and the environment in a green Brexit, published in September 2018, what steps his Department is taking to limit the costs for small land owners of the future environmental land management scheme.

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

The Agriculture Bill constitutes the first major agricultural reform in the UK for almost 50 years. It will allow us to break from the rules of the EU's Common Agricultural Policy and presents a unique opportunity to devise a new Environmental Land Management system where the Government will work with farmers, land managers, environmental experts and stakeholders to test and trial new approaches and investigate innovative mechanisms for delivery of environmental outcomes.

Small farmers and land owners will be well placed to benefit from any future scheme.

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03 SEP 2019

Sheep Farming: No-deal EU Exit

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health and Social Care Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons), Chair, Liaison Committee

This will certainly devastate the hill farmers in my constituency, but we must also consider the impact that it would have on the landscape. Many people do not realise that our landscapes are the way they are because of grazing.

Jenny Chapman Shadow Minister (Exiting the European Union)

The hon. Lady makes an excellent point, and that is why even my constituents in urban Darlington care about what happens to our national flock and to the livelihoods of the tens of thousands of people who work so hard to keep our landscape the way that it is.

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25 JUL 2019

Priorities for Government

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health and Social Care Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons), Chair, Liaison Committee

I warmly welcome the inclusion of social care in the Prime Minister's list of priorities for his Government. As he will know, there is the thorny issue of how we should pay for it. Two Select Committees of this House have worked together with a citizens' assembly to reach consensus on how we should fund this fairly. Will the Prime Minister meet me and Mr Betts to discuss how we reach a consensus and get it done

Boris Johnson The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

I thank the hon. Lady, and I will of course make sure that I study the suggestions she has made in her reports. They will of course be taken into account as we come forward with a solution—a plan—for social care.

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24 JUL 2019

Point of Order

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health and Social Care Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons), Chair, Liaison Committee

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. It is very rare for this House to find a named individual in contempt of Parliament, and to agree unanimously to admonish them. It would surely be a disgrace for Dominic Cummings to be rewarded, despite being found in contempt, with a post as senior adviser to the incoming Prime Minister. In opening the debate on the motion to admonish on 2 April, the Government stated that they had

"full respect for the privileges of the House of Commons and will continue to uphold them. They are crucial to the independence of Parliament and the strength of our democracy."—[Official Report, 2 April 2019;
Vol. 657, c. 942.]

Together with the Chair of the Committee of Privileges, Kate Green, who unfortunately had to leave for another engagement, I seek your advice, Madam Deputy Speaker, on whether the appointment of Mr Cummings would undermine that commitment to respect the House.

Eleanor Laing Deputy Speaker (First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

I thank the hon. Lady for her point of order, and for her courtesy in giving me notice of it. She will know very well that the appointment of persons to official positions at Downing Street or elsewhere is not a matter that can be addressed by the Chair, but resolutions of this House are a matter of concern to the Chair. I can confirm that the House passed a resolution on 2 April that said, in terms, that Mr Cummings

"committed a contempt both by his refusal to obey" a

"Committee's order to attend it and by his subsequent refusal to obey the House's Order of 7 June 2018"—[Official Report, 2 April 2019;
Vol. 657, c. 941.]

and the House therefore formally admonished him for his conduct.

The hon. Lady has drawn this important matter to the attention of the House and, indeed, the Government, and although I can give her no further help at this moment, I am quite sure that she will find a way of pursuing her concerns. Not least, the matter is in her own hands when she chairs the Liaison Committee. I am quite sure that she will find a way of taking this matter forward, which would be quite proper.

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22 JUL 2019

Housing: Electricity

Written Answers

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health and Social Care Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons), Chair, Liaison Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made on the cost effectiveness of installing three-phase electricity supplies in (a) new and (b) existing homes.

Chris Skidmore Vice-Chair, Conservative Party, Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Universities and Science) (Joint with the Department for Education)

Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy indicated that it will not be possible to answer this question within the usual time period. An answer is being prepared and will be provided as soon as it is available.

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health and Social Care Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons), Chair, Liaison Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made on the feasibility on subsidising the cost of upgrading single-phase electricity suppliers to three-phase electricity suppliers to support people to make their homes carbon neutral.

Chris Skidmore Vice-Chair, Conservative Party, Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Universities and Science) (Joint with the Department for Education)

Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy indicated that it will not be possible to answer this question within the usual time period. An answer is being prepared and will be provided as soon as it is available.

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15 JUL 2019

Health Select Committee

This week, I visited Frankfurt with the Health and Social Care Committee to hear how they saved lives through a public health approach to drugs policy including drug consumption rooms and how they focused on prevention and harm reduction for both users and the wider community.

 

 

We then visited Portugal where we heard from drug users, community projects, clinicians, academics and politicians on how a health and harm reduction approach to drugs policy has saved thousands of lives and reduced stigma and other problems across criminal justice system.

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10 JUL 2019

Disability: Children

Written Answers

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health and Social Care Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons), Chair, Liaison Committee

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what plans he has to increase support for parents who care for disabled children at home.

Elizabeth Truss The Chief Secretary to the Treasury

Child Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is a benefit for children under the age of 16 who, due to a disability or health condition, have mobility issues and/or require substantially more care, attention and supervision than children their age normally would. If a parent or carer is claiming Child Tax Credits (CTC) and their child is in receipt of DLA, they are also eligible for additional premiums on their award and for childcare support. Parents of disabled children may be also able to claim Carer's Allowance.

Universal Credit is designed to ensure that work pays and the most vulnerable in society are protected, making the system fair for claimants and those who are able to support themselves solely through work. The increased work allowance in Universal Credit from April 2019 is assisting 2.4 million working families, with children or with a disability, to become better off by £635 per year.

The government is committed to protecting and supporting the most vulnerable in society. It is for that reason the government has continued to uprate disability and carer benefits by inflation, including the disability elements of tax credits.

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10 JUL 2019

Climate Change, the Environment and Global Development

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health and Social Care Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons), Chair, Liaison Committee

Has the hon. Lady's Committee looked at the issue of three-phase electricity supply to homes? One of my constituents is keen to invest in solar and Tesla-style wall plugs so that they can recharge vehicles and so on, but the cost of installing the necessary three-phase electricity supply is a problem. Does she feel that that would be a better area for the Government to invest in and allow us to expand renewables?

 

Rachel Reeves Chair, Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee

Electric vehicles have been discussed quite a bit already today, and much more could be done to encourage people to buy them and to make it easier for people to charge them, as well as to get the charging infrastructure in all communities, including more rural ones.

Our Committee has produced several reports over the last few years on practical things that the Government could do. It has been disappointing at times that our recommendations and suggestions are often rejected by Ministers, when if they had accepted them, we might be a little closer to meeting some of our objectives. On electric vehicles, our Committee recommended that the target of 2040 be brought forward to 2032, and that was before the Government committed to net zero.

The Committee on Climate Change today said:

"The 'Road to Zero' ambition"— which the Minister is obviously proud of—

"for a phase-out of petrol and diesel cars by 2040 is too late and plans to deliver it are too vague. A date closer to 2030 would save motorists money, cut air and noise pollution and align to the net-zero challenge."

I urge the Minister to look at the evidence from the Committee on Climate Change, and the evidence that our Committee took, which points resolutely to the need to bring forward the date for phasing out the internal combustion engine.

While we welcome decisions by companies such as Jaguar Land Rover to invest in a new fleet of electric vehicles, we need to do more to work with our car manufacturing industry to turn the Faraday Institution's ideas and research into practical applications that can revive our British car industry and keep more jobs here, while not polluting the planet in the way that the car industry has in the past.

Everybody who gave evidence to our Committee said that there is no way that we would meet even our previous targets without the roll-out of carbon capture and storage. But we are still waiting for Government decisions on investment in that industry, so that we are not just doing the research and development in labs, but are trialling it and piloting it in some of our communities. That goes back to the point that Derek Thomas made earlier about communities all over the country. The communities that stand to benefit most from carbon capture and storage are in the north-east, Humber, Merseyside, south Wales and Fife, for example—all areas that desperately need jobs and investment. If the Government unlocked the funding, which they have previously cut, they could ensure more good-quality jobs all over the country while contributing to reducing our carbon emissions.

Our Committee has also just concluded a report on energy efficiency, which we will publish soon. Without giving away the findings—my Clerk might be watching—we heard a lot of evidence that the homes we are building today will need to be retrofitted in years to come because they are not of a high enough energy efficiency standard. It seems nonsensical that we know we are building homes today that will have to be retrofitted in future. Those who got planning permission on a development five or 10 years ago only have to meet the energy efficiency rules and regulations from when they got that planning permission, not those in place today. If we just fixed those things, we would be building homes that do not contribute to global warming in the way that they do today.

The Committee also heard evidence that since the Government scrapped the green new deal, improvements to existing housing stock are just not happening. They are not happening in social housing, the private rented sector or the owner-occupied sector. Unless that happens, we have no chance of meeting the net zero commitments. I urge the Government to look at that when our report is published, and not reject our conclusions and recommendations, which happens far too often, but engage with them, adopt them and put them in place. Only by doing that do we have any chance of meeting the targets that we all say we want to achieve.

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09 JUL 2019

Devon Police and Fire Rescue

I met today with the Devon Police and Fire Rescue operational experts to hear how Devon and Cornwall are leading the way in blue light innovation with community responders, tri service officers and Police and Fire Community Support Officers.

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09 JUL 2019

Smoking

Written Answers

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health and Social Care Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons), Chair, Liaison Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the July 2017 tobacco control plan for England, when the Government plans to announce a date for achieving its smokefree generation target of smoking prevalence at 5 per cent or below.

 

Seema Kennedy The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

The Government's vision, as set out in the Tobacco Control Plan for England published in 2017, is to create a smokefree generation by reducing adult smoking prevalence to 5% or below. The current smoking rates for England are 14.4%, the lowest on record. The Government has not yet committed to a date by which to achieve a smokefree generation but continues to keep progress on reducing prevalence under close review.

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health and Social Care Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons), Chair, Liaison Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure that tobacco companies have no involvement in (a) smoking cessation services and (b) public health campaigns.

Seema Kennedy The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

The United Kingdom is a signatory to the World Health Organization's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). The Government takes very seriously its treaty obligations, including the commitment under Article 5.3 to protect public health policies with respect to tobacco control from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry. It expects all public bodies to follow comply with the FCTC Secretariat's guidance on this Article.

To remind the National Health Service of this commitment, NHS England issued a note to clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in the CCG bulletin dated 26 July 2018. Public Health England (PHE) has also written to local authorities and Directors of Public Health advising against such partnerships, a message reiterated in the PHE blog. The blog is available to view at the following link:

https://publichealthmatters.blog.gov.uk/2018/01/05/duncan-selbies-friday-message-5-january-2018/

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09 JUL 2019

Active Travel

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Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health and Social Care Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons), Chair, Liaison Committee

We have heard the environmental, health and economic cases for cycling. I fell in love on a tandem and I am still cycling 40 years later, so perhaps I should add that there is a case to be made for cycling's benefit to your love life, and for the sheer joy of cycling.

We need to focus on how to make cycling happen. We should look across the water to see how it is done elsewhere. There is a formula to it: it requires consistent, long-term political support both locally and nationally, and the right funding. We spend £7.50 per person on it, but other countries, where this works and cycling has been transformed, spend between £10 and £35 per person. Will the Minister therefore continue his predecessor's commitment to the ambition of doubling per-person investment in cycling? That is what we need.

When we have that level of spend, we can go to the next stage: ensuring that councils can employ people to develop expertise in the long term to put these schemes in place. We need consistent rather than stop-start funding. One of the problems with competitive bids for funding is that some areas do very well, but others, such as mine, lose out altogether. We need much more consistency, so that we do not focus, as others have said, just on cities or even towns, but look at rural areas.

We need to spend not just on infrastructure, but on services and maintenance for our network, and to join up the network. Disgracefully, in my area there is still a gap in national cycle route 2, partly because of the prejudice cyclists sometimes face. For example, a bridge, half of which was paid for with public money, is still blocked to cyclists unreasonably by its owner, South Devon Railway. That prevents a critical join-up. I would like councils to have the power to sweep some of this nonsense out of the way, because this has been going on for more than nine years.

We need to fix those problems and join the network up, and look at links with other infrastructure, such as the rail network. We must also look at traffic calming. There are 20 mph speed restrictions on 75% of the network in urban areas, and they work. We should look at that, and at introducing traffic calming in rural areas where we have quieter routes for cyclists.

We know what works. Will the Minister look at the evidence base and assure us that we will implement what we need if we are really to have a revolution and get people to enjoy the benefits of cycling?

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09 JUL 2019

Justice

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health and Social Care Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons), Chair, Liaison Committee

What assessment has the Minister made of the delays and errors at the Cardiff probate office, because what used to take a matter of 10 working days for my constituents is now taking months? Can he set out exactly what is causing the delays and, more importantly, what can be done to reduce them?

 

Paul Maynard The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

As I said at the start of Question Time, it is wrong that people in a state of bereavement are having to wait so long for these matters to be addressed. In May the average waiting time was eight weeks, and it has now decreased to six or seven weeks. I intend to keep working with Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service to keep that downward trend and bring waiting times back to the traditional two to three weeks.

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09 JUL 2019

Ministry of Justice: Probate

Written Answer

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health and Social Care Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons), Chair, Liaison Committee

What recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the probate system.

 

Paul Maynard The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

Waiting times in the probate service have recently increased. However, following urgent action by the courts service, they are now starting to improve.

The temporary delays were the result of more work coming into the system and the impact of the initial move to a new IT system for managing probate work.

Now that move is complete, and the unusually high workload has been dealt with, we expect waiting times to continue to improve – and be back to normal levels in the coming weeks.

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08 JUL 2019

NHS Pensions: Taxation

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health and Social Care Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons), Chair, Liaison Committee

This matters first and foremost because of the impact on patient care, not only through increased waiting times in hospitals but in patient's ability to see a general practitioner out of hours. May I stress the urgency of the situation, as others have? Patients cannot afford to wait for the extended process of finding a new leader of the Conservative party.

May I briefly flag up another issue? One of my constituents, who wrote to me recently to say that he had requested an update on his pension, was told that it would take three months. He was then informed that Primary Care Support England had not updated his pension records for three years and that he would have to wait a further three months once they had been updated. Will the Minister also look at the delays facing doctors trying to get an update on their situation?

Elizabeth Truss The Chief Secretary to the Treasury

I thank the hon. Lady for her question. I will raise that matter with the Health Secretary. It is for the NHS to make sure that its pensions are properly administrated. As I have said, we are dealing with this issue urgently. We are not waiting for the election of a new Conservative Prime Minister to do that. My point about a new Prime Minister was that general tax and pension reforms are not likely to be happening in the next two weeks.

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04 JUL 2019

GP Trainers Group

Thank you to the GP Trainers Group for meeting today to discuss Primary Care, GP networks, continuity of care and access, workforce pressures, NHS long term plan, IT, pensions and so much more. It is always helpful to catch up with expertise from the front line

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04 JUL 2019

Brixham Harbour and Fisheries

Written Answer

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health and Social Care Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons), Chair, Liaison Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether he has plans to direct the £10 million funding allocated to the South West announced in the 2018 Budget to (a) the fishing industry and (b) the redevelopment of Brixham harbour.

Robert Goodwill The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

As announced in the 2018 Budget, the Government is investing £10 million from BEIS's allocation of the National Productivity Investment Fund for Research and Development to enhance the productivity and sustainability of fisheries and seafood industries across the whole of the UK. The Seafood Innovation Fund will disburse this money and help transform the industry to ensure the UK is a world leader in safe, sustainable and productive fishing. BEIS has asked Defra and Cefas to deliver this funding on behalf of UK Research and Innovation, given the specialist knowledge and understanding required to make the most of this opportunity. Details of the design of the fund are currently being finalised to ensure value for money and we expect the fund to launch shortly.

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02 JUL 2019

Air Pollution

Written Answers

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health and Social Care Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons), Chair, Liaison Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to ensure co-operation with the EU on tackling air pollution after the UK leaves the EU.

Therese Coffey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The UK remains a signatory to the 1979 United Nations Economic Commission for Europe Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution, and will continue to be at the forefront of international action and cooperation to tackle transboundary air pollution alongside the EU.

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health and Social Care Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons), Chair, Liaison Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment,Food and Rural Affairs what steps he is taking to promote cross-departmental collaboration on adopting World Health Organisation standards for fine particulate matter.

Therese Coffey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The Clean Air Strategy sets out our commitments to take bold action across all parts of Government to achieve reductions in air pollution. We are committed to the setting of an ambitious long term target to reduce population exposure to PM2.5. Defra continues to work closely with other Government departments and agencies to deliver the Strategy.

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02 JUL 2019

Business Premises

Written Answers

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health and Social Care Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons), Chair, Liaison Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what assessment he has made of the effect of disregarding restrictive covenants or planning conditions intended to prevent a domestic residence from operating a business from that premises when taking a decision to transfer a domestic dwelling from council tax to Uniform Business Rate.

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health and Social Care Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons), Chair, Liaison Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what guidance his Department has provided to the Valuation Office Agency on dealing with restrictive covenants or planning conditions which apply to domestic dwellings and are intended to prevent any business from operating from such a domestic dwelling when making decisions regarding the transfer of a domestic dwelling from council tax to Uniform Business Rate lists.

Rishi Sunak Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Housing, Communities and Local Government)

The Valuation Office Agency decides whether a property should be subject to council tax or non-domestic rates. The Agency is an executive agency of HMRC and operates independently of Ministers. In reaching a view on the most appropriate listing, the Agency has regard to the relevant provisions of the Local Government Finance Act 1988. I understand that the Agency would not normally take account of whether the use is consistent with planning or other restrictions, rather it would be guided by the facts pertaining to the occupation of the property.

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01 JUL 2019

Royal College of Pyschiatrists

Today I spoke at the International Congress of the Royal College of Psychiatrists. There has never been a time where we are more in need of experts. We must never underestimate the importance of face to face contact.

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27 JUN 2019

Electric Scooters

Written Answer

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health and Social Care Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons), Chair, Liaison Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment the Government has made of the increase in use of electric scooters on roads.

Andrew Jones Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport), Vice-Chair, Conservative Party

In the UK, powered transporters, also known as micromobility devices, are treated like any other motor vehicle under the Road Traffic Act. This includes e-scooters, and means they are subject to laws requiring them to be built and used safely, including requirements for users to have insurance, driving licences, number plates, and helmets.

It is therefore, illegal to use a powered transporter on a public road without it complying with these legal requirements. At present, it will be difficult for electric scooters to meet these requirements. It is also illegal to use a powered transporter in spaces which are set aside for use by pedestrians, cyclists, and horse-riders. This includes on the pavement and in cycle lanes.

We are currently exploring how new technologies, such as e-scooters, could help the UK benefit from changes in how people, goods and services move around and possible barriers to securing those benefits.

The Future of Mobility Urban Strategy, published on 19 March 2019 includes a Regulatory Review to address the challenges of ensuring our transport infrastructure and regulation are fit for the future.

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26 JUN 2019

Climate Change Rally

Thank you to everyone who came to London today from across the Totnes constituency to lobby for urgent action on the climate and environmental emergency

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25 JUN 2019

Environment Protection

Written Answer

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health and Social Care Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons), Chair, Liaison Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the effectiveness of the role of Natural England in helping farmers to improve their environment.

Therese Coffey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The Department regularly reviews Natural England's performance including via formal Ministerial review. Natural England is required to report progress to Defra's supervisory board and the Secretary of State.

Natural England plays an important role in delivering the 25 Year Environment Plan, providing advice to help farmers to improve their environment. Natural England advisers provide valuable advice on how to effectively manage wildlife and habitats, promoting nature conservation and protecting biodiversity. This includes advice to help landowners set up agri-environment agreements and aftercare advice during the lifetime of the agreements, as well as for other projects that such as the 'Back to the Brink' species recovery project, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and other charitable organisations.

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Public Whip


 

If you would like to view my voting record it can be seen on the Public Whip's website, but you need to see how this information is compiled as it can sometimes be misleading.

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