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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24 JUN 2019

Sense

I recently met with representatives from the disability charity, Sense. One of their ongoing campaigns- 'When I'm gone', focuses on the families of those living with disabilities. Sense estimate that there are 1.7 million disabled adults being cared for by family or friends. It is also true that there are currently 2 million carers in England and Wales who are aged 50-64 and 1.3 million carers aged 60 and over. I know how important it is to families to have plans in place for the future and Sense found that this is also something that disabled adults are seriously concerned about.

81 per cent of disabled adults said that they worried about how they would manage their day-to-day life without the support of family and friends.

I am deeply concerned about the future of social care provision and will continue to do everything I can in Parliament to highlight the importance of this and to call on government to get on with their promise to find a sustainable long term settlement.

We need to provide the peace of mind families need, but also to help make it easier for disabled people with complex needs and their families to have timely arrangements for their future care in place.

To read more about this campaign or to download the very helpful toolkit, please click here.

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24 JUN 2019

Social Rented Housing: Regulation

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 implications for his policies of recommendations for a new Social Housing regulator in the report entitled A Vision for Social Housing published by Shelter.

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 his Department has made of the potential merits of the recommendation in the Shelter report entitle of, A vision for social housing, to establish a consumer protection regulator for social renters alongside an economic regulator of social housing.

Kit Malthouse Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)

Nothing is more important than ensuring people are safe in their homes. Residents' voices need to be heard to ensure proper standards are maintained and that where things are going wrong they are picked up and addressed. We want to ensure that there is a coherent and consistent approach to regulation to deliver these objectives, and achieve the best deal for tenants and landlords. Our review of social housing regulation is exploring the most appropriate way of doing so, and we will publish the results of that review in due course.

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24 JUN 2019

Climate Change

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

I would really welcome an earlier shift towards electric cars and electric bikes, but is it not the case that, where possible, we really need to be getting people out of their cars altogether and encouraging greater use of cycling and walking? Will the Minister assure me that there will be increased investment in cycling and walking?

 

 

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)

I will get back to my speech in a moment. It is important that the Government are able to set out a pathway for considering the range of responsibilities across society, and that will encourage a range of individual actions. The Committee on Climate Change is the lead independent committee whose advice the Government have taken in order to legislate today. It has set out a range of future possibilities to reach net zero, many of which include individual actions for reaching the final 4%, but this is about system change and decarbonising our energy and heating systems, both domestically and industrially. There are a large number of areas where we will need to take action across society, and we need to be able to take that action now.

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24 JUN 2019

European Council

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

Anybody listening to the Prime Minister's statement will be struck by the importance of the issues raised at the Council, and also by the loss that we will have as a nation by not having a seat around the table in future. In her reply to Chris Bryant, she said that it is a matter for her successor whether he takes up to seven weeks before he comes to this House. Is it not the case that the Government could reset the recess dates that are on today's Order Paper to make sure this House has an opportunity to question her successor on his policies, which have a huge bearing on the issues in her statement?

Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

The hon. Lady will have an opportunity to consider this matter in the debate on the motion on the recess dates that is coming before the House later today.

........

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

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Prime Minister has just clarified that there will be no opportunity to debate the motion on the summer Adjournment dates. This is an extremely grave matter. About 0.25% of the population will be selecting the next Prime Minister at a crucial time in our history. Is there anything you can do to make sure that the House has an opportunity, when other Members are here, to properly debate this issue and make sure that the next Prime Minister can be held to account by this House without there being an extended period of summer recess in the way?

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 am grateful to the hon. Lady and most certainly understand her concern. I want to offer her two responses. First, it is perfectly open to Members if they disapprove of the motion to vote against it. They are not obliged to accept it; they can oppose it. Secondly, although I do not myself know at this stage what is in the minds of Ministers today, or what was in their minds at the time of the tabling of the motion, since I am not psychic and it was not something they discussed with me or would ordinarily have been expected to discuss with me, I can tell her something that may be of interest to her.

I have been assured that there is no intention on the part of the Government to prevent the new Prime Minister from appearing before the House before it rises for the summer recess. The Leader of the House had his first outing relatively recently on a Thursday morning at business questions, and as he addressed the House the Government Chief Whip approached me, unsolicited but on the back of a number of queries about Prorogation and the timescale for the announcement of the new Prime Minister, specifically to tell me—as I say, unsolicited—that the Government had no intention of doing that.

The Government Chief Whip told me that he judged it most important that that not be the case. I am merely faithfully reporting what he told me on that occasion. If there has been some change in thinking, I am sure the Government would wish to communicate that to the House. I think it very important that there be some clarity about the Government's intentions beyond simply the motion, which is a procedural motion, sooner rather than later, not because that is a matter of procedural necessity but because it is a matter of parliamentary courtesy.

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19 JUN 2019

Social Rented Housing

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 potential merits of the establishment of a new regulator for social housing.

Kit Malthouse Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has 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 Housing, Communities and Local Government, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of introducing (a) proactive and (b) regular inspections to increase standards in the social housing sector.

Kit Malthouse Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has 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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18 JUN 2019

Male Suicide

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

Sharing information saves lives when it comes to suicide prevention, but families are too often unnecessarily excluded because clinicians may be unaware of or do not follow the consensus statement guidance on seeking consent and sharing information in the patient's best interests. I thank the Minister for meeting me and the National Suicide Prevention Alliance recently. She will know that the Matthew Elvidge Trust has highlighted the importance of how consent is sought, and it has suggested the following wording:

"In our experience, it is always much better to involve a family member, friend or colleague whom you trust in your treatment and recovery... This will result in you recovering much quicker. Would you like us to make contact with someone and would you like us to do this with you now?"

The Minister will agree that there is a huge difference between that and just asking someone whether their mum can be phoned. Will the Minister set out how she will raise awareness of the consensus statement?

Jackie Doyle-Price The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

I am grateful to the hon. Lady for her continued interest in this matter. She will recognise the cultural challenge of encouraging all practitioners in the NHS to embrace the change, because we quite rightly have a culture in which discretion is paramount. Practices are in place to encourage information sharing, and I highlight our support for the Zero Suicide Alliance—£2 million was provided last October—and central to its work will be spreading understanding of the consensus statement throughout the NHS.

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13 JUN 2019

Transport: Cycling

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

What steps he is taking to increase the uptake of cycling as a means of transport.

 

 

Michael Ellis Minister of State (Department for Transport)

The Government are committed to increasing cycling and walking, and to making our roads safer for cyclists and pedestrians. Spending per head on cycling and walking has more than trebled since 2010, and about £2 billion is now being invested in cycling and walking over the current Parliament. That is helping to fund new infrastructure in many towns and cities.

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

I am sure that the whole House will wish to join me in wishing the very best to Chris Froome.

I welcome the removal of the cap from the Cycle to Work scheme, but many of the people who could benefit most from e-bikes are not in work. What will the Minister do to support the use of e-bikes and non-standard pedal cycles by older people and those with disabilities? Will he meet me to discuss how we can create a safer infrastructure to encourage such use, particularly in my constituency, where there has been a long-standing block to the Littlehempston to Totnes cycleway?

Michael Ellis Minister of State (Department for Transport)

I shall be happy to meet the hon. Lady, and I extend similar sentiments to Chris Froome.

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12 JUN 2019

South Devon College

It was lovely to catch up with ⁦South Devon College Principal Stephen Criddle in Parliament today

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10 JUN 2019

Cystic Fibrosis Drugs: Orkambi

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

I thank my constituent, Cathy Meredith, who started this petition. I also thank Oli Rayner and the many others living with cystic fibrosis who, sadly, cannot be in the Public Gallery with us today because cystic fibrosis is such a curiously isolating condition—those suffering from it cannot be in the same room as others because of the risk of transmitting resistant infections.

I will start with some context on the cause of cystic fibrosis, which is a mutation in the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator gene, affecting the production of a protein that in turn has consequences for the balance of salts and fluids moving across membranes, leading to an accumulation of thick, sticky mucus in the lungs and other organs. The point, however, is that although 10,000 people in the UK live with cystic fibrosis, it is not really a single condition: there are many mutations of the CFTR gene. That has consequences for the types of medication to which people will best respond. We need to think of cystic fibrosis not only as a rare genetic condition but as a series of much rarer conditions. That is important to note.

We now have some real hope for progress with the CFTR modulators, but we need to make that progress much more rapidly than we are. The negotiations between Vertex and NHS England have dragged on for far too long. The patients living with cystic fibrosis and their families, have been lost in those discussions. We need not only to return to thinking about them, but to bear in mind the implications that go far beyond those living with cystic fibrosis.

The NHS has a responsibility to consider the wider cost of drugs, including the opportunity costs—what we cannot treat if our NHS budget is consumed completely by the ever-rising cost of drugs. For the NHS to have that responsibility is a tough message for all of us, which is why we need bodies such as NICE to make the decisions to ensure fairness for all patients who rely on NHS resources. To put that in context, the drugs budget in 2017-18 was £18.2 billion. A little more than half of that was for hospital drugs and, over the past seven years, the costs of those drugs have increased by 119%. We therefore have to bear in mind the implications of taking a free-for-all approach to drugs costs, which the Minister will not want to do.

The Government are trying to get the parties around the table. Unfortunately, the gap is huge between what Vertex continues to demand for the drugs and what the NHS is offering based on recommendations from NICE. The gap is not small; it is considerable. Other companies have come to the table to negotiate their prices, so I call on Vertex to look again at what is happening. It is absolutely disgraceful that families have to resort to such things as buyers' clubs; the inequalities that that creates are horrific. We need Vertex to focus on what is happening.

I am also concerned about some of the points made during our Health and Social Care Committee inquiry into Vertex. For example, we asked the company directly whether drug supplies had been destroyed because they were going off date, and we were told that that was not the case and was very unlikely to happen—but it has been happening. That is wholly unacceptable.

To come back to the alternatives, Kerry McCarthy touched on the issue of Crown use licences, for example. One of the areas that our Committee considered was possible referral to the Competition and Markets Authority. In fact, we have now heard that that would take many years, so unfortunately the area does not look like one we can pursue further. However, given so little progress since our inquiry, the Committee wrote to all the parties involved in the negotiations—NHS England, Vertex and NICE—to ask where we are now.

The most promising idea that we should take forward to apply pressure is that of interim agreements, such as in Scotland. An interim price is agreed, further research is carried out and all parties agree to a review based on the outcomes of that further research. That is being managed in Scotland and other places, as we have heard from other speakers today, and I urge Vertex to do that here. We all recognise the need for a fair price to enable further research to take place. We all recognise that many other drugs are in the pipeline, particularly a very promising triple therapy, which NHS England has now agreed to take off the table so that it does not distort future pricing. That is a sensible thing to do at this stage, so that within the current offer we look just at the three existing treatments. At a later stage, we can come back to look at the triple therapy evidence. I urge all parties to come to an interim agreement at least, and to continue to put patients front and centre in everything they do.

Finally, I would like to touch on the political aspect, because both President Trump and US Secretary of State Azar have repeated referred to using their muscle in trade negotiations to increase the price that European countries would have to pay for their drugs. They have referred to the NHS "freeloading", for example. That is very worrying. We all need to be aware of the dangers of a future trade deal and the implications that it could have on negotiations for a range of other products. I hope that those points have contributed to the debate. All parties need to focus on the people at the heart of the issue: the patients who are living with cystic fibrosis.

.......

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

The Minister referred to the importance of Vertex engaging with NICE. Does she share my concern that when I wrote to Vertex and NICE about the failure to make progress, Vertex assured me that it had contributed "substantial new evidence" on the three products in question, yet I subsequently heard from NICE that it had received only

"an overview of the clinical evidence", rather than genuine engagement? Will she join me in calling on Vertex to properly engage with the process, so that we can get the full evidence base on which to make these decisions?

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06 JUN 2019

Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Post Offices

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 steps the Government is taking to support rural post office branches.

Kelly Tolhurst Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)

While the Government sets the strategic direction for the Post Office, it allows the company the commercial freedom to deliver this strategy as an independent business.

The Government recognises the critical role that post offices play in communities and for small businesses across the UK. This is why the Government committed to safeguard the post office network and protect existing rural services. Thanks to significant Government investment of over £2 billion since 2010 the overall number of post offices across the UK remains at its most stable in decades with over 11,500 branches.

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05 JUN 2019

Housing Estates: Playgrounds

Written Answer

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 proportion of housing estate developments built in the last five years have outdoor children's play areas.

Kit Malthouse Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)

The Department does not hold the information requested

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28 MAY 2019

Department for Education

Written Answers

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

  • To ask the Secretary of State for Education, for what reasons children's play is not prioritized in the five foundations for building character.
  • To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether the audit of out of school activities will include playing outside.

Nadhim Zahawi The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

World-class education is not only about having the highest standards in academic and technical education, it also means ensuring that education builds character and resilience.

We want all children and young people to have opportunities to develop the key character traits of believing that they can achieve, being able to stick with the task in hand, seeing a link between effort today and reward in the future, and being able to bounce back from the knocks that life inevitably brings to all of us. Character must also be grounded in positive values such as kindness, generosity, fairness, tolerance and integrity.

The 5 Foundations for Building Character announced on 7 February by my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education are sport, creativity, performing, volunteering and membership, and the world of work. Each of these areas covers a very wide range of activities that children and young people can enjoy doing. In developing key character traits, research suggests that high-quality delivery of the 5 foundations should take a structured approach, occur over a sustained period of time, and be self-directed by the child or young person. Through the support of teachers, coaches or other professionals, children and young people are more likely to receive a higher level of challenge and develop the traits that can help them achieve their goals.

Play can provide benefits to children and young people through physical activity and promotion of wellbeing, but the audit of the availability of out-of-school activities across the country does not currently include playing outside as that activity does not provide the structured and high quality elements that are required in character building activities as proposed in the 5 Foundations for Building Character.

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

  • To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what estimate he has made of the number of children with autism spectrum condition who have been (a) excluded and (b) isolated in schools in the last 12 months.

Nick Gibb Minister of State (Education)

Permanent and fixed period exclusions in England: 2016-2017 can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/permanent-and-fixed-period-exclusions-in-england-2016-to-2017.

Permanent and fixed period exclusions by type of special educational need can be found in national table 6.

The information requested, on the number of children with autism spectrum condition who have been isolated in schools in the last 12 months, is not held centrally.

As part of Ofsted inspections, however, schools will be asked to provide records and analysis of any use of internal isolation. Ofsted inspectors will expect schools to have clear and effective behaviour policies that promote high standards of behaviour and are applied consistently and fairly. In reaching a judgement on pupils' personal development, behaviour and welfare, inspectors will take account of a range of information, including schools' use of internal isolation.

The Department's behaviour and discipline guidance to schools makes clear that schools must act lawfully, reasonably and proportionately when using isolation, and must take account of any special education needs or disabilities pupils placed in isolation may have.

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

  • To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps the Government is taking to ensure the effectiveness of cross-departmental work to tackle the referral of children and young people with (a) depression and (b) mental health issues.

Nick Gibb Minister of State (Education)

The Department for Education has a joint programme of work with the Department of Health and Social Care, NHS England and Health Education England to deliver the proposals set out in the green paper 'Transforming Children and Young People's Mental Health Provision'. This includes setting up and running Mental Health Support Teams linked to groups of schools and colleges. The teams will be made up of additional, trained, mental health workers, supervised by suitable NHS staff working closely with other professionals such as educational psychologists, school nurses, counsellors and social workers.

The first teams will be set up in 25 trailblazer areas this year, which will be evaluated to inform the subsequent roll-out. The Department has put in place a small regional implementation team to work alongside NHS England to support delivery of the green paper commitments and lead and model effective partnership working for education and health.

The Government is also taking action to support specific vulnerable groups of children. In May 2016, Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission began inspecting local areas on their effectiveness in fulfilling the new duties on education, health and social care services to provide for children and young people who have special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). All 152 local areas in England will be inspected over a period of five years. The inspections are identifying how effectively access to mental health provision is working as part of the SEND provision locally.

The Department is also piloting new mental health assessments for looked-after children to ensure young people are assessed at the right time to support more effective access to mental health provision, with a focus on meeting their individual needs as they enter care.

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23 MAY 2019

Business of the House

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

Brixham Trawler Agents in my constituency recently invested £107,000 in rooftop solar for the fish market. It applied in good faith and in advance of the deadline, but unfortunately fell the wrong side of the cap. It therefore faces considerable unexpected costs. Given that the House has now declared a climate and environment emergency, may we have a debate about how we can properly reward those who are doing the right thing by trying to reduce their carbon footprint and serve their communities?

Before I finish, I join others in thanking Philippa Helme for the remarkable work she has done. I thank her personally and on behalf of Select Committees for everything, and I wish her a long and happy retirement. Will the Minister also send my personal good wishes to the retiring Leader of the House? I thank her for the constructive work she has done to support Select Committees.

Mark Spencer Comptroller (HM Household) (Whip, House of Commons)

Of course I will pass on the hon. Lady's good wishes to the former Leader of the House. In January, the Government published a consultation, "The future for small-scale low-carbon generation", on a smart export guarantee to follow the feed-in tariff scheme, which closed to new products on 31 March, with some limited grace periods and extensions. The SEG will ensure that small-scale generators, including those using solar, can export to the grid and receive payment. We are analysing the results of the consultation and aim to publish the Government response in due course.

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23 MAY 2019

Whorlton Hall

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

Too many people are ending up in terrible institutional care hundreds of miles from home for the want of much more appropriate community care, including social care. The Minister has spoken about not wanting to delay the publication of reports, but she will know that the delay to the social care Green Paper has been unaccountably prolonged. Will she bring forward the social care Green Paper because this issue lies at the root of inappropriate admissions?

Caroline Dinenage Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)

The hon. Lady knows that I listen very carefully to what she says. I completely share her frustration about the delays to the social care Green Paper, but I do not think that we should ever be held back from making progress on all the things that are wrong in society that we care very deeply about because we are awaiting the publication of such documents. We will therefore be pushing forward with all the work on a lot of the issues that I have spoken about today as a matter of great urgency.

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23 MAY 2019

Social Prescribing

Written Answer

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 his Department's policy is on social prescribing.

Caroline Dinenage Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)

'Prevention is better than cure', published by the Department in November 2018, highlighted the important role social prescribing can play in reducing people's isolation and improving levels of activity.

As set out in the NHS Long Term Plan, NHS England has committed to deliver at least £4.5 billion of new investment in primary medical and community health services over the next five years. Part of this investment will support the recruitment of over 1,000 trained social prescribing link workers - in place by the end of 2020/21 rising further by 2023/24, with the aim that over 900,000 people are able to be referred to social prescribing schemes by then.

The Prevention document and the Long Term Plan can be found at the following links:

www.gov.uk/government/publications/prevention-is-better-than-cure-our-vision-to-help-you-live-well-for-longer

www.longtermplan.nhs.uk/publication/nhs-long-term-plan/

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22 MAY 2019

Leaving the European Union

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

I spent 24 years on the frontline of the NHS, and like the vast majority of clinicians, I am desperately worried about the impact of a no-deal Brexit—a WTO Brexit—on the NHS, social care, science and research, and public health. I really want to help the Prime Minister get her deal across the line if it is subject to a confirmatory vote, but I do not believe it has the consent of even the loudest voices among the Brexiteers, let alone of constituents across this nation. Will she please commit to ending all of this? Her deal would get across the line with the support of so many colleagues across this House if she would just agree to make sure that it was genuinely the will of the people?

Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

If the hon. Lady wants to ensure that we do not leave without a deal, and she wants to press the case for a second referendum, the way to do that is to vote for Second Reading of the withdrawal agreement Bill. Then, during the progress of that Bill, we will be able to have that debate about a second referendum and, indeed, about other issues on which there is disagreement across this House, and come to a determination on them. That is the proper process to follow; it is the process that enables this House to take that decision.

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21 MAY 2019

Parliamentary Buildings (Restoration and Renewal) Bill

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

On the point about legacy value, would it not be better to have a Chamber that we could use for more constructive purposes? Rather than this adversarial approach, we could have a circular or semi-circular Chamber, with electronic voting facilities, so that we do not build in obsolescence, and we could then use it afterwards—for example, for citizens' assemblies and other forums where we want to engage with the public.

Andrea Leadsom Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

I hope the hon. Lady will appreciate that the purpose of the Bill is merely to establish a Sponsor Body and Delivery Authority, which will give the best value for money against a professionally run project that seeks to restore the Palace of Westminster. The shape of the decant Chamber and parliamentary procedures for voting can be discussed any day of the week. All Members are encouraged to feed in their ideas and suggestions to the northern estate programme, which is separate from what we are talking about today, and I encourage her to do so.

..........

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

I apologise for being absent for part of this debate because I have been chairing a Select Committee. It is on that point that I would like to ask the hon. Gentleman's advice. Does he agree that the public would be deeply shocked if we were seen to be building obsolescence into such an extraordinarily expensive project by not having the capacity for electronic voting posts in Select Committee Rooms on the northern estate redevelopment, so that at least, if this place got its act together with modern practices, we would not be interrupting repeatedly, and at length, Select Committee hearings by the way that we vote in this place?

Neil Gray Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Work and Pensions)

That is a very good point. It is clear from the hon. Lady's intervention, among others, that the majority view—in this debate, certainly, and in others—has been that we cannot return to a Parliament that is identical to the one that we leave. There have to be changes made; there has to be progress. I hope that that will be borne out in the passage of this Bill and the discussions that follow.

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21 MAY 2019

Treasury: NHS Pension Scheme

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

The workforce shortfall is the greatest challenge facing the NHS. What discussions has the Chancellor had with the Health Secretary about the combined impact of these changes together with the disastrous consequences for the NHS workforce that would follow a no-deal or WTO Brexit?

Philip Hammond The Chancellor of the Exchequer

As the hon. Lady says, recruitment and retention is one of the big challenges facing the NHS. Clearly, anything that were to impede the NHS's access to overseas workers coming into the UK to serve in our health service would have an impact on that. But I have also recognised and acknowledged today that the operation of the pension annual allowance charge does have a significant effect—particularly, it seems, on partners in GP practices.

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08 MAY 2019

Department of Health and Social Care: Preventive Medicine

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 Prevention is better than cure vision published by his Department in November 2018, whether the forthcoming prevention Green Paper will include oral health.

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

We are considering a number of policy options for the prevention green paper and will be mindful of oral health opportunities.

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07 MAY 2019

Health and Social Care: NHS Workforce Vacancies

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

The workforce shortfall is not evenly distributed across the NHS either geographically or by specialty. The Minister will know that there are particularly serious nursing shortfalls in learning disability and community services. He will also know of the implications of shortfalls—for example, for the ambition to deliver 75% of cancer diagnoses at stages 1 and 2. Will he look again at the evidence on mature students and the impact of losing bursaries on that section of the workforce? Will he meet me to discuss that?

 

Stephen Hammond Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)

The Chair of the Select Committee is right: the vacancies are not evenly spread and are of particular concern in learning difficulties and a number of other areas. Of course we want to ensure that mature students come back to and stay within the health service. That is why a number of incentives are being put in place to encourage, recruit and retain mature students. I would, of course, be happy to meet her to discuss this matter in more depth.

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03 MAY 2019

Totnes

It was lovely to be in Totnes and Plymouth today. Thank you to everyone who stopped to meet the great Change UK candidates campaigning for the EU elections.

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02 MAY 2019

National Security Council Leak

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

How can this matter be closed as far as our security partners are concerned given that Gavin Williamson has said that he is innocent? Has he been interviewed under oath at any stage during the investigation, because I note that he is not here to set out his position on the Floor of the House and it is vital that our security partners now have confidence? If it was not the former Secretary of State for Defence, who was it?

 

David Lidington Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Minister of State (Cabinet Office)

I think our security partners can have confidence that the Prime Minister has acted swiftly and resolutely to uphold the essential integrity and security of National Security Council proceedings.

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02 MAY 2019

Transport: Cycling and Walking

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

We know from the international evidence what would work to boost us to continental levels of cycling: consistent, long-term funding, rather than stop-start funding, and for both capital and revenue projects. Will the Minister set out what he is planning to ask for? Will he press for cycling funding of £10 to £35 per head, to bring us up to continental levels?

 

Jesse Norman Minister of State (Department for Transport)

I am grateful to the hon. Lady. I actually spent two hours yesterday in front of the Transport Committee debating exactly that question and specifying in some detail some of my hopes and expectations for future work, including for the spending review. Of course the hon. Lady is right about the importance of consistency and longevity in funding—that is what our local cycling and walking investment plans are doing and why we welcome the work that has been done in Birmingham by Mayor Andy Street and in Manchester through the Chris Boardman and Brian Deegan project—but I remind her that in 2010 the level of funding for cycling and walking was £2.50 a head; it is now at more than £7, and I hope that that upward direction will continue.

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01 MAY 2019

Liaison Committee

Today the Prime Minister was questioned on Brexit by the Liaison Committee

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01 MAY 2019

Environment and Climate Change

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

I thank the right hon. Gentleman and fellow cyclist for giving way. Does he agree with the young people who are outside this building that it would be easier and better to tackle climate change if we remained full members of the European Union?

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30 APR 2019

APPG Great South West

I attend a Parliamentary reception of the launch of the Great South West All Party Parliamentary Group. There was a great turnout for this launch with local business leaders, councillors and MPs among those in attendance. I am sure this APPG can achieve great things by working cross party to find solutions to the issues that matter locally.

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30 APR 2019

APPG Cycling

This morning, I attend a meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Cycling. This is one of my passions and I regularly make use of the fantastic cycle routes that we have across Devon. During this meeting, there was an informative presentation by Cycling UK about how we can push the Government into supporting increased cycling infrastructure and investment. We should take the lead from several European cities, whose specialised design and planning has resulted in a drastic uptake in cycling.

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30 APR 2019

Health and Social Care Committee

The Committee met today to discuss the NHS Long-term Plan: legislative proposals

This was a very relevant and interesting hearing where we discussed the use of medicinal cannabis. We considered the following questions: What does the current evidence base tell us about the efficacy of medicinal cannabis? What plans are there for research into the medicinal use of cannabis, and what challenges are faced by that research?

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29 APR 2019

Meeting with Cancer Charities

Thank you to representatives from across cancer charities for meeting in Parliament today to discuss the NHS Long Term Plan , workforce and early diagnosis and how ⁦the Health⁩ and Social Care Committee can help hold the  Government and NHS to account on delivery.

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25 APR 2019

Government Mandate for the NHS

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

The truth is that it is very difficult for the NHS to make plans without knowing what the Government's plans are for social care. We know, following a response to a question in yesterday's debate, that the Green Paper has actually been written. There is simply no excuse for the continued delay in its publication which would allow the House to scrutinise it and the NHS to be able to provide a truly integrated approach to health and social care. Just saying that it will be published soon is no longer acceptable. Will the Minister set out when we can expect to see this vital document, so that we can scrutinise the Government's plans?

Stephen Hammond Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)

The hon. Lady knows that the House and her Committee will have the fullest opportunity to scrutinise the document as and when it is published. She also knows that there is a commitment to publish it soon. She also rightly points out that it will deliver on the need to ensure that health and social care are integrated.

........

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

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. When the Secretary of State comes to the Dispatch Box and makes a clear commitment that the publication date of the Green Paper will be before Christmas, and we know that the document has been written, what are the consequences of an absolute failure to honour such a commitment made at the Dispatch Box by a Secretary of State?

John Bercow Speaker of the House of Commons,

The consequences are political more than anything else. Quite what form that political consequence takes, if there is to be any, very much depends upon the view of the House of Commons; so the matter is the property of the House. I do not wish to incite strong feeling on this matter and the Minister has answered questions fully—whether to the hon. Lady's satisfaction or not is another matter—and courteously. There are proceedings that can be brought to the House, but those are rarely brought and they would require a written communication with me. If, for example, a Member thought that the behaviour were contemptuous of the House, it is perfectly proper to bring that to my attention and I would have to consider it very carefully. But my instinctive reaction is that the consequence is a political consequence in terms of what might be considered a negative opinion of the failure to honour an earlier commitment. We shall leave it there for now.

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25 APR 2019

Electoral Registration: EU Citizens

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

Telling EU citizens to go home and vote is an absolute insult. This is their home and none of this shambles is any of their making. Will the Minister give an assurance that no EU citizens who turns up to vote will be turned away as a result of this shambles? Why can these forms and paperwork not be available at the point where they vote?

Brandon Lewis Minister without Portfolio , Party Chair, Conservative Party

Nobody is saying to EU citizens what the hon. Lady has just said we are saying. What we are saying is that EU citizens, as per 2014, should follow the process to register to vote so that they can use their vote if we hold these elections. It is about ensuring that people vote once in the European parliamentary elections, if they are held.

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24 APR 2019

Local Government and Social Care Funding

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

My right hon. Friend makes some really important points about the first 1,000 days of life, but equally there are similar arguments relating to the end of life. For example, too many people who need social care end up in a much more expensive place at the end of their life—in a hospital setting, where they do not want to be—for the want of the right investment in social care. Does he agree that we should apply the principle of investing to save across the whole of life?
..............

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

It is a pleasure to follow Anna Turley.

I start by thanking and paying tribute to all the frontline care staff around the country, and to all the family carers, informal carers and those working extremely hard in voluntary services in all our constituencies. In my constituency, I pay tribute to Dartmouth Caring, Totnes Caring, Brixham Does Care, South Brent and District Caring, and Kingsbridge and Saltstone Caring. I know that similar voluntary services are working across the country in tandem with the NHS to provide excellent care to our constituents, but they are under pressure as never before.

There is a devastating impact on those affected—those who are not getting the care services they need; not only working-age adults but older adults, and their families. There is also an impact on the NHS. If people cannot access care services, there is not only an impact on their dignity, mobility and wellbeing but they are much more likely to end up in hospital—a place they do not want to be and at much higher cost—sometimes with serious illnesses or injuries that could have been avoided by better prevention and early intervention.

We need to deal with this issue, and the House needs to appreciate the scale of the challenge. Let us look at the demographics. We know from the Office for National Statistics that, last year, 18% of our population nationally was aged over 65, but that in 14 years' time 23% of our population nationally will be over 65. Of course it is a good thing that people are living longer, but they are living longer with multiple disabilities and we need to be prepared for that. We need to be prepared not only for the scale of the shortfall we face right now but for what is coming in the future. When we talk about social care funding, we need not only to acknowledge the impact of the shortfall we have here and now, and how we are going to deal with it, but to plan seriously for what is coming down the track.

In my constituency, we are already there. My constituency has a much older population than in many parts of the country and, even when they can afford to pay for care, people cannot find the workforce to care for them. There is a real crisis in our social care workforce, which needs investment. We need to value and nurture that workforce. We know what works, but we also know it will require serious investment.

I am afraid that one of the features of such debates is that the blame bounces backwards and forwards when, in fact, cross-party working and consensus building is what is really needed. The funding choices we face are difficult. I agree with the hon. Member for Redcar, who highlighted why this cannot all be funded at a local level. Doing so just widens inequality, because the areas that are least able to pay have the greatest need. It is unrealistic for everything to come from a local level, so we need to work towards a national solution to the problem.

The Health and Social Care Committee, which I chair, has worked together with the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee—I pay tribute to Mr Betts, who has also spoken about this—and we know what works. The tragedy is that we could deal with the problem. Our joint Committees looked at the options and achieved a cross-party consensus; we worked alongside a citizens' assembly, because we think it is really important to build consensus outside this House. There are some principles we should be following. I urge the Minister, in her response, to tell us when the social care Green Paper will be published and commit to ensuring that it looks at the work of our joint Select Committees and the citizens' assembly.

We can move forward, but if we have learned anything from the Brexit process, surely it has to be that we cannot build consensus at the end of a process; we have to build it in right from the start. I hope that the Green Paper will be designed to achieve that, and that it will set out the principle of fairness in the funding of social care. One statistic that we should all be aware of is that in the next 14 years, as our demographic changes and the percentage of our population aged over 65 increases to 23%, there will be 4.4 million more citizens aged over 65 but only 1.5 million extra citizens aged under 65. It is simply not sustainable to allow all the extra cost to fall on working-age, employed adults, so we must look at how to spread it fairly across the generations and between the employed and the self-employed.

I agree with Members who have talked this afternoon about reimagining national insurance as national health and care insurance. If we are truly to move towards a system that expands not only eligibility but quality, we need to bring more funding into the total system; the funding cannot just come from local sources. I urge the Minister to set out what she feels about the measures highlighted in the joint Select Committee report, and whether the Government will commit to coming up with a solution that can deliver real change, rather than kicking the issue down the line.

The wrong lesson to learn from the last general election campaign would be, "Don't ever set out who has to pay more." We all need to do that now, between elections. We must be realistic with our constituents about the fact that everybody needs to pay more, and we must build their trust in the idea that the increase will be delivered fairly. The consequences of doing nothing will be that more and more of our constituents will be left in desperate conditions, without carers to look after them; more and more of our care providers will go to the wall; and there will be no increase in the quality of care delivered on the ground, because there will not be the funding to support the workforce. We have to grasp the nettle with these difficult choices.

Before I close, I want to say something about Brexit. There is no version of Brexit that will deliver anything positive for health and social care, especially if we look at the impact on the workforce. The Minister will know that in parts of the south-east and London, in particular, social care is very heavily dependent on access to a workforce from the European Union. That is also the case in my constituency. Nationally, around 7% of the social care workforce are from the EU. If we cut off access to that workforce, not only will we miss out on an incredibly important and valued skilled workforce by making it more difficult for them to come here, but we will add costs. Many of the people who work in social care—in fact, the vast majority—will not meet the current proposed earnings thresholds that will allow them to come here easily on, for example, tier 2 visas.

We need a way to nurture our workforce and to make it easy for people to come here to work and to feel valued. I do not want to meet any more people in my constituency who work in the NHS and social care and tell me that after decades of dedicated service to this country, they no longer feel welcome.

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

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

The Minister's reply suggests that the Green Paper already exists. There is a great deal of frustration about the delay. The Green Paper was supposed to follow hard on the heels of the 10-year plan, because the two were closely linked. The Secretary of Stategave a pledge from the Dispatch Box that it would be published before Christmas. Will the Minister at least set out the reasons for the delay, and give some indication of when we might expect it? It is such a crucial document.

Caroline Dinenage Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)

As the hon. Lady will know, a version of the Green Paper already exists, but that does not mean that we are resting on our laurels while we are waiting for an opportunity to publish it. We are continuing to improve it and evolve it so that when we do publish it—as soon as possible—it will be in the best possible shape.

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11 APR 2019

Loan Charge

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

I thank the hon. Gentleman for making these excellent points. Like me, does he find that he has several constituents who had no option but to be self-employed and were required to enter such vehicles?

 

 

Stephen Metcalfe Conservative, South Basildon and East Thurrock

The hon. Lady makes an excellent point. For many there was no option. In many cases, as in the case of my constituent, people had to enter these schemes. My constituent even checked whether there were alternative options and checked the legitimacy of it, never thinking it would come back to haunt him.

I have to say that I do not like it. It feels wrong. I would like to think that I am a fairly reasonable chap, and when I feel that something is wrong or off and does not feel like natural justice, it tends to be true. Eventually, the Government will come round to my way of thinking, or I very much hope so.

As I said, I am not an expert on tax in general, but the charge is retrospective and HMRC failed to notify scheme users of the tax liability. Users sought professional advice or were advised to enter these schemes and, as in my constituent's case, annually declared what they were doing.

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10 APR 2019

World Health: 25-Year Environment Plan

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

Does my hon. Friend feel that there should be greater penalties for acts of environmental vandalism, where developers come in and clear wildlife corridors and later on we find that the tree survey, for example, shows that there are no trees because they have cut them all down? The current penalties for that are simply not sufficient. It has happened in my area in Dartmouth and caused great upset and loss to the environment.

Rebecca Pow Conservative, Taunton Deane

I thank my hon. Friend for mentioning that, because it leads me on, interestingly, to ancient woodland. I am pleased that this Government, through the all-party parliamentary group on ancient woodland and veteran trees and the Woodland Trust, and working with many colleagues, have managed to get extra protection for ancient woodland. In future, developers should not be able to bulldoze ancient trees down in the way they used to. Those trees are very precious, as is the soil underneath them. We must get teeth so that we can hold people's feet to the fire and ensure that those things do not happen.

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