14 DEC 2017

Business of the House

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons)

On one of the busiest Saturdays in the run-up to Christmas in Totnes, local activists—including, sadly, the local Labour party—decided to parade with a real coffin and leave a large and carefully constructed model of a coffin at my constituency office. Does the Leader of the House feel, particularly in the light of the report on intimidation in public life that was published yesterday, that the line of decency was overstepped? There are real dangers in using the imagery of death and directing it against individuals to whip up hatred. Most importantly of all, this kind of thing deters really good candidates from applying for positions in public life.

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

I was disgusted, as I am sure all right hon. and hon. Members were, to hear about my hon. Friend's awful experience. I texted her at the time to say that I hoped she was okay. It must have been absolutely terrifying. It was truly horrible and we should all condemn this kind of behaviour and call it out wherever we see it. Lord Bew's report on the abuse and intimidation of candidates highlights that this is not a simple matter of holding politicians to account. It goes far beyond that and it will be a deterrent to diversity and the high calibre of candidates we want to see standing for Parliament. We all combine in condemning that action against my hon. Friend.

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14 DEC 2017

Topical Questions

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons)

I recently booked an appointment in the Reading Room. I thought that it would be like an inner circle of hell, and that I would be trapped in there for days reading the sectoral analysis. Indeed, I was there with Mary Creagh. In fact, there were only nine pages on health and social care, and the documents relevant to my Select Committee took me less than an hour to read in their entirety. I believe that in the interests of transparency, these very straightforward documents should be in the public domain. Will the Secretary of State publish them?

Robin Walker The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union

The sectoral analysis has already been made available to the Select Committees, as per the motion of the House, and to all Members of this House through the Reading Room. The documents contain a range of information, including sector views, some of which would certainly be of great interest to the other side in these negotiations.

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13 DEC 2017

Implementing the withdrawal agreement

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons)

I agree with many of the hon. Lady's points, but is it not vital that we send out the clear reassurance, which the Prime Minister gave at the Dispatch Box to all our NHS and care staff, that they and their families are welcome to stay, that we want them to stay and that their rights are now guaranteed?

Philippa Whitford Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Health)

I absolutely agree with the hon. Lady, but unfortunately it is not enough to come to the Dispatch Box every couple of months with warm words of welcome to EU staff, when in between women who are raising families here, with British partners or partners of EU origin, are being turned down for permanent residency because they have not taken out private comprehensive health insurance. We have had 100 EU nationals sent "prepare to leave" letters. Friends of ours tried to get citizenship for their three children, who were born and grew up in Scotland: the eldest and youngest were given passports; the middle child was refused. I am sorry but the experience of EU nationals on the ground over the past year and a half has been horrendous. If the phase 1 agreement last week is to mean anything, we must incorporate it into the immigration Bill to give them certainty now, instead of telling them they might have to wait another year before they find out what their future will be.

To exercise the right to live anywhere, access to healthcare and social security is crucial. It has made such a difference, not just to EU nationals here, but to our pensioners who have settled in the sunny uplands of the northern Mediterranean. What position will they be in if they cannot access healthcare? We must recognise that freedom of movement was not a one-way street; our young people and professionals have been able to take advantage of it for the past 40 years. We are taking that away from the next generation, which is something that I find terrible.

The Government say, and it is in the phase 1 agreement, that they accept keeping regulations 883 and 987, so let us bring that in. Let us get that down on paper and get it passed, because saying to EU nationals, "You're welcome to stay, but there might be no deal, which means you'll have no legal standing and you won't be able to use the NHS," is no use to anyone.

The other thing that the EU has brought us, as well as rights and opportunities, is co-operation. The agencies of which we are members are probably the prime example of that. Sadly, more than half of the EU agencies do not have a constitutional position for third countries. Twenty-one of them allow participation and 12 of those allow what is called co-operation, which does not involve payment in the way that participation would. It is therefore important that the Government utilise those and keep us in, or as close as possible to, the agencies that were bringing benefit to the UK. It is also important to recognise that this affects all constituent parts of the UK—all four nations. These decisions cannot be made by delegated legislation, down in an office, with no discussion with Parliament or the devolved nations, which will have to mitigate and face the ramifications.

With an airport and the northern air traffic control in my constituency, naturally I support amendments 245 and 246, on staying in the single European sky agreement, which is the reform of airspace, and the European common aviation agreement, which is what allowed the budget airlines to literally take off and people to travel cheaply. However, the European Aviation Safety Agency is also important, and that is a body of the EU and EFTA. It is important to recognise that there are things we can be in, there are things we cannot be in, and we lose these because we seem to have negotiated with ourselves to move to a hard Brexit instead of a soft Brexit. People here are saying , "Oh yes, this was all aired in the debate." I remember hearing leavers saying, "Of course we won't leave the single market. Don't be ridiculous." Yet that is the plan and that is where we are heading at the moment.

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13 DEC 2017

Prime Minister: Engagements

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons)

Will the Prime Minister join me in thanking all the wonderful staff from across the European Union who work in our NHS and social care? Will she give them her personal, unequivocal assurance that they and their families will have the right to remain after Britain leaves the European Union?

Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

I am very happy to join my hon. Friend in thanking all who work in our NHS and social care sector, including those from across the European Union. They do incredible work, and it is absolutely right that we recognise the contribution that EU nationals make in this sector but also across our economy and our society. That is why we want people to be able to stay and we want families to be able to stay together. I am very pleased that the arrangements that were published in the joint progress report between the United Kingdom and the European Union last Friday show very clearly, on citizens' rights, that where people have made the life choice to be here in the United Kingdom, we will support them and enable them to carry on living their lives as before.

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12 DEC 2017

European Union (Withdrawal) Bill

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons)

I congratulate my hon. Friend and the Procedure Committee, and I really welcome its proposals. Does he think that this idea should be extended to all statutory instruments?

Charles Walker Chair, Procedure Committee

My hon. Friend tempts me so much. It is not my intention today to spook the Government, but I think the sifting committee will probably be so successful that the Government and the House will want to embrace it for all negative SIs going forward.

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07 DEC 2017

UK Fishing Industry

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons)

I wish to start by paying tribute to Sean Hunter, a Brixham fisherman who sadly lost his life in the past week. He was deeply loved by his family and the whole community, and I know that the House will want to join me in sending our deepest condolences to his family.

I also pay tribute to the Fishermen's Mission, which does much to support fishermen, their families and our wider communities, and join other Members in paying tribute to the coastguard, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, the National Coastwatch Institution and all the emergency services for their professionalism and courage. Most of all, however, I want to thank the fishers themselves, who do so much, in such challenging conditions, to put food on our plates and bring so much to our national and local economies. The value of the catch to the UK economy in 2016 was £936 million.

I am also delighted to say that Brixham has again been voted the No. 1 fishing port in the UK and lands the most valuable catch in England. In excess of £30 million has been sold through Brixham fish market in the last year, and that is providing jobs not just at sea but in the processing sector on land. We recognise the value of all those jobs.

I also pay tribute to the responsible actions of our fishers, who have done much in responding to scientific advice to improve the sustainability of many of our species. However, just as we expect our fishers to respond to that scientific advice and reduce the total allowable catch, in many cases, so I would ask the Minister to respond and recognise that we expect fairness when the scientific data shows we are fishing sustainably. In his negotiations, in which I wish him well, will he therefore look at the sole quotas in VIId and VIIe? There is a very strong case for their being increased further.

We need to look again at the value of the scientific evidence on which the quotas are based. In responding to the debate, will the Minister listen to the concerns of fishermen who are asking for greater access to fisheries science partnerships in co-operation with CEFAS? I am concerned to hear that too often these requests are turned down. For some years, the UK has agreed to adhere to the data collection framework, so it is of great concern to hear that the sprat stock, for example, is still described as "Data Deficient". In his response, will the Minister say what is going to happen about that in future?

Several colleagues have raised the issues of bass fisheries. As time is short, I will not dwell on them, except perhaps to thank the Devon and Severn inshore fisheries and conservation authority for meeting me to discuss the wrasse fisheries, and to hold that up as an example of where responsible but proportionate precautionary principles are being applied.

In my closing moments, I say to the Minister that as we now move to thinking about where we are with Brexit and beyond, fishing communities want to see fairness. We recognise that we need to avoid falling into an acrimonious Brexit, but to maintain good relations in order to trade with our neighbours in the future. I just hope that he will make sure that our fishing communities are not let down, as they were in 1973.

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07 DEC 2017

Social Care

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons)

The House of Lords Select Committee on the Long-term Sustainability of the NHS rapidly concluded that it would be impossible to carry out its task without investigating the interrelated nature of social care, and it changed its remit accordingly. The Committee changed the scope of its inquiry because it recognised that we will not see a long-term, sustainable solution unless we address both. I am afraid that a Green Paper that focuses entirely on social care will fail to rise to the challenge. Has the Minister read the Committee's findings, and as she listens to those she consults at an early stage, will she be prepared if the advice from them is to consider health and social care together—that has been the advice of all the commissions that have looked at this—to go back to the drawing board and start again by looking at both health and social care?

Jackie Doyle-Price The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health

To reassure my hon. Friend on the terms of reference for the Green Paper, let me say that part and parcel of getting a long-term, sustainable solution very much involves looking at care, and I pointed out in the statement that we need to look at holistic areas of policy to deliver it. Housing is one area, because if we get housing conditions right, we can obviously enable people to live for longer. The whole purpose of having a Green Paper and a debate is to make sure that we consider this issue not in a silo, but holistically, with a person-centred approach.

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28 NOV 2017

Nursing Workforce

The Health Committee heard from senior officials, including Minister of State for Health, Philip Dunne MP, about the challenges facing the nursing workforce in England and the actions Government and arms-length bodies are taking to address these problems.

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28 NOV 2017

Maternity Safety Strategy

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons)

I warmly welcome the Secretary of State's announcements today, including the move to allow coroners to investigate full-term stillbirths. Will he set out the current waiting time for post-mortems for infants because, as he will be aware, there is a shortage of the very highly specialised pathologists who carry out this vital work?

Jeremy Hunt The Secretary of State for Health

I do not have that information to hand, but I will find out for my hon. Friend and let her know.

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23 NOV 2017

Universal Credits

Sarah WollastonChair, Health Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons)

I thank the Secretary of State for listening to colleagues on both sides of the House in this welcome package of changes to universal credit, and particularly for scrapping the seven waiting days, for improving the loans and advances that are available and for the changes to housing benefit. Will he join me in thanking Citizens Advice? Citizens Advice does so much to support all our constituents, and it also welcomes the changes.

David Gauke The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

My hon. Friend is right to draw attention to Citizens Advice, with which we have strongly engaged. Indeed, I spoke to its chief executive yesterday, and I have a meeting with her—the chief executive—later today. We will continue to work closely with Citizens Advice, and I am keen to ensure that, when it comes to universal support, we continue to work closely with Citizens Advice because it provides people with a huge amount of practical support and help.

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14 NOV 2017

Paignton Community College

I met with Justine Greening today along with Kevin Foster to discuss our serious concerns about the condition of parts of Paignton Community & Sports Academy.

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14 NOV 2017

Nursing Home Beds

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health Committee

In its annual “State of Care” report, the Care Quality Commission has highlighted that there are 4,000 fewer nursing home beds in England than there were in April 2015. What plans does the Secretary of State have to address the workforce and funding issues that lie behind this? Will he meet me to discuss the situation in my constituency and nationally?

Jeremy Hunt The Secretary of State for Health

I congratulate my hon. Friend on becoming Chair of the Liaison Committee. Of course, I am always happy to meet her, and the issue that she has raised is very important. Our figures show that the number of nursing home beds, as distinct from the number of nursing homes, is broadly stable. There is real pressure in the market, however, and there are real issues about market failure in some parts of the country, so I am more than happy to talk to her about that.

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13 NOV 2017

Ministry of Defence; Military Aircraft

Written Answer

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, if his Department will give consideration to retaining UK aerospace design and manufacturing capability by taking into account supply chains when purchasing new aircraft.

Harriett BaldwinThe Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence

We recognise the important contribution the UK's Defence Aerospace Industry makes to the UK's national security and prosperity.

Through the Future Combat Air Strategy Technology Initiative (FCAS TI), announced as part of the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review settlement, we are pursuing a national programme to ensure the UK retains the skills and capabilities necessary to maintain our place as a global leader in this area including in the wider supply chain.

We continue to review the defence industrial landscape, including in the UK aerospace sector to better understand our longer-term requirements and delivery options including the potential for international partnering, industry's appetite to invest, adjacent civil investment and overall affordability. Our review process considers the broader supply chain and will be taken into consideration in future procurement decisions. In addition, the refreshed Defence Industrial Policy will further explain how our investment choices take account of factors contributing to a more dynamic and productive UK economy, in which the UK defence supply chain plays a crucial part.

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08 NOV 2017

Aerospace Industry

Written Answer

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to strengthen and promote the British aerospace industry.

 

Richard HarringtonParliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)

The UK has the second largest aerospace industry globally, with strengths in some of the most technologically advanced parts of aircraft: wings, engines and advanced systems. The industry has annual turnover of around £32 billion, and exports some £30 billion.

Through the Aerospace Growth Partnership, Government is supporting action by industry to make sure the UK remains competitive, including a joint Industry/Government commitment of £3.9 billion for Research and Development activities through to 2026.

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07 NOV 2017

Presenting the 67 Petition

Today I presented a petition of over 1000 signatures to the House of Commons from the users of the No.67 bus service in Torbay, to urge Torbay Council to commit to providing a similar service to the previous No. 67 service for the sake of the local residents as soon as possible. This petition was collated by constituent Madge Forrester and assisted by Brixham Councillor David Giles

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07 NOV 2017

Health Select Committee

Today there was an oral evidence session on the Nursing workforce

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01 NOV 2017

Exiting the Eu: Sectoral Impact Assessments

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health Committee

In response to the right hon. and learned Gentleman's point, may I formally request that these documents be released not only to the Exiting the European Union Committee, but to all relevant Select Committees, as requested by the Select Committee on Health yesterday?

Keir Starmer Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union

I will come to that, because we gave some thought to the process, and if the principle of disclosure is agreed, we are open to a discussion about exactly how that works. The Brexit Select Committee seemed the obvious Committee, but there is clearly interest in other Select Committees in the subject matter, not least medical services and social care, which I know will be of great interest to the hon. Lady.

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health Committee

The Health Committee will shortly begin an inquiry entitled "Brexit—medicines, medical devices and substances of human origin". We will be considering, among other issues, how we can guarantee safe, effective and timely access to medicines and substances of human origin; the future of medical research and development; how we will co-operate and collaborate across Europe after we leave the European Union; and access to the appropriate workforce. The stakes could not be higher. The Committee does not want to damage the national interest; we want to do our job on behalf of patients, this House and the public.

We know that there are sectoral analyses of life sciences, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, medical services and social care. I did discuss with the Committee, in advance of our hearing yesterday, whether we wished to call for these papers, and we discussed many of the issues that have been raised in the House today. The Committee was unanimous in giving me the authority formally to request those papers from the Secretary of State, and I did so. Therefore, although there has been much comment this afternoon about there being a discourtesy in not raising this with the Committee, the Committee has considered it and would like the papers, on behalf of our patients, in order to allow us to do our job better.

I believe in transparency. I understand the concerns that have been raised and so would be prepared to see the documents in a private setting, if it is believed that that is the right way forward. But I and my Committee believe that we can do a better job on behalf of this House if we have access to the information. I therefore call on the Secretary of State to release it to us.

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health Committee

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Would it be helpful for you to inform the House what you feel a reasonable timeframe would be for the Government to respond?

John Bercow Speaker of the House of Commons,

I do not think I am obliged to do that, and I am not sure how much difference it would make. The issues are important but I do not think—I may be contradicted by senior procedural experts, to whose wisdom I should defer—that the matters are particularly complicated. One can take a view about this, one can consult "Erskine May" and one should reflect in a sober and considered fashion, but if the hon. Lady is asking me whether I envisage this being something that needs to be deliberated on over a period of several days, the answer is no.

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31 OCT 2017

Health Select Committee

Today the Committee took evidence from the Secretary of State for Health

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26 OCT 2017

Leaving the EU

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health Committee

No deal would be a very bad deal indeed for this country. What if the House votes on the final deal and rejects it? Is the Secretary of State implying that those who voted against it would be saying that they would like to leave with no deal at all?


David Davis The Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union

All I was doing was repeating exactly the statement that was made at this Dispatch Box by the Minister during the debate on the relevant Bill.

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25 OCT 2017

Social Care

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health Committee

It is a pleasure to follow Dr Whitford and I particularly commend her comments on the importance of prevention, which we must not forget. I join the Minister in paying tribute to the wider care and health workforce, and of course the many unpaid family carers for all that they do. I would like to touch on the forthcoming consultation and some of the current and future challenges. If hon. Members will forgive me, I will take very few interventions because I know that many are waiting to speak.

On the consultation, the Health Committee yesterday had the pleasure of hearing from members of the House of LordsCommittee on the Long-term Sustainability of the NHS on the subject of the long-term sustainability of the NHS and social care. They started out with the remit of talking about the NHS, but rapidly realised that the two systems are completely inseparable and that we have to stop considering health and social care in separate silos. The Minister will hear overwhelmingly from the people who contribute to the consultation that we cannot keep thinking of these systems in isolation, so right from the outset will she make it a consultation on the sustainable future funding of both health and social care?

One thing that we heard loud and clear from members of the Lords Committee yesterday was that we need to do more about future planning and that the system for this has been dismal for decades. Their recommendation was that we should set up an office for health and care sustainability that gives us all good-quality, reliable data about not only the demographic challenges but the future needs of both systems so that we can plan ahead for the costs we face in a realistic manner.

Too often in this House we have very divisive debates on this issue, and the challenges in funding future health and care costs are so enormous that I fear the only way we will meet them is by those on both Front Benches and all Members across the House agreeing that we need to work jointly to reach solutions, because no political party has a monopoly on good ideas. Particularly in a hung Parliament, where it is very difficult for us to pass primary legislation, the only way we will move forward on behalf of the people we all represent—we all want the best for them—is if the solutions are worked towards jointly across the House. I hope all Members will move forward in this debate in a spirit of co-operation, because we have to fund this properly. I am afraid that there is a funding gap, although I absolutely welcome the £2 billion that has been pledged. There is consensus that by the time we reach 2019-20, we will face an estimated funding gap, despite the uplift, of more than £2 billion. That will have a real impact on all those we represent.

We must fund this properly not just now, in the short term, but in the long term, and we must come forward with solutions, but it is not just about funding. It is about staffing, and planning properly for a wider workforce across health and social care, so I very much hope that that will also be included in the consultation. Unless we plan ahead for our future workforce, we will always be playing catch-up, as we do at the moment. Of course, we have seen many important changes. In the future, for example, healthcare assistants will be able to train to move forward through the apprenticeship route to become nursing associates and on into degree nursing. We know from Camilla Cavendish's review that it is not just about pay in the sector but the lack of continuing professional development and training opportunities and, in particular, the inability to rotate through the NHS and social care community settings. That gives an example of how the Government are making some positive moves, which I welcome.

I hope that from the start the consultation will cover both health and social care and that the Minister will go further in covering not just the sleep-in crisis but some of the many other issues that affect my constituents. For example, some are having their assessments re-examined, and disabled young adults facing a change in the support that will be available to them. I hope that the Minister will meet me to discuss some of the issues raised by my constituents in Kingsbridge who face significant changes to their care.

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23 OCT 2017

European Council

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health Committee

I welcome the Prime Minister's positive approach, and the news that we are within touching distance of a deal, because that is in everyone's best interests. However, in preparing for all eventualities, would the Prime Minister be willing to reinstate the seasonal agricultural workers scheme? Businesses in my constituency are keen to plan ahead for all eventualities.

Theresa May The Prime Minister

I was Home Secretary when the scheme ended, and at that stage the Migration Advisory Committee made it clear that it felt it was not necessary to reintroduce it, at least for a period of time. However, the current Home Secretary has asked the committee to look into immigration needs throughout the UK economy. I am sure that that will include consideration of the sector that my hon. Friend has spoken about, and of whether or not a seasonal agricultural workers scheme is necessary.


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23 OCT 2017

Defence

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health Committee

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. It is now more than four months since the general election, but still the Liaison Committee cannot meet formally to carry out its functions on behalf of the House. Will you assist us, Mr Speaker, because I am afraid that repeated representations from across the House by Select Committee Chairs are not yet making a difference in ensuring that all Select Committees are properly constituted?

John Bercow Speaker of the House of Commons, 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 for her point of order. It is absurd and indefensible that more than four months after the state opening of Parliament, that Committee, which, of course, consists of the Chairs of the Select Committees, has yet to be constituted. I might add—almost in parentheses, because I am sure that the hon. Lady will feel empathy with other colleagues on this front—that the same situation, I think, applies to the European Scrutiny Committee, and also to another Committee which is not a Select Committee but which is a Committee of Parliament, and a very important Committee at that, namely the Intelligence and Security Committee. Those Committees are there to scrutinise the Executive branch.

I discussed this important matter in a most co-operative exchange with the Leader of the House at the start of the summer recess, and I know that she used her best endeavours, with others, to ensure the constitution of many of the Select Committees some little while ago. However, the fact that the remaining Committees are as yet unconstituted is simply not acceptable.

It would obviously be most unfortunate if it were necessary for Members to keep raising points of order day after day after day after day before those Committees were established, and, as I am sure the whole House would want to avoid such an embarrassing fate, I can only assume that proper action will now follow. However, the hon. Lady is always attentive to her responsibilities, and I am certain that, in the grisly event that it is necessary for her to raise a further point of order, she will not hesitate to do so.

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18 OCT 2017

Universal Credits

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health Committee

I support the principles behind universal credit. My question is this: why are we undermining a policy with the potential to change lives for the better by not addressing a fundamental flaw at its heart?

We have heard many compelling cases today, and we cannot ignore them. Siobhain McDonagh set out one of the flaws, but we have seen that a policy of test, learn and rectify can work. Today there have been universal congratulations for the Government on the introduction of a free helpline, and the bringing forward of access to advances has also improved the policy, but that does not get us away from the fundamental problem of a minimum six-week wait. That means that our constituents who are living on the edge—we are talking about real people's lives here—are going to start this process in debt and in arrears, as we have heard.

It is possible to apply test, learn and rectify to this process. I want to hear from the Minister in the winding-up speech that Front Benchers recognise that and that they are going to address the six-week wait. The advance does not solve the issue; it does not cover the entire amount. Those of us who represent our constituents have a cushion and we would probably manage, but many of the people I used to look after when I was in clinical practice and the people I represent now who come to my constituency surgeries have no cushion whatever. This is devastating for them, and we cannot ignore the very real, compelling case histories that we have heard. We cannot allow those to continue.

There are things that we can do. Bringing forward the initial payment would mean that fewer people needed advances in the first place. That would save us a complicated bureaucracy, allowing people to say for themselves when they start universal credit, "Please would you pay my landlord direct, because I know I am going to find that complicated? Please would you give me payments every fortnight, because I don't currently receive monthly payments?" Once they are established on the system, give them, with their advisers, the option to transfer to taking over their own monthly payments for their rent.

Heidi Allen Conservative, South Cambridgeshire

Does my hon. Friend agree that that would be sensible not only from an administrative point of view, but because work coaches could be helping people get into work, rather than helping them to deal with debt, stress and mental health issues?

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health Committee

I absolutely agree. I say to the Minister, please, can we hear an assurance at least that there is a recognition of this fundamental flaw and that it will be addressed?

I know that Members on this side of the House will be abstaining tonight. Personally, I do not agree with that. The House should have an opportunity to express its view, and there have been occasions on which these debates, even though they are advisory, have led to changes in policy. If there is no way for me to express my view, on behalf of my constituents, that I think this fundamental flaw must be addressed before the policy is rolled out to the Totnes constituency next year, I am afraid that I will have to vote against the Government. I do not wish to do that because I support the underlying policy of universal credit—we have heard about many of its benefits—but, I say again, we are undermining it by not addressing the fundamental flaw at its heart. I hope the Minister will give an assurance from the Dispatch Box so that I do not have to vote against the Government.

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18 OCT 2017

Surgical Mesh Implants

I attended a Westminster Hall Debate today on the risk of surgical mesh implants.

The following is a link to the reporting scheme for women wishing to notify the MHRA of mesh complications. Then click on the devices tab

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12 OCT 2017

Unauthorised Encampments

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health Committee

I thank my hon. Friend for the measured tone that she has set for this debate. Does it surprise her that there are often examples of forced entry clearly having been used—for example, angle grinders on gates or huge boulders dragged to the side, sometimes in front of witnesses? Does she agree that the police need much greater powers to intervene and move people on where that is happening?

..........

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health Committee

I am disappointed that Laura Pidcock dismisses the issue as a clash of cultural norms. That does a great disservice to the Gypsy and Traveller community. I do not believe that incidents of criminal damage, environmental degradation, intimidation, fly-tipping and, in some cases, violence are cultural norms for that community; we are talking about a very tiny minority. As we have heard repeatedly in the debate, this is about ensuring the same rights, responsibilities and respect for everybody.

In the short time available, I will not repeat the many points that have been made, but propose to the Minister a solution-focused approach. We need much greater clarity about the police's powers to deal with witnessed criminal damage, because they are sometimes unsure of their own powers when criminal damage is reported or even when it happens in their presence.

So much revolves around dialogue. As has been said, meeting people and talking to them is important, but it can sometimes be difficult to know who to liaise with. During the consultation, will the Minister consider introducing a responsibility for someone to be appointed to speak for groups of Travellers and to liaise with them directly? That would allow us not only to advance the dialogue more constructively, but to hold somebody genuinely accountable.

That is about holding people to account, just as we would expect members of the local community to be held to account vigorously for intimidation of, or disrespect towards, the Traveller community. We still expect someone to be responsible for a group of people involved in the kinds of incidents that we have heard about today, such as fly-tipping. At the moment, nobody can be held to account for such incidents, yet the local community has to pick up the bill. That is where we are heading: a vicious cycle of communities being so resentful about these encampments.

We are asking for the same laws to apply to everyone and to see something coming out of this consultation that results in genuine action to ensure that people are held to account, in the same way that I would expect all my other constituents to be held to account for the kinds of incidents that we have heard about today.

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10 OCT 2017

Health Select Committee

The Health Select Committe met today to discuss the Work of NHS England and NHS Improvement

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10 OCT 2017

Mental Health Workforce

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health Committee

As someone who is married to an NHS psychiatrist, may I start by paying tribute to all those volunteers, carers and professionals working in mental health on World Mental Health Day? Has the Secretary of State seen today's briefing by the Children's Commissioner, highlighting the vital importance of prevention and early intervention? Will he set out what steps he is taking to support a growing workforce—volunteers and professionals—working in prevention and early intervention?

Jeremy Hunt The Secretary of State for Health

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. I am aware of the report that she talks about. We know that half of mental health conditions become established before the age of 14, which is why early intervention is so important. In July, I announced an expansion in the mental health workforce—another 21,000 posts. A number of those will be in children's mental health, to address the issues she raises.

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14 SEP 2017

Local Housing Need

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health Committee

The South Hams has one of the highest house prices to earnings ratios in the country. I know that the Secretary of State wants to help young people to get on the housing ladder by introducing the earnings ratio, but that will be of no help to young people in my constituency if all the homes become second homes. Will he set out his plans to deal with areas of exceptionally high second home ownership?

Sajid Javid The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government

My hon. Friend makes a good point. She will know that schemes are already in place to help people to get on the housing ladder, such as the Help to Buy scheme, which has helped more than 400,000 people. On her specific point about second homes, measures have already been introduced but, as she highlights, this issue needs to be considered carefully and kept under review to see what more we can do.

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13 SEP 2017

Higher Education (England) Regulations

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health Committee

The Leader of the Opposition reneged on his clear pledge to deal with historic debt. Does the Secretary of State agree that that policy would have meant graduates repaying not only their own debt but the future debts of others?

 

Justine Greening Minister for Women and Equalities, The Secretary of State for Education

Indeed. The Labour party has a confused, muddled, counterproductive and anti-social mobility policy on student fees and student debt that would put at risk much of our higher education sector. It would be absolutely disastrous.

The bottom line is that, even now, across the border in Wales, the Labour colleagues of the hon. Member for Ashton-under-Lyne are implementing the very increases, in line with inflation, that she is opposing here today. That shows a level of hypocrisy that is becoming a hallmark of the current Labour Front Bench. The bottom line is that they are in—[Interruption.] I am taking no lectures from the hon. Lady about taking interventions when she was scared to take more than two. The bottom line is that Labour's student finance policy is a cold, calculating con trick on young people. It is shameless politics.

I have three serious questions for the Opposition on the policy of no fees, and they are questions that they need to answer. How many of the poorest children in this country are they going to prevent from going to university under that policy? How many world-class universities will shut down because they run out of money? If highly paid graduates do not have to pay to go to university to get their degrees, who is going to pay the bill? Those questions have never been answered. The Opposition have no answers, because having a sensible approach that has the best interests of students, universities and taxpayers at its heart is not their objective, is it? Driving social mobility is not Labour's objective. Enabling more disadvantaged young people to go to university is not their objective. Properly funded universities are not their objective. It is just a cynical con trick. That is Labour's objective. Far from Labour being the friend of students and universities, its policy would destroy opportunity and destroy our world-class universities. This House should see straight through it. Frankly, the motion is not even worth the paper it is written on.

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13 SEP 2017

NHS Pay

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health Committee

It is a pleasure to follow Dr Whitford. I pay tribute to her for her work on the Select Committee on Health in the previous Parliament. That work was inevitably full of expertise and always constructive; I thank her for that. I agree with her that the NHS is a team, but that team should also include the wider social care staff because we cannot continue to look at the two systems in isolation. I echo her point, thanking all our NHS and care staff for the contribution they make not just to our wider economy, but—most importantly—to patients. Those are the people we should keep at the heart of this debate.

I welcome this debate. I also welcome the relaxation of the cap because we need to give the NHS Pay Review Body greater flexibility to make recommendations about what we need to put in place for our NHS staff. I agree with the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire that we should look at the impact of pay on morale, recruitment and retention—this is an international workforce, as well as a national one—but we also need to look at pay across regions and within specialties because there is great variation. We should focus our efforts on ensuring that we are looking at the situation from the patients' perspective by, for example, looking at the greatest areas of deprivation, which very often have the lowest ratios of NHS and care staff and who are under the greater pressure.

Seven years of sustained pressure on NHS pay is taking a toll. Nobody anticipated that it would go on for this long, so it is time to relax the cap. We should look not just at the issue of pay, but at the wider pressures within the NHS. I am delighted to announce that the Health Committee, which held its first meeting just before Prime Minister's Question Time, has agreed that its first inquiry of the Parliament will be on the nursing workforce. We will look not just at pay, but at the wider workforce pressures, including the increased workload that comes from increasing demand across the system, morale and all the other non-pay issues that contribute to the pressures on nurses. We will also look at bursaries and the new routes into nursing, and at their impact on people entering the nursing workforce. We have heard about that already today. For example, we know that those who drop out of nursing courses are more likely to be in the younger age groups, whereas those who go into nursing as mature students are much more likely to stay. We need to look at all those wider impacts.

Maria Caulfield Conservative, Lewes

I really welcome the news that the Select Committee is going to do a review of nursing. Will the Committee look into pay structure? The current Agenda for Change structure is being used by some trusts, in hospitals and communities, as a way of downgrading nursing roles. For example, a senior sister in one place may be paid a band 7 salary, whereas someone in the same role somewhere not too far down the road may be paid a band 5 salary. There is inequity in the current system.

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health Committee

That is an important point. I very much hope that my hon. Friend will contribute to the Committee's inquiry. As well as looking at the new routes into nursing, we will look at the skills mix, roles within health and social care more widely, the impact of Brexit and language testing, workload and morale. We will be seeking contributions from hon. Members across the House and from people outside.

As I said, we will miss something if we just look at the issue as one of pay. Pay restraint is estimated to contribute between £3.3 billion and £3.5 billion of the five year forward view efficiency savings up to 2019-20. If that goes, what will fill the gap? We have to be careful that there is no loss of services or losses in the workforce, because workforce pressures—probably more than any other issue—contribute to nursing staff leaving the profession. We have to look at the bigger picture.

Eleanor Smith Labour, Wolverhampton South West

I have been a nurse for 40 years, but this is not just about nursing. There are other groups as well, including occupational therapists and physiotherapists, who are also registered professionals. Along with everybody else, they are just as important as nurses.

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health Committee

The hon. Lady is absolutely right. Look, for example, at the applications for nursing courses. Even though the number of applicants has gone down, it may not ultimately result in a loss of numbers entering nursing. Some of the applicants from that overall drop in numbers might have gone on to other courses, so we need to look at the bigger picture. In opting to look at the nursing workforce, the Health Committee is not saying in any way that other parts of the workforce are not important. The NHS is a team, but it would be difficult for us to report within a certain timeframe if we looked at the entire workforce. I have no doubt that we will look at other aspects of the workforce over the course of this Parliament. I assure the hon. Lady that we will not lose sight of the bigger picture and I hope that she will contribute to the inquiry.

We need to look at the big picture regarding the total budget for health and social care. Norman Lamb has long made this point, and we have both made it clear that it is time for us to take a cross-party approach to sustainable funding for health and social care in the long term. I look forward to working with him on that over the course of this Parliament.

Norman Lamb Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Health), Chair, Science and Technology Committee (Commons)

I totally agree with the hon. Lady and I am keen to continue working with her. Did she see the Independent Age survey that showed that well over 80% of Members of Parliament on both sides of the House agree that there needs to be a cross-party settlement for the future of the NHS and the care system?

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health Committee

I welcome that and I look forward to working with the right hon. Gentleman over the coming months to try to encourage colleagues on both sides of the House, including the Front Benches, to agree to the idea. Next year is the 70th anniversary of the NHS, and I cannot think of anything more constructive we could do than to work across political parties in order to deliver sustainable long-term funding for health and social care.

I will bring my remarks to a close because I know that many hon. Members wish to speak. I look forward to hearing suggestions from colleagues in the House and outside this place about the points they would like the Health Committee's inquiry into the nursing workforce to cover.

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13 SEP 2017

Education Finance

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment she has made of the effect of maintaining current levels of core educational funding for 16 to 18 year olds on (a) educational outcomes and (b) further education provision; and what plans she has for (i) funding and (ii) resourcing further education in the next five years.

Anne Milton Minister of State (Department for Education)

The post-16 system is performing well and a record proportion of 16 to 18-year olds are now participating in education or apprenticeships. The results in the first of the reformed A levels were released last month, with students continuing to achieve effectively against the high standards of the qualification and demonstrating their readiness for the demands of higher education. Overall A level results this year were stable compared to last year.

A record number of 18-year olds applied for places in Higher Education this year and the entry rate for English 18-year olds from disadvantaged backgrounds is at a record high.

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13 SEP 2017

Medicine: Education

Written Questions

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health Committee

  • To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what steps he is taking to support the development and growth of smaller and non-London medical schools
  • To ask the Secretary of State for Health, when he plans to announce the criteria and timetable for allocating additional undergraduate medical student places.
  • To ask the Secretary of State for Health, when allocating the 1000 additional undergraduate medical student places, what steps he plans to take to ensure that medical schools outside London receive a fair allocation of those places.

Philip Dunne The Minister of State, Department of Health

The Government has announced a historic expansion of medical school places in England, with an increase of 1,500 medical school places in England. The first 500 places have already been allocated and will be available to students in September 2018.

The Government response to the recent consultation was published on 9 August 2017, confirming that 1,000 additional medical school places would be available to medical schools in England via a competitive bidding process to be managed jointly by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and Health Education England (HEE).

It also set out the priority areas bidding criteria would need to focus that include aligning the expansion to local National Health Service workforce need with an emphasis on priority geographical areas, including rural and coastal areas.

HEFCE and HEE are currently finalising the design of the bidding process and will publish details in the autumn.

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11 SEP 2017

EU Withdrawal Bill

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health Committee

Without the Bill we cannot respect the will of the British people, as expressed in the referendum, and repeal the European Communities Act 1972. Without the Bill, as many Members have pointed out, we will see legal chaos. Given the sheer volume and complexity of the EU law that will have to be converted into UK law, I accept that the Government will need relatively wide delegated powers to amend legislation, but there is a distinction between necessary amendments as a consequence of our leaving the EU, many of which will be technical and minor, and those that implement entirely new policies. The delegated powers in the Bill will touch every aspect of our lives, as many colleagues have said—their use could be unprecedented in scale, scope and constitutional significance—so I am glad to hear that Ministers are in listening mode.

I will support the Bill tonight in the expectation that it will be amended in Committee and that there will be support for reforming the way delegated legislation is handled, so that Parliament, rather than the Government, can decide the appropriate level of scrutiny. Without that, we simply will not be able to bring control back to Parliament. It may be useful to those who are following the debate from outside this place if I explain how delegated legislation works and why it is important that we amend it.

I was first introduced to Delegated Legislation Committees when I was appointed to one dealing with draft double taxation relief and international tax enforcement orders. I thought there must have been a horrible mistake, so I sent a note to the Whip to ask about my duties. I received the following three instructions: “Turn up on time, say nothing and vote with the Government.”

People might argue that no one died as a result of my ignorance of international law on double taxation relief in Oman and Singapore, but what makes the system so absurd is that the very next Committee due to sit was a Delegated Legislation Committee examining the draft Medical Profession (Responsible Officers) Regulations 2010. It might be argued that, as someone who had just come to the House having been teaching junior doctors and medical students and having been an examiner for the Royal College of General Practitioners with an interest in doctors who were failing, I was better placed to be on the second Committee. It seems to me that there is an expectation that Members should not have any expertise at all. I think the general public would find that absolutely extraordinary; they expect Members to be able genuinely to scrutinise legislation.

There are many other reasons why the procedures should change. It is a great concern to people outside this place that many statutory instruments are subject to the negative procedure rather than the affirmative procedure and do not get any scrutiny at all—not even the current defective scrutiny. The power to change that does not necessarily need to come from legislation; we could use the Standing Orders. I commend the Hansard Society for the excellent work it did in advance of the Bill to set out how the procedures could be amended. Even though it is in our power as a House to put in place Standing Orders, for example to set up a Delegated Legislation Committee with the powers of sift and scrutiny that we have discussed today, it would help if Ministers indicated that they are in listening mode about that, too, and that they would support it happening over time. I genuinely feel that the Government do not want to obstruct sensible debate. All Members from across the House should work with Ministers to put in place something that genuinely works. We know that delegated legislation needs reform even without this Bill, so let use this as an opportunity. As we have heard, up to a thousand statutory instruments will be coming before the House, and we need the House to decide whether the procedure will be negative or affirmative. We need reform so that we can genuinely develop expertise along the lines suggested by the Hansard Society and so that MPs with a genuine interest scrutinise the proposals. The point is that a delegated legislation Select Committee could have the power to send a statutory instrument to a Committee of the whole House—not just a small Delegated Legislation Committee in a Committee Room, but with all of us here, similar to what we are doing today. It could also have the power to suggest sensible amendments that the Government would have to take away and consider.

I have said that I will support the Government tonight, but I do so only in the expectation that they will support sensible amendments.

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11 SEP 2017

Medicine: Education

Written Answers

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what estimate he has made of the number of extra UK medical school places that will be made available to international medical students after the removal of the cap on the number of such places.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what steps he plans to take to ensure that additional medical student places are fairly allocated to students from (a) the UK and (b) other EU countries.

Philip Dunne The Minister of State, Department of Health

The Government has announced a historic expansion in domestic supply of the medical workforce by funding an additional 1,500 medical school places in England available to domestic students from 2018-19. In addition, from 2019-20 English universities will not be limited in the number of international students they can recruit on a full fee paying basis.

For medical school intake targets, the only distinction that is made is between home or European Union students and those from outside the EU. As such, the additional 1,500 medical school places the Government is funding will be available to students from across the United Kingdom and all European Economic Area countries subject to the usual residency requirements.

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Hansard

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, for what reasons the Service Increment for Teaching funding allocation process is subject to the market forces factor; and what steps he plans to take to ensure that there is not an excessive regional disparity in allocations of that funding between London and non-London medical schools.

Philip Dunne The Minister of State, Department of Health

The funding for training placements in secondary care is allocated to placement providers by Health Education England using a tariff payment mechanism. These tariffs are calculated on the basis of average costs and do not take into account some features of cost that are likely to vary across the country. The tariffs are therefore adjusted by the Market Forces Factor in order to compensate for the cost differences of providing training placements in different parts of the country.

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19 JUL 2017

Department for Education: Vocational Guidance

Written Answer

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, when her Department plans to publish the careers strategy.

Anne Milton Minister of State (Department for Education)

We will publish a careers strategy in the Autumn. The strategy will have a clear focus on improving social mobility.

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12 JUL 2017

The Ambulance Service in Devon

Today I managed to secure a Westminster Hall debate on the Ambulance Service in Devon

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11 JUL 2017

The Future of the NHS

I delivered a lecture today in the Speaker's House on the future of the NHS

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06 JUL 2017

Adult Social Care Funding

Sarah Wollaston Conservative, Totnes

It is concerning to note from the CQC's state of adult care report that staff turnover rates have risen from 22.7% to 27.3% in the three years to 2015-16. Will the Minister meet me to discuss the important role that supporting skills and opportunities for career progression can play in reducing turnover, improving morale and, most importantly, improving the quality of care that people receive? Will he visit my constituency to see the excellent joint working that has been done by the trust and South Devon College towards just that?

Steve Brine The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health

I thank my hon. Friend for that. I think she knows that I will be in the vicinity of her constituency at some point over the next few months, and I would like to take her up on her offer. I wish her well in her current campaign.

The workforce is critical. Adult social care is a rapidly growing sector, and there are about 165,000 more adult social care jobs than there were in 2010. It is imperative that we get the right people into the right jobs, to deliver the improved quality of care and services that we all want to see. We are working closely with our delivery partner Skills for Care to improve the level of skills in the adult social care workforce, and we are making the profession more attractive with the introduction of the national living wage, from which up to 1.5 million people in the social care sector are expected to benefit. I might point out that that policy has come in only as a result of this Prime Minister and this Government.

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06 JUL 2017

International Trade: Food and Drink Sector

Sarah Wollaston Conservative, Totnes

More than £30 million-worth of fish was sold through Brixham fish market last year, the most valuable catch in England. Will the Minister meet me and industry representatives to discuss opportunities for expanding markets after we leave the European Union, as well as frictionless trade and smooth transfer across the border?

Mark Garnier Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade)

The Secretary of State is a Member of Parliament for the south-west, and he is happy to come and have that meeting, as am I as the departmental lead on the food and drink sector. Between the two of us, my hon. Friend Dr Wollaston may get twice as many meetings as she anticipates. We look forward to coming to help.

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06 JUL 2017

Brexit Agriculture and Fisheries

Written Answer

Sarah Wollaston Totnes
To ask the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, what steps he is taking to (a) engage with and (b) protect the interests of the South West's agricultural and fishing industries during future trade negotiations with the EU. (900263)

Mr Robin Walker:Under Secretary of State at the Department for Exiting the European Union

As part of our committment to hear from every sector and region in the UK, DExEU Ministers continue to engage closely with organisations across the agriculture and fishing industries, to enable us to understand issues for the sectors and to identify potential post-exit opportunities.

We have spoken to a range of organisations including the National Federation of Fishermen's Organisations, and the National Farmers' Union and will continue to listen to workers in the industry, trade organisations, producers and the public as negotiations progress.

Leaving the EU presents a major opportunity for the UK agriculture and fishing industries. The Government will be able to design new policies which specifically benefit British agriculture, the countryside and the fisheries, and provide better value for money to the British taxpayer.

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04 JUL 2017

Parliament's Education Service

This afternoon I spoke to teachers from across the country about my work as an MP and my experiences as a Chair of the Health Select Committee. This event was arranged by Parliament's Education Service

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04 JUL 2017

Health

Sarah Wollaston Conservative, Totnes

As a result of the capped expenditure process, the wider Devon sustainability and transformation plan is being asked to make £78 million of savings at short notice—within the next nine months. Does the Secretary of State share my concern about the impact on patients, the short timeframe and the undermining of savings already agreed by the STP? Will he meet me to discuss this matter and the wider CEP?

Jeremy Hunt The Secretary of State for Health

I am more than happy to meet my hon. Friend. The principle behind the capped expenditure process is that we should have fairness between patients in different parts of the country. We should not see patients in one part of the country disadvantaged because the NHS has overspent in their neighbouring area, but the way in which we implement the process must be sensitive and fair. We must ensure that we get it right.

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28 JUN 2017

Debate Queen's Speech

Sarah Wollaston Conservative, Totnes

It is a pleasure to follow Sir Edward Davey. When the national health service was launched in July 1948, it was launched on the basis of three core principles: that it should meet the needs of everyone, that it should be free at the point of delivery, and that it should be based on clinical need and not the ability to pay. Those principles continue to serve us very well; they are supported across the House, and they have been reinforced by the NHS constitution. The extraordinary success of the NHS and public health provision lies in its delivery of increased life expectancy. Many people who now survive into adulthood would not have done so when I qualified as a doctor, some years ago. However, that extraordinary success hands us the key responsibility and challenge of ensuring that we can continue to provide and to meet the needs of everyone in the coming decades. Yvette Cooper spoke of the importance of joint working across the House. Given that we now have a different parliamentary arithmetic, I agree with her, and I would extend that to the way we talk about funding of health and social care.

Gloria De Piero Labour, Ashfield

Last week I was told by Pauline that her mum, 79-year-old Sheila, who has dementia and heart failure, suffers from seizures and is unable to eat, go to the toilet or dress on her own, has been denied a funded place in a care home. Does the hon. Lady agree that that is a scandal that needs to be resolved?

Sarah Wollaston Conservative, Totnes

The hon. Lady has made a very important point. We will all see similar cases in our surgeries. However, we will not resolve the problem by having constant arguments about how we are going to do so. What we must do is agree, across the House, on how we are to provide long-term sustainable funding. I commend the House of Lords Select Committee on the Long-term Sustainability of the NHS for its work on the provision of long-term sustainable funding for health and social care. I welcome the commitment from Ministers in the Gracious Speech to seek sustainable social care solutions, but I call on the Government to extend that to health, because if we continue to view the two systems in isolation, we will fail exactly the patients, and others, to whom the hon. Lady has just referred.

The parliamentary arithmetic is such that there is an additional responsibility on all of us to ask what we can achieve by the end of this Parliament and what we can achieve when the NHS reaches its 70th birthday next year. I would say that by working together we could achieve something really remarkable, and I call on all Members from all parties to work to make that happen.

I also very much welcome the proposals in the draft patient safety Bill, but I put it to the Secretary of State that we need to get to grips with the impact of the workforce challenge across health and social care on patient safety. I agree with others that it is time for us to think again about the impact of the public sector pay cap. There is no doubt in my mind that seven years of the cap are now having a significant impact on morale in the health service and across our wider public sector. Again, I think that the change in the parliamentary arithmetic following the message that we have had from the electorate is very clear. People value our public services and they want to see this matter addressed.

One way in which we can address the issues of recruitment, retention and morale is to deliver a fair pay settlement, and I hope that we can make further progress on that. Again, however, we will achieve the funding that is required for that through realistic cross-party working. During the election campaign, and in the manifesto, we tried to address the issues of intergenerational fairness in funding these services, and it might be that, as we look realistically at how we are going to fund our public services, we need to take ideas from all parties in order to achieve our aims, so that we can do something about public sector pay and improve the retention rates in our health and social care workforce.

Another area of the Queen’s Speech that I want to touch on is mental health, and I should declare a personal interest, in that I am married to an NHS consultant psychiatrist who is also the registrar of the Royal College of Psychiatrists. I very much welcome the fact that we are the party that legislated for parity of esteem, but we now need to translate that into practice. It needs to be translated into ensuring that the welcome extra funding for mental health actually reaches the frontline and delivers.

I am pleased to see the proposals in the Gracious Speech for a Green Paper on children and young people’s mental health, and I hope that the Secretary of State will look at the joint work of the Select Committees on Health and Education in that area and take note of our proposals and suggestions. I also hope that he will look again at the work done by the Health Committee on suicide prevention. Suicide remains the single biggest cause of death in men under the age of 50 and in young people of both sexes. This is a core challenge, and one of the issues that we identified is now in the Government’s proposals—namely, how we involve the families of those with serious mental health challenges in their care and treatment. That does not involve riding roughshod over the important principles of confidentiality. Often, it can involve simple things such as ensuring that mental health professionals are aware of the consensus statement on how to achieve consent.

I welcome the progress that we have made on reducing the use of cells as a place of safety for those with serious mental health problems. Their use is wholly inappropriate and I hope that we can make further progress on that. There is much more that we can do to improve mental health care, but we have some excellent proposals in the five-year forward view. This is all about implementation, and I urge the Secretary of State to do everything he can to ensure that the money reaches the frontline, that there is transparency about that and that we make further progress on improving the mental health of young people and adults alike.

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27 JUN 2017

Education and Local Services

Sarah Wollaston Conservative, Totnes

Although we all recognise the need to address deprivation, does my right hon. Friend also recognise the need to address the historical injustices for underfunded areas? Will she confirm that she will increase the age-weighted pupil unit block in the funding formula and help to reduce the costs that some schools are facing through the apprenticeship levy?


Justine GreeningMinister for Women and Equalities, The Secretary of State for Education

As I said, we are committed to introducing fair funding. It is right that we hold all schools to the same standards and the same accountability framework, and it makes sense that we should ensure that children with comparable needs are funded comparably wherever in the country they are. I will set out shortly the details of how we will do that following the consultation.

I will finish my speech. [Hon. Members: "Hooray!"] In many respects I was just getting started, but I am sure the rest can wait for future debates. The Government have done sterling work in narrowing the gender pay gap and advocating having more women on boards, but those efforts cannot slacken and need to be stepped up. We will bring forward new approaches to supporting women in the workplace. The 30-hour childcare offer will help families with the cost of childcare, and our returnship pilots will explore new ways of supporting mothers—it is overwhelmingly mothers—to get back into work. We know from some of the work that is already under way how powerful they can be. Of course, inequality is not confined to gender, and the Government will bring a renewed focus to the ethnicity gap in our workplaces.

The Government have an ambitious agenda for this Parliament: creating world-class technical education, ensuring that there is a good school place for every single child, wherever they are growing up, and tackling inequality in educational opportunity in all its forms. To achieve those goals, we will be resolute in our pursuit of high standards. We are building on a firm foundation, although there is more to do and more to deliver. Our young people deserve nothing less. This nation contains a wealth of talent just waiting to be unlocked, which will create opportunity and success for individuals and a strong and prosperous country that can take on, and succeed in, any challenge.

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27 JUN 2017

NHS Shared Business Services

Sarah Wollaston Conservative, Totnes

While Members from across the House will be relieved that so far no patients are identified as having been harmed by this appalling incident, will the Secretary of State set out what steps he is taking to ensure that this can never happen again?


Jeremy Hunt The Secretary of State for Health

Absolutely. There is a short-term and long-term lesson. The short-term point is that it is unlikely this would happen again because it was paper correspondence, and we are increasingly moving all the transfer of correspondence to electronic systems. The longer-term point is exactly that—[Interruption.] An Opposition Member mentions cyber-attacks; they are absolutely right to do so, because of course we have different risks. This clearly indicates that we need better checks in place, so that when we trust an independent contractor with very important work, we know that the job is actually being done, and that did not happen in this case.

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19 JUN 2017

Devon and Somerset Fire Service

Thank you to Chief Officer Lee Howell and his team from the Devon and Somerset Fire Service for visiting Parliament today.

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27 APR 2017

Immigrants: Detainees

Written Answer

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how much her Department has paid in compensation for unlawful immigration detention since figures on such compensation payments were published in 2014-15.

Robert Goodwill The Minister for Immigration

I refer the honourable member to my response to PQ 47658, submitted to Parliament on 19 October 2016.

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26 APR 2017

Immigrants: Detainees

Written Answer

Sarah WollastonChair, Health Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether procedures have changed as a result of recent successful prosecutions for unlawful immigration detention.

Robert GoodwillThe Minister for Immigration

The cross-system Detention Gatekeeper has now been introduced to scrutinise all proposed detentions independently of an arresting team. Individuals can now only enter immigration detention with the authority of the Detention Gatekeeper, who will ensure that there is no evidence of vulnerability which would be exacerbated by detention, that return will occur within a reasonable timeframe and check that any proposed detention is lawful.

Separately, Case Progression Panels have been introduced to review all cases within immigration detention by a peer-led panel. These panels focus on ensuring that there is progression toward return for all individuals detained, and that detention remains lawful.

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25 APR 2017

Immigration Enforcement Directorate

Written Answers

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, when she plans for the Immigration Enforcement Business Plan for 2016-17 to be published.

Robert Goodwill The Minister for Immigration

The Department's plans for immigration enforcement will be communicated in due course.

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25 APR 2017

Junior Doctors: Conditions of Employment

Written Answers

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what assessment was made prior to the implementation of the junior doctors' contract in 2016 of the additional financial and administrative cost associated with (a) pay protection, (b) additional hours payments, (c) guardian fines, (d) guardian of safe working hours role and (e) exception reporting management.

Philip Dunne The Minister of State, Department of Health

The contract will be recurrently cost-neutral with the exception of additional employer pension contributions arising from the increase in basic pay that was agreed with the British Medical Association as a condition for them entering negotiations in 2013 and was honoured by the Government. This is expected to rise to around £25 million per annum recurrently at the end of transition (circa 0.6% of total contract value).

In addition, there are limited non-recurrent costs of pay protection during transition. Upfront assessments of these costs are uncertain.

Additional hours payments and any fines reflect additional work carried out and are therefore outside the cost neutral funding envelope and will depend on how trusts manage juniors locally. Exception reporting is managed through rota management software. The role of the Guardian of safe working typically takes up a portion of the time of one consultant in each trust. This is seen as an investment in improving safe working for trainees.

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