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Dr. Julian Lewis (New Forest, East) (Con):
Unusually, I have to say that the hon. Gentleman is being unfair to the Government. I am a Front-Bench spokesman on
defence and I have heard the Government say over and over again that the carriers will go ahead, so for once I feel that he is being unduly alarmist.
Mr. Hancock: I am convinced in my heart that the carriers will go ahead, but why do the Government allow the speculation to continue? Why do they not, once and for all, give proper dates and stick to them? Yesterday, I asked the Secretary of State whether he could categorically assure the House, the country and, more importantly, people whose livelihood depends on the carriers that the dates that the Government have announced will be stuck to. It simply is not good enough to treat people in this way.
We have to make a proper analysis of what we need to spend on defence. The Royal Navy is as important today as it has been in past generations, and the future of the naval base in Portsmouth is important in that respect. We should be looking to give the Royal Navy the resources that it needs to provide the punch that the Government demand of it by their overseas commitments and their use of force on occasion. Again, we cannot talk the talk without producing the right sort of resources. We should give clear direction to show our armed forces that there is a future for people who enlist in the Royal Navy, and to show those on the industrial side, in shipbuilding, that their careers will not be affected because the Government have changed their mind.
Thirdly, I wish to discuss the way in which we deal with some immigration cases. I deal with a phenomenal number of these cases, and I would imagine that half the people in the two advice centres that I hold each week have an immigration case or a problem related in some way to one. I am amazed at the number of times that I have been able to get people removed from detention. Some of these people have been picked up off the street, or have been detained when they have gone to report to the police station, as they have to do on a weekly or fortnightly basis.
Most recently, I encountered the case of somebody who was detained in the city of Portsmouth, taken to Heathrow the same day, and told that they were to be deported within 48 hours I spoke to the relevant Minister's office, and I was delighted that the Minister was able to stop that. More importantly-this was beyond belief-I discovered from the immigration officer dealing with the case at the Heathrow holding centre that the person could not be deported because his papers were deficient and the country to which he was to be deported would not have accepted him. We had probably spent several hundred-if not thousands-of pounds detaining that person, only for him to be freed again, returned to live at home and told that he had to continue to report. I asked why that had been done, but nobody has yet been able to give a satisfactory answer.
The problem is that that case is one of a dozen or so cases in the past three months of people being detained, sometimes for a week or a fortnight, only to be released subsequently with no real account having been given of why they were detained in the first place and why they were subsequently released into exactly the same circumstances as before they were detained. Again, there appears to be a lack of coherence in the UK Border Agency's way of dealing with these cases.
I am perfectly supportive of the idea that people who do not deserve, or do not have a right, to be here should be removed, but for goodness' sake let us do it in a way that everybody understands. We should not pick people up, detain them in a detention centre and threaten them daily that they are about to leave the country, when we know that we are not in a position to deport them to another country because they do not have the papers that would allow us to do so. How on earth can that be logical or in anyone's interests, least of all those of the Treasury, which must be at its wits' end with the UKBA's performance in dealing with such cases?
I should tell the hon. Member for Leicester, South (Sir Peter Soulsby) that, sadly, Leicester is not alone when it comes to the operations of the Audit Commission. My city was criticised for having a high number of reported rape cases. We, the police and other agencies had actively encouraged women to come forward, and the next thing we knew we were accused of being the rape capital of the south. What on earth is up with an organisation that tries to co-ordinate an approach to certain issues but fails to understand the simple basics? If we encourage and give support to women to come forward and report rapes or attempted rapes, that will push the number-or the indices-of reported rape cases up. The commission failed to understand that.
The hon. Member for Leicester, South is dead right to criticise the Audit Commission's understanding of the background to many of its statistics. It beggars belief that an agency that has so much clout, and that the Government listen to, is allowed to get away with such statements-
My final point is a bit of sour grapes, from my point of view, and concerns the England 2018 World cup bid. My city enthusiastically got behind the campaign and supported it to such an extent that we set up a team and invested close to £250,000. But when it came to the crunch-make-your-mind-up time-the appalling behaviour of FIFA, the Football Association and, to a lesser extent, the Government persuaded the city council not to pursue its bid to be a host city.
I was disappointed, yet I too voted to abandon the bid. We would have ended up needing an on-paper potential outlay of £24 million, perhaps more, with little or no evidence that any of the return on it would come back to us. Even before we could be selected, we were asked to sign a contract on 26 November that suggested that we would have to pay another £250,000 to the FA for its marketing bid. Members will have seen some of the FA's expenditure, such as buying expensive luggage and other gifts to bribe people to vote for us. We were also told that we would have to provide the finance for one person to spend 36 days in South Africa as an active part of the campaign team.
We were told that if we were successful, we would be expected to do an awful lot of things, including guaranteeing a stadium for the games to be played in. The football club in Portsmouth desperately needs a new stadium, but it could not give a cast-iron assurance. The city council was told that if it wanted to make this bid, it
had to guarantee the stadium or it would have to compensate FIFA for another city's having to take on the responsibilities that Portsmouth could not. We were already being told that if we had a new stadium in Portsmouth, built by the club, we would have to put £6 million of council tax payers' money into it to increase its capacity to meet FIFA's standards, with no guarantee that we would get any gain, or even any kudos, from it.
We were told that we would have to ban all existing advertising, for the duration of the competition, for 1 km around the stadium and 1 km around the fans area. We would have to pay compensation to everybody who now displays adverts in those areas. No one within that zone would have been allowed to sell food or beverages, either, because FIFA had made its own arrangements for food and beverage deals around the ground.
We were originally told that if we signed that contract we could get between 10 and 15 per cent. of the gate receipts of all the 64 games that would be played in England during the world cup competition. Then we were told, "No, we've changed our minds. You'll get between 10 and 15 per cent. of the receipts that your ground gets for games played there." Then that changed too, and we were told, "No, you'll get whatever they choose to pay you after they've taken out all their costs, because in effect, FIFA is hiring the ground."
It was a complete and utter fiasco. The FA wrote to the city council on 18 November, giving even more conditions. We were advised by lawyers that it would be helpful if we put money aside for a judicial review of the legality of signing such a one-sided contract. When we sought the Government's assistance and asked them to step in on behalf of all 16 local authorities that were bidding at that stage, they turned their back on us. They said, "It's down to you, but be careful what you sign."
I hope that the 2018 World cup bid is a success for the UK, but for local authorities it could be one of the biggest financial disasters ever to befall them. The city of Portsmouth made a wise decision to get out before we were too far committed. It is a sad reflection on FIFA, the FA and the Government that they treat our national game in such a disrespectful way-and FIFA in particular have a lot of questions to answer.
Dr. Julian Lewis (New Forest, East) (Con): I had not intended to begin by saying anything about the Royal Navy, but the hon. Member for Portsmouth, South (Mr. Hancock) raised the subject and kindly let me intervene, so I shall just say that the Government can be criticised about plenty of things in connection with the Royal Navy, such as the reduction in the number of frigates and destroyers. That number has been reduced from 35 to 23 and, by some counts, to as few as 19.
In addition, the number of nuclear-powered attack submarines has been cut from 12 to seven. The hon. Member for Portsmouth, South referred to the date when the carriers will come into service, but it was revealed only yesterday that that was postponed to enable a temporary saving of some £600 million, but that the cost of the postponement will be £1.1 billion later on.
It is a dire situation indeed, but I think that I can reassure the hon. Gentleman, his constituents and supporters of the Royal Navy. After the next general
election-when, as I trust, there will be a change of government-I shall be very surprised indeed to find that the contracts for the carriers have not been drawn up with sufficient rigour and comprehensiveness to ensure that the classic strategic argument that always convinces a Treasury team that a vital military asset must be bought, will come into play. That argument is, of course, that it would cost more to cancel the carriers than it would to proceed with them.
Dr. Lewis: I am glad to see that the hon. Gentleman is nodding. He is right to make criticisms, but he should not fly the kite of suggesting that the carriers will not happen. I shall be amazed if the carriers do not happen, whatever else we have reason to criticise this Government for in respect of the Royal Navy.
At Christmas-time, we think about the people whom we have lost. We think also about the people whom other people have lost, and in particular of the service personnel who have been lost this year. I think in particular of Olaf Schmid, and I wait with interest to see what posthumous gallantry award he will be given-it should come sooner rather than later-for the magnificent bomb disposal work that he did. The courage and dignity shown by his widow Christina were an example to us all. It is an example that none us would probably be able to follow if, heaven forbid, we were placed in such a situation, but it is one that we as a House can admire and acknowledge, and of which we can stand in awe.
I think of two people whom I have lost in the course of the past year. One was my cold war comrade and friend George Miller-or George Miller-Kurakin, to give him his full inherited name. He died on 23 October, aged just 54. I am grateful to the obituaries editor of The Independent , who gave him pride of place with a half-page obituary that I had written, spelling out some of the work that George did to help NATO remain strong while he waited for Russia-his country of descent, shall we say?-to see the back of communism. He was an inspirational figure, and I was glad also that The Daily Telegraph similarly accorded him a half-page tribute written by Harry Phibbs, who was part of George's network of couriers, who also did so much to keep the flame of freedom alive in Russia. George died too young, but among those who knew him and among those who have a dim perception of some of the work that went on below the surface to undermine Soviet communism, he will be honoured as a hero.
The other person whom I lost was my father, Samuel Lewis, who died at exactly this time last year. He died on 16 December at the great age of 95. On the day he died, I spoke in a debate, because I had undertaken to do so, and I am glad to find myself speaking again on the first anniversary of his passing. The best tribute that I can give to a man who worked as a tailor for 71 years and who, like my friend George Miller, never earned any real money, is to go on doing the work that I know he was proud to see me engaged in.
I well remember being sworn in to serve in the House in 1997. My father was 84 and sitting in the Gallery. I mentioned that to Speaker Boothroyd. She said to me, "Well, I think we'll make an exception. Normally we are not supposed to pay any attention to anyone outside the
boundaries of the Chamber, but as this is a special occasion, let's give him a wave." So Speaker Boothroyd and I made that little gesture to my dad, and I know he was very touched and satisfied by it.
Both George and Sam-George with his too short life and Sam with his very long life-had one great benefit: almost till the end, they kept full command of their faculties. My father's short-term memory was shot, but right up until the day he died, he was still very much himself. What I want to talk about in this short contribution to the debate is what happens when one's faculties and one's personality are affected by illness-mental illness-at too early an age.
I have spoken in Adjournment debates and in Westminster Hall debates recently about the activities of the Hampshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust in respect of the supposedly temporary closure of the psychiatric intensive care unit at Woodhaven hospital in my constituency. It is called Ellingham ward and it provides a vital service. It has been "temporarily" closed and a specialist team has been dispersed. I intend to continue in the months and, hopefully, years ahead, if the general election gives me another mandate to do so, to campaign and fight to make sure that that ward is not lost.
As a result of that campaign, I have been contacted by people who were involved in another specialist unit, known as the student mental health team. It was operated by the Southampton City primary care trust for the benefit of students in Southampton and Solent universities. Those include a number of my constituents. In a nutshell, that specialist team was set up in 1997 and did valuable work saving young lives for a decade, but after those 10 years it was decided by the Southampton City PCT and the Hampshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, which provides the adult mental health services for the whole of our area, that it would be better to transfer the team from the one to the other. It was alleged and assured at the time that nothing really would change. However, not long after the transfer, we find that the team has been dismantled and its personnel have been, for the most part, made redundant. The students have lost an important service and a lifeline.
The point about the student mental health team is that students went to see them as a secondary care service. In other words, the students were pretty ill-in danger of overdosing or doing other things that might lead to suicide. As one member of the team said, they dealt with complex, serious stuff: students with bipolar syndrome or manic depression, psychosis-students in crisis. There were five therapists plus an administrator.
The measure of the seriousness of the team's work comes from the document that the Southampton City primary care trust and the Hampshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust produced when the service was transferred from one to the other. The document stated:
"The Student Mental Health Service is a very dynamic and experienced team who undertake complex and specialised clinical work. The team consist of highly skilled practitioners... Since its inception the student mental health service has seen a significant growth in the number of students seen with severe and enduring mental health problems including personality disorders, psychosis, bipolar disorder, OCD"-
"eating disorders, self-injurious behaviours and"-
"high risk cases including clients with active suicidal behaviours."
"this is a good time for the Student Mental Health Service to move to the Hampshire Partnership Trust as provider of the service. It will enable the integration of the Student Mental Health Service as a discrete specialist service"-
"within the totality of the Mental Health Provision in Southampton."
"severe and complex Mental Health problems".
All that makes it absolutely clear that the service was for young people who were seriously ill. However, I have, as always, given the Hampshire Partnership trust an opportunity to explain why it has done what it has done, and Mr. Nick Yeo, the head of the trust, said that it was
"part of a new development"
"is a therapy based service aimed at providing for the adult population, including students of Southampton...covering steps 2/3 of the stepped care approach,"
which I will explain in a moment. Mr. Yeo went on to say that the service was put out to tender, Dorset Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust won and it is now a matter for that organisation. The trouble with all that, however, is that the student service never was a step 3 service. A step 3 service is for people with moderate to mild mental health problems, but the student service was at least a step 4 service, which is for moderate to severe and complex mental health problems where serious interventions are necessary and there is a serious risk to life.
The service was transferred from one provider to another and eventually ended up with the Dorset trust, which supplies the new service called IAPT. However, IAPT, as it has been explained to me, is only a primary care service for people with basic anxiety and depression; it is not geared for complex and serious cases. The students will therefore have to take their chance with the ordinary community mental health care teams who go out in general for people with severe problems in society; there will be no specialist treatment for students whatever. The trouble is that that service, which is not supplied by the Dorset trust but continues to be supplied by the Hampshire trust, is already bursting at the seams. Yet all the students who used to go to the student service were people who were so ill that it is beyond doubt that they would never have been accepted for the IAPT service that has now been transferred to Dorset.
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