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We consider the Bill to be necessary to the United Kingdom's national security. It will enable us to act swiftly in order to maintain the asset-freezing regime under the Orders in Council on a temporary basis. We will, of course, table further legislation to introduce a
terrorist asset-freezing regime in primary legislation, allowing time for Parliament to scrutinise our proposals fully.
This temporary Bill is important, and I am grateful to Members in all parts of the House for the support that has enabled us to complete its progress today on an urgent basis. I thank the officials for their hard work in drafting the legislation and for their support, and I thank the banks for their co-operation.
I recognise that many of the points made today will be relevant to the fuller debate on the lasting legislation, and I look forward to that debate with great interest. Meanwhile, I hope that this Bill will proceed to the other place, and will be enacted soon.
The Bill will complete all its stages here today, and will proceed to the House of Lords following its Third Reading, because we are where we are. Although there are arguments to be had about why the Government are in such a mess, we accept the reality that we must help them to get out of that mess so that we can ensure that there is a proper regime to freeze terrorist assets. I am sure that we shall want to continue the debate about some of the safeguards and other issues that have been discussed today when, in due course, we deal with the longer Bill.
David Howarth: The Liberal Democrats will not oppose the Bill on Third Reading either, because we did not oppose it on Second Reading, but we are still disturbed by the speed with which it has gone through the House today, which is why we voted against the allocation of time motion. We believe that more time was available at this stage to allow us to consider the Bill more carefully. We shall now turn our attention to the other place to see whether it can correct some of the problems before the Bill goes on to the statute book.
This is not a time for shouting across the Chamber that a member of another party is soft on terrorism, or other nonsense of that sort. We all share the objective of ensuring that funds do not reach terrorist organisations.
What concerns the Liberal Democrats is the means that have been adopted to produce that end, and whether those means are excessively oppressive.
We also have concerns about an important point that was made on Second Reading, but which the Government do not seem to have taken on board: are the means adopted effective, given that two of the subjects in the case before the Supreme Court have slipped away and disappeared? The following question therefore remains: is the effect of the legislation to prevent terrorism events from taking place, or does it have the unintended effect of making it more difficult to keep track of the very people the Government want to keep track of? We have not had sufficient time to debate that. The Government started to make a response to that point, but time petered out, as ever on these occasions. We look forward to the debate in the other place, and hope there will be more answers there. In the meantime, we will not oppose the Bill on Third Reading.
That the draft Legislative Reform (Dangerous Wild Animals) (Licensing) Order 2010, which was laid before this House on 7 December, be approved.- (Mrs. Hodgson.)
That the Measure passed by the General Synod of the Church of England, entitled Church of England (Miscellaneous Provisions) Measure, which was laid before this House on 16 December, be referred to a Delegated Legislation Committee.
That the Measure passed by the General Synod of the Church of England, entitled Crown Benefices (Parish Representatives) Measure, which was laid before this House on 16 December, be referred to a Delegated Legislation Committee.
That the Measure passed by the General Synod of the Church of England, entitled Vacancies in Suffragan Sees and Other Ecclesiastical Offices Measure, which was laid before this House on 16 December, be referred to a Delegated Legislation Committee.-( Mrs. Hodgson.)
Susan Kramer (Richmond Park) (LD): I appreciate having this opportunity to raise a topic of great concern to my constituents: the future of Kingston hospital and whether key services are under review for closure. I want to make the Minister aware that we have a vigorous campaign to save the accident and emergency and the maternity units at the hospital, but we have also now discovered that, in addition, in-patient paediatric and elective surgery are under review, again with closure under consideration.
Kingston hospital serves primarily the residents of my constituency and that of my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston and Surbiton (Mr. Davey). It has always been my intention to share the time available to me with him, as his comments will serve to provide the full view, which should be expressed, and, fortunately, I have more available time than expected, as the previous debate finished early. I should also say that we have been supported in all of this by my hon. Friend the Member for Twickenham (Dr. Cable), whose constituents also make extensive use of Kingston hospital. Other users come from Surrey and Wimbledon, although, sadly, Conservative and Labour representatives, including Conservative candidates in the area, have joined forces to dismiss our campaign. We are standing up for Kingston hospital, along with thousands of our local residents, and my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston and Surbiton will give a more detailed account of their views.
Susan Kramer: I am grateful for that intervention, as it leads me nicely on to some other points I want to make. I will address it briefly, but I shall then want to return to talking about the importance of Kingston hospital. My hon. Friend the Member for Kingston and Surbiton and I had separate meetings with senior members of the NHS in late November or the very beginning of December. On 18 December, we first heard that these services were under review and that a paper would be produced listing a series of options, including, significantly, the possible closure of the maternity and the accident and emergency units at Kingston hospital. Both of us, quite independently, thought that somebody was having us on because, as I will go on to explain, the quality of Kingston hospital and the services it provides cannot be disputed.
We followed this up with a series of meetings with other senior members of the NHS-chief executives and clinicians. The information we received was generally concerning, but we were asked whether we would hold back from making any public comment because of the report that was due on 18 December. As we approached that date, we were asked whether we would delay again because Christmas was coming and the report would be issued on 25 January. As we approached that date, we found, again, that the report was not going to be issued;
we were told that the whole matter would not be put into any arena where we could request the papers until after the general election.
I find that utterly outrageous, but I am going to return to my original comments about Kingston hospital because it is important to understand the framework in which this all takes place. The hospital is part of the south-west London region of the NHS, which comprises four hospitals: Kingston; St. George's in Tooting; Mayday in Croydon; and St. Helier in Carshalton. I wish to illustrate the importance of Kingston hospital to hon. Members. This past year it had 5,800 births, which is by far the largest number for those four hospitals, and it is set to increase its capacity to 7,000 births per year. The unit has an outstanding record, it is a centre of excellence and it is the only maternity unit out of the four to have consultant cover 98 per cent. of the time. The demographics of the area are of growing young families-we see that in our schools and in the number of live births. People's opportunity to use the maternity unit at Kingston hospital is constantly under pressure from the increasing demand and the changing shape of the demographics in my area. The hospital's accident and emergency unit is similarly very heavily used; last year's throughput was 103,000 people which, again, is the highest of those four hospitals in the south-west group. The in-patient paediatric service and the elective surgery unit, which is new and state of the art, are also very well used.
As I said in my reply to the question I was just asked, somewhere around the end of November and the beginning of December we first received the initial information that these services were being considered for cuts. As we continued our various discussions, we were told that about 18 options would be put on the table. We were not given the details of any of those options. Ironically, we actually asked for the information to be shared with other politicians because we thought that this was going to be a much broader discussion-it should be-than the one we were having. However, we initially agreed that we would stay silent until the report became available to be publicly requested. After we were told, just before 25 January, that this would not happen until after the election we made a decision, because we were outraged, that we would not join in this pact of silence. It is true that we had no substantial piece of paper to back up the conversations that we had had, but they were with people of integrity and honour and we had no reason to question the information that was passed to us.
Mike Penning: I am fascinated by the dateline that the hon. Lady is giving. She said that she promised that the Liberal Democrats would keep quiet beyond 18 December and that it was only around 25 January that they made the decision to go public with this, yet on 11 December one Susan Kramer-that is the name on the piece of paper that I am holding-bought the domain name www.savekingstonhospital.org.uk. This is a public document and it is available to anybody who wants to look at it, so it was obvious then to anybody that the Liberal Democrats would run their campaign to save the hospital despite their promises that they would not reveal the information that they had been given.
I do not think that the hon. Gentleman has been listening to what I have said and I suggest that he listens more closely. We agreed that we would not go
public before 18 December, but we prepared to do so. We bought the domain name and we prepared for what we knew would be a very important and significant campaign.
Susan Kramer: I hear very clearly what the hon. Gentleman is saying and it absolutely clarifies what the Conservatives would have done had they shared the same information that we shared. I am very glad that that is now on the record, in Hansard, for anyone in this House or outside to read-
We prepared for a campaign and we were completely open with those to whom we spoke that we would campaign strongly on this issue, but we agreed to hold back until the 18th. We were then told that it would be the 25th and then, just before the 25th, we were told "No, it's being held over until after the election." At that point, we felt that it was an outrage-I believe that most of our residents consider it to be an outrage, too-for the decision-making process to proceed and continue without an opportunity for the public to be brought in, to be informed or to be able to shape that process as it developed. The public would be left unaware of the situation until the options had been narrowed down to three, possibly four, with much of the thinking closed off and much of the direction predetermined. We believe that our local residents need to be involved and that their voices need to be heard at a stage when the decisions are, potentially, a little fluid and when there is some flexibility in the system. We believe that local decision making and local input on health issues is absolutely and centrally crucial.
We have applied to the various branches of the NHS with freedom of information requests for the papers that we wish to have and that we wish to put in the public domain. I urge the Minister to ensure that the responses to those FOI requests are given, and that they are given in full. Something strange always happens, however, when one goes public with an issue and with a campaign and when one raises concerns-
I note that from his seat, the Conservative hon. Member for Hemel Hempstead (Mike Penning) has used the word scaremongering, which has been used by the various Conservative candidates in the area. That has done a lot to undermine our campaign. However, the effect of the campaign has been that those who were
privy to the information that we disclosed, and disclosed accurately, have decided that it is time for them to act. Over the weekend, I received a copy-I believe that my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston and Surbiton did, too-of four pages from the report on the south-west London strategic plan, which we had hoped for on 18 December. I am lucky enough to have a copy of that in my hands now.
We received those pages this weekend, and now we find it extraordinary how accurate the information that was shared with us was. The recommended scenario in the paper is that there should be only three hot sites, as it describes them, among the four hospitals. It is clear from the paper that St. George's is safe as the major acute hospital in the area, leaving Mayday, St. Helier and Kingston as the hospitals where services are at risk. Indeed, we were right to say that there were 18 options- 18 options are laid out in the paper. In only two of those options does Kingston retain its current services in full. In six, it loses accident and emergency, maternity and in-patient paediatrics. In 12 options, it loses in-patient paediatrics. In eight options, it loses its elective surgery. I am sure that the Minister has seen the paper and is able to confirm what I have just said. If he has not, we will be pleased to try to provide him with a copy of the part that we have and we would be grateful if he provided us with the missing pages.
I use Kingston hospital-in a sense, I suppose, I could have declared an interest-as does every resident in my area. I have rushed a sick grandchild there in the middle of the night. It took about 20 minutes-had I tried to get to St. George's, I doubt that I would have made it in 40. It would probably have taken closer to an hour-and that is if I could have found the hospital, which is extraordinarily difficult unless one knows the area well. My godmother suffered from severe dehydration just a few weeks ago and was taken to Kingston hospital in the middle of the day. To get to St. George's at that time of the day would take one and half hours, if the traffic was relatively light. In rush hour, it would take far longer. So, the alternative hospitals to Kingston hospital are very difficult to access from my area. The importance of the maternity, accident and emergency, and in-patient paediatric services, and the importance of having a place to go to for elective surgery cannot be overstated.
Everywhere I go in my constituency, residents tell me about their experiences, and they are horrified that they might have to go to St. George's in Tooting for the services that they can currently use at Kingston hospital. They have come to love and respect Kingston hospital and to value its services. They also see it as being vital to their ability to access acute services within their area.
Martin Horwood (Cheltenham) (LD): I warmly congratulate my hon. Friend on her campaign, which has eerie echoes of the campaign that we fought in Cheltenham in 2006 to preserve maternity and other services. Is she aware that although we saved the maternity ward in Cheltenham, lasting damage was done to the public's trust in NHS decision-making processes because of what happened with that process? The situation in this case sounds all too familiar from what she says.
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