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House of Commons

Monday 4 July 2011

The House met at half-past Two o’clock


[Mr Speaker in the Chair]

Oral Answers to Questions


The Secretary of State was asked—

Defence Reform

1. Matthew Hancock (West Suffolk) (Con): What progress his Department is making in implementing the recommendations of Lord Levene’s report on defence reform. [63132]

The Secretary of State for Defence (Dr Liam Fox): Before I answer my hon. Friend’s question, I confirm to the House that a British serviceman is missing in Afghanistan and that an extensive operation to locate him is under way. The individual was based in central Helmand and was reported missing in the early hours of this morning. His next of kin have been informed and will be updated as the operation continues, so no other family need be concerned. I recognise that there will be many questions, but speculation on an issue of this nature is unhelpful. I urge restraint from colleagues and the media, and assure the House that the United Kingdom and the international security assistance force are taking all necessary and appropriate action.

In answer to my hon. Friend, all parts of the Ministry of Defence, civilian and military, are committed to making the reforms happen, and some have already been put in place. I have chaired the first meeting of the new Defence Board; we have introduced the new infrastructure organisation and corporate service models; and the new Defence Business Services organisation stands up today. We will put all the other elements in place as quickly as possible. Lord Levene’s recommendations will mean the biggest change to the MOD in a generation. It will take time to do it all and get it right.

Matthew Hancock: As a member of the Public Accounts Committee, I know that our reports have frequently shown that attempts to reform the MOD have failed through lack of consistency and leadership, and that as a result the Secretary of State is having to deal with the shambles that he inherited. Will he assure me that he will not make the same mistakes as the previous Government, and instead see through the radical reform that is needed?

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Dr Fox: The new operating model incentivises delivery by accountable senior leaders. We understand entirely the need for the transformation process to be rigorous and for the reforms to be pushed through. I assure my hon. Friend that we will give all the energy required to ensure that that happens.

Mr Frank Roy (Motherwell and Wishaw) (Lab): How many people will be made redundant as a consequence of the Levene report?

Dr Fox: The original numbers for a reduction of 25,000 in the civil service took into account what we estimated would be some of the reductions under the Levene proposals.

Mr James Arbuthnot (North East Hampshire) (Con): When will the Ministry of Defence’s three-month review of procurement projects report? Will it, as the name implies, take three months? If so, when did it begin?

Dr Fox: We are approaching the end point of that review, and it will certainly be in the next few weeks. There are a number of complex issues to sort out, as my right hon. Friend understands, not least how to go about setting a long-term budget that allows the MOD to plan with certainty. When we have finished those deliberations, we will make them known.

Angus Robertson (Moray) (SNP): The Secretary of State is aware that the decision on military basing is imminent and that an all-party submission has called for the retention of RAF Lossiemouth as an air base on defence and security grounds. He is also aware of the unique economic threat to the economy of Moray and the north of Scotland of a double base closure. Will he take this opportunity to say when he will make a statement to the House on the military basing review?

Dr Fox: I fully understand all the hon. Gentleman’s arguments. As I have always said, we regard the military elements as having paramount importance, but we understand the other elements. Having taken a number of the key decisions over the weekend, I hope that we will make progress very shortly.

Nicholas Soames (Mid Sussex) (Con): I warmly commend my right hon. Friend for the determination he is bringing to bear to push through the Levene reforms. Does he agree that one of the most important issues affecting the three services is the need for “purple” command and control and for decisions to be taken on a tri-service basis, and that that should be pushed through?

Dr Fox: That is the natural way in which defence is developing in this country, as in others. We wanted to set up the joint force command to carry that process forward in a constructive and transparent way. It will also, as I said in my statement to the House, allow career progression right up to four-star level for those who might not get preferment through the traditional single-service structure. It is therefore not only good for defence but a thoroughly meritocratic reform.

Mr Jim Murphy (East Renfrewshire) (Lab): I associate the Opposition with the Secretary of State’s comments about our missing soldier in Afghanistan, and I appreciate

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the fact that he took the time to brief me personally earlier this afternoon. We all know that our forces are both brave and brilliant, and this is a reminder of the daily danger they face. The Opposition, the entire House and, more importantly, everyone in the country, regardless of their view on the conflict in Afghanistan, will wish the Government and our forces well in rescuing this individual soldier.

Will the Secretary of State assure us that not a penny piece that is currently planned for supporting the operation in Afghanistan will be affected by the implementation of the recommendations of the Levene report?

Dr Fox: Yes, I can give the right hon. Gentleman that assurance. We have ensured that nothing in our military planning, nothing that we are doing in Libya and nothing that is happening financially will in any way undermine our operations in Afghanistan.

Post-conflict Security (Libya)

2. Mr David Crausby (Bolton North East) (Lab): What role he expects his Department to play in establishing post-conflict security in Libya. [63133]

The Secretary of State for Defence (Dr Liam Fox): We are in discussions with Whitehall colleagues, international organisations and allies regarding a post-conflict solution in Libya. It is too early to speculate on what might be required and who might be involved.

Mr Crausby: Can the House be assured that the plan for peace in Libya will be as robust as the plan for war? Is the Secretary of State absolutely certain that we will not underestimate the size of the task in the way that pretty well everybody did in the case of both Iraq and Afghanistan?

Dr Fox: The hon. Gentleman asks a key question. How the transition occurs is of key importance. If there is some political settlement and an orderly handover to a new authority in Libya, the chances of maintaining order are much greater. We are working towards that with the contact group and others, and it makes sense for NATO and the United Nations to plan for all eventualities when we see the back of Colonel Gaddafi, as we all hope will soon happen.

Mark Lancaster (Milton Keynes North) (Con): I am sure the Secretary of State will join me in paying tribute to the work of the stabilisation unit on post-conflict security in Libya. Given the restrictions of the existing United Nations resolution, does he feel that a further UN resolution might be required to carry out that work?

Dr Fox: It will depend on the situation on the ground and how benign the environment is. At the moment we do not envisage the need for another UN resolution, and we believe that the orderly handover to the UN and a new Libyan authority should be possible without one. Of course, that is constantly kept under review by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary.

Mr Bob Ainsworth (Coventry North East) (Lab): Although it is understandable that the Secretary of State might be a little reticent, it is worrying that he says

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it is too early for planning. The situation in Libya could go on for some time yet, but equally the forces of the uprising could be in Tripoli at any time. Is he seriously suggesting that we still have to wait to plan for the conflict’s aftermath? I do not think it is going to be like what happened in Tunisia—it will be a lot more difficult than that, and somebody will have to provide some support.

Dr Fox: A great deal of planning, looking at a range of scenarios, is being undertaken by the National Security Council and across Whitehall Departments, and a range of important discussions are being held with our allies, not least at the large gathering of military leaders in London last week. We could well see the collapse of the Libyan regime over a short period, but it could take some considerable time yet. I am afraid that I think it is unlikely that the opposition forces will enter Tripoli in the near future.

Middle East and North Africa

3. Karen Lumley (Redditch) (Con): What recent assessment he has made of the security situation in the middle east and north Africa; and if he will make a statement. [63134]

8. Paul Uppal (Wolverhampton South West) (Con): What recent assessment he has made of the security situation in the middle east and north Africa; and if he will make a statement. [63140]

16. Robert Halfon (Harlow) (Con): What recent assessment he has made of the security situation in the middle east and north Africa; and if he will make a statement. [63149]

The Minister for the Armed Forces (Nick Harvey): As the Foreign Secretary has said, demands for greater political, social and economic participation will continue in the middle east and north Africa. We assess that the security situation will remain fragile unless Governments in the region work to fulfil the aspirations of their people.

Karen Lumley: Will my hon. Friend assure the House that the UK has sufficient resources in place to honour its commitment under UN Security Council resolution 1973 and continue operations in Libya for as long as is necessary?

Nick Harvey: I am pleased to give precisely that confirmation. As the Chief of the Defence Staff has said, we can sustain the operation for as long as necessary. We have flexible and adaptable forces. That is not to say that sustaining operations will not put stress on people and assets, but we are perfectly capable of doing so, and nobody should be in any doubt about our determination.

Paul Uppal: It is as well to remind the House that the international community came together to avert an injustice and a massacre in Benghazi. Does my hon. Friend agree that it is essential that we keep that international community cohesion and effort on this most pressing issue?

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Nick Harvey: My hon. Friend makes a good point. The international community acted very speedily to deter the threat to civilian life in Libya. The sustaining of that effort in Libya is absolutely international in nature. It is essential to a successful outcome that all involved retain that cohesion and determination of purpose, and that all involved plan for what will follow, which was questioned a minute ago.

Robert Halfon (Harlow) (Con): Does my hon. Friend agree that a Palestinian state with Hamas in part control is a major defence threat, not just to Israel but to the wider region? Does he also agree that there should be no recognition of a Palestinian state until Hamas recognises Israel’s right to exist, renounces violence and recognises existing treaties?

Nick Harvey rose—

Mr Speaker: Order. I am sure the Minister will answer with reference to the responsibilities of the Ministry of Defence.

Nick Harvey: Those are pre-eminently matters of foreign policy which my hon. Friend should put to the Foreign Secretary, who will have heard the question and will reflect upon it.

Mr Denis MacShane (Rotherham) (Lab): In terms of the killing of civilians, torture, repression, and the export and support of terrorism, does the Ministry of Defence draw any distinction between Colonel Gaddafi and Bashar al-Assad of Syria; and if so, what is it?

Nick Harvey: Again, that is predominantly a question of foreign policy, but clearly the foreign policy circumstances are very different in the two countries. In the case of Libya, a regional power invited an intervention and a UN Security Council resolution authorised all necessary force. In the case of Syria, no regional body is inviting an intervention; more to the point, as yet, there has been no progress on a UN resolution, although the UK has a draft before the UN.

Keith Vaz (Leicester East) (Lab): As the Minister knows, the situation in Yemen is now critical. Have the Government received any request from the acting President of Yemen for military assistance by way of advisers or any other assistance whatever?

Nick Harvey: I can confirm that we have received no such requests.

Nick Smith (Blaenau Gwent) (Lab): Does the Minister recognise that new threats to the UK following the Arab spring make the national security strategy out of date? Will he update the strategy in the light of those recent events?

Nick Harvey: The national security strategy anticipated a variety of threats from different parts of the globe throughout its 10-year time frame. It proposed that we should have flexible and adaptable forces that are capable of responding to different scenarios in different ways at different times. The momentum of activity following the uprisings in north Africa and the middle east has

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called us into action, but that action has so far shown to be perfectly manageable within the arrangement that the strategic defence and security review laid down. No reason has been provided at this stage for anybody to contemplate a different arrangement.

Defence Exports

4. Jack Lopresti (Filton and Bradley Stoke) (Con): What steps his Department is taking to promote defence exports. [63135]

11. Chris Skidmore (Kingswood) (Con): What steps his Department is taking to promote defence exports. [63143]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Mr Gerald Howarth): We are supporting defence exports through an active and innovative defence diplomacy initiative, working closely with the UK Trade & Investment Defence & Security Organisation. Exports help to build and enhance relations with allies, to support UK defence industry, and to reduce the cost of equipment for Britain’s armed forces.

Ministers and officials from across Government, including my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, are already actively promoting British defence exports overseas. We are also embedding exportability into the early stages of the Ministry of Defence acquisition cycle. By considering export issues early and offering partnership at the design stage, we aim to increase export opportunities, which should result in reduced acquisition costs to the MOD.

Jack Lopresti: I thank my hon. Friend for that response. The Government have made positive changes in how they work with the UK defence industry to achieve better mutual benefits. However, what more can the Government and industry do so that we take an even better approach to exports throughout the whole of the UK defence sector, including MBDA and many other companies in my constituency, to maximise opportunities for the UK?

Mr Howarth: I am glad that my hon. Friend noted the extraordinary efforts that I and my ministerial colleagues across all Departments are making. There is no complacency. The defence exports support group was set up by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State specifically to act as a forum for Ministers to plan and focus their support to defence exports. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate MBDA on the fantastic job it is doing in supporting current operations in Afghanistan through the provision of some outstanding equipment. I hope that he will convey that message to his constituents. I am working with MBDA to see what we can do to help promote further exports.

Chris Skidmore: Airbus has recently set up a new research and development centre at the national composite centre in my constituency at the Bristol and Bath science park. Will the Minister welcome this development, and does he agree that effective research and development is crucial to promoting defence exports?

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Mr Howarth: I assure my hon. Friend that I am very aware of the work going on his constituency—I have been briefed on it—and I think it is a sector in which the United Kingdom enjoys outstanding strength. I have also visited the Airbus facility at Filton, where the wings for the A400M are built. That aircraft has fantastic export potential, and I hope that it will be a world-beater.

John Woodcock (Barrow and Furness) (Lab/Co-op): How does the Minister expect successfully to sell British industry abroad when his muddled defence review is squeezing firms at home? Is he aware that the pioneering lighting firm in my constituency, Oxley, has been forced to shed another 13 jobs and cites the difficulties created by the Government’s defence review as a key factor in that decision?

Mr Howarth: It might have escaped the hon. Gentleman’s notice that the difficulties that the MOD faces are entirely the fault of the right hon. Member for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath (Mr Brown), the former Prime Minister, who destroyed the country’s public finances and forced the Government to take measures to try to restore them. We are ensuring that we maximise the defence industry’s opportunities for first-class British kit in the export market. If he would like representatives from Oxley to come and tell me about it, I would be happy to meet them.

Mr Russell Brown (Dumfries and Galloway) (Lab): The Secretary of State has made his position clear: defence procurement will be based on open competition in the global market and buying off the shelf. How does that square with supporting UK industry? The hon. Member for Kingswood (Chris Skidmore) asked whether he recognises the absolute necessity for ongoing support for research and technology within the sector to make it clear to companies in the sector that the Government are firmly behind what they are doing.

Mr Howarth: We fully recognise the importance of research and technology, which is why the Government have sought hard to protect that budget and why my hon. Friend the Minister with responsibility for defence equipment, support and technology is also working hard and will shortly produce a White Paper on the subject. I assure hon. Members that nobody is more aware than the Government of the importance of the British manufacturing defence base as a basis upon which to generate wealth for the UK through exports.

Defence Industrial Base

5. Jack Dromey (Birmingham, Erdington) (Lab): What steps the Government have taken to strengthen the defence industrial base; and if he will make a statement. [63136]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Peter Luff): We will publish a White Paper later this year, following up the recent public consultation on last December’s “Equipment, Support and Technology for UK Defence and Security” Green Paper. The Government are already taking effective steps to provide much greater support to UK defence exports and to make it easier for smaller enterprises to do business with the public sector, including with the MOD.

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Jack Dromey: Britain’s defence industries lie at the heart of our economy. The Government are delaying vital defence orders for our armed forces, and the Secretary of State has said that he will buy off the shelf using open competition in the global marketplace. Does the Minister not recognise the anxiety and uncertainty that this is causing to tens of thousands of defence workers all over Britain who, like our armed forces, give outstanding service to this country?

Peter Luff: First, I am happy to say that the shelf is stacked high with British products, and that makes us extremely successful in the international market. Britain is the second greatest exporter of defence equipment—and long may that be the case. On the other comments of the hon. Gentleman, whom I hold in high regard—we have had discussions on British industry before—I would point out that our life would be so much easier had we not inherited a total mess of a defence budget, including a £38 billion black hole. The things he is complaining about were the fault of the previous Government.

Richard Fuller (Bedford) (Con): The previous Labour Government sold the defence contractor QinetiQ to a City firm that, a couple of years later, sold it for eight times the value and closed its plant in Bedfordshire with a consequential loss of employment. Will my hon. Friend ensure that he does a better job of defending our defence industrial base than the previous Labour Government?

Peter Luff: Speaking as someone from Worcestershire, where QinetiQ also has a very large presence, I absolutely understand what my hon. Friend is saying. It certainly would not be difficult to do a better job than the last lot did.

Michael Dugher (Barnsley East) (Lab): The Government promised a White Paper on defence procurement in the spring of this year, but it still has not appeared. They are continuing to take major decisions on procurement and the process of procurement in the MOD before they have set out any strategy on the industrial base. Will the Minister tell the House exactly why the White Paper has not yet been published? Is his definition of “spring” the time of year when the clocks go back and the leaves come off the trees?

Peter Luff: I am delighted to be able to tell the hon. Gentleman that I can give him an answer to that question. We have delayed publication because of the large number of defence-related reviews that the MOD is conducting at present, including the Levene review, the reserves review and the basing review. These will all lead naturally to the defence equipment and support White Paper, which will be published later this year. The Yellow Book review on non-competitive contracts will be released at the same time, not in July as originally intended, because the two documents will naturally sit together.

Surface Fleet

6. Dr Julian Lewis (New Forest East) (Con): What assessment he has made of the shape and size of the future surface fleet of the Royal Navy; and if he will make a statement. [63138]

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The Minister for the Armed Forces (Nick Harvey): As we set out in the strategic defence and security review, under Future Force 2020 the future surface Navy will have a world-class carrier strike capability, with 19 frigates and destroyers, including the state-of-the-art Type 45 destroyer; an amphibious fleet able to land and sustain a commando group from the sea; 14 mine countermeasures vessels; a global oceanographic survey capability; and a fleet of resupply and refuelling vessels. Work is also under way on the requirements and design of the Type 26 global combat ship, our next generation frigate.

Dr Lewis: I am encouraged by that response. Does the Minister remember when he and I sat on parallel Opposition Benches under the previous Government as the size of the frigate and destroyer fleet went down successively from 35 to 32 to 31 to 25 and then to 19? Will he specifically confirm that that figure of 19 frigates and destroyers will not be reduced to a pathetically inadequate baker’s dozen, as posited in some parts of the press?

Nick Harvey: I can certainly confirm that the situation remains unchanged from the SDSR. The future force will comprise 19 destroyers and frigates. It was a matter of great regret that the Government had to make a range of cuts in the SDSR, but that was a result of the general economic climate and, specifically, of the defence black hole that we inherited.

Mr Kevan Jones (North Durham) (Lab): On the size of the surface fleet, the First Sea Lord told the Defence Committee on 11 May:

“We would be challenged to find further platforms to rotate through, and to continue to maintain the overseas commitments that are standard operating requirements.”

Will the Minister tell the House exactly how the Royal Navy will sustain its operations in Libya, and what impact those operations are having on the Royal Navy’s ability to deliver what was set out in the SDSR?

Nick Harvey: As I said in answer to an earlier question, there is no denying that the pace and longevity of operations in Libya put a stress on the fleet. However, the Libyan operation is a high priority, and we will ensure that it has the necessary resources. HMS Liverpool remains on task in the Mediterranean in support of the NATO-led operations. We have plans for her relief in due course but, for operational security reasons, I am not going to say which ship will be involved.

Operation Ellamy

7. Mr Philip Hollobone (Kettering) (Con): What assessment he has made of the Typhoon and Apache platforms in Operation Ellamy. [63139]

18. Mr Douglas Carswell (Clacton) (Con): What assessment he has made of the performance of Eurofighter Typhoon in Operation Ellamy. [63151]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Peter Luff): Typhoon aircraft and Apache attack helicopters have performed very well in Operation Ellamy, proving their military worth and fulfilling all the operational tasks asked of them. Typhoon, in its first multi-role

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mission in providing both air defence and ground attack, has demonstrated exceptional levels of survivability and, in its ground attack role, a targeting capability with minimal collateral damage, proving that it is a truly formidable aircraft.

Mr Hollobone: Given that both platforms are being deployed in theatre in roles beyond their original specification, will my hon. Friend please comment in more detail on the ground attack role of the Typhoon, and on the Apache being deployed for the first time at sea?

Peter Luff: The Apache has been on about 20 sorties with no known civilian casualties—an exceptional testimony to that aircraft. Typhoon is performing exceptionally well in Libya. My hon. Friend is right that it was originally conceived as an air defence aircraft; it is now in its first multi-role combat aircraft role, and it is performing superbly. As Wing Commander J Attridge, the operational Typhoon detachment commander said,

“the Typhoon has come of age”

over the skies of Libya and we are seeing the maturation of the RAF’s first multi-role combat fast jet aircraft since world war two. We are all delighted with its performance.

Mr Carswell: Given that historically we have invested many billions in cold war era Eurofighters, but perhaps a little less on the unmanned aerial vehicles we need, does the Minister have any plans to switch resources from the former to the latter?

Peter Luff: It is not an either/or situation. UAVs have their role to play, but Typhoon is not a cold war legacy; it has proved to be an exceptionally capable modern aircraft, taking on the world and proving its exceptional worth in Libya. I am very confident of success in the large number of ongoing export campaigns around the world. Typhoon is a remarkable modern aircraft with a very bright future ahead of it.

Accommodation Costs

9. Mr Jim Cunningham (Coventry South) (Lab): How much his Department spent on accommodation in London for military officers and staff of his Department in the last 12 months; and if he will make a statement. [63141]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Mr Andrew Robathan): Over the last 12 months, the Ministry of Defence spent some £25 million on renting 3,000 service family accommodation properties and 1,000 substitute family and single accommodation properties in London for entitled service personnel. Substitute properties were rented only when no suitable MOD accommodation was available. We seek to get best value for money. Travel and subsistence payments for service and civilian personnel relating to short-term detached duty, permanent transfer, which involves move of home, or temporary transfer in London cannot be identified separately. However, for civilian personnel in London, the MOD imposes a monthly rental ceiling of £1,250. Personnel based in the London area are undertaking essential duties in a range of locations.

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Mr Cunningham: Given the financial difficulties of the MOD and the worldwide economic situation that we inherited, the present Government have made the position worse. With all these defence cuts going on, particularly among specialist police in the MOD, how does the Minister justify spending £500,000 on a trip to America, which was cancelled last year?

Mr Robathan: I am not entirely sure how that question relates specifically to my previous answer, but I will of course answer it. As I understand it, the trip is part of the Defence Academy course, and 300 people went to America for a week or whatever. It seems to me that this is a reasonable use of defence expenditure to ensure that people are properly trained at the Defence Academy and that they gain a proper understanding of the United States, which is, after all, our most important ally, with which we are much engaged in Afghanistan at the moment.

French and UK Armed Forces

10. Neil Carmichael (Stroud) (Con): Whether he has discussed with ministerial colleagues the effectiveness of co-operation between French and UK armed forces; and if he will make a statement. [63142]

The Secretary of State for Defence (Dr Liam Fox): I have regular discussions with my ministerial colleagues about our bilateral co-operation with France, following the signature of the defence and security co-operation treaty last November. The aim of the treaty is to develop further co-operation between our armed forces and to improve their ability to work together more effectively.

Neil Carmichael: I have considerable experience of dealing with our allies, as my wife is French. Does the Secretary of State believe that this alliance means making better use of our budget for cost-effectiveness and for strategic planning?

Dr Fox: I am pleased to hear about my hon. Friend’s personal entente cordiale, and I hope that the relationship we have with France in defence will turn out to be as fruitful. We certainly aim to ensure the best use of money in future procurement and the development of projects, but above all we have been looking at the respective doctrines of our armed forces to ensure greater interoperability. France is a natural partner of the UK in being willing both to spend and deploy, which cannot be said of a number of our other European partners in NATO.

Alison Seabeck (Plymouth, Moor View) (Lab): Will any of the discussions with the French Government on working more closely together and on cost cutting lead to the scenario suggested in Jane’sthat 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines could be disbanded? I hope that the Secretary of State will reassure my constituents, who have close links to the Royal Marines currently serving in Afghanistan, that that will not happen.

Dr Fox: There has been no such discussion in dealing with our French counterparts, and neither do I intend that there will be any such discussion.

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Bob Russell (Colchester) (LD): Will the Secretary of State clarify whether the co-operation between the French and the UK armed forces will enable in 2015 celebrations of that great away win over the French—the battle of Waterloo?

Dr Fox: It is for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to celebrate, and carry the budget for celebrating, historic events. It does no country a disservice, however, to remember that we have benefited from our armed forces in security not only today but throughout our history.

Operation Ellamy

12. Mr David Hanson (Delyn) (Lab): What recent assessment he has made of the likely date for achievement of the objectives set for Operation Ellamy. [63144]

The Secretary of State for Defence (Dr Liam Fox): Operation Ellamy is helping to enforce UN Security Council resolution 1973. We have made it clear repeatedly, and I have done so in the House, that we will continue operations until Gaddafi stops attacking the Libyan people and they can live in peace and security.

Mr Hanson: I assure the Secretary of State that the Opposition support the objectives of the operation. For clarity, however, will he tell the House the cost to date of the operation, its ongoing monthly cost, and the financial provision he is making for the hopeful post-conflict activity that we discussed earlier?

Dr Fox: Assuming our operations continue until September, which is not unrealistic, we assess the cost to be about £260 million. I have set out the details of that in a written answer to the House.

Arms Export Review

13. Simon Hughes (Bermondsey and Old Southwark) (LD): What input his Department has had to the arms export review being undertaken by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. [63146]

The Minister for the Armed Forces (Nick Harvey): MOD officials have engaged with Foreign Office colleagues on the review of export licensing previously announced on 16 March by the Foreign Secretary.

Simon Hughes: Given the considerable interest that there has been in export licences in relation to the middle east and north Africa, and the desire of many of our constituents to see a change in the old regime and system and a reduction in arms sales abroad, will my hon. Friend tell us whether we are likely to have the results of the review before the summer recess, and whether we will have an opportunity to debate them on the Floor of the House?

Nick Harvey: I understand that the intention is to publish the findings of the review before the summer recess, but whether there will be the opportunity to debate them in the House is not a matter for me. I assure my right hon. Friend, however, that we continue to operate on a case-by-case basis in the middle east in relation to fresh applications for export licences.

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Duncan Hames (Chippenham) (LD): The recent joint report by the Committees on Arms Export Controls recommended that the Government publish a full statement on how they apply criterion 8 relating to sustainable economic development when making decisions about arms export licences. Will the Minister give his commitment that the Department will follow and adopt that recommendation?

Nick Harvey: I must make it clear that the responsibility for defence export licences lies with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, which consults the Foreign Office on specific criteria and the Ministry of Defence on other criteria. I assure my hon. Friend that, in so far as is relevant to the issues on which we are asked to advise, the Ministry of Defence agrees entirely with the points that he makes, but such matters are pre-eminently for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.


15. David Rutley (Macclesfield) (Con): What recent assessment he has made of the security situation in Afghanistan; and if he will make a statement. [63148]

The Secretary of State for Defence (Dr Liam Fox): I visited Afghanistan in recent weeks and gained a clear sense of the progress being made. I was also able to thank our armed forces in person and on behalf of the House for their fine efforts. Following that visit, I am in no doubt that the transition of security lead to the Afghans remains achievable by the end of 2014.

David Rutley: Given this country’s strong efforts to create a secure environment in Afghanistan, and our commitment to withdrawing British troops by 2015, will my right hon. Friend tell the House what progress is being made in building the capability of local Afghan forces, and in ensuring a clear transition in military command?

Dr Fox: I have had the opportunity over time to see the Afghan national security forces—both the Afghan national army and the police—and as anyone who visits them will recognise, their capability is enormously enhanced. Things that may appear small to us, such as literacy training, have phenomenally increased their capability. When I look at the Afghan national training mission, I have cause for great hope that we will achieve the levels of security competence required for that transition.

Graham Jones (Hyndburn) (Lab): Will the Secretary of State give us some idea of the percentage of children who are attending schools in Helmand province as an indication of how successful we have been in the operation there?

Dr Fox: It is difficult to give an accurate figure, but I will try to obtain one from the provincial reconstruction team and write to the hon. Gentleman. What is clear is that, while we have taken a large amount of military equipment and money to Afghanistan, perhaps the most important thing that we have taken there is hope: hope for a generation who may be able to be educated

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and to have some economic capabilities of their own in the future, which events have denied to recent generations in Afghanistan.

Mr Jim Murphy (East Renfrewshire) (Lab): We read in the newspapers this week that the Prime Minister plans to announce a further troop withdrawal from Afghanistan. The whole country will feel disappointed that our forces have again had to learn of news through media leaks. As we head towards the 2014 deadline, can the Secretary of State repeat his guarantee that decisions about troop numbers will be based on conditions on the ground and on best available military advice, not on politics or other arbitrary factors?

Dr Fox: Given the last Government’s record, for the right hon. Gentleman to talk about troop numbers in Afghanistan being leaked to the newspapers is a bit like the pot calling the kettle black. We said very clearly that there would be a reduction of 426. Some 200 troops have already been withdrawn, largely because they were involved in logistic tasks above and beyond our core number. Any reduction in the core number, particularly in our force in Helmand, will be announced after discussions in the National Security Council between the relevant politicians and Departments and the military.

Eurofighter Typhoon

17. Stephen Metcalfe (South Basildon and East Thurrock) (Con): What recent assessment he has made of the export prospects for Eurofighter Typhoon. [63150]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Peter Luff): Typhoon has already been exported to Saudi Arabia and Austria, where it is in operational service. It is also competing in a number of other important markets. Oman has announced its intention to buy Typhoon, and India has selected it for the final phase of its medium multi-role combat aircraft competition.

I expect an increase in interest in Typhoon following its highly successful air defence and ground attack roles in current operations, in which it has consistently demonstrated exceptional levels of reliability, performance, accuracy, and overall cost-effectiveness.

Stephen Metcalfe: SELEX Galileo in Basildon, along with many other businesses throughout the United Kingdom, will benefit hugely from increased exports of the Eurofighter Typhoon, and my constituents will also benefit from improved job opportunities. Will my hon. Friend update me and the House on the progress of the tender process with India?

Peter Luff: The Indians are sticking to their timetable, and we are very optimistic about the prospects for Typhoon. My hon. Friend is right to stress the importance of the contribution of companies such as SELEX Galileo. We already have a highly capable radar on Typhoon which matches, or exceeds, many electronically scanned radars operating elsewhere, but SELEX Galileo is on track with Europe’s first and only second-generation scanned radar, which will make Typhoon a truly outstanding, indeed unmatched, multi-role fast jet and a world-beater in the export markets as well. I hope that that includes India.

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Fallen Servicemen

19. Mark Pawsey (Rugby) (Con): What recent representations he has received on arrangements for members of the public to pay final respects to fallen servicemen. [63152]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Mr Andrew Robathan): Over the last two weeks we have received a number of e-mails and letters following a campaign on Facebook about arrangements for members of the public to pay their final respects to fallen servicemen and women.

Mark Pawsey: I recently spoke to a lady in my constituency who is a member of the War Widows Association. She expressed concern about the forthcoming change which would mean repatriation flights arriving at RAF Brize Norton. Like many other people, she believed that it was important for the British public to continue to be able to pay their respects to fallen military personnel. Will the Minister assure us that that will still be possible under the new arrangements?

Mr Robathan: I can certainly assure my hon. Friend and the House that that is the case.

Because of the number of e-mails that we had received, I went to Brize Norton on Friday to reassure myself about the plans that are being made. The RAF is spending £3.2 million on a new repatriation centre specifically for the families of the bereaved, who must be the focus of our attention. It is an excellent centre, which will give them a very good view of what is happening when the aircraft land. There are private chapels of rest where they can go and be with their loved one’s remains. The cortege will then head down a very dignified avenue of limes to the nearest gate, which is being refurbished and will be called the Britannia Gate. It is dignified, respectful and solemn.

Once the cortege has left Brize Norton, it will be the responsibility of the police and Oxfordshire county council. The county council is building a memorial garden with a great deal of car parking so that people who wish to show their respect—the general public and the Royal British Legion, which approved the arrangements—will be able to do so in a dignified and proper place.

Paul Flynn (Newport West) (Lab): The Minister misses the point. As recently as 12 o’clock today a representative of the people of Brize Norton expressed his disappointment and anger, because they wish the very moving scenes that took place at Wootton Bassett to be replicated at Brize Norton. That cannot happen because the cortege route is being taken through rural roads and not through the urban area. Should not the people of Brize Norton and the surrounding areas have the right to express the grief of the nation, in order that we are all reminded of the true cost of war?

Mr Robathan: First, as I have said, the families of the bereaved must be the most important consideration. Oxfordshire county council has carried out a great deal of consultation. The hon. Gentleman mentions Brize Norton and, as it happens, the route will go straight through the village of Brize Norton. It will not go

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through the nearby village of Carterton, whose streets are both very narrow for a modern village and have speed bumps, which are not suitable for corteges. This has been decided by Oxfordshire county council in consultation with local people, and there is no suggestion of its having been done covertly. If I may say so, I think the hon. Gentleman should go to Brize Norton—as I did—and see the alternatives, as he would find that we wish to allow the British public the right to show their respect for these heroes, but we are not necessarily going to be driven by one person on the radio.

Mr Speaker: I am grateful to the Minister. I call Mr James Gray.

Mr James Gray (North Wiltshire) (Con): There can be no finer sight than the last four Hercules from RAF Lyneham flying down the line of the high street of Wootton Bassett on Friday afternoon on the way to Brize Norton, but does the Minister agree that it might not be possible, nor indeed quite right, to seek to replicate the Wootton Bassett effect elsewhere, as that was a chapter in our history? I am not sure we necessarily want to see it repeated elsewhere.

Mr Robathan: My hon. Friend makes a very good point. The route from Lyneham to Oxford passes straight through the centre of Wootton Bassett, and the route from Brize Norton to Oxford is being drawn so that it can go past somewhere where people can pay their respects. As my hon. Friend will know, the facilities at RAF Lyneham were fairly ad hoc, but we have now built a repatriation centre which, I have to say, is very impressive. It will be finished at the end of July, and I think people will come to realise that this is a different situation, and that the RAF, Oxfordshire county council and the police are doing the right thing for the bereaved and the servicemen who have been killed.

Topical Questions

T1. [63157] Simon Kirby (Brighton, Kemptown) (Con): If he will make a statement on his departmental responsibilities.

The Secretary of State for Defence (Dr Liam Fox): My departmental responsibilities are to ensure that our country is properly defended now and in the future, that our service personnel have the right equipment and training to allow them to succeed in their military tasks, and that we honour our armed forces covenant.

Simon Kirby: Has the Secretary of State considered the effects of off-the-shelf procurement on UK jobs, UK tax revenue, and the future capability of UK manufacturing?

Dr Fox: As has already been said, a lot of what is on the international shelves is made in Britain, but the Ministry of Defence’s primary purpose is to ensure that our armed forces have the right equipment when they need it at a reasonable cost to the taxpayer.

Gemma Doyle (West Dunbartonshire) (Lab/Co-op): The creation of the office of the chief coroner would make a significant difference to the families of fallen service people as they go through the very difficult inquest

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process. The Royal British Legion believes this is a matter of priority, not of cost. When will the Secretary of State stop passing the buck to his colleagues in the Justice Department and make this one of his priorities?

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Mr Andrew Robathan): As you will understand, Mr Speaker, this is not a question of passing the buck: the Ministry of Justice is responsible for the coroners department. This has been the subject of much consultation, and the MOJ must answer on it. [Interruption.] The right hon. Member for East Renfrewshire (Mr Murphy) asks what it is doing: it is ensuring that coroners are better trained, as training was the problem beforehand.

T2. [63158] Jason McCartney (Colne Valley) (Con): Does my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State agree with me and the British Veterans National Defence Medal Campaign that the recent MOD medal review was wrong to suggest that there is little appetite or desire in this country to recognise our brave service veterans with a UK national defence medal?

Mr Robathan: I would not agree with my hon. Friend on that. What I would say is that groups such as the British Veterans National Defence Medal Campaign are being consulted on the medal review. What that campaign proposes would mean that some 4.5 million to 5 million people would qualify for a national defence medal, and we have to take into account all representations before determining whether that is the right thing to do.

T3. [63159] Pamela Nash (Airdrie and Shotts) (Lab): On 24 June, The Daily Telegraph reported that a £10 billion black hole in the defence budget will lead to cuts having to be increased beyond the current 8%. Can the Secretary of State confirm or deny that report?

The Secretary of State for Defence (Dr Liam Fox): I am delighted that the Labour party now studies The Daily Telegraph in great detail, as it may be able to learn something from that side of the press. There is no doubt that the size of the budget deficit we inherited—about £38 billion of unfunded liability, on the assumption of flat real growth between now and 2020—had to be tackled. We have taken a huge amount out of that already and we will work, not only through this strategic defence and security review, but into the next one, to ensure that as we progress towards the end of the decade we eliminate that horrific inheritance from the Labour party.

T4. [63160] Miss Anne McIntosh (Thirsk and Malton) (Con): Will the Secretary of State give the House an assurance that enough British-trained RAF pilots are operating in Libya, especially at the moment? If there are not, will he ensure that even more pilots will be trained by RAF Linton-on-Ouse, in my constituency? Will he also assure the House that that base will remain one of the top training bases for the RAF for years to come?

Dr Fox: Not only can I give the assurance that we have sufficient British pilots and sufficient British assets in Libya, but I can tell the House that as we go ahead with the greater devolution of powers to the single

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service chiefs it will be up to them to determine, and make it clear to me, that they have proper training mechanisms in place to ensure that that position remains.

T8. [63164] Thomas Docherty (Dunfermline and West Fife) (Lab): Given the widespread opposition in west Fife to becoming a nuclear submarine graveyard, will the Secretary of State confirm that the Ministry of Defence will be using the same principles for identifying the long-term waste store as are used by the civil industry? Will he specifically confirm that the store has regulatory support, makes financial sense and has community buy-in?

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Peter Luff): The hon. Gentleman will understand that two sites have been identified as potential candidates for submarine dismantling—Devonport royal dockyard and Rosyth royal dockyard. I can give him the assurance he seeks: we will be following a similar approach to that of the civil nuclear sector and we will take account of a wide range of factors. I do not have time to enumerate those in this answer, but I would be happy to talk to him in detail later, if that would be of help to him. I can particularly reassure him on the subject of consultation, because we recognise the keen local interest in this subject and are keen to ensure that local people have the opportunity to express their views. We will work with all the local authorities and the devolved Administration in Scotland before and during public consultation.

T5. [63161] Neil Carmichael (Stroud) (Con): My constituency is home to a large number of reserve armed forces members, who welcome the review of their role. May I ask the Secretary of State whether that review will recognise their capacity, capabilities and willingness to integrate with the regular armed forces?

The Minister for the Armed Forces (Nick Harvey): I entirely agree with my hon. Friend about the excellent work done by our reserve forces. I have been thoroughly impressed with the commitment and skill that they have shown when I have met them, including in Afghanistan. As he knows, a review is being led by the Vice-Chief of the Defence staff and my hon. Friend the Member for Canterbury (Mr Brazier), and their report is in the process of being finalised. I expect them to deliver that report shortly and it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.

Dan Jarvis (Barnsley Central) (Lab): Will the Secretary of State confirm whether he has any plans to reduce the size of the Army post-2015?

Dr Fox: Nothing has changed in our assumptions since the strategic defence and security review.

T6. [63162] Stephen Gilbert (St Austell and Newquay) (LD): Like many in the House, I welcome the recent removal of arms export licences to Bahrain. However, given the earlier answer by the Minister for the Armed Forces, may I ask Ministers how many times they have raised concerns about arms export licences to Saudi Arabia with their colleagues in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills?

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Mr Gerald Howarth): On Bahrain, I can tell my hon. Friend that a cross-Whitehall review of export licences to that country was held on 18 February, and licences for equipment that could be used for internal repression were revoked—to date, 23 single licences have been revoked and 16 open licences have had Bahrain removed from them. On Saudi Arabia, I can tell him that, like all other countries, we subject all defence exports to a rigorous review against the criteria set by this country and elsewhere.

Mr Elfyn Llwyd (Dwyfor Meirionnydd) (PC): On 28 April, I received an answer from the Minister to a request for a breakdown of outsourced transport costs from the Bicester logistics centre. The response was that £4 million had been saved and that the amount spent by Bicester on private couriers between 2008 and 2010 was zero. In my office, I have copies of literally thousands of transport documents that show that the answer is millions of pounds. The answer I was given therefore could not be further from the truth. Will the Minister provide urgent clarification on this very important matter?

Peter Luff: I share the right hon. Gentleman’s concern, based on what he has told me, and would be delighted to meet him to discuss the matter in more detail. He has brought a very serious matter to the attention of the House and I look forward to meeting him to discuss it further.

T7. [63163] Graham Evans (Weaver Vale) (Con): Following recent debates about the restructuring of NATO, will my right hon. Friend confirm that the future of Northwood as a key NATO command headquarters is secure?

Dr Fox: In the recent discussions at NATO ministerial, the maritime headquarters for NATO were going to be in Lisbon, Naples or Northwood. First, Northwood is an effective and efficient place from which to carry out that command and, secondly, the UK Government do not believe that it is acceptable to see another northern European command move to the south of Europe at a time when many northern European forces are carrying more than their fair share of operations in Libya or Afghanistan.

Toby Perkins (Chesterfield) (Lab): I was pleased to be at Staveley Armed Forces day on Saturday, where I met a soldier who had recently returned from his third tour of duty in Afghanistan. He expressed his fear that political expediency would outweigh the military concerns about troop withdrawals from Afghanistan and, specifically, about the impact that was having on their efforts to train up Afghan nationals. His fear was that those nationals would return to the Taliban if they felt that Britain had withdrawn from Afghanistan prematurely. Does the Minister share that fear?

Dr Fox: I think the key element is the confidence we can give the people of Afghanistan that the international community’s relationship with that country will not end when our combat forces leave at the end of 2014. As we have trained up the Afghan national security force to have greater capability, there is now greater emphasis

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both on the political space and on redevelopment and reconstruction, rather than on the purely military arguments.

T9. [63165] Andrew Selous (South West Bedfordshire) (Con): What plans do the Government have to mark the 200th anniversary of the battle of Waterloo, which ended a quarter of a century of conflict in Europe and packed Napoleon off to St Helena?

Mr Robathan: My hon. Friend may know that I spent some 15 years in the Coldstream Guards and he will know—he has historical knowledge—that the Coldstream Guards shut the gates of the chateau, or the farm, of Hougoumont. Wellington said that the battle would have been lost had that not happened. Our relationship with France has changed a little since the Napoleonic wars, and this is now an historical matter. I understand that our colleagues in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport have set up a Waterloo 200 committee to discuss the commemoration, but it will certainly be commemorated by the Coldstream Guards, among others.

Jim McGovern (Dundee West) (Lab): May I thank the Under-Secretary of State for Defence, the hon. Member for Mid Worcestershire (Peter Luff), for agreeing to meet me yesterday to discuss the potential implications of the SDSR on organisations that depend almost entirely on Ministry of Defence contracts for their survival? I was perhaps a tad parochial at that meeting in stating the case for the Remploy factory in my constituency. Is the Minister in a position to give any assurances and an update to the people employed at Remploy in Dundee West and to me?

Peter Luff: I am afraid I cannot go beyond what I said at the meeting with the hon. Gentleman, which I greatly enjoyed. I look to him to carry on making the case for an important facility and factory that does excellent work for the people it serves and who work for it.

T10. [63166] Mark Pawsey (Rugby) (Con): Like the hon. Member for Chesterfield (Toby Perkins), I had the honour of joining Armed Forces day celebrations and, in my case, they were at Bulkington in my constituency. Does my right hon. Friend agree that this annual event not only raises public awareness of the contribution made to our country by those who serve and have served in the armed forces but gives the opportunity for the entire country to show its support for all the men who make up that community? [ Interruption. ] And women.

Dr Fox: Men and women. I completely agree with my hon. Friend, who makes a valid point that will resonate throughout the country. Armed Forces day gives us all a chance to be aware of what the armed forces do and gives the public the chance to thank them. I visited the Armed Forces day celebrations in Edinburgh, which were magnificent. The city put on a great display and I look forward to seeing what Plymouth is capable of doing next year.

Jim Sheridan (Paisley and Renfrewshire North) (Lab): The Secretary of State may be aware of the excellent research carried out by Professor Al Rowland into the

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exposure of our atomic test veterans. Since conducting that research, Professor Rowland has been honoured by the Queen. The UK Government are now the only Government refusing to accept their responsibilities for Christmas island, so will the Secretary of State now agree to do so?

Mr Robathan: I do not entirely accept what the hon. Gentleman says, and I happen to know that neither do those on his party’s Front Bench. What happens in New Zealand is, of course, up to the people of New Zealand. However, I note from the article in The Times today, which he might have read, that Neil Sampson of Rosenblatt says that he wants a compensation fund worth £30 million to be set up. It should be asked of Rosenblatt—perhaps the hon. Gentleman himself might wish to ask this question—how much its fees are, because I understand that they would take up more than half that compensation fund, and would—I think everybody in the House would agree—therefore probably be a little large.

Sir Menzies Campbell (North East Fife) (LD): My right hon. Friend will not be surprised to learn that

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RAF Leuchars in my constituency continues to fulfil its responsibilities for the air defence of the northern half of the United Kingdom with the professionalism and commitment that we have come to expect. Has he assessed the extent of the effect on the ability of Leuchars—or, indeed, of any other air base in Scotland—to operate if Scotland was not under the umbrella of NATO?

Dr Fox: I had a chance to visit Leuchars recently to thank those who carry out those duties on our behalf. My right hon. and learned Friend raises an important point. Those in the Scottish National party in the Scottish Government who pretend that they can enjoy both the security of the Crown forces and the luxury of talking about leaving NATO leave a lot to be desired intellectually.

Mr Bob Ainsworth (Coventry North East) (Lab): What is the status of the Chinook helicopter order?

Peter Luff: Nothing has changed since the strategic defence and security review.

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Business of the House

3.31 pm

The Leader of the House of Commons (Sir George Young): With permission, Mr Speaker, I should like to make a short business statement. The business for tomorrow and Wednesday remains unchanged to that announced previously. However, the remaining business will now be:

Thursday 7 July—Proceedings on the Supply and Appropriation (Main Estimates) Bill, followed by consideration of a business motion, followed by all stages of the Police (Detention and Bail) Bill.

I can advise the House that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary will make the final draft of the Bill available to hon. Members in advance of its formal introduction and publication tomorrow. I have been advised by the Home Office that copies of the final draft will be available in the Vote Office by 6 pm this evening. I will of course make my usual business statement on Thursday.

Hilary Benn (Leeds Central) (Lab): I am grateful to the Leader of the House for his statement and for advance sight of it, which responds to the point that I raised with him last Thursday. It has taken Home Office Ministers far too long—six weeks now—to respond to a court judgment that was originally given on 19 May. The result has been a complete mess, with doubt about the enforcement of bail conditions—for instance, in domestic violence cases—and the Leader of the House having to make this statement, completely changing the business for Thursday. Can he give us any news on the application to stay the judgment pending the appeal hearing, which I understand is scheduled for 25 July, because it might have a bearing on Thursday’s business?

As I indicated last week, we are very willing to assist in getting the legislation on the statute book as quickly as possible, because we all want to ensure that the law is restored to what everyone thought it was before the judgment. However, let me ask the Leader of the House two questions. First, can he confirm that the Home Secretary will be leading the debate? We see from his statement that all stages will be taken in one day, including the Committee stage on the Floor of the House. Secondly, when does he anticipate the Bill being considered in the other place?

Sir George Young: I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for his renewed offer of support for getting the legislation on the statute book. On his first point, the timeline was dealt with on several occasions on Thursday by the Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice.

On the application to the Supreme Court, the greater Metropolitan police are asking for a stay of execution. It would not resolve the main issue, and it would not happen until later this month, by which time the House will have risen. The Home Secretary will indeed be taking Second Reading. I anticipate that the Bill will then go to the other place on Thursday evening, and I hope that it will be dealt with early next week.

Several hon. Members rose

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Mr Speaker: Order. May I just remind the House that this is a narrow business statement and that questions should relate exclusively to announced changes to the business on Thursday? The wider, routine business statement will, as the Leader of the House has made clear, be on Thursday.

Mr James Gray (North Wiltshire) (Con): The very important business that the Leader of the House has announced will mean that an hour and a half debate on the use of electronic devices in the Chamber will not now occur. Will the Leader of the House tell us when he intends to allow that debate to occur?

Sir George Young: First, may I say that in replying to the shadow Leader of the House I should have said the Greater Manchester police, not the greater Metropolitan police?

I am sorry that the debate on Thursday will not now take place. I will make my normal business statement on Thursday outlining the business for forthcoming weeks.

Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab): In his business statement on Thursday, could the Leader of the House tell us what the Home Secretary seems not to be capable of telling us about the case of Sheikh Raed Salah, including when she signed an order that he was to be deported from this country, why he has been held for some days in Her Majesty’s Prison Bedford, why he is being denied legal access until tomorrow and why, and under what pressure, she decided to make what I believe to be a retrospective decision?

Mr Speaker: Order. I think this is a question for Thursday, unless the Leader of the House has any plans to indicate that the matters will be debated on Thursday.

Sir George Young: I understand that the matter is before the courts.

Mr Peter Bone (Wellingborough) (Con): I assume that the Leader of the House is not going to move item No. 2 on the Order Paper tonight, but has he considered whether it could be moved and tacked on to whatever time we finish our debate on the emergency Bill?

Sir George Young: My hon. Friend is quite right that there is now no need to move the motion that protects the Backbench Business Committee debate for 90 minutes. We do not propose to add that debate to the end of business on Thursday; it will have to be dealt with on another occasion.

Mr John Spellar (Warley) (Lab): Obviously, no leader of the House likes having to change business, although that is often necessary under the force of circumstances. We fully understand why that is being done in this case and the Opposition have indicated that they support that. However, I hope that the Leader of the House has satisfied himself regarding this question: did officials, when they knew about this decision, not tell the Minister, or is it the case that the Minister was told and did not act on it? What is the answer?

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Sir George Young: If the right hon. Gentleman looks at Hansard for last Thursday, he will see the timeline outlined by the Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice. Ministers were told on 24 June.

Clive Efford (Eltham) (Lab): I have Hansard for last Thursday, and the Minister made it quite clear that the original decision was on 5 April and that a judicial review gave oral confirmation of that decision on 19 May. Can the Leader of the House say whether he was alerted, after 19 May, to the possibility of the need to legislate on the Floor of the House to reverse that decision?

Sir George Young: This is rehearsing to some extent the arguments that were dealt with on Thursday. As my right hon. Friend the Minister said on Thursday, we had to wait for the written judgment to follow the oral one.

Mr Philip Hollobone (Kettering) (Con): When will the House consider Lords amendments to the Fixed-term Parliaments Bill? Given that the Leader of the House has effectively included an extra day of legislation into Parliament’s proceedings, does he anticipate that the House will run for longer than intended in the current Session?

Sir George Young: That is not the Government’s intention. We plan to adjourn on the day that has already been announced.

Mr Gerry Sutcliffe (Bradford South) (Lab): We had a statement last Thursday. Why are we waiting until this Thursday when we could have debated the exceptional Bill today? There is an increased cost to the police in not understanding what the position is and having to do bail at the doorstep level. Could we not have had the opportunity at least to see the draft Bill given that the Minister had the statement ready on Thursday?

Sir George Young: The Bill had to be drafted before it could be presented to the House. We have worked as quickly as we could and the Bill will be available to Members by 6 o’clock this evening—in good time for discussion on Thursday.

Diana Johnson (Kingston upon Hull North) (Lab): I do not understand why we cannot have the Bill earlier in the week. I am particularly concerned about the people who are suspected of domestic violence and have conditions on their bail, which I understand will not be enforced. That is clearly a major problem and I wonder why it is taking so long—until Thursday—to bring forward the Bill.

Sir George Young: The announcement was made on Thursday and the Bill will be available later today. I think that is moving at good speed. On the specific issue the hon. Lady raised, the police service is dealing with the implications of the ruling, including in the circumstances that she outlines, and the Home Secretary has been told that the police will be able to manage operationally in the meantime.

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Mr Dave Watts (St Helens North) (Lab): Can the right hon. Gentleman explain why it has taken five weeks to deal with this matter? Is an investigation going on to find out why this important legislation has taken five weeks, and is it true that the Government are only acting on the back of the report and legal advice of the Association of Chief Police Officers?

Sir George Young: Again, this is rehearsing to some extent the exchange we had on Thursday, and an exchange that can take place again this Thursday. The announcement that I have just made relates to the business we are dealing with on Thursday; the substantive matters will be dealt with on that day.

Chris Leslie (Nottingham East) (Lab/Co-op): Although it will be good to have time to debate the Bill—that is all very well—can the Leader of the House allow us time for a separate debate about the general shambles in the Home Office and which Ministers and Law Officers were clearly asleep on the job?

Sir George Young: If the hon. Gentleman comes along on Thursday, he can put in a bid for such a debate. I am not sure whether he was here last Thursday, but there was a protracted exchange involving the Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice on precisely the issues that the hon. Gentleman and his colleagues continue to raise.

Keith Vaz (Leicester East) (Lab): Two promises were made last Thursday. The first was on the request from the police that they should have the best legal advice from the best legal brains. I am sure that refers to the Solicitor-General. The second promise was that the Bill would be discussed with the Select Committee on Home Affairs and with the shadow Home Secretary before the final draft appeared. As the Home Secretary will be appearing before us tomorrow morning, could she please bring her latest version to the meeting?

Sir George Young: Indeed, the Home Secretary will be bringing a copy of the Bill with her, and I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will also have his copy—available from 6 o’clock this evening.

Toby Perkins (Chesterfield) (Lab): With regard to the timing of the debate on Thursday, is it not true that parliamentary business is being lost and legislation is being made in an emergency because the Home Office was not on top of its brief in the first place? Is any investigation going on to make sure that next time round we get legislation to protect the police earlier?

Sir George Young: Again, these issues were raised last Thursday, and the hon. Gentleman will have an opportunity this Thursday to discuss the background to the Bill. My responsibility is simply for announcing the changed business on Thursday, and in response to requests from some of the hon. Gentleman’s colleagues we are dealing with this as quickly as we possibly can.

Mark Tami (Alyn and Deeside) (Lab): Why did it take the Home Secretary so long to tell the Leader of the House that there was a need for this change?

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Sir George Young: The moment the statement was made last Thursday, and it was clear that legislation was needed, we decided to change the business of the House, and a statement was made at the earliest opportunity.

Vernon Coaker (Gedling) (Lab): What a fiasco! Why does the House have to wait until Thursday before it debates the emergency legislation when the Home Office has known about this for six weeks? Will the Home Secretary be able to tell us what the current situation is with respect to those on police bail? How many people are being let out who should not be? How many people do not know what is happening? Should there not be an emergency statement now, rather than waiting until next Thursday?

Sir George Young: Yes to all the questions except the last one, which is no.

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Reform of Social Care

3.43 pm

The Secretary of State for Health (Mr Andrew Lansley): With permission, I wish to make a statement on the reform of social care.

The coalition Government have from the outset recognised that reform of the care and support system is needed to provide people with more choice and control and to reduce the insecurity faced by individuals, carers and their families. By 2026, the number of people over 85 years old is projected to double. Age is the principal determinant of need for health and for care services. It is further estimated that in 20 years’ time, 1.7 million more people will have a potential care need than do today.

People often do not think about how they might meet the costs of care in later life. They assume that social care will be provided free for all at the point of need, but since the establishment of the welfare state that has never been the case. Currently, people with more than £23,250 in assets, often including their home, face meeting the whole cost of care themselves.

The cost of care can vary considerably and it is hard for people to predict what costs they may face. The average 65-year-old today will face lifetime care costs of £35,000, but as the Commission on Funding of Care and Support notes, costs are widely distributed: one in four will have no care costs, but one in four will face care costs of more than £50,000 and for one in 10 it will be more than £100,000. The lack of understanding of how the system works and uncertainty about costs means that it is difficult for people to prepare to meet potential care costs, and there are currently few financial products available to help them. This means that paying for care can come as a shock to many families and have a severe impact on their financial security.

Change is essential. That is why we took immediate action last July by establishing the Commission on Funding of Care and Support, which was tasked with making recommendations on how to achieve an affordable and sustainable funding system for care and support for all adults in England. In response to its initial advice, we allocated an additional £2 billion a year by 2014-15 in the spending review to support the delivery of social care as a bridge to reform. This represents a total of £7.2 billion of extra support for social care over the next four years, including an unprecedented transfer of funds from the NHS to support social care services that will also benefit health.

Since then we have taken forward wider reform. Last November we published our vision for adult social care, setting out our commitment to a more responsive and personalised care and support system that empowers individuals and communities, including the objective that all those who wish it should have access to a personal social care budget by 2013. In May, after three years of work, the Law Commission published its report on how to deliver a modernised statute for adult social care. Making sense of the current confused tangle of legislation to deliver a social care statute will allow individuals, carers, families and local authorities to understand more clearly when care and support will be provided.

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Andrew Dilnot’s report comes at the same time as the final report from the palliative care funding review, which I received last week. Tom Hughes-Hallett and Sir Alan Craft have made an excellent start in looking at this complex and challenging issue. We want to see integrated, responsive and high-quality health and care services for those at the end of life. We will now consider the review team’s proposals in detail before consulting stakeholders on the way forward later this summer. We will also consider how best to undertake substantial piloting, as recommended in the report, in order to gather information on how best to deliver palliative care services.

We are also responding to events at Southern Cross, which have caused concern to residents in Southern Cross care homes and their families. We welcome the fact that Southern Cross, the landlords and the lenders are working hard to come up with a plan to stabilise the ownership and operation of the care homes. We have also made it clear that we will take action to ensure proper oversight of the market in social care. That is why we are seeking powers through the Health and Social Care Bill to extend to social care the financial regulatory regime that we are putting in place in the NHS, if we decide that that is needed as part of wider reform.

A central component of those wider reforms will be the long-term funding of care and support. Over the past 12 months Andrew Dilnot, who chairs the Commission on Funding of Care and Support, together with the noble Lord Warner and Dame Jo Williams, has engaged extensively with many different stakeholders. They have brought fresh insight and impetus to this most challenging area of public policy. We welcome the commission’s excellent work and its final report. I would like to thank Andrew Dilnot, Lord Warner and Jo Williams for their work, which has made an immensely valuable contribution to meeting the long-term challenge of an ageing population.

The report argues that people are unable to protect themselves against the risk of high care costs, leaving them fearful and uncertain about the future. The commission’s central proposal, therefore, is a cap on the care costs that people face over their lifetime of between £25,000 and £50,000—it recommends £35,000. Under the commission’s proposals, people who cannot afford to make their personal contribution would continue to receive means-tested support, but it proposes that the threshold for receiving state help for residential care costs would rise from £23,250 to £100,000. People would make some contribution to their general living costs in residential care, but the commission suggests that this should be limited to between £7,000 and £10,000.

The commission also proposes the following standardised, national eligibility for care, which would increase consistency across the country; universal access to a deferred payments scheme for means-tested contributions; improvements in information and advice; improved assessments for carers and better alignment between social care and the wider care and support system; and considering changing the means test in domiciliary care to include housing assets. The commission makes recommendations about how as a society we can organise and fund social care. We will consider the recommendations as a priority.

The commission recognises that implementing its reforms would have significant costs. In the current public spending environment, the Government will have

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to consider the recommendations carefully against other funding priorities and calls on our constrained resources. The commission’s recommendations present a range of options, including on the level of a cap and the contribution that people make to living costs in residential care, which could help us to manage the system and its costs. We intend to engage with stakeholders on those issues, including on the trade-offs involved.

Reform in this area will have to meet a number of tests, including whether the proposals would promote closer integration of health and social care and increased personalisation, choice and quality; support greater prevention and early intervention; whether a viable insurance market and a more diverse and responsive care market would be established as a result of the proposals; what is the level of consensus that additional resources should be targeted on a capped costs scheme for social care; and what a fair and appropriate method of financing the additional costs would be.

The Government have set out a broad agenda for reform in social care. We want to see care that is personalised; that offers people choice in how their care needs are met; that supports carers; that is supported by a diverse and flourishing market of providers; that has a skilled work force who provide care and support with compassion and imagination; and that offers people the assurances they expect of high-quality care and protection against poor standards and abuse. Andrew Dilnot’s report was never intended to address all those issues, but it forms a vital part of that wider agenda.

To take the matter forward, we will work with stakeholders in the autumn, using Andrew Dilnot’s report as the basis for engagement and as a key part of the broader picture. That engagement will look at the fundamental issues for reform in social care, such as improving quality, developing and assuring the care market, integration with the NHS and wider services, and personalisation. We want to hear stakeholders’ views on the priorities for action from the commission’s report and on how we should assess the proposals, including in relation to other priorities for improvement in the system. As the right hon. Member for Wentworth and Dearne (John Healey) and I have discussed, the Government will engage directly with the official Opposition to seek consensus on the future of long-term care funding.

We will set out our response to the Law Commission and the Dilnot commission in the spring. There will be full proposals for the reform of adult social care in a White Paper and a progress report on funding reform. It remains our intention to legislate to this effect at the earliest opportunity. The care of the elderly and of vulnerable adults is a key priority for reform under this Government, and I commend this statement to the House.

John Healey (Wentworth and Dearne) (Lab): I thank the Health Secretary for the copy of his statement, and for making it to the House himself.

We welcomed the Hughes-Hallett report last week and we welcome the Dilnot report on social care today. The Dilnot report sets out important recommendations on capping the catastrophic costs of care; lifting the wealth threshold for state help; immediate free support for children with care needs on becoming adults; universal

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disability benefits continuing as now; a standard national needs test; and better information and advice, led by local councils.

The important elements in the Dilnot report are similar to the plans that we set out in government in the care White Paper in March last year. Our concern was and is to protect the one in 10 people who have to pay more than £100,000 for the cost of their care in older age; our concern was and is to protect hard-working people on modest incomes, who are more likely to care for their relatives and a lot less likely to get any help in doing so; and our concern was and is to protect people from the lottery of where they live, rather than what they need, determining their assessment for care and the level of support.

It should be a cause for celebration and pride that one in five of us in this country who are alive today will live to 100, and that our children are likely to spend a third of their lives in retirement. Instead, too many of us approach our older age in fear—fear that we will need care that will not be there; fear that our savings will be wiped out by the open-ended costs of care; fear that we cannot protect our families from that risk; and fear of becoming a burden or being left alone.

Today’s report from Andrew Dilnot is a starting point, but it is what the Government do with it now that counts. My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition has made a big offer to the Prime Minister to put politics aside and work to see a better, fairer and lasting system of support for our older and disabled people in England. Labour is willing to talk to and work with the Government and all other parties to do so, because we know that any new system of care must give all of us long-term confidence about what will be on offer for us and our families as we plan and prepare for older age.

That requires the Prime Minister to give the lead, because discussing and agreeing an affordable, sustainable system and how we pay for it involves important parts of Government beyond the Health Secretary. It requires the Prime Minister to give a guarantee that the Government will not kick Dilnot’s recommendations into the long grass, because as Dilnot says, the system needs “urgent and lasting reform”. If the Government are serious, we are serious; and if they are serious, we need to hear more. Dilnot recommends a White Paper by December this year, so why are the Government already saying that it will be spring before publication?

Any solution is a solution only if it is available and affordable to everyone, so what assurance can the Government give that the voluntary insurance protection will be an option for all? Dilnot states that the current system is

“under extreme strain, and people are experiencing tightening eligibility and reduced care packages.”

Do the Government accept his conclusion that additional public funding for the means-tested system is urgently required?

The corporate crisis at Southern Cross is causing extreme anxiety for many people living in its homes. Do the Government accept that there is a case for regulating business standards as well as care standards, to give people greater confidence in their care?

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The Secretary of State said that he would engage directly with me. I thank him, but this is a big challenge not just for him but for the Chancellor and the Prime Minister. Will the Government accept that cross-party talks are required across Government? This is a once-in-a-generation chance, and the House and the public will need to hear from the Prime Minister himself to believe that his Government are determined, as we are, to build a better, fairer and lasting system of care in our country.

Mr Lansley: I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for the welcome that he gives to the report by Andrew Dilnot and his colleagues, and indeed to the report that Tom Hughes-Hallett and Alan Craft produced on palliative care. They are both immensely valuable.

The right hon. Gentleman rightly says that it is important for us to move beyond many of the suggestions that have been made in the past. One of the essential purposes of the Dilnot commission was to seek something that was affordable and sustainable, that met tests of choice, fairness, value for money and ease of understanding, and that would be sustainable for the longer term. Dilnot has responded immensely well to the issues that we put to him, but that is part of a broader process of reform. In that sense we have not waited for Dilnot, because we have made progress on the wider aspects of reform. Now we have to ensure that we bring them together in a way that is coherent and works to deliver long-term, sustainable reform across the whole social care sphere.

The right hon. Gentleman rightly points to the fact that we inherited a fragile system in which there had already been a substantial tightening of eligibility and loss of care and support, with increasing levels of unmet need. That was precisely why, in an interim report last year, Andrew Dilnot and his colleagues asked us to make additional resources available in the spending review. I set out in my statement precisely how we have done so.

The concerns in relation to Southern Cross are particular to that company, and the Minister of State, my hon. Friend the Member for Sutton and Cheam (Paul Burstow), has made clear to the House how we are interacting with those who are involved with the company. We are making it very clear to the public—I reiterate it today—that we are prepared to act to secure the interests of individuals if there were any threat to their position in care homes. We are working with the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services and local authorities to ensure that those contingencies are in place. What I said today in the statement, and which people have not previously recognised, is that as early as last year we set out in the Health and Social Care Bill that we were prepared for regulatory powers to be available to ensure the future viability of social care providers, as we intend to do in relation to health care providers.

Let me may make one final point. I believe that my statement makes it absolutely clear that we will engage on the basis of the Commission on Funding of Care and Support, and that we will do so on a timetable that will work and that gives stakeholders and the public, and indeed the Government and the Opposition, an opportunity to come forward with a consensus. I discussed that timetable with Andrew Dilnot, and he is clear that he supports it. It will lead to a White Paper in the spring

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and an associated progress report on funding reform. I am clear that that assures stakeholders that we will take this forward as a priority.

Sarah Newton (Truro and Falmouth) (Con): I very much welcome the report and the Secretary of State’s statement. It was the previous Government who kicked the fixing of our broken care system into the political long grass. Will my right hon. Friend reassure me that we will work with all parties in both Houses to find a lasting solution?

Mr Lansley: Yes, I agree with my hon. Friend. That is indeed what we will set out to do. There have been many false starts, and not just under the previous Government. It is important for us to make progress, and for us to do so on a basis that is sustainable for the longer term.

Meg Munn (Sheffield, Heeley) (Lab/Co-op): The Secretary of State will be aware that all sorts of new and innovative ways of caring for elderly and disabled people are developing. The terms “domiciliary care” and “residential care” will become obsolete as services are provided in different ways. Will he ensure that whatever funding mechanism is being developed does not limit the type of services that can be provided, because providing for elderly people to be cared for in their own homes and in settings where they can live in a more normal way will be enormously important in future?

Mr Lansley: The hon. Lady very well illustrates one reason why Andrew Dilnot’s commission is, among its recommendations, looking to eliminate discrimination between residential and domiciliary care services. We should not have a system that tends to provide perverse incentives to go into residential care, or indeed one that prevents that from happening when it is the right thing. However, part of the reason why the Dilnot commission should be seen in its wider context is that we are looking towards innovative and more effective means of supporting people’s independence at home. The Department is now looking towards the evaluation of the telehealth whole system demonstrator pilots, the world’s largest randomised controlled trial of telehealth, which should come in a matter of weeks.

John Pugh (Southport) (LD): Will the Secretary of State acknowledge that it will be easier to get agreement on the principles underlying the proposals than on the mathematics and the cost? Does he agree that only a renewed NHS focus on the chronic diseases of old age will ultimately make the latter bearable?

Mr Lansley: My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Although we are looking to ensure that we have a sustainable system of social care and support both for social care and the NHS, the linked priority of our Department and our Government is to improve and increase the effectiveness of our public health services. That is why I was this morning with the Faculty of Public Health to discuss precisely how we can improve health planning at local level, not least with local government, to try to reduce the prospective burden of disease in future.

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Mr David Blunkett (Sheffield, Brightside and Hillsborough) (Lab): As a vice-president of the Alzheimer’s Society, and like many hon. Members, I am aware that it is dementia awareness week. The most enormous resource is needed to help both individuals and their carers, particularly with residential support. Is not my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Meg Munn) entirely right to draw attention to the fact that even within Andrew Dilnot’s acknowledgement of the perverse incentives, there is still an emphasis on the care market and the drive to encourage people to take up, or to consider the option of, residential care? Do we not need to put the glue back by supporting families and neighbourliness, so that we can keep people independent in their own homes as long as is humanly possible?

Mr Lansley: I understand the point that the right hon. Gentleman makes and in the past some of the criticisms of previous proposals have been made because they would have led to a situation in which informal care and family care would not have been properly supported—indeed, there would have been perverse incentives for people not to have family carers. We need to support family carers rather than bypass them.

I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman raises the issue of dementia. It is tremendously important that we understand it is one of the principal reasons for such a rising burden of disability and requirement for care and support. It is why we are looking to the longer term, not least to improve research into dementia. I am grateful to the Minister of State, my hon. Friend the Member for Sutton and Cheam, who has chaired the work on research into dementia, and he was able to announce substantial additional funding to support dementia research just the week before last.

Oliver Colvile (Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport) (Con): I declare an interest as I have an elderly step-mother who is in a home and this will be very important news for her family and my family. Have there been discussions with the Treasury, and does it recognise that this is one of the key issues? How far have those discussions reached, or if they have not started, when will they do so?

Mr Lansley: My hon. Friend will be pleased to know that the statement I have made is the product of collective discussion, which of course fully involved the Treasury.

Mr Dennis Skinner (Bolsover) (Lab): Does the Secretary of State agree that it would be a big mistake to miss this opportunity for root-and-branch change of the present system? Would it not be handy if local authorities played a bigger role than the billionaires who run Southern Cross, Winterbourne and the rest? Would it not also be nice for him to acknowledge that when he blurted out about the death tax he got it all wrong?

Mr Lansley: On the hon. Gentleman’s point about local government, he should remember that the overwhelming majority of the residents in Southern Cross care homes are funded by local authorities, and that is precisely why we are working with local authorities to ensure that those residents’ interests will be protected. I recognise the problems that we have seen with Southern Cross, although I do not know of any other companies

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in a similar position. None the less, it is one of the reasons why we seek the powers in the Health and Social Care Bill to regulate social care provision in the same way as health care provision.

Mrs Anne Main (St Albans) (Con): If we are to see elderly and disabled people needing more carers, my right hon. Friend will need to work with the Secretary of State for Education to enhance the status of those who work in the care industry, because we will need far more people willing to work in it and with the skills, qualifications and commitment needed to give the enhanced care that people would like to receive.

Mr Lansley: I am grateful to my hon. Friend. During the engagement that we are undertaking, one of the areas that we should certainly pursue is the work force development strategy in relation to care and support—and we will do that.

Mr Ronnie Campbell (Blyth Valley) (Lab): Can the Secretary of State tell us why one part of the UK gets care free and the other has to pay? Is it because the other part—Scotland—pays more taxes?

Mr Lansley: The difference in approach is the result of devolution.

Oliver Heald (North East Hertfordshire) (Con): I welcome the fact that the Secretary of State has gone wider than the Dilnot report today. It was at least two years ago that the Commission for Social Care Inspection, the regulator, called for wider powers to deal with financial regulation, and it is very welcome that that is to happen. Does my right hon. Friend agree that the level at which the cap is set under the Dilnot regime will be important in deciding whether an insurance market can develop? If it is set too low, the risk that is being shared will not be great enough, and if it is set too high, it will be too expensive.

Mr Lansley: I am grateful to my hon. Friend. That is precisely why we drafted the Health and Social Care Bill in the way we did. I hope that people will bear that in mind when debating the need for, and appropriateness of, this further regulatory measure. He made a perfectly valid point, and it is one reason we need to ensure engagement. It is not only a matter of whether the insurance and financial services industry would respond: along with stakeholders and the public, we need to understand what the public’s attitude would be were they to have greater clarity about potential care costs and if they were willing to engage with financial services products in meeting those care costs. If they were, significant benefits would be derived, not least through bringing additional resources to bear and through creating organisations with a direct incentive to undertake more prevention.

Jack Dromey (Birmingham, Erdington) (Lab): Dilnot offers a new dawn but not for three years, and in the meantime the fabric of social care is coming apart at the seams because the Government have imposed a 28% cut on local government, leading to such councils as Birmingham cutting care all over England. Will the

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Secretary of State act now to ensure that in the meantime the elderly and the disabled get the support that they deserve and which any civilised society should provide?

Mr Lansley: The hon. Gentleman should be aware that the maximum reduction in local authorities’ spending power this year compared with last year is 8.8%. We removed the ring fence from Department of Health social care grants but we did not reduce the scale of those grants. In addition, he must remember that, as is not always recognised, the NHS is making specific provision to support social care. This financial year, £150 million will go to support reablement, and £648 million will be transferred, as I said, to support social care, which will also have health benefits. That will be spending power in the hands of local authorities to support adult social care.

Margot James (Stourbridge) (Con): I welcome the Dilnot proposals, but does my right hon. Friend agree that he should resist the demands from the shadow Health Secretary to rush into a White Paper this side of Christmas? It is more important to get it right, and there may well be ways to improve on the Dilnot proposals, particularly with regard to the cap and by making provision more affordable and fairer.

Mr Lansley: My hon. Friend makes a fair point. It was clear that had we sought to publish a White Paper before Christmas, the net effect would have been that we did not give the public, stakeholders or the official Opposition the time needed to discuss the issue and to do the job properly .

Barbara Keeley (Worsley and Eccles South) (Lab): It is clear that there are two issues: not just the future funding of social care but the current funding—the crisis referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Erdington (Jack Dromey). Only 15% of councils are now meeting moderate need, but that figure used to be 50%. The Secretary of State cannot say that there is no crisis. It seems to me that building a future funding solution rests on not letting current provision deteriorate much further—but it is deteriorating rapidly. What, then, will Ministers do beyond the excellent cross-party work that probably will go forward to do something about the resources that are leaking away and the current crisis in provision?

Mr Lansley: I do not believe I did say that there was no crisis. The hon. Lady and the House must recognise, however, that last year the Dilnot commission, in an interim report, sought additional support specifically for social care and that we provided it through the local government grant and a transfer of resources from the NHS. She says that few authorities now provide social care for those with moderate needs, but that has been the product of years of change—it has been happening for many years. That creates a risk, but we are addressing that risk through the transfer of NHS resources and by helping people with lower levels of need through home adaptations, community equipment and reablement if they leave hospital, in order to make certain that we avoid the risk that we are running: of large numbers of people with moderate need falling rapidly into severe need.

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Dr Sarah Wollaston (Totnes) (Con): I understand the need for the timetable to allow for adequate consultation, but Andrew Dilnot’s excellent report draws attention to several areas including a lack of transparency, a lack of information available to families making decisions about care homes and, in particular, a lack of portability, which results in many patients being trapped and unable to move closer to loved ones. Does the Secretary of State feel that he could expedite any of the report’s recommendations to allow such proposals to receive more detailed consideration?

Mr Lansley: I entirely understand my hon. Friend’s point. In the course of the engagement during the latter part of this year, some of those issues will certainly come to the fore. My colleagues and I felt that it was better for us not to cherry-pick Andrew Dilnot’s report now, but rather for us to give people an opportunity to comment on the recommendations in full. That will, however, take place over the space of weeks rather than many months.

Emma Reynolds (Wolverhampton North East) (Lab): I should remind Government Members that this issue has already been delayed because the Conservatives broke ranks before the election in order to score political points. However, there is now cross-party support for the recommendations, so why has the Secretary of State let the timetable slip from the autumn to next spring? Can he reassure the House and the country that there will be no further slippage in the timetable?

Mr Lansley: I am afraid that I do not accept the hon. Lady’s premise. I am not going to revisit the past, but the truth is that, since I became directly involved, I initiated cross-party discussions before the election on the reform of social care, and I did not leave those discussions. It was her former Prime Minister who effectively broke them down.

Tony Baldry (Banbury) (Con): I think everyone knows where we want to get to on palliative care. We want to provide those people who want it with a much better opportunity to die at home or to die in a hospice while being properly cared for and supported. How does my right hon. Friend see us getting from here to there? What process will be involved, and who is going to drive that process to improve palliative care?

Mr Lansley: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his question. This is very much about ensuring that, at the same time as engaging on the palliative care report, we build pilots that will enable us to see how the proposals would work in a number of places across the country. I know that some areas of the country are ready and willing to do that. The essence of what we are doing is to be increasingly clear about what quality services for those at the end of their lives look like, and to be sure that we can integrate those services by developing a system of per-patient funding. That would enable the providers to work together within the funding framework, without the current constraints and demarcations, and without the silo system that currently divides palliative care and end-of-life care services in a way that makes the system immensely confusing and difficult for people

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at the end of their lives. This is a real opportunity that has been fashioned by Tom Hughes-Hallett and Alan Craft’s report.

Alison McGovern (Wirral South) (Lab): Funding for care is clearly a hugely important issue, but so is the quality of the care that older people receive. The parliamentary ombudsman and even the Financial Times have reported the need for greater respect and dignity for those receiving care. When will the Secretary of State return to the House and inform us in detail of the standards of care that older people can expect?

Mr Lansley: The hon. Lady will know that we are continuously seeking to improve the standards of care that older people receive, and, in so doing, we sometimes have to tackle what are clearly serious abuses. In the wake of the Winterbourne View events, for example, we will bring forward a report to Parliament on standards and the means by which they are to be met. With regard to hospital care, it was I who asked the Care Quality Commission to undertake specific unannounced nurse-led inspections to look at dignity and nutrition. We will work continuously to ensure that we deliver the standards of care that people have a right to expect.

Nick de Bois (Enfield North) (Con): My right hon. Friend might be aware that more than 100,000 people a year are not receiving the palliative care that they need. Can he assure the House that that will be a key priority, following the issue of this report?

Mr Lansley: My hon. Friend is right. I very much welcomed and encouraged the dialogue that took place between Andrew Dilnot’s team and Tom Hughes- Hallett’s team, and they have made complementary recommendations. My hon. Friend is absolutely right to say that, as far as end-of-life care is concerned, there is widespread unmet need. The disparity in the quality of care and the services provided in different parts of the country is staggering. Just as the Dilnot commission deals with care and support, we certainly aim to deliver greater consistency in eligibility and in the quality of care provided.

Mr Jim Cunningham (Coventry South) (Lab): I am sure that the Secretary of State is aware that there are concerns nationally—and locally in Coventry—about Southern Cross. Can he be more positive, because so far the answers we have received from the Government have been very vague? Equally, there is concern about the regulator being undermanned, so how does he intend to improve that and improve the quality of care?

Mr Lansley: I am sorry if the hon. Gentleman feels that the Government have been anything other than absolutely clear about what we are setting out to do. This is a problem that derived from the commercial decisions that the company made and it should be resolved by further commercial discussions between the company, its landlords and its lenders. We are constantly in touch with all of those, but it is not the Government’s responsibility to step in and take those decisions. What is the Government’s responsibility, which we are clear about and ready to take action as necessary, is to ensure that individuals in those care homes and their families are not abandoned and do not fall through the gaps or

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find themselves without access to the care and support they need. I hope that, in the midst of the perfectly legitimate concerns being expressed, people do not stray into causing people to be more fearful than they need be.

Mr Marcus Jones (Nuneaton) (Con): Will my right hon. Friend confirm that the Government are taking the action necessary to ensure that residents in Southern Cross care homes, such as Harmony house in my constituency, will not be left without the care that they need?

Mr Lansley: My hon. Friend is absolutely right. I have a Southern Cross care home in my constituency and I am sure that most Members do. We cannot know precisely how the commercial discussions will turn out, but what we can be sure about is that we have put together with the directors of social services in local authorities clear contingency plans to protect the residents if need be.

Mr Dave Watts (St Helens North) (Lab): The Secretary of State will be aware that many people both inside and outside the House believe that this matter is going to be kicked into the long grass by the Government. Can the Secretary of State set out the time scales for the consultation process and for the introduction of the legislation that will be needed?

Mr Lansley: Many people would therefore be wrong in that respect, because we are clear about taking this report forward as the basis for engagement in the autumn, publishing a response and carrying out other related work on palliative care in the spring, publishing a White Paper and a progress report on funding reform and legislating at the first available opportunity thereafter.

Julian Sturdy (York Outer) (Con): Through the broad principles of the Dilnot report and the work already carried out by the Government, we at last have a framework that we can work towards to bring security, dignity and fairness back to elderly care, which I believe is really important. Will my right hon. Friend assure us, however, that we have a sensible and workable time frame within which to deliver?

Mr Lansley: My hon. Friend is absolutely right. At the heart of this, we know that additional resources have to be brought to bear and that given the financial circumstances we face, we also know that this will have to be a partnership between taxpayers, families and individuals—it cannot simply be handing costs over to the state. Although Andrew Dilnot makes no specific recommendations about how to pay for his proposals, he is very clear that even if it were to be through a tax mechanism, he believes it should come from an existing tax and should bear particularly on the same groups of older people rather than be a further intergenerational transfer from working age adults. What that immediately points to is the necessity of engaging fully with some of the stakeholder groups such as Age UK and others and of engaging properly with the public so that before we

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embark on this major reform, they can feel confident that they understand those trade-offs and precisely how these costs are to be met.

Catherine McKinnell (Newcastle upon Tyne North) (Lab): The increased availability of care at home is to be welcomed, but it also poses increased challenges for safeguarding vulnerable adults. Given that personal budgets can be spent on unregistered and therefore unregulated care providers, what steps will the Secretary of State take to ensure that taxpayers money can be spent only on good quality and safe care provision where the rights of care workers are also fully respected?

Mr Lansley: The hon. Lady makes a number of important points. As the Minister of State, my hon. Friend the Member for Sutton and Cheam, made clear recently, one purpose of legislation in due course will be to put the safeguarding on a statutory basis, which is important. Working with the CQC, we must ensure that in domiciliary care as well as in residential care homes, mechanisms are in place that enable us to assess the quality of care and get feedback from residents. The social care outcomes framework must be developed in a way that captures an understanding of the experience of care users, their families and supporters.

Nicky Morgan (Loughborough) (Con): I thank the Secretary of State for his statement and I welcome the Dilnot review. As other Members have said, however, hundreds of thousands of families across the country are already worrying about how they will pay for care bills for their relatives, including the Strachan family in my constituency, who said publicly this morning that they have only two months’ money left to pay care home bills and are not sure what they will do after that. When my right hon. Friend launches the consultation, may I urge him not to forget the needs of those already in the care system who are worrying about paying bills, as well as being rightly concerned about those facing future care bills?

Mr Lansley: My hon. Friend’s point relates to the degree of uncertainty and insecurity that the current system tends to engender. It is important that we deal with that, and that people understand the circumstances in which the state pays and will continue to pay. We should not give people who have no assets the sense that they will be required to pay when they have no means of doing so. The state will be there to support them. There will be a safety net, and the commission makes recommendations about how further to develop it in future. Beyond that, we must arrive at a place where people are able to understand better the nature of the care costs that they might meet, and where there are good, affordable, secure mechanisms through which they can prepare for those costs, so that they do not have the gross insecurity that exists at the moment.

Mr David Nuttall (Bury North) (Con): Does my right hon. Friend agree that improved palliative care will be enormously helpful to those of us who wish to resist the calls for the legalisation of euthanasia, and that a reduction in the number of deaths in hospital could save tens of millions of pounds each year for reinvestment in patient care?

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Mr Lansley: I share with my hon. Friend the feeling that if we can improve the quality of end-of-life care and give people an understanding of the recent great developments in symptom control at the end of life, people’s perception of the decisions that they might have to make about end-of-life care might change, and that might give them greater confidence that they can have what most people would regard as a good death.

Anne Marie Morris (Newton Abbot) (Con): I welcome the Dilnot report’s many practical suggestions, which will be very important in Devon because it has the highest level of retired people—22%. With regard to the need for any new funding proposal to cover a range of different provision, given the change in relation to when people need to go into residential care, the contracting will need to be looked at carefully. Does the Secretary of State agree that if we are to have contracts, they need to be standardised? For example, the contracts that councils enter into with care homes are not standard, so although in theory they offer the same quality of care—

Mr Speaker: Order. I am extremely grateful to the hon. Lady, but I think that that is an excellent subject for her to pursue in an Adjournment debate, and I feel sure that she will.

Mr Lansley: There is the nub of a very good question there. If we develop greater national consistency in eligibility and in assessment, we might also start to engender greater consistency in quality, including the contracting that supports it.

Bob Stewart (Beckenham) (Con): My local borough, Bromley, tries very hard to use its resources for social care as efficiently as possible. Might boroughs such as Bromley and others throughout the country be given more resources to help them to ring-fence funds for social care, particularly palliative care?

Mr Lansley: As my hon. Friend will know, local authorities were keen for many of the grants that we provided not to be ring-fenced in future, including the social care, public health and learning disability grants. We aim to give local government more flexibility, but, through the NHS, we are providing additional resources—in Bromley and elsewhere—to support preventive interventions that benefit both social care and the NHS, and I think that that will make a big difference in Bromley. As we know, however, all local authorities are, of necessity, having to seek greater efficiencies, and we are working with local government to identify where they can be delivered. There is still a dramatic variation between the costs of care services provided in different parts of the country.

Charlie Elphicke (Dover) (Con): As we know, going into a home is long on cost but short on life expectancy. I particularly welcomed my right hon. Friend’s comments about greater prevention. What more can be done to promote access to—and promote in general—day care and respite care?

Mr Lansley: We have made specific additional provision to support respite care. I hope that people will be given more independence and support at home not only as a result of NHS support—the £648 million that will be

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provided this year is a great deal of money, which will substantially increase access to such facilities as community equipment, home adaptations, reablement and rehabilitation —but through, for instance, telehealth, which I mentioned in response to an earlier question. I think that we can transform the quality of care and health services provided at home.

Christopher Pincher (Tamworth) (Con): Because Haunton Hall nursing home in Tamworth is owned by Southern Cross, its fate is of grave concern to residents and their families. Will my right hon. Friend confirm that any advice he receives from the regulator about companies such as Southern Cross, which the Labour party unfortunately ignored, will not go unheeded by him?

Mr Lansley: In the past, Governments received advice from the regulator about the desirability of their being able to undertake proper scrutiny of the financial circumstances—the financial viability and sustainability—of organisations. No powers in that regard have been taken in the past, but we are seeking such powers in the Health and Social Care Bill, and one of the debates that we will need to have concerns the extent to which it will be right for us to use them in the future.

Mr Philip Hollobone (Kettering) (Con): How will the Secretary of State ensure that the very best examples of the hospice movement, such as Cransley hospice in Kettering, can become involved in the establishment of the new framework for palliative care, so that best practice is extended throughout the country?

Mr Lansley: As my hon. Friend will know, Tom Hughes-Hallett, the chief executive of Marie Curie Cancer Care—who is leading the palliative care review—has engaged fully with Help the Hospices and the hospice movement. I understand from my conversations with hospice representatives over a number of years that they do not want their funding to be subject to the vagaries of public expenditure. Individual block grants that vary from year to year give them no confidence about the services that they provide. They do not want additional resources as much as clarity about what resources will be provided for the individuals who seek their care. They particularly hope that there will be a corresponding transfer of resources to hospices which provide services that replace the NHS and support people at home, as many are increasingly doing.

Graham Evans (Weaver Vale) (Con): I have four Southern Cross homes in my constituency. Does my right hon. Friend agree that the Southern Cross situation highlights the need for a dedicated financial regulator for social care services?

Mr Lansley: As I said earlier, this is one of the issues on which I hope we will have further discussion as part of the debate on wider social care reform leading to the White Paper.

Jason McCartney (Colne Valley) (Con): End-of-life care is massively enhanced by Kirkwood hospice in my part of west Yorkshire, and the construction of a new children’s hospice has just begun on the outskirts of Huddersfield, funded by the West Yorkshire Forget Me

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Not Trust. Does my right hon. Friend agree that when considering the hospice movement in our country, we must always remember the children’s hospice movement?

Mr Lansley: My hon. Friend is absolutely right. The children’s hospice movement has done immensely good work over the years. I am aware of that in my own constituency through the work of East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices, and I am sure many Members also completely understand. That movement’s work has been done in circumstances in which a very small proportion of the resources for children’s hospices comes from state sources. The palliative care funding review addresses both adult’s and children’s end-of-life care and palliative care and identifies per-patient funding for children as well as adults, and it therefore offers children’s hospices precisely the same kind of security in the future as adult hospices.

Paul Uppal (Wolverhampton South West) (Con): Does my right hon. Friend agree that the Dilnot report goes some way to addressing the long-standing issue that for many years the current system has been punitive to those who have been prudent and frugal in planning for their old age?

Mr Lansley: Yes I do, and one of the essential reasons why the Dilnot commission was rightly established is that there are many people who have worked hard, saved and accumulated assets and expected to be able to enjoy them in their older age or to pass them on to their families, but who instead found that all those assets were destroyed as a result of the sheer chance event of, for example, long-term disability or dementia. That is a tragic situation, and as Andrew Dilnot well puts it, if people have a health care need and are seriously ill the NHS will look after them, and if their house burns down or they have a car crash there is insurance for that, but here we have a potential catastrophe in people’s lives for which the state will not provide and nobody else is willing or able to offer them that similar kind of protection. It is therefore vital that we take forward the Dilnot recommendations in the way we are proposing.