19 Jun 2013 : Column 913

The Prime Minister: I would not be so depressed about it. One of the good things about the G8 is that the accountability report is simple and straightforward. It has always been about aid volumes and aid promises. I hope that future accountability reports will be able to address some of these issues in the declaration, too. If we do that and hold leaders’ feet to the fire, there is no reason why we should not make real progress on this agenda.

Neil Carmichael (Stroud) (Con): In giving a strong welcome to the EU-US trade negotiations launched at the G8, does the Prime Minister agree that the process itself could be a catalyst towards creating a more open and more modern Europe, and that that is entirely consistent with his ambitions for Europe and demonstrates that Britain’s influence in Europe will be positive?

The Prime Minister: I thank my hon. Friend for his point. The process, going through chapter by chapter trying to open up areas to greater trade and competition, will be good for Europe as a whole. There are always those countries that fear this process. We tend to be in the vanguard of thinking that it is a good thing, so I hope this engagement will have the effect that he says it will.

Steve McCabe (Birmingham, Selly Oak) (Lab): Were the reports before the summit that the Prime Minister had committed his Government to making public registries of beneficial ownership wrong? Is his commitment only to holding a consultation?

The Prime Minister: Our commitment is what we said it is, which is to have a central register of beneficial ownership and to have a consultation about whether it should be public. As I said, I think there are strong arguments for public registers of beneficial ownership all over the world. Let us be clear about the end point: every country having a register of beneficial ownership so that we can see who owns every single company. That is the goal. The question is: how can we accelerate progress towards it? I think we have really put the foot on the gas for this declaration. We now need to work out how to use our next steps to increase the leverage on others.

Several hon. Members rose

Mr Speaker: The moment has arrived for the hon. Member for Bristol West (Stephen Williams), who need no longer look downcast in any way.

Stephen Williams (Bristol West) (LD): Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. All my colleagues thought that I was going to be left out. When I used to read double tax treaties, they were written in a bygone age and mentioned quarrying, forestry and the signatory powers of overseas agents. Will the Prime Minister use Britain’s position in the OECD to ensure that those treaties are brought up to date, particularly in regard to e-commerce, where so much international tax avoidance is done?

The Prime Minister: That is a very important point. We must also try to make them less impenetrable, but they need to cover every area. E-commerce is a real challenge for the tax authorities, because so much business has gone online.

19 Jun 2013 : Column 914

Paul Flynn (Newport West) (Lab): May I congratulate the Prime Minister on proving once again the remarkable persuasive powers of parliamentary questions? As recently as 25 February, the Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, the hon. Member for East Dunbartonshire (Jo Swinson) told me in response to a question on the Crown dependencies that

“the Government currently has no plans to require disclosure of the beneficial ownership of UK property.”—[Official Report, 25 February 2013; Vol. 559, c. 301W.]

Now they do. Will he further prove his flexibility in this area by persuading his right hon. Friend Lord Blencathra to end his work as a lobbyist for the Cayman Islands?

The Prime Minister: Let me take this opportunity to pay tribute to Members of the House who put pressure on the representatives of the Crown dependencies and overseas territories. We should also pay tribute to those representatives. They came willingly to London, they sat round the Cabinet table and they committed to a series of steps that some but not all of them had committed to before. We should now stand up for them and say that other jurisdictions that do not have this sort of transparency now need to do what they have done. It is important that we pay tribute to the work they have done. As for the other part of the hon. Gentleman’s question, I am not sighted of it so I shall have to have a look at it.

Bob Stewart (Beckenham) (Con): As we went into Afghanistan as a direct result of a threat to our own country and our own people, will my right hon. Friend honour all those soldiers, sailors and airmen who have died or been hurt in Afghanistan by ensuring that those who negotiate with the Taliban somehow get an agreement from them that they will never make a threat against our country or encourage others to do so? Thus can we honour those people who have given their lives in support of our country.

The Prime Minister: My hon. Friend is absolutely right to speak as he does; he speaks with great authority on this matter. If we cast our minds back to 2001, we will remember that one of the reasons we went into Afghanistan was that the then Taliban regime refused to give up or condemn al-Qaeda. The whole point of the action was to get al-Qaeda out of Afghanistan and to stop them launching attacks from there on our soil. We should pay tribute to the more than 400 service personnel who have given their lives and to the many more who have been wounded. We should pay tribute to the incredible work they have done. They have helped bring us to a point at which Afghanistan is now taking responsibility for its own security through the highly capable Afghan national security forces. The Taliban have said in their statement that they do not want to see Afghanistan being used as a base for attacks on other countries.

Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP): I thank the Prime Minister for his statement today. I welcome the distinctive British agenda for the G8 summit in Enniskillen, the PR for the Province and the two days of sunshine—although I am sure that he had no control over that last element. He referred to talks with the Taliban. Will the conditions for starting such talks include a cessation of violence or a ceasefire prior to the start of the process?

19 Jun 2013 : Column 915

The Prime Minister: As the hon. Gentleman suggests, the two days of sunshine were a bonus, and not one that I was expecting. The point about the discussions with the Taliban is that they are taking place against the background of a statement by the Taliban that—I am paraphrasing—they do not want to see Afghanistan being used as a base for attacks on other countries. That is the right basis for them to start from, but clearly the whole aim of the process is to give people who thought that they could achieve their goals through the bomb and the bullet an opportunity to achieve them by political means. That is, I suppose, a parallel with the very painful process that was gone through in Northern Ireland.

Mr David Nuttall (Bury North) (Con): May I congratulate my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on hosting such a successful meeting of the G8? Given the UK’s special relationship with the United States of America, however, does he not think that we could have made more progress on negotiating a free trade deal with America had we not left the matter up to the EU for the last 40 years?

The Prime Minister: My hon. Friend makes an important point. Of course, if Britain wanted to leave the European Union, we could do so and we could then make trade deals with every country in the world. Obviously that path is open to us. The argument that I would make is that, as part of the European Union—the world’s largest single market—we have the opportunity to drive some quite good deals. Clearly we sometimes have to make compromises with EU partners with whom we might not agree, but I would argue that, on balance, membership of the single market brings clear benefits, as does the negotiating heft that we have. The whole point is that we are going to be able to debate and discuss this, not least in the run-up to a referendum by the end of 2017.

Mark Durkan (Foyle) (SDLP): The Prime Minister will understand that some of us are still seeking assurance that the outcomes from the G8 summit will be as thoroughly welcome and significant as its arrival in Northern Ireland. The Lough Erne declaration contains 10 points, which contain 13 “shoulds” and not a single “shall”. The “G8 action plan principles to prevent the misuse of companies and legal arrangements” provides eight principles containing 17 “shoulds”, one “could” and no “shall”. The provisions will be subject to a process of self-reporting against individual action plans. The UK individual action plan, which was helpfully published here yesterday, sets out 10 points offering standards, most of which should or could have been reached under existing laws and Financial Action Task Force requirements. What confidence can we have that the Prime Minister will ensure that the commitments made yesterday will go the distance?

The Prime Minister: This is a journey, and the question is: how far down the road are we? I would argue that we have taken some serious steps down that road by setting out clearly what needs to be done on beneficial ownership, on automatic exchange of information and on international tax standards. If we look at what Britain has done—with the Crown dependencies and overseas territories, for instance—we can see real progress. Is there a lot more to do? Yes. Do we need international reporting on it? Yes.

19 Jun 2013 : Column 916

Has the G8 lifted this issue? Frankly, tax transparency and beneficial ownership were academic issues that were discussed in lofty academic circles, but they are now kitchen table issues that are being discussed by the G8 leaders, who have pledged to take action on them.

Several hon. Members rose

Mr Speaker: Order. The Chair is minded to take all remaining colleagues on these extremely important matters. The Prime Minister is helpfully providing pithy replies, which of course now need to be matched with comparably pithy questions.

Dr Sarah Wollaston (Totnes) (Con): I congratulate the Prime Minister on the progress made at the G8 and on his commitment today to come to the House before taking major action on Syria. Will he confirm that that would include an opportunity for the House to vote before any arms were sent to Syria?

The Prime Minister: I have made it clear that we have made no decision to arm the rebels. As has been said, these things should be discussed, debated and indeed voted on in this House—with the proviso of the answer that I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for The Wrekin (Mark Pritchard).

Mark Lazarowicz (Edinburgh North and Leith) (Lab/Co-op): The agreements on tax transparency are welcome, and I give credit to the Prime Minister for that achievement. He will know, however, that tax transparency is only part of the issue because, although it will stop excesses, there will still be tax havens to which people can have recourse. Does he agree that the next step is to ensure that companies and individuals pay tax in the countries in which they earn their income? Will he make that a priority for the next year, before the next G8?

The Prime Minister: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his question; I know that he has spoken a lot about this in the past. That is the point of the high-level international tax tool. I have been searching for a better description for it than that, but it is none the less what we want the OECD to provide to countries so that we can see at a glance what a company earns, what its profits are and how much tax it has paid. In that way, we shall be able to see whether there is a problem, and whether further investigation is required. The register of beneficial ownership will also help, because it will enable us to hunt down the true owners of companies that are being registered under different nominee ownerships. These things all go together, and I think they can work.

Andrew Stephenson (Pendle) (Con): Hope Technology in Barnoldswick, which the Prime Minister visited in April, was delighted to hear my right hon. Friend use it as an example of a great British exporter in a keynote speech ahead of the G8 summit. I warmly welcome what he has said today about the focus on jobs and growth. Will he say more about the positive impact that decisions taken at the G8 will have on manufacturers such as Hope Technology in Barnoldswick?

The Prime Minister: I will not forget my visit to Hope Technology in Barnoldswick, because it was impressive to see a manufacturing business making cycle accessories,

19 Jun 2013 : Column 917

parts and bicycles here in the UK, when so often people think that all this sort of manufacturing has gone offshore. No, it has not: some of the highest-quality production is right here. Obviously these trade deals make a difference for manufacturing industries, but we also need to do everything else, including keeping our tax rates low, which is what this Government are doing.

Rushanara Ali (Bethnal Green and Bow) (Lab): Now that the Prime Minister has had some time to reflect on his earlier remarks about the Labour party and the Assad regime, will he consider withdrawing his remarks and apologising? Everyone in this House is united in being opposed to the Assad regime and the brutal killings of thousands of people, but we have genuine questions about his stance on arming the Syrian rebels. The first question is—

Madam Deputy Speaker (Dawn Primarolo): Order. Just one question.

Rushanara Ali: Sorry. Can the Prime Minister give a guarantee that humanitarian access will not get worse, and can he explain—

Madam Deputy Speaker: Order.

The Prime Minister: As I have said many times, we have made no decision to arm the rebels. The point I was making was simply that, whenever we talk about these issues, we should put out there, front and centre, how much we abhor this form of dictatorship, brutalisation and use of chemical weapons. It cannot be said often enough and it needs to be said by everybody, all the time. That is the point I was making and I certainly will not withdraw it.

Sarah Newton (Truro and Falmouth) (Con): I warmly welcome the significant progress that the Prime Minister has made on issues that really matter to my constituents and, I am sure, those the length and breadth of the country. Will he confirm that at the forthcoming Geneva II talks, a limited number of representatives of civil society and the refugees who have been displaced in neighbouring countries will be involved?

The Prime Minister: What matters is that the regime and the opposition nominate a limited number of people to discuss how to put together a transitional Government who can represent all the Syrian people. I do not want to put too many strictures on it, because speed and simplicity are of the essence.

Mr William Bain (Glasgow North East) (Lab): The activities of companies engaged in secret mining deals and salting profits away in tax havens are, in the words of Kofi Annan,

“like taking food off the table for the poor”

in Africa. What specific commitments has the G8 made to ensure mandatory country-by-country reporting of what companies pay in tax?

The Prime Minister: This issue—on which I applaud Kofi Annan’s work—is covered in the declaration: that companies should report what they pay and that Governments should report what they receive, because often there has been a discrepancy between the two. Obviously the more countries that join the extractive

19 Jun 2013 : Column 918

industries transparency initiative—several promised during the course of the G8 and the Italians, the French, and ourselves before the G8—the higher the international standards will be.

Rehman Chishti (Gillingham and Rainham) (Con): On Syria, may I refer the Prime Minister to paragraph 87 of the communiqué, which deals with chemical weapons and a United Nations mission going to Syria to inspect whether there are any chemical weapons there? For clarification, will Russia, having been a party to this, accept the findings of that mission and, following on from that, will Russia accept any action that the United Nations proposes should be taken if there are any specific findings on those matters?

The Prime Minister: Obviously my hon. Friend’s second two questions are matters for the Russians, which they will have to answer for. I am clear about the information I have been given about the use of chemical weapons. Clearly there is a disagreement between what I believe and what President Putin believes, but what matters about paragraph 87 is that it says that the UN should be allowed in unhindered and that the regime must allow that to happen, and I think it is significant that the Russians agreed that.

Ian Paisley (North Antrim) (DUP): I welcome the statement by the Prime Minister and the distinctly “British agenda” set in Fermanagh. I am very happy that the dreary steeples of Fermanagh and Tyrone have given way to a new dawn. I congratulate the Government on setting the G8 in Fermanagh and I look forward to other G8 summits coming there in future, when the British Government are back in charge—perhaps they could be in North Antrim.

May I turn to the part of the Prime Minister’s statement where he said, “We will not take any major actions”—on Syria—“without first coming to this House”? Can he confirm that that includes arming the rebels?

The Prime Minister: Yes, I can, and I have said that very clearly. Let me be clear: although I know the saying, there was nothing dreary about the steeples of Fermanagh. The sun was shining and the countryside looked magnificent.

Margot James (Stourbridge) (Con): The talks between the EU and the US on trade are welcome for economic growth, covering, as they will, 50% of global trade. Will my right hon. Friend use his influence to ensure that those tasked with negotiations on the EU side maintain relentless energy on the removal of non-tariff barriers, such that services trade should blossom?

The Prime Minister: My hon. Friend is absolutely right to raise this issue. It is not just that officials have to be relentless and engaged on this, but where there are blockages and problems, that needs to be elevated to politicians and Ministers, so that we can try to drive forward the agenda. Otherwise, these trade talks get bogged down in difficult areas.

Jonathan Ashworth (Leicester South) (Lab): Everybody in the Labour party abhors the Assad regime, but on the question of Iran, given the Iranians’ traditional influence over the Syrian regime and given the election results, is

19 Jun 2013 : Column 919

the Prime Minister absolutely sure that we do not now have a window of opportunity to try to engage Iran in helping us to find the political solution in Syria that we all want to see?

The Prime Minister: I think we should certainly engage with the fact that Iran has elected a relative moderate. I think that is a positive sign and we should look for opportunities; but as I said, really, if we are going to put so much weight on the Geneva process and the Geneva principles, it is important that everybody, Iran included, signs up to them.

Nick de Bois (Enfield North) (Con): The Prime Minister’s attempts on the world trade agreement will be warmly welcomed by many, and rightly so, but does he agree that the prize could be even bigger if we could genuinely open up the EU single market to services? Some 71% of EU GDP is in services, yet only 3.2% is intra-EU trade, so much more could be done to help our economy.

The Prime Minister: My hon. Friend is absolutely right. This requires action by Governments and countries across the board, including traditionally quite free trade countries such as Germany that have sometimes had quite a lot of restrictions around particular professions. We therefore need action in the EU and then between the EU and the US in order to capture the full benefits of these changes.

Geraint Davies (Swansea West) (Lab/Co-op): On the sharing of tax information, was there agreement in principle that multinationals should pay their tax where they make their profits and if so, when will that happen, given that there will be winners and losers, with different countries resisting?

The Prime Minister: The key point in the Lough Erne declaration is that we should stop companies trying to artificially shift profits from one jurisdiction to another. I believe in fair tax competition. I am a low-tax Conservative: I think it is right to have low tax and then to ask companies to pay that tax. I think what is unacceptable is when processes and procedures are gone into not to shift the activity—that is a company’s right—but to shift where companies are trying to take the profits. That is the point.

Jason McCartney (Colne Valley) (Con): Having served on the effective no-fly zone over northern Iraq in the 1990s, may I ask my right hon. Friend whether there were discussions at the G8 about the introduction of a no-fly zone over Syria?

The Prime Minister: There were no specific discussions at the G8. Obviously I had a series of conversations with Barack Obama about all the things that we should be doing to put pressure on President Assad, but we do not have any plans to take those steps.

Debbie Abrahams (Oldham East and Saddleworth) (Lab): Will the Prime Minister confirm that the NHS is exempt from the EU-US trade negotiations?

The Prime Minister: I am not aware of a specific exemption for any particular area, but I think that the health service would be treated in the same way in

19 Jun 2013 : Column 920

relation to EU-US negotiations as it is in relation to EU rules. If that is in any way inaccurate, I will write to the hon. Lady and put it right.

Kris Hopkins (Keighley) (Con): Yesterday my right hon. Friend commented on the possible route to a political solution in Afghanistan following the opening of talks between the United States and the Taliban. May I encourage him to offer our resources to those who are beginning to tread that very difficult path, and to share our experience of peace talks in these islands with them?

The Prime Minister: My hon. Friend has made an important point. I agree that we have relevant experience and that we should share it, and we do so. The fact that the First Minister and Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland are working together is a tangible example.

Sheila Gilmore (Edinburgh East) (Lab): May I press the Prime Minister further on the precise wording of his statement? He said, “We will not take any major actions without first coming to the House.” Can he offer us a definition of “major”?

The Prime Minister: The hon. Lady is tempting me. I think that I would repeat what I said in my statement about major action, but add the proviso that I issued in replying to my hon. Friend the Member for The Wrekin (Mark Pritchard). As the hon. Lady will recall, in the case of Libya and other such action it has sometimes been necessary to act very swiftly in defence of the national interest. The same applies to, for instance, terrorist kidnap, and not supplying information to those with whom one is engaged. Obviously, however, one would come to the House very swiftly after that and explain, as I did in the case of Libya. I think that those are well-known approaches, and I do not think that there is anything to be surprised about.

James Morris (Halesowen and Rowley Regis) (Con): I congratulate the Prime Minister on his approach to Syria at the summit, and particularly on his approach to an international peace conference, but may I urge him to be very cautious about calls for Iran to be involved in such a conference? After all, the Iranian regime has been funding its proxy Hezbollah in Syria, and has been responsible for and complicit in many of the atrocities committed by the Assad regime.

The Prime Minister: My hon. Friend has made an important point, but the most important point is that if countries are to be engaged in any way, they must sign up to the Geneva process.

Alun Cairns (Vale of Glamorgan) (Con): The G8 tax agreement opens the way to an international tax settlement that is simpler and more transparent. Does my right hon. Friend agree that it has the potential to benefit countries that have reduced their corporation tax rates, such as the United Kingdom?

The Prime Minister: I think my hon. Friend would agree that, while low tax rates are good for business and there is nothing wrong with healthy tax competition, when we set a low tax rate we should then say to

19 Jun 2013 : Column 921

businesses, “We have a low tax rate; now you must pay the tax.” I believe that the G8 agenda will help us in that regard.

Guy Opperman (Hexham) (Con): People in the north-east will especially welcome the agreement on tax transparency and tax-dodging. Will the Prime Minister say more about the effect that that will have on future Government tax receipts and the war on poverty?

The Prime Minister: My hon. Friend is right to ask that question. Dealing more effectively with tax evasion, which is illegal, and with aggressive tax avoidance, which, as I have said many times, raises serious moral issues, while at the same time garnering more revenue, can help us to keep down taxes on hard-working people who do the right thing. That is what should drive our whole agenda. As I said earlier, we have recovered a lot of money from territories and bank accounts, and we should continue to do so.

Stephen Metcalfe (South Basildon and East Thurrock) (Con): I thank my right hon. Friend for making his recent pre-G8 “ambition” speech at London Gateway port in my constituency. Does he agree that that investment will assist our global export aims, stimulate world economic growth, encourage free trade and, above all, demonstrate that under this Government, Britain is a great place in which to do business?

The Prime Minister: I commend my hon. Friend for standing up for his constituency so vigorously, and for that extraordinary investment. I urge Members who have not seen the giant port that is being built on the Thames estuary to go and look at it. When you are there, you think that surely this must be happening in Shanghai or Rio, but it is actually happening right here in the UK—a massive investment that will cut costs for consumers and will really benefit our country. [Interruption.] Opposition Members may chuckle. They do so because they do not care about the important things that are happening in our country.

19 Jun 2013 : Column 922

Mr Robin Walker (Worcester) (Con): I congratulate the Prime Minister on the progress made on extractives transparency at the summit, and, in particular, on the leadership shown by the UK and Canada in signing the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative before it.

The Prime Minister: I thank my hon. Friend. The EITI is important, and I think it right for countries such as Britain to sign it themselves as well as asking developing countries to do so. We should then try to help developing countries to meet its requirements, because it imposes a number of obligations on them which they cannot always fulfil. I think the fact that so many advanced countries have signed it is a good step forward.

David Rutley (Macclesfield) (Con): I welcome the Prime Minister’s leadership in pressing for stronger relationships between the EU and the United States—that is vital—but does he agree that it is critical for us to press for an unrelenting focus on driving British exports in growth markets such as China, India and Russia in the years ahead?

The Prime Minister: My hon. Friend is absolutely right about the need for us to win this global race and to back our exports. At the beginning of Prime Minister’s Question Time, I announced that Ian Livingston, who has run BT so effectively, would join the Government as Trade Minister at the end of the year. Having first secured the services of Stephen Green, who led HSBC, one of the world’s strongest and best banks, we have now secured those of someone who has run a successful business here in the UK, but who also has a presence in about 78 markets overseas. I think that is great for Britain and great for our exports, and I am sure that it will be widely welcomed by Members in all parts of the House.

Madam Deputy Speaker (Dawn Primarolo): I thank the Prime Minister very much. Some 70 Back Benchers took part in questions on that important statement.

19 Jun 2013 : Column 923

Care Quality Commission (Morecambe Bay Hospitals)

2.6 pm

The Secretary of State for Health (Mr Jeremy Hunt): I wish to make a statement about today’s independent report on the Care Quality Commission’s regulatory oversight of University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust. What happened at Morecambe Bay is, above all, a terrible personal tragedy for all of the families involved, and before saying anything else, I want to apologise on behalf of the Government and the NHS for all the appalling suffering that those families have endured. In that context, I know that the whole House will wish to extend our condolences to every single one of them.

Joshua Titcombe’s tragic death was one of 12 serious untoward incidents, including five in the maternity department. His family and others have had to work tirelessly to expose the truth, and I pay tribute to them for that, but the fact is that they should not have had to go to such lengths. As we saw in the case of Mid Staffs, a culture in the NHS had been allowed to develop in which defensiveness and secrecy were put ahead of patient safety and care. Today I want to explain to the House what the Government are doing to root out that culture and ensure that that kind of cover-up never happens again.

The independent report was commissioned by the new chief executive of the CQC, and the members of the new team that is running it have made it clear that there was a completely unacceptable attempt to cover up the deficiencies in their organisation. The report lists what went wrong over a period of many years. There were unclear regulatory processes, a report was commissioned and then withheld, key information was not shared, and there were communication problems throughout the organisation. Most of the facts are not in dispute, and all of them are unacceptable. They have compounded the grief of the Titcombe family and many others.

The role of the regulator is to be a champion for patients, to expose poor care and to ensure that steps are taken to root it out. The regulator must do that without fear or favour, but it is clear that at Morecambe Bay, the CQC failed in that fundamental duty. We now have a new leadership at the CQC, and we should recognise its role in turning things around. David Behan was appointed chief executive in July 2012, and one of his very first acts was to commission the report that we are now debating. David Prior was appointed the new chairman in January this year, and has rightly insisted that the report be published as soon as possible. Those two outstanding individuals have never shrunk from addressing head-on the failings of the organisation that they inherited, and are wholly committed to turning the CQC into the fearless, independent regulator that the House would like to see. While I do not underestimate the challenge, I have every confidence in their ability to undertake it.

David Prior will now report back to me on what further actions the CQC will take in response to the report, including internal disciplinary procedures and other appropriate sanctions. The whole truth must now come out, and individuals must be accountable for their actions.

19 Jun 2013 : Column 924

With respect to Morecambe Bay itself, an independent inquiry led by Dr Bill Kirkup started work earlier this year. More broadly, following the Francis report into the tragedy at Mid Staffs, the Government are putting in place far-reaching measures to put patient care and patient safety at the heart of how the NHS is regulated.

The CQC is appointing three new chief inspectors—of hospitals, social care and general practice. This will provide an authoritative, independent voice on the quality of care in all the providers that it regulates. The commission has already announced the appointment of Professor Sir Mike Richards as the new chief inspector of hospitals, and on Monday, the CQC launched a consultation, “A new start”, which outlines its much tougher regulatory approach. This includes putting in place more specialist inspection teams with clinical expertise. It will include Ofsted-style performance ratings so that every member of the public can know how well their local hospital is doing just as they do for their local school.

The Government will also amend the CQC registration requirements so that they include an emphasis on fundamental standards—the basic levels below which care must never fall, such as making sure patients are properly fed, washed and treated with dignity and respect. Failure to adhere to these will result in serious consequences for providers, including potentially criminal prosecution. The revised registration requirements will also include a new statutory duty of candour on providers that will require them to tell patients and regulators where there are failings in care—a failure clearly identified in today’s report.

Finally, we are putting in place, through the Care Bill, a new robust single failure regime for NHS hospitals. This will provide a more effective mechanism to address persistent failings in the quality of care, including the automatic suspension of trust boards when failings are not addressed promptly.

The events at Morecambe Bay, Mid Staffs and many other hospitals should never have been covered up, but they should never have happened in the first place, either. To prevent such tragedies we need to transform the approach to patient safety in our NHS.

The Prime Minister has therefore asked Professor Don Berwick, President Obama’s former health adviser and one of the world’s foremost experts on patient safety, to advise us on how to create the right safety culture in the NHS. He and his committee will report later this summer.

In addition, later this year we will start to publish surgeon-level outcomes data for a wide range of surgical specialties. Most of all, we need a culture where, from the top to the bottom of NHS organisations, everyone is focused on reducing the chances of harming a patient in the course of their care, and a culture of openness and transparency to ensure that, when tragedies do occur, they are dealt with honestly so that any lessons can be learnt. Our thousands of dedicated doctors, nurses and health care assistants want nothing less. We must not let them down, or any of the families who suffered so tragically in Morecambe Bay. I commend this statement to the House.

2.12 pm

Andy Burnham (Leigh) (Lab): I thank the Secretary of State for his statement and for early sight of it, and I welcome what he has just said. Today’s report will have

19 Jun 2013 : Column 925

left people stunned. The Secretary of State began with an apology and we on the Opposition side echo it. It is a sad fact that mistakes will be made in any walk of life, even in the NHS. What is never acceptable is when people or organisations try to hide those mistakes. As Professor Sir Liam Donaldson, the former chief medical officer, says:

“To err is human, to cover up is unforgivable, and to fail to learn is inexcusable.”

Sadly, that is precisely what appears to have happened in this case.

The report covers a four-year period from autumn 2008 to autumn 2012. It details failures in regulation, but also subsequent attempts at a cover-up. It was published only because of the efforts of James Titcombe and his family. Like the Secretary of State, I pay tribute to them today, as does my hon. Friend the Member for Barrow and Furness (John Woodcock), who has supported the family. As he rightly said, that family’s suffering has been intensified by the actions of the NHS—something that should never happen. It is now essential that they and all the other Cumbria and Lancashire families affected get all the answers they are looking for—and I fully commit the Opposition to making sure that happens.

The most shocking revelation in this report is that, in March 2012, an instruction was given by a member of senior management at the CQC to “delete” the findings of a critical internal review. Let me remind the House of the context in which that March 2012 instruction was given. At that time, we were midway through a major public inquiry into the terrible failings at Mid Staffs. This was two years after the completion of an earlier independent inquiry—also led by Robert Francis, QC—following which all parts of the NHS had committed to full openness and transparency. It also came after failings at other trusts—most notably Basildon and Thurrock—which led me to request an in-depth look at all hospitals so that problems could be flushed out and a system put in place to ensure that people had a comprehensive picture of local standards. That was the context in which this instruction was given, and it explains why today’s revelations beggar belief and are hard to comprehend. The report raises questions for the CQC and the Department; I will take each in turn.

The new chief executive, David Behan, commissioned this report and we pay tribute to him for doing so. The chair has said today that he now wants to draw a line under this issue, but does the Secretary of State agree that it will be possible to do that only when further questions raised by this report are answered?

On hospital regulation, there is a recognition on all sides that it has not been good enough for too long. While we note the important work of Don Berwick, should we not also be getting on with the job of implementing the recommendations of the three-year Francis report in this regard? The Secretary of State mentioned a duty of candour on providers, but he will know that Robert Francis recommended that that should extend to individual clinicians, too. Will the right hon. Gentleman work with the Opposition to implement that recommendation as soon as possible?

On the cover-up, paragraph 1.17 of today’s report says that the order to delete

“may constitute a broader and on-going cover-up.”

19 Jun 2013 : Column 926

Will the Secretary of State address that point directly and tell the House whether he is confident that this cover-up is no longer happening? Is he satisfied that the CQC has taken all appropriate steps, and does he have full confidence in it going forward, or does he believe a further process of investigation is necessary?

More specifically, is anybody who was involved in the decision to delete still working at the CQC or elsewhere in the NHS? If they are, people will find that hard to accept and they will want answers on that specific point. Given that accountability is essential, does the Secretary of State agree that people will find it hard to accept if data protection laws stand in the way of that accountability, and will he therefore review the decision to shield the identities of those involved? Today’s report makes it clear that the “deleted” report still exists. Should it not now be published?

Now let me turn to the Department of Health. Was the decision to delete taken solely by senior management at the CQC or is there evidence that anyone outside the CQC was either involved in the decision or aware of it? Was anyone in the Department of Health aware of the internal report being produced, and did any contact take place between the CQC and the Department running up to the decision to delete it?

Unfortunately, this matter does not end with deletion of the report. The Prime Minister said earlier that there should always be support for whistleblowers, and he was right, but there are serious doubts about whether that has happened in this case. Concerns about the CQC were raised by an internal whistleblower who was on the board. We know there was an attempt to remove her from the board and to question her character. Has the Secretary of State looked into these issues and considered whether appropriate support was provided—by both the CQC and the Department—to the individual who raised these concerns? The same whistleblower told the CQC today that she had raised issues internally first, then within the Department and then directly with the former Secretary of State in a meeting. Will the Secretary of State provide details of that meeting and publish a minute of it? What actions were taken by Ministers subsequent to that meeting? Were Ministers consulted about the decision to remove her from the CQC board, and did they support that decision?

Finally, the only real answer to all of these deep-rooted problems that go back a long way is for both sides of the House to recommit to full openness and transparency in the national health service. Will the Secretary of State join me today in restating that commitment and together sending the clearest and most unambiguous signal we can to the rest of the NHS?

In conclusion, there are difficult questions here for people at every level of the system. If we are to restore confidence, it is essential that they are answered and that people are held accountable for their actions. Learning from this failure and others, this House must a deliver a regulator that the public can trust, one that puts patients before its own interests. We will support the Government in that process and not stop until it is completed.

Mr Hunt: I welcome much of what the right hon. Gentleman says, but let me say this: he talks about getting on with implementing the Francis report, and that is exactly what has been happening. The report came to the House on 6 February. A new chief inspector

19 Jun 2013 : Column 927

of hospitals was appointed by 31 May, and the new inspections will start towards the end of this year. That will mean that many of the things talked about in the Francis report as being fundamentally important will start to be looked at independently and rigorously for the very first time.

I can confirm that there will be a duty of candour in the new Care Bill. We are looking at the extent to which it should apply to individuals, but we want to wait until Professor Berwick produces his report, because it is important to create a culture of openness, and we do not want to pass a measure that might inadvertently mean people clam up when they see a potential safety breach. We need to encourage an atmosphere where everyone talks openly about any concerns they have.

David Prior will be looking in his response to today’s independent report at whether anyone still working in the NHS, or, indeed, the CQC, may have been responsible for some of the shocking things that have been revealed. He will pass that report to me within the next two months. As I said in my statement, there will be full consideration of any sanctions or appropriate disciplinary procedures. In our response to the Francis report, we have said we want to introduce a new barring scheme to make sure that managers who have been found guilty of behaving in a bad way do not get jobs in another part of the NHS.

With respect to what the right hon. Gentleman said about my colleague, my right hon. Friend the Member for South Cambridgeshire (Mr Lansley), I gently say to him that it was not my right hon. Friend or myself or this Government’s Ministers who rejected 81 requests for a public inquiry into what happened at Mid Staffs. My right hon. Friend was the person who called the public inquiry into Mid Staffs. He is the person who changed the management of the CQC. He is the person who put clinicians in charge of budgets in the NHS, precisely to make sure these kinds of safety issues do not arise.

Finally, the right hon. Gentleman talks about accountability. If the Opposition really wanted to give confidence that they take the issues raised today seriously, they would recognise that it was fundamentally wrong to set up an inspection regime that was not carried out by specialists, and where the same person was inspecting a dental clinic, a slimming clinic, a hospital or a GP practice, perhaps in the same month. That may have contributed to the CQC’s decision in 2009 not to investigate the maternity deaths at Morecambe Bay, and to its decision in April 2010 to register the hospital without conditions.

When it comes to accountability, the right hon. Gentleman needs to explain to the House why the former head of the CQC, Barbara Young, said in her evidence to the Francis inquiry:

“We were under more pressure…when Andy Burnham became minister, from the politics.”

Is it the case that the head of the CQC felt under pressure not to speak out about care issues?

On the substantive policy point, the right hon. Gentleman continues to criticise the appointment of a chief inspector of hospitals and continues to criticise me when I single out hospital management who coast when it comes to

19 Jun 2013 : Column 928

raising standards. Just how much evidence will it take for the right hon. Gentleman and the Labour party to realise that when it comes to NHS policies, they really need to change?

Eric Ollerenshaw (Lancaster and Fleetwood) (Con): As Member of Parliament for Lancaster, which is covered by the Morecambe Bay trust, may I reassure the Secretary of State and the House in general that thousands of my constituents are receiving a good service from hundreds of hard-working NHS doctors and nurses at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary? Does he think the problems began with the setting up of the CQC on 1 April 2009, and its being appointed as an independent regulator and being expected by the previous Government to inspect and register 378 NHS trusts within 12 months, by April 2010, which was an impossible target for any system to cope with?

Mr Hunt: My hon. Friend is absolutely right. That regime was utterly flawed, and as far as we can tell, inspectors looking at hospitals and care homes had targets of inspections they had to complete in a way that was totally counter-productive to the concept of a rigorous, thorough, independent inspection where people speak out without fear or favour when they find problems.

I also thank my hon. Friend for the other point he makes: that the people who work at the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust are working extremely hard and under great pressure. I think they are doing a very good job by and large, but there are clearly very severe problems with the trust that we need to get to the bottom of, and it is very important that we recognise that if we are going to create a safety culture in the NHS, we need to back the people on the front line. They did not go into the NHS to have to deal with these terrible breaches in health and safety; they went into the NHS because they care for people and they want to do the best for people at their most vulnerable.

John Woodcock (Barrow and Furness) (Lab/Co-op): May I first thank the Secretary of State and the shadow Secretary of State for those words of apology to the Titcombe family and other families who have long been pressing for an inquiry and this kind of day of reckoning for the CQC? It is hard to imagine what it must be like to lose a child, but then to be faced with an almost impenetrable wall of bureaucracy, with one organisation and one group of people passing them over to another group, and with all of them ultimately washing their hands of accountability, is truly shocking. That has been laid bare in this report, and I commend its authors for bringing it to the attention of the public.

What the Secretary of State says about the staff in this trust is very important, because these are front-line people who have been failed by poor leadership and a poor inspection regime, which absolutely has to change.

The report says the particular issue here

“may constitute a broader and ongoing cover-up.”

Is the Secretary of State satisfied that that is not the case? If he is, how can he be? What can he do to look more widely than just at the CQC itself when looking into this allegation?

19 Jun 2013 : Column 929

Mr Hunt: First, may I say I agree with what the hon. Gentleman says, and commend him on his work with his constituents and local families who have suffered so terribly from what happened? He is absolutely right to say we have created a system that is a nightmare for families who identify problems, and the real problem is a lack of clarity as to where the buck stops: where the buck stops in terms of the decision to say that a hospital is safe or not safe, and where the buck stops in terms of sorting out a problem when it is identified. Those are the areas where we are putting through big changes this year, as a result of the Francis report.

I completely understand why the issue of whether there is a continuing cover-up is a concern. All I can say is that I have total confidence in the new leadership of the CQC. They are on the side of the public. They understand that the CQC’s job is to be the nation’s whistleblower-in-chief. They absolutely get that, but changing the culture in the broader NHS takes more than the appointment of two new individuals at the CQC; it takes a complete change in the leadership so that people on the front line always feel supported if they want to raise safety concerns. That is a much bigger job. I do not want to pretend that we are going to be able to solve it overnight, but that is the big change we have to make.

Tim Farron (Westmorland and Lonsdale) (LD): My constituents can be forgiven for wondering whether, when the watchdog chooses to muzzle itself, it is time to put it to sleep. The report shows that the CQC discovered the truth about the deaths of babies at Furness General, but chose to suppress the truth, and to seek to subvert the Freedom of Information Act—and this morning I have asked the police to investigate that point.

Grieving families like the Titcombes deserve to know who made these decisions, so will the Secretary of State agree to ensure the removal of anonymity for those guilty of putting institutional convenience ahead of the lives of mothers and babies?

I completely agree with my right hon. Friend about backing those on the front line, but we have a culpable ex-chief executive of the trust on a £200,000 payout while the excellent nurses and doctors in the trust are struggling under immense pressure, so will he agree to work with me and all colleagues across Morecambe Bay to help the trust recover, which includes agreeing not to now demand that the trust make £25 million-worth of savings by March, as that would further threaten the pursuit of patient safety?

Mr Hunt: I agree with much of what my hon. Friend says. He is absolutely right that accountability for what went wrong is crucial in this. I know that the CQC wanted to publish the report in full today, including the names of the individuals involved, but was given legal advice that it would be against the law to do so. However, the CQC is keen to have maximum transparency as soon as possible and is looking into how it can make sure that happens. There should be no anonymity, no hiding place, no opportunity to get off scot-free for anyone at all who was responsible for this. This is the problem we have to address in the NHS: all too often, people are not held accountable for what went wrong. However, the system also bears responsibility. This is not just about bad apples and how we root them out

19 Jun 2013 : Column 930

more quickly; it is also about creating a system that brings out the best in people—that plays to the decent instincts that got people to join the NHS in the first place, rather than making them think that targets at any cost matter more than the care and dignity of the patients in their trust.

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab): The CQC’s chairman said on the radio this morning that he could not publish the names of those responsible for this scandal because of the Data Protection Act, but there are clear and explicit exemptions to the Act when it comes to

“protecting members of the public from dishonesty, malpractice, incompetence or seriously improper conduct, or in connection with health and safety”.

Will the Secretary of State please challenge the CQC’s interpretation of the Act and, if necessary, ask the Information Commissioner to rule on this flawed decision?

Mr Hunt: I can reassure the right hon. Gentleman that neither the chairman of the CQC nor I have any interest whatsoever in keeping these names secret. He did receive legal advice telling him that he could not publish them, but I will go back to him with what the right hon. Gentleman says. I know that the CQC chairman would like to be as transparent as possible. The choice he had, on the basis of the legal advice, was either not to publish the report or to publish it without the names. I think he took the right decision, given the advice he had, but I will ask him to consider what the right hon. Gentleman says.

David Morris (Morecambe and Lunesdale) (Con): It is appalling what has come out in the press today and it is appalling what has been suppressed in the past. It is alleged by Lady Barbara Young, a former CQC chair, that under the previous Labour Government she was leant on by Labour Ministers not to criticise the NHS under their tenure. In her Mid Staffs inquiry evidence she stated:

“There was huge government pressure, because the government hated the idea that…a regulator would criticise it”.

She also alleges that the right hon. Member for Leigh (Andy Burnham), the then Health Secretary in the last Labour Government, needs to answer these very serious allegations, especially given what has happened in my local NHS trust.

Mr Hunt: That is the big culture change we need to see; we need to see Governments who are prepared, in all circumstances, however difficult and however politically inconvenient it is, to recognise that when there are safety issues, when there are terrible failures in care and compassion, we need to support the people who want to speak up, because if we do not do that, we will never root out these problems.

Barbara Keeley (Worsley and Eccles South) (Lab): I support the comments made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Exeter (Mr Bradshaw). A real concern is being expressed by Members on both sides of the House, because a person committed this cover-up by deleting this report and we really want to know—there should be an investigation—whether they are currently working for the CQC or working in the NHS anywhere. It is vital to know that.

19 Jun 2013 : Column 931

Today, the CQC’s chair has said that it is not currently capable of carrying out hospital inspections. The Health Secretary has talked about putting in place more specialist inspection teams, and I, of course, support that. However, CQC inspectors have had access to specialists for a long time—they have talked about it before the Health Committee—so if they are not using them, that is an issue to address. What measures will the Health Secretary put in place to ensure that from this day onwards—not at some future point—we can have the CQC competently carrying out inspections?

Mr Hunt: When the CQC was set up in 2009, it was decided, with full ministerial approval, to go for a generalist inspection model—a model where inspection was not carried out by specialists; the same people would inspect dental clinics, GP practices, hospitals and slimming clinics. That was the wrong decision to take. Making sure that we have enough specialist inspectors in place, with appropriate clinical expertise, takes time—it is a very big recruitment job—and that is what the new chief inspector of hospitals, Professor Sir Mike Richards, is now setting about doing. It is also expensive—it costs money—but he has said to me that when his teams are in place he will start those inspections before the end of this year. So we are going as fast as we possibly can to try to put these problems right.

Mr Ben Wallace (Wyre and Preston North) (Con): My wife gave birth to all three of our children at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary, which is part of the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust. Although the midwifery care was excellent, when we had complications with the third my wife received such neglect and ill treatment, at about the same time as Joshua Titcombe’s death, that the trust resorted to lying to us. No one should have to endure that treatment.

I have with me a litany of complaints, ignored by the management, the non-execs, and the Department of Health, going back to 2005. Constituents were lied to and nothing was done—no one came to help. I support the Secretary of State’s attempt to reform the CQC, but may I urge him to sort out governance at a more local level? Unless we improve the non-execs and the chairs of these trusts, none of these reforms will make a difference. Unless we improve clinical leadership, as well as managerial leadership, it will all be for nothing.

Mr Hunt: My hon. Friend speaks extremely wisely, and I know that the whole House will want to say how sorry we are to hear about the personal problems he had with that trust. All the international safety studies say that if we are to transform safety culture, it has to come from better leadership. It has to come from leadership that really cares; that frees up people on the front line to raise safety concerns in a way that they do not feel will be career-threatening; that encourages them to rethink procedures to minimise the risk of harm to patients; and that encourages the open and transparent approach that has enabled hospitals such as Salford Royal to become one of the safest in the country, because of the inspirational leadership of David Dalton. That change in leadership is fundamental, but having a chief inspector who goes without fear and favour and says where we have that leadership and,

19 Jun 2013 : Column 932

more importantly, where we do not have it, will be vital to ensuring that we start to get the changes that my hon. Friend is concerned about.

Mr Stephen Dorrell (Charnwood) (Con): Does my right hon. Friend agree that in the long litany in this report of events that were inexplicable and completely unacceptable, one of the most inexplicable and unacceptable things it lays bare is that at the same time as concern was being expressed to the CQC about the quality of maternity services delivered in the trust, to which the CQC did not respond, the trust itself commissioned a report into the future of maternity services and did not see fit to report the existence of the Fielding review to the regulator to which it was responsible? Will my right hon. Friend make it crystal clear that that is completely inconsistent with any concept of duty of candour for health care deliverers?

Mr Hunt: I could not agree more with my right hon. Friend. What happened beggars belief, and I very much agreed with his comments on that on the radio this morning. The point about duty of candour is that there will be a criminal liability for boards that do not tell patients or their families where there has been harm and that do not tell the regulator; boards will have a responsibility to be honest, open and transparent about their record. That has to be the starting point if we are going to turn this around.

Dr Sarah Wollaston (Totnes) (Con): The public will be horrified, but probably not surprised, to hear that Ministers were leaning on the CQC not to criticise NHS hospitals. Leadership has to start at the top, so will the Secretary of State confirm that he will be fearless in standing up for whistleblowers and those protecting patients in the NHS? [Interruption.]

Mr Hunt: I thank my hon. Friend for that. She is absolutely right to say that the biggest responsibility Ministers have when faced with such tragedies is to be open and transparent about the scale of the problems; otherwise, they will never be addressed. Let me put it this way: people who love the NHS and are proud of it are the people who most want to sort out these problems when they arise. That is why it is incredibly important that we are open and candid. [Interruption.] The right hon. Member for Leigh (Andy Burnham) has stood up and criticised me in the media every single time I have given a speech drawing attention to some of the problems facing the NHS. He needs to be very careful every time he does that, because I will continue to do this, and I do it because I want the NHS to get better and believe it can be better.

Stephen Barclay (North East Cambridgeshire) (Con): James Titcombe this morning spoke of ministerial pressure on the CQC. Further to the statement by the right hon. Member for Leigh (Andy Burnham) about full transparency and the fact that data protection should not be an impediment, will the Secretary of State have discussions with him as to whether, within the very narrow remit of the Department’s dealings over Morecambe Bay with the CQC, he will apply full transparency to his involvement in this issue?

Mr Hunt: I will absolutely do that, yes.

19 Jun 2013 : Column 933

Charlotte Leslie (Bristol North West) (Con): I echo the sentiments of the right hon. Member for Exeter (Mr Bradshaw) and ask the Secretary of State to look urgently at the application of the Data Protection Act if accountability is to mean anything at all. I urge him also to look at the lessons that a change of leadership effected in the CQC and the era of transparency that that heralded. There is a cover-up which is not just about Morecambe Bay; it is about Mid Staffs, and I suspect that, sadly, other stories may emerge of other such horrors. Does my right hon. Friend think there should be an inquiry into the culture of lack of transparency and cover-up that involved senior managers, and will he consider a change of leadership in order to herald a proper culture change in the NHS?

Mr Hunt: My hon. Friend has campaigned with great assiduity and distinction on this issue. The report about the culture of cover-ups and secrecy was the Francis report, and my job now is to do what is necessary to bring forward the change so that we move on and have a culture of openness and transparency. That means, yes, openness and transparency in this place and among Government Departments and regulators, but it also means creating a culture for front-line staff where they feel that they can raise concerns. We do not do that as well as we should, and it is even more important.

Mr Jamie Reed (Copeland) (Lab): I share a great deal of the sentiments that the Secretary of State has expressed. He said at the Dispatch Box that the involvement of lay inspectors in the CQC was a problem, yet the Keogh review, which I comprehensively support, is involving significant numbers of lay inspectors. Does the Secretary of State agree with that approach? Is it the right or the wrong way forward?

Mr Hunt: As I understand it, the terms of reference, the way it is conducted and the timetable for the review happening at the moment are being set independently, but we should give every support to the people doing that review to make sure that they have access to the clinical expertise they need.

Dr Phillip Lee (Bracknell) (Con): I very much welcome the Secretary of State’s desire to see published appropriately contextualised surgical outcome data for each surgeon. Those surgeons, however, have to work within structures created by managers, so in the interests of transparency would he support the publication of each manager’s performance so that the public can see where failure is taking place? First, that could prevent the merry-go-round of jobs, Cynthia Bower being the classic example. Secondly, appropriate financial penalties can be applied to the said managers if they fail, as they clearly have done in Morecombe.

Mr Hunt: My hon. Friend speaks extremely wisely. One of the key issues raised by the Francis report was the fact that we have a form of accountability for doctors and nurses—it does not always work as well as it should—through the possibility of being struck off by the GMC and the Nursing and Midwifery Council, but there is no equivalent accountability for managers. In a way, that is what the chief inspector is going to do. That is why I was so keen that as well as looking at whether a hospital is safe or not, the chief inspector

19 Jun 2013 : Column 934

should rate hospitals with Ofsted-style rankings, which look clearly at the quality of leadership in every organisation. The score that a hospital or a trust gets from the chief inspector will ultimately be the determinant of whether or not an organisation is well led. That is why I think it will give the public vital information about leadership, which they do not have at present.

John Stevenson (Carlisle) (Con): As the Secretary of State knows, there have been issues about patient care in the North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust. I therefore fully support the introduction of a more robust CQC regime than the one that previously existed. What does the Secretary of State intend to do to ensure that failing trusts are taken over in a timely and efficient manner so that new leadership and new management may be put in place as soon as possible?

Mr Hunt: My hon. Friend speaks well. Even under the current system, when problems are identified they seem to fester without being properly addressed. Under the new single failure regime for hospitals, when failure is identified there will be a maximum period of one year to sort it out or the board’s trust will be suspended. There will be a cut-off which does not exist at present to make sure that the local NHS, the trust board and, in the end, even Ministers bite the bullet when there are problems so that we do not allow them to continue.

John Pugh (Southport) (LD): After Francis, after the Health and Social Care Act 2012, are we not asking a deeply dysfunctional and damaged organisation to shoulder additional responsibilities? Is not that in itself risky? In the Secretary of State’s statement he mentions “potentially criminal prosecution” of providers. Exactly who will be prosecuted? Managers? Clinicians? Board members? And exactly on what charge?

Mr Hunt: The criminal sanctions apply to boards for withholding information about safety breaches at their trust, and as I mentioned earlier, we are considering whether those sanctions should apply below board level. We want to wait for Professor Berwick’s advice on that, because there is a balance between proper accountability for mistakes and the need to create that culture of openness, where people report mistakes that they might see a colleague making, which might not happen if they were worried about criminal prosecutions. I want to take the advice of an expert on that.

Andrew Stephenson (Pendle) (Con): I and the people I represent are rightly proud of our NHS. However, from Morecambe Bay to Mid Staffordshire we have had a series of scandals. Can the Secretary of State reassure patients that the previous Government’s culture of secrecy and neglect will now be torn apart and replaced by a new, transparent, accountable health service that treats patients with dignity, rather than as numbers?

Mr Hunt: The big challenge of our times for the NHS is to make that culture change, and it is a huge organisation. With 1.3 million people, we will do this only if we tap into and harness the desire that they have to do their jobs to the highest standards of patient safety, treating people with dignity and respect. That will be the key to unlocking success.

19 Jun 2013 : Column 935

Mark Pritchard (The Wrekin) (Con): The Secretary of State rightly said that individuals must be held accountable for their actions. To what extent does he think some former Labour Ministers were complicit in this disgraceful cover-up?

Mr Hunt: They need to explain why Barbara Young made the comments that she did. I think there was a general desire to talk up the NHS and not to talk about some of the very deep-seated problems that have now come to light. It is our duty in all parts of the House to make sure that we have a more mature discussion about the NHS when problems arise, and that we do not always seek to throw party political stones but recognise when problems arise. We should talk about them, not cover them up.

Margot James (Stourbridge) (Con): I attended a presentation given by the CQC in early 2011 and I was shocked at the low calibre of what I heard. In particular, I found the CEO at that time to be out of her depth. My right hon. Friend will know that the individual concerned was previously CEO of the West Midlands strategic health authority between 2006 and 2008, at the time of the scandal of Mid Staffs. Will my right hon. Friend say a little more about what he plans to do to improve the appointment process for senior positions in the wider health service to ensure that proper scrutiny of people’s prior performance takes place?

Mr Hunt: That is a very good question from my hon. Friend. We need to make sure that we have absolutely the right people in place. One of the lessons that we have learned from Ofsted, which has been an extremely successful regulator in the education sector, is that what works is having people who are prepared to speak truth to power—who are prepared to say uncomfortable things even to the people who have appointed them. I have had this conversation with Mike Richards, because I have the highest opinion of Mike, and I also know that he will say things while I am Secretary of State that will make me deeply uncomfortable. We have to understand that part of the way that we will make sure that the NHS is and continues to be one of the very best health services in the world is having that rigour in the inspection process.

19 Jun 2013 : Column 936

Mr David Nuttall (Bury North) (Con): Many families in Bury, Ramsbottom and Tottington in my constituency will have elderly relatives living in care homes, which they will have chosen on the basis of CQC assessments. Can my right hon. Friend reassure them that these care homes, inspected and approved by the CQC, are in fact up to standard?

Mr Hunt: We have not talked very much about care homes during these questions, but anyone who saw the horrific “Panorama” programme earlier this week on the BBC will know that there are some appalling problems in some of our care homes. We need that same independent, rigorous inspection in care homes as well. That is why, alongside the chief inspector of hospitals, we are appointing a chief inspector of social care who will once again—it is a great shame that we stopped doing this—rate care homes on the quality of care that they give and speak without fear or favour, so that we can reassure my hon. Friend and his constituents.

Greg Mulholland (Leeds North West) (LD): Last week and this week, the Secretary of State has made bold and helpful statements in the interests of NHS accountability, and I commend him for doing that, but does he accept that we have a real problem in the structure of democratic accountability in the NHS? As he knows, there has been great leadership, including from some of his Back Benchers, and will he commission a review now so that we can all have confidence that there is a proper democratic structure of accountability to oversee all parts of the NHS?

Mr Hunt: I thank the hon. Gentleman for his comments, and I hope that he will bear with me as the profound changes that we are introducing this year are rolled out. The most important element of democratic accountability is making sure that the public have the same information as the experts, so that they know whether their local hospital, GP surgery and care home are doing well. That is one of the biggest imbalances and that is why I am putting a lot of emphasis on the new chief inspectors, who will have the status, authority and resources to make those judgments, so that the public know what sometimes only the system has known. Then we will help to address some of the issues that he raised.

19 Jun 2013 : Column 937

Point of Order

2.50 pm

Mr William Cash (Stone) (Con): On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Is it a point of order to insist on our having a debate on the Francis report? It was issued as long ago as February, but we still have not had a debate.

Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Lindsay Hoyle): The hon. Gentleman is right; that is not a point of order, but it is certainly a question for business questions tomorrow, and no doubt he will be in attendance.

Bills Presented

European Union (Referendum) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

James Wharton, supported by Sir Tony Baldry, Guto Bebb, Graham Brady, Mr William Cash, Mr Nigel Dodds, Mr Stephen Dorrell, Jackie Doyle-Price, Dr Liam Fox, Zac Goldsmith, Sir Gerald Howarth and Sheryll Murray, presented a Bill make provision for the holding of a referendum in the United Kingdom on the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 5 July, and to be printed (Bill 11).

High Cost Credit Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Paul Blomfield, supported by Heidi Alexander, Tracey Crouch, Yvonne Fovargue, Andrew George, Rebecca Harris, John Healey, Julie Hilling, Damian Hinds, Stephen Lloyd, Mr Robin Walker and Nadhim Zahawi, presented a Bill to make provision for regulating high-cost credit arrangements and providers of such arrangements; to provide for controls on advertising, information and communications associated with such arrangements; to make measures to address the cost and affordability of such credit arrangements and their associated charges; to regulate matters concerning repayments under such arrangements; to make provision on advice and advice services in relation to debt arising from such arrangements; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 12 July, and to be printed (Bill 12).

Citizenship (Armed Forces) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Jonathan Lord, supported by Richard Fuller, Kris Hopkins and Sir Paul Beresford, presented a Bill to make provision in connection with applications for naturalisation as a British citizen made by members or former members of the armed forces.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 13 September, and to be printed (Bill 13)with explanatory notes (Bill 13-EN).

Deep Sea Mining Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Sheryll Murray, supported by Dr Matthew Offord, Andrew Bridgen, Oliver Colvile, Paul Maynard, Caroline Nokes,

19 Jun 2013 : Column 938

George Eustice and Dr Thérèse Coffey, presented a Bill to make provision about deep sea mining; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 6 September, and to be printed (Bill 14)with explanatory notes (Bill 14-EN).

House of Lords Reform (No. 2) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Dan Byles, supported by Andrew George, Mr David Blunkett, Mr Jack Straw, Jeremy Lefroy, Sir Nick Harvey, Kris Hopkins, Margaret Beckett, Margot James, Rory Stewart, Dr Thérèse Coffey and Thomas Docherty, presented a Bill to make provision for retirement from the House of Lords; and to make provision for the expulsion of Members of the House of Lords in specified circumstances.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 18 October, and to be printed (Bill 15).

Private Landlords and Letting and Managing Agents (Regulation) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Sir Alan Meale, supported by Mr Nick Raynsford, Mr Brian Binley, Ian Swales, Caroline Lucas, Jim Shannon, Jim Sheridan, Graham Evans, Mark Durkan, Bob Stewart, Naomi Long and Jim Dobbin, presented a Bill to establish a mandatory national register of private landlords; to introduce regulation of private sector letting agents and managing agents; to establish a body to administer the national register and to monitor compliance with regulations applying to letting agents and managing agents; to require all tenancy agreements entered into with private landlords to take the form of written agreements; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 25 October, and to be printed (Bill 16).

Apprenticeships and Skills (Public Procurement Contracts) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Andrew Gwynne, supported by Alan Johnson, Mr David Blunkett, Catherine McKinnell, Mr Jamie Reed, Dan Jarvis, Barbara Keeley, Tom Greatrex, Bill Esterson, Robert Halfon, Andrew George and Caroline Lucas, presented a Bill to require certain public procurement contracts let by public authorities to include a commitment by the contractor to provide apprenticeships and skills training; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 1 November, and to be printed (Bill 17).

Delivery Surcharges (Transparency for Consumers) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Mike Crockart on behalf of Sir Robert Smith, supported by Sir Malcolm Bruce, John Thurso, Mr Alan Reid, Mr Frank Doran, Dame Anne Begg, Mr Charles Kennedy, Mr Mike Weir, Mr Angus Brendan MacNeil, Mr Andrew Turner and Dr Eilidh Whiteford, presented a Bill to require online retailers to declare to consumers at the start of the retail process the existence of surcharges for delivery to certain addresses in the UK; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 13 September, and to be printed (Bill 19).

19 Jun 2013 : Column 939

Drug Driving (Assessment of Drug Misuse) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Graham Evans, supported by Sir Alan Meale, Mr David Nuttall, John Mann, Tracey Crouch, Fiona Bruce, Gavin Barwell, Alex Shelbrooke, Conor Burns, Charlie Elphicke, Mike Freer and Sir Bob Russell, presented a Bill to provide for the assessment of drug dependency or propensity for drug misuse of persons who, in the course of investigations for certain driving offences, have provided blood or urine samples that reveal the presence of certain drugs; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 18 October, and to be printed (Bill 20) with explanatory notes (Bill 20-EN).

Communications (Unsolicited Telephone Calls and Texts) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Mike Crockart, supported by Alun Cairns, Sir Andrew Stunell, Jackie Doyle-Price, Katy Clark, Mr Mike Weir, Dr Julian Huppert, Simon Wright, Steve Brine, Fiona Bruce and Martin Vickers, presented a Bill to reduce the incidence of unsolicited telephone calls and texts received by consumers; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 1 November, and to be printed (Bill 21).

Graduated Driving Licence Scheme Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Justin Tomlinson, supported by Mr Robert Buckland, Sir Nick Harvey, Mark Pawsey, Kelvin Hopkins, Roger Williams, Andrew Percy, Fiona Bruce, Sir Andrew Stunell, Rosie Cooper, Mr John Leech and John McDonnell, presented a Bill to make provision for a graduated driving licence scheme; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 25 October, and to be printed (Bill 22).

Child Maltreatment Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Mr Mark Williams, supported by Jessica Morden, Roger Williams, Mr Robert Buckland, Neil Parish, Dan Rogerson, Geraint Davies, Paul Goggins, Annette Brooke and Jonathan Edwards, presented a Bill to make provision about the physical and emotional welfare of children; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 12 July, and to be printed (Bill 23).

Communication Support (Deafness) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Mr Mark Williams on behalf of Sir Malcolm Bruce, supported by Stephen Lloyd, Rosie Cooper, Richard Ottaway, Mr Michael McCann, Tim Loughton, Sir Robert Smith, Dame Anne Begg, Mr John Leech, Mr Robert Buckland and Mr Mark Williams, presented a Bill to establish a body to assess provision of communication support for Deaf people and to make recommendations; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 25 October, and to be printed (Bill 24).

19 Jun 2013 : Column 940

Property Blight Compensation Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Mrs Caroline Spelman, supported by Dan Byles, Sir Tony Baldry, Mrs Cheryl Gillan, Jeremy Lefroy, Mrs Anne Main, Andrew Leadsom and Fiona Bruce, presented a Bill to require the Secretary of State to amend legislation to improve the system of compensation for property blight caused by major national infrastructure projects; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 18 October, and to be printed (Bill 25).

Education (Information Sharing) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Andrew Selous, supported by Harriett Baldwin, Steve Brine, Margot James, Charlie Elphicke, Nigel Mills, Martin Vickers, Julian Sturdy, Graham Evans, Sir Bob Russell, Jim Sheridan and Michael Connarty, presented a Bill to make provision about the disclosure and use of information relating to persons who are or have been in education or training.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 12 July, and to be printed (Bill 26) with explanatory notes (Bill 26-EN).

Prisons (Drug Testing) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Margot James, supported by Harriett Baldwin, Steve Brine, Dr Thérèse Coffey, Ben Gummer, Chris Kelly and Andrew Selous, presented a Bill to make provision about the drugs for which persons detained in prisons and similar institutions may be tested.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 13 September, and to be printed (Bill 27) with explanatory notes (Bill 27-EN).

Gender Equality (International Development) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Mr William Cash, supported by Sir Malcolm Bruce, Pauline Latham, Mr Bernard Jenkin, Keith Vaz, Jeremy Lefroy, Meg Hillier, Hugh Bayley, Margot James, Sarah Newton, Mr Brooks Newmark and Zac Goldsmith, presented a Bill to promote gender equality in the provision by the Government of development assistance and humanitarian assistance to countries outside the United Kingdom; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 13 September, and to be printed (Bill 28).

United Kingdom Corporate and Individual Tax and Financial Transparency Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Mr Michael Meacher, supported by Ann Clwyd, Ian Mearns, Caroline Lucas, John Mann, Stephen Pound, Fabian Hamilton, Mr Frank Doran, Kelvin Hopkins, Simon Hughes, Mr George Mudie and Paul Blomfield, presented a Bill to require disclosure of various financial information by large companies; to provide for disclosure of beneficial ownership; to require banks to disclose to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs the identity of certain companies holding bank accounts; to require the publication of the tax returns of individuals with an

19 Jun 2013 : Column 941

income of more than a certain level and the largest two hundred and fifty UK companies; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 6 September, and to be printed (Bill 29).

Local Government (Religious Etc. Observances) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

John Stevenson on behalf of Dr Matthew Offord, supported by John Stevenson, Gavin Shuker, Mr Gary Streeter and Jim Dobbin, presented a Bill to make provision about the inclusion at local authority meetings of observances that are, and about powers of local authorities in relation to events that to any extent are, religious or related to a religious or philosophical belief.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 18 October, and to be printed (Bill 30) with explanatory notes (Bill 30-EN).

19 Jun 2013 : Column 942

Opposition Day

[3rd Allotted Day]

Arts and Creative Industries

2.56 pm

Ms Harriet Harman (Camberwell and Peckham) (Lab): I beg to move,

That this House notes the importance to the UK of the arts and creative industries, with art and culture enriching the lives of individuals, reinforcing a sense of local community, and being vital to the economy, generating more than £36 billion a year and employing 1.5 million people; calls on the Government actively to support the arts by developing a strategy for the arts and creative industries; believes that this should include putting creativity at the heart of education, ensuring that creative industries have access to finance and funding, protecting intellectual property, supporting the arts and creative industries, including museums and galleries, in all nations and regions of the country, not just London, and attracting inward investment and providing support for exports; recognises that it is not only right in principle that the arts should be for everyone but that the arts thrive when they draw on the pool of talent of young people from every part of the country and all walks of life; and believes that a strong Department for Culture, Media and Sport with a Secretary of State standing up for the arts is crucial.

This debate is an opportunity for the whole House to express support for our arts and creative industries and to assert their great importance to this country. In this House, we often debate health, education and the economy, and we should recognise that the arts contribute to all of those. It is right too that we talk about the intrinsic value of the arts—how they move us and challenge us, and the great joy that arts and culture bring to our lives. Yes, the arts make money for this country, but they are never just a commodity. From the parents watching a school play to the nation watching the Olympic ceremony, the arts enrich our lives and all our communities. Therefore, we should have no hesitation in standing up for them and declaring their importance to individuals, communities and our economy.

We are a country that produces some of the greatest creativity on the planet, whether it is music, fashion, film, theatre, broadcasting, design, art, our libraries or our museums. Our cultural creativity is admired and envied around the world, and it was that belief that led the Labour party when it was in government to step up support for the arts, including massively strengthening the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, bringing in free entry to museums and galleries, and trebling the budget for the Arts Council. But let us be clear: public support for the arts is repaid over and over. For example, there was a £5,000 public subsidy to support the stage production of “The Woman in Black”. Since then, the production company has paid back more than £12 million in tax to the Treasury.

Public subsidy allows for the willingness of the arts to take risks, like the hugely successful “Matilda”, which the Royal Shakespeare company says would just not have been possible without public seedcorn funding. For some, subsidy has become a dirty word, but there is a false dichotomy between the public and the commercial. They are inextricably linked. Public investment gives the space for commercial success. The Arts Council calculates that for every pound of Government spending invested in the arts, the British economy gets £4 back.

19 Jun 2013 : Column 943

Ms Karen Buck (Westminster North) (Lab): Apart from the wider values that my right hon. and learned Friend has spoken about, in London alone the arts and cultural sector generates 400,000 jobs and returns £18 billion to the economy. Does she therefore share my disappointment that Westminster city council, at the heart of the west end, has chosen to cut its entire arts and culture budget, leaving it the only local authority in Britain with no targeted arts support at all?

Ms Harman: I absolutely agree. For Westminster city council to make cuts of 100% is dangerously like killing the goose that lays the golden eggs.

Ms Gisela Stuart (Birmingham, Edgbaston) (Lab): Does my right hon. and learned Friend accept that in the west midlands alone the regional theatres contribute around £264 million to the economy and that it is therefore not just a question of culture, but of economic development in the regions, which has to be underpinned by the cultural contribution?

Ms Harman: My hon. Friend is absolutely right, and tourism is also important.

Mr Jim Cunningham (Coventry South) (Lab): Following what my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Edgbaston (Ms Stuart) just said, I am sure that my right hon. and learned Friend will be aware that the west midlands is famous for its arts. Importantly, the cuts currently being made to subsidies are affecting the arts, particularly the Belgrade theatre in Coventry, where many famous artists started out.

Ms Harman: My hon. Friend is absolutely right. That is why I will be in Coventry tomorrow—I will say more about that later—working with councillors to ensure we do what we can to protect the arts in this difficult time.

Public money provides the basis of the mixed economy that supports the arts. It provides the foundation on which philanthropy and other funding schemes can then build. We should recognise the role of the arts in regeneration, as in my constituency of Camberwell and Peckham. Joe Anderson, the mayor of Liverpool, has said that the arts have been the rocket fuel for his city’s economy. The leader of Birmingham city council, Sir Albert Bore, has said that without the arts and culture, our cities would be deserts. The same is true across the country.

Our belief is that the arts are a public policy imperative because they must be for everyone. Without the active support of public policy, there is a real danger that the arts could become the privilege of the few. That is wrong in principle, because the arts and culture must be a right for all. It is also wrong in practice, because creativity needs to draw on the widest pool of talent. Talent is everywhere in this country, in people from all walks of life. Look at Lee Hall’s “Billy Elliot”, Opera North and Bournemouth symphony orchestra. We can all see the massive success stories. One need only look around at any award ceremony in the world; Britain’s creativity is always right up there in lights. While we celebrate that success, we must not let it mask the reality that the arts are facing a difficult time, especially smaller organisations and those outside London.

19 Jun 2013 : Column 944

Rushanara Ali (Bethnal Green and Bow) (Lab): My right hon. and learned Friend will be aware of the phenomenal impact the arts and the creative sector have had in my constituency and across east London, but one of the major challenges has been the sale of Henry Moore’s sculpture, Draped Seated Woman. Up and down the country, local authorities are selling public works of art. One of the big worries is that by the end of this Session we will be not only economically bankrupt, but culturally bankrupt, and the Government need to address that issue more generally, rather than specifically.

Ms Harman: I absolutely agree. It is incredibly short-sighted, because once something is sold, it can never be regained. In relation to my hon. Friend’s borough of Tower Hamlets and the other east London boroughs, I pay tribute to the Barbican for the outreach work it does with school children in east London. While the headlines trumpet our success, behind the scenes there is an arts emergency, especially in the regions.

Caroline Nokes (Romsey and Southampton North) (Con): The right hon. and learned Lady has referred repeatedly to the regions, but does she not agree that in places such as Hampshire there are fantastic arts organisations, such as the Test Valley Arts Foundation, doing exactly what she has highlighted: outreaching to young people and community groups?

Ms Harman: Absolutely, and I pay tribute to those small community organisations, whether they are in Hastings or the hon. Lady’s constituency. Perhaps she will have an opportunity to speak about the importance of the arts in her community, because we know that there is genuine support across the House for arts and creativity, and we want to be able to show that support.

The Arts Council, which provides funds for the arts all across the country, has already been cut by 35%, and it is expecting even more cuts. Local government are having their budgets slashed by a third. That is really important, because for most arts organisations, especially those outside London, most public funding comes not from central Government, but from local government.

Andrew Gwynne (Denton and Reddish) (Lab): My right hon. and learned Friend makes a very important point. So many of our arts institutions, such as Manchester’s Hallé orchestra and the Manchester Camerata, which do fantastic work with local schools in my constituency, including Denton community college, get a large amount of their funding from the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities, which is made up of the 10 councils around Greater Manchester. Sadly that is just no longer sustainable, given the cuts that the Government have forced on those councils.

Ms Harman: My hon. Friend is absolutely right. The truth is that outside London it is much more difficult for such organisations to get philanthropic support. The reality is that there is a very uneven distribution of philanthropy. I pay tribute to him for his support for the arts, and also to Sir Richard Leese and Manchester city council for the important support they give the arts. Local authorities are struggling.

Geraint Davies (Swansea West) (Lab/Co-op): I am sure that my right hon. and learned Friend will want to congratulate Swansea on reaching the shortlist to be

19 Jun 2013 : Column 945

city of culture in 2017. In Swansea and elsewhere we should be aware of the enormous growth of tourism from China, India and other developing countries. We should invest in the infrastructure of culture and the arts and take advantage of more and more visitors, rather than cutting them.

Ms Harman: Indeed, and I hope to say something about the importance of our work overseas to highlight our arts. In the meantime, I add my congratulations to Swansea bay on being shortlisted for city of culture in 2017, and I also congratulate Leicester, Hull and Dundee.

Even in such difficult times for local authorities, when they are having to grapple with how to care for the elderly and protect vulnerable people, it is important that they do all they can to support the arts, as is happening in Manchester, which is protecting the arts to protect its future success as a city.

Nadhim Zahawi (Stratford-on-Avon) (Con): The right hon. and learned Lady mentioned the play “Matilda”. She will know that in Stratford-on-Avon the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and the Orchestra of the Swan are all important cultural assets. She talks about local authorities. Of course, the average spend of a local authority is about £385,000, yet some authorities, such as Newcastle city council, have £50 million in reserves. The shadow Chancellor has already called for almost £45 billion of extra borrowing and spending. Will she confirm whether any of that money would go towards the arts under a Labour Administration?

Ms Harman: The shadow Chancellor has said that we have to invest in jobs and growth in the future, and I think the hon. Gentleman would agree that future jobs will come from the creative industry as well as from investments in infrastructure. I pay tribute to him for his support for the arts and to the Royal Shakespeare Company in his constituency.

To support councillors across the country who are facing such difficult choices, we have set up a network of local councillors to come together to discuss the challenges facing them and the importance of the arts in local communities and to share best practice. There are many things that local authorities can do, and are doing, to support the arts, over and above the provision of public money, for example sharing back-office functions, granting licences and offering public spaces for arts events. I am delighted that tomorrow I will be in Coventry’s transport museum meeting our creative councillors network from across the country. We are thinking in imaginative and innovative way about how to help the arts, even in these difficult times.

Damian Collins (Folkestone and Hythe) (Con): The right hon. and learned Lady is right that it is a question of getting priorities right for local authorities. Does she think that rather than giving £250,000 a year to the trade unions in subsidies, Newcastle city council should invest that money in the arts instead?

Ms Harman: The hon. Gentleman should look at Newcastle city council’s innovative culture fund, which not only shows its backing for the arts but provides a platform for bringing in outside commercial and philanthropic investment. We need to support and pay tribute to just such innovative thinking.

19 Jun 2013 : Column 946

Alex Cunningham (Stockton North) (Lab): I know that my right hon. and learned Friend is a bit of an angel herself, but does she recognise that the Angel of the North has not just become a world icon, but helped to drive tens of millions of pounds of investment in the north-east? Its legacy is now very much in danger.

Ms Harman: I absolutely agree. The Angel of the North is not just a proud landmark for the north; the whole country admires it. We wish we had an angel of similar height and scale in Peckham.

The truth is that if we want the arts to thrive in future, they need to survive now. It takes years to build them up, but they can be destroyed at the stroke of a pen. The situation is so difficult that we have to forge a survival strategy for the arts. That is work for a broad-ranging coalition, including the Arts Council, local government, the arts community and central Government—not just the Department for Culture, Media and Sport but, crucially, the Department for Education, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, the Treasury and the Department for Communities and Local Government.

The Culture Secretary must take the lead and stand up for culture—the clue is in her title. That means not letting the Communities and Local Government Secretary squash arts in the regions, not letting the Business, Innovation and Skills Secretary slope off to Europe to water down copyright and not letting the Education Secretary sweep creativity out of the curriculum.

Hywel Williams (Arfon) (PC): Does the right hon. and learned Lady share my concern about the uncertainty over funding for S4C, the Welsh language television channel? BBC funding is guaranteed until 2017, but Department for Culture, Media and Sport funding may disappear in 2015.

Ms Harman: I do share that concern. I recognise the umbrella and the opportunity for many independent producers that the channel provides.

Alison McGovern (Wirral South) (Lab): My right hon. and learned Friend is making an important point about survival. Does she agree that, although the economic case for the arts is well made, in the regions we also need our identities to survive? That is what local authorities, in partnership with the Government, should be able to do through the arts. In the city region of Merseyside where I grew up, we did not have much but we did have the Everyman theatre and Walker art gallery, which meant so much to our identity. That is exactly the kind of survival that we need right now.

Ms Harman: I absolutely agree. The spark that was lit in my hon. Friend is carried through to her support for the arts in her constituency to this day.

The Culture Secretary should be working with the arts and creative industries to develop a clear, confident strategy and make sure that it is delivered. We must be sure that the opportunities are there for young people to experience and participate in the arts—at school, at college and through apprenticeships—so that they can make their way into earning their livings in the arts.

19 Jun 2013 : Column 947

Fiona Mactaggart (Slough) (Lab): On the point about schools, does my right hon. and learned Friend share an anxiety of mine? On 28 February 2012, the Government announced that they would immediately establish a new ministerial board between the Culture and Education Departments and immediately produce a cultural education strategy, and we have not yet seen either.

Ms Harman: We have yet to see those, but we have seen a fall in the number of school pupils taking exams in creative subjects. There has also been a fall in the number of students applying to do creative subjects at university.

We must be sure that artists and arts organisations have the right infrastructure for funding, which includes a mix of public subsidy, philanthropy and other innovative sources such as crowd funding.

Damian Collins rose—

Ms Harman: I have already given way to the hon. Gentleman, so I will carry on.

Britain’s creative talent is a precious natural resource and must be protected, so the Government must get off the fence and rigorously enforce intellectual property rights. The arts situation is different outside London from how it is here in the capital, so there needs to be a specific, separate focus on the English regions, Scotland and Wales. [Interruption.] Indeed, support for tax credits is important across Scotland and Wales as well. [Interruption.] There are a number of arts organisations, such as the BBC, which are important in the arts in Scotland and Wales as well as in England. The Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, the hon. Member for Wantage (Mr Vaizey) ought to know that.

British creativity is recognised all around the world, so we must have co-ordinated work that includes BIS, UK Trade & Investment, the Foreign Office and the British Council to showcase the best of British. Finally, running through any culture strategy must be a fundamental principle: the arts must be a right for everyone, not the preserve of a privileged elite. That is not only important in principle; to carry on as world leaders, we need to continue to draw on the widest possible pool of talent.

Susan Elan Jones (Clwyd South) (Lab): I am grateful for my right hon. and learned Friend’s steadfast and continuing support for Welsh language broadcasting by S4C. Does she not agree that the arts are extremely important for international and community cohesion? The Llangollen international musical eisteddfod in my constituency was set up at the end of the second world war, to bring nations and cultures together. That is another vital facet of the arts.

Ms Harman: Absolutely. One of the things that is so distinctive and admirable about Wales is its people’s love of culture and the eisteddfod tradition. I pay tribute to that.

We cannot accept the Government amendment. Although it details some of the important work that the Department is doing, it is complacent and totally out of touch with what is happening on the ground. It asks us to welcome

“the continued strong lead given by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport”,

19 Jun 2013 : Column 948

but the truth is that no one in the arts thinks that such a lead is being given. It is what the arts need, but not what they have.

A heavy responsibility falls on the Secretary of State. This is a difficult time for the arts, which is why at this point it would be disastrous to dismantle the Department. Britain’s arts and creative industries are important for our future. They must have unequivocal backing from the Government and a strong Secretary of State with a seat at the Cabinet table. I look forward to speeches from hon. Members on both sides of the House in support of the arts and I call on them to stand up for the arts and vote for the Opposition motion.

Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Lindsay Hoyle): I advise the House that Mr Speaker has selected the amendment in the name of the Prime Minister.

3.17 pm

The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Maria Miller): I beg to move an amendment, to leave out from “House” to end and add:

“welcomes the Government’s support for the arts and creative industries; notes the increase in Lottery funding for the arts which will mean that some £3 billion will be provided for the arts from the National Lottery and in Grant in Aid over the lifetime of the present Parliament; notes that there has been further support for the arts from the Government, including the introduction of lifetime giving, catalyst funding and the maintenance of free admission to the UK’s national museums; welcomes the first ever national music plan for education, and looks forward to the imminent publication of the national cultural plan for education; further notes the Government’s support for the creative industries, including tax credits for film, television and animation; looks forward to the introduction of a tax credit for video games; notes the establishment of a Creative Industries Council; and welcomes the continued strong lead given by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport in these areas.”.

I am absolutely delighted to have the opportunity to debate such an important subject. As all Members know, the arts are one of Britain’s crown jewels. We are known across the world for our cultural and creative prowess.

We heard a lot of warm words from the right hon. and learned Member for Camberwell and Peckham (Ms Harman), but she was a bit short on policies. A closer reading of the Opposition motion shows, all too clearly, that the Opposition have not kept up to date with the work that the Government have been doing for the past three years in supporting this vital sector.

Britain is already a world leader in the arts and the creative industries, and I want to give the right hon. and learned Lady and all Members the opportunity to show their positive support for what has already been achieved. I hope that she will be able to support the Government’s amendment.

The country undoubtedly faces difficult economic times. As I think Labour now accepts, that calls for discipline in public spending. However, the right hon. and learned Lady sounded as if she was calling for more spending. What is it—more spending or iron discipline? I am still not sure.

Paul Farrelly (Newcastle-under-Lyme) (Lab) rose—

Maria Miller: Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will clarify that when he intervenes.

19 Jun 2013 : Column 949

Paul Farrelly: The motion mentions leadership. Since the 2010 general election, the Department has taken on more responsibilities, including, notably, telecoms, so the creative industries are not the only ones looking to the Department for leadership. Will the Secretary of State therefore categorically confirm that, given all the planned cuts, the Department will still be in existence at the next general election in 2015?

Maria Miller: Yes, and I think that the right hon. and learned Member for Camberwell and Peckham would be able to elaborate on that and say that she has heard that from the Prime Minister himself.

The House should be focusing on the important issue of the future of our creative industries. I gently suggest that if the right hon. and learned Lady and other Opposition Members looked a little closer, they would see that the Government have increased lottery funding to the arts by £100 million a year; developed the catalyst fund to encourage organisations to build endowments for the first time; introduced lifetime giving and the cultural gift scheme; maintained free access to museums in the toughest economic climate for almost a century; launched a national music education plan; developed a national cultural education plan; introduced tax credits for film, television and animation; announced tax credits for video games; and established Creative England and the creative industries council. This is practical action that is being taken now, despite the difficult economic situation we face, to support the arts because of how important they are.

Ms Gisela Stuart: What the arts need is proper co-ordination. Some really good work is being done between the British Museum and Birmingham art galleries. It is not so much a question of money as of central co-ordination. It looks to me as though that co-ordination is about to be lost. Will the Secretary of State assure us that that is not the case?

Maria Miller: The hon. Lady is right to raise the importance of co-ordination and regional funding. That is why we have put so much focus on it, particularly on the Arts Council’s work in the creative people and places programme, the strategic touring programme and grants for the arts. Hundreds of millions of pounds are going into the sorts of regional activities that many hon. Members have mentioned.

Neil Carmichael (Stroud) (Con): Will the Secretary of State remind the House of her splendid visit to Stroud on a cold February night, where she saw at first hand the Stroud valley art project and a number of other fantastic arts and crafts activities? That rams home the point that arts and crafts in my constituency are alive and well, with the support of this Government.

Maria Miller: My hon. Friend raises a really important point. In his constituency I saw first hand how this commitment to the arts is being translated into industry and jobs in the heart of his constituency. That sort of relationship between the arts and the creative industries means that we have some of the very best creative industries in the world. As the recent survey of theatre workers by Creative & Cultural Skills demonstrated, the relationship between cultural organisations and the creative industries is fluid and vital, and underpins the £36 billion a year that the creative industries are worth.

19 Jun 2013 : Column 950

Barbara Keeley (Worsley and Eccles South) (Lab): May I take the right hon. Lady back to free entry to museums? There is chaos in the regions, because our excellent museums, such as the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester, are fighting a rear-guard action against threatened 10% cuts. Tens of thousands of people are terribly worried—there is a campaign in the local paper—that Government cuts will force such excellent museums to close. Will the right hon. Lady clarify that not only will free entry to museums be maintained, but that there will be no swingeing cuts, which would cause our excellent museum to close?

Maria Miller: I am sure the hon. Lady will have followed the settlement we have achieved for the arts and museum sector and that she will be delighted that there is absolutely no reason why such a closure should happen. A 5% reduction in funds will obviously be a challenge for the sector, but it has welcomed it and I hope the hon. Lady welcomes it, too.

Our cultural offer is intrinsic to our nation’s success in tourism: 40% of people who come to our country cite culture as the most important reason for visiting and eight out of 10 of our top visitor attractions are museums. Hon. Members from all parties know that this is not just a London story, as Liverpool can testify, having received almost 10 million extra visitors during its year as European city of culture.

The arts are, as the right hon. and learned Member for Camberwell and Peckham said so powerfully in her opening remarks, of immense social value, too. They define who we are and what we stand for as a nation. They also help us understand where we come from and they support and shape our communities.

Harriett Baldwin (West Worcestershire) (Con): Will the Secretary of State clarify that one of this Government’s first acts was to increase the amount of lottery funding for the arts? Am I correct in understanding that it was the Labour party that in 2004 cut the percentage from 20% to 16%?

Maria Miller: My hon. Friend is, of course, right. That meant a significant reduction in lottery funding for the arts. I will come on to that in more detail in a moment.

It is for all the reasons that hon. Members have already raised in their interventions that I and my Department fought so hard to protect spending on the arts and culture during the recent spending round. Despite doing our bit as a Department and playing our part in tackling our crippling deficit, the reduction in the funding of the arts and museums in 2015-16 will be just 5%.

Hywel Williams: Given the happy news about the Department’s future survival, will the Secretary of State report on the prospect of DCMS funding for S4C after 2015?

Maria Miller: The hon. Gentleman will know that there is a clear obligation to make sure that there is sufficient funding. I am aware of this issue and will talk to colleagues and, no doubt, the hon. Gentleman about it. He will know, however, that I am not able to give him any future details at the moment, because they are subject to the spending review.

19 Jun 2013 : Column 951

In the context of the difficult financial climate, the settlement our Department has achieved clearly demonstrates the Government’s recognition of the economic and social value of culture. This is an important settlement for the arts in a very challenging spending review.

I would be interested to hear from those on the Opposition Front Bench—I think we would all be interested to hear this—whether or not they will commit to the same level of funding and spending, or will the arts be one of the areas covered by the shadow Chancellor’s iron discipline on public spending, or will the Opposition promise to increase spending on the arts? It is not clear what their polices are or where their funding would come from.

Robert Flello (Stoke-on-Trent South) (Lab) rose

Neil Carmichael rose

Maria Miller: I will give way to the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent South (Robert Flello) and then to my hon. Friend the Member for Stroud (Neil Carmichael).

Robert Flello: I am grateful to the Secretary of State for giving way. She has mentioned regional theatre. Will she explain why it is that of the 696 organisations regularly funded through Arts Council England’s national portfolio programme, there is only one in the whole of Staffordshire, namely the New Vic in the neighbouring constituency, that of my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Paul Farrelly)? It does amazing and fantastic work, employs about 90 individuals and contributes nearly £12 million to the local economy, but why, out of the 696, is it the only one in the whole of Staffordshire?

Maria Miller: The hon. Gentleman may or may not know that I was born in Staffordshire. I understand his desire to ensure that Staffordshire has strong cultural representation. The Arts Council funds 179 theatre organisations and groups. Those decisions are made at arm’s length from the Government by the Arts Council, which I am sure listens carefully to his remarks.

Fiona Mactaggart rose

Neil Carmichael rose

Maria Miller: I had promised to give way to my hon. Friend the Member for Stroud first, but then I will give way to the hon. Member for Slough (Fiona Mactaggart).

Neil Carmichael: The investment the Government are providing for broadband in my constituency is a huge advantage to the creative industry, especially in areas beyond our towns, where people need access to broadband for their design and technology work. Does the Secretary of State feel inclined to commit to ensuring that broadband is provided for most of my constituents by the time of the general election?

Maria Miller: Having visited my hon. Friend’s constituency and heard his constituents’ comments directly, I know how important the Government’s superfast broadband project is to such constituencies. It will

19 Jun 2013 : Column 952

ensure that not only our creative industries are supported, but cultural organisations, whether galleries or libraries. Broadband can support and help their work so much.

As well as managing the reductions in grant in aid I have mentioned, the Government have made important changes to the national lottery to ensure that arts and culture are properly supported, as my hon. Friend the Member for West Worcestershire (Harriett Baldwin) has said. As she pointed out, one of the first things this Government did was reverse Labour’s lottery cuts. In 1998, the Labour Government cut lottery support for the arts—their cuts took £600 million out of the sector. The coalition has restored the proportion the arts receive, meaning an extra £100 million goes to the arts each year. When the hon. Member for Barnsley Central (Dan Jarvis) responds to the debate for the Opposition, will he commit to maintaining the current proportion of lottery funding to the arts, or will Labour cut it again?

Fiona Mactaggart: In the Secretary of State’s list of achievements she mentioned the announcement of the cultural education strategy. That happened 16 months ago. Where is it?

Maria Miller: The hon. Lady will know that we have done an incredible amount in that area, whether for the Youth Dance Company or the other organisations that are part of the plan we are developing—[Interruption.] She will have heard the Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, my hon. Friend the Member for Wantage (Mr Vaizey), say from a sedentary position that further details will be announced next month.

Hon. Members on both sides of the House will want to know that the Government’s commitment to the arts will mean that more public money in cash terms will go to the Arts Council under this Government than under the previous one. Why, therefore, do the Opposition constantly posture about funding cuts rather than propose their own plans? It is no good the right hon. and learned Member for Camberwell and Peckham sitting there just criticising. People are listening to the debate, and want to know what she and her hon. Friends want to do differently. What do they want to do differently, and how will she fund it?

Mike Weatherley (Hove) (Con): I thank the Secretary of State for coming down to Brighton and Hove to visit NCSOFT and others in the software industry, and the music industry in the Brighton Institute of Modern Music. Does she agree that the Government have done significant amounts for the software industry and the music industry? They have raised live licence numbers from 100 to 200—it will shortly be 500.

Maria Miller: I pay tribute to my hon. Friend’s work on supporting those parts of the creative industries. It was fantastic to go along and speak to the students in his constituency who are doing so much to support the future of the music industry. We should applaud his work in that area.