People often enter care at a point of crisis, and at a time of great distress. These reforms will create a better, fairer system, enabling people to grow old, safe in the knowledge that they will receive the care they need

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without facing unlimited costs. Combined with the Government’s wider moves to protect pensions and improve care standards, we are determined to fulfil our vision to make Britain the best country in the world to grow old in.

Sarah Newton: I had the great privilege to serve in Committee, during which the Minister of State, Department of Health, my hon. Friend the hon. Member for North Norfolk (Norman Lamb) expressed support for my view that if the pilots prove successful, we should be able to provide free social care at the end of life to allow more people to die with dignity at home. Would my right hon. Friend commit to that this evening?

Mr Hunt: I thank my hon. Friend for her work in Committee. That is an aspiration that we all share, and some of the results from the pilots are extremely encouraging in terms of the extra care and support we are able to give people. End-of-life care is a priority for everyone, so I share her enthusiasm that we can make progress on that very important area.

Financial security must be combined with confidence in the standard of care received. A year on from the Francis report, we are debating a Bill that will help us to deliver 61 commitments that we made in response to it. We are restoring and strengthening a culture of compassionate care in our health and care system.

Robert Francis’s report said that the public should always be confident that health care assistants have had the training they need to provide safe care. The Bill will allow us to appoint bodies to set the standards for the training of health care assistants and social care support workers. These will be the foundation of the new care certificate, which will provide clear evidence to patients that the person in front of them has the skills, knowledge and behaviours to provide compassionate high-quality care and support.

New fundamental standards will ensure that all patients get the care experience for which the NHS, at its best, is known. In his report, Robert Francis identified a lack of openness extending from the wards of Mid Staffs to the corridors of Whitehall. We want to ensure that patients are given the truth when things go wrong, so the Bill introduces a requirement for a statutory duty of candour which applies to all providers of care registered with the CQC. The Francis inquiry also found that providing false or misleading information allows poor and dangerous care to continue. We want to ensure that organisations are honest in the information they supply under legal obligation, so the Bill introduces a new criminal offence for care providers that supply or publish certain types of false or misleading information.

The programme will alert the NHS to where standards drop and enable it to take prompt action. To succeed, it is vital that the programme gives patients confidence in the way their data are used. For that reason we have today amended the Bill to provide rock-solid assurance that confidential patient information will not be sold for commercial insurance purposes.

Patients also need to have confidence that where there are failings in care they will be dealt with swiftly. At Mid Staffs that took far too long. That is why the Care Bill requires the CQC to appoint three chief inspectors to act as the nation’s whistleblowers-in-chief. Their existence has started to drive up standards even in the short time they have been in their jobs.

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Perhaps most fundamentally, the Bill re-establishes the CQC as an independent inspectorate, free from political interference. The Bill will remove nine powers of the Secretary of State to intervene in the CQC to ensure that it can operate without fear or favour. The Bill will also give the CQC the power to instigate a new failure regime and will give Monitor greater powers to intervene in those hospitals that are found to be failing to deliver safe and compassionate care to their patients. For the most seriously challenged NHS providers, there needs to be a clear end point when such interventions have not worked. The Bill makes vital changes to the trust special administration regime, established by the Labour party in 2009, to ensure that an administrator is able to look beyond the boundaries of the trust in administration to find a solution that delivers the best overall outcome for the local population.

Jim Dowd: I realise that the Secretary of State was not in office when the TSA process was started in the South London Healthcare NHS Trust, but he did accept the report of the administrator and, of course, appealed against the High Court decision that found against him. Will he clarify and put on the record that it is the coalition Government’s view, and the view of their constituent parties, that the people of Lewisham should not have an accident and emergency unit; should not have a maternity unit; should not have a paediatric specialty; and that two thirds of the hospital site should be sold off? Those were the recommendations of the TSA, which he wanted to accept.

Mr Hunt: Let me first tell the hon. Gentleman that the TSA did not recommend the closure of the A and E unit at Lewisham hospital, and he knows that perfectly well.

I will say what this Government are determined to ensure does not happen again. Mid Staffs went on for four years before a stop was put to it. Patients’ lives were put at risk and patients died because the problem was not tackled quickly. The point of these changes today is to ensure that, when all NHS resources are devoted to trying to solve a problem and they fail, after a limited period of time it will be possible to take the measures necessary to ensure that patients are safe. I put it to the hon. Gentleman and to all Opposition Members that if they were in power now they would not be making the arguments that they have been making this afternoon, because it is patently ridiculous to say that we will always be able to solve a problem without reference to the wider health economy. They know that: it was in the guidance that they produced for Parliament when they introduced the original TSA recommendations. What Government Members stand for is sorting out these problems quickly and not letting them drag on in a way that is dangerous for patients.

Andrew George: Following the concessions announced by the Under-Secretary in the previous debate, do I understand correctly that if the TSA makes recommendations to a non-failing trust to its detriment and the trust objects to those proposals, NHS England can, through its arbitration process, impose those changes?

Mr Hunt: Let me clarify, but first let me add that we want to listen to the consultation that will be led by my right hon. Friend the Member for Sutton and Cheam and the new Committee that he chairs. We are requiring

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local clinical commissioning groups and GP groups to come to an agreement on the right way forward in these difficult situations. We need an arbitration system for when agreement is not possible, which this clause allows for. We would like there to be agreement but we cannot allow a situation where, when there is not an agreement, we end up with paralysis and being unable to sort out the problem of a trust that is failing, particularly when it is unsafe and patients’ lives are being put at risk. That is exactly what was happening in the South London Healthcare NHS Trust.

As the Bill leaves the House to return to the other place for the final stages of its passage, we can be justly proud. This is a landmark piece of legislation that will transform the experience of those who rely on the NHS and care systems by giving patients and their carers both legal rights and a much better joined-up service. It will reduce the money wasted on duplication and allow more resources to be directed at the front line. It will remove the uncertainty and worry of unpredictable care costs in later life and will put individuals at the heart of a system built around their needs and not its own priorities.

Most of all it will send a signal loud and clear that when it comes to the challenge of treating an ageing population with dignity, compassion and respect, this House has not shirked its responsibilities but has risen confidently to the challenge.

6.37 pm

Andy Burnham: I begin by thanking my shadow team, particularly my hon. Friends the Members for Leicester West (Liz Kendall) and for Copeland (Mr Reed), who have spent many hours trying to make sense of this unwieldy piece of legislation. I, too, want to thank members of the Public Bill Committee for their work, as well as the officials, Officers and staff of the House who enabled the Committee’s work to take place.

It is right also to pay tribute at this point to the Care and Support Alliance, a very important association of organisations working to be advocates and champions for some of the most vulnerable people in our society. The alliance worked with the previous Government and is working with this Government; indeed it works with all sides of the House. It can take some credit for some of the steps forward that are coming as a result of the Bill, and it is fair to say that there are some steps towards a better social care system.

I would argue that the Bill builds on the work of the previous Labour Government in that regard, particularly in the overdue recognition of carers. We welcome stronger legal recognition and rights for carers. We welcome better access to information and advice, which will make a difference to some people using the care system. The idea of portability—that if people move from one place to another, their entitlement to care goes with them—is a good principle and one that I put forward. We welcome the fact that it has been carried into the Bill. The principle of a cap on what people should pay for social care is in itself an important step forward. I recognise that but, as I will go on to say, we do not believe that all is at it seems.

There are measures in the Bill, as the Secretary of State said, to implement parts of the Francis report, such as the organisational duty of candour and moves

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to strengthen regulation. We welcome these steps but we would have encouraged the Government to go further.

The big problem with the Bill is the gap between what Ministers claim it does and what it actually does. It is not what it seems and it will not deliver on the claims made for it. Worse, it is no answer to the problems posed by an ageing society, and it is not equal to the scale and urgency of the care crisis that the country faces.

Paul Burstow: The right hon. Gentleman expresses concern about the care crisis. Why did he abstain in yesterday’s vote on the Local Government Association’s proposal that there should simply be an assessment of the adequacy of funding?

Andy Burnham: I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman is in a very strong position to talk about Members’ abstaining in votes on amendments. I shall say more about that shortly.

Let me now list three reasons for our argument that the Bill is not what it seems. First, as I have said, it is no answer to the care crisis. It proposes that a cap should be paid for by the restriction of eligibility for care, and the removal of care from some people who are already receiving it. Last week we heard from Age Concern that 800,000 people who had previously received support no longer received it. The problem is that local authorities are being asked to implement the system with no additional resources, and are therefore having to move funding from preventive social care to the administration and funding of the cap and the deferred payment scheme. Rather than taking from one area of social care to give to another, the Government should have put new resources into social care.

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Norman Lamb): The right hon. Gentleman said a moment ago that the Bill removed care from some people by restricting eligibility criteria. Does he accept that although there is a national eligibility criterion—which is long overdue—any councils that choose to be more generous can do so, just as they can now?

Andy Burnham: If the Minister gave councils budgets that enabled them to be more generous, they might have a chance, but drastic cuts mean that they cannot provide care that is worthy of the name. He will know of the fears of organisations that represent disabled adults of working age. The Royal National Institute of Blind People, for instance, fears that the move to retrench eligibility criteria to cover only substantial and critical needs will remove care from people with moderate needs whose support currently enables them to continue to work.

Barbara Keeley: I understand that the Minister is to visit Salford tomorrow. Perhaps he would like to talk to Salford city council, whose budget has been cut by £100 million over the last three years, about how it might be more generous. I am glad that my right hon. Friend has mentioned carers and their new rights, but how hollow do those new rights seem to carers in Salford, given that 1,000 people will lose their care packages this year and 400 will not qualify for them? That is a direct result of what the Government have done.

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Andy Burnham: My hon. Friend’s intervention brings me to my second reason for thinking that the Bill is not what it seems. The changes in eligibility for social care expose more people to social care charges than was the case before the present Government came to office, and, as has been demonstrated by my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester West, those charges are increasing above inflation. More people are paying care charges, and paying them at a higher level. The care cap is not what it seems. In fact, as my hon. Friend has consistently argued, it is a care con. The Secretary of State said today that the Bill would give people certainty about what they would pay—

Mr Jeremy Hunt indicated assent.

Andy Burnham: The Secretary of State says yes, but I am afraid that it will not. The £72,000 cap is based on a local authority average, not on the actual amount that people will pay for care. So no, the Bill will not give them that certainty. The Secretary of State also said that people would not lose everything to pay for care. Let us take him at his word, and assume that £72,000 is the maximum that a person can pay, and £144,000 is the maximum for a couple. In my constituency, that would indeed mean people losing everything that they had worked for, although it might not mean that in the Secretary of State’s constituency or in other parts of the country. The Secretary of State needs to be honest with people. That is why we are saying that the Bill is not what it seems.

Norman Lamb: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Andy Burnham: I will, but I think that the Minister should take account of that point, because it is quite important.

Norman Lamb: The right hon. Gentleman says that he would like the eligibility criteria to be more generous. Is he now committing himself to funding that?

Andy Burnham: I am not writing a budget at the Dispatch Box this evening. I will stand by our record of giving real-terms increases to local government. I warned at the start of this Parliament that if the effect of the Government’s promise of real-terms increases for the NHS—which have actually never materialised—was a raid on local government, that would be a short-term policy. It would mean more older people ending up in hospital and who then could not be discharged because there was not the care at home. That is exactly what is happening. It is a false economy. That is what we warned them about and they failed to listen.

Andrew Percy (Brigg and Goole) (Con): Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Andy Burnham: No I will not, as the hon. Gentleman has not been here all afternoon.

The third area is the claims that the Bill will improve regulation. Let me ask a direct question: if this is about improving the quality of services, why remove from the CQC the responsibility to provide oversight of local authority commissioning? Why do that if this Bill is about improving regulation? Why leave local government free to do what they like at a local level—to commission

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for 15-minute visits or for staff on zero-hours contracts—when we have seen the failures at Winterbourne View and other places? Why remove that important role from the CQC?

Mr Jeremy Hunt rose—

Andy Burnham: We have never had a proper answer to that. I hope we are about to get one.

Mr Hunt: Let me tell the right hon. Gentleman what this Bill does: it introduces the proper expert-led inspection of social care provision that was scrapped by his Government, so that we actually know when there are care problems and we sort them out.

Andy Burnham: The right hon. Gentleman has not answered the question. There was a responsibility on the CQC to provide oversight of local authority commissioning. This Bill removes it. Why does it do that? It is a backward step in my view.

The fourth area is that, in respect of the care data scheme, the Bill fails to provide the assurances the Government tried to herald in the press a few days ago—to borrow the Secretary of State’s words today, a “rock-solid assurance” that data could never be passed to commercial insurance companies. I do not believe it is possible to claim that new clause 34, which has now been added to the Bill, does that. It just has general aims around the promotion of health. That does not stop data being passed to private health insurance companies. Again, I do not think the Bill does what the Secretary of State claims it does.

The fifth area I want to challenge the Government on is the whole question we have just been debating. This goes to the heart of where the coalition began, which was that local people would be in the driving seat and local GPs would be in control. The coalition agreement said the Government would end centrally dictated closures. Well, they have ripped all that up this afternoon by passing clause 119 and keeping it in the Bill. They claimed they were just doing what we left behind. That is not the case, because the High Court told them otherwise. The High Court told them they had gone beyond the powers I had created in 2009. The Secretary of State was unable to answer that. He said everything was our fault—it is never their fault or his fault. Well, how about him listening to the Court? How about him reading the clause that we passed before he tried to close or downgrade Lewisham’s A and E? Would that not have been a good thing to do? He did not do that, however. He tried to plough on and downgrade a successful A and E in the teeth of opposition and he got found out. Yet he comes back here today and just thinks arrogantly he can ram the same powers back through this Parliament.

What we have seen today from the right hon. Member for Sutton and Cheam (Paul Burstow), who positioned himself as though he was going to make a stand for local involvement in the NHS, is the worst kind of collusion and sell-out of our national health service. Just as the Liberal Democrats voted for the Health and Social Care Act, again they have backed tonight the break-up of the NHS. In the last few days the right hon.

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Gentleman has been asking for all these signatures from all over the country—148,000 people to sign his petition—just so, it seems, that he could get a new job working within the coalition. I am not sure they are going to feel well represented this evening.

Mr Hunt: The shadow Secretary of State is bandying around some big words like “arrogant” so will he now show some humility and recognise that every single one of the 14 hospitals in special measures had warning signs when Labour was in office and Labour failed to sort out those problems?

Andy Burnham: We took action to address care standards in the NHS. The right hon. Gentleman is trying to politicise care failure. The Labour Government inherited the Bristol Royal infirmary scandal from the previous Conservative Government, along with the scandal at Alder Hey and the Shipman murders, but we did not try to politicise those failings. The Secretary of State is trying to politicise such failings today, however.

The Lib Dems have shown again tonight that they simply cannot be trusted to stand up for the national health service. There is only one party in this House that will do that, and that is the Labour party represented on these Benches. The next Labour Government will repeal the Health and Social Care Act and restore the right values to the heart of the NHS. In so doing, we will also repeal clause 119 of this Bill. We will take the powers that the Secretary of State has taken for himself today and hand them back to local people.

We will not get the care that we want until we are able to face up to the care crisis that this country now has. Our argument is that the full integration of health and care is the only way to reshape services around the person. That is the only way to go, and we will give a full green light to NHS organisations to collaborate and integrate, instead of working with the market regime that this Government have introduced. We have had the ludicrous spectacle of the Competition Commission telling two hospitals that wanted to collaborate that they could not do so because it would be anti-competitive. That is the reality of the NHS that this Government have created. That is the nonsense that people are facing on the ground. Only when we repeal the Health and Social Care Act and get rid of the powers that the Secretary of State has taken for himself today will we put the NHS back on the right path, away from the path towards fragmentation and privatisation, and begin to build a 21st-century NHS.

Several hon. Members rose

Mr Speaker: Order. I was going to call the hon. Member for Totnes (Dr Wollaston), as she had applied to speak in the Third Reading debate, but if she does not wish to speak, I will call the right hon. Member for Charnwood (Mr Dorrell) instead. Does the hon. Lady wish to catch my eye?

Dr Wollaston indicated assent.

Mr Speaker: I call Dr Sarah Wollaston.

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6.51 pm

Dr Wollaston: Thank you, Mr Speaker.

I congratulate the Secretary of State on this groundbreaking Bill. It is disappointing that there has been such a curmudgeonly response to it. Some important concessions and improvements to the Bill have been made during its passage through the House, and it has been a great pleasure to serve on it throughout the entire process, starting with the Committee on the draft Bill. At every stage, the Government have listened to the concerns and made improvements.

There is just one small element that I would like to draw to the Secretary of State’s attention. There has been a step change on the issue of open data. For the first time, there has been recognition of the need not only to publish data but to disseminate the findings of the research involved. That has been an important concession in relation to part 3 of the Bill. We have also heard today about the improvements to the clauses on, and I would like to ask anyone following the debate on that subject to bear in mind that their health, and the health of their children and families, will be improved if we see a commitment to improving access to health data. Let us keep that in focus. We must ensure that we listen to the very real concerns that are being expressed, but please do not opt out of Let us move forward with this exciting project and with the commitment to research that we have seen throughout the passage of the Bill.

6.53 pm

Meg Munn (Sheffield, Heeley) (Lab/Co-op): I want to make one brief point. Care in our society is delivered largely by friends and family, for free. It is done willingly, because the people involved want to do it, and we should support that. I remain extremely concerned that not enough attention is being paid to the mechanisms by which that informal care could be better supported. I ask the Secretary of State not only to look at clause 18, which covers the duty to meet needs for care and support, but to commit to drafting guidance that will make it clear to local authorities and health services that clause 19 gives them the power to meet needs for care and support.

When people are in difficult circumstances, providing low-level care such as shopping and cleaning—the kind of thing that supports people with a lot of needs that are being met by someone else—is the way forward. That is what we need to see happening. I remain extremely concerned that because local authorities are under such budgetary pressure, they will focus only on the most severe needs and that the opportunity to adopt a preventive approach, which would help to provide real care and support and keep people at home, will be missed.

Several hon. Members rose—

Mr Speaker: Order. Hon. Members will, I know, be sympathetic to each other. Everyone will try to help other colleagues, I feel sure.

6.55 pm

Mr Dorrell: I shall make two brief points, which I think are the two things for which the Bill will be remembered. The first is a story that started 17 years

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ago, when Tony Blair as a newly elected Labour Prime Minister went to the Labour party conference and said that a Labour Government should not tolerate a position in which families lose their houses in order for their loved ones to be cared for. It has taken 17 years to legislate the solution to that problem, and I congratulate my right hon. and hon. Friends on the Front Bench on having redeemed the Blair pledge.

It was interesting that in his Third Reading speech the shadow Secretary of State started by saying that the Bill builds on the ideas that he pursued as Secretary of State. He is right when he says that, which is why the second half of his speech was such nonsense. The other element of his record on which the Bill builds is making real a commitment to joining up health and social care. We have had generations of Secretaries of State, including me and the right hon. Gentleman, who have made the case for joining up health and social care. It is the better care fund introduced by this Government which ensures that resources flow in a way that will make that rhetoric real.

The Bill will thus be remembered, first, for rationalising the individual contribution. The shadow Secretary of State has an endless argument with his colleague the shadow Chancellor about funding social care, but what we have is a plan that makes that system better than it has been hitherto. Secondly, we have a clear commitment to resource flows across the health and social care divide. Those are the two key elements of the Bill, which is why I welcome it and why I shall vote for it if I get the opportunity to do so this evening.

6.57 pm

Mrs Lewell-Buck: I shall be brief. Throughout the passage of the Bill, I have felt that there is considerable consensus on what a good social care system should look like. For that reason, I am disappointed that the Government failed to be more accommodating towards a number of reasonable amendments tabled by the Opposition. In particular, I still cannot understand the Government’s decision to remove the CQC’s duty to inspect commissioning, which stood as part of the original Bill and mysteriously disappeared when it was in the Lords.

There are worse elements of the Bill, such as clause 119. We heard earlier that this is a grave threat to every hospital and community in our country. Members on the Government Benches supported the clause today, but I expect most of them will regret doing so at some point in the future. Yet again, this has been a sad day for our health service on this Government’s watch. Underpinning everything we have discussed in the many hours of debate on the Bill is the fact that local authorities all over the country are experiencing a funding crisis, driven by a Government who appear unconcerned about the effects of their spending cuts on the poor and the vulnerable. Even the sensible reforms in the Bill will not benefit everybody.

I shall end on this point. Those people who are seeing their care packages disappear, those who are locked out of the care system, and everyone who turns up at a hospital to find that departments are shut—let them know that it is this coalition’s fault. I hope all coalition members are proud of themselves.

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6.58 pm

Paul Burstow: The Bill deserves a Third Reading because it replaces 60 years of piecemeal, dog’s breakfast legislation. In place of that it will put a system focused on promoting the well-being and quality of life of the individual. It provides a foundational set of changes of the sort that my right hon. Friend the Member for Charnwood (Mr Dorrell) was talking about.

My 18 years in this place have been about campaigning for the changes that the Bill brings about. I have seen countless Green Papers and heard countless promises of reform. This legislation brings that reform home and delivers change—change that I hope all Members will support, because it is for the good of our constituents that we are here and the Bill delivers a lot of good.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed, with amendments.

Business without Debate

Delegated Legislation

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 118(6)),

Employment and Training

That the draft Industrial Training Levy (Engineering Construction Industry Training Board) Order 2014, which was laid before this House on 14 January, be approved.—(John Penrose.)

Question agreed to.

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 118(6)),


That the draft Occupational and Personal Pension Schemes (Automatic Enrolment) (Amendment) Regulations 2014, which were laid before this House on 3 February, be approved.—(John Penrose.)

Question agreed to.


Heanor Memorial Hospital (Derbyshire)

7 pm

Nigel Mills (Amber Valley) (Con): It is with great pleasure that I present this petition, signed by more than 3,000 of my constituents, showing the extent of feeling about the closure of the Heanor Memorial hospital.

The petition states:

The Petition of the people of Heanor and the wider Amber Valley area,

Declares that the Heanor Memorial Hospital provides essential services to the community of Heanor, and that the Southern Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group should allocate sufficient resources to ensure that the hospital is once again able to open and serve the people of Heanor.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to take all possible steps to ensure that Heanor Memorial Hospital remains open and that health provision in Heanor is enhanced not diminished.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.


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World Water Day

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—(John Penrose.)

7.1 pm

Naomi Long (Belfast East) (Alliance): I am grateful for the opportunity to be able to raise the important issue of access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene.

Members will be aware of my long-standing interest in the issue both through my involvement in international development and my professional background. For 10 years before entering full-time politics, I practised as a civil engineer and spent the last five years of my engineering career working in sewerage rehabilitation and design. Others have said that that was good preparation for politics, but I could not possibly comment.

Through my work, I became increasingly aware and supportive of the work being done by WaterAid and other non-governmental organisations and charities to address the deficit of clean water and sanitation infrastructure in many developing nations. I believe it is vital to keep international development needs, especially those as basic and essential as water and sanitation, on the political agenda. Given that 2.6 billion people have no access to adequate and hygienic sanitation methods, the subject of the debate is inevitably and unavoidably broad, but the issue also impacts widely across a range of development objectives. That breadth of impact has contributed to the continuing and increasing political attention that matters related to water and sanitation have been receiving, as there is growing recognition that investment in water and sanitation can have a transformational effect on the lives of people in ways that were previously overlooked.

The timing of the debate is apposite for several reasons: first, world water day is on Saturday 22 March; secondly, we are at a defining moment with respect to the post-2015 development agenda; and, thirdly, the Sanitation and Water for All high-level meeting will take place in April. I will touch on each of those reasons in my speech, but I want to begin by noting the significance of water and sanitation in the context of last Saturday’s international women’s day.

Of the 2.6 billion people without access to adequate and hygienic sanitation methods, 526 million are girls and women. The impact on their lives, however, is disproportionate. These are girls and women without access to any form of sanitation, meaning that they are forced to defecate in the open, or in bushes or ditches, and they are forced to cope with menstruation in the absence of any real privacy, which adds further indignity to their ordeal. This forces women to make difficult choices: to wait until dark to use a public toilet, where one is available; to defecate in the open; or instead to defecate in their own homes. The World Health Organisation has calculated that women and girls in developing countries spend 98 billion hours each year searching for a place to go to the toilet, more than twice the total hours worked every year by the entire UK labour force.

Women who lack safe access to sanitation, or have no access at all, may end up waiting until it is dark to go to the toilet, have to walk long distances to find an isolated spot in the open, or use often poor public amenities. There are many reported incidents of men hiding in

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public latrines at night, waiting to rob or assault those who enter. Women and girls defecating in the open are also more at risk of rape and sexual assault.

A WaterAid poll of women in the slums of Lagos in Nigeria, where 40% of women are forced to go to the toilet outside, found that one quarter have had first-hand or second-hand experience of harassment, a threat of violence or actual assault in the past 12 months alone. Furthermore, 67% of women interviewed in Lagos said that they felt unsafe using shared or community toilets in public places.

The second choice is to defecate at home, which carries with it enormous social stigma and can result in isolation. In addition to the stigma, resorting to so-called “flying toilets”—plastic bags or buckets used at home—has detrimental consequences for the health of the family. The links between poor sanitation, water, and illness are well established, with an increased risk of diarrhoea, as well as infections such as trachoma, which can lead to blindness.

Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP): Some 768 million people have poor water quality, more than 2.5 billion people have poor sanitation and 1.8 million people die from diarrhoea as a direct result of that, so does the hon. Lady feel that the Minister should be saying in his response that international water aid should be a priority?

Naomi Long: I agree with what the hon. Gentleman says, and he is right about the importance of water and sanitation. The biggest single health improvement in the UK came as a direct result of the introduction of sanitation and sewerage systems; in this city alone that one measure added 15 years to average life expectancy.

As a result of trying to limit going to the bathroom for long periods of time and drinking less water over the course of the day, women are also more susceptible to urinary tract infections and dehydration, adversely affecting their health. As women are generally responsible for the disposal of human waste when provision is inadequate, they are also exposed more frequently to diseases such as dysentery and cholera. It has been calculated that every day 2,000 mothers lose a child due to illnesses caused by poor sanitation and dirty water. Half the hospital beds in developing countries are filled by people suffering from diseases caused purely by poor water, sanitation and hygiene. Such statistics are staggering, unimaginable and, in this day and age, unjustifiable. These women and girls are suffering from shame, indignity and disease in their everyday lives as a result of something as routine and necessary as carrying out basic bodily functions.

Lack of access to private sanitation facilities also prevents many young girls from continuing in school beyond puberty, limiting their ability to become financially independent and to contribute fully to their community, and denying them the right to a proper education. History shows that the health, welfare and productivity of developing country populations are closely linked with improvements in water, sanitation and hygiene. Few interventions have a greater impact on the lives of the world’s poorest and most marginalised people, particularly women and girls, than reducing the time spent collecting clean water, dealing with sanitation and addressing the health problems caused by poor sanitation and hygiene. Although vaccines offer some hope of improvement on

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the health front, their efficacy is significantly improved where programmes are undertaken in conjunction with improvements in water, sanitation and hygiene. Neither can vaccines alone free women and girls from the time and physical burden of collecting water or from the safety risks posed by lack of sanitation.

I wish briefly to discuss an opportunity the Government have to make such an intervention: the Sanitation and Water for All high-level meeting taking place in Washington on 11 April. The Sanitation and Water for All partnership, of which the UK Government are a founding member, aims to bring about a step change in the performance of the WASH—water, sanitation and hygiene—sector, acting as a catalyst to overcome key barriers and accelerate progress towards universal and sustainable access. It is a global partnership of Governments, donors, civil society and other development partners working together to co-ordinate high-level action, improve accountability and use scarce resources more effectively. The biennial high-level meeting presents a unique opportunity to increase political prioritisation, and to strengthen accountability and the commitment to strengthen the sector’s performance. I want to take this opportunity to press for the Secretary of State for International Development to represent the UK at this important meeting.

Lady Hermon (North Down) (Ind): I am most grateful to the hon. Lady for allowing me to intervene in this important Adjournment debate, which she has successfully secured. In the recent past, have senior British Government Ministers attended similar meetings to the one she has encouraged the Secretary of State to attend this year? If they have attended such meetings, is there evidence to suggest that this has been useful, influential and for the good? Hon. Members in this evening’s debate would be interested to know that.

Naomi Long: I thank the hon. Lady for her intervention. The previous high-level meeting in 2012 was attended by the then International Development Secretary, the right hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr Mitchell), and it would be greatly encouraging to see the same level of representation in April, signalling continued UK Government leadership on this issue. On that occasion, such senior Government representation was instrumental in other countries also sending senior Ministers, and that permitted real progress to be made. I also know that the Secretary of State and her team in the Department for International Development are strong advocates of this issue and of the rights of women as part of the development agenda. It would be hugely encouraging if she were able to attend.

This year, the UK Government are particularly well placed to drive improvements in the effectiveness of aid to the sector, as the Secretary of State for International Development is also co-chair of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation. The first GPEDC ministerial meeting coincides with the Sanitation and Water for All high-level meeting, which provides a valuable opportunity for the UK Government to link the two initiatives and highlights the importance of effective development co-operation in the WASH sector.

I want to turn now to the issue of the post-2015 international development framework. The vision set out in 2000 as part of the millennium development goals included halving the proportion of people without

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sustainable access to safe drinking water and sanitation. The millennium development goal on sanitation is the worst performing sector of all the MDGs, and is unlikely, at current rates of progress, to be met until the next century.

The best estimates show that at least 783 million people still lack clean water, although the true number may be far higher. Taking population growth into account and despite all the good work that has been done, there are almost as many people without access to sanitation worldwide as there were 20 years ago.

We are now faced with an opportunity to address the limited progress that has been made on water, sanitation and hygiene issues through the post 2015 millennium development goals, and I am hopeful that the Government will treat this opportunity with the significance that it deserves.

A key strength of the millennium development goals framework has been the provision of a tenable agenda that has established standards for international development co-operation. The post-2015 framework must continue those positive aspects of the MDGs while addressing their failures. We need to see an ambitious vision for international development once the MDG project comes to an end, which reflects the importance of water, sanitation and hygiene to the attainment of poverty eradication, increased equality, and sustainable human and economic development. For every pound invested in WASH there is an outturn of around £8 in increased productivity, so that is a wise investment of a resource from our limited aid budget.

The UK Government have a strong history of championing the aid effectiveness agenda, and we need to ensure that that is carried forward in the context of the water, sanitation and hygiene sector. Strong political leadership and increased sector investment are fundamental to accelerating progress towards universal access, but another important factor is the degree to which countries have developed the institutions and systems to organise and oversee the delivery of services. Increasing the effectiveness of aid is key to extending and sustaining services, particularly to poorer communities, and will be vital in achieving universal access.

Finally, I want to pay tribute to the important work that is being done on WASH both inside Parliament and in a wider context. I am greatly pleased that the International Development (Gender Equality) Bill will soon receive Royal Assent. I commend the hon. Member for Stone (Mr Cash) for his efforts in bringing forward this important piece of legislation, and also the Secretary of State for International Development and her team for their support of the Bill. The Bill, which will place a duty on the Government to consider ways in which development and humanitarian funding will build gender equality in the countries receiving UK aid, is a massively significant and symbolic step in the fight for gender equality around the world, and I hope that it is one that other countries will choose to follow.

Let me mention the important and often life-saving work undertaken by charities such as WaterAid, Tearfund, Trocaire, Christian Aid and Oxfam. I was delighted to see that Team GB and NI rowers from Northern Ireland, Richard and Peter Chambers, recently visited Uganda with Tearfund to raise awareness of lack of access to water, sanitation and hygiene. Those elite athletes found that the 3 km trek up a mountain, two hours each time,

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twice a day, was just as gruelling a task as rowing for gold, yet it is one that women and girls in many countries have to do each day before their real work begins.

In conclusion, I want to make four simple appeals this evening. First, I appeal again to the Secretary of State for International Development to attend the Sanitation and Water for All high-level meeting next month, as her attendance would be invaluable. Secondly, I encourage Government to do all in their power to ensure that the post-2015 goal framework includes a goal on universal access to basic water and sanitation services, including a specific target date of 2030. Thirdly, I ask the Government to ensure that water, sanitation and hygiene targets and indicators focus explicitly on reducing inequalities by targeting poor and disadvantaged people as a priority, recognising the disproportionate impact on women and girls and improving the sustainability of services to secure lasting benefits.

Fourthly, and finally, I ask all of us to pause for a moment on world water day, consider how different our lives would be without adequate access to water, sanitation and hygiene facilities and imagine how infinitely improved the lives of those in developing nations would be if we committed to playing our part in delivering the necessary infrastructure to make change for them a reality.

7.15 pm

The Minister of State, Department for International Development (Mr Alan Duncan): I thank the hon. Member for Belfast East (Naomi Long) for calling this debate in the run-up to world water day and applaud her ongoing commitment to ensuring that poor people have access to clean water and sanitation. I also note her concern about the sustainable use of the world’s water resources. I congratulate her on securing this debate for the second consecutive year. The House will certainly know that she speaks with total good sense on the subject.

The world met the millennium development goal target on access to safe water in 2010. Over 2 billion more people had access to water in 2011 than did in 1990. That is good news, but it should not lead us to think that the job is done. Over 760 million people still lack access to clean water. However, as the hon. Lady said, there has been too little progress on access to sanitation. As I said in our debate last year, it is shocking that 1.1 billion people—16% of the global population—must defecate in the open.

Clean water and decent sanitation for the poorest are integral to development. Providing those basic services would avoid over 2 million child deaths each year. Children with access to clean water are much more likely to reach their fifth birthday and be better nourished than those who do not.

I know that the hon. Lady has particular concerns about women and girls, and she is right. It is women and girls who have to carry water to their homes, often from distant sources. It is women and girls who are put at risk of sexual and other violence because they do not have a toilet and must venture out after dark. That is why DFID ensures that women and girls have a central role in our water and sanitation programmes, something reinforced by the success of the private Member’s Bill introduced by my hon. Friend the Member for Stone (Mr Cash).

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For all those reasons, the coalition Government are committed to reaching 60 million people with sustainable water, sanitation and hygiene—WASH—services by the end of 2015. The UK will meet its commitments mainly through programmes developed and managed by our offices in countries in Africa and Asia. We currently have sanitation and water programmes in 17 such countries. We have increased some of those programmes and are on track to achieve additional results in Ethiopia, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.

Last month I visited the rural water and sanitation programme near Pokhara in the rural hills of Nepal. The programme provides water and sanitation to local people, including the families of ex-Gurkhas, and does so at real value. I saw at first hand how a village’s water supply has been transformed by the installation of taps and latrines in every one of its 49 homes, and all for less than the cost of a car. It is a transformational intervention that, exactly as we have been discussing tonight, stops women having to go down a steep hill to collect water and lug it up again for the most basic uses of that essential commodity. I was pleased to be able to announce additional support of £10 million for the programme over the next five years to ensure that the work can be continued and expanded. We also have a programme that will support new partnerships between non-governmental organisations and private companies such as Plan International and Unilever to deliver WASH programmes. We have a strong track record. An analysis of DFID’s WASH programmes shows that UK aid is targeted at the poorest, as the hon. Lady requested, and is good value for money. However, we are not resting on our laurels. For example, we are researching how we can improve the implementation of our WASH programmes in six countries, including Nigeria and Mozambique.

The next high-level meeting of the Sanitation and Water for All initiative is, as was mentioned, on 11 April. The UK will be represented by a DFID Minister—in all likelihood, at the moment, the Under-Secretary of State for International Development, my hon. Friend the Member for Hornsey and Wood Green (Lynne Featherstone) but, if the diary permits, possibly the Secretary of State herself. We will use this meeting to focus on the commitments that were made at the 2012 high-level meeting.

UK support is not just for water and sanitation services. We also support country, regional and global programmes to increase water security. These programmes address the wider issue of ensuring that water is available for food and energy production. They also help countries to reduce the impact of floods and droughts. We know from events this year here in the UK how crucial this is. For poor countries, the impact is huge. The 2010 floods in Pakistan caused loss and damage of about $10 billion and put its economy into reverse. Nor does water respect political boundaries. That is why DFID invests in programmes to support the better management of rivers such as the Nile that are shared by two or more countries. For instance, our funding in southern Africa will help to protect 9 million people from flooding.

Water management is essential for an economy to be successful. At Davos this year, the global business community identified threats to water supply as one of the top four risks facing their businesses. DFID supports innovative work to form partnerships between the public and private sectors to tackle shared water resource risks

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and to benefit poor people. The need for solid evidence to back investment decisions is essential. DFID’s research funding therefore includes a programme called Sanitation and Hygiene Applied Research for Equity. This ground-breaking programme has developed robust evidence on how sanitation can be improved most effectively. The Department also works with the Gates Foundation to test new ways of providing sanitation services to poor people in urban areas.

The UK Government strongly endorse the recommendations of the high-level panel on the post-2015 development framework, which my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister chaired. Its report proposed ambitious

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targets for water and sanitation services, and for water efficiency and waste water treatment. We will continue to work with our partners to ensure that water and sanitation, including water resource management, feature prominently in the post-2015 framework. To that end, we will make sure that what we do achieves the greatest impact. We will keep refining our aid programmes. We will share our knowledge with our partners so that together we can all do more.

Question put and agreed to.

7.23 pm

House adjourned.