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I want to talk about some of the stepping-stones to rebuilding trust in politics and in Parliament. There is no silver bullet, but I would like more open primaries—I was selected by open primary, which had a huge impact on me—which make it easier for people with experience from outside politics to come into Parliament.

Dr Phillip Lee: My hon. Friend and I share the experience of open primaries. It struck me that the majority of the people in the room at my open primary—half of them were not Conservative members—just wanted a really good Member of Parliament, who had integrity, a sense of honour and a sense of duty, and wanted to serve the constituency. They were very happy that I had an outside job, because they wanted someone with experience of the real world. Did he have the same experience?

Mr Raab: I had exactly the same experience. Of course, in an open primary, the community can ask someone specifically how they would do the job.

We should attract the brightest, the best and the most talented people to this place. It is no good referring to the median wage, or to what people earn on average. I understand why that is attractive and alluring in a superficial political way, but this place should be a cradle of democracy that attracts people with huge expertise and experience.

I would like MPs to be paid at a similar level to a secondary head teacher, an assistant chief constable or a partner in a GPs’ surgery. I would not increase our salary, or accept an increase, at a time when we are imposing a freeze or a 1% cap on the rest of the public sector, but MPs’ pay does need to be readdressed or reset to make sure that this place has the expertise and experience to do its job. We should cut the number of MPs; that would be another important stepping stone. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Richmond Park (Zac Goldsmith) about the right of recall, which would be not a panacea, but a stepping-stone.

Above all, Parliament needs to be a bulwark against the Executive. It needs to ventilate debate and give voice to the convictions of MPs as the representatives of their constituents. I would like members of Public Bill Committees to be elected in the same way as those of Select Committees, and I would like Parliament to control its own business. Those sensible things would help to restore public trust in politics.

It is possible to restore public trust in politics. Ipsos MORI has shown that mistrust of politicians sank to its lowest level in 2009, but crept back up 5 percentage points since, before dipping again. That shows that the public respond to what we do, how we hold ourselves and the job we do. If we want to restore public trust, it must be done in a sensible way, not by scoring cheap political points, as in the motion.

6.39 pm

Adam Afriyie (Windsor) (Con): This is a tricky debate for MPs, because each individual MP will be put in the media spotlight, but there is something more pernicious behind the motion than just its opportunistic nature. One or two fallacies have been peddled. One is that

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being an MP is a job with a salary; it actually means holding an office that has duties and responsibilities, but is otherwise not that clearly defined. I make that point because the primary function of a Member of Parliament is to hold the Executive—or, in the past, the monarch—to account. The idea that Back-Bench MPs are not getting a second job or performing a different function when they become Ministers or Opposition Front Benchers is completely false. Most MPs will, during their career here, have two jobs at a minimum. We must also remember that there are Select Committee Chairs.

We keep talking about £67,000 as if it is extraordinary. We must bear it in mind that when Lloyd George introduced the Members’ allowance in 1911, it was set at £400, which was six to eight times the national average income. I am not proposing that we go back to that level, but I want to paraphrase what he said at the time. He said that it was not a payment for services rendered, it was not a payment for a job, it was not remuneration, it was not to be considered a salary, but it was merely an allowance that recognised that there were costs associated with being here and with being a Member of Parliament. It was fantastic for the Labour party at the time, because the Osborne judgment had meant that less well-off people were unable to make it here.

The point that I want to make in my last 60 seconds is that the motion would lead to a Parliament in which the party leaders had ever more power, because by being able to hand out, through patronage, larger salaries for Front-Bench positions, they would control the way the Back Benchers worked. We are here to hold the Government and Front Benchers to account. The motion would lead to a Parliament stuffed full of professional politicians and the independently wealthy with unearned income, inherited homes, wealthy families and trust funds. If we want a citizens’ Parliament in which Back Benchers hold the Government to account without fear or favour, we must reject the motion entirely. Be in no doubt: the motion would extend the power of political party leaders and the Government, and deliver a Parliament full of Back-Bench MPs who were either independently wealthy or partisan political drones.

6.41 pm

Jon Trickett (Hemsworth) (Lab): This has been an interesting debate, although it has not always been of the highest quality. A number of contributions stay in my mind, but I will not have a chance to deal with them all.

My hon. Friend the Member for Newport West (Paul Flynn) pointed out that £67,000 is a full-time salary and that this is a full-time job. That was a recurring theme. I remind those who say it is not that much that we are in the top decile. Nine out of 10 people earn less than us. My hon. Friend the Member for Heywood and Middleton (Liz McInnes) reminded the House that almost four out of 10 people in her constituency earn less than the living wage.

My hon. Friend the Member for Easington (Grahame M. Morris), who I am sure is on his way back to the Chamber, reminded the House that there are Members of Parliament who are earning £1,000 an hour in addition to their salary. These are staggering amounts of money. The hon. Member for Wells (Tessa Munt) used extravagant

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but accurate language to describe the horror that many people will feel when they discover how much money is earned by some Members of Parliament.

There were a number of interesting speeches by Government Members, which all boiled down to three arguments. I will deal with those quickly before getting to the point of our motion. There were the loud-and-prouders or topper-uppers, who were in favour of earning more because they felt that, as a result of what they did, they were entitled to a larger salary. They felt that £67,000 was not enough. I will come to that argument in a moment or two.

The Leader of the House said that our proposal was just too complicated and difficult to achieve. I reminded him that it has been done in Washington. In fact, Washington has gone much further than this relatively modest proposal. I am not saying that we should model everything we do on Washington, but it is interesting that the home of free enterprise and buccaneer capitalism has been able to regulate its elected members when the Government suggest that we cannot.

The third argument was that it helps the House to have the experience of people who do things outside. Of course it does. We all do things outside. The issue is remuneration. My hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh South (Ian Murray) reminded us that he previously had two businesses, and he did the right thing—he closed one down and put the other into hibernation, so that there could be no conflict of interest. The central question is one of remuneration.

Mr Spencer: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Jon Trickett: No, I do not have time.

The central issue that our motion is intended to address is the crisis of legitimacy that the British governing elite is experiencing. We encounter cynicism wherever we go, and in the end it will imperil the very foundations of our democracy unless we somehow regain the trust and respect of the British people. The question is, can we respond to a new zeitgeist that is everywhere in our country—one that is more democratic, egalitarian, non-deferential and occasionally even unruly? It is right that it should have all those attributes in the second decade of a democratic century.

Sir Alan Duncan: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Jon Trickett: No, I am not going to take any interventions.

If we do not respond to the current mood in the country, we will be lost as a House of Commons. I do not for one minute think that most voters imagine that their elected representatives are somehow superhuman and never make mistakes, and the Leader of the House rightly paid tribute to the two Members who have got themselves into trouble this week. I echo much of what he said. However, voters will judge us on how we respond to our mistakes. We need to show that we have reflected on any errors that we have made and learned the lessons, and that if necessary we will change the rules.

Sir Alan Duncan: On that point, will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Jon Trickett: No, I am not going to take any interventions, because I do not have time.

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We need to show that we have learned the lessons and changed the rules, to prevent any repetition of those errors in the future. The Opposition contend that it is a mistake for the House to continue with a set of rules on second jobs that were designed for another era. There simply is not time to spell out all the arguments for our proposition, but I will make two.

First, in an era when Victorian deference and hypocrisy have long ended, and rightly so, it is no longer acceptable for one set of rules to apply to the governing class and another to the rest of the country. That is how it will seem to millions of people if we continue to have a permissive policy on second jobs. After all, there are millions of people—thousands in every one of our constituencies—who work hard and play by the rules, yet are living in poverty. There are millions more who find it hard to pay their bills at the end of the month. After all, the average working person has lost £1,600 a year in salary since this Government were elected. When the people we represent hear the argument, which we have heard today, that an MP cannot live on £67,000 a year—plus an additional £14,000 for a Chair of a Select Committee, incidentally—they will inevitably ask themselves, “What kind of planet do these people live on?”

What about people who are on exploitative zero-hours contracts, who receive no guarantee that they will have a single hour’s work today, tomorrow, this week, next week or next month? Their contracts also prevent them from taking second jobs. How can we explain to them the idea that we should have second jobs? Then there are 1.9 million people who are out of work. How will the Government parties explain to the people in their constituencies who have no job that some of them have six jobs? It is simply impossible to imagine how they can justify it.

Sir Alan Duncan: On that point, will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Jon Trickett: No. The right hon. Gentleman has had his chance and made his speech.

I said that I would develop two arguments. The second relates to who we are here to serve, and it is critical. Every hon. Member, when they first become a Member of the House, swears an oath of loyalty to the country and is required to serve their constituents to the exclusion of all other interests. However, if someone is a remunerated director or a consultant, they have a legal duty to the body corporate that employs them always to act in the financial interests of that corporation. The question that therefore arises in the minds of interested observers is how any hon. Member can reconcile those dual loyalties to the corporation and to the country.

I have previously given the House the example of a paid director of a tobacco company who is also an MP. If a matter of public health concerning restrictions of tobacco sales comes before the House, the perception will arrive in people’s minds that that hon. Member is balancing two interests—those of the person who pays the contract for the directorship, and wider public health. To be blunt, many electors will come to the widely held view that is summarised in a two-word Yorkshire phrase: money talks. The question is not simply about whether an MP has sufficient time to do a second job—although how they find the time is a good question—but about

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whether there is a conflict between their duty exclusively to serve the public and their employment in the service of a private interest.

The best way to resolve a problem is usually the simplest. We think that the simplest way is to impose restrictions on second jobs, and that is what today’s motion is about. For those reasons, and for many others outlined today, it is time for the House to move on. The Government amendment takes us no further; it is simply an elegant reformulation of the status quo and as such it will not do. Even at this late stage it is possible for Government Members to come through the Lobby, vote with Labour and begin to clean up politics, and I urge them to do so.

Let it be known that if the House rejects the motion today, the Labour party will introduce a new standing order for our MPs to cover these matters in the new Parliament, which is now only a few weeks away. Under those circumstances, let other parties do as they will. The people of the country will judge them.

6.51 pm

The Deputy Leader of the House of Commons (Tom Brake): I had to fight the temptation to start and finish my speech by saying, “I refer the House to my speech from 17 July 2013, column 1165”, when the Opposition tabled the very same motion. As they have clearly not attempted to address any of the issues raised in that debate—the deficiencies of which were pointed out by some Labour Members and have been pointed out again by the Leader of the House today, and the motion was rightly rejected—I think I could quite legitimately have dusted down the same speech.

The last debate was a car crash of the most epic proportions after which many expected a Bennett-style apology from the hon. Member for Hemsworth (Jon Trickett). He said today—I think he has repeated some of the same errors—that this debate was about second jobs, but it is clear that he has not read his own motion which makes no reference to second jobs. We all know why Labour has chosen to re-run this debate. It heard that bell ringing on the bandwagon, started salivating at the prospect of some political nourishment, and leapt on it.

I do not for one moment suggest that the actions of the right hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr Straw) and the right hon. and learned Member for Kensington (Sir Malcolm Rifkind) should not be investigated—they should, and they were right to refer themselves to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards. The code of conduct is clear in stating what is and is not acceptable, and I am sure that the commissioner will investigate those cases thoroughly to see whether the rules have been observed or broken.

If this was a genuine attempt by Labour to address in a cross-party way public concerns about trust in MPs and their outside interests, the Leader of the Opposition needed to do much more than his half-hearted effort at Prime Minister’s questions to engage with the other parties. Before getting on their high horse, Labour Members should consider how many on their Benches are effectively in the pocket of the unions, taking their money and giving their questions and speeches in the House in return. Will Labour seek to clamp down on that?

25 Feb 2015 : Column 426

What about party funding? There is a wider issue about too much money sloshing around in politics. That is why we have always argued that there should be limits on donations because the more we can get big money out of politics, the better. What about political reform? Surely it is not a coincidence that the worst expenses abuses involved MPs in safe seats. The more genuine competition that all MPs face, the more likely high standards are to be maintained. What are effectively jobs for life in safe seats clearly risk breeding a certain kind of culture.

Surely this debate is not about forcing MPs to stop practising as lawyers or doctors, or to drop an interest in a family business. The scandals arise when parliamentarians use their privileged positions and contacts to try to earn huge amounts of money by lobbying for business. If parties are serious about cleaning up politics, they should ditch the rhetoric and work on a cross-party basis to end those cash for access cases once and for all.

More positively, it is clear that the House is agreed that it is the responsibility of all of us to uphold the highest standards and that the vast majority of Members do so. Our rules against paid advocacy are essential, and breaches of them should be punished. Efforts to ensure maximum transparency and accountability must always be maintained. The Government have a strong record and we will maintain that record. It has been evident from the debate, however, that if there is a problem to be solved, the motion from the Opposition does nothing to provide a solution.

I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Rutland and Melton (Sir Alan Duncan) that we do not want vacuous functionaries in this place and that we want a diversity of Members. My right hon. Friend the Member for Banbury (Sir Tony Baldry) rightly highlighted the partnership issue. If the Opposition were serious about addressing directorships and consultancies, why miss out the whole issue of partnerships? My hon. Friend the Member for Sherwood (Mr Spencer) sensibly explained that it would be easy for directors to avoid the Opposition’s proposals by becoming unpaid directors. My hon. Friend the Member for Bracknell (Dr Lee) rightly highlighted the anti-politics movement that is abroad at present, and said that we each have a duty to act responsibly in this place.

My hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Yardley (John Hemming) also touched on the issue of partnerships, and I am very pleased that he has picked up the baton from me as the Member who deals with the most delegated legislation. I commiserate with my hon. Friend the Member for Cheltenham (Martin Horwood) on being the poor relation in terms of entries on the Register of Members’ Financial Interests.

I have one unpaid directorship as a director of a local environmental charity, EcoLocal. I made it clear in my election campaign back in 1997 that I would not take any paid directorships or consultancies. I went into the campaign on that basis and my Conservative opponent made it clear that he would continue to hold his directorships. A choice was therefore presented to the electorate and that is what they need. The electorate should be able to choose. If Members want to maintain an interest and they make that clear, it is up to the electorate to decide whether they accept that. Saying that I would not take any outside work did not do me any harm, and I suspect that one of the reasons I won

25 Feb 2015 : Column 427

the seat was that my opponent said that he would maintain his paid directorships and consultancies. But that is a decision for the electorate to make, not any of the parties.

My hon. Friend the Member for Esher and Walton (Mr Raab) was very brave in sticking his head above the parapet on MPs’ pay. My hon. Friend the Member for Windsor (Adam Afriyie) made an interesting point, which no one else picked up on, about the increased patronage that would result from the changes that have been proposed, by putting power in the hands of the party leaders.

The House will have noticed the contrast in approaches. The Opposition are trying to boost their green credentials by recycling this debate from 20 months ago. How have they used the time since that motion was defeated? They have no new ideas, no clarity and no substance. In contrast, the Government are committed to promoting transparency in terms of Members’ relations with the public and the political system as a whole. We have taken measures including a statutory register of consultant lobbyists; legislating for the recall of Members of Parliament; strengthening the rules governing business appointments for Ministers on leaving office; and proactively publishing details of Ministers’ meetings with external organisations, and of Ministers’ and officials’ meetings with senior media executives. Those measures will bring greater accountability and transparency to our democracy. That needs constant effort and reflection—

Ms Rosie Winterton (Doncaster Central) (Lab) claimed to move the closure (Standing Order No. 36).

Question put forthwith, That the Question be now put.

Question agreed to.

Question put accordingly (Standing Order No. 31(2)), That the original words stand part of the Question.

The House divided:

Ayes 219, Noes 287.

Division No. 164]

[

6.59 pm

AYES

Abbott, Ms Diane

Abrahams, Debbie

Ainsworth, rh Mr Bob

Alexander, rh Mr Douglas

Alexander, Heidi

Ali, Rushanara

Allen, Mr Graham

Anderson, Mr David

Ashworth, Jonathan

Austin, Ian

Bailey, Mr Adrian

Bain, Mr William

Balls, rh Ed

Banks, Gordon

Barron, rh Kevin

Beckett, rh Margaret

Begg, Dame Anne

Benn, rh Hilary

Benton, Mr Joe

Berger, Luciana

Betts, Mr Clive

Blomfield, Paul

Bradshaw, rh Mr Ben

Brennan, Kevin

Brown, rh Mr Gordon

Brown, Lyn

Brown, Mr Russell

Bryant, Chris

Buck, Ms Karen

Burden, Richard

Burnham, rh Andy

Campbell, rh Mr Alan

Campbell, Mr Ronnie

Caton, Martin

Champion, Sarah

Clark, Katy

Clarke, rh Mr Tom

Clwyd, rh Ann

Coffey, Ann

Connarty, Michael

Cooper, Rosie

Cooper, rh Yvette

Corbyn, Jeremy

Crausby, Mr David

Creagh, Mary

Creasy, Stella

Cryer, John

Cunningham, Alex

Cunningham, Mr Jim

Cunningham, Sir Tony

Curran, Margaret

Dakin, Nic

Danczuk, Simon

Darling, rh Mr Alistair

Davidson, Mr Ian

Davies, Geraint

De Piero, Gloria

Denham, rh Mr John

Dobson, rh Frank

Donohoe, Mr Brian H.

Doran, Mr Frank

Doughty, Stephen

Dowd, Jim

Doyle, Gemma

Dromey, Jack

Dugher, Michael

Durkan, Mark

Eagle, Ms Angela

Eagle, Maria

Edwards, Jonathan

Efford, Clive

Ellman, Mrs Louise

Esterson, Bill

Evans, Chris

Farrelly, Paul

Fitzpatrick, Jim

Flello, Robert

Flint, rh Caroline

Flynn, Paul

Fovargue, Yvonne

Francis, Dr Hywel

Gardiner, Barry

Gilmore, Sheila

Glindon, Mrs Mary

Godsiff, Mr Roger

Goodman, Helen

Greatrex, Tom

Green, Kate

Greenwood, Lilian

Gwynne, Andrew

Hain, rh Mr Peter

Hamilton, Mr David

Hamilton, Fabian

Hancock, Mr Mike

Hanson, rh Mr David

Harman, rh Ms Harriet

Harris, Mr Tom

Havard, Mr Dai

Healey, rh John

Hendrick, Mark

Hepburn, Mr Stephen

Hillier, Meg

Hodge, rh Margaret

Hodgson, Mrs Sharon

Hoey, Kate

Hood, Mr Jim

Hopkins, Kelvin

Hosie, Stewart

Howarth, rh Mr George

Hunt, Tristram

Irranca-Davies, Huw

James, Mrs Siân C.

Jamieson, Cathy

Jarvis, Dan

Johnson, Diana

Jones, Graham

Jones, Mr Kevan

Jones, Susan Elan

Jowell, rh Dame Tessa

Kane, Mike

Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald

Keeley, Barbara

Kendall, Liz

Khan, rh Sadiq

Lammy, rh Mr David

Lavery, Ian

Leslie, Chris

Lewell-Buck, Mrs Emma

Love, Mr Andrew

Lucas, Ian

MacNeil, Mr Angus Brendan

Mactaggart, Fiona

Mahmood, Mr Khalid

Mahmood, Shabana

Mann, John

Marsden, Mr Gordon

McCann, Mr Michael

McCarthy, Kerry

McClymont, Gregg

McDonald, Andy

McDonnell, John

McFadden, rh Mr Pat

McGovern, Alison

McGovern, Jim

McGuire, rh Dame Anne

McInnes, Liz

McKechin, Ann

McKenzie, Mr Iain

Meacher, rh Mr Michael

Meale, Sir Alan

Mearns, Ian

Miliband, rh Edward

Mitchell, Austin

Moon, Mrs Madeleine

Morden, Jessica

Morrice, Graeme

(Livingston)

Morris, Grahame M.

(Easington)

Murphy, rh Mr Jim

Murphy, rh Paul

Murray, Ian

Nash, Pamela

O'Donnell, Fiona

Osborne, Sandra

Owen, Albert

Pearce, Teresa

Phillipson, Bridget

Pound, Stephen

Powell, Lucy

Qureshi, Yasmin

Reed, Mr Jamie

Reed, Mr Steve

Reeves, Rachel

Reynolds, Emma

Robertson, Angus

Robertson, John

Robinson, Mr Geoffrey

Rotheram, Steve

Roy, Mr Frank

Roy, Lindsay

Ruane, Chris

Ruddock, rh Dame Joan

Sarwar, Anas

Sawford, Andy

Seabeck, Alison

Sharma, Mr Virendra

Sheridan, Jim

Shuker, Gavin

Skinner, Mr Dennis

Slaughter, Mr Andy

Smith, Angela

Smith, Nick

Smith, Owen

Spellar, rh Mr John

Stringer, Graham

Tami, Mark

Thomas, Mr Gareth

Thornberry, Emily

Timms, rh Stephen

Trickett, Jon

Turner, Karl

Twigg, Derek

Twigg, Stephen

Umunna, Mr Chuka

Vaz, rh Keith

Vaz, Valerie

Walley, Joan

Weir, Mr Mike

Whiteford, Dr Eilidh

Whitehead, Dr Alan

Williams, Hywel

Williamson, Chris

Wilson, Phil

Winnick, Mr David

Winterton, rh Ms Rosie

Wishart, Pete

Woodcock, John

Woodward, rh Mr Shaun

Wright, David

Wright, Mr Iain

Tellers for the Ayes:

Tom Blenkinsop

and

Julie Hilling

NOES

Afriyie, Adam

Aldous, Peter

Amess, Sir David

Andrew, Stuart

Arbuthnot, rh Mr James

Bacon, Mr Richard

Baker, Steve

Baldry, rh Sir Tony

Baldwin, Harriett

Barclay, Stephen

Barker, rh Gregory

Baron, Mr John

Bebb, Guto

Beith, rh Sir Alan

Bellingham, Mr Henry

Benyon, Richard

Bingham, Andrew

Binley, Mr Brian

Blackman, Bob

Blackwood, Nicola

Bone, Mr Peter

Bradley, Karen

Brady, Mr Graham

Brake, rh Tom

Bray, Angie

Brazier, Mr Julian

Bridgen, Andrew

Brine, Steve

Brokenshire, James

Brooke, rh Annette

Browne, Mr Jeremy

Bruce, rh Sir Malcolm

Buckland, Mr Robert

Burley, Mr Aidan

Burns, Conor

Burrowes, Mr David

Burstow, rh Paul

Burt, rh Alistair

Byles, Dan

Carmichael, rh Mr Alistair

Carmichael, Neil

Cash, Sir William

Chishti, Rehman

Chope, Mr Christopher

Clappison, Mr James

Clark, rh Greg

Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey

Coffey, Dr Thérèse

Collins, Damian

Cox, Mr Geoffrey

Crockart, Mike

Crouch, Tracey

Davey, rh Mr Edward

Davies, David T. C.

(Monmouth)

Davies, Glyn

Davies, Philip

de Bois, Nick

Dinenage, Caroline

Djanogly, Mr Jonathan

Dorrell, rh Mr Stephen

Dorries, Nadine

Doyle-Price, Jackie

Drax, Richard

Duncan, rh Sir Alan

Duncan Smith, rh Mr Iain

Dunne, Mr Philip

Ellis, Michael

Ellison, Jane

Ellwood, Mr Tobias

Elphicke, Charlie

Evans, Graham

Evans, Jonathan

Evans, Mr Nigel

Evennett, Mr David

Fabricant, Michael

Fallon, rh Michael

Farron, Tim

Featherstone, rh Lynne

Field, Mark

Foster, rh Mr Don

Fox, rh Dr Liam

Francois, rh Mr Mark

Freer, Mike

Fullbrook, Lorraine

Fuller, Richard

Gale, Sir Roger

Garnier, Sir Edward

Garnier, Mark

Gauke, Mr David

George, Andrew

Gibb, Mr Nick

Gillan, rh Mrs Cheryl

Glen, John

Goldsmith, Zac

Goodwill, Mr Robert

Gove, rh Michael

Graham, Richard

Grant, Mrs Helen

Gray, Mr James

Grayling, rh Chris

Green, rh Damian

Grieve, rh Mr Dominic

Griffiths, Andrew

Gummer, Ben

Gyimah, Mr Sam

Hague, rh Mr William

Halfon, Robert

Hammond, rh Mr Philip

Hammond, Stephen

Hancock, rh Matthew

Hands, rh Greg

Harper, Mr Mark

Harris, Rebecca

Hart, Simon

Harvey, Sir Nick

Haselhurst, rh Sir Alan

Hayes, rh Mr John

Heald, Sir Oliver

Heaton-Harris, Chris

Hemming, John

Henderson, Gordon

Hendry, Charles

Herbert, rh Nick

Hinds, Damian

Hoban, Mr Mark

Hollingbery, George

Holloway, Mr Adam

Horwood, Martin

Howarth, Sir Gerald

Howell, John

Hughes, rh Simon

Hunt, rh Mr Jeremy

Hunter, Mark

Jackson, Mr Stewart

James, Margot

Javid, rh Sajid

Jenkin, Mr Bernard

Jenrick, Robert

Johnson, Gareth

Johnson, Joseph

Jones, Andrew

Jones, rh Mr David

Jones, Mr Marcus

Kawczynski, Daniel

Kennedy, rh Mr Charles

Kirby, Simon

Kwarteng, Kwasi

Lancaster, Mark

Lansley, rh Mr Andrew

Latham, Pauline

Laws, rh Mr David

Leadsom, Andrea

Lee, Dr Phillip

Leigh, Sir Edward

Leslie, Charlotte

Letwin, rh Mr Oliver

Lewis, Brandon

Lewis, Dr Julian

Liddell-Grainger, Mr Ian

Lilley, rh Mr Peter

Lloyd, Stephen

Lopresti, Jack

Loughton, Tim

Luff, Sir Peter

Lumley, Karen

Macleod, Mary

Main, Mrs Anne

Maynard, Paul

McCartney, Karl

McIntosh, Miss Anne

McLoughlin, rh Mr Patrick

McVey, rh Esther

Menzies, Mark

Metcalfe, Stephen

Miller, rh Maria

Mills, Nigel

Milton, Anne

Mitchell, rh Mr Andrew

Mordaunt, Penny

Morgan, rh Nicky

Morris, Anne Marie

Morris, David

Morris, James

Mosley, Stephen

Mowat, David

Mulholland, Greg

Mundell, rh David

Munt, Tessa

Murray, Sheryll

Murrison, Dr Andrew

Neill, Robert

Nokes, Caroline

Norman, Jesse

Nuttall, Mr David

O'Brien, rh Mr Stephen

Offord, Dr Matthew

Ollerenshaw, Eric

Opperman, Guy

Ottaway, rh Sir Richard

Parish, Neil

Patel, Priti

Paterson, rh Mr Owen

Pawsey, Mark

Penning, rh Mike

Penrose, John

Perry, Claire

Phillips, Stephen

Pincher, Christopher

Prisk, Mr Mark

Pritchard, Mark

Raab, Mr Dominic

Redwood, rh Mr John

Rees-Mogg, Jacob

Reevell, Simon

Reid, Mr Alan

Robathan, rh Mr Andrew

Robertson, rh Sir Hugh

Robertson, Mr Laurence

Rogerson, Dan

Rosindell, Andrew

Rudd, Amber

Ruffley, Mr David

Russell, Sir Bob

Scott, Mr Lee

Selous, Andrew

Sharma, Alok

Shelbrooke, Alec

Shepherd, Sir Richard

Simmonds, rh Mark

Simpson, Mr Keith

Skidmore, Chris

Smith, Chloe

Smith, Henry

Smith, Sir Robert

Soames, rh Sir Nicholas

Soubry, Anna

Spelman, rh Mrs Caroline

Spencer, Mr Mark

Stanley, rh Sir John

Stephenson, Andrew

Stevenson, John

Stewart, Bob

Stewart, Iain

Stewart, Rory

Streeter, Mr Gary

Stuart, Mr Graham

Stunell, rh Sir Andrew

Sturdy, Julian

Swales, Ian

Swayne, rh Mr Desmond

Swinson, Jo

Syms, Mr Robert

Tapsell, rh Sir Peter

Thornton, Mike

Timpson, Mr Edward

Tomlinson, Justin

Tredinnick, David

Truss, rh Elizabeth

Turner, Mr Andrew

Tyrie, Mr Andrew

Uppal, Paul

Vara, Mr Shailesh

Vickers, Martin

Walker, Mr Charles

Walker, Mr Robin

Wallace, Mr Ben

Walter, Mr Robert

Ward, Mr David

Watkinson, Dame Angela

Webb, rh Steve

Wharton, James

Wheeler, Heather

White, Chris

Whittaker, Craig

Whittingdale, Mr John

Wiggin, Bill

Willetts, rh Mr David

Williams, Mr Mark

Williams, Roger

Williams, Stephen

Williamson, Gavin

Willott, rh Jenny

Wilson, Mr Rob

Wright, rh Jeremy

Wright, Simon

Young, rh Sir George

Zahawi, Nadhim

Tellers for the Noes:

Mel Stride

and

Lorely Burt

Question accordingly negatived.

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25 Feb 2015 : Column 429

25 Feb 2015 : Column 430

25 Feb 2015 : Column 431

Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 31(2)), That the proposed words be there added.

Question agreed to.

The Deputy Speaker declared the main Question, as amended, to be agreed to (Standing Order No. 31(2)).

Resolved,

That this House reminds hon. Members of their commitment to uphold the Code of Conduct, not least that Members should act on all occasions in accordance with the public trust placed in them, that they should always behave with probity and integrity, including in their use of public resources, that no Member should act as a paid advocate in any proceedings of the House and that the acceptance by a Member of a bribe to influence his or her conduct as a Member, including any fee, compensation or reward in connection with the promotion of, or opposition to, any Bill, Motion, or other material submitted, or intended to be submitted to the House, or to any Committee of the House, is contrary to the law of Parliament.’.

Business without Debate

Deferred Divisions

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 41A(3)),

That, at this day’s sitting, Standing Order No. 41A (Deferred divisions) shall not apply to the motion in the name of Mr William Hague relating to Estimates.—(Mel Stride.)

Question agreed to.

Estimates

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 145(3),

That this House agrees with the Report of the Liaison Committee of 24 February:

(1) That a day not later than 2 March be allotted for the consideration of the following Estimates for financial year 2014-15:

Department for Communities and Local Government, insofar as it relates to devolution in England; and

Ministry of Defence, insofar as it relates to the next Defence and Security Review and NATO.

(2) That a further day not later than 3 March be allotted for the consideration of the following Estimates for financial year 2014-15:

Department for Work and Pensions, insofar as it relates to support for housing costs in the reformed welfare system; and

25 Feb 2015 : Column 432

Department for Health, insofar as it relates to child and adolescent mental health services.—(Mel Stride.)

Question agreed to.

Delegated Legislation

Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Dawn Primarolo): With the leave of the House, we will take motions 4 to 11 together.

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

Representation of the People, Scotland

That the draft Representation of the People (Scotland) (Amendment) Regulations 2015, which ere laid before this House on 7 January, be approved.

Representation of the People

That the draft European Parliamentary Elections (Amendment) Regulations 2015, which were laid before this House on 6 January, be approved.

That the draft Representation of the People (England and Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2015, which were laid before this House on 8 January, be approved.

Road Traffic

That the Electrically Assisted Pedal Cycles (Amendment) Regulations 2015, (S.I., 2015, No. 24), dated 12 January 2015, a copy of which was laid before this House on 16 January, be approved.

Public Bodies

That the draft Public Bodies (Abolition of the Library Advisory Council for England) Order 2014, which was laid before this House on 4 November 2014, be approved.

Social Security

That the draft Social Security (Contributions) (Re-rating and National Insurance Funds Payments) Order 2015, which was laid before this House on 19 January, be approved.

That the draft Social Security (Contributions) (Limits and Thresholds) (Amendment) Regulations 2015, which were laid before this House on 19 January, be approved.

That the draft Employment Allowance (Care and Support Workers) Regulations 2015, which were laid before this House on 19 January, be approved. —(Mel Stride.)

Question agreed to.

Petition

Changes to Health Service Budgets

7.14 pm

Jon Trickett (Hemsworth) (Lab): I wish to present a petition on changes to health service budgets in my constituency and in Wakefield district more generally. It is now quite clear that the Government intend further to cut NHS funding across the district. Local GPs surgeries are already struggling and these cuts will lead to the closure of small practices and job losses among doctors, nurses and other practitioners. Obviously, this is causing great alarm among my constituents, who are living in one of the most health-deprived areas in the country. This is why I am presenting a petition today signed by more than 1,460 individuals in my area.

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The petition states:

“The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to reconsider the proposal to make these cuts to health service budgets in the Hemsworth area.”

Following is the full text of the petition:

[The Petition of residents of the Hemsworth constituency,

Declares that the Petitioners are concerned about cuts to health service budgets in the local area, particularly the proposed £3.8 million cuts from budgets for GPs; further that these cuts will affect all Practices funded through a Personal Medical Services (PMS) contract and will see £3.8million lost from this area over a three year period, starting in April 2015; further that local GP surgeries are already struggling and these cuts could lead to small practices closing and job losses; and further that a local petition on this matter has been signed by 1,464 individuals.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to reconsider the proposal to make these cuts to health service budgets in the Hemsworth area.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.]

[P001438]

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Childhood Cancers

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

7.16 pm

Nicola Blackwood (Oxford West and Abingdon) (Con): Skye was born on 5 November 2008. He was a happy, healthy young boy with a wonderful sense of humour who loved his younger brother, Jesse. In July 2013, he became unwell with nausea and vomiting and after many visits to the GP and the failure of medication to help, he was referred to the John Radcliffe in Oxford where he had a CT scan and was diagnosed with a brain tumour. That was 27 August 2013.

Skye was operated on less than a week later and tissue analysis identified the tumour as a grade IV metastatic medulloblastoma, the most commonly occurring paediatric brain tumour. It is an aggressive form of primitive neuroectodermal tumour, which originates in the cerebellum, the part of the brain which controls movement and co-ordination. Although Skye’s tumour had been caught early, it had already metastasised throughout the brain and spinal cord. Surgery was quickly followed by what is known as the Milan protocol: four cycles of chemotherapy over 11 weeks, and a further five weeks of hyper-fractionated radiotherapy. After a four-week period of recovery, Skye had high-dose chemotherapy that confined him to hospital for seven and a half weeks.

He then had four weeks rest at home, and was due to head back to hospital on 14 May 2014 for another round of high-dose thiotepa, but a urinary tract infection delayed the treatment until 28 May, which in hindsight was fortunate. Instead of getting stronger, it became apparent that Skye was getting weaker and an emergency MRI scan on 20 May revealed widespread white matter lesions within his brain and spinal cord, which caused a flurry of correspondence between consultants across the UK and abroad. He was quickly started on high-dose steroids to combat the inflammation.

It was initially diagnosed as radionecrosis, which had been brought on by the combination of therapies that he had had to endure. It was later confirmed as radio-chemo neurotoxicity. His parents were told that that was highly unusual and very rare. We now know that a number of other children have also developed severe neurological side effects and the Milan protocol was quickly withdrawn from use in the UK. He was in a state of paraplegia, with double incontinence, and very poor use of his upper limbs and hands. Skye sadly died at home on 29 August 2014.

I did not meet Skye and I only met his parents some time after his death. They are in the Gallery tonight and have demonstrated to me the most extraordinary bravery in the face of losing their child in this most distressing of ways. They have set up Blue Skye Thinking, a charity that supports research so that all children diagnosed with brain tumours will have a better chance of survival and a better quality of life post-treatment. They continue to support many other parents whose children are suffering from cancer today.

I have taken some time to explain Skye’s story in detail this evening because it illustrates only too well some of the things that are working in childhood cancer treatment at the moment and some of the things that

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need improvement. The overall story of childhood cancer treatment over the past 30 years is a positive one. Eight in 10 children with cancer survive five years or more, compared with just three in 10 in the 1960s. Short-term survival is also high: fewer than 10% of children die within a year of diagnosis and only 2% die within 30 days.

I congratulate the Government on that. Ministers have demonstrated a clear commitment to fighting cancer and the work and money that has been put into the system to improve cancer survival rates are bearing fruit and proving that the money is being well spent. However, we should not allow these headline statistics, encouraging though they are, to blind us to the fact that, rare though childhood cancer is, it remains the leading cause of death in children and teenagers in the United Kingdom. Childhood cancers account for just 1% of cancer diagnoses in the UK. For research purposes that is a small cohort, but 700 children and young people are diagnosed with a brain tumour every year.

Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP): I thank the hon. Lady for bringing this matter to the House today, and for allowing me to intervene. Cancer Research UK has given me some figures today showing that 60 people are diagnosed with cancer each day in Northern Ireland. When Josh Martin, a young boy at secondary school, went into hospital to have his appendix removed, he was found to have progressive cancer. His family started the Pray for Josh campaign, which is being supported by his family and by the Churches. It has not only given great comfort to the family but helped to highlight the scourge of cancer and the fact that funding for drugs and help for families are very important. One of the organisations that can help is Macmillan Cancer Support. Does the hon. Lady agree that the support of such organisations can be important for families at times like these?

Nicola Blackwood: The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right to say that this is about not just Government funding but the way in which funds are given, and charities in particular play an important part. The fundraising that they do through individuals is vital.

As I was saying, 700 children and young people are diagnosed with a brain tumour every year, and that makes it the most common form of cancer affecting children and young people. It is also the most lethal. Brain tumours kill more children and young people than any other cancer—around 160 children a year—but despite being responsible for more than a third of childhood cancer deaths, brain tumours receive only 6% of childhood cancer funding. That funding matters because children’s cancers are biologically very different from adult cancers and treating them effectively requires specifically tailored research and targeted treatment regimes. At the moment, only about 50% of childhood cancers are part of a clinical trial; the remainder are treated using standard treatment guidelines. As Sally and Andrew Hall discovered, that can have serious consequences.

Cancer treatment is harsh at the best of times, and recent studies show that while many survivors of children’s cancers go on to live healthy lives, others face long-term disability and reduced immunity. Radiotherapy, the gold standard in terms of its efficacy in treating cancer, can also have damaging long-term consequences for the developing child. This is particularly true of childhood brain tumour survivors, 60% of whom are left with a

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life-altering disability. In a few cases, the side effects can be so severe as to be fatal. That is what happened in Skye’s case.

The Milan protocol, under which Skye was treated, was a standard treatment guideline, because as with about 50% of other childhood cancers there is no clinical trial available. It has become clear that there is currently no formal infrastructure in place to collect, record and share data, particularly on adverse effects of treatment, about standard treatment guidelines. I understand that before 2008 the responsibility for collecting and sharing data for clinical trials and for standard treatments fell under the remit of the Children’s Cancer and Leukaemia Group. Subsequently, clinical trials monitoring was tightened, and the CCLG’s “Guide to Clinical Trials” states:

“Clinical trials are very closely monitored by a number of different individuals and organisations. This will include the Chief Investigator…the working group…and relevant staff within the clinical trials unit. An Independent Data Monitoring Committee may also be established to oversee the conduct of the trial. At a national level, there will be an ethics committee and the national regulatory body. If there are any concerns about the conduct of the trial or the results, a trial may be stopped early.”

By contrast, in a letter responding to my concerns about the issue, the National Cancer Intelligence Network, told me that

“all of us in the field accept that (adverse effects in Standard Treatments) is something that should, under ideal circumstances, be a part of the data that we routinely collect. Such data are, however very much more difficult to collect than might be imagined and adverse effects were never part of what the CCRG (Childhood Cancer Research Group) or the CCLG themselves collected outside of a clinical trial. There are no nationally agreed datasets relating to adverse effects and few clinicians systematically collect and collate data of this sort...but it is clearly something that we in the NCIN should be considering.”

I am grateful that the NCIN has recognised that these data should be collected and collated, but I do not think that considering doing it is a sufficiently robust or urgent response to the problem, given the gravity of the consequences if a standard treatment goes wrong.

Clearly, in an ideal world all childhood cancers would be the subject of a full clinical trial and new targeted therapies being developed to reduce the long-term risks, but all of us know the challenges associated with research into childhood cancers, where cohorts of rarer cancers can be incredibly small and the ethical issues are more complex, making recruiting participants more difficult. Obviously, I am going to urge the Government to do whatever they can to fund and encourage more research into childhood cancers. I am going to ask the Minister to consider whether having only 6% of childhood cancer funding going to the biggest killer in childhood cancer represents getting the balance right, and I am going to ask her to maintain investment in the Health Research Authority programme to streamline the regulation and governance processes for clinical research in the NHS.

Mr Brian Binley (Northampton South) (Con): May I say that, as a cancer sufferer, I welcome my hon. Friend’s courage in bringing this debate? May I pay tribute and offer my sorrow to these parents? May I also say that our Front-Bench team need to take on board the problems? I have seen parents, week in, week out in Northampton general hospital, and I know the case she is making is a real and heartfelt one. I hope that we will get good words from the Minister.

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Nicola Blackwood: I thank my hon. Friend for his intervention and his support. I wish to emphasise the need for investment in the HRA streamlining programme, because I believe it will have a significant impact on reducing the resource and time required to set up trials across multiple sites in the UK, and that can only be good for research into childhood cancers, as it will be for research into all cancers.

I particularly want to focus today on the complete absence of data collection, recording and sharing on standard treatments of childhood cancers in the UK. I am very disappointed that having written to the life sciences Minister about this issue in early December I have yet to receive a substantive response. This issue could not be more serious for the treatment and long-term outcomes of children with cancers, especially brain tumours. Consultants around the country who work with incredible dedication to save the lives of their young patients struggle with their inability to quickly access information about the potential adverse effects of very tough treatment regimes, and it is a problem that we must try to fix. The architecture for collecting the information—the NCIN and the CCRG—is in place, but the lack of a formal data collection requirement and of a single responsible body can have devastating consequences for families.

When Skye’s consultant noticed there was an unexpected problem with Skye—the severe white matter damage shown on the MRI scan—she immediately tried to see whether any other clinicians had experienced similar issues. This was important in order to ascertain what other symptoms to look out for, what other treatments could be tried and what other outcomes they had had. Despite the fact that we now know that other children had been suffering in a similar way and that different treatments had been tried, she could not easily obtain this information; it was a matter of phoning around individual colleagues in an ad-hoc way to ask them one by one, and all this took place while Skye deteriorated. Time in such situations is of the essence so this is an unacceptable situation and it cannot be allowed to continue. Had there been a system in place to monitor adverse effects, things might have been different.

In so many ways, we are making tremendous strides in tackling cancer in the UK, including childhood cancer, but the complete absence of monitoring for adverse effects of standard treatments of childhood cancers can lead to life-long disability and death. I hope the Minister will take this away and take urgent action to rectify the situation. I also hope she will arrange for myself and Sally and Andrew Hall to meet the appropriate representatives from her Department to address this issue, once and for all. If details of those adverse effects are properly collected, recorded and shared, we might be able to avoid those consequences in more cases, increase childhood cancer survival rates and improve the quality of life for survivors even more.

7.29 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Jane Ellison): I apologise in advance for my cold and for possibly not bringing the healthiest of tones to the Dispatch Box tonight. I do not want that to detract from the excellent and typically sensitive way in which my hon. Friend raised this debate. I also commend Skye’s family for their work. They have shown enormous

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courage, as have so many other children and families who are affected by this terrible disease. Many of us, both constituency Members and Ministers, meet other such families and stand in awe of their courage in bringing these issues to the fore. The work of the charity set up by Skye’s family, Blue Skye Thinking, highlights some of the key issues, including the importance of research into and the treatment of childhood brain tumours.

I will make a few general points, but I hope to speak to some of my hon. Friend’s specific asks as well. On those that I cannot respond to—as she knows this is a complex situation—I undertake to ensure that responses are provided.

Improving cancer outcomes, including for children, is a major priority of this Government, as Members who have been at recent debates on cancer will know. The annual report on our cancer outcomes strategy in December showed that we are on track to save a projected 12,000 more lives a year by 2015, which is more than double our ambition of 5,000 lives. As my hon. Friend said, the strategy is bearing fruit.

Further to that, we were delighted that, on Sunday 11 January, NHS England announced a new independent cancer taskforce to develop a five-year action plan for cancer services that will improve survival rates and save thousands of lives.

That taskforce has been set up to produce a new cross-system national cancer strategy to take us through the next five years to 2020, building on NHS England’s vision for improving outcomes set out in the five-year forward view. The taskforce is formed in partnership with the wider cancer community and other health system leaders and is chaired by Dr Harpal Kumar, chief executive officer of Cancer Research UK. It aims to cover the whole cancer pathway, from prevention to end-of-life care, including improving outcomes for children and young people with cancer. The taskforce will produce a statement of intent by March 2015 with the new five-year cancer strategy to be published in the summer. We did ascertain during a recent Back-Bench business debate on cancer that the taskforce had asked the leading all-party groups on cancer to submit evidence. That might be something that other parliamentarians wish to do.

My hon. Friend mentioned issues around diagnosis. In cancer debates, we always talk about the importance of tackling late diagnosis. To increase the awareness of a number of childhood cancers among GPs, the Department funded BMJ Learning in 2012 to provide an electronic tool for GPs through a two-part module on diagnosing osteosarcoma—a type of bone cancer—and brain tumours in children and young people. That module helps GPs to understand osteosarcoma and types of brain tumour in children and young people and their common presentations, and to recognise when patients need that urgent referral. Those modules were developed with help and contributions from various charities including the Brain Tumour Charity, the Teenage Cancer Trust and CLIC Sargent.

As part of the recent taskforce announcement, NHS England also launched a major early diagnosis programme, working with Cancer Research UK and Macmillan Cancer Support to test new approaches to identifying cancer more quickly. They will be familiar to those who ask whether the system can do better. They include:

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offering patients the option to self-refer for diagnostic tests; lowering the threshold for GP referrals; creating a pathway for vague symptoms; and setting up multi-disciplinary diagnostic centres so that patients can have several tests done at the same place on the same day. For parents with children, that is a welcome development. We want to reduce the stress of multiple journeys into health care settings.

NHS England’s aim is to evaluate these innovative initiatives across more than 60 centres around England, collecting evidence with a view to implementation in 2016-17. My hon. Friend will also want to know that the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence is updating its current referral guidelines for suspected cancer, with a final version due in May to continue to help GPs to identify and refer patients promptly, including children and young people with symptoms that could be cancer.

Obviously, once diagnosed, it is critical that children and young people receive the most appropriate treatment. The NICE improving outcomes guidance for children and young people serves to assist the NHS trusts in planning, commissioning and organising services for children and young people with cancer. It recommends, among other things, that all care must be provided in age-appropriate facilities. NICE also published a quality standard for children and young people with cancer in February 2014.

Over the past four decades there have been major advances in the development of successful treatment strategies for childhood cancers, as my hon. Friend generously acknowledged. Much of that has been due to the use of standardised protocols in clinical trials and specialisation of care, as evidenced in the neuroblastoma trials run at Great Ormond Street children’s hospital, for example.

Although outcomes for children with brain tumours are often poor, medulloblastoma has an outcome of disease-free survival of around 80%, as my hon. Friend said. That is achieved through timely sequences of surgery, radiotherapy to the whole brain and spine—to mitigate the tendency for the tumour to spread to the central nervous system—and adjuvant chemotherapy. That treatment protocol is standard throughout Europe and America and has been developed and refined as a result of clinical trials carried out throughout the UK, Europe and America over recent decades.

It is obviously vital for children with cancer to have the most appropriate treatment, so it is very sad to hear that Skye’s treatment did not succeed. My hon. Friend referred to the Milan protocol. I can confirm that it was suspended by the Children’s Cancer and Leukaemia Group in May 2014 due to indications that in some instances, as in this tragic case, it resulted in neurotoxicity. NHS England has recently set up a children, teenagers and young adults group, reporting to the independent cancer taskforce, which will look to address those issues, particularly single-arm studies such as the Milan protocol, because although the way they are set up is innovative, they do not recruit high enough numbers to qualify for a randomised control trial, as my hon. Friend mentioned. NHS England is currently drafting terms of reference for the group. I will certainly ensure that, in so doing, it is aware of this debate and of the concerns she has

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raised. The major children and young people cancer charities have agreed to participate, and the first meeting will take place in the near future.

My hon. Friend mentioned the routine collection of side effects data from single- arm trials. I understand—this was mentioned in the letters she received—that at present these data are not routinely collected, but obviously ideally they would be. I am advised that there are problems in being able to collect the data, although the National Cancer Intelligence Network is continually working to improve the range and quality of the data it collects and analyses. I hear her challenge to say, “That is not good enough”, because she wants it actually to happen, rather than just to be worked on. As she said, she was advised that adverse effects data were not originally part of what the Childhood Cancer Research Group or the Children’s Cancer and Leukaemia Group themselves collected outside a clinical trial. Of course, there is added complexity when considering the sharing of adverse reaction data on an international level, as I am sure Members appreciate.

I have asked my officials to discuss those issues with Public Health England and the National Cancer Intelligence Network to consider how those data might be collected, and I will ask to be updated on that work so that I can fully understand what the barriers might be. Clearly, without knowing exactly what those are it is very difficult to know whether they are essentially clinical, administrative or the result of something else. I know that it is important to my hon. Friend to understand that, so I will ask for that work to be undertaken.

I am also really sorry that my hon. Friend did not receive a substantive reply from my ministerial colleague, which was not good enough—there was clearly a mix-up on that front. As she said, Dr Michael Peake, the National Cancer Intelligence Network’s clinical lead, who wrote to her, is happy to meet her and Mr and Mrs Hall to discuss in detail how these issues might be addressed, which I hope will be of help. Clearly that would feed into the work that I have asked to be done to understand what the barriers to making progress are.

My hon. Friend spoke about the vital issue of research, so let me give her an update. Research is critical to improving outcomes. The Government and the charities work closely together on childhood cancer research through the National Cancer Research Institute. The national cancer research initiative’s children’s cancer and leukaemia clinical studies group interacts with clinical research networks, funders and researchers to develop studies aimed at improving outcomes.

The National Institute for Health Research clinical research network is currently recruiting patients to a study assessing quality of life in paediatric, teenage and young adult patients treated for medulloblastoma. A study looking at treatment for children with neuroblastoma has recently been approved for funding through the health innovation challenge fund, which is jointly supported by the Department and the Wellcome Trust.

In conclusion, I thank my hon. Friend for bringing this important and sensitive issue to the House tonight. I reiterate the respect and admiration in which we all hold the parents and families of children who have died in these tragic circumstances, and their intention to take from their personal and family tragedy the desire to do better for other people’s children and to try and ensure that we learn those lessons. That intention is shared by

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all hon. Members in all parts of the House and by the Government. I thank them, through my hon. Friend, for doing that.

The new independent cancer taskforce, in partnership with the cancer charities and health system leaders, is leading the way towards making a real difference. With

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the ground-breaking research that I mentioned, we can look forward to cancer outcomes that are among the best in the world, and in particular to improved cancer outcomes for those precious children.

Question put and agreed to.

7.40 pm

House adjourned.