I shall now touch on seven-day access for the NHS. Such a service is vital, but we must focus on safety. The primary focus of seven-day access must be eliminating the unacceptable variation in mortality rates across the NHS on different days of the week. It is important that we address the issue of reducing avoidable and unnecessary hospital admissions. Perhaps the Minister could look at the frailty service in Newton Abbot which considers how GPs can work together to prevent unnecessary

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hospital admissions. If we broadened access to general practitioners at the weekends, we might be able to reduce unnecessary admissions to hospital, for example of children with asthma. There is much that can be done, but if we are prioritising providing 8 till 8 access in very rural areas there might be unintended consequences in general practice. If we are diverting funding into areas where we are providing a service in which several practices over a large geographical area have to federate, we could inadvertently end up with patients having to travel further than they would to visit a local out-of-hours service.

Will the Minister carefully consider the unintended consequences when we implement seven-day access to ensure that we do not divert essential funds that could be used for safety and avoiding unnecessary admissions into something that is worth while in theory but that might not give the best outcomes for patients? I hope that the Minister will be able to reassure me that the Government will allow local CCGs to look carefully at what is best, while consulting local communities, and to be as flexible as possible.

I also ask the Minister to consider the importance of volunteering across the NHS. In all our constituencies there will be extraordinary organisations that work as partners with the NHS, but I have some concerns, one of which I would like to share with the Minister. In my area, a wonderful charity called Cool Recovery worked with users of mental health services and their families to provide an extraordinary level of support. Sadly, particularly given that I was a patron of this charity, I have to report that it is having to fold for the want of a relatively small amount of stable long-term funding. The voluntary sector—those partner organisations across the NHS—is calling out for access to stable long-term funds. Newly set-up charities gain access to very valuable funding sources, but when they apply for funds once they are established, the response is that it should be provided by commissioners. I ask the Minister to consider carefully how we can sustain some of the extraordinary charities working across the country by giving them access to stable long-term funding so that they can carry on with their work. This issue was raised with the Select Committee by the voluntary sector during our inquiry into children and adolescent mental health services, so it is an issue across the NHS that is causing real problems.

Mr Speaker: Order. I am listening intently to the hon. Lady, as always, and as I know the House will be. It is by accident that the clock is not operating as I had intended it to. In short, I had intended the seven-minute limit to apply to the hon. Lady. It would be unfair suddenly to apply it, but she ought to operate according to its spirit, and I know she is approaching what will be a very impressive peroration.

Dr Wollaston: A flourish! I apologise, Mr Speaker. I was indeed looking at the clock.

As a final flourish, let me mention prevention. We cannot address the financial challenges that face the NHS without considering prevention, and I congratulate the Under-Secretary of State for Health, my hon. Friend the Member for Battersea (Jane Ellison), on everything she achieved in this regard during the previous Parliament. I hope that she will give us further detail on her plans to

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tackle childhood obesity, particularly as we face a tsunami of health inequality and need in our young people unless we go further.

1.43 pm

Dr Philippa Whitford (Central Ayrshire) (SNP): I am grateful for the opportunity to take part in this debate as the Front-Bench spokesperson on health for the Scottish National party.

I pay tribute to Charles Kennedy. Obviously, I did not know him in this place but I am a graduate of Glasgow University and was a contemporary of Charles, who spoke eloquently and entertainingly at our first medical year reunion.

I am honoured to have been elected by the people of Central Ayrshire to be their Member in this Parliament for the next five years. My predecessor, Brian Donohoe, was their MP for 23 years, initially for Cunninghame South and then lately for Central Ayrshire. He served on the Select Committee on Transport and even took on an additional duty as a special constable for the British Transport police, something of which he was intensely proud. Now that he is freed from the trammels and duties of being an MP, I know that he plans to develop his hobby of flying remote-controlled helicopters, which will at least keep him out from under the feet of his lovely wife Christine. Unfortunately, he does not golf, which is the other alternative. I wish them both well in his retirement.

Central Ayrshire is a coastal constituency, with beautiful sandy beaches all along its coast. In the south is Prestwick airport, Scotland’s oldest passenger airport and where Elvis stopped off on his way back from national service in Germany in 1960.

Pete Wishart (Perth and North Perthshire) (SNP): His only British tour.

Dr Whitford: We now hear that he was once out drinking with Tommy Steele, so we will not go down that road.

The airport is the site of an aerospace park and, as many Members will know, is on the shortlist for consideration as a future spaceport. Unfortunately, the passenger numbers have dropped but a recent report shows the benefit we would accrue from a drop in air passenger duty. It would bring back European visitors to our lovely county and help rejuvenate our tourism industry.

Prestwick golf club was also the site of the first ever Open golf championship in 1860, but that competition is now more closely associated with its neighbour in Royal Troon, where I live. Royal Troon will host the British Open next year, and I invite all hon. Members to it, although they cannot have the spare bed in my house, I am afraid. Book early. Despite the obvious beauty and wealth in Troon, it, too, now hosts a food bank.

In the north of my constituency, Irvine is both an old town and a new town in that it was a royal burgh from 1372 that was suddenly surrounded by modern blocks in the ’60s. Regeneration of the town centre and, in particular, Harbourside is ongoing, but it contains two of the most deprived wards in my constituency. Inland,

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in the rolling Ayrshire countryside, there is a chain of villages, from the ancient settlement of Dreghorn, childhood home of our First Minister, through Dundonald with its fine castle and Symington with its beautiful church to the mining villages in the south of Annbank and Mossblown. Sadly, they lost their mines decades ago and are left stranded, bereft of work and poorly connected by both transport and digital services.

Tarbolton is the site where Robert Burns, our national bard, founded the Bachelors’ Club. As we might imagine from the name, this debating club was for men only, and the first toast to the Immortal Memory given at a Burns supper by a woman was just this year. We take a bit of time in Ayrshire. Now that the county of his birth is completely represented by Members on the SNP Benches, I would hope, Mr Speaker, that we might host a fine Burns supper next January, and I am sure that we will extend an invitation to you. I am sure that it has been observed by the House that there are nae wee, sleekit, cow’rin’, tim’rous beasties on these Benches.

As a doctor for well over 30 years, of course my interest is in health and the future of the NHS, which I consider to be one of Britain’s greatest achievements of the 20th century. The biggest healthcare challenge we face is developing integrated services to look after our older citizens with complex needs. Breaking up the NHS and franchising it out to rival private companies destroys collaboration and makes achieving that even harder. If the Secretary of State was still in the Chamber, I would point out to him that the report by the Commonwealth Fund to which he referred is based on data from before April 2013, when the Health and Social Care Act 2012 came into effect.

In Scotland after devolution, we went back to our roots, got rid of trusts and again became a single unified public NHS. That has allowed us to work right across our country in developing quality standards and improving safety. We have our challenges; the NHS in Scotland is not remotely perfect; we face the same challenges as the rest of the United Kingdom. But despite the quips that were made by the Secretary of State, it does come down to co-operation and not competition.

Nevertheless, it is important to remember that the NHS does not give you health. Health comes from having a decent start in life. Health comes from strong public health measures to tackle things like the prevention of diabetes, before we are swamped by a deluge of chronic illnesses in the future. But its most important foundation is what happens in childhood and, as we now sadly know, even what happens in pregnancy.

In my constituency, despite unemployment falling from 6% to 4%, child poverty has climbed from 20% to 25% since 2010. That is one in four of our children growing up in poverty. These are not the children of shirkers and slackers, as is often implied: 64.5% of them have a working parent. The causes are short hours, low wages and benefit cuts. I have heard the welfare state spoken about through gritted teeth in this House, but allowing young lives to fail will cost society more money in the long term—in prisons, in police, in addiction services and in long-term benefits. We need to invest in our children—but not just in them; in their families—to change their future. There is no point in talking about focusing on schools if they are sitting shivering and hungry at home at night. The first duty of any Government

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is the security of their citizens—not with regard to replacing weapons of mass destruction, but the real security that comes from knowing you can keep a roof over your head and food on the table.

I have served the people of Ayrshire for the last 19 years as a breast cancer surgeon. I hope I will be able to serve them further, despite missing that post, in my work here. I intend to work for them in the constituency and speak up for them in this House.

1.52 pm

Sir Peter Bottomley (Worthing West) (Con): I congratulate the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire (Dr Whitford). I think the House would want to know that around 1991 she served for a year and a half as a medical volunteer at the United Nations hospital in Gaza, so she has not had an easy life in serving others and she may find looking after her constituents easier than that. I hope that she will join the United Nations parliamentary group and I look forward to co-operating with her in trying to get effective family functioning, so that parents have not just the resources but the confidence and the competence to be good enough parents to give their children a good start in life. It is also a pleasure to follow my hon. Friend the Member for Totnes (Dr Wollaston).

I want to talk about professional regulation, in part because of my interest in the leasehold field, where there are 6 million homes, a great minority of which, sadly, are exploited by managing agents and by freeholders. At present, on the other side of Parliament Square, at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, a man called Benjamin Mire is involved in a hearing over whether he can continue to be a member. He resigned from his judicial office at the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal days before being sacked. The investigation by the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office was made available in part to the RICS. I wanted it to be made available to me. I also want to know that the Rip-Off Britain website, which reports on some of the bad things he has done, gets attention from professional regulators.

Still on the subject of leasehold property, there are people like the Tchenguiz brothers, or at least one of them, who bought the Charter Quay freehold in Kingston, roughly trebled its value, and got professionals—auditors, accountants, bankers and surveyors—to go along with his trebling of the valuation. When the property court dropped the valuation by two thirds, nobody paid much attention. For too long we have allowed professionals to get away with going along with people who are acting badly, unprofessionally and in some cases criminally.

On health, I have the case of Dr David Barnett, a good dentist in my constituency, who was reported to the dental regulators on trumped-up charges and has not been able to practise for over six months. I am going to take that up with them, but I hope that the Health Committee, without taking up individual cases, will look at a collection of cases and ask, “Is there a pattern where there could be change?” On the same theme, I want to mention the case of a surgeon, Mr Aditya Agrawal. He is not a constituent but is one of the doctors of black and ethnic minority origin who seem to be treated differently from people who are white. I am not saying that in his case it is purely racial

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discrimination. However, there is an issue if a good doctor is considered for too long by the General Medical Council as to whether particular index cases are right or wrong, when the trust knew perfectly well that at least one of the charges involved the discharging of a patient that he had not been involved with, as it had already suspended him.

How did the Queen’s counsel, Mr Mark Sutton, at the judicial review last week, and how did the solicitors, DAC Beachcroft, allow the skeleton argument to contain items that were false? Did they get an assurance from the trust that everything that they were putting forward was accurate, and if not, why not? And if they did not, and there is a pattern there, I hope that the regulators for barristers and for solicitors will start paying attention as well.

I will not go on about those cases at the moment, but I want to put it on the record that I am not going to tolerate trusts using their steamroller powers to treat good doctors badly. I illustrate that by saying that Mr Agrawal’s grievance started three years ago, and was allowed five minutes at a hearing last week—five minutes in a day’s hearing. The principal officer who suspended him, and who is still, apparently, the responsible officer and will not give him a positive reference, could not turn up because apparently she was doing something else. If a trust says, “We set this appointment two months ago” and their principal person cannot be there, there is something very fishy and wrong going on.

That leads me on to a point raised by the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire, about how we can help people’s lives to be healthier and better. In 1986, I was made responsible for what was then called road safety—I prefer to call it casualty reduction—when we were killing 5,600 people a year on our roads. We now kill 1,700 with virtually no change of law. We killed 1,200 with over-limit drink-driving. The figure is now fewer than 300 with no change of law. Those who argued, “Lower the limit, increase the police, increase the penalties” were not right. What we need is to have hosts who will provide alcohol-free drink within reach, not just for those who are driving but for the 10% who are alcoholic, the 10% who are teetotal, for those who are pregnant, for those who want to be pregnant, for those who are on a diet—all sorts of reasons. So we need hosts who provide alcohol-free drink without being asked, passengers to pick alcohol-free drivers, and people like me who both drink and drive to decide, “Am I drinking today or am I driving today?” Those are the three things that work. As far as I know, there has been no academic study or research—no masters, no PhD, no ESRC, no work by a chronologist or anthropologist; nothing—into that.

I believe that the same kind of approach would cut the number of teenagers taking up smoking each week dramatically. I believe that we could make so much difference to people’s lives. At present, 45% of people in this country will contribute to a conception that ends in a termination, all because people here advocate saying, “No” as if celibacy could be inherited from one’s parents, or we say, “Think about family planning or birth control.” We should be saying, “Which embarrassment do you want? Do you want to say, ‘Cripes, we’ve conceived again. We’ve already got five children,’ or ‘What did you say your name was?’” We should be talking about conception, choice and fertility control when people are going to be intimate.

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There are so many ways we can make a difference, in addition to diabetes prevention that was mentioned by the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire. I hope we will do so because we can reduce avoidable disadvantage, distress and handicap. We can improve wellbeing with a mixture of health and welfare, and I hope often we can do it across the Chamber.

1.58 pm

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab): I congratulate the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire (Dr Whitford), who is the health spokesperson for the SNP, on an excellent maiden speech. I am sorry that the Secretary of State and the Under-Secretary of State for Health, the hon. Member for Battersea (Jane Ellison), are not in their places because they are the Ministers who have a little bit of historical knowledge about the past couple of years in the NHS. I hope that the Under-Secretary of State for Health, the hon. Member for Ipswich (Ben Gummer), will relay the comments of other Members to them, so that the hon. Member for Battersea can respond to them fully at the end.

I want to stress how pleased I am that my right hon. Friend the Member for Leigh (Andy Burnham) spoke mainly about the deteriorating financial situation facing the NHS. To be perfectly honest, I was astonished that the Secretary of State had nothing at all to say about that. He cannot say that he and fellow Ministers have not been warned, because many MPs on both sides of the Chamber have been sounding alarm bells about this for some considerable time.

Last February the Government commissioned a series of reports on what they called the most financially challenged health economies in the country, of which Devon was one. Since then, nothing has happened: the Government have refused to publish those reports. I tabled a freedom of information request just before Dissolution asking where the consultants’ report was, and was told it could not be published because it would, in time, inform the making of decisions that would affect local NHS services in Devon. Why have we been waiting so long for action by this Government to address the financial situation, which in the meantime has got much, much worse?

Let me give some of the figures for my area. My local commissioning organisation, the Devon clinical commissioning group, announced last week that its deficit has risen to £40 million this year. My local hospital, the Royal Devon and Exeter hospital, which is one of the best performing and best managed hospitals in the country and which had never registered a deficit until the last two or three years, is now going to register a £20 million deficit this year; and Derriford hospital in Plymouth is looking at a deficit of £30 million. That is £90 million in deficits in just part of a county in part of our country. It is simply unsustainable for the Government to claim that there is no problem with NHS finances. The longer the Government delay action, the bigger the impact will be on services and on patient care.

The Minister may recall, because it received national publicity, that the response of my local CCG last autumn to the serious situation it faced was to announce a widespread programme of rationing and cuts. The measures,

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which hit the national headlines, included preventing anyone who was obese or who smoked from having any routine operation, and rationing cataract operations to one eye and hearing aids to one ear. That provoked such widespread condemnation, not only from the public in Devon, but from across the country and from all the professional organisations, that, following an Adjournment debate I had with the Under-Secretary of State for Health, the hon. Member for Battersea, the plans were dropped. However, the underlying financial situation has not been addressed, and it has got worse.

I was told by Health Ministers just before the election that there was a plan afoot—a success regime, which is a rather unfortunate way to describe a way to address a not-very-successful situation—but that nothing would be announced before the general election. How much longer do we have to wait for that so-called success regime, or some sort of action to remedy the Government’s failure, to be introduced? People in Devon and across the country want to know when action will be taken and delivered.

Members have said that the disastrous Lansley reforms have made the job of Health Ministers much more difficult. One of the reasons why we have been unable to grip the problem in Devon and elsewhere is that we now have so many different organisations in the NHS responsible for regulation and performance management. We have Monitor, responsible for foundation trusts; we have the NHS Trust Development Authority, responsible for non-foundation trusts; and then we have NHS England, responsible for CCGs. No one has gripped this problem: Ministers have not gripped it, the different bits of the NHS have not gripped it, and that is why it has got out of control.

I remember very well—I have the scars on my back—the time when we were in government and the finances got out of control. It happened for different reasons—we were increasing capacity in the NHS at such a rate that the NHS lost control of its spending. The situation now is much more serious, because spending has been so tight, so the impacts of the loss of control we are seeing in the NHS now are extremely serious cuts or the sort of rationing that my local CCG proposed last autumn, which Ministers rejected. I want the Minister who winds up the debate to give an assurance that the Government do not believe that that sort of model offers an answer to the financial crisis affecting many trusts and the NHS as a whole. I hope that Ministers will look carefully at the fragmented landscape of NHS management, performance management and regulation, which is preventing us from finding a solution to this problem.

Let me give one more example. We had cross-party support in Devon—I am pleased that the hon. Member for Totnes (Dr Wollaston) is still in her place—for the integration of community services in most of the county. They are currently delivered by North Devon district hospital, but everyone else, including Conservative Members such as the right hon. Member for East Devon (Mr Swire) and the hon. Members for Central Devon (Mel Stride) and for Tiverton and Honiton (Neil Parish), agree with me that it would make much more sense to integrate those services vertically in our parts of Devon. That has not happened, because the North Devon trust objected and Monitor launched an investigation, which is still dragging on, with no resolution reached.

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We have lost months of time and millions of pounds, and we have not been able to get on with improving the integrated care that the Secretary of State and everyone with any sense in this Chamber has talked about during the course of this debate. Please, will the Under-Secretary of State for Health, the hon. Member for Ipswich, address the financial crisis that his Secretary of State failed even to mention in his opening remarks, and will he think carefully about the changes in delivery structures we need if the local health service is to deliver the improvements, the savings and the care that our public need?

2.5 pm

James Davies (Vale of Clwyd) (Con): Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to deliver my maiden speech as the new Conservative Member of Parliament for Vale of Clwyd. It is a privilege to follow the right hon. Member for Exeter (Mr Bradshaw).

Vale of Clwyd was a newly created seat in 1997, and for 18 years it was represented by Mr Chris Ruane, a former primary school teacher at Ysgol Mair in Rhyl. An assiduous Member, Mr Ruane spent four years as Parliamentary Private Secretary to the then Secretary of State for Wales, the right hon. Peter Hain, but he will be best remembered as a popular and hard-working local MP. I pay tribute to his commitment to the area during all those years.

It is a great honour for me to represent in Parliament the area where I was born and brought up. I sincerely thank all those who put their trust in me, as well as my family, particularly my wife Nina and 19-month-old son Wilfred, who is already a veteran campaigner. My constituency is in an area which has been true blue for most of the past 100 years. It has been represented by such well known and somewhat controversial figures as Nigel Birch, later Baron Rhyl, and Sir Anthony Meyer, both of whom played a part in the overthrow of a Prime Minister. I assure the leadership that I have no plans to emulate them in every respect!

I chose in 2004 to return to the constituency from university to begin my junior doctor training at Glan Clwyd Hospital in Bodelwyddan. At the same time, I was elected to represent my home town of Prestatyn on the town council and on Denbighshire county council. I subsequently became a general practitioner in the NHS, more recently with a special interest in dementia. I look forward to using my experiences as a GP and as a councillor in my new role as Member of Parliament.

The topic of debate today is health and social care, and the House will be only too aware of the concern about the performance of the NHS in Wales, particularly on my patch. Although health is devolved to the Welsh Assembly, it was perhaps the principal issue brought up on doorsteps during my campaigning. We await the outcome of a judicial review of a threatened downgrade of maternity and gynaecology services at Glan Clwyd hospital, and my support for the campaign against these dangerous and short-sighted proposals is resolute. Last week saw the release of a report on allegations of neglect on the Tawel Fan mental health ward in my constituency. That disturbing report confirmed significant failings in the function of the local health board, but ultimate responsibility must lie with the Labour Assembly Government.

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Having worked in the NHS in both north Wales and north-west England, I have seen an increasingly obvious divide develop between NHS performance in Wales and in England, with Wales facing soaring waiting times for A&E, out-patient appointments and surgery, as well as cancelled surgery, queuing ambulances and abysmal hospital-acquired infection rates. Ongoing concern has also been expressed about mortality rates, with evidence coming from those on both sides of the political divide—indeed, the right hon. Member for Cynon Valley (Ann Clwyd) has shown much interest in that important issue—yet the Assembly Government continue to refuse to consider a Keogh-style inquiry.

Many people have felt a deep sense of inequality, as their relatives have been unable in Wales to access cancer drugs that are available to people in England. All that has come on top of the closure of community hospitals and other services, often in a seemingly haphazard manner. It is no wonder that many patients are seeking healthcare arrangements in England, but of course this is not only inconvenient but impossible for many patients, and places unfunded burdens on services in border areas.

Many of those who supported me on 7 May did so in the expectation that I could positively influence problems affecting local health services. I should add that the support I received came from dedicated staff as well as patients. I have heard and understood a loud call for Parliament to address the issue of consistently failing devolved services in Wales, and this is something we must find a way of doing.

As a new MP, there could be no better area to fight for than the area I truly care about. I look forward to assisting with and helping to drive the regeneration of the seaside resort of Rhyl which, perhaps even more than some of the other great Victorian resorts, has struggled in recent times but still retains so much potential. Within days of my election I had the good fortune to speak to the Prime Minister on two occasions. On the first, I stressed my intention to make a difference in the town and he very kindly pledged his commitment to assist with this. On the second, he advised me that he had just referred to the town live on national television, so I and my constituents very much look forward to the progress our third meeting will bring!

I also relish helping to lead the continued revival of neighbouring Prestatyn and Meliden. In fact, much of the reason behind my standing for Parliament relates to the immense satisfaction I have gained through helping to turn around this, my home town, whether by supporting it in winning the coastal category in Britain in Bloom or by supporting and pushing forward many projects such as the new town centre shopping park, the Scala cinema and arts centre and the Nova centre redevelopment. Inland, the constituency includes the village of Dyserth, whose waterfall, as some hon. Members will no doubt recall, featured in the mystery tour in the 1973 comedy film “Holiday on the Buses”. A short distance away is the town of Rhuddlan, featuring an impressive castle, constructed by Edward I in 1277, and also St Asaph, the town of my birth, the site of Great Britain’s smallest ancient cathedral and home to a thriving optics sector. St Asaph was awarded city status by Her Majesty the Queen in 2012 to celebrate her diamond jubilee. At the southern end of the constituency is the historic market town of Denbigh and the nearby village of Henllan.

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Linking many picturesque villages such as Cwm, Tremeirchion and Bodfari is the Offa’s Dyke national trail, which starts at our blue flag beach in Prestatyn. Tourism, whether coastal or rural, is a very important feature of the constituency. So too is farming, particularly in the fertile land around villages such as Trefnant, Rhewl and Llandyrnog, where there is a creamery—the fourth biggest cheese factory in the UK. One of its many customers is the Snowdonia Cheese Company in seaside Rhyl. I can certainly vouch for the quality of its Black Bomber! I encourage hon. Members to try it. There I will conclude my whistlestop tour of a very special constituency, which I look forward to serving to the very best of my ability.

2.13 pm

Ann Clwyd (Cynon Valley) (Lab): As I, too, come from the Vale of Clwyd, I welcome the hon. Member for Vale of Clwyd (James Davies). I am only sorry that he had to depose Chris Ruane, who was a colleague of mine, and I am sorry for the reasons that he was deposed, but I welcome the hon. Gentleman nevertheless. I fought that constituency myself in 1970, when there was a 25,000 Conservative majority, which is now much decreased but, of course, the boundaries have changed.

I shall speak today specifically about one aspect of health—the regulation of cosmetic surgery. Some 20 years ago I got a letter from a constituent of mine who had had a double mastectomy. That was because of silicone implants which had erupted inside her body. As a result of that we set up an organisation called SOS—Survivors of Silicone. If more attention had been paid to some of our findings at that time, we might not have had the PIP scandal which followed all too quickly.

I introduced a ten-minute rule Bill on the regulation of cosmetic surgery in 1994 and again in 2012, which shows that one must be persistent in this place. The Bill generated huge publicity and loads of letters. Unfortunately, despite calls from a wide range of organisations, not enough has changed since the mid-1990s. As a result, thousands of women, and men now, have continued to face the horrific consequences of unregulated cosmetic surgery.

I had a letter the other day from somebody who wrote:

“I think the operating table was a dental chair”,

describing her experience of liposculpture in a London clinic. She continued:

“They asked me to turn over onto my stomach, but the chair was the wrong shape and it was very difficult. At some stage during the operation I woke up. I was in tremendous pain and began screaming. They were still taking fat from my legs. The doctor told me afterwards that he had to continue with me awake or my legs would have been uneven.”

It turned out subsequently that the so-called cosmetic surgeon was a general practitioner. He had performed a surgical operation without any surgical training and had administered a general anaesthetic without an anaesthetist.

I read recently about a writer who has been left with blurred vision from botched laser eye surgery at a private clinic. After a five-year battle she has finally received £250,000 compensation, but has permanent scarring of her eyes. Such incidents are, sadly, only too

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common. The pressure on women and now also on men is considerable. Most of us want to change something about ourselves. Huge pressure is put on women in particular to change their looks. Private sector clinics offer a multitude of cosmetic procedures to achieve the perfect shape and a wrinkle-free face. “Too old, too thin, too fat, never just right”—that is the message. Cosmetic surgery, including breast implants, continues to be a growing industry.

In 2014 members of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons conducted over 45,000 surgical procedures. Between 2002 and 2011 the number of boob jobs rose by 324%. Facelifts, tummy tucks and nose jobs are still popular. Plastic surgeons also operated on over 4,000 men, with nose jobs and man-boob jobs the most popular procedures. Many people face exploitation by private sector clinics and even cowboy surgeons if they are unable to receive treatment through the NHS. Most of the botched surgery or mistakes are then rectified by the NHS, as we have seen with the removal of PIP implants.

“In no other area of medicine is there such an unregulated mess. Imagine a ‘2-for-l’ advert for general surgery”,

as appeared in the paper recently.

“That way lies madness,”

said a former president of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons. In one newspaper recently there was a piece headed “Plastic surgeons offer ‘buy one get one free’ deals on breast enlargements” and other jobs.

The Royal College of Surgeons has issued a statement criticising the Government for not including greater regulation in the Queen’s speech. The RCS said:

“We were disappointed that the Government chose not to introduce legislation to reform the regulation of health professionals.”

The RCS had called for the General Medical Council to be given a new power to tell the public and employers which surgeons are qualified to undertake cosmetic surgery. At present the law allows any doctor, including non-surgeons, to perform cosmetic surgery without undertaking additional training or qualifications.

The BAAPS has said something similar:

“It was very disappointing to see that yet again the government have shied away from regulation in the cosmetic surgery industry.”

One former president of the Royal College of Surgeons says that animals are better protected in Britain than people are. That is an absolute disgrace. I will not be here in 20 years’ time—[Hon. Members: “Yes, you will!”]—but I will continue to push for the Government to introduce legislation to protect this potentially vulnerable group of patients. It is high time we had action.

2.19 pm

Mr Henry Bellingham (North West Norfolk) (Con): It is a great pleasure, as always, to follow the right hon. Member for Cynon Valley (Ann Clwyd), who is one of the most indefatigable and courageous campaigners on health issues in the House. It is also a pleasure to congratulate the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire (Dr Whitford) on an excellent maiden speech. My great grandmother was brought up just outside Ayr, and I was christened in Symington church. I will look out for the hon. Lady when I next visit the church, because I am sure she will be a very good MP indeed. It is a particular pleasure to follow so closely my hon. Friend

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the Member for Vale of Clwyd (James Davies) and to congratulate him on an excellent maiden speech. To oust an incumbent is certainly a result, but to do so in such style, adding 1,200 to the Tory vote—a swing of nearly 4%—is a great achievement. I wish him well in his career.

I admire my hon. Friend the Member for Vale of Clwyd not only for making such an excellent speech, but for making it so early. When I was first elected to the House, I wanted to make my maiden speech in the debate on the Address. I asked my Whip, a young man called John Major, but was told, “You could make it during the debate, but it is high profile and you really have to get it right. You could make a 10-minute speech then, but my advice is to wait.” I therefore waited until an Adjournment debate on small businesses, for which I had an excellent 10-minute speech ready to go. Whips in those days had none of the tact and charm of the current occupants of the Whips Office, particularly my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon Central (Gavin Barwell). About 20 minutes into that debate, the Whip on duty passed me a note that read, “We’re short of speakers, so can you make it 25 minutes?” My maiden speech was therefore a disaster, unlike the two that we have heard already today.

There is a great deal in the Queen’s Speech that appeals to me. I particularly welcome those measures designed to boost enterprise and wealth creation. During the election campaign in my constituency there was a lot of focus on the NHS—I will come to that in a moment—but also on wealth creation, the private sector and small and medium-sized enterprises. I particularly welcome the full employment and welfare benefits Bill and the enterprise Bill, which will look again at some of the regulations that need to be removed from small businesses.

I was struck by a recent report from Open Europe that noted that since 2010 the EU has introduced more than 4,500 new business regulations. Some of them might be very positive, but some will impinge upon the ability of small businesses to operate flexibly and profitably. It is therefore incredibly important that the Prime Minister, when renegotiating our membership of the EU—I wish him well in that—looks at some of the social costs, particularly with regard to social and employment law. I hope that he takes his time in doing that, because I do not believe that we should be in a huge rush; it is far better to have successful negotiations that are conducted over a lengthy period than to rush into them in the way some people have recommended.

My constituency has an outstanding local foundation hospital. It unfortunately went into special measures, but it is now making really good progress. I pay tribute to the staff and the new management, who are turning it around, and to the efforts that many people are making in that regard. There are three areas that I want to flag up briefly, and I hope that the Under-Secretary of State for Health, my hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich (Ben Gummer), whom I congratulate on his appointment, will take them on board.

The first area, which has already been mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Totnes (Dr Wollaston), is the cost of agency staff. We have seen a boom in agencies supplying doctors and nurses to hospitals. One of the key drivers pushing up debt in many foundation hospitals is the cost of agency nurses and doctors. I have seen that in the Queen Elizabeth hospital in

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King’s Lynn. As my hon. Friend said, there is then a domino effect whereby hospitals find it more difficult to employ permanent staff. I was appalled to read a recent report showing the amounts of money that some of the biggest medical recruiters are making, and therefore the money that is being taken out of the NHS. It is really important that the Minister and his colleagues wrest the initiative from those expensive agencies and look carefully at a nationally negotiated framework to ensure that the NHS uses its obvious power and strong collective bargaining to sort the problem out.

The second area I want to mention is the need to make every conceivable effort to join up NHS acute care and continuing care, into which the right hon. Member for North Norfolk (Norman Lamb) put so much effort and work when he was care Minister. As he pointed out, it is not just about resources; it is about better co-ordination, more dynamic and innovative management and having a really strong partnership between the private sector, where most of the care homes and nursing homes lie, and the public sector. I am very impressed by what the Minister has said about that, and by what the Secretary of State has said. I hope that they can work together to make real progress on that.

The third area, which I heard about regularly while campaigning in my constituency, and particularly in my discussions with doctors, is the current GP contract. In my judgment, it is not just a question of the problems with care causing the crisis in A&E; it is also the fact that many people cannot see their doctor when they want to. Lynndoc is a federation of different GP practices in King’s Lynn that does outstanding work to provide out-of-hours cover. I believe that it can be done, and it really is an absolute priority.

Those three areas are crucial to ensuring that the £8 billion that has been dedicated for the next few years is properly spent. But today we heard a tale of two speeches: the Secretary of State, who was calm, statesmanlike and receptive; and the shadow Secretary of State, who was still fighting yesterday’s war and trying to weaponise the NHS. We have to move on from that and work together to make this great service an even greater success.

2.26 pm

Kevin Barron (Rother Valley) (Lab): I have to say to the hon. Member for North West Norfolk (Mr Bellingham) that I thought his speech was going well until the last few seconds, when he decided to weaponise it and attack the Opposition Front Bench. I will try to keep my remarks brief.

Looking forward, rather than back, the picture looks quite gloomy for healthcare in this country. The NHS’s “Five Year Forward View” stated that there would be a £30 billion annual hole in the NHS budget by 2020, so the £8 billion that the Government have promised will still leave a gap of £22 billion a year. Yet all we talk about here is ambulance waiting times and things like that.

We are going to have to look quite radically at healthcare in this country. All the experts say that the funding gap can be filled only if there is a radical upgrade in prevention and in public health. There should be much greater emphasis on prevention, with local authorities using their responsibility for public health

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and leading the way locally. Priorities include tackling obesity, reducing alcohol-related health problems and smoking, and increasing levels of physical activity. Otherwise, the Government will have to find even more money for the NHS. The “Five Year Forward View” stated that,

“the future health of millions of children, the sustainability of the NHS, and the economic prosperity of Britain all now depend on a radical upgrade in prevention and public health.”

I have to say that was lacking in the speeches we heard this afternoon.

I believe that key to that is the continuing need to drive down the prevalence of smoking in this country. Smoking currently costs the NHS at least £2 billion a year, and more than £1 billion in social care costs. Nationally, the total cost of smoking to society is currently nearly £13 billion a year. We have been more effective in reducing smoking than in any other prevention measure, and we know what works. Over the past decade smoking rates have declined from one in four to one in five of adults, and the rate has been even faster among young children. Between 2003 and 2013 there was a 70% reduction in smoking by young children—a phenomenal figure. However, more clearly needs to be done, because there are still 100,000 people dying of smoking-related diseases in the UK, and 20 times more smokers than that are suffering from smoking-related diseases: not just cancer and heart and lung disease; smoking can also cause infertility, diabetes and dementia. There are over 450,000 admissions to hospital every year due to smoking.

The clock is ticking on the tobacco control plan that was put in place, which expires at the end of this year. A new, more ambitious strategy for the next five years is needed to help fill the hole in national health expenditure. For a new strategy to work, it needs proper funding. The “stop smoking” services cost less than £100 million a year and, according to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, they are one of the most cost-effective treatments there is. Spending on mass media campaigns to help motivate smokers to quit and prevent young people from taking up smoking was only £25 million at its peak, and highly cost-effective. We are talking about spending millions of pounds to save billions.

Funding is the key. At a time when Government funding is being cut at national and local level, new sources need to be found. According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, local authority spending per head has been cut by nearly 25% between 2010 and 2015, with the sharpest cuts to the poorest communities. We all know that smoking rates are highest among the most disadvantaged in society, so these are precisely the communities needing the greatest level of investment, yet it is being removed. Let me remind people of a speech I made a few months ago in this House, in February or thereabouts, when following cuts in local authorities the then coalition Government had had to put an extra £26 million of emergency payments into some local authorities because of the bed-blocking situation. They did not have money for social care, and our hospitals had beds full of people who had no clinical or medical reason to be in hospital but were there because the cuts in local authorities had caused problems in those areas.

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The tobacco industry, of course, still continues to do quite well. In this country alone, it makes profits of over £1 billion a year. Its deadly product may be legal but is also lethal to 50% of people who use it. In last year’s autumn statement, the Chancellor said:

“Smoking imposes costs on society and the Government believe that it is therefore fair to ask the tobacco industry to make a greater contribution.”

However, it has all gone ominously quiet since then. In the March 2015 Budget, all the Chancellor said on the tobacco levy was that he was continuing to consult. That is not good enough. If the Government are to succeed in the radical upgrade in prevention and public health necessary to save the NHS, it is essential that we have a new and even more ambitious tobacco control plan for England launched by the end of this year, and it should be paid for by a levy on the tobacco industries’ profits.

2.33 pm

Caroline Ansell (Eastbourne) (Con): Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker, for calling me to give my maiden speech as this House debates Her Majesty’s most Gracious Speech—particularly on this day, as we consider health and social care. It is a privilege to follow the right hon. Member for Rother Valley (Kevin Barron).

I am a teacher and passionate about education, but it was my boy’s shock diagnosis of a life-threatening brain tumour, then aged five, that changed the course of my life and has ultimately brought me to this place. So in his name, and remembering the very great expertise and care of NHS staff, I rise to speak. The NHS is in my political DNA, and concern for our local hospital runs through my home constituency like seaside rock. In my parliamentary campaign I said that health was my first priority, so it is very fitting that this is my first debate.

In customary form, I pay tribute to my predecessor, Stephen Lloyd, who served in the previous Parliament and brought great energy to his role and colour to the town in the form of the Eastbourne carnival. He was the first MP to secure 100 apprenticeships in 100 days. He and I have worked together on the Save the DGH Campaign for Eastbourne District General hospital. It seems right, too, in the year we commemorate the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, to recall not just Stephen but those who have gone before us both—only 12 since 1885, when the Eastbourne constituency was created, with an electorate of just 8,000 souls.

This year of 2015 marks a more modern anniversary too. It is 25 years since the tragic loss of the right hon. Ian Gow, who served Eastbourne in this place with honour and distinction between 1974 and 1990, when he was cruelly assassinated by the Provisional IRA. At home he is still remembered with great respect and affection, and in this place too. Indeed, he was mentioned only yesterday by my hon. Friend the Member for Romford (Andrew Rosindell), speaking on Britain’s place in the world and the courage we must ever show in the face of terrorism.

In speaking I am suitably conscious that the business of this Chamber is now captured and can be streamed live to millions of homes around the nation. Back in the day, Ian Gow did not think televising proceedings a positive innovation, which made it ironic that his was the very first televised speech. Thanks to those early

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recordings and the magic of the internet, I was able to hear his voice again. In the Loyal Address of 1989, he urges that we

“do not succumb to the vaulting ambitions of the supranationalists.” —[Official Report, 21 November 1989; Vol. 162, c. 9.]

He, like me, would be pleased to see the European Union Referendum Bill in the Queen’s Speech. He talks of a then “new” hospital, the DGH; now we need new leadership to secure its future. I welcome plans for a truly seven-days-a-week NHS and for more joined-up health and social care, both signposted in the Gracious Speech. There are challenges ahead, but cause for confidence too, not least as Conservative plans recognise the needs of coastal communities such as mine, the importance of transport links, and the power of a strong economy to fund our NHS and build our schools.

My constituency includes, nestled in the downlands, Willingdon, Wannock, Filching and Jevington—made famous by being the birthplace of banoffee pie. Members may know Eastbourne as the sunniest place in the United Kingdom, a tourist town, and a retirement haven. That is all true, but there is perhaps an untold story. We are home to the largest junior school in Europe. We have, reportedly, the highest proportion of female directors in the UK and the highest number of director appointments under 25. We are surprisingly rich in military history, with the latest heritage project revealing the Summerdown camp—the country’s biggest first world war convalescent camp, a tiny part of which is now to be found under my sister’s garden. It is a place of culture, with the award-winning Turner gallery. It is the eastern gateway to the South Downs national park—a connection I hope to make increasingly strong in the years to come. It is a place of business, big and small, and home to the largest distributor of the English language in Europe.

We also have big ambitions, with pipeline plans to build a top conferencing centre, an emerging digital and creative community, and millions of pounds of investment working its way into the town—and soon we will have big names, as tennis stars make their way to Eastbourne later this month for the Aegon international pre-Wimbledon tournament, which beams images of our wonderful town all around the world. Members may recall that Eastbourne drew international coverage only last summer with the devastating images of the fire that ripped through our iconic Victorian pier. That pier is open again for business and for pleasure, and you are warmly welcome.

I close with the most sincere thanks to those who have given me the extraordinary privilege to represent them and the town and the area I love.

2.39 pm

Mr Douglas Carswell (Clacton) (UKIP): It is an honour to follow the hon. Member for Eastbourne (Caroline Ansell). I remember sharing a platform with her when I campaigned for her in her constituency about a year ago. She was clearly a worthy candidate and she is a winner now, so I am delighted to see her here.

I may be my party’s only voice in the House of Commons, but I shall speak on behalf of not only my constituents, but the millions who voted for my party. I may have only one vote in the Division Lobby, but

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I shall use it to support Ministers when they do sensible things, to oppose the Government when they are being daft, and, when I think it is possible to improve things, to try to amend things to make them better.

There is, in short, much in the Queen’s Speech with which I agree. This is ostensibly a debate about health and social care, and I will direct most of my comments to that, but it would be remiss of me if I did not touch on one subject that is central to the long-term health and wellbeing of our nation in its broader sense, and that is the Europe question. I am absolutely thrilled and delighted that there is a European Union Referendum Bill in the Queen’s Speech. That is truly magnificent.

I remember 111 hon. Members from both sides of the House voting in October 2011 for an in/out referendum Bill. We were opposed on that occasion by Members on both Front Benches, all the Whips and, indeed, many of the pet pundits. It is wonderful that the Front Benchers, including Labour Members, have changed their minds and converted to the case for a referendum.

We should be generous to Ministers as they bring the Bill before the House. This is not a time for bickering or semantics. The Government have got it right on the big issues in this Bill. I think they are right about the franchise and more or less right about the wording, and I think they are even right on the timing, too. The campaign to leave the European Union begins with this Bill, and we are only going to win it if we are relentlessly upbeat, optimistic and generous. We should begin today by being generous to the Government.

Tim Loughton (East Worthing and Shoreham) (Con): I am interested in what the hon. Gentleman is saying. Does he therefore agree that the worst possible scenario would have been the policy articulated and advocated by UKIP, which was to hold a referendum now, without any reform of the European Union, when all the polls suggested that the result would be staying in an unreformed EU?

Mr Carswell: I am pleased that the hon. Gentleman is being generous, but he is also being a little unfair. My party’s position was to get the legislation on the statute book. Those of us who want to maximise the chances of the out campaign winning recognise that it would be helpful if the Prime Minister tried to negotiate a new deal and failed to bring back anything significantly different. If the Prime Minister wants to take his time to conjure up this fictitious new deal, let him do so. The more he is seen as being Harold Wilson mark 2, the greater the chances of the undecideds going into the no column.

During the referendum debate that will follow, we also need to be generous to those who will be pro-Brussels, including perhaps the hon. Gentleman. We must seek to convince them that Brussels is not a seat of high-minded internationalism, but a nexus of vested interests and a den of crony capitalism.

I hope also to be able to support the education and adoption Bill—something is wrong with some of the adoption process in this country—and I hope we will use it as a chance to look at what other countries do when it comes to adoption, particularly Scandinavian countries such as Denmark.

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I want to support the childcare Bill and will study the small print. The issue of affordable childcare is very important in my constituency. I will look with interest at the detail of the housing Bill, too. It is a very good idea to support self-build and, indeed, a brownfield register.

The Health Secretary outlined ideas to change and improve our national health service, including the importance of putting more money into healthcare. Given the advances in medical technology, the ageing population and rising expectations, my party supports that. As nations become richer, it is natural that we should want to spend more on health. The Health Secretary seems to be talking about championing the patient’s interest, as opposed to that of the producer. He seems to be talking about seven-day surgeries and using innovation to allow people to access better care, and my instinct is very much to support that agenda.

The Health Secretary also touched on the challenges we face as a country when it comes to healthcare, including coping with dementia and social care and the need to do more for mental healthcare. There is clearly a shortage of GPs, there are clearly problems at A&E departments, and ambulance response times are not good enough. There needs to be a culture change in the health service. Those challenges and problems are very real, certainly at Colchester hospital, which serves many of my constituents, as Members on both sides of the House will recognise.

We should not forget, however, that we are living in an age of unprecedented progress. There will be 1 million more people over the age of 70 at the end of this Parliament, because we are living longer, healthier lives. Excessive alcohol consumption, particularly among younger people, is falling. Cigarette-related deaths are falling: e-cigarettes are providing a modern, cheap solution to the age-old tobacco problem. Diseases that were once terminal are in retreat. A whole new generation of tailor-made drugs are on the horizon. The public policy choices that any Minister will have to grapple with are difficult, yet they are choices borne of rising expectations, greater medical capability and greater scrutiny.

I imagine I will oppose much of what this Government do. I regret what is not in the Queen’s Speech as much as I support what is in it. There is a failure to introduce meaningful political reform. There is nothing in it that will make Government more properly accountable to Parliament and Parliament more properly answerable to the people. There is little in it to disperse power outward and downward, or to personalise public services in the way I think they need to be.

When I challenge the Government’s shortcomings, however, I will do so cheerfully and in the belief that, yes, things are not good enough, but that is because they could and should be better. I will be optimistic and cheerful in opposing the Government when I need to do so, and I will support them when I think they are doing the right thing.

2.46 pm

Mr Stewart Jackson (Peterborough) (Con): It is always a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Clacton (Mr Carswell), whose contributions are always very thoughtful.

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One of the great lessons of the election campaign for the Labour party in the context of its leadership election is that it will have to look at its past and its future in respect of the NHS. The general election tested to destruction the idea that it is possible to repeat the claim, “24 hours to save the NHS,” without a proper, well thought out and coherent policy for our national health service. The irony is that in many respects there is consensus across the parties on the big issues that the national health service will have to face in the next 10 or 20 years, including demographic and societal changes that are above party politics.

That apart, given the very challenging fiscal inheritance of 2010, this Government did an extremely good job on the NHS. We were committed to making those savings while at the same time driving up clinical numbers. My own trust has a 13% increase in the number of nurses and a 9% increase in the number of doctors and carries out 850,000 operations each year. Allowing for inflation, £5.5 billion was put into the NHS under the previous coalition Government. Important issues that had previously been neglected were also addressed, including giving parity to physical and mental health, reducing the stigma and encouraging local clinicians, commissioners and providers to treat people with mental health issues in exactly the same way as they would treat people with physical ailments.

Yes, we had problems with the A&E target, but I am very proud of what we did on, for instance, the cancer drugs fund, an initiative that received cross-party support and which has affected hundreds of thousands of people positively.

We made savings. I accept that very difficult decisions had to be taken on staff salaries, and in my intervention on my hon. Friend the Member for Totnes (Dr Wollaston) I made the point that there is an incongruity between what we are asking people lower down the skill base in the NHS to take and what we are awarding senior managers and, through clinical excellence awards, senior clinicians. We need to sort that out.

A lot of nonsense is spoken about the Health and Social Care Act 2012, but it has set in stone the ability to make incremental savings while protecting front-line clinical services and put into the driving seat local clinicians who are best placed to make commissioning decisions. I welcome the £8 billion funding commitment, and I particularly welcome seven-day-a-week GP access, which the coalition Government pioneered. I know that we will have the support of Her Majesty’s Opposition and other parties on that.

The better care fund is welcome, although the Government should think again about the collaborative work that needs to be done with the Local Government Association—I declare an interest as a vice-president of the LGA—to try to fund the gaps. We will make long-term savings and drive up productivity, which will affect all our constituents, only by properly integrating acute health services and GP and primary care with social care. That is extremely important.

On dementia, prior to this debate we received a very useful and comprehensive briefing from Alzheimer’s Research UK. We need to build on the Prime Minister’s challenge on dementia by making improvements in dementia diagnosis and providing better care. I pay tribute to the work undertaken by Peterborough

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Dementia Resource Centre in the Millfield area of my constituency. It is important that we also encourage dementia-friendly cities and towns throughout the country.

There are other issues that we must address urgently. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State made the use and cost of agency staff a central issue that will inform NHS policy under the Conservative Government. That is vital. It is not an easy issue to deal with, but we must grasp the nettle now if we are to protect front-line services.

On private finance initiatives, unfortunately my acute district hospital trust officially has the most indebted PFI settlement in the country—and, I have to say, the worst and most disastrous. Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has a £40 million structural deficit. That is unsustainable over the medium and long term. We need the Treasury and the Department of Health to work together to assist such challenging healthcare economies, because they will affect all areas, including social care, primary care and acute hospital care, particularly for older people. Older people account for a disproportionately large number of admissions to acute district hospital trusts. Given that the number of over-85s will double in the next 20 years, we cannot put this issue on the back burner—we need to look at it as a matter of urgency.

We must address senior manager redundancies. When I sat on the Public Accounts Committee in the previous Parliament, we saw some egregious cases of greed, mismanagement and back scratching from senior trust managers who were hiring and rehiring consultants and mates of mates. That is not acceptable when we are asking junior NHS staff to make sacrifices.

Finally, we need to think about an holistic approach to social care. For example, we should give tax breaks for housing and extra care facilities for older people, so that we have a properly co-ordinated system from age 60 all the way through to death. People should have an allocated health service worker, for instance. The health service does not belong to any one party. We have a good and proud record, and I urge the Government to continue their good work.

2.53 pm

Thangam Debbonaire (Bristol West) (Lab): Thank you for calling me to make my maiden speech, Mr Deputy Speaker. I congratulate the hon. Members for Central Ayrshire (Dr Whitford), for Vale of Clwyd (James Davies) and for Eastbourne (Caroline Ansell) on making their maiden speeches. I am sure that everyone present will join me in congratulating them on their most heartfelt and eloquent statements of commitment to their constituents and constituencies.

Members will not be surprised to hear that I too am rather proud of my constituency, Bristol West, but I will begin by paying tribute to my predecessor, Stephen Williams, for his diligent service to Bristol West and his constituents. I was particularly impressed by his commitment to equalities, human rights and fair trade, causes for which we both share passion. I wish him well in the future.

I would like to go further back and thank Valerie Davey, who was elected Member of Parliament for Bristol West in 1997. Her work in helping to establish the education maintenance allowance transformed the lives of thousands of young people, helping those from

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low and modest income families who would otherwise have found it difficult to manage financially to stay on at school or college. Sadly, this has now gone.

Even further back is Mr William Waldegrave, who was lobbied by many in Bristol West, including me, to take a stand in Parliament against the provisions in section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988, which banned what was then called “promoting homosexuality” in schools. This hated provision held schools back from supporting and protecting many young people, to the detriment of their mental health. To his credit, Mr Waldegrave listened to us, his constituents, and he acted in this place. As he was, as I am now, privileged to represent Bristol West, a constituency with a significant proportion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, I commend him for so doing.

My most famous predecessor, however, is of course Edmund Burke. A favourite quote attributed to him is that

“All that is required for evil to flourish is that good men do nothing.”

This quotation cannot be fully verified as Burke’s own words, and I hope that during my time in this House I, too, should be so handsomely misquoted.

My constituency of Bristol West is wonderful. People are buzzing with activity and activism on causes from gay rights to climate change, from food waste to renewable energy, and of course on the NHS. The vibrancy is palpable in business and enterprise, in creativity and music and the arts, new media and old, innovative restaurants and well-tended allotments. There is street entertainment, street stalls and street art of high quality. Do come to Bristol West, Mr Deputy Speaker, and I will take you on a tour of the greatest works of Bansky and co.

Yes, Bristol is a fun city and a festival city, with festivals of one kind and another, from balloons to boats, pretty much every weekend in the summer. Thousands of people walk the streets for the sheer pleasure of looking around, and looking around is indeed a pleasure. From any stroll around my constituency of Bristol West, with listed buildings including Elizabethan almshouses, a well-preserved Norman arch, 17th century Christmas steps, John Wesley chapel, Brunel’s Temple Meads station and his suspension bridge, any visitor will know they are somewhere special.

Yet we also have poverty—poverty that can be seen in the streets less well-visited. There are rough sleepers. Some have been there so long I know their names. We try to look out for them and we want to see them better off. Others live in hidden homelessness on friends’ sofas, not knowing when they will be rehoused due to a chronic housing shortage and a lack of cash. In parts of Bristol West there is rising child poverty. In one ward, Lawrence Hill, more than half the children live in poverty despite the best efforts of their parents, who struggle to get by on low-paid, part-time or zero-hours jobs. This is shameful. Children growing up in poverty miss out for the rest of their lives. They are more likely to suffer poor health, with damp, unsafe and unhealthy housing, air pollution and other problems all contributing to shorter life expectancy.

As well as poverty, poverty of opportunity affects an entire generation of school leavers, 20-somethings and 30-somethings. These are young people from across

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the constituency who feel that they cannot get started properly. They tell me of insecure jobs, sky-high rents and little hope. Their parents—whether they are on low incomes or modest incomes, or are better-off—fear for their children’s future and wonder if they will ever have grandchildren. This will store up trouble for our health and social care systems when this generation of young people reach their later years. This is a shocking indictment of the extent to which we do, or do not, share our wealth in this country. In the 21st century we cannot and should not stand by and just wait for things to get better. Things only get better when we act. Why, if the nation gains in wealth, do we not all gain? Why is wealth so unevenly and unfairly distributed? In my time in Parliament, I hope to find out both the answers to these questions and the solutions to the problems, and I will play my part in solving them.

To return to one of Bristol’s most famous sons, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, and his suspension bridge, if one stands on the bridge in a howling gale one can feel it move. Engineers tell me that this is safer than a rigid structure which would sooner or later snap. But Brunel did not know that—he could not be sure. So he over-engineered, just to be sure that all the people crossing the bridge would be safe. This principle, of building safety into a structure, is surely one we should all apply to protecting our health and social care and other public services, and to standing up for all the people in all our constituencies.

My father came to this country by sea in the late 1950s from what was then called Madras and is now called Chennai. My mother, who is here in the Gallery today, came from the working-class end of Oxford. Her parents were trade unionists, co-operators and lifelong Labour activists.

People can measure just how British I am by the fact that—sadly, and in common with so many of us born in this country—the only language I speak fluently is English. But in my constituency in the city of Bristol, 91 different languages are spoken and there are people from 50 or more different countries of origin, a quarter of whom are from black or other minority ethnic backgrounds. I am proud to be the first non-white MP in any of the four constituencies of Bristol.

I bring to this House a quarter of a century of experience in work to prevent domestic violence. I started out as a professional cellist and I have a personal interest in promoting the needs of people on the autistic spectrum. I look forward to contributing these experiences, knowledge and interests to the work of this House. I am proud that I help to bring the proportions of women and people from the global ethnic majority closer to making this place more truly reflective of the country we serve.

I seek to earn the trust of the 126,000 or so people in Bristol West, and to be measured by my contribution to ending poverty, tackling climate change and promoting equality, as well as by how hard I work for the people of Bristol West, who I will work for with care and determination.

Mr Deputy Speaker, I thank you for your indulgence and I thank this House for its kind attention.

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3.1 pm

Mims Davies (Eastleigh) (Con): It is a pleasure to follow such fine maiden speeches by the hon. Member for Bristol West (Thangam Debbonaire) and my hon. Friend the Member for Eastbourne (Caroline Ansell), as well as the fine words of my hon. Friend the Member for Peterborough (Mr Jackson).

It is an absolute pleasure to join this House today and to represent the constituency of Eastleigh. I am the first female Conservative MP for Eastleigh—the first Conservative, in fact, for 21 years—and the opportunity to speak today in the debate on Her Majesty’s Most Gracious Speech is one that I shall very much enjoy for the next six or so minutes.

Six is key in my speech, because this year it is 60 years since the Eastleigh constituency was formed. When people ask me where Eastleigh is, I say that it is the long strip of bacon that sort of runs between Southampton and Portsmouth. If anyone is still not quite sure where it is, they should drive to the bottom of that long strip and end up at Hamble. That is always a good place to be because it is the home of the King and Queen pub, one of the most famous pubs in the world and recently voted the finest sailing pub in the whole of Britain. Janet Bradley, the owner of the King and Queen, has asked me to remind the Chancellor that he is welcome at any time to come and pull a pint; in fact, she has offered him a job swap.

Eastleigh constituency is also the home of the famous Eastleigh tan; the last few months have certainly been quite enjoyable when the weather has been fine. For nearly 40 years, Eastleigh was a Conservative seat held by Sir David Price. He fought 10 elections and in his hands Eastleigh was a very safe Conservative seat, most wonderfully kept, and this year I received kind support from his daughter on the eve of the election. I was told, “Please win it back to Conservative hands for my dad”, and I am very pleased to report that I did. I know how much family support means when it comes to this job. I have young children and a fine husband, and without such support people could not campaign, let alone sit in this House.

Eastleigh is a growing constituency and has some lovely villages, one of which is Bursledon. Bursledon is the home of “Howard’s Way” and the Jolly Sailor pub. There is also the village of Netley, with its abbey and castle. In fact, there are more than 180 listed buildings and eight ancient monuments in the constituency, as well as the newly refurbished Bursledon windmill, which people should certainly visit.

Eastleigh town is home to O’Briens coffee shop, which I would argue provides the best coffee in a town centre that anyone could find. Eastleigh also has a history as a railway town. In fact, it goes back to Saxon times and is mentioned in the Domesday Book.

Modern Eastleigh was formed around the original Bishopstoke Junction railway station in 1838, and that is now where my predecessor, Mike Thornton, lives. He is well known to this House, and was warm and kind during the election campaign. He is also well known locally as a fine local councillor. I pay tribute to his hard work since the by-election that he won, and I know he will give me any helpful advice or guidance I need. During the election campaign, we duelled in slightly different ways. Of course, one way was at the hustings,

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but the most memorable time was on a very hot Sunday morning in the Eastleigh 10k race. He pipped me then—I ran marathon pace, by the way—but as I came over the finish line I hoped that that would be the last time he did so, and it was. I wish Mike all the best and I know that he will continue to support the local community, and I wish him well in his new adventures—maybe a half-marathon.

Eastleigh aerodrome was the home of the Spitfire aeroplane; the Spitfire first flew out of the aerodrome, which is now Southampton international airport. Eastleigh is now home to Flybe, G W Martin and Lubetech, and B&Q has a little toe in the constituency, and has what was formerly the Pirelli factory, now Prysmian Cables & Systems Ltd. Eastleigh was also formerly home to Mr Kipling.

Eastleigh is also the home of Benny Hill. He worked in Woolworths on Leigh Road before becoming a milkman. Yes, he was “The Fastest Milkman in the West”, based at Factory Road, where he worked with a horse-drawn carriage. We know that that song was also made famous quite recently on “Desert Island Discs” by our Prime Minister. Benny Hill Close is now full of lovely new homes.

Eastleigh College is a tremendous success, with more than 4,000 apprentices. Barton Peveril Sixth Form College is also a great college, and it was the choice of Colin Firth. In addition, Eastleigh is famously the home of the Naked Rambler, but I will not say any more about that.

Eastleigh is very close to the M3 and the M27, which puts pressure on our community, with pollution and the other pressures from living nearby on the peninsula. Sadly, we have some very polluted areas in the constituency, so I will use my time in this House to fight for the infrastructure that is needed: the Chicken Hall link road; the Botley bypass, which we have waited decades for; and the upgrades to Hamble Lane and the Windover roundabout. We need smart motorways in Hampshire, noise reduction and junction improvements on the M27.

In this debate today, we are talking about the NHS and its five-year plan, which will integrate healthcare and social care, improve access to GPs and prioritise mental health. I was a carer for my mum and dad in their older age, and I was a member of the “sandwich” generation—someone looking after younger children as well as unwell parents. I would like to see us supporting people better. Carers week is coming up and I will be supporting Eastleigh and the One Community in that.

Finally, I would like us, in the NHS and the Bill we are considering, to bring through the technology and new practices that are so badly needed, and which I saw from the other side, by using it. I would like to see Moorgreen hospital enhanced and retained. There are no acute services in Eastleigh; there is no walk-in centre or community hospital.

In closing, I am very proud to represent Eastleigh and I am also very proud to stand alongside Godfrey Olson, who is one of my local councillors and has celebrated 60 years as a councillor. If I do can one tenth of the work that he has done in Eastleigh in this House—today is my 40th birthday, so do the maths—I will be here for a long time. I vow to work very hard for Eastleigh.

Thank you very much, Mr Deputy Speaker, for giving me the chance to speak.

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3.8 pm

Barbara Keeley (Worsley and Eccles South) (Lab): It is a pleasure to follow the speeches of so many new Members, in particular the excellent speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol West (Thangam Debbonaire), as well as another fine speech by the hon. Member for Eastleigh (Mims Davies), which we have just heard. Both those speeches were excellent expositions of the highlights of the Members’ local areas, and I was pleased to hear the commitment to carers that the hon. Member for Eastleigh has just made; I will expand on the issue of carers later.

I am delighted to have been elected by the people of Worsley and Eccles South to represent them in what is my third parliamentary term. There are 73,000 people in my constituency and I vow today to represent them all to the best of ability. Today, however, I want to talk about the 10,800 or so of my constituents who are unpaid family carers and part of the 6.5 million people who are carers across the UK. That is appropriate, because this year is the 50th year of the movement to support carers, and, as the hon. Member for Eastleigh has just said, next week is carers week. Carers week is a time when we celebrate the unpaid work of family carers, like the hon. Lady herself, and also a time when we should think about how we can better support those carers. Before I talk in more general terms, I pay tribute to Salford Carers Centre, which is part of the Carers Trust, and Salford Young Adult Carers project. I feel fortunate, as an MP in Salford, to know that the carers centre and the young carers project are providing such excellent support.

In April, when we were all busy campaigning, Carers UK published a survey of the state of caring. Over this Parliament, an estimated 10.6 million people will take on a new caring role for a family member or friend who is disabled, elderly or seriously ill, and the report tells us that we will not give them the support they need and deserve unless we make changes to ensure adequate care services and improved quality of care and, where we can, maintain and improve the financial support for carers.

It should be no surprise, after the last Parliament, that more than half of carers surveyed said they were worried about the impact of cuts to care and support services over the next year. They are right to be worried, because since 2010 Government cuts to local authority budgets have meant that more than £3.5 billion has been cut from adult social care budgets. Besides the quantity of support services available, which is important, family carers also worry about poor quality services. My right hon. Friend the Member for Leigh (Andy Burnham) rightly referred earlier to those terrible 15-minute care visits. Only just over a quarter of carers reported positive experiences of home care or respite care, and just over a fifth reported bad or terrible experiences of care, with the rest reporting mixed or fair experiences.

I say to the Minister, whom I am glad is in his place, that we should not be happy to hear that there is a lot of poor quality care out there. Poor care services mean that family carers have to take even more on themselves, with little respite from caring. Again, it is no surprise that six out of 10 carers told Carers UK that they were at breaking point. Caring can have a substantial impact on the health of the family carer. More than eight out of 10 carers reported to Carers UK that caring was having

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a negative impact on their health, and that figure is much higher for people caring for someone with dementia. Some 74% of carers report that they are struggling to get a good night’s sleep, and 47% are having difficulty maintaining a balanced diet.

Sixty thousand carers are affected by the bedroom tax. In the last Parliament, I introduced a Bill to exempt households with one extra bedroom from the bedroom tax if a carer in the house was eligible for carer’s allowance. While a disabled person who needs overnight care from a paid careworker or non-resident relative is exempt from the bedroom tax, they are hit by the tax when the care is provided unpaid by a partner or another carer living in the same house. That is unfair. Subjecting carers to the bedroom tax is illogical as well as unfair. One aim of the bedroom tax was to improve work incentives for working-age claimants, with the assumption that people should seek work or increase the number of hours they work to pay the bedroom tax. But for many unpaid carers that is not an option—entitlement to carer’s allowance means caring for someone for more than 35 hours a week, and Carers UK reports that 60% of those caring for people with dementia care for 60 hours a week. Clearly they cannot move back into employment without reducing their ability to care.

It is an insult to the 2.3 million people who have made the difficult decision to give up work so that they can care for a family member to be penalised further for that decision. Last week, I asked the Prime Minister to confirm that the planned £12 billion of welfare cuts would not include a measure to cut eligibility for carer’s allowance. He did not answer the question, and neither did the Health Secretary today. It is even more worrying for the 670,000 carers who get carer’s allowance that it is going to be cut.

I have not read all the Conservative manifesto, but I know that it said little about carers. It said only this:

“We will increase support for fulltime unpaid carers.”

I have suggested that this will mean ensuring sufficient funding for social care as well as for the NHS and improving the quality of the care services. It will also mean that carers should not suffer financial hardship as a result of their caring. Full-time family carers should not be subject to the bedroom tax, and carers should not be worrying, as they now are, about losing their eligibility for carer’s allowance. My party was committed to making it a duty on the NHS to identify carers—a measure that would help carers’ health—and I hope we can see that brought forward, if not by the Government, then in a private Member’s Bill.

I have raised today a number of issues of great importance to 6.5 million carers. It is time that their issues achieved more prominence in the House, and I will continue to raise them, as I have done today.

3.14 pm

Kit Malthouse (North West Hampshire) (Con): I am grateful, Mr Deputy Speaker, for this opportunity to make my maiden speech, particularly during a debate of such high quality. I congratulate those Members who have made their maiden speeches today, and I am particularly pleased to follow my Hampshire colleague, my hon. Friend the Member for Eastleigh (Mims Davies), thanks to whom I made quite a lot of money at Ladbrokes.

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The wonder of modern technology and the labours of our friends from Hansard mean that I have read, listened to and watched a number of speeches over the past few days, and I have been impressed by many. For instance, thoughtful speeches from my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Beaconsfield (Mr Grieve) and my hon. Friend the Member for North East Somerset (Mr Rees-Mogg) on the opening night illustrated the high quality of thinking in the Chamber, and I am pleased to be able to participate.

I am relieved that you, Mr Deputy Speaker, are in the Chair for my speech, because it is a tradition in a maiden speech for a Member to panegyrise their constituency, but 20 years ago the jewel—the glowing green emerald—that is North West Hampshire slipped through the otherwise deft fingers of the Speaker when he was the very young candidate for the candidacy there and was the runner-up to my predecessor. He will know from that experience that there can be few slices of England as fair as North West Hampshire. It has the world’s most important chalk stream, the River Test, rising and gurgling through it; it has “Watership Down” at its very heart and 60 largely thatched villages and hamlets dotted among its verdant hills. It is no surprise, therefore, that much of the constituency is designated an area of outstanding natural beauty.

In the north of the constituency lies the industrious town of Tadley—hard up against the fence of the Atomic Weapons Establishment in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Newbury (Richard Benyon)—with its famous treacle fair, held just this last Sunday. In the south there is the ancient market town of Andover, made modern in the 1960s by a deal with the Greater London Council to become a London overspill town, greatly increasing the population—and, I am afraid to say, the number of Arsenal supporters.

North West Hampshire is a hard-working place with very high employment levels underpinned by a thriving small business community, but it is not without its problems. I have pledged to put my shoulder to the wheel to try and help, starting with schools, where performance is not universally brilliant. A successful future for the town will be built on the foundation of great schools, so our work must begin there. I look forward to working with the Secretary of State for Education, my right hon. Friend the Member for Loughborough (Nicky Morgan), in her vital campaign to drive up standards and ambition.

Like much of Hampshire, my constituency has strong links with the armed forces. The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, my right hon. Friend the Member for Tunbridge Wells (Greg Clark), whom I congratulate on his appointment to the Cabinet —we were councillors together at Westminster city council—may boast that his constituency is the ancient home of the lieutenant colonel, but I believe that I might have a stronger claim. With army headquarters sited just outside Andover and the plethora of bases and garrison towns in the area, many serving and retired services personnel have settled there, giving a military flavour to much of life in the constituency. I thank them for their service to our country.

The House has not heard a maiden speech from a Member for North West Hampshire for more than 50 years. The last one, in 1964, was given by the late Sir David Mitchell, father of my right hon. Friend the

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Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr Mitchell), who sadly died last year after a distinguished life of public service. He was succeeded in 1997 by my predecessor, Sir George Young, the “Bicycling Baronet”, who was an MP already but whose Ealing Acton constituency had been abolished. Like me, Sir George had been a local councillor in London, with a young John Major, and then a member of the GLC, before entering Parliament and embarking on a glittering 42-year-long career on these Benches. I am told that he is the only Member to be hired, fired and rehired by three Prime Ministers.

Sir George’s time here was garlanded with many laurels, but it was at the constituency level that his true character shone through. His work over the past two decades has impacted on thousands of constituents. At every door I knocked on during the campaign, his industry and care were remarked upon. He has set the bar very high indeed. It has sometimes felt as if North West Hampshire had the Queen Mother as its MP, such was the regard in which he was held. He did not do it alone, of course. His wife, Lady Aurelia Young, whose father, Oscar Nemon, sculpted the magnificent statue of Churchill that stands in Members’ Lobby, has been very much a part of the team. The constituency and the country owe them a great deal.

I have tried to absorb as much of this debate as possible over the last few days, and there have been many notable and interesting speeches, but one in particular has stuck in my mind. It was given by the hon. Member for Bassetlaw (John Mann) on the opening night. In it, he said that the scandal of historical child abuse will be one of the defining issues of the next five years. He said that it would haunt the Parliament, and I agree with him.

During my many years in local and regional government in London, I have become increasingly alarmed at the social and cultural architecture in which our children live. I have tried to do my bit for them—for children in the care system, in prison or in gangs, and for children trafficked, mutilated, beaten, abused and too often killed. There are many politicians who have made a greater impact than me—not least the Minister for Children and Families, my hon. Friend the Member for Crewe and Nantwich (Edward Timpson) and the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, my right hon. Friend the Member for Surrey Heath (Michael Gove), whose experience and work in this area over the last five years has been exemplary. I welcome the measures in the education and adoption Bill signalled in the Gracious Speech this week.

But we have done our work in the face of profound and rapid social change in the way our children live. Their exposure and the exposure of those who have care of them to sex, violence and commercialisation is changing the way children interact with each other and with adults. The Prime Minister, I sense, feels the same, and has expressed alarm on a number of occasions. His very welcome troubled families programme, now expanded to include over 500,000 families, gives a sense of the scale of the issue. I see from the Order Paper that tonight’s Adjournment debate, called by the hon. Member for Nottingham North (Mr Allen), gives expression to a similar alarm in calling for the establishment of an institute for the study of the sexual abuse of children.

There has been much talk of this Parliament being consumed by questions of foxhunting, Europe, human rights and the Union. Even in the context of those

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important debates, I am with the hon. Member for Bassetlaw in believing that the horrific stories of child abuse from the past will dominate our public discourse. This House must respond by putting the future of our children, and in particular the care of our most disadvantaged and defenceless children, in front and at the centre of our considerations.

The good people of North West Hampshire have sent me here as their champion, and I intend to strain every sinew in their interests for as long as they will have me. During the time I am allowed in this House, I hope to be a champion for children, too. It was Nelson Mandela who said:

“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.”

I am sure you will agree with me, Mr Deputy Speaker, that he was right.

3.22 pm

Joan Ryan (Enfield North) (Lab): It is a privilege to be back in this place after my short break; I did not seek it, but I hope I made good use of it. I would like to congratulate the hon. Member for North West Hampshire (Kit Malthouse) on his maiden speech; it is a pleasure to follow him. It is an honour to be able to represent the constituents of Enfield North once again and to speak on their behalf.

One of the issues of the utmost importance to my constituents—and, indeed, to everybody in Enfield—is our national health service. Since 2010, Enfield has seen a shocking decline in acute care and primary care provision. Nothing symbolises the Conservatives’ attitude to the NHS more clearly than their decision to close our accident and emergency department and maternity unit at Chase Farm hospital—despite their promising to keep both open before the 2010 general election. People in Enfield feel betrayed—and no wonder.

Now, in the Gracious Speech, we see further pledges made to increase the health budget, to improve GP access and to ensure seven-day services for the NHS. Given the stark evidence of broken promises and cuts to services from the last five years, how can my constituents have any confidence in the Government’s plans for the NHS over the next five years?

Posing outside Chase Farm, in a visit to the hospital in 2007, the Prime Minister, then the Leader of the Opposition said,

“the idea that you cannot keep a maternity unit that’s got three thousand babies born in it a year is completely wrong. The idea we should be shutting Accident and Emergency and asking people to travel further is also wrong”

I agreed with him, but that was 2007. Safeguards were mentioned again in 2010, yet by 2013, the Conservative-led Government had ripped the heart out of Chase Farm and axed both services for good. That decision was certainly wrong.

Reports by the Care Quality Commission in 2014 found that both Barnet general hospital and North Middlesex University hospital, which have had to deal with the fallout from the closures at Chase Farm, had seen an increase in the number of patients they had to treat, a greater workload placed on staff and, in the case of the North Mid, added

“pressures to care for patients”.

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According to the NHS England A&E waiting time figures published in April, we have also seen a very sharp and real increase in the number of patients having to wait four or more hours for treatment at the A&E.

Our local health services would not have been under quite the same pressure if other promises to improve primary care, and therefore alleviate some of the strain on local A&E departments, had been fulfilled. The Barnet, Enfield and Haringey clinical strategy implemented in 2013 was supposed

“to improve health services for local people in the three boroughs”,

and at the time the strategy was approved, the Prime Minister stood at that Dispatch Box and said:

“Enfield is also getting an increase in primary care funding. That is part of our plan of not cutting but expanding our NHS.”—[Official Report, 20 November 2013; Vol. 570, c. 1226.]

Let me tell the House what this so-called improvement and expansion of services actually looks like.

Between 2010 and the summer of 2014, we saw 12 GP practices in Enfield close, with only one new GP practice opened. In fact, there is not a single GP surgery in Enfield Chase, the ward in which Chase Farm hospital is located. Enfield is facing a serious shortage of doctors. The number of GPs in Enfield is expected to have to rise by 84 from its current levels of 167 over the next five years—an increase of some 50%, and that just to get adequate cover by 2020. According to the Royal College of General Practitioners, that leaves Enfield the 17th worst hit clinical commissioning group out of 212 across the country. I suggest that that is a record to be ashamed of.

Once again, promises made have not been kept, and it is very difficult to get a GP appointment in Enfield. That brings me back to Chase Farm hospital, which has now been taken over by the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust. In December 2014, the Prime Minister said that the Government had set aside “£230 million” to redevelop the site. In reality, the Government are contributing only £82 million, and the rest of the costs must be provided through land sales and from the Royal Free itself. Despite many misleading statements by the governing party locally and nationally, the money is not going solely towards the construction of new buildings. A lot of it is to be used to maintain facilities and help to cover the hospital’s multi-million pound deficit. The redevelopment will cut Chase Farm hospital in size by almost a third, with no A&E, no maternity and no intensive care units either. It is certainly not going to be recognisable as the district general hospital it once was.

At the time of the announcement I mentioned, we were given a two-hour extension to the urgent care centre’s opening hours. That was in December, just five months before the election. A review of the urgent care hours is due this summer, but it is easy to imagine how cynical the two-hour expansion will look if those two hours are then to be cut. I believe that we need Chase Farm’s urgent care centre upgraded and its opening times permanently extended. Chase Farm has been gutted of frontline services. Acute care provision is under immense pressure. Enfield faces a shortfall in primary care provision, especially in relation to the number of GPs. Our mental health trust is anticipating an increased financial deficit of about £10 million this year, and funding for public health, which has been frozen, leaves Enfield 13.6% below the target figure for

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funding recommended by the Department of Health. This is a health care crisis in Enfield, and it behoves the Secretary of State to meet me to discuss the situation in person so that he can give an absolute commitment to me and, more important, the people of Enfield, that these issues will be addressed. I am holding him and his Government to account. Will the current promises on the future of our NHS prove to be worth any more than the promises that we have already seen betrayed right across Enfield and its health care services?

3.29 pm

Jesse Norman (Hereford and South Herefordshire) (Con): I congratulate all those who have given their maiden speeches in this Queen’s Speech debate today and on previous days. We have seen a galaxy of talent, and it has been a delight to listen to them. I feel like a thorn amid a garland of roses. I also take my hat off to the hon. Member for Bristol West (Thangam Debbonaire), now departing, for her elegant misattribution of my great hero Burke, for which I thank her.

Having won my seat in 2010, I am not in a position to give a maiden speech, but I am pleased to report to the House that the voters of Hereford and South Herefordshire have returned me with a majority that increased from 2,500 to just under 17,000. It has always been my aspiration to make my seat one where they weigh the vote rather than count it, and I am pleased to report that we are making a little progress in that direction.

With that progress comes responsibility, and I want to dwell on that a little. We had the Hay festival all last week, on the edge of my constituency—an extraordinary gathering of ideas and words and music, bringing people together from across this country, indeed across the world. It is an extraordinary institution and one of which I have had the honour to be a director for the past few years. The festival—I am talking here not so much about health and social care in the strict sense as about the health and care of our society more widely—formed a fascinating contrast with our proceedings in Parliament. For the Queen’s Speech had many excellent elements within it—enterprise, finance, education, immigration, cities and the EU referendum, to name just a few—and it had a heavily economic focus, as befits the times in which we live. But it was striking that the list of Bills barely touched, or touches, the areas of arts and culture—social care in the wider sense that I have described. It was doubly striking in the light of the many excellent speeches that we have heard in the past few days. Time and again they returned to the role of culture, of soft power, in supporting and advancing our understanding of ourselves and our place in the wider world.

I think of the spat mentioned yesterday between Charles I and his wife Henrietta Maria in 1621, which was healed by the soft breezes of rural Hampshire, as my hon. Friend the Member for Fareham (Suella Fernandes) pointed out, while from the opposite side of the Chamber the hon. Member for Birmingham, Edgbaston (Ms Stuart) rightly highlighted the importance of the English language and of British norms and values in our foreign policy.

This House is no friend to abstract ideas, and I am pleased to say that it is not, but it is worth asking ourselves what we mean by culture. For some it is

“The best that has been thought and said in the world”.

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For others it is

“the diffusion and extension of knowledge”

within a society. There is something in both definitions. We have a staggeringly rich and diverse national culture in this country. Indeed, in many ways, ours is among the very richest and most diverse cultures in the world today. But that knowledge, that culture, cannot exist unless it is shared; unless it is diffused and extended, as Cardinal Newman put it. And it must be diffused and extended across the whole country.

But Mr Deputy Speaker, this is not the case today. Let me pick out two areas in which I suggest that we need early and resolute action from the Government to support the diffusion of culture. The first is communications. Vast areas of our country still do not have decent broadband, fast or otherwise. Vast areas of our country struggle to get a decent mobile signal. This affects rural areas and some urban areas in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland alike. We need an urgent action taskforce, led by Government but involving local government and the private and third sectors, to review how these issues can be swiftly resolved, and then to resolve them.

My second area, over and above communications, has to do with what is communicated; with knowledge, with understanding and the value of education, which are the cornerstones of our culture. Over the past five years, the Government, led by the Conservative party, have made great strides in education, almost across the entire age spectrum, but one crucial group has been left out—indeed worse, the group’s great achievements have arguably been put at a certain amount of risk. I mean our sixth-form colleges, which have an extraordinary record of educating young people at low cost and to high quality. Mr Deputy Speaker, we need to do something about this collectively in this Parliament. We need to do something about communications, rural broadband and a rural mobile signal. We need to do something about the diffusion of our culture across our country and the way in which we educate our young people in our sixth-form colleges.

This Government have rightly laid claim to the mantle of one nation, and have done so in the name of compassionate conservatism, but that inclusiveness—that fellow-feeling—demands that everyone be equally able to enjoy our history and our traditions, and share in the endlessly dynamic and creative culture that is Britain. For that, we need better broadband and better mobile signals, and we need to support our sixth-form colleges. To those ends, I hope that the Government will be able to introduce measures swiftly to address the issues that I have raised.

3.34 pm

Angela Rayner (Ashton-under-Lyne) (Lab): Thank you for calling me to speak, Mr Deputy Speaker. I also thank the hon. Member for Hereford and South Herefordshire (Jesse Norman) for his speech.

There has been an Ashton-under-Lyne constituency since 1832, and although there have been significant boundary changes during the last 183 years, the strength and character of the people of my constituency have not changed. It is the people of Ashton-under-Lyne who are at the start, the heart and the end of my maiden speech. It is to them that I owe this tremendous

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honour and privilege. They remain proud, warm and welcoming, and, most of all, resilient, although I fear that those qualities will be severely tested over the next five years.

My constituency consists of three distinct communities, Ashton, Droylsden and Failsworth. It has been well served by its elected representatives over the years, and I am proud to say that, since 1935, it has happily returned an unbroken line of Labour MPs. I pay tribute to David Heyes, my predecessor, whom Members will recall for his 14-year service in the House. A former advice worker and a proud fellow member of my trade union, Unison, David was adept at handling constituency casework, as I now know because of my casework load. He was also a real champion of our NHS, and, in particular, of Tameside general hospital, in our constituency.

All the previous MPs who have represented my historic constituency have had one thing in common that I do not share: they have all been men. Today, I stand here making my maiden speech as the first woman MP to serve Ashton-under-Lyne in 183 years, and, as the first woman MP, I promise that I will do all in my power to live up to the examples shown by my predecessors. Of course, I could never fill their shoes—mine tend to have three-inch heels and to be rather more colourful—but I walk in their footsteps. We are different, and I will be different, but we are equal too.

Today, in this House of democracy, we are making a little more history. I lay claim to being the only Member of Parliament ever to have worked as a home carer. I have known the insecurity of zero-hours contracts myself, as a worker, and also the insecurity of the people who depend on our care. I have also seen how quality care can change lives and make a real difference. One in eight adults in Ashton-under-Lyne is providing unpaid care by looking after a loved one. Carers make a remarkable contribution to our society, holding families together and enabling loved ones to get the most out of life. Their care saves the United Kingdom billions every year. I agree with all that was said earlier by my hon. Friend the Member for Worsley and Eccles South (Barbara Keeley).

A careworker becoming a Member of Parliament: that is real aspiration for you. Perhaps I am also the only Member who, at the age of 16 and pregnant, was told in no uncertain terms that I would never amount to anything. If only those people could see me now! I am proud to be in this place, for myself, for my family, for my party, and for the people whom I represent. I am proud, too, for women, who are the backbone of our society and the rock of our families. As a mother, I know what it is like to struggle to make ends meet. However, I also know how Governments can change people’s lives for the better. It was my party—the Labour party—that in government founded the national health service. Many Members on both sides of this House will have cause to be thankful for the care the NHS has provided. One of my sons owes his life to our NHS. He was born at just 23 weeks’ gestation. He clung to life for months in an intensive care unit in Manchester’s St Mary’s hospital. He finally pulled through thanks to the care of our NHS staff. Members may therefore understand that I will be watching intently how this Government treat our NHS over the next five years both as an MP and as a mother, and let me give a warning—an angry mother is someone you just don’t want to tangle with.

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I take my job—this, my only job—extremely seriously. I will bring determination and commitment to my socialist values in representing my constituents. The failures of the last Government on our NHS have led to crisis after crisis and countless broken promises. For all the talk from those on the Treasury Bench, they cannot hide from the daily misery people face up and down the country. Because of Government failures, the NHS has no money and not enough permanent staff, and GP services are overstretched.

I will always tell it how it is—my constituents deserve no less—and I will do so in my own little northern way. I also have a message from my constituents to the Treasury Bench: stop privatising and selling off our NHS.

To sum up, I turn back to my constituency of Ashton-under-Lyne and its journey from mill town to, today, a centre for manufacturing and retail excellence, supported by excellent transport links, not to mention our award-winning market.

I thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to make my maiden speech and I thank Members for listening.

3.42 pm

Mrs Anne Main (St Albans) (Con): Thank you for calling me, Mr Deputy Speaker. It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship today. I congratulate the hon. Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Angela Rayner) on her maiden speech. It was a very thought-provoking speech and one thing I will take from it was her passionate wishes for her young son, who she said survived at 23 weeks’ gestation. I wish her well in that and some of my right hon. and hon. Friends and some Opposition Members who tried in the last Parliament to revisit the gestational age for abortion may well wish to remind her of that if she is present for any such debate. I would like that subject to be revisited at some point in the future, as I know would other colleagues.

There is some unfinished business from the last Parliament and I want to touch on some of that as well as speak about the proposals on health and social care in Her Majesty’s Gracious Speech.

I was reminded quite forcefully by a constituent that we are still waiting to hear the outcome in respect of some of the rendition that may or may not have occurred on Diego Garcia. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the lease with America and it can now potentially be renewed. Colleagues in previous Parliaments have looked at this and asked about our role in this potential rendition of torture victims. This year, the first year of this Parliament, is an opportune moment to look at our renegotiation of the lease with America. I hope that we perhaps might take time to reflect on the Prime Minister’s commitment in 2010 to have some form of inquiry into whether or not the previous Labour Government dragged us through unfortunate circumstances whereby we were complicit potentially in torture and rendition.

Another topic that will come back to us is in this Parliament is the need to tackle bovine TB. In the last Parliament I was pleased to lead a debate on our ineffective tackling of bovine TB through our unfortunate slaughter of badgers. I know that this is not high up on

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everybody’s agenda, but it will be coming back because we will potentially be rolling out our TB strategy. I want to see TB controlled and I know that farmers have suffered greatly because of it but, now that the British Veterinary Association has said that our strategy to free-shoot badgers was totally flawed and inhumane, we have to come back with something better.

During the election period I spoke to quite a few people about Equitable Life. I hope that we can revisit that topic at some point given the grave injustices that were done to all those who were caught up in that saga. It was a scandal that they lost the pensions that they had banked on for their future.

I also want to pay tribute to a little girl I met during my campaign in St Albans. Her name is Bessie and she and her parents, Mike and Abby, were shocked to discover that she had a serious condition called neurofibromatosis. She went from being a little girl running around to a little girl in a wheelchair. Thankfully, following treatment, she regained some use of her limbs and is now making good progress, but she will always have to tackle the condition. I said that I would like to look into that topic if I was returned to this place.

That brings me to the health and social care aspect of the Queen’s Speech. A week after the general election I was shocked to read an article on the front page of my local newspaper in which a coroner was calling for a resolution in co-ordinating social care and NHS care. As we know, if one pot in the health and social care budget is raided, the other is somehow slightly better off. There is a real problem of people being kept in hospital beds and not receiving care packages. When they do receive a care package, the hospital cannot wait to get rid of them. There is no linking up in the system.

The coroner was really unhappy about this, and I want to use some of his words to describe the situation. He criticised what he called the bureaucratic hurdles that result from the lack of joined-up thinking. He said that the Government needed to tackle this, as it was difficult to know who to contact for reports. When someone dies, it is difficult to know whether that has been the result of poor healthcare or poor social care. We all have what are considered to be bed-blockers. At the inquest, the coroner asked Ms Reynolds, who was asked to explain what had happened, whether there were bed-blockers. She said that some patients

“may not be quite ready to go home, because there is a delay in their social care package”.

This is something that we see over and over again.

We must stop these delays in social care packages. It is too easy for patients to languish in hospital beds while the local authority drags its feet, for whatever reason. I accept that there are lots of reasons, but these care packages are not being put in place quickly enough. In St Albans, which is covered by the West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust, up to 48% of all acute beds at any one time have been occupied by patients who could have been dealt with in an alternative way. Some patients could have been discharged to their own homes or perhaps to a less acute bed service. We need to tackle this problem, and I welcome the fact that it is a priority for the Government.

We also need to have a big think about how we deliver care, and there is a review taking place in my hospital trust at the moment. I make no secret of the

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fact that I am arguing for an urgent care centre in St Albans. Unfortunately, we lost our accident and emergency department under the Labour Government, but that is history and there is no point in going over it again now. We must look forward to the future, and I would like an urgent care centre to take the pressure off the Watford A&E. People who do not know what to do in a stressful situation will go to A&E rather than risk not being seen locally. I will be fighting to those acute services. I also want us to get people out of their hospital beds and into their own homes, with a care package.

I am sorry to have to end on a sour note, but Labour must also be held accountable. Labour’s spokesman threw a lot of bricks in his opening speech, but when my mother died in Wales, she was told that she would not receive a care package for six weeks. She died before she got one. So let us not pretend that this is something that only we in England have to deal with. It is also happening on Labour’s watch in Wales. Having been a carer myself, I know how important it is to get that support in place. When carers are supported, it takes a burden off the NHS. I welcome the announcement in the Queen’s Speech that this Government have made this matter a priority. Let us have some co-operation from the Opposition to help us to deliver this, so that all those carers out there, many of whom are elderly, can know that they have the support of a Government who truly want to join up the services for the good of all.

3.49 pm

Rachael Maskell (York Central) (Lab/Co-op): I thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker, for calling me in today’s debate. I congratulate all those who have made their maiden speeches on this crucial issue of health and care, which is so important to my constituents across York Central. I thank those constituents for putting their trust in me to speak on this and many other matters.

Health and care are about the essence of life; they are about our families and our communities. As we have seen over the past five years, passions have been stirred, as Members of this House, with no evidence, took to taking our NHS and putting it on the open market, inviting the profiteers of the sick to run our health service instead of the state. This is the NHS that we built, we paid for, we work in, and we depend on, and we, as Labour, are so proud that we created it.

In 2015, we know that the vision for the NHS of the late Member for Ebbw Vale is not being met, as growing social and financial inequalities manifest themselves in health inequality, and access to vital services is delayed and even denied as a direct result of the £3 billion structural reorganisation that the previous Government introduced. It is that crisis that I want to address in my maiden speech.

First, however, I must pay tribute to the NHS staff whom I have represented as Unite’s head of health. They are dedicated, professional, selfless, compassionate, innovative, caring and loving in all they do 24/7. I must also declare an interest: I have worked in the NHS for 20 years and am the first ever physiotherapist to become an MP. Although our reputation goes before us—I trust that that has been positive and not too painful—I can assure Members that I will not be using my position to massage facts or manipulate statistics. Instead, I will exercise my voice to benefit those whom I represent in my constituency of York Central.

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My predecessor, Sir Hugh Bayley, entered this House with a keen interest in health and many will recall that he played an active role on the Health Select Committee, although he was latterly more involved in leading the parliamentary assembly at NATO. I am sure that the whole House will join me in paying tribute to him for the contributions that he made to this place, which were always executed with integrity, honesty and decency.

York is an amazing city and needs no introduction. Our National Rail Museum is emblematic of the once thriving rail industry, which had to shed so many good quality jobs as a direct result of rail privatisation. It left behind the legacy of asbestosis. Our Minster represents our vibrant faith communities. It also serves our city’s food banks, which are ever in demand as the cost of living crisis squeezes families beyond their limits.

Let us turn now to our Viking settlement and our 14th century Shambles. They not only make us look back to how we once lived, but urge us to plan ahead and to build much-needed affordable and social housing. Beyond the medieval city walls are the amazing people whom I have the privilege to serve. They want to see a safe NHS.

There are many points that I could raise about York’s NHS: the failing funding formula, which gives York £117 less per patient; the A&E crisis, which is not unique to York; the crisis in the recruitment of staff, which is due to the pay freezes—15% lost over the past five years—and the depleted public health services. Again, public health is key to our future health. But there is something more urgent, which is mental health. York is in the midst of a mental health breakdown.

Nationally, under the previous Government, we saw mental health services cut by 8.25%, which took its toll in York. I am talking about services to the most vulnerable children and adults in our society. It was therefore deeply regrettable that mental health was absent from the Queen’s Speech. Clearly, it will be the Labour Opposition who will fight for those who experience mental health challenges.

In the heart of our city sits Bootham Park, which hosts our major mental health facility. Not far away is Lime Trees, our child and adolescent mental health services unit. Both units have recently failed a Care Quality Commission inspection. Bootham Park is the oldest mental health hospital in the country. Conceived in 1772 and built 240 years ago, and I quote:

“for the reception and relief of the insane”,

this period building, placed in acres of parkland, speaks more of a stately home than an acute mental health facility. But here need cannot be met, as the quadrangle-shaped wards provide no line of sight for nurses to see patients. Limits on the building mean that we have mixed-sex wards, and we need anti-barricade doors to be fitted and all the ligature points to be removed to prevent suicide risks. Tragically, we lost a member of our community in that way last year. I will not stay silent when the acute needs of my constituents are at such high risk. I have already written and spoken to the relevant Minister and asked for assurances in this debate that this will be given the most urgent attention. Bootham is not fit for purpose and the CQC concurs.

Services have also been criticised by the CQC. In the past 16 months, £2.1 million has been spent on sending mental health patients across the country due to local

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overcapacity. On another occasion a constituent waited more than a year to start much-needed treatment for depression, anxiety and an eating disorder and the wait brought added complications. Our NHS is in a dangerous state. It is simple: this cannot go on. I am asking for a new state-of-the-art mental health facility for York. I want to tell Ministers that it is simple: lives are at risk until they deliver.

My constituents deserve better and I am totally committed to ensuring that people across York get the right health service in the right place at the right time, that we build on Labour’s desire to integrate health—physical and mental—with social care and that we stop at nothing to ensure that my community has the best services to protect their health. I bring a weighty plea in my maiden speech today, but I assure this House that my constituents deserve the very best and I will stop at nothing to ensure that they get it.

3.56 pm

Lucy Allan (Telford) (Con): It is a privilege to follow the hon. Member for York Central (Rachael Maskell) and I welcome many of her comments about mental health. I congratulate all my colleagues who have made their maiden speech over the past few days. There have been many awe-inspiring and somewhat intimidating speeches to have to follow.

I am honoured that the people of Telford have sent me to this place to speak for them. I have been touched by the warmth and kindness they have shown me over the past few years as I have got to know Telford and Telford has got to know me. Telford has welcomed me as it has welcomed so many newcomers over recent years, and I look forward to repaying that trust by representing it to the very best of my ability.

I pay tribute to my predecessor, David Wright. He was well respected and well liked and I know that he was proud to serve Telford. He served with dedication and diligence for 14 years and I wish him well for the future.

Telford is an extraordinary and vibrant new town. It has grown and continues to grow in the heart of Shropshire. As the first Conservative MP for Telford, I join four other Shropshire Conservative Members of this House and Shropshire now becomes a wholly Conservative county. There were fears during the election campaign about the SNP—the Shropshire national party—but I can assure the House that that fear is entirely misplaced, because Telford most definitely has an independent spirit and a unique identity all of its own.

Telford was originally made up of the traditional industrial settlements of the east Shropshire coalfields of Madeley, Ketley, Oakengates and, of course, Dawley. In the 1960s and ’70s it was joined by new town areas such as Sutton Hill, Malinslee, Brookside and Woodside and today growth continues apace. It is expected that by 2025 its population will have increased by a further 23%.

Telford has a proven ability to innovate, evolve and adapt to change, whether through the revolutionary ironmasters such as Abraham Darby, who made Telford famous as the birthplace of British industry, through men such as Thomas Telford, a civil engineer and

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architect of the local canals, railways, bridges and churches, or through the new economy, high-tech revolution and new business start-ups we see today. All around us is innovation and change.

Some 140 years ago, in August 1875, a Dawley man, Captain Matthew Webb, became the first man to swim the British channel. He achieved what everybody thought was impossible. His first attempt did indeed fail. When he tried again, the jellyfish, the cold, the currents and the tides simply could not defeat him. He finally overcame the odds and he made it. His amazing story has been told in a new film called “The Greatest Englishman” and the premier is to be held in Telford later this year. At the bottom of Dawley High Street is a monument to Captain Webb. On it are the words, “Nothing great is easy.” When Conservative Members talk about aspiration, it is the spirit captured by the story of Captain Webb that we talk about—that Telford spirit, thinking big, overcoming obstacles, never giving up, and the struggle to achieve the best that we can, whatever the odds.

Telford has never had it easy. In the ’60s the blast furnaces were blown out. In the ’70s the last collieries closed. It was hit by the recessions of the ’80s and ’90s, with record unemployment, and again by the great recession of 2008-09. The solution has always been to think big, work hard and keep going. While Opposition Members may weary of the phrase “the long-term economic plan is working”, the truth is, and the facts are, it is. And anyone who wants evidence need look no further than Telford.

People come to Telford to seek a better life, but realising that dream has never been easy. There was the battle to get a link road connecting the M6 to Telford. From when the Planning Minister told this House it would be started in 1972, it took a further 15 years to complete. Getting Telford connected remains a major priority for its success. Virgin Trains set up a direct train service to London last year, which is welcome, but more frequent services to Birmingham are required and internet connectivity remains a huge issue for our constituency.

While hon. Members will talk with enthusiasm about building new homes, in Telford we see at first hand the practical difficulties that come with the rapid rate of growth, which should not be ignored—school places, parking, access to GPs, better communications, and the desire to protect Telford’s green spaces.

For our young people to take full advantage of all that Telford has to offer, they need skills and training. Fantastic work has been done by many organisations to ensure that that happens, but to truly thrive, young people must, as my hon. Friend the Member for North West Hampshire (Kit Malthouse) mentioned, have strong and supportive families. For that reason, I welcome the expansion of the troubled families initiative announced in the Gracious Speech. It has been so successful in supporting families with the most complex needs, and I particularly welcome this new family-centric approach.

Nationally, since 2008 we have seen a rapid increase in the number of children entering the care system. I want to see that decrease because that is no solution for children and it is no way to spend a childhood.

In conclusion, I want to say that this Gracious Speech has been about helping working people get on, supporting aspiration and giving opportunities to the most disadvantaged. The Gracious Speech is truly a speech designed for Telford.

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4.3 pm

Grahame M. Morris (Easington) (Lab): I am grateful for the opportunity to participate in this debate on the Queen’s Speech and on such an important subject. It is an absolute honour to follow so many excellent maiden speeches, not least that of my very good friend my hon. Friend the Member for York Central (Rachael Maskell) and some excellent contributions from all around the Chamber.

In the time available, I want to say a few things about health inequalities, cancer treatment and cancer outcomes. In my usual, inimitable style, Minister, and in the vein of the hon. Member for South Cambridgeshire (Heidi Allen), I shall endeavour to be helpful. I have some specific suggestions to put to the Minister in the context of the Government’s commitments outlined in the Gracious Speech.

I pay tribute to the excellent work done in the campaign headed up by Lawrence Dallaglio. We can now look forward to hundreds of newly diagnosed cancer patients with some of the most complex cancers being treated with advanced stereotactic ablative radiotherapy—SABR, as it is commonly known. Although SABR is widely used in the rest of Europe and, indeed, the United States, it will be the first time that patients with cancer other than lung cancers will receive treatment here in the UK. Not only does SABR treat cancers that conventional radiotherapy cannot, but the advanced nature of the treatment is such that patients have to be irradiated four or five times, rather than 25 times with conventional radiotherapy. SABR is not only more effective and will save our cancer centres money, but, more important, it can dramatically reduce the number of times patients are exposed to radiation while still destroying the cancer.

I pay tribute to the work done by Tessa Munt, who previously represented the constituency of Wells. She was a real champion and I think it was she who initially got Lawrence Dallaglio involved. It is good news for many cancer patients—and I emphasise “many”, because those of us who live north of Birmingham would have had no chance of finding one cancer centre that could treat all the cancers that the Dallaglio campaign opened the door to. Patients in my Easington constituency in the north-east of England with a cancer that had spread to secondary sites in the body—not an uncommon condition, of course—would find themselves being treated with SABR for one cancer in one hospital, and for the secondary cancer in a hospital over 100 miles away.

For the past five years, NHS policy on purchasing advanced radiotherapy machines has been to buy the cheapest conventional machines that can do a little bit of advanced work, and as a consequence we have cancer centres dotted around the country that can treat one cancer but not another, or that, because of their limited technology, treat fewer than the minimum number of 25 SABR patients required to maintain their accreditation. With the growth of SABR treatment, that approach to SABR technology is plainly a false economy. In the long run, it costs the NHS more and means that patients receive much more radiation than is needed, which is clearly not good for them.

While SABR is used to treat cancers outside the brain, stereotactic radiosurgery—SRS—is the global standard when it comes to treating brain tumours with

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radiotherapy. The use of the technique was increasing year on year up to 2013, but that was brought to a crashing halt when the health reforms were brought in and NHS England came into being. To justify the suppression of SRS treatment two years ago, NHS England ordered an SRS review. I remind the Minister that that review has yet to be completed; it is turning into the longest radiotherapy review in history. Meanwhile, patients are being denied treatment with the most modern SRS machines at the hospitals of their choice—for example, University College London hospitals—and are being sent elsewhere.

I do not wish to be too parochial, but the lack of provision of SABR and SRS in the north of England is a scandal. Outside Leeds and Sheffield, the north is something of a wasteland. According to NHS England’s own figures, there is no provision at all in the north-east—my region. The suppression of SRS is yet another false economy by NHS England. The most obvious reason why it is a false economy is that a non-invasive treatment, overwhelmingly given on an out-patient basis—patients come in for the day, get treated and go home—is hugely advantageous.

Five years ago the national radiotherapy implementation group said that what was needed were centres of excellence around the country to provide advanced stereotactic radiotherapy to our cancer patients. Detailed work has been carried out, and, as has been proven in other countries, it is improving the way we treat cancer patients with radiation, and we have finally started to make some progress with this next generation treatment in the UK. With the right equipment in the right place, we could do so much better, so will the Secretary of State order an independent assessment of the benefits of having one designated stereotactic centre of excellence in each English region, and of what would be the most appropriate technology to equip them with in order to treat the greatest number of patients and the greatest number of cancers?