I warmly welcome the maiden speeches of my hon. Friends on the Labour Benches. My hon. Friends the Members for Aberavon (Stephen Kinnock) and for Batley and Spen (Jo Cox) both rightly argued that our EU membership is vital for jobs, investment and economic growth. My hon. Friend the Member for Dulwich and West Norwood (Helen Hayes) stressed her determination to secure better and more affordable housing for her constituents. I had the pleasure of visiting my hon. Friend the Member for Redcar (Anna Turley) a few weeks ago in her constituency. I am delighted at the Labour gain there. She is right to prioritise bringing more jobs and investment to her area. My hon. Friend the Member for

3 Jun 2015 : Column 693

Hove (Peter Kyle) spoke of the two world-class universities in his constituency and convinced us all that it is the best, happiest and coolest place to live in the UK.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Streatham (Mr Umunna) set out in his opening speech, the Labour party wants an ambitious and forward-looking devolution agenda that hands to the local level resources and power over areas such as transport, housing, skills and other levers to drive economic growth. We are one of the most centralised countries in western Europe and our cities, towns and counties have not had the opportunities, which many of their European counterparts have benefited from, to shape their own agenda and destiny and to drive their own economic success.

We want the Government to go further and faster on devolution. Rather than a series of one-off deals done by the Chancellor, we want a comprehensive plan for devolution to every part of England. Many county councils are worried about being left behind. The Conservative leader of Devon County Council has rightly warned against a piecemeal approach to devolution that focuses only on city regions and excludes our counties.

Will the Secretary of State explain why the so-called Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill does not actually devolve any power or resources and does not give local areas a choice on metro mayors? As my hon. Friends the Members for Sheffield South East (Mr Betts), for Newcastle upon Tyne North (Catherine McKinnell) and for Newcastle upon Tyne Central (Chi Onwurah) powerfully argued in their speeches, if the Government were committed to real devolution and localism they would surely let local communities choose for themselves, rather than putting obstacles in the way of devolution.

We know, after all, what councils can achieve when they are given the means and power. Councils across the country are working together and innovating to deliver better public services for less. To do more, local areas must have the resources that they need. Devolution must not be a smokescreen for bringing local government to its knees. The test for the new Secretary of State will be whether he can devolve power from Whitehall and deliver a fairer funding settlement for the whole of local government. His predecessor’s negotiating strategy could be summed up in three words: “more cuts please”. As a result, local government suffered deeper cuts than any other part of the public sector. The only thing that the Secretary of State’s predecessor devolved was the blame for decisions that he made in Whitehall.

The new Secretary of State must secure a change in how funds are distributed to local government and, crucially, restore the link between resources and need. In the last five years, the Government have hit with the biggest cuts the most deprived areas with the greatest needs. No part of the country has faced bigger cuts to local authority budgets than the north of England. That is why, as my hon. Friend the Member for Blackpool South (Mr Marsden) said, the Opposition remain deeply sceptical about the Government’s boasting about their role in bringing about a northern powerhouse.

The other key test for the new Secretary of State is whether he will set out serious plans and reforms to tackle the housing crisis. The scale of the challenge

3 Jun 2015 : Column 694

must not be underestimated. We are not even building half the number of homes that we need to keep up with demand in this country.

Stephen Pound (Ealing North) (Lab): Does my hon. Friend agree that one of the tragedies and sadnesses of this Queen’s Speech is the ludicrous attack on housing associations, which amounts to nationalisation followed by liquidation through sequestration? Does she agree that the inevitable logic, if the Government wish to extend home ownership, is to extend this to private tenancies—and see what private landlords have to say?

Emma Reynolds: I am not entirely sure that I agree with everything my hon. Friend has just said, but I will say this: the real test for any of the housing policies put forward by this Government is whether they ease or deepen the housing crisis, and from what we have seen so far, they are failing that test.

Under the previous Government, we saw the lowest level of house building in peacetime since the 1920s. [Interruption.] In terms of completions, they are bang to rights: I will take our record over theirs any time. Home ownership under this Tory Government is now at its lowest level for 30 years, and a record number of young people are living with their parents into their 20s and 30s. When I was shadow Housing Minister, I lost count of the number of people who complained to me about not benefiting from empty nest syndrome because their children simply could not get on the housing ladder.

Mr Richard Bacon (South Norfolk) (Con): The hon. Lady is right to say there is a housing problem. During the general election, I met people who are still living at home at the age of 34 because they cannot find anywhere. Does she agree that the real answer is to make it much easier for an ordinary person to get a piece of land and to build their own dwelling, or to commission somebody to do it for them, as is now allowed by the Self-build and Custom Housebuilding Act 2015, which she supported?

Emma Reynolds: We need radical plans and a big vision to solve the housing crisis, and this Government, like the one over the past five years, lack that vision.

There are 1.4 million families on council waiting lists. Let us be clear: the challenge we face in housing is one of massive under-supply, but the reforms that the current Government have set out are not equal to the scale of that challenge. They have proposed a half-baked programme to deliver starter homes at a 20% discount, without any idea of how they are going to deliver it—so much so that the then chairman of the Conservative party, the right hon. Member for Welwyn Hatfield (Grant Shapps), could not quite explain it.

There is also the right to buy proposal, which seems to be unravelling before a draft Bill has even been printed. Opposition Members want as many people as possible to fulfil their aspiration to buy a home of their own, but housing experts and even the former head of the civil service and permanent secretary from the Secretary of State’s own department, Lord Kerslake, have said that the proposals are unworkable and that the numbers do not stack up. Yesterday, a Member from the Secretary of State’s own party said so, and even the Mayor

3 Jun 2015 : Column 695

of London, the hon. Member for Uxbridge and South Ruislip (Boris Johnson), has expressed serious concerns about the proposals. There are many unanswered questions about how the proposal will be paid for, and about how the Government will deliver the one-for-one replacements that they committed themselves to in the last Parliament. As I have said, the test we will set this Government is whether their housing policies tackle the housing crisis, rather than deepen it.

We call on the Government to bring forward an ambitious and comprehensive plan for devolution to all parts of the country—to our cities, towns and counties—and we will hold the new Secretary of State’s feet to the fire to deliver a better and fairer deal for local government and real plans to tackle, not deepen, the housing crisis. For those reasons, I urge all hon. Members to vote for our amendment.

6.48 pm

The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (Greg Clark): It is a pleasure to see you back in the Chair, Mr Deputy Speaker. I congratulate you on your election.

It is an enormous pleasure to respond to what on the whole has been a debate of the highest quality, although I have to say that it was marked by some slightly eccentric interventions. I am looking directly at the hon. Member for Birmingham, Erdington (Jack Dromey), who said that the Government were “out of touch” with the electorate of the country. I do not know whether he was around when the results came in on 8 May, but I think the electorate have had their say.

This is an important day for the Members who made their maiden speeches. They made distinguished contributions and their words will ring out from this place in the years ahead.

I welcome the hon. Member for Wolverhampton North East (Emma Reynolds) to her post and congratulate her on her promotion. There is a tradition in her seat of radicalism. Indeed, the Member who was considered to be Britain’s first Trotskyist MP was one of her predecessors. I hope that she will follow in a different tradition of radicalism. I am sure that she will, given her position of support in the Labour leadership contest.

I pay tribute to my good friend and predecessor, my right hon. Friend the Member for Brentwood and Ongar (Sir Eric Pickles), for his outstanding work as Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. The House knows him as one of its most unique personalities. I had the privilege of working with him—as did some of my colleagues—when I was his Minister of State for our first two years in government, and I had the pleasure of learning from one of the most capable administrators in government.

My right hon. Friend was the architect of the Localism Act 2011, which dismantled the costly regional apparatus that has been discussed in today’s Queen’s Speech debate. He ended the ring-fencing of grants to local government—something that had been called for and was long overdue. He delivered the savings that were necessary to get our country’s public finances back on track. He ushered in a new era of transparency in local government. He created the troubled families programme that has turned around the lives of more than 100,000 families. He did a magnificent job and I am honoured to follow in his footsteps.

3 Jun 2015 : Column 696

The theme of today’s debate, devolution and growth across Britain, is broad enough, but the debate has ranged even beyond that. Let me, in the short time that I have, comment on some of the maiden speeches that have been made from the Back Benches before commenting on some of the other speeches and concluding with some observations of my own.

The hon. Member for Edinburgh West (Michelle Thomson) has made rapid progress to the Front Bench of her party in a very short space of time. I can see why, given the informed and articulate speech that she gave on economic matters. I was pleased to hear her recognise something that Government Members believe strongly: that a strong economy is essential to underpin our essential public services.

I pay a warm tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for South Suffolk (James Cartlidge), who spoke without notes. He had in mind the record of his predecessor in holding down three shadow Cabinet jobs at the same time. I do not know whether the Whips have marked that as a sign of his ambition, but the quality of his speech was significant. I am sure that he has a great future in this House.

It was a delight to hear the speech of the new hon. Member for Aberavon (Stephen Kinnock). He made a warm and amusing speech, of which his father and mother who were in the Public Gallery will be very proud. He talked a lot about the steel industry and its importance to Port Talbot. As a Teesside lad, I share his enthusiasm for doing everything we can to make sure that that great industry, wherever it is in our United Kingdom, prospers now and in the future.

My hon. Friend the Member for North East Hampshire (Mr Jayawardena) made an elegant speech in which he revealed that the original chocolate-box village is in his constituency. He was right to point out that human rights were not conceived in 1998, and no doubt presaged discussion in future debates in doing so. I look forward to his contributions in those debates.

It is fantastic to welcome my hon. Friend the Member for Aldridge-Brownhills (Wendy Morton) to the House. I got to know her in Tyneside, where she was a very effective leader of the local community. She will draw on that experience and her business experience in supporting the enterprise Bill.

My hon. Friend the Member for Gower (Byron Davies), for whom I had the delight of campaigning in Mumbles during the general election campaign, will bring considerable experience of the Welsh Assembly and his experience as a police officer to the House. He has a wonderful manner in this House and on the doorstep, which will commend itself to hon. Members.

The hon. Member for Dulwich and West Norwood (Helen Hayes) rightly paid tribute to her predecessor, Dame Tessa Jowell, who enjoyed a great deal of support from all parts of the House. If she channels the approach of her predecessor, she will go down very well here.

I was particularly interested in the speech of the hon. Member for Redcar (Anna Turley) because I went to school in the shadow of the steelworks she described in South Bank, Eston and Grangetown. I share her enthusiasm for ensuring that the success that Teesside is contributing continues. With unemployment falling, businesses being created and now a Minister for the northern powerhouse in the Government, Teesside is on a roll, and I look forward to her support in championing that.

3 Jun 2015 : Column 697

My hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff North (Craig Williams) gave a very fluent, poised and gracious speech to sell his constituency to the House; he did so very well. He mentioned the support of Lord Heseltine in years past for the redevelopment of Cardiff bay. We want to build on that legacy and to go forward to make Cardiff even more successful in the years ahead.

The hon. Member for Batley and Spen (Jo Cox) observed that there is more that unites her constituents than divides them. On this agenda of devolution, I hope she will find that that is the case in this House as well, and she will find in me someone who is prepared to work across party lines to do the best for every part of the country.

My hon. Friend the Member for Solihull (Julian Knight) is very welcome to the House. He is a representative—an embodiment, indeed—of the midlands powerhouse that exists alongside the northern powerhouse. It is probably a relief that the slogan of one of his predecessors, who is the father of my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Beaconsfield (Mr Grieve), was, “Vote for Percy Grieve”. The alternative is “Grieve for Solihull”, which would probably not be the best electoral slogan; he would want to avoid that.

The hon. Member for Aberdeen North (Kirsty Blackman) painted an enticing picture of Aberdeen; this is probably the time of year that it is looking at its best, and it is best that we visit it now rather than in the dead of winter. However, I am sure that all of us will have a great deal to contribute there.

It is fantastic to see my hon. Friend the Member for St Austell and Newquay (Steve Double) in his place. He is Cornwall born and bred. Cornwall is a county that is familiar to many of us. When he talked about reviving a tradition in Cornwall exemplified in “Poldark”, I was relieved that he was talking about cakey tea rather than skinny-dipping; I thought he might be inviting us to join in.

Finally, the hon. Member for Hove (Peter Kyle) gave what was clearly a very well received speech. The “coolest place in Brighton” is a matter of some competition in itself; not everywhere in the country can say that. He gave a very thoughtful speech and his own journey is particularly impressive; I commend him.

It is not possible to cover the entirety of the content of the Queen’s Speech, but I would point out that all the maiden speeches from all parts of the House today were unique. No one could possibly confuse Redcar with Newquay, or the west midlands with Hampshire, and it seems to me that that is the principle that embodies the devolution reforms in our Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill. I confirm to the House that that Bill applies as much to our counties and towns as it does to our cities. I am afraid our predecessors did the opposite. Over decades—indeed, building up to a century—and despite making maiden speeches that were paeans of praise to their local distinctive places, they came here and passed laws and regulations and backed Governments who took power away from those places and invested it in central London.

The project that we have before us started in the previous Parliament. I have been grateful for the cross-party support that I have received for it—from leaders of

3 Jun 2015 : Column 698

Labour authorities as well as those of Conservative authorities. We have changed the direction; the question now is not whether we should localise but how much and at what pace. That is a significant change in direction and we all have the opportunity to extend it much further in the years ahead.

The question that will be put to all of us is how we can ensure that all parts of the country—north, south, east and west—can make their contribution to realising the potential of our country in the years ahead, so that the legacy of every Member of this Parliament will have been to have built a stronger economy, a stronger Britain and a stronger United Kingdom. I invite all Members to join us in that during the months ahead.

Question put, That the amendment be made.

The House divided:

Ayes 275, Noes 331.

Division No. 1]


6.59 pm


Abbott, Ms Diane

Abrahams, Debbie

Ahmed-Sheikh, Ms Tasmina

(Ochil and South Perthshire)

Alexander, Heidi

Ali, Rushanara

Allen, Mr Graham

Anderson, Mr David

Arkless, Richard

(Dumfries and Galloway)

Ashworth, Jonathan

Austin, Ian

Bailey, Mr Adrian

Bardell, Hannah


Barron, rh Kevin

Beckett, rh Margaret

Benn, rh Hilary

Berger, Luciana

Betts, Mr Clive

Black, Ms Mhairi

(Paisley and Renfrewshire South)

Blackford, Ian

(Ross, Skye and Lochaber)

Blackman, Kirsty

(Aberdeen North)

Blackman-Woods, Dr Roberta

Blenkinsop, Tom

Blomfield, Paul

Boswell, Philip

(Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill)

Bradshaw, rh Mr Ben

Brennan, Kevin

Brock, Deidre

(Edinburgh North and Leith)

Brown, Alan

(Kilmarnock and Loudoun)

Brown, Lyn

Brown, rh Mr Nicholas

Bryant, Chris

Buck, Ms Karen

Burden, Richard

Burgon, Richard

(Leeds East)

Butler, Dawn

(Brent Central)

Byrne, rh Liam

Cadbury, Ruth

(Brentford and Isleworth)

Cameron, Dr Lisa

(East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow)

Campbell, rh Mr Alan

Campbell, Mr Ronnie

Champion, Sarah

Chapman, Douglas

(Dunfermline and West Fife)

Cherry, Joanna

(Edinburgh South West)

Clwyd, rh Ann

Coaker, Vernon

Coffey, Ann

Cooper, Julie


Cooper, Rosie

Cooper, rh Yvette

Corbyn, Jeremy

Cowan, Ronnie


Cox, Jo

(Batley and Spen)

Coyle, Neil

(Bermondsey and Old Southwark)

Crawley, Angela

(Lanark and Hamilton East)

Creagh, Mary

Creasy, Stella

Cruddas, Jon

Cummins, Judith

(Bradford South)

Cunningham, Alex

Cunningham, Mr Jim

Danczuk, Simon

David, Wayne

Davies, Geraint

Day, Martyn

(Linlithgow and East Falkirk)

De Piero, Gloria

Debbonaire, Thangam

(Bristol West)

Docherty, Martin John

(West Dunbartonshire)

Donaldson, Stuart Blair

(West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine)

Dowd, Jim

Dowd, Peter


Dromey, Jack

Dugher, Michael

Durkan, Mark

Eagle, Ms Angela

Eagle, Maria

Edwards, Jonathan

Efford, Clive

Elliott, Julie

Ellman, Mrs Louise

Esterson, Bill

Evans, Chris

Farrelly, Paul

Fellows, Marion

(Motherwell and Wishaw)

Ferrier, Margaret

(Rutherglen and Hamilton West)

Field, rh Frank

Fitzpatrick, Jim

Flello, Robert

Fletcher, Colleen

(Coventry North East)

Flint, rh Caroline

Flynn, Paul

Fovargue, Yvonne

Foxcroft, Vicky

(Lewisham, Deptford)

Gapes, Mike

Gardiner, Barry

Gethins, Stephen

(North East Fife)

Gibson, Patricia

(North Ayrshire and Arran)

Glass, Pat

Glindon, Mary

Godsiff, Mr Roger

Goodman, Helen

Grady, Patrick

(Glasgow North)

Grant, Peter


Gray, Neil

(Airdrie and Shotts)

Green, Kate

Greenwood, Lilian

Greenwood, Margaret

(Wirral West)

Griffith, Nia

Gwynne, Andrew

Haigh, Louise

(Sheffield, Heeley)

Hamilton, Fabian

Hanson, rh Mr David

Harman, rh Ms Harriet

Harpham, Harry

(Sheffield, Brightside and Hillsborough)

Harris, Carolyn

(Swansea East)

Hayes, Helen

(Dulwich and West Norwood)

Hayman, Sue


Healey, rh John

Hendrick, Mr Mark

Hendry, Drew

(Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey)

Hillier, Meg

Hodge, rh Margaret

Hodgson, Mrs Sharon

Hoey, Kate

Hollern, Kate


Hopkins, Kelvin

Hosie, Stewart

Hunt, Tristram

Huq, Dr Rupa

(Ealing Central and Acton)

Hussain, Imran

(Bradford East)

Irranca-Davies, Huw

Jarvis, Dan

Johnson, Diana

Jones, Gerald

(Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney)

Jones, Graham

Jones, Helen

Jones, Mr Kevan

Jones, Susan Elan

Kane, Mike

Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald

Keeley, Barbara

Kendall, Liz

Kerevan, George

(East Lothian)

Kerr, Calum

(Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk)

Khan, rh Sadiq

Kinnock, Stephen


Kyle, Peter


Lammy, rh Mr David

Lavery, Ian

Law, Chris

(Dundee West)

Leslie, Chris

Lewell-Buck, Mrs Emma

Lewis, Clive

(Norwich South)

Lewis, Mr Ivan

Long Bailey, Rebecca

(Salford and Eccles)

Lucas, Caroline

Lucas, Ian C.

Lynch, Holly


MacNeil, Mr Angus Brendan

Mactaggart, rh Fiona

Madders, Justin

(Ellesmere Port and Neston)

Mahmood, Mr Khalid

Mahmood, Shabana

Malhotra, Seema

Mann, John

Marris, Rob

(Wolverhampton South West)

Marsden, Mr Gordon

Maskell, Rachael

(York Central)

Matheson, Chris

(City of Chester)

Mc Nally, John


McCabe, Steve

McCaig, Callum

(Aberdeen South)

McCarthy, Kerry

McDonagh, Siobhain

McDonald, Andy

McDonald, Stewart

(Glasgow South)

McDonald, Stuart C.

(Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East)

McDonnell, John

McGarry, Natalie

(Glasgow East)

McGinn, Conor

(St Helens North)

McGovern, Alison

McInnes, Liz

McKinnell, Catherine

McLaughlin, Anne

(Glasgow North East)

Meacher, rh Mr Michael

Meale, Sir Alan

Mearns, Ian

Miliband, rh Edward

Monaghan, Carol

(Glasgow North West)

Monaghan, Dr Paul

(Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross)

Moon, Mrs Madeleine

Morden, Jessica

Morris, Grahame M.


Mullin, Roger

(Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath)

Murray, Ian

Newlands, Gavin

(Paisley and Renfrewshire North)

O'Hara, Brendan

(Argyll and Bute)

Onn, Melanie

(Great Grimsby)

Onwurah, Chi

Osamor, Kate


Oswald, Kirsten

(East Renfrewshire)

Owen, Albert

Paterson, Steven


Pearce, Teresa

Pennycook, Matthew

(Greenwich and Woolwich)

Phillips, Jess

(Birmingham, Yardley)

Phillipson, Bridget

Pound, Stephen

Powell, Lucy

Rayner, Angela


Reed, Mr Jamie

Reed, Mr Steve

Rees, Christina


Reynolds, Emma

Reynolds, Jonathan

Rimmer, Marie

(St Helens South and Whiston)

Ritchie, Ms Margaret

Robertson, Angus

Robinson, Mr Geoffrey

Rotheram, Steve

Ryan, rh Joan

(Enfield North)

Salmond, rh Alex


Saville Roberts, Liz

(Dwyfor Meirionnydd)

Shah, Naz

(Bradford West)

Sharma, Mr Virendra

Sheerman, Mr Barry

Sheppard, Tommy

(Edinburgh East)

Sherriff, Paula


Shuker, Mr Gavin

Siddiq, Tulip

(Hampstead and Kilburn)

Skinner, Mr Dennis

Slaughter, Andy

Smeeth, Ruth

(Stoke-on-Trent North)

Smith, rh Mr Andrew

Smith, Angela

Smith, Cat

(Lancaster and Fleetwood)

Smith, Jeff

(Manchester, Withington)

Smith, Nick

Smith, Owen

Smyth, Karin

(Bristol South)

Spellar, rh Mr John

Starmer, Keir

(Holborn and St Pancras)

Stephens, Chris

(Glasgow South West)

Stevens, Jo

(Cardiff Central)

Streeting, Wes

(Ilford North)

Stuart, Ms Gisela

Tami, Mark

Thewliss, Alison

(Glasgow Central)

Thomas, Mr Gareth

Thomas-Symonds, Nick


Thompson, Owen


Thomson, Michelle

(Edinburgh West)

Thornberry, Emily

Timms, rh Stephen

Turley, Anna


Turner, Karl

Twigg, Derek

Twigg, Stephen

Umunna, Mr Chuka

Vaz, rh Keith

Vaz, Valerie

Watson, Mr Tom

Weir, Mike

West, Catherine

(Hornsey and Wood Green)

Whiteford, Dr Eilidh

Whitehead, Dr Alan

Whitford, Dr Philippa

(Central Ayrshire)

Williams, Hywel

Wilson, Corri

(Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock)

Wilson, Phil

Winnick, Mr David

Winterton, rh Ms Rosie

Wishart, Pete

Woodcock, John

Wright, Mr Iain

Zeichner, Daniel


Tellers for the Ayes:

Stephen Doughty


Nic Dakin


Adams, Nigel

Afriyie, Adam

Aldous, Peter

Allan, Lucy


Allen, Heidi

(South Cambridgeshire)

Amess, Sir David

Andrew, Stuart

Ansell, Caroline


Argar, Edward


Atkins, Victoria

(Louth and Horncastle)

Bacon, Mr Richard

Baker, Mr Steve

Baldwin, Harriett

Barclay, Stephen

Baron, Mr John

Barwell, Gavin

Bebb, Guto

Bellingham, Mr Henry

Benyon, Richard

Beresford, Sir Paul

Berry, Jake

Berry, James

(Kingston and Surbiton)

Bingham, Andrew

Blackman, Bob

Blackwood, Nicola

Blunt, Crispin

Boles, Nick

Bone, Mr Peter

Borwick, Victoria


Bottomley, Sir Peter

Bradley, Karen

Brady, Mr Graham

Brazier, Mr Julian

Bridgen, Andrew

Brine, Steve

Brokenshire, James

Bruce, Fiona

Buckland, Robert

Burns, Conor

Burns, rh Mr Simon

Burrowes, Mr David

Burt, rh Alistair

Cairns, Alun

Cameron, rh Mr David

Carmichael, Neil

Cartlidge, James

(South Suffolk)

Cash, Sir William

Caulfield, Maria


Chalk, Alex


Chishti, Rehman

Chope, Mr Christopher

Churchill, Jo

(Bury St Edmunds)

Clark, rh Greg

Clarke, rh Mr Kenneth

Cleverly, James


Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey

Coffey, Dr Thérèse

Collins, Damian

Colvile, Oliver

Costa, Alberto

(South Leicestershire)

Cox, Mr Geoffrey

Crabb, rh Stephen

Crouch, Tracey

Davies, Byron


Davies, Chris

(Brecon and Radnorshire)

Davies, David T. C.


Davies, Glyn

Davies, James

(Vale of Clwyd)

Davies, Mims


Davies, Philip

Davis, rh Mr David

Dinenage, Caroline

Djanogly, Mr Jonathan

Dodds, rh Mr Nigel

Donelan, Michelle


Dorries, Nadine

Double, Steve

(St Austell and Newquay)

Dowden, Oliver


Drax, Richard

Drummond, Mrs Flick

(Portsmouth South)

Duddridge, James

Duncan, rh Sir Alan

Duncan Smith, rh Mr Iain

Dunne, Mr Philip

Ellis, Michael

Ellison, Jane

Ellwood, Mr Tobias

Elphicke, Charlie

Eustice, George

Evans, Graham

Evans, Mr Nigel

Evennett, rh Mr David

Fabricant, Michael

Fallon, rh Michael

Fernandes, Suella


Field, rh Mark

Foster, Kevin


Fox, rh Dr Liam

Francois, rh Mr Mark

Frazer, Lucy

(South East Cambridgeshire)

Freeman, George

Freer, Mike

Fuller, Richard

Fysh, Marcus


Garnier, rh Sir Edward

Garnier, Mark

Gauke, Mr David

Ghani, Nusrat


Gibb, Mr Nick

Gillan, rh Mrs Cheryl

Glen, John

Goldsmith, Zac

Goodwill, Mr Robert

Gove, rh Michael

Graham, Richard

Grant, Mrs Helen

Gray, Mr James

Grayling, rh Chris

Green, Chris

(Bolton West)

Green, rh Damian

Greening, rh Justine

Grieve, rh Mr Dominic

Griffiths, Andrew

Gummer, Ben

Gyimah, Mr Sam

Halfon, rh Robert

Hall, Luke

(Thornbury and Yate)

Hammond, rh Mr Philip

Hammond, Stephen

Hancock, rh Matthew

Hands, rh Greg

Harper, rh Mr Mark

Harrington, Richard

Harris, Rebecca

Hart, Simon

Haselhurst, rh Sir Alan

Hayes, rh Mr John

Heald, Sir Oliver

Heappey, James


Heaton-Harris, Chris

Heaton-Jones, Peter

(North Devon)

Henderson, Gordon

Herbert, rh Nick

Hinds, Damian

Hoare, Simon

(North Dorset)

Hollingbery, George

Hollinrake, Kevin

(Thirsk and Malton)

Hollobone, Mr Philip

Holloway, Mr Adam

Hopkins, Kris

Howarth, Sir Gerald

Howell, John

Howlett, Ben


Huddleston, Nigel

(Mid Worcestershire)

Hunt, rh Mr Jeremy

Hurd, Mr Nick

Jackson, Mr Stewart

James, Margot

Javid, rh Sajid

Jayawardena, Mr Ranil

(North East Hampshire)

Jenkin, Mr Bernard

Jenkyns, Andrea

(Morley and Outwood)

Jenrick, Robert

Johnson, Boris

(Uxbridge and South Ruislip)

Johnson, Gareth

Johnson, Joseph

Jones, Andrew

Jones, rh Mr David

Jones, Mr Marcus

Kawczynski, Daniel

Kennedy, Seema

(South Ribble)

Kinahan, Danny

(South Antrim)

Kirby, Simon

Knight, rh Sir Greg

Knight, Julian


Kwarteng, Kwasi

Lancaster, Mark

Latham, Pauline

Leadsom, Andrea

Lee, Dr Phillip

Lefroy, Jeremy

Leigh, Sir Edward

Leslie, Charlotte

Letwin, rh Mr Oliver

Lewis, Brandon

Lewis, rh Dr Julian

Liddell-Grainger, Mr Ian

Lidington, rh Mr David

Lilley, rh Mr Peter

Lopresti, Jack

Lord, Jonathan

Loughton, Tim

Lumley, Karen

Mackinlay, Craig

(South Thanet)

Mackintosh, David

(Northampton South)

Main, Mrs Anne

Mak, Alan


Malthouse, Kit

(North West Hampshire)

Mann, Scott

(North Cornwall)

Mathias, Dr Tania


May, rh Mrs Theresa

Maynard, Paul

McCartney, Jason

McCartney, Karl

McLoughlin, rh Mr Patrick

McPartland, Stephen

Menzies, Mark

Mercer, Johnny

(Plymouth, Moor View)

Merriman, Huw

(Bexhill and Battle)

Metcalfe, Stephen

Miller, rh Mrs Maria

Milling, Amanda

(Cannock Chase)

Mills, Nigel

Milton, rh Anne

Mitchell, rh Mr Andrew

Mordaunt, Penny

Morgan, rh Nicky

Morris, Anne Marie

Morris, David

Morris, James

Morton, Wendy


Mowat, David

Mundell, rh David

Murray, Mrs Sheryll

Murrison, Dr Andrew

Neill, Robert

Newton, Sarah

Nokes, Caroline

Norman, Jesse

Nuttall, Mr David

Offord, Dr Matthew

Osborne, rh Mr George

Paisley, Ian

Parish, Neil

Patel, rh Priti

Paterson, rh Mr Owen

Pawsey, Mark

Penning, rh Mike

Penrose, John

Percy, Andrew

Perry, Claire

Phillips, Stephen

Philp, Chris

(Croydon South)

Pickles, rh Sir Eric

Pincher, Christopher

Poulter, Dr Daniel

Pow, Rebecca

(Taunton Deane)

Prentis, Victoria


Prisk, Mr Mark

Pritchard, Mark

Pursglove, Tom


Quin, Jeremy


Quince, Will


Raab, Mr Dominic

Redwood, rh John

Rees-Mogg, Mr Jacob

Robertson, Mr Laurence

Robinson, Mary


Rosindell, Andrew

Rudd, rh Amber

Rutley, David

Sandbach, Antoinette


Scully, Paul

(Sutton and Cheam)

Selous, Andrew

Shannon, Jim

Shapps, rh Grant

Sharma, Alok

Shelbrooke, Alec

Simpson, rh Mr Keith

Skidmore, Chris

Smith, Chloe

Smith, Henry

Smith, Julian

Smith, Royston

(Southampton, Itchen)

Soames, rh Sir Nicholas

Solloway, Amanda

(Derby North)

Soubry, rh Anna

Spelman, rh Mrs Caroline

Spencer, Mark

Stephenson, Andrew

Stevenson, John

Stewart, Bob

Stewart, Iain

Stewart, Rory

Streeter, Mr Gary

Stride, Mel

Stuart, Graham

Sturdy, Julian

Sunak, Rishi

(Richmond (Yorks))

Swayne, rh Mr Desmond

Swire, rh Mr Hugo

Syms, Mr Robert

Thomas, Derek

(St Ives)

Throup, Maggie


Timpson, Edward

Tolhurst, Kelly

(Rochester and Strood)

Tomlinson, Justin

Tomlinson, Michael

(Mid Dorset and North Poole)

Tracey, Craig

(North Warwickshire)

Tredinnick, David

Trevelyan, Mrs Anne-Marie


Truss, rh Elizabeth

Tugendhat, Tom

(Tonbridge and Malling)

Turner, Mr Andrew

Tyrie, rh Mr Andrew

Vaizey, Mr Edward

Vara, Mr Shailesh

Vickers, Martin

Villiers, rh Mrs Theresa

Walker, Mr Charles

Walker, Mr Robin

Wallace, Mr Ben

Warburton, David

(Somerton and Frome)

Warman, Matt

(Boston and Skegness)

Watkinson, Dame Angela

Wharton, James

Whately, Helen

(Faversham and Mid Kent)

Wheeler, Heather

White, Chris

Whittaker, Craig

Whittingdale, rh Mr John

Wiggin, Bill

Williams, Craig

(Cardiff North)

Williamson, rh Gavin

Wilson, Mr Rob

Wilson, Sammy

Wollaston, Dr Sarah

Wood, Mike

(Dudley South)

Wragg, William

(Hazel Grove)

Wright, rh Jeremy

Zahawi, Nadhim

Tellers for the Noes:

Jackie Doyle-Price


Guy Opperman

Question accordingly negatived.

3 Jun 2015 : Column 699

3 Jun 2015 : Column 700

3 Jun 2015 : Column 701

3 Jun 2015 : Column 702

3 Jun 2015 : Column 703

7.18 pm

The debate stood adjourned (Standing Order No. 9(3).

Ordered, That the debate be resumed tomorrow.

3 Jun 2015 : Column 704

Select Committees

Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Hoyle): With the permission of the House, the motions on Select Committees will be taken together.

Before I call the Leader of the House to move the first motion, I should inform the House that I have selected the amendment to the second motion, in the name of the hon. Member for Nottingham North (Mr Allen). The amendment may be debated along with the first motion, and the hon. Gentleman will be called to move it formally at the end of the debate if he wishes to do so.

7.18 pm

The Leader of the House of Commons (Chris Grayling): I beg to move,

That with effect until the end of the current Parliament, Standing Order No. 152 be amended by the insertion of the following line at the appropriate point in the table in paragraph (2):

“Women and Equalities

Government Equalities Office


Mr Deputy Speaker: With this we will consider the following:

The motion on changes to Standing Order No. 146—

That the following changes be made to standing orders—

(1) Leave out paragraph (1) of Standing Order No. 146 (Select Committee on Public Administration) and insert the following new paragraphs:

“(1) There shall be a select committee, to be called the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, to examine the reports of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration and the Health Service Commissioner for England, which are laid before this House, and matters in connection therewith; to consider matters relating to the quality and standards of administration provided by civil service departments, and other matters relating to the civil service; and to consider constitutional affairs.

(1A) The committee shall consist of eleven Members.”;

(2) Change the title of Standing Order No. 146 to “Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee”;

(3) In Standing Order No. 122B, line 9, leave out “Select Committee on Public Administration” and insert “Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee”;

(4) In Standing Order No. 143, line 69, leave out “Select Committee on Public Administration” and insert “Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee”;

(5) In Standing Order No. 152K, lines 10 and 15, leave out “Select Committee on Public Administration” and insert “Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee”.

The motion on the allocation of Chairs—

That, pursuant to Standing Order No 122B (Election of Committee Chairs), the chairs of those select committees subject to the Standing Order be allocated as indicated in the following Table

Select committees appointed under SO No 152:

Business, Innovation and Skills


Communities and Local Government


Culture, Media and Sport






3 Jun 2015 : Column 705

Energy and Climate Change

Scottish National Party

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs


Foreign Affairs




Home Affairs


International Development




Northern Ireland


Science and Technology


Scottish Affairs

Scottish National Party





Welsh Affairs


Women and Equalities


Work and Pensions


Other specified select committees:

Environmental Audit






Public Accounts


Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs




Chris Grayling: Let me begin by congratulating you, Mr Deputy Speaker, on your election this afternoon. We look forward to serving under your stewardship.

Let me take the motions in logical order. The first adds a new Committee, the Women and Equalities Committee, to the list of Select Committees appointed to examine Government Departments.

Mr Deputy Speaker: Order. A great many private conversations are taking place. If those conversations need to take place, could they take place outside the Chamber? I need to hear the Leader of the House.

Chris Grayling: The creation of the Women and Equalities Committee has been asked for by Members from all parts of the House, and I pay tribute to my right hon. Friend the Member for Basingstoke (Mrs Miller), who has been instrumental in driving that agenda. If this Committee’s formation is agreed to by the House tonight, it will have all the usual powers of a departmental Select Committee, as set out in Standing Orders. I have introduced this motion so that the House can make such a decision; I hope it will choose to do so. The Standing Order makes clear that the Committee will be established until the end of this Parliament; it will then be for the House to decide whether in the next Parliament the Committee becomes a permanent Committee. I imagine that that will be the case.

The next motion changes relevant Standing Orders so that the name of the Select Committee on Public Administration can be changed to the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee and be given the power to consider all aspects of constitutional affairs. This is a simple consequence of the fact that in this Parliament there is no ministerial position of Deputy Prime Minister. The motion before the House takes us back to the position immediately before the election in 2010.

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The final motion paves the way for the election of Select Committee Chairs by secret ballot of the whole House, introduced for the first time in the previous Parliament, by allocating each Chair to a specific party in accordance with the proportions that Mr Speaker has notified the party leaders of, in accordance with Standing Order 122(B). If this motion is agreed to, arrangements for a ballot will be made, under the supervision of Mr Speaker, in accordance with the remaining provisions of the Standing Order. I know that many Members from all parts of the House have put their names forward for election as Select Committee Chairs. I wish them all the very best in their campaigns.

Mr Graham Allen (Nottingham North) (Lab): Will the Leader of the House explain why the Women and Equalities Committee is not going to be a permanent feature of the Standing Orders and will fall at the end of this Parliament? I hope it is not some sort of sop on this very important subject, because I think the House would take a dim view of that.

Chris Grayling: The Committee will be here for as long as the House chooses to keep it here. My expectation, as I said, is that it will be an ongoing feature, but, when a Committee is introduced for the first time, it is not unusual for it to be introduced for a Parliament and, then, for the next Parliament to choose whether to renew it. My expectation is that it will choose to do so.

Hon. Members may notice that the Chair of the Backbench Business Committee is not specified in the motion. That is purely because its Chair is not specified under the same Standing Order as the others, although they are elected under the same proceedings. The election of the Chair of the Backbench Business Committee will take place at the same time as the elections of the Chairs covered by the motions before us. I commend the motions to the House.

7.22 pm

Ms Angela Eagle (Wallasey) (Lab): I congratulate you, Mr Deputy Speaker, on your re-election to the post you are occupying now—by a majority that this Government could only have dreamed of.

I rise to support the three motions on the Order Paper concerning Select Committees. I will first address the motion in the names of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, the Prime Minister and the hon. Member for Moray (Angus Robertson) on the allocation of Chairs, before turning to the remaining motions which create a new Women and Equalities Committee and bring constitutional affairs under the remit of the Public Administration Committee.

I know from my experience as a Minister and as a member of the Public Accounts and Treasury Committees that Select Committees are an important part of the work of this House. The previous Parliament was notable for having very active Committees which were an effective check and balance on the Government and other powerful interests. The work of my right hon. Friend the Member for Barking (Margaret Hodge) was a particularly good example of how Select Committees can be used to speak truth to those in power. We therefore welcome today’s motion which paves the way for the swift election of Committee Chairs by secret ballot of the whole House. Many of us will be relieved when the incessant canvassing, which is going on cross-party, all over the

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place and in every corner of the building by aspiring Select Committee Chairs can finally come to an end, because we will have had the ballot and selected them.

The second motion will establish a Women and Equalities Committee, which is an extremely welcome addition that has been called for by Members from across the House for a number of years. As the 2014 report of the all-party group on women in Parliament notes, given that we have Women and Equalities oral questions and a Minister for Women and Equalities at the Cabinet table, a Select Committee is an important next step. It will also no doubt provide an excellent platform to hold the Government to account for any decisions that could roll back equality, and enable a new generation of parliamentarians to learn that they should never, “Calm down, dear.”

I look forward to the Committee being made a permanent part of the Select Committee system, and I certainly hope that our successor Parliament, in the early stages of its existence post-2020, will be able to make that decision. It is, however, up to those who are elected and appointed to the Committee in this Parliament to make the case for making permanent what I think will be a very important Select Committee.

Finally, I note the motion changing the remit of the Public Administration Committee so that it incorporates constitutional affairs. I pay tribute to all members who served on the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee in the last Parliament, especially my hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham North (Mr Allen), who chaired it so ably. I note his proposed amendment to the motion and know that he will continue to make a valuable contribution to debates on these issues as we on this side of the House scrutinise the Government’s proposals on constitutional change, which have far-reaching implications for the constitutional settlement—albeit not written down—in the UK. I urge the House to support the motions.

7.26 pm

Pete Wishart (Perth and North Perthshire) (SNP): May I warmly congratulate you, Mr Deputy Speaker, on being returned as the Chairman of Ways and Means? Given that you had the enthusiastic support of my hon. Friend the Member for Na h-Eileanan an Iar (Mr MacNeil), it was almost certain that you would be returned to the position and I warmly welcome that.

I also warmly welcome the motions. Motions 1 and 3 deal with the new Public Administration and Constitutional Reform Committee. I feel the pain of the hon. Member for Nottingham North (Mr Allen) at the abandonment of the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee, particularly when there are so many big, meaty constitutional issues to consider in this Parliament. I am sure, however, that he will continue to contribute to the debate, and I know he will have a significant part to play in the ongoing constitutional debates in this House. I wish him well in that.

I warmly welcome the motion that states that, for the first time, the Scottish National party will chair a Select Committee in the House of Commons. It is like the proverbial bus: we wait for decades to secure a Chair of a Select Committee, and then two come along at once. May I congratulate the usual channels on the way in which this is being debated and decided? We are absolutely thrilled to be given the Chair of the Select Committees

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on Scottish Affairs and on Energy and Climate Change. We will use due diligence and ensure that we approach them consensually and in a way that will be of value to the House. I look forward to being a part of this set-up, and the Scottish National party very much welcomes the opportunity to chair those Committees.

May I briefly turn my attention to a little issue that we are going to have to address—I am grateful that the Chief Whip is in his place—and that is the membership of the Scottish Affairs Committee? It is an issue because I believe that there is an expectation in Scotland that, as usual, the majority of members of the Scottish Affairs Committee should be Members of Parliament from Scotland. That has always happened and I believe that there is an expectation for it to continue. I know that the Government are keen to progress English votes for English laws through the House, so I think that, in return, we have to have Scottish affairs for Scottish Members.

I know that the Chief Whip will have a clear look at that, and I hope he will report back that he agrees that the majority of the members of the Scottish Affairs Committee must be MPs from Scotland. I know it is down to our success, with 56—

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

Pete Wishart: Yes, I will give way.

Andrew Percy: The Health Committee on which I had the privilege to serve in the previous Parliament largely dealt with—indeed, in its last year it only dealt with—matters pertaining to England and the English NHS. Will the SNP be taking its seat on the Health Committee on that basis?

Pete Wishart: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for that question, and yes we probably will, because there are massive issues to do with that, but I also say to the hon. Gentleman that we will not be looking for places on the Communities and Local Government Committee, which has nothing to do with Scotland.

One thing the Chief Whip and the Leader of the House can do when we are considering the arithmetical distribution of places across Select Committees is acknowledge that there are some Committees that we might not have an interest in. We will have an interest in the Health Committee, however, because there are big financial consequences to do with the Barnett formula. We will continue to take an interest in that, and it is only fair that we look at some of the financial issues in health measures passing through the House of Commons.

This is a problem, and it has to be addressed. We have been a victim of our own success—56 out of 59.

Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP): On some of the Health Committees on which I served there were issues that were pertinent to Northern Ireland—10 or a dozen—and there will be things relating to the NHS that affect Scotland and its MPs.

Pete Wishart: Of course. We are a one nation Parliament, as the Prime Minister tells us, so let us accept that that is the case.

The Government are entitled to their arithmetical majority on the Scottish Affairs Committee, but the question they have to ask themselves in that regard is a

3 Jun 2015 : Column 709

legitimacy question, when almost all the Members for Scotland are from one party. I see that both the Chief Whip and Leader of the House are listening carefully to these remarks. There is an expectation in Scotland that this will happen—that there will be a majority of Scottish Members of Parliament on the Scottish Affairs Committee. Every other national Select Committee has such a majority of members, whether it is the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee or the Welsh Affairs Committee, and there has not been a Scottish Affairs Committee that has not had such a majority.

I ask the Leader of the House to address this point in his concluding remarks. Will he give us some comfort that he will at least look at this issue, and make a positive, progressive statement to ensure that we at least come close to, or get, a majority of Scottish Members on the Scottish Affairs Committee?

7.31 pm

Keith Vaz (Leicester East) (Lab): I support the motions, in particular the establishment of the Women and Equalities Committee. Members on both sides of the House have campaigned for a long time for the establishment of such a Committee. The problem has been that the equalities brief has travelled from the Home Office to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport; it has sometimes been held by the Department for Communities and Local Government; and a bit of it has been with the Department for Work and Pensions. Now, for the first time, we will have a Select Committee that is able to scrutinise effectively women and equalities issues.

I too want to pay tribute to the right hon. Member for Basingstoke (Mrs Miller) for the work she has done, and I welcome this motion.

7.32 pm

Andrew Percy (Brigg and Goole) (Con): I was not planning to speak, but I want to respond to the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire (Pete Wishart) on an argument I actually have some sympathy with: the representation of Scottish Members on the Scottish Affairs Committee. The point I was making about the Health Committee was that its business is primarily concerned with the English NHS. However, I completely accept that there are knock-on impacts on the other health systems, and I hope we will see SNP Members on that Committee. The same thing applies to the Scottish Affairs Committee. Matters that affect Scotland, particularly on devolution, also affect my constituents. [Interruption.] I am not going to join the SNP—I think that was the offer just made. The Health Committee deals primarily with the English health service, but I hope Scottish Members will take their seats on it because there are knock-on effects, just as there are in respect of the Scottish Affairs Committee.

I apologise for speaking without notice, Madam Deputy Speaker, but I was unable to respond to the hon. Gentleman on this point earlier, and I just wanted to do so.

7.34 pm

Alex Salmond (Gordon) (SNP): I welcome your ascent once again to the Chair, Madam Deputy Speaker. Your popularity is almost unrivalled in the House. I have to

3 Jun 2015 : Column 710

say, however, that popularity is not exclusive to the Chair these days. With this system of secret ballots for the election of Select Committee Chairs across the parties, I can report that I have never been more popular in this House with Conservative and Labour Members. I am approached in all precincts of the House and asked for my views on a whole variety of things. Never before have I been in a position of being able to dispense such wisdom. Members whose names I do not know are approaching me. People I did not even know were Members are approaching me.

I just say to the hon. Member for Brigg and Goole (Andrew Percy) that I hope he is not standing as Chair of a Select Committee.

Andrew Percy: No, I am not.

Alex Salmond: That is good, because that means he is a man of independent mind, although unfortunately it is a wayward independent mind. The reason why the Health Committee considers matters that affect Scotland is the Barnett formula. Through the Barnett formula, what happens in finance for the health service in England has knock-on effects for Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. Perhaps I did not catch the hon. Gentleman correctly, but did he say that he served on the previous Health Committee?

Andrew Percy indicated assent.

Alex Salmond: I find it very strange, then, that he did not realise that, as the hon. Member for Strangford (Jim Shannon) pointed out, issues debated in the Health Committee had implications for Northern Ireland. He must have been taken absent without leave during the proceedings, otherwise he would have known that.

Andrew Percy: I thank the right hon. Gentleman for calling me wayward—although I do not know whether it is a compliment. My point was that matters discussed in the Health Committee affect other parts of the United Kingdom, although our business is primarily English. For the same reason, English Members of Parliament have an absolute right to sit on the Scottish Affairs Committee, because the matters it considers affect my constituents in the same way.

Alex Salmond: I once heard the Barnett formula described as being like the Schleswig-Holstein question in European politics, in that only three people ever understood it: one is mad, one is dead and I have forgotten it, but I will try to remember enough of it to allow the hon. Gentleman to understand how it works. For example, additional public spending on health in England has a knock-on effect in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The reverse does not apply—it is not a question of allocating for Northern Ireland and then reverse-allocating England.

The Minister for Small Business, Industry and Enterprise (Anna Soubry): Move on.

Alex Salmond: Move on where? Luckily the right hon. Lady is on the Front Bench, so will not be standing to be a Chair of one of these Select Committees, otherwise she would have done her chances no good whatever. Members on the Treasury Bench should behave

3 Jun 2015 : Column 711

better in these debates. She should be setting an example to her new Members, not cavorting about like some demented junior Minister. Behave yourself, woman!

My hon. Friend the Member for Perth and North Perthshire (Pete Wishart) asked me to say a few words in support of his argument. I happen to think it is necessary in this sense. He has put the argument very forcefully indeed: at a time when the Government are tinkering with the idea of EVEL—of having English votes for English MPs—and it is suggested that they will manipulate the Standing Orders of this House, perhaps to create English MP-only Committees, it will damage their argument, perhaps irreparably, if they stuff the Scottish Affairs Committee with a majority of English Conservative MPs. I say to the Conservative party that if it wanted to have Conservative MPs on the Scottish Affairs Committee, it should have gone to the trouble of getting more than one elected in Scotland in the recent general election. Alternatively, the Tories could immediately demote the Secretary of State for Scotland, make him a Back Bencher and exile him to the Scottish Affairs Committee.

Mark Menzies (Fylde) (Con): Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Alex Salmond: I am strongly tempted, but those on the hon. Gentleman’s Front Bench want me to move on. I say to the Government Whips: just think of all the problems that will be avoided—of having to exile hapless Members and put them on the Scottish Affairs Committee —if they accept the advice of my hon. Friend the Member for Perth and North Perthshire and do not try to gerrymander the Scottish Affairs Committee with a majority of English Conservative Members of Parliament. [Interruption.]

Madam Deputy Speaker (Mrs Laing): Order. I know that the right hon. Gentleman is used to being heard and has a voice that is normally heard, but he must not be drowned out.

Alex Salmond: There is only a remote chance of the Conservative party drowning out the Scottish National party in this Parliament, Madam Deputy Speaker. I know the hon. Member for Fylde (Mark Menzies) is keen, so I will extend to him the same courtesy that generations of Conservative Front Benchers have extended to me by not giving way to him on this occasion.

My argument is that the Scottish Affairs Committee should have at least a majority of Scottish MPs, and preferably should be completely made up of Scottish MPs, as it has been for some substantial time. If we reform or reconvene the Scottish Grand Committee, that should also be composed of Scottish MPs. If that is not to happen—the Leader of the House will give us an indication—and if the Conservatives are not prepared the extend the same courtesy to Scotland, I say to them that any argument whatever for their plan to have English-only votes on English-only Committees will be fatally undermined. An indication from the Leader of the House that that will happen will be greatly appreciated. I was going to say that that perhaps would do something to restore the Conservative party in Scotland, but it will not—it will take a lot more than that. At least it will stop the Conservative party from declining any further from the historical low it reached in Scotland three weeks ago.

3 Jun 2015 : Column 712

7.41 pm

Mark Menzies (Fylde) (Con): I should take this opportunity to welcome the hon. Member for Gordon (Alex Salmond) to his place—

Alex Salmond: Right honourable!

Mark Menzies: I am sorry—he is the right hon. Member for Gordon and a former First Minister. As a former First Minister, he should appreciate that, in this Chamber and this House, we debate and take interventions. It is not like the Scottish Parliament, where Members stand up and speak and nobody is allowed to intervene. That is not how we do things in this House.

The point I want to make is a valid one. I served on the Scottish Affairs Committee in the last Parliament—it was a great privilege to do so.

Alex Salmond: Why didn’t you stand in Scotland?

Mark Menzies: The right hon. Gentleman cannot control his actions from his sedentary position.

I served on the Scottish Affairs Committee. We dealt with matters relating both to Scotland and to Scotland’s place in the United Kingdom. The one person who was not there was the SNP Member. He did not take up his seat on the Committee.

Mr Angus Brendan MacNeil (Na h-Eileanan an Iar) (SNP): Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mark Menzies: In the great tradition of the SNP, I will not take the hon. Gentleman’s intervention.

The SNP did not take up its seat, so it is bit rich—

Mr MacNeil: On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. There are particular reasons why the SNP did not take its seat on the last Scottish Affairs Committee. They were to do with the behaviour of the then Chairman of that Committee.

Madam Deputy Speaker (Mrs Laing): I fully appreciate the hon. Gentleman’s point, but he will appreciate just as well that that is not a point of order for the Chair to deal with at the moment. I am quite certain that there will be many times in debate over the next few months when he will have the opportunity to make the point he seeks to make.

Mark Menzies: My point is an important one. SNP Members cannot come to the Chamber and demand a majority. In the last Parliament, when they had a seat on the Committee, they did not exercise that right to speak for Scotland. They cannot have their cake and eat it. If they wanted to be on that Committee in the last Parliament, why did they not exercise their right to take up their seat? Why come to the Chamber tonight and try to pull the wool over people’s eyes?

Pete Wishart: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mark Menzies: No. In the good traditions of the SNP, I will not take the hon. Gentleman’s intervention.

As a Scot who represents an English seat, I want to do the right thing by the Scottish Affairs Committee. I say to SNP Members: please do not come here and give us the heavy guilt trip, and say, “If you don’t have a

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majority of Scots on the Committee, you’re letting Scotland down.” In the last Parliament, they had a seat and did not take it up. Perhaps they were letting Scotland down. I will leave that point to rest.

7.44 pm

Mr Graham Allen (Nottingham North) (Lab): It is very nice to see you, Madam Deputy Speaker, in the Chair. I believe it is the first such occasion since your election. Even though we are to witness the death of the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee, your decision, as a former member of that Committee, to dress entirely in black was unnecessary but very welcome, and the message will have been received by many in the House.

The Political and Constitutional Reform Committee had a magnificent record in serving this House over five years. I do not know whether that is why its tenure has not been renewed. It is for the usual channels and the Leader of the House’s Office to make it clear why the Committee’s tenure has not been renewed. I will list one or two of our reports that may have caused some embarrassment to the then coalition Government. However, all of them were done and approved by an all-party Select Committee, which was elected by this House. The Chair, which was me, was one of the first to be elected by the whole House, because of the Wright Committee reforms. All the members of the Select Committee were, for the first time ever, elected by the individual parties in a secret ballot.

My anxiety, which I am sure the Leader of the House will allay, is that this could be the first of the changes—the rolling back—that will leave the Government completely in control without even a nod in the direction of parliamentary accountability, because I believe that parliamentary accountability will be lessened.

This was not a Committee packed by one party or another. In fact, it had a Conservative majority, but anyone attending the Committee would not have got that impression. The members of the Committee, including you, Madam Deputy Speaker, when you were in a less distinguished role, are among the most awkward bunch of people whom one could ever get together in one Select Committee. Perhaps that is another reason the Select Committee is being abolished tonight by the Government.

I should mention here some of the colleagues on the Committee: the hon. Members for Christchurch (Mr Chope), for Chatham and Aylesford (Tracey Crouch), and for Foyle (Mark Durkan), my hon. Friend the Member for Newport West (Paul Flynn), the then Member for Chippenham, Duncan Hames, my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds North East (Fabian Hamilton), the hon. Members for Morecambe and Lunesdale (David Morris), and for Bromley and Chislehurst (Robert Neill), the then Member for Vale of Clwyd, Chris Ruane, and the hon. Member for Isle of Wight (Mr Turner). Many of those distinguished Members from all parts of the House are in the Chamber this evening.

There are also Members who were on the Committee who are very keen to be named, and quite rightly, for the great work that they did, including the hon. Member for Burton (Andrew Griffiths), who served so well. I know that my hon. Friend the Member for Carmarthen

3 Jun 2015 : Column 714

West and South Pembrokeshire (Simon Hart) was in the House just a moment ago, and has left. Then there was the then Members for Taunton Deane, Jeremy Browne, for Edinburgh East, Sheila Gilmore, my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent Central (Tristram Hunt), the hon. Member for Epping Forest (Mrs Laing)—of course, Madam Deputy Speaker—my hon. Friend the Member for Bolton South East (Yasmin Qureshi), and the then Member for Bristol West, Stephen Williams. Like you, Madam Deputy Speaker, they are people who, from this modest training ground of a Select Committee, have gone on to higher things.

Unlike some Select Committees, the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee took its job very, very seriously, and it never missed a quorum. New colleagues coming to the House may understand that as we get towards the end of a five-year Parliament, it is quite easy to want to drift off and go to our constituencies on a Thursday morning, which is when we used to meet. But we never missed a quorum.

Another interesting fact is that my Select Committee never went on a foreign trip. I do not know whether there is any other Select Committee that can say that. Perhaps that is another reason why we were abolished. Perhaps we were stepping out of line. [Interruption] I do not know whether our frequent visits to Scotland should be regarded as a foreign trip. We certainly did not see it that way. We also made frequent visits to the Senedd in Cardiff and to our good friends in Belfast.

As Members will gather from that roll call of Committee members, we were very serious about our work; indeed we could be nothing else. As I read my own obituary as the Chair of the Select Committee—certainly the Select Committee’s obituary if not my own—I can say, I guess, that it leaves me free to operate in other means. I wish to commend Martyn Atkins, Steven Mark, Joanna Dodd and others who were part of the team. Any Select Committee lives or dies by the capability of its Clerks and those who assist it, and those individuals did a most magnificent job.

If anyone cares to read not even the reports but the list of reports that the Select Committee produced, they will see that it was at the sharp end of so many of the debates that will continue in the new Parliament and that it is perhaps rather strange that it is not enabled to continue its life to pursue some of those issues. We have heard some of them tonight. We have issues such as English votes for English laws—not disappeared and still requiring scrutiny—and human rights.

The Government may welcome a little assistance with their human rights legislation, which does not seem to be progressing smoothly. That is exactly the sort of thing on which, with a five-year Parliament, the Chief Whip does not have to ram everything through or hold every Second Reading in the next couple of weeks. That is the old days; things have changed. We now have a five-year fixed term. He could get the board in Mr Roy Stone’s office—he runs the House of Commons—and plan proper scrutiny. One of our reports was on legislative scrutiny. Why on earth can we not have a steady, clear rolling forward of Bills to include pre-legislative scrutiny of every Bill? Is that not one of the roles of the House? Should that not apply to every Bill, wherever practical?

Have other issues—for example, parliamentary boundaries—gone away? I think not, and I suspect that with an impartial, all-party view, with serious scrutiny,

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not done on the basis of the whim of the Chair or the majority of members but by a difficult, independent-minded bunch of people getting under the skin of some of these issues, the House could do the Government a great service, if only they realised that they should have a partnership with the House, rather than a relationship of domination and subordination, and it is a great pity that they do that.

We looked at devolution throughout our five years as a Select Committee, not to interfere with the Scottish and Welsh Affairs Committees and the Communities and Local Government Committee—they were doing very well—but in an overarching way to look at the constitutional implications and not just how this affects, say, Wales but how it affects the Union, how other nations in the Union could learn, as we learned when we visited the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly and the Northern Ireland Executive, and how things can be done better than they have been done here, often for many hundreds of years without reform.

We certainly need effective scrutiny of things such as English devolution. Can that possibly be given the focus that a dedicated Select Committee on political reform could give it? Had the House completed its consideration of all those democratic reforms, I would be the first to say that the House no longer needed such a Select Committee. That patently is not true; those issues still require scrutiny. I have great respect for the Chairs whom I have served with on the Liaison Committee—the Chairs of the Public Administration and Justice Committees and the Scottish and Welsh Affairs Committees and the Communities and Local Government Committee and others, all of whom were very capable—but they all had very full agendas. Unless they do not have a full agenda, how on earth can they give the sort of scrutiny to things that we gave focus to in the last Parliament?

Sadly, on some occasions, there was not always a relationship of joy. I am surprised that the Chief Whip smiles. He should bow his head in shame for the fact that his Government presented, for example, the gagging Bill, as it became known, one day before the rise of the House and gave it a Second Reading on one day when the House returned. That is not allowing Parliament to scrutinise effectively. Sadly, that is a Government who feel a lack of confidence in their ability to trust Parliament and an all-party committee to give a fair deal, hear witnesses and take evidence. I hope that the Leader of the House changes that tone and style over the next five years and gets the best out of the House of Commons, rather than treating it as a potential enemy to be suppressed, kept down and not talked to.

I said that my Select Committee members were an awkward and difficult bunch. When they were told that the Government were going to put the Bill before the House one day before the recess and have Second Reading one day after the recess, they obviously rolled over and went on their summer holidays—I don’t think so. They insisted that we took evidence in the recess, before the House came back. We did our duty by the House. I do not know whether the House wishes to do its duty by our Select Committee tonight. That is another matter, but we did our duty by the House by reconvening and calling witnesses so that we could do a thorough job for the House. Anyone who witnessed the proceedings of the gagging Bill as it went through the House of Commons can do nothing but say that the Select Committee

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did its job thoroughly. For possibly three or four days on the Floor of the House, we made sure that the Bill was properly scrutinised.

To give credit where it is due, the Government adopted many of the Select Committee’s proposals. It was not done in a partisan or partial way. There were things that we discovered and could help the Government with to produce a better Bill. My hon. Friend the Member for Wallasey (Ms Eagle) called it a dog’s breakfast. I think that through its work the Select Committee made that dog’s breakfast slightly more palatable.

There were occasions when the Government were rather slow to respond to the Select Committee’s proposals. As you know, Madam Deputy Speaker, it is traditional for a Select Committee to produce a report and for the Government then to respond. Even after the general election, there are still outstanding matters, where the House has not received through its Select Committee a response from Government.

I will write to the Leader of the House listing the items that still need a reply. I should tell him that, on one occasion, the Government took a year to reply to a Select Committee report. But it was worth waiting for—the response was one page long and it did not address any of the detailed points made by your Select Committee, on your behalf, whichever part of the House you sit in.

Alex Salmond: The Standing Orders.

Mr Allen: Rather like the Women and Equalities Committee, which will I hope be established today, the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee was not in the Standing Orders, as departmental Select Committees are. I ask colleagues who have fought hard to get their Select Committees to remember the difficulties that can be put in their way and what can happen if it is a Select Committee that fulfils its duty to the House and in some cases over-fulfils it, but is not in the Standing Orders. It is much more difficult for a Government who feel they can run roughshod over the House of Commons to repeal the Select Committee if it is in the Standing Orders.

I see you, Madam Deputy Speaker, are shuffling in your place. I do not know whether that is because I am coming to the end of my remarks or whether you are moving in anticipation of the list of reports that the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee produced in the previous Parliament on behalf of the House. I will touch briefly on those and bring my remarks to a close before the hour is up.

For example, we did an extensive report on voter engagement. At the general election before last, 16 million voters did not vote; 7.5 million did not even register. That figure is higher than that for those who voted for both the major parties. We carefully examined a lot of evidence on what we could do about the situation, and more than 16,000 consultations were returned—a record for the Select Committee.

One of the features of the Select Committee on Political and Constitutional Reform was that it involved people outside the bubble. It went not only to the Assemblies and Parliament outside Westminster, but discussed through social media and other means the implications of some of the things we were proposing.

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That is why we reported on votes at 16 and 17 at future general elections and on why online voting should be taken seriously. That is why before the last election we led, not least by portraying a ballot box on Big Ben, on the effort to encourage people to register to vote. We did many other things as well.

Unfortunately, we were not taken seriously on our proposals on political parties and their funding; that issue still needs proper scrutiny and it requires the House to come to a final settlement. There is still no formal process for the House to be consulted about going to war. A convention has arisen in recent years. I remember trying to get the House to sit to consider the Iraq war, and it took a great deal of effort for that to happen. The then Foreign Secretary stated that the Government would enshrine in law for the future the necessity of consulting Parliament on military action. That has not yet happened, and the Government have yet to respond to the report—even before the demise of the Select Committee, the Government had failed to respond to that report.

Madam Deputy Speaker (Mrs Laing): Order. While the hon. Gentleman is pausing slightly, I should say that I fully appreciate that he is illustrating his amendment by eloquently explaining to the House the importance of his excellent Select Committee’s work in the last Parliament. However, I am afraid that I have to tell him that, in going through in detail—or indeed at all—all his Committee’s reports, however excellent, he is not strictly in order. I know that he will wish to remain in order and tailor his remarks accordingly.

Mr Allen: I did say that we had some awkward people on my Select Committee, Madam Deputy Speaker; I did not realise that you would prove that so eloquently from the Chair. You are absolutely right to bring me to order and I will stick far more closely—for the next half hour or so—to the subject at hand. “I’m just getting my second wind”, as Eric Forth used to say.

I am speaking to the amendment on the Order Paper—[Interruption.] I should say to the right hon. Member for Broxtowe (Anna Soubry) that it is at the top of page 10; I am glad that her reading is coming on. It would add “and political reform” to the title of what would now be the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee. That is important because such important issues need to be scrutinised by Parliament and have to go somewhere; no doubt the human rights question will go to the Justice Committee. The so-called territorial Committees will be interested in these issues and the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee will want to take a view. Such issues, including the Boundary Commission, are very important to our democracy.

The last reform I want to mention, in the context of the “political reform” stated on the Order Paper, is in respect of the House itself—the unfinished business of the Wright Committee, which did so much good work. I commend it to the Leader of the House, who is listening intently. One of his predecessors, Sir George Young, put before the House the necessary motions to ensure that the House could elect its Select Committees and could elect their Chairs from across the whole House.

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One of the items of unfinished business would end this sort of pantomime, in which we pretend that Parliament has decided, but we know in reality that the Government have decided, pushed along by one or two officials when new Ministers and Whips are in place. They want above all to ensure that we do not have the mechanism to decide our own agenda in this House. The only institution that can do so is a House business Committee. The right hon. Member for Forest of Dean (Mr Harper), who is now the Chief Whip, was a member of the Government who promised solemnly—it may even have been in the manifesto —to bring forward a House business Committee. Instead of manipulating the House through the usual channels—

Madam Deputy Speaker: Order. I appreciate that the hon. Gentleman is addressing a matter of importance and one that was considered at length by his excellent Committee, but that does not make it in order for the matter before us now. I am aware that other Members wish briefly to contribute to this debate, and that we have a maximum of 12 minutes left. I hope that the hon. Gentleman, who is a great constitutionalist, will respect the constitutional position of the Chamber and adhere very strictly to the matter in question.

Mr Allen: That is the first time I have ever been accused—it is an appalling accusation—of being a great constitutionalist. I am a democrat, as I hope most people in this Parliament are. The only way in which all of us in the House will be able to express our views openly and freely, without being told what to do by the incubus of Government that controls us here, is by having our own House business Committee.

I believe that those of us who served on the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee have a very proud record to look back on. I hope that some of the things we did and some of our reports are a legacy that people can dip into when they feel they have a problem on human rights or on codifying what the Union should look like in a devolved and federal United Kingdom. For example, they could look at our report on the Boundary Commission question, which we came up with very close to the end of our term. There is a lot of good stuff in the reports. It is just a little sad for the ability of this House to scrutinise the Government, who hold all the cards, that this Committee and its successors may not be able to scrutinise them and do the job that parliamentarians of all parties feel is the role of this Parliament.

Thank you for your forbearance, Madam Deputy Speaker. With that, I close the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee.

8.8 pm

Mr Bernard Jenkin (Harwich and North Essex) (Con): I rise briefly to pay tribute to the hon. Member for Nottingham North (Mr Allen) who chaired the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee. I have to declare an interest: I hope to resume the chairmanship of the Public Administration Committee, which will now be the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee. His speech lays down a very serious challenge for that Committee in carrying on the kind of work that he did so ably as the Chairman of his Committee.

I take the hon. Gentleman’s points about workload very seriously. I fear that all Select Committees suffer from the characteristic that, whatever Committee it is, it will unavoidably find extremely important matters to

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fill its time and which are beyond the capacity of the members and the staff to deliver. We will have to be very disciplined in the Committee, if I am fortunate to be elected as its Chair, to pick and choose the subjects of most importance. The future of the United Kingdom is possibly the most important issue facing that Committee. I will very much welcome a representative of the Scottish National party on the Committee to participate in those discussions. We should take the opportunity to ensure that there is calm and rational discussion about these matters. However, I do not want to stray out of order, Madam Deputy Speaker, by talking about what a future Committee might do.

I simply wanted to speak about the end of the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee. The hon. Member for Nottingham North well knows that it was only created as a special measure to shadow the work of the then Deputy Prime Minister in the coalition Government. It was not cemented into the Standing Orders as a permanent feature. Even if it had been, it would have been just as vulnerable to repeal by a motion such as that on the changes to Standing Order No. 146.

I am pleased that something my Committee recommended—an equalities Committee—is coming into being. In our final report of the last Parliament, we foresaw the possibility that if the temporary measure of the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee ceased, the Public Administration Committee would take back the constitutional responsibilities. I welcome that being expressed in the title of the Committee in the Government’s motion.

Far be it from me to be over-enthusiastic in case I am seen as trying to carve out a greater role for myself, but I wanted to put on the record just how much respect the hon. Member for Nottingham North has earned across the entire House for his extraordinary seriousness and commitment to the subject matter. I hope very much that he will continue to contribute to this House in whatever capacity he can, perhaps even on the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, although I know how irksome that thought might be to him.

8.11 pm

Chris Grayling: I will wrap up the debate very briefly.

The hon. Member for Nottingham North (Mr Allen) talked about his political obituary. Nobody believes that for a moment. He will undoubtedly find just as many ways to contribute to the debate in this Parliament as he has found throughout the years that we have both served in this House.

I reassure the hon. Gentleman about the attitude of the Government to Select Committees. He will note from the Order Paper that we will have more Committees in this Parliament that we did in the last. We will continue to listen carefully to Parliament, as is right and proper.

I say to the Scottish nationalists that the Chief Whip and I have listened carefully to their comments. We will, no doubt, have further discussions on these issues. The right hon. Member for Gordon (Alex Salmond) was in the House when I was first elected. I always remember him bringing a quality to the debate in this House and his return has undoubtedly brought back a quality to the debate in this, the Union Parliament. In doing so, he brings strength to the Union.

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Question put and agreed to.


That with effect until the end of the current Parliament, Standing Order No. 152 be amended by the insertion of the following line at the appropriate point in the table in paragraph (2):

“Women and Equalities

Government Equalities Office


Changes to Standing Order No. 146 (Select committee on Public Administration)


That the following changes be made to standing orders—

(1) Leave out paragraph (1) of Standing Order No. 146 (Select Committee on Public Administration) and insert the following new paragraphs:

“(1) There shall be a select committee, to be called the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, to examine the reports of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration and the Health Service Commissioner for England, which are laid before this House, and matters in connection therewith; to consider matters relating to the quality and standards of administration provided by civil service departments, and other matters relating to the civil service; and to consider constitutional affairs.

(1A) The committee shall consist of eleven Members.”;

(2) Change the title of Standing Order No. 146 to “Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee”;

(3) In Standing Order No. 122B, line 9, leave out “Select Committee on Public Administration” and insert “Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee”;

(4) In Standing Order No. 143, line 69, leave out “Select Committee on Public Administration” and insert “Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee”;

(5) In Standing Order No. 152K, lines 10 and 15, leave out “Select Committee on Public Administration” and insert “Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee”.—(Chris Grayling.)

Select Committee: Allocation of Chairs


That, pursuant to Standing Order No 122B (Election of Committee Chairs), the chairs of those select committees subject to the Standing Order be allocated as indicated in the following Table

Select committees appointed under SO No 152:

Business, Innovation and Skills


Communities and Local Government


Culture, Media and Sport






Energy and Climate Change

Scottish National Party

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs


Foreign Affairs




Home Affairs


International Development




Northern Ireland


Science and Technology


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Scottish Affairs

Scottish National Party





Welsh Affairs


Women and Equalities


Work and Pensions


Other specified select committees:

Environmental Audit






Public Accounts


Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs




—(Chris Grayling.)

Madam Deputy Speaker (Mrs Laing): I can now announce the arrangements for the ballot for the election of Select Committee Chairs. The ballot will be held on Wednesday 17 June from 10 am until 5 pm in Committee Room 6. Nominations may be submitted in the Table Office from tomorrow at 9 am. Nominations will close at 5 pm on Wednesday 10 June.

In accordance with Standing Order No. 122D, I can also announce that the ballot and nomination timings for the election of the Chair of the Backbench Business Committee will be the same as those I have just described.

A briefing note with more details about the elections will be made available to Members and published on the intranet.

Business without Debate

Adjournment (Summer, Conference Recess, November, Christmas and February)

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No.25),

That this House–

(1) at its rising on Tuesday 21 July 2015, do adjourn until Monday 7 September 2015;

(2) at its rising on Thursday 17 September 2015, do adjourn until Monday 12 October 2015;

(3) at its rising on Tuesday 10 November 2015, do adjourn until Monday 16 November 2015;

(4) at its rising on Thursday 17 December 2015, do adjourn until Tuesday 5 January 2016;

(5) at its rising on Thursday 11 February 2016, do adjourn until Monday 22 February 2016.—(Julian Smith.)

Business of the House (Private Members’ Bills)


That Private Members’ Bills shall have precedence over Government business on 11 September; 16, 23 and 30 October; 6 and 20 November; 4 December; 22 and 29 January 2016, 5 and 26 February 2016; and 4 and 11 March 2016.—(Julian Smith.)

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Health Services in Staffordshire

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

8.16 pm

Jeremy Lefroy (Stafford) (Con): Thank you very much indeed, Madam Deputy Speaker, for calling me to speak, and I congratulate you on your re-election, which is much deserved. I welcome the Under-Secretary of State for Health, my hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich (Ben Gummer), to his post, which is also greatly deserved.

With your permission, Madam Deputy Speaker, I will take interventions from colleagues, as the subject of the debate affects their constituents.

Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent face some serious challenges in the provision of healthcare in the coming months and years. Although some of these issues concern the County hospital in my constituency of Stafford, which, together with Cannock Chase hospital, was the subject of a trust special administration, I also want to examine the broader situation. I will touch on emergency and acute services, community provision, cancer and end-of-life care, general practice and the financing of the health service.

Accident and emergency services in Staffordshire have been under the spotlight in recent days, with reports of pressure on the A&E department in the Royal Stoke University hospital and statistics showing that the hospital has had the highest number of 12-hour waits in recent months. At the same time, the A&E department at the County hospital in Stafford has been treating patients in under four hours more than 95% of the time in many of the most recent weeks.

It has seemed both necessary and clear to my constituents for a long time that returning the County hospital’s A&E department to a 24-hour service would both relieve some of the pressure on the Royal Stoke University hospital and improve overnight services for the 300,000 people in the County hospital’s catchment area. So I welcome the Secretary of State’s support in this House yesterday for restoring the 24/7 A&E service

“as soon as we can find a way of doing it that is clinically safe”.—[Official Report, 2 June 2015; Vol. 596, c. 439.]

Safety, of course, is paramount; I am the sponsor of the Health and Social Care (Safety and Quality) Act 2015, and it is absolutely right that safety is paramount. Therefore, will the Minister say what steps have already been taken and when we can expect to see progress on this issue?

However, the problems at the Royal Stoke are not simply the result of additional patients from the Stafford area. As I understand it, they also arise from the long-term trend in rising emergency admissions, particularly of older people, and difficulties in discharging patients to their home or to community beds.

I understand that last week’s report about the possible closure of up to 100 community beds in north Staffordshire is not accurate. Nevertheless, there are real concerns about the future of our community hospitals. Any reduction in beds is likely to lead to further delays in the discharge of patients and have a knock-on impact on the A&E department at the Royal Stoke, which would affect my constituents as well as those of other hon. Members.

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Fiona Bruce (Congleton) (Con): I commend my hon. Friend for securing this debate and I share his concerns, particularly because these issues also affect my constituents in Congleton. One of them has written to me expressing concern that cardiac patients needing to be urgently

“transferred to The Royal Stoke immediately on arrival at our local hospital A&E, Leighton”

can be at serious risk as a result of the additional pressures on services. Indeed, he says that if this issue is not resolved

“fatalities may be the consequence.”

Jeremy Lefroy: I thank my hon. Friend. She makes a point that I think will be echoed by other hon. Members in the area.

The reason given for the potential closure of the community beds was that more care would be provided at home, but how precisely will that be done? I have to declare an interest in that my wife works as a GP in Stoke-on-Trent. From what I hear, community nursing teams sometimes have difficulty in managing the workloads they have at the moment, so where will the extra capacity come from? Surely it would be more sensible, before those beds disappear—if indeed they are scheduled to disappear—to ensure that the extra community nurses are in place and to show that there is a clear reduction in the need for such beds. I urge the Minister to question any proposed reduction in community beds—even if it is not of the order mentioned in the press last week—at a time when they seem to be most in need.

I will now turn to acute services in general. The University Hospitals of the North Midlands Trust has recently announced the closure of in-patient oncology and haematology at the County hospital. In future, there will be outpatient chemotherapy treatment, but in-patients will be seen in the Royal Stoke hospital. This move was not dealt with in any detail during the public consultation on the proposals of the trust special administrator, nor was it mentioned by the NHS in its information about the changes in services provided to my constituents or to those of my hon. Friends the Members for Cannock Chase (Amanda Milling) and for Stone (Sir William Cash), and my right hon. Friend the Member for South Staffordshire (Gavin Williamson) who are affected.

From a visit to a patient on the oncology unit at the County hospital last week, it was clear to me that the service was not only very busy, but greatly appreciated. Constituents have written to me saying how important it was to have the unit relatively close, so that they could be with their family through stays which were very difficult and often lengthy. Why move what is appreciated and working well? I understand that there are staffing problems, but surely those could be tackled. I ask the Minister to look at this again.

Sir William Cash (Stone) (Con): Does my hon. Friend welcome the statement made by the Secretary of State for Health the day before yesterday regarding the question of agencies and the absolute necessity to make sure they do not rip off the health service? May I also congratulate him not only on his splendid victory, but on the fact that he has just collected the Act of Parliament that he so successfully piloted last year?

Jeremy Lefroy: I thank my hon. Friend. He has been a huge support in all these matters, which have at times been extremely difficult. He is absolutely right. I have come across cases of agency workers charging absolutely

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extortionate fees. I could give the Minister in private—he would be shocked to hear them—one or two examples of what I consider to be close to blackmail.

Another question is raised: if these important services are moving, without mention in the information to my constituents, are other moves planned of which we have no information? The loss of emergency surgery, consultant-led maternity, full level 3 critical care and in-patient paediatrics was—even if most were the wrong decisions—at least clearly set out and communicated with my constituents. These acute in-patient services were not. What we therefore need, and what I have been asking for since last summer, is a clear summary of exactly what services will be available and where.

Of course, this is primarily the responsibility of the UHNM Trust. However, it is grossly unfair to place this burden entirely on it. It has been asked to do a huge job in bringing together two acute hospitals, one of which has been the subject of a major public inquiry. It needs the full support of the NHS through the NHS Trust Development Authority and NHS England. I am asking the Minister to make it his responsibility to do precisely that.

I will now turn to the tender for cancer and end-of-life services throughout the west of Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent. The proposal has been developed by NHS England, the four clinical commissioning groups covering North Staffordshire, Stoke-on-Trent, Stafford and surrounds, and Cannock Chase, and Macmillan Cancer Care. The objective is clear: to improve cancer outcomes, which are currently below the average for England and well below the European best, so that survival rates are among the best in England by 2025 and subsequently among the best in Europe.

Andrew Griffiths (Burton) (Con): I commend my hon. Friend for securing this debate and for the fantastic work he has done over the last five years, both for his constituents and for people across Staffordshire. We welcome the work he does, and I am sure he would join me in thanking the doctors, nurses and clinical staff across Staffordshire who have worked so hard to get improved care across our county. Does he agree that we still have a fragile healthcare economy in Staffordshire? I managed to secure £8 million for East Staffordshire CCG thanks to the help of the previous Health Minister, but that is for just one year, so does my hon. Friend agree that we need to move towards fairer funding in Staffordshire?

Jeremy Lefroy: I entirely agree with my hon. Friend and reiterate his remarks about the excellent work done in my constituency by staff at the County hospital to recover the situation, which a few years ago was extremely difficult, to one where the quality of care offered is of a very high standard.

To return to cancer and end-of-life services, the real concern has been over the method being used. To quote Macmillan:

“We think a procurement process is the best way to integrate the fragmented cancer and end of life services we have in Staffordshire. A procurement process is needed because at the moment there is no one organisation with overall control of cancer or end of life services.”

My argument has always been: in that case, what are CCGs for? They are there to commission, so why can they not commission? In the last Parliament, we gave them

3 Jun 2015 : Column 725

the ability to work together to procure services, so why cannot the four CCGs involved, together with Macmillan, simply make that happen? The answer I was given at the time was that the constraints on CCGs’ own administration costs—a reducing amount of funding per head—meant that it was impossible. Sometimes I am puzzled. We see this all over Government and have done for many years and across many Departments: we constrain spending on so-called bureaucracy and then, in order to get necessary things done, pay large sums of money to consultants to do precisely the kind of bureaucratic work that we forbid the experts from doing—in this case the CCGs—but, because it is called consultancy or programme work rather than overheads, it is allowed. There is a problem that needs to be solved—I do not deny that—and it affects the lives of my constituents and those of other Members, so it must be solved.

Macmillan says about the first two years of the contract:

“The main responsibility of the integrator will be to address the current inadequate data about pathway activity and the real cost of this activity. Much increased investment over the last decade has arguably been wasted by poor contract accountability and a lack of reliable data and analytics.”

That is important, but it is a research and advisory role. I have no problem with the CCGs calling in experts to offer them such research and advice, whether it is a private company, university or, indeed, another arm of the NHS. A fee will be paid for that work. Again, I have no problem with that, but I would like the Minister to say how much it is likely to be. As local MPs, we have a right to know, on behalf of our constituents, or at least have a rough idea.

According to Macmillan, after 18 months the integrator —I would say consultant—will be expected to

“present a more detailed strategy as to how they expect to achieve improved service outcomes. If the evidence is robust, arrangements will be made for all contracts to be transferred to the Service Integrator from the beginning of year 3. If not, the contract with the Integrator could be terminated and the Service integrator will be required to repay all (or a significant part) of their fee to date.”

That is where I do not see the logic. What makes an organisation that is good at research and advice the right body to run cancer services for our constituents? Why can it not simply be thanked for its advice and that advice, if it is good, be followed by the CCGs, working in co-operation with the providers? The risk is that the vital work that patients, the CCGs and Macmillan have done, with the very best of intentions, will be damaged by contractual arrangements that do not make sense and may put a private organisation with a somewhat different ethos in charge of commissioning NHS providers for services, rather than the other way round.

I have no problem at all with a private organisation producing a much better plan for cancer and end-of-life services, nor do I have a problem with social enterprises or private providers being involved in delivering certain elements of that plan, as they do now and have done under Labour, coalition and Conservative Governments. However, I do not see the logic in the organisation producing that plan becoming another bureaucratic tier between the CCGs, providers and patients. I therefore ask the Minister to take up the proposed contract with the CCGs.

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The state of general practice is gradually becoming critical in our area. Many GPs are retiring or approaching retirement. I welcome the Government’s plans to train more GPs, but we will also have to train more medical students or rely on recruiting from overseas.

Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP): In Health questions this week, an issue close to my heart was raised about GP numbers and how many doctors are choosing to become GPs. We have similar issues in Northern Ireland. The difficulties in Staffordshire have been outlined, but they are mirrored across the whole of the United Kingdom, and particularly in Northern Ireland. Could any steps be taken to encourage more doctors to become GPs, thus dealing with the problem of the massive number of patients that each doctor has, because we are getting to the stage where doctors will not be able to cope?

Jeremy Lefroy: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman, who hits the nail on the head. It is vital to increase the number of medical students and those training as GPs. I know that the Government want to do that and are committed to it, but I believe they need to expand the number of medical school places.

What plans do the Government have for expanding the number of medical school places and ensuring that those trained stay and work in the NHS, particularly in those areas that are running short of GPs? A seven-day personalised service is an ideal, but those GPs who take the care of their patients extremely seriously—and that is the vast majority of them—are already working extraordinarily hard. The European working time directive most certainly does not apply to GPs, even if it does to the rest of the NHS, and if it were to apply, our family doctor service would fall apart.

Finally, I wish to address the financing of the NHS in Staffordshire. All parts of it are under strain. The KPMG report showed, although some of its solutions have rightly not been accepted, that there is a serious problem. The answer is not to be found in short-term fixes, whether they be in Staffordshire or elsewhere. The NHS England 2020 plan—tough though it is—gives us the opportunity to think long term. Yesterday, I argued in this place for a cross-party commission, including the medical professions, on the future of health and social care and its provision and financing for the 20 or 30 years beyond 2020. I repeat that call today, and I urge the Minister and his colleagues to take up the challenge.

8.31 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Ben Gummer): It is a great pleasure to serve in this, your first Adjournment debate of the new Parliament, Madam Deputy Speaker. I am delighted that you have found your seat again. It is a great pleasure, too, to respond to my hon. Friend the Member for Stafford (Jeremy Lefroy), who has been a model for many of us in the 2010 intake in his advocacy of local health issues. He was rightly recognised for so doing in the election, and I am delighted that he, like so many of my hon. Friends, was returned with such a considerable mandate as a result of his hard work. I congratulate him, too, on securing this important Adjournment debate, which continues the battle he has fought on behalf of his constituents over the last Parliament.

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Let me say first that the initial meetings I have had in my new position have in large part centred on the issues raised as a result, both directly and indirectly, of the terrible events that befell the Mid Staffordshire trust. My hon. Friend’s bringing of this Adjournment debate is timely in that sense.

I shall first address some of the specific issues my hon. Friend raised about the procurements recently spoken about in the press before moving on to deal with the more general issues. None of this has been particularly helped by some of the comments in the local media. Looking at the CCG’s proposals to improve the organisation of cancer and end-of-life services, which my hon. Friend raised first, I would like to announce to him and the House today that a public-private consortium led by two NHS trusts is now the sole remaining bidder and is in the final stages of talks with the CCG to manage the cancer care pathway. This is an innovative model. I know my hon. Friend has some reservations about it, but it is the first of its kind and it should greatly help to improve and develop services for patients. It is one of the outcomes we wanted to see from the changes in his county, so that health excellence emerges out of the terrible events that occurred. I know we share a common position on that.

Four CCGs are in the process of procuring this consortium to act as a service integrator for the wide range of organisations in the area providing cancer care and to improve the journey of patients in the county and their experience of the care they receive. Dialogue will now continue.

My hon. Friend asked about the role of advisers, consultants and the associated costs. I cannot give him the details now, but I will ensure that they are provided to him. I will ensure also that all officials, including those in the CCG, have the discussion about the role of consultants and advisers in order to satisfy him—or not—on that matter.

Let me now deal with some more general points about the health economy in which my hon. Friend’s constituency sits. It is challenged, and it has been challenged for a long time. Last year, Staffordshire was identified as one of the 11 most challenged local health economies in England. The healthcare organisations in those areas need intensive support to ensure that, as a minimum, services are clinically and financially sustainable over the next five years.

Many of the problems faced by Staffordshire have lain unaddressed for years. Recruitment and retention problems are not unique to the county—other parts of the country experience them as well—but, as my hon. Friend will know, they contributed to the dreadful events on which he has become an expert. Change is needed, not just in the hospitals but in the local health economy as a whole.

As my hon. Friend has already explained, the county hospital in Stafford is now part of the new University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust—in alliance with services in Stoke—but that in itself is not enough to ensure that patients get a better service. That is about much more than a change of management. A solution often used by the NHS involves concentrating services on a single site, so that professional skills are maximised and patients receive much better care.

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Although there is a need to reorganise, reorganisation is not just a switch of management location; services themselves must change. That process must be led by local clinicians, working in a partnership between hospital and community, and taking the views of patients into account. The eventual structure cannot be imposed from the outside, nor can there be a “one size fits all” answer. Stafford’s geography, population distribution, transport links and distance to nearby towns and cities, for example, are all relevant to a decision on how services should be set up. Any solution must take account of those factors, as well as others such as disease prevalence and age profile, which are, perhaps, more obviously health-related.

Sir William Cash: Will my hon. Friend give way?

Ben Gummer: I will, briefly.

Sir William Cash: Let me—briefly—remind my hon. Friend that people in the deep rural parts of my constituency are served by the county hospital and the University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust. It is important to ensure that, when there is a lack of easy communication on the motorway, they too are specially looked after.

Ben Gummer: That is precisely the point that I made to the clinical commissioning groups when I spoke to them yesterday. I appreciate its importance, and not just on the basis of my own experience of representing an urban seat in a largely rural county.

My hon. Friend the Member for Stafford raised the issue of community beds. I need not advise him to exercise caution when it comes to believing everything that he reads in the press. However, there will be consultation about any changes that do take place, and I know that the Trust Development Authority and the commissioners will work together to ensure that they take place in a coherent fashion. Following my forthcoming meeting with chief executives and the TDA commissioners, I shall be happy to meet my hon. Friend and others to discuss changes in services if that will help to allay his concerns.

I have had detailed discussions with commissioners and NHS England about haematology and oncology services. Although there was a thought that they had been mentioned in original documents, I must say that I, too, found such mentions to be lacking. I am afraid problems of that kind are often encountered in the NHS, and that, in the past, consultations have not been as full or as pertinent as they should have been. I have asked the NHS again to consult specifically on those services, and also to engage in a full and proper consultation with patients and local groups. The same will apply to any other services that may come into question. I take my hon. Friend’s point about the need for a list of services, and I will pass it on to the CCGs, because I think it is important.

Jeremy Lefroy: I am most grateful to the Minister. It is very good news that there will be proper, extra consultation. As I said earlier, last week I visited a patient whom I know, and saw the excellent service that is currently being provided. It would be a real loss—more than that, a tragedy—were that service to be moved.

Ben Gummer: I stress that it is not for me to design the outcome of that consultation, because the whole point of what we are trying to do is to allow clinicians to make that decision, but they must consult properly.

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The same pertains for A&E. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has said that round-the-clock A&E services—I know he has made this point specifically to my hon. Friend—could return to Stafford if clinically safe to do so.

There is a need for quality services to be delivered immediately, however, and that is why I am concerned also about the situation at Stoke, where issues clearly need to be addressed in the immediate term. I wrote yesterday to the chief executive of the University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust to arrange a meeting with him, local commissioners and the TDA to see what can be done immediately to help improve the emergency services at Stoke. I will of course speak to my hon. Friend following that meeting to bring him up to date on the conclusions of that discussion.

I also understand from the local NHS that the plans are resilient and will deliver better services, and that the work is being led by CCGs and local authority commissioners. They are redesigning the Staffordshire health and social care economy to ensure that patients enjoy the benefits of a safe, high-quality and financially sound service in the long term. That is their assurance to me. My job, and my hon. Friend’s, is to ensure that they fulfil their promise.

My hon. Friend brought up two separate issues more generally about agency nurses and consultants, and he will have seen the announcements made by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State yesterday and today

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about them. Both go to the heart of the matter my hon. Friend raised and demonstrate how we in this Government are prepared to move rapidly on the matters facing the NHS in the early days of this Parliament to ensure that we can deliver the excellence in healthcare that we know our constituents deserve and wish for.

The Minister for Community and Social Care, sitting beside me, has heard my hon. Friend’s comments on GP numbers. That is a challenge throughout England and in my constituency, and one that we hope to address in part by the 5,000 additional general practitioners whom we hope to recruit in the next five years. We will, however, bring forward a range of measures to ensure that general practice not only survives but flourishes in the years to come.

In conclusion, I thank once again my hon. Friend for bringing so carefully and diligently these important matters to the House’s attention. It has allowed us to explore some of the wider issues facing the national health service. I hope I have provided him with a few points of consolation and also reassurance on how the Government and local health commissioners will proceed with the matters that he has raised. If he has any further complaints, problems, wishes or desires about his local health service, he should come to me. That invitation extends to his colleagues in the county of Staffordshire as well.

Question put and agreed to.

8.42 pm

House adjourned.