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NHS Reform

11.31 am

The Secretary of State for Health (Mr Jeremy Hunt): With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a statement on measures to improve the safety culture in the NHS and further strengthen its transition to a modern, patient-centric healthcare system. The failings at Mid Staffs, detailed in the Francis report, were not isolated local failures. Facing up to widespread problems with the safety and quality of NHS care and learning the appropriate lessons has been a mission that the Government and the NHS have shared, with a common belief that the best way to deal with problems is to face up to them rather than wish that they did not exist.

Measures taken in the last Parliament include: introducing the toughest independent inspection regime in the world; more transparency on performance and outcomes than any other major healthcare system; new fundamental standards; a duty of candour; and the excellent recommendations by Sir Robert Francis QC. But because the change we need is essentially cultural, a long journey remains ahead. The Department of Health was described during the Mid Staffs era as a “denial machine”. We therefore have much work to do if we are to complete the transformation of the NHS from a closed system to an open one, from one where staff are bullied to one where they are supported, and from one where patients are not ignored but listened to.

Today I am announcing some important new steps, including: our official response to Sir Robert Francis’s second report, “Freedom to Speak Up”; our response to the Public Administration Select Committee report “Investigating clinical incidents in the NHS”; and our response to the Morecambe Bay investigation. I am also publishing Lord Rose’s report into leadership in the NHS—a key part of the way in which we will prevent tragedies such as these from happening again. I would like to thank everyone involved in writing those reports for their excellent work.

In his report “Freedom to Speak Up”, Sir Robert Francis QC made a number of recommendations to support this cultural change. All NHS trusts will appoint someone whose job is to be there when front-line doctors and nurses need someone to turn to with concerns about patient care that they do not feel able to raise with their immediate line manager. We will also appoint an independent national officer, located at the Care Quality Commission, to make sure that all trusts have proper processes in place to listen to the concerns of staff before they feel the need to become whistleblowers. Other changes will include providing information about raising concerns as part of the training for healthcare professionals and part of the curriculum for medical students, and placing a greater focus on learning from reflective practice in staff development.

Dr Bill Kirkup’s report into Morecambe Bay brought home to the House that there can be no greater pain than when a parent loses a child and then finds that pain compounded when medical mistakes are covered up. We will accept all the recommendations in this report, including removing the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s current responsibility and accountability for statutory supervision of midwives in the United Kingdom, and bringing the regulation of midwives into line with the arrangements for other regulated professions.

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Likewise, we agree with the vast majority of the recommendations of the excellent PASC report into clinical incident investigations. In particular, we will set up a new independent patient safety investigation service by April 2016, based on the success of the “no blame” approach used by the air accidents investigation branch in the airline industry. It will be housed at Monitor/Trust Development Authority, which have the important responsibility of promulgating a learning culture throughout the NHS. Monitor/TDA will operate under the name “NHS Improvement”, and Ed Smith, currently a non-executive board member of NHS England, will become the new chair, with a brief to appoint a new chief executive by the end of September.

For NHS managers, Lord Rose’s report, “Better leadership for tomorrow”, makes vital recommendations to join up the support offered to NHS managers, to improve training and performance management, and reduce bureaucracy. He extended his remit to cover the work of clinical commissioning groups, which play a key role in the NHS, and today I am accepting all 19 of his recommendations in principle, including moving responsibility for the NHS leadership academy from NHS England to Health Education England.

These are important recommendations, which, in the end, all share one common thread: that the most powerful people in our NHS should not be politicians, managers or even doctors and nurses, but the patients who use it. Using the power of intelligent transparency and new technology, we now have the opportunity to put behind us a service where you get what you are given and move to a modern NHS where what is right for the service is always what is right for the patient.

A litmus test of that is our approach to weekend services. About 6,000 people lose their lives every year because we do not have a proper seven-day service in hospitals. Someone is 15% more likely to die if they are admitted on a Sunday than if they are admitted on a Wednesday. That is unacceptable to doctors as well as patients. In 2003-04, the then Government gave GPs and consultants the right to opt out of out-of-hours and weekend work, at the same time as offering significant pay increases. The result was a Monday-to-Friday culture in many parts of the NHS, with catastrophic consequences for patient safety.

In our manifesto this year, the Conservative party pledged to put that right as a clinical and moral priority. I am today publishing the observations on seven-day contract reform for directly employed NHS staff in England by the Review Body on Doctors and Dentists Remuneration—the DDRB—and the NHS Pay Review Body. They observe that some trusts are already delivering services across seven days, but this is far from universal. According to the DDRB, a major barrier to wider implementation is the contractual right of consultants to opt out of non-emergency work in the evenings and at weekends, which reduces weekend cover by senior clinical decision makers and puts the sickest patients at unacceptable risk. The DDRB recommends the early removal of the consultant weekend opt-out, so today I am announcing that we intend to negotiate the removal of the consultant opt-out and early implementation of revised terms for new consultants from April 2016. There will now be six weeks to work with British

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Medical Association union negotiators before a September decision point. We hope to find a negotiated solution but are prepared to impose a new contract if necessary. To further ensure a patient-focused pay system, we will also introduce a new performance pay scheme, replacing the outdated local clinical excellence awards, to reward those doctors making the greatest contribution to patient care.

I am also announcing other measures today to make the NHS more responsive to patients. Those include making sure patients are told about Care Quality Commission quality ratings as well as waiting times before they are referred to hospitals, so that they can make an informed decision about the best place to receive their care. NHS England will also develop plans to expand control to patients over decisions made in maternity, end-of-life care and long-term condition management, which I will report in more detail subsequently to the House. Finally, because the role of technology is so important in strengthening patient power, we must ensure that no NHS patient is left behind in the digital health revolution. I have therefore asked Martha Lane Fox, the former Government digital champion, to develop practical proposals for the NHS National Information Board on how we can ensure increased take-up of new digital innovations in health by those who will benefit from them the most.

When we first introduced transparency into the system to strengthen the voice of patients, some called it “running down the NHS”. Since then, public confidence in the NHS in England has risen 5 percentage points. By contrast, in Wales, which resisted this transparency, a survey has seen public satisfaction fall by 3 percentage points. Over the previous Parliament, the proportion of people who think that the NHS in England is among the best healthcare systems in the world increased by 7 percentage points, the proportion of those who think NHS care is safe increased by 7 percentage points and the proportion of those who think that they are treated with dignity and respect increased by 13 percentage points. That demonstrates beyond doubt the benefits of an open and confident NHS, which is truly focused on learning and continuous improvement.

As we make progress in this journey, we must never forget the people and the families who have suffered when things have gone wrong. In particular, there are the families and patients at Morecambe Bay and Mid Staffs, the whistleblowers who contributed to Sir Robert Francis’s work, and everyone who has had the courage to come forward in recent years to help reshape the culture of the NHS. Without their bravery and determination, we would not have faced up to the failures of the past or been able to construct a shared vision for the future. We are all massively in their debt. This statement remains their legacy, and I commend it to the House.

11.41 am

Andy Burnham (Leigh) (Lab): I thank the Secretary of State for his statement and for advance sight of it. Let me say at the beginning that I support much of what he said. I will focus my remarks on his plan for seven-day working, and then touch on some of the other issues he raised.

Ensuring that our health services are there for everyone whenever they are needed—be that a weekday or a weekend—should be our shared goal across this House

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for a 21st-century national health service. Illnesses do not stop at the weekend and nor should our NHS. Although we support the principle of what the Secretary of State is trying to achieve with seven-day working, and will work with him where possible, I urge some caution in the manner in which he is attempting to drive through these changes. His remarks contain no acknowledgment that the NHS right now is in a very fragile condition. It has gone backwards, not forwards, in recent times. A&E is in crisis, and primary care services are overwhelmed. There is a shortage of staff and an over-reliance on agency workers. Staff are demoralised and worn out. If he does this in the wrong way, many may walk away and that would make matters even worse. Given all that, it is not immediately clear how seven-day services can be delivered in the timeframe he has set out without significantly impacting on the rest of the NHS.

The Secretary of State said that around 6,000 people lose their lives every year because we do not have a proper seven-day service. Of course that is an appalling statistic, but is there not a risk of implementing seven-day services by simply spreading existing resources more thinly? A recent study published in “Health Economics” concluded:

“There is as yet no clear evidence that 7-day services will reduce weekend deaths or can be achieved without increasing weekday deaths.”

Will the Secretary of State tell us on what evidence he has based his announcement and, crucially, what steps he is taking to guard against what the study warns could be an increase in weekday deaths?

If the Secretary of State wants to make changes on this scale, it is vital that he works in partnership with NHS staff. I gently say to him that briefing headlines such as “Declaring war on doctors” have not got us off on the right foot, as doctors are already feeling worn out and put upon. The British Medical Association said:

“Today’s announcement is nothing more than a wholesale attack on doctors to mask the fact that for two years the Government has failed to outline any concrete proposals for introducing more seven-day hospital services.”

Will the Secretary of State take care to avoid provocative statements such as “Declaring war” and will he rethink the manner in which he is pursuing these negotiations? Talk of imposing deals at this stage is not helpful; it is premature and it would be better to proceed in a more constructive manner.

Staff across the entire hospital system—not just doctors —will be needed to run these services, but the Government confirmed only last week that many of them will face another five years of pay cuts. In total, that will amount to a decade of pay cuts. Has the Secretary of State looked at the detail of the Chancellor’s announcement on pay for NHS staff? Will he tell the House what effect he believes this deal could have on staff numbers and retention?

The Secretary of State said very little about how he will fund seven-day services, but given that the NHS is struggling to fund weekday services, it is likely to need significant investment over the next five years, over and above funding attached to the five-year forward view. Can he confirm that the money allocated to fund the five-year forward view does not include seven-day working? That is not specifically mentioned in the “Five Year Forward View”. If so, what extra funding will be made

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available specifically to deliver seven-day working, and when will this funding be available? The announcement today appears to be unfunded and it will not escape the House’s attention that the 2010 Conservative manifesto also promised to deliver seven-day services. The Secretary of State has a lot of convincing to do if he expects people to believe him this time.

In a statement last week in another place, Lord Prior, the Under-Secretary of State with responsibility for NHS productivity, said he was establishing an independent inquiry into extending charges in the NHS. This has sounded alarm bells among many patient groups. Will the Secretary of State say more about the terms of reference for this independent inquiry and when it will proceed with its work?

The Francis “Freedom to speak up” report contained a number of important recommendations to foster a more open culture and we support his work to implement them. The right hon. Gentleman will know that there have been a number of appalling examples of poor care in recent times at Orchid View, Oban Court and Winterbourne View, and these scandals were exposed only when undercover reporters infiltrated the care home. Will he look seriously at the idea of an independent body to receive complaints from NHS staff and social care staff so that they are not faced with the problem of always going to their employer if they are to blow the whistle?

I welcome what the Secretary of State had to say about the Kirkup report and his acceptance in full of its recommendations. We, too, think of the families affected by the failures at Morecambe Bay. I supported steps to improve the regulation of midwives, but the big question mark over the right hon. Gentleman’s commitment is the failure to bring in a Bill on professional regulation. This was an important recommendation of the Francis report and the continued delay in implementing this proposal is putting patients at risk and preventing regulators from doing their job. Will the Secretary of State now commit to legislating at the earliest opportunity for the Law Commission’s reforms?

These are extremely serious matters and I do not believe that some of the Secretary of State’s more political comments today were appropriate, nor do I believe they will build the consensus that will be needed across this House to deliver these important changes. Labour introduced more transparency into the NHS with the establishment of independent regulation and the inspection of hospitals. I appointed Robert Francis to begin the work of looking at what went wrong at Mid Staffs. Where the Secretary of State seeks to build on these constructive changes, we will support him, but he will not achieve his goals by provoking confrontation with doctors or playing politics with patient safety.

Mr Hunt: I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his support on many of the measures that we are announcing today. Where we can work together, we should. I thank him for his support for the principle of seven-day working, although I gently point out that this was in our manifesto in May and it was not in his. I shall deal in turn with the points that he raised.

On funding for seven-day services, the right hon. Gentleman has just fought an election on plans that would have meant that the NHS would get £5 billion less than this Government are prepared to commit. We are

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committing £10 billion to the NHS to implement the five-year forward view, which we can do on the back of a strong economy. That includes plans for a seven-day service.

The right hon. Gentleman talked about comments by Lord Prior in another place. There is no independent review on charging for NHS services. After the election, he should be very careful of such scaremongering. That is what he was doing for the whole election. When he makes such comments, he frightens NHS staff. He should think about the effect on morale when he does that.

The right hon. Gentleman said that the NHS has gone backwards, not forwards, but I have just presented figures showing that public confidence in the NHS is going up; the number of people who think that the NHS is one of the best systems in the world has increased. I gently point out that the reports we are publishing today are a response to problems that happened on his watch and that we are facing up to, so he should have a little modesty in this situation.

The right hon. Gentleman asked an important question about spreading services currently offered on five days over seven days. A lot of work has been done on this. The truth is that having services only on five days is not only dangerous for patients but incredibly inefficient for hospitals. For example, someone admitted to hospital on a Friday in need of a diagnostic test might not get the result until the following Monday or Tuesday so will have to stay in hospital for the weekend even though they could possibly have been discharged. That is bad for the patient and expensive for the NHS, so these measures will result in huge cost savings.

Most importantly, the right hon. Gentleman talked about carrying staff with us. Doctors go into work every weekend throughout the NHS and do a fantastic job, but often it is not recognised and they are not thanked. We want a more professional contract that recognises that contribution. That is why these measures are supported by the Royal College of Surgeons, the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Emergency Medicine.

When the previous Labour Government changed the consultants’ contract in 2003, senior doctors did not like it. They said that it led to

“a loss of a sense of vocation and what it means to be professional”.

That quote is from a King’s Fund report. It undermined the basic relationship between doctor and patient. We are not blaming doctors, and actually we are not blaming unions, because unions will always ask to see what they can get—the right hon. Gentleman spends more time with unions than I do, so he knows that better than I do. The people responsible for that decision in 2003 were the Ministers who signed off changes to the consultants’ contract and the GPs’ contract. It was Labour politicians who were responsible for those changes, and they must take responsibility for the fact that it was the wrong thing to do.

Finally, this is the most important question of all, and we have not heard an answer today: does the right hon. Gentleman support the measures that the Government are putting forward to make our hospitals safer with seven-day working or not? Leadership is about making choices, and today’s choice is this: is he on the side of the patient or on the side of the union? We know whose side we are on. For Labour, once again, the politics matters more than the patients.

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Dr Sarah Wollaston (Totnes) (Con): I welcome the Secretary of State’s vision of an NHS that is empowered to focus more fully on the people and communities it serves and that is more transparent, less bureaucratic and as safe on a Sunday as it is on a Wednesday, and I welcome his comments about culture change. Does he agree that meeting that challenge will also depend on financing? As welcome as the extra £8 billion announced in the Budget is, will he join me in urging colleagues to ensure that as much of that as possible is front-loaded, because it is so necessary for the transformational changes he has talked about? In encouraging leadership across the NHS, will he ensure that the changes that are needed at a local level, and the systems we can integrate for the benefit of patients, can be introduced more quickly and effectively?

Mr Hunt: I thank my hon. Friend for her important comments, and for sitting through a very long speech I gave this morning. We are trying to achieve many things. At their heart, as she rightly says, is a recognition that culture change does not happen overnight. She is right that the profiling of the extra money that the Government are investing in the NHS is important, because we need to spend money soon on some things, such as additional capacity in primary care, as in two to three years’ time that will significantly reduce the need for expensive hospital care. We are going through those numbers carefully. She is also right that local leadership really matters. I know that she will agree, especially as she comes from Devon, that leadership needs to be good at a CCG level as well as a trust level, because CCGs have a really important role in commissioning healthcare in local communities. That is an area where we need to make a lot of improvements.

Dr Philippa Whitford (Central Ayrshire) (SNP): I have to declare an interest: like most doctors, I am a member of the British Medical Association.

I commend the Secretary of State for his announcement about a national officer for whistleblowers. Shona Robertson, Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Health, announced this in June, and we are taking action on the Francis report in the same direction. It is vital that members of staff feel they have someone to speak to if things are not going well, and that if they are not being responded to locally there is an independent voice that they can go to.

With regard to seven-day services, the excess deaths of people who are admitted at weekends is recognised and abhorred by the vast majority of doctors. I do not know anybody who gets up and works the hours we do and does not care that someone did not do well. However, I think we are blurring the lines between the elective and emergency systems. The sickest people the Secretary of State mentions—those who run the risk of dying if admitted on a Friday or a Sunday—are not part of the elective system but of the out-of-hours emergency system. It is suggested that hospitals are like the Mary Celeste and there are no doctors. In fact, any service with an emergency component runs 24/7, but there is a multi-disciplinary team. Sometimes patients will be stuck on a ward because they cannot get access to a scan or there is no physiotherapist to help them recover from their stroke.

We are already working towards solving this in Scotland. We are doing so in a more collaborative way, and that is important. There is no resistance to that, because it is

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recognised that we need all parts of the service. This is different from people coming in for a routine check-up on a Sunday when that does not result in a detriment to them if it is not available. The biggest shortage we have is in human resources—doctors, nurses, physios, occupational therapists and radiographers. I recommend that the Secretary of State separate these two aspects. The first is that hospital consultants did not get the option to opt out of 24/7 care for emergency patients in the contract, whereas GPs did. It is a matter of providing, funding and setting up a full service with all that is behind it to deal with ill patients seven days a week, no matter when they come in.

The other aspect is trying to get value for money. If we have invested in expensive machines and theatres, we want them to work as many days a week as possible so that we get value for money, but that must be secondary to the first priority, which is looking after sick people. I suggest that the Secretary of State starts talking about the two aspects on separate tracks and not crossing backwards and forwards, and that this should be collaborative. I echo the hon. Member for Totnes (Dr Wollaston) in saying that we require the money to be front-loaded so that we get it to start changing the service now.

Mr Speaker: Order. May I gently say that from now on we are going to have to enforce the time limits on Opposition responses to ministerial statements much more strictly? Otherwise they eat into the time available for other colleagues. The shadow Secretary of State has five minutes in response to a 10-minute statement and the third party spokesperson has two minutes. That really does have to be adhered to as a matter of course from now on.

Mr Hunt: The hon. Lady speaks with the authority of someone who works in hospitals, and I always listen to her very carefully. I do not think it is easy to make a rigid distinction between elective and emergency care. The opt-out in emergency care does apply, for example, to accident and emergency doctors. Sometimes when people are admitted to hospital because they are ill—they would not be admitted if they were not—their condition may not appear to be life-threatening on a Friday afternoon but then, over the course of the weekend, they deteriorate, and by the time they are seen by a senior consultant on a Monday or a Tuesday, it is too late. The trouble is that we have a culture in which a lot of major services are available only from Monday to Friday, and that is what is causing these avoidable deaths. The hon. Lady is right to say that this is not just about senior consultant cover; it is also about diagnostic care, handovers and many other things, and we are working at those. The Royal Edinburgh Infirmary has done a very good job of eliminating the difference between weekday and weekend mortality rates, as have Salford Royal and Northumbria hospitals in England. We need other hospitals to follow those examples.

Mr Graham Brady (Altrincham and Sale West) (Con): Senior clinicians in my constituency are warning of a major threat to patient safety as a result of a proposed downgrade of one of Britain’s best hospitals, Wythenshawe. The regional transplant unit is a world-class centre for heart and lung and there is a major trauma centre adjacent to Manchester airport, where it should be. That must all be protected. The Secretary of State knows my view that the consultation has been opaque,

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and that the decision-making process has been flawed. Will he review the decision as urgently as possible, and meet me and other Members for local constituencies as a matter of urgency before the summer recess to discuss what can be done?

Mr Hunt: I am more than happy to meet my hon. Friend to discuss those matters. Wythenshawe is an excellent hospital—I have been there—and it has provided a number of staff who have helped to turn round the standard of care at Tameside hospital, which has seen dramatic improvements. I recognise that Wythenshawe is an excellent hospital, and I am very happy to meet him to listen to his concerns.

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab): How will the Secretary of State pay for his very laudable objective of seven-day working when he has lost control of NHS finances? Contrary to what he claimed about the situation in Devon, as things now stand our patient care is suffering, waiting times are rocketing and we are facing a £434 million deficit.

Mr Hunt: Let me tell the right hon. Gentleman why so many places are going into deficit. They have looked at the lessons of Mid Staffs and said, “We don’t want that to happen here.” That is why, in the past two and a half years, hospitals have employed 8,000 more nurses on hospital wards to deal with the scandal of short staffing that they faced and wanted to do something about. In the end, if it is not sustainable, it is not quality care, so we have to find smart ways to control deficits—not by reducing the staff and making care unsafe, but by making changes to process and through efficiencies, such as making sure that nurses do not spend too long filling out forms and can spend more time with patients. In terms of funding, I would just say that the only way to fund a strong NHS is to have a strong economy, and that is why the country voted in a Conservative Government in May.

Dr Tania Mathias (Twickenham) (Con): I declare an interest as a member of the BMA.

I absolutely agree with all the points made by my hon. Friend the Member for Totnes (Dr Wollaston). I like the reforms of leadership, but will the Secretary of State recognise the existing great leadership in the NHS? A safe NHS is one in which staff morale is at its best. If every leader in the NHS was at the level of Professor Sir Peter Morris, we would already have the best and safest health service in the world.

Mr Hunt: My hon. Friend obviously speaks with huge knowledge—I am wondering whether she is the first Conservative MP who is also a member of the BMA —and is extremely welcome for the insights she brings to the House.

Leadership and morale are absolutely crucial. One of the ways in which we can improve morale is by giving patients and doctors alike the sense that we are honest about the problems and have good plans in place to tackle them. Nothing eats away more at morale than people going in day in, day out and not giving patients the care that they want to give and feeling that nothing is being done about it. That is why the move towards transparency, which I know my hon. Friend supports, is so important.

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Mike Kane (Wythenshawe and Sale East) (Lab): I echo the comments of the hon. Member for Altrincham and Sale West (Mr Brady). Despite a public consultation wanting five major trauma receiving sites in Greater Manchester and Wythenshawe hospital being the public choice, it did not receive specialist status at the end of the Healthier Together process yesterday. What assurances can the Secretary of State give the people of Trafford and south Manchester, particularly in relation to the 18 specialisms that are underpinned by Wythenshawe being a major trauma receiving site?

Mr Hunt: As I said to my hon. Friend the Member for Altrincham and Sale West (Mr Brady), I will look into the decision made by Healthier Together. The assurance that I can give to the constituents of the hon. Member for Wythenshawe and Sale East (Mike Kane), and indeed to all people in the Greater Manchester area, is that with some of the most exciting changes, such as the integration of health and social care and the transformation of out-of-hospital care—it has just been announced that there will be seven-day GP services across Greater Manchester—they are blazing a trail. It will be exciting for his constituents; none the less, I understand their concerns about their local hospital and I am happy to look into that.

Christopher Pincher (Tamworth) (Con): We in Staffordshire know better than most what the denial machine that the Secretary of State referred to meant to local people, so I congratulate him on his commitment to transparency and consistency. Will he encourage the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust and the Burton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to work much more collaboratively, so that that commitment to transparency and better service is delivered to my constituents in Tamworth and Fazeley?

Mr Hunt: I will absolutely encourage that. The Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust is one of the biggest in the country and has had significant challenges. The Burton foundation trust has been through the special measures process, and patient care has improved as a result. Collaborative working will be the way forward. We need to break down the silos that have cursed so much of the NHS, and I will happily pass on that message.

Norman Lamb (North Norfolk) (LD): I advised food manufacturers in the ’90s about bringing in seven-day working to keep supermarket shelves stacked. Twenty years on we are still talking about seven-day working in the NHS, and it seems to me that good care and saving lives are rather more important. Will the Secretary of State ensure that exactly the same principle applies to mental health? Does he recognise that it is just as important to ensure that people can leave hospital and go home on a timely basis, seven days a week, but that with cuts to local government funding there will be more pressure and it will be more difficult to achieve that? Together with the extraordinary pressure that the system is under, does that not make the case even more strongly for a new settlement for the NHS and social care?

Mr Hunt: I thank the right hon. Gentleman for finding time to come to the Chamber on what I know is an important day. I am not sure whether I am allowed

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to wish him luck, but I greatly value the time that I spent working with him as a ministerial colleague, and I know he will make an important contribution to the House. He is right, as ever, to speak about mental health. The programme towards seven-day working is as important for mental health as it is for other services, and we must also ensure that the revolution happens for things such as suicide rates and crisis care. He is right about the importance of the social care system; and in my mind when I speak about seven-day care I am thinking about social care and health as one entity.

Andrew Percy (Brigg and Goole) (Con): Our doctors no doubt work incredibly hard in our hospitals. The people of Brigg and Goole and the Isle of Axholme work at weekends, whether in factories, at the docks or in the fields, and they want an NHS that does the same. The Secretary of State will know about my passion for ambulance services, which at weekends are often the last line of support for patients. What will his plans mean for ambulance services and the incredible job that paramedics do across the country?

Mr Hunt: I thank my hon. Friend because he leads by example as a first responder and does a fantastic job in his constituency—indeed, that role takes place at weekends. Paramedics and ambulance services operate a seven-day service. Nurses, paramedics and others who work in hospitals currently do not have an opt-out; consultants are the only ones who do. These measures will give ambulance services confidence that if they take someone to hospital at the weekend, there will be a proper senior consultant present and their patient will get in front of the right person. That will make their job all the more rewarding.

Valerie Vaz (Walsall South) (Lab): The Secretary of State has not outlined what steps should be taken to recruit, train and retain front-line staff who are key to patient safety.

Mr Hunt: We have big plans to recruit and retain staff, and those are being worked up by Health Education England. We think that we will need extra doctors to deliver seven-day care, just as we will need more GPs. We think we can afford that within the extra £10 billion that we are putting into the NHS, and we are ensuring that all the numbers add up. I am sure that I will inform the House once we have come to a conclusion.

Maria Caulfield (Lewes) (Con): I declare an interest as an NHS nurse. Does the Secretary of State agree that the UK has one of the worst one-year cancer survival rates compared with the rest of Europe, with one in five cases being diagnosed as an emergency admission? Having a prompt diagnosis is very important. A seven-day-a-week service would be a major step forward, because patients should be seen when clinically indicated, not when indicated by the calendar. With a seven-day service they will be seen more quickly and be less poorly. Not only will that save money but—more importantly—it will save lives.

Mr Hunt: Absolutely. May I say how pleased I am to welcome my hon. Friend’s experience to the Conservative Benches? It makes a big difference. She is absolutely right. NHS England will be saying more about how we

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intend to deal with the problem of late diagnosis of cancer, which is critical if we are to improve our cancer survival rates. One point that links to the announcements I have made today is better collaboration between senior cancer consultants and GPs. If GPs are to be able to spot cancers earlier, they will need to link into the learning they can receive through closer contact with consultants and hospitals. That is something we need to think about.

Mr Dennis Skinner (Bolsover) (Lab): As someone who has spent quite a bit of time going to hospitals over the past 16 years, I have learned a little about it. I suspect that some people, like the doctors who the Secretary of State wants to collaborate with, just might have reflected on why this Tory Government are more concerned with getting in agency nurses and doctors than giving nurses a decent pay increase. Has it not crossed his mind that by telling nurses they are worth only 1% more, he will finish up with more agency nurses? The truth is that doctors see this happening every day. The main reason is that the Government have tried to reform and privatise the NHS for the past five years. The doctors and the nurses do not trust him—it is time he got out.

Mr Hunt: Let me tell the hon. Gentleman what the doctors and nurses working in our NHS hospitals see. They see 8,000 more hospital nurses on full-time contracts than when his party was in power, because we are doing something about the scandal of short-staffed wards that was left behind by his Government.

Mr Steve Baker (Wycombe) (Con): Will my right hon. Friend ensure that neither the revalidation regime nor the NHS’s status as a near monopsony employer is allowed to promote anxiety among NHS staff who would otherwise wish to speak up? It is essential that they know they have that freedom and security.

Mr Hunt: As ever, my hon. Friend is spot on. At the heart of what I am saying today is creating a new learning culture inside the NHS where people are able to be open. In the airline industry, it is much easier for a junior pilot to talk to a senior pilot about a mistake they think the senior pilot has made without feeling it will impact on their career. We need to break down the barriers, so that when people talk about their concerns—even about what their boss has done, which is never easy—they are listened to and treated seriously, and there are no consequences as a result. We absolutely have to make that change.

Catherine West (Hornsey and Wood Green) (Lab): Are the Government considering the introduction of charging in the NHS, as a member of the Secretary of State’s ministerial team, Lord Prior, suggested in the other place in response to Lord Patel?

Mr Hunt: No, that is not the case, and the hon. Lady should avoid scaremongering.

Mr Christopher Chope (Christchurch) (Con): Given the political priority which my right hon. Friend attaches to 24/7 consultant cover for accident and emergency hospitals, why was his Department unable to answer the question I put about which hospitals in England currently provide such cover? Will he collect that data and make sure that it is published?

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Mr Hunt: The truth is that all hospitals have been moving in this direction in the past five years in different ways. My hon. Friend is absolutely right to say that, to make sure we deliver on our manifesto commitment, we will be doing a full and comprehensive audit of which people are delivering which types of services. It is partly about senior consultant cover, which we are talking about today, partly about seven-day diagnostic services, partly about handover, and partly about mental health and many other standards, but, yes, that work is being done.

John Woodcock (Barrow and Furness) (Lab/Co-op): The Secretary of State was unclear before. May I say that, as far as I am concerned, Labour Members are absolutely in favour of measures that will increase safety at the weekend, and that my party will never prosper as a mouthpiece for the British Medical Association? Is he not concerned that the porters and nurses, who are being asked to swallow a decade-long real-terms pay cut, will not be able to deliver such change given the level at which they are being demoralised?

If you will permit me, Mr Speaker, may I also say that I very much welcome the full acceptance of the recommendations of the Morecambe Bay inquiry? Will the Secretary of State ensure that the families will remain fully involved in ensuring that these measures are implemented, as well as accepted, by Government?

Mr Hunt: Of course. The hon. Gentleman has liaised very closely with the Morecambe Bay families over the period of the inquiry. I am happy to give him the assurance that they will remain closely involved.

I am very pleased that the hon. Gentleman says he does not want his party to be the mouthpiece of the BMA, but if that is the case, it needs to get behind the proposals that the Government are making today and say it supports them. We have not heard that from his party and that is what the public want to hear.

Jeremy Lefroy (Stafford) (Con): The trust or place that has probably learned the most from Mid Staffordshire is Mid Staffordshire, or, as it now is, County Hospital, Stafford. Quality of care and performance has increased dramatically, with 98% and more patients seen within four hours at A&E. That is why we need a 24/7 A&E. May I urge the Secretary of State to ensure that the new independent patient safety investigation service is truly independent, despite being housed in the Monitor-Trust Development Authority building?

Mr Hunt: I thank my hon. Friend for the amazing work he has done in supporting County Hospital through the most unimaginably difficult circumstances. I put on record my thanks to the doctors and nurses working in that hospital who are doing a fantastic job. They have improved care. Many of them were working at the old Mid Staffs hospital and, even during the period of those problems, they were working incredibly hard and doing a very good job for patients. They did not want to be associated with any of the bad things that happened. They are a shining example to all of us. Yes, the independent patient safety investigation service needs to be independent, but I think trusts will welcome this measure. It will mean that a trust has a body, which is completely independent of anyone working in the trust, that it can

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call in. In a no-blame way, it can find out exactly what happened—a bit like a French juge d’instruction; that kind of principle. I think that will be really welcomed in the NHS, but independence is vital.

Karin Smyth (Bristol South) (Lab): I declare my interest as a former NHS manager, latterly for a clinical commissioning group. I very much welcome the focus on patients, transparency and the use of digital, which will be very helpful for the challenges we will face. As a former NHS manager, I would make the plea that management needs support in facing the challenges ahead. I am afraid that confrontation with local doctors as the first step over the summer period is not helpful. Will the Secretary of State please support NHS managers in this difficult task ahead, across clinical and non-clinical standards? I very much welcome the Rose review, but can we please give managers the support they need?

Mr Hunt: I am really grateful to the hon. Lady for making that point. NHS managers have one of the most difficult challenges in the country. Not only do they have to balance revenue and expenditure; they have patients’ lives at risk and public accountability. It is really difficult to run a hospital or a clinical commissioning group. These are some of the most difficult jobs one can imagine. We need to support them. I hope they will agree and welcome a move away from targets as the main way of driving change in the NHS to intelligent transparency and peer review. This is not a confrontation with doctors. Doctors overwhelmingly support a seven-day service. It is, I am afraid, a battle with the BMA, with which we have been trying to negotiate on the matter for nearly three years. It has refused to move. It needs to get in touch with what its members want and what the public want, and then I hope we can make much faster progress.

David Mowat (Warrington South) (Con): A characteristic of the health system in our country is that we have something like 20% to 25% fewer doctors per head of population than comparable countries such as France, Germany and Spain. Is it part of the Secretary of State’s vision to correct this over time, and will that make reforms such as these easier to push through?

Mr Hunt: We do need more doctors and more nurses. We saw an increase of about 8,000 nurses and 10,000 doctors in the previous Parliament. We will need more for the simple reason that we will have 1 million more over-70s by the end of this Parliament. That said, the NHS is admired in the other countries my hon. Friend talks about for our models of care, which are sometimes less hospital-centric and therefore inherently more efficient than what happens in some other systems. The learning should go both ways.

Diana Johnson (Kingston upon Hull North) (Lab): My question is about whistleblowers. I want to know whether the Secretary of State is really satisfied that the fit and proper person test for managers is working, when it allows a chief executive who bullies and mismanaged, as happened in Hull, as the Secretary of State knows, to move with the help of the Trust Development Authority to another job as a chief executive, paying £170,000,

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and yet the whistleblower has to fight for her rights. When the fit and proper person test was invoked, the TDA investigated and the new trust, unsurprisingly, said that that chief executive was okay. I do not think that that is independent, transparent or in the spirit of Francis.

Mr Hunt: I recognise that the hon. Lady has legitimate concerns about the way that the whistleblower, who I think is one of her constituents or is near to her constituency, was treated. I have, as she requested, looked into that very carefully. She will understand that it would not be right or proper for me to comment on an individual case. She knows that, as a result of requests by her and fellow MPs, I looked into whether due process was followed in the case that she mentioned. All I will say is that bullying behaviour should not happen anywhere in the NHS. That is a very important part of the culture change that I want to see.

Kevin Foster (Torbay) (Con): In Torbay, there are a number of concerns about access to primary care, due to issues of recruitment and retention of GPs. Recognising the comment that the Secretary of State made earlier in response to my hon. Friend the Member for Totnes (Dr Wollaston), how does the Secretary of State see his statement today helping to improve this situation?

Mr Hunt: We have some fantastic primary care in Torbay. I remember visiting my hon. Friend during the election campaign and going to a hospice run by an absolutely inspirational lady. We need to build on those traditions, and modern technology offers us an opportunity to go even further. In the end, this is about having a less hospital-centric system and prevention rather than cure, and our great tradition of general practice will be our strongest asset in that change.

Sue Hayman (Workington) (Lab): The idea of seven-day working sounds absolutely fantastic for supplying services, but in west Cumbria, where we struggle to deliver services five days a week, it sounds like nothing more than a fantastic pipe dream. I am aware that the Secretary of State understands the specific problems we have in west Cumbria, but I want to ask him about a letter that I recently wrote to him to do with Cockermouth hospital—a beautiful new hospital which sits half empty. Will he meet me and clinicians from that hospital to see how we can deliver and solve the problems in Cockermouth?

Mr Hunt: I would be very happy to meet the hon. Lady and clinicians. I am aware of the problems in that health economy and I am aware that they are long-standing. They are a concern to me and I would be delighted to do anything I can to support her in helping to solve them.

Pauline Latham (Mid Derbyshire) (Con): I was shocked to hear the right hon. Member for Leigh (Andy Burnham) running down the NHS yet again. He obviously has not been watching the series on television about the Royal Derby hospital, or looked at its website, where most of the comments are incredibly positive. Also in Mid Derbyshire we have surgeries that wish to take some of the burden away from hospitals. Does the Secretary of State agree that we should be encouraging that, where they can offer services to save people from going to hospital?

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Mr Hunt: I absolutely agree. I commend the Royal Derby, which is an excellent hospital, and thank my hon. Friend for mentioning it. It is really interesting: around the country the number of people per thousand who use A&E varies from 166 to 355—a dramatic variation—and a lot of that relates to the availability of good primary care services, which is why our plans for seven-day GP appointments are also a very important part of the programme.

Wes Streeting (Ilford North) (Lab): I welcome the partnership on patient safety that is being announced today between Queen’s hospital in Romford and King George hospital in Ilford and the Virginia Mason Institute, and echo some of the comments made by my hon. Friends about the Government taking staff with them and looking at issues around pay and workforce. May I gently point out to the Secretary of State that it is now two months since I wrote to him about pressures in our local health economy and the future of our A&E department. Can he offset my disappointment by agreeing to meet me and my hon. Friend the Member for Ilford South (Mike Gapes) and other local MPs to discuss those issues?

Mr Hunt: I know that the hon. Member for Ilford South (Mike Gapes) secured a Westminster Hall debate on this yesterday, during which I hope the hon. Member for Ilford North (Wes Streeting) covered most of the issues he wants to address, but I am happy to arrange to meet him or to get the Under-Secretary of State for Health with responsibility for hospitals, my hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich (Ben Gummer), to meet him to discuss those issues in more detail. The hospital trust that the hon. Gentleman talks about—Queen’s and King George are covered by the same trust—has been through a very challenging period. It is a big trust; it is going through special measures, but I think it has good new management. I think they have really turned things around, and that staff are to be absolutely commended. The link with Virginia Mason in Seattle will be as inspirational for them as it has been for me to see what is possible.

Andrew Stephenson (Pendle) (Con): I welcome today’s statement about transformation of our NHS. Will the Secretary of State join me in welcoming the progress made by East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, which came out of special measures about 12 months ago, and particularly the fact that a Health Service Journal and Nursing Times survey recently ranked the trust among the top 100 places to work, with improved staff engagement and morale, which is a huge transformation from where we were when the trust was put into special measures?

Mr Hunt: I thank my hon. Friend for his passionate support for that trust through a very difficult period. I also thank him for giving us perhaps the single biggest insight into how to transform a hospital in difficulty: according to all the measures, the most important single thing is to engage with staff. If staff feel supported and listened to, the result is safer care for patients and better outcomes. That is something they have done in East Lancashire, and it is something that many other hospitals could learn from.

John Pugh (Southport) (LD): Many current failures in care are caused by poor integration of services, not the failure of a specific service. What, in the proposals announced, addresses that problem?

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Mr Hunt: The integration of the health and social care systems, as talked about by the right hon. Member for Leigh (Andy Burnham), is a very big priority. It is a vision shared by all parties. That is part of delivering safe seven-day care. The consequences for the health and social care system if we do not have safe hospital care are people with much greater medical needs, creating much more pressure in the system, so it is part of the same picture.

Mr Peter Bone (Wellingborough) (Con): I thank the Secretary of State for coming to the House and also, I think, for making two written statements. There are only 32 other written statements from Ministers. I remember that when I first got here, there would be 87 written statements on the last day of term, with no chance to scrutinise the Minister. Following what my hon. Friend the Member for Lewes (Maria Caulfield) said, has the Minister had a chance to look at my Ovarian Cancer (Information) Bill, which would help reduce the number of ovarian cancer deaths through earlier detection?

Mr Hunt: I thank my hon. Friend for his support for that Bill. I hope that plans that NHS England will announce shortly about how we can improve early cancer detection will give him much encouragement. He will see that some of the things that he is campaigning for are actually going to happen.

Emily Thornberry (Islington South and Finsbury) (Lab): Everyone supports seven-day-a-week, 24-hour NHS care—who would not? But the bottom line is that there are insufficient resources and insufficient people at the moment for it to be possible to deliver those services. For the Secretary of State to try to blame the health unions for that is not fair, and there are people behind that. The tone of the statement that the Secretary of State made this morning at the King’s Fund has already caused alarm among GPs, and Maureen Baker, chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said that this announcement

“will sound…alarm bells for hardworking GPs who fear we will be next in line—even though we are already being pushed to our limits in trying to provide a safe five-day”

a week

“service for our patients.”

Mr Hunt: I do not blame doctors; I do not blame the unions. I blame Ministers from the hon. Lady’s Government who gave consultants an opt-out at weekends that has had a catastrophic impact on patient care. I am delighted that she supports seven-day care, but it was not in the Labour manifesto; it was in the Conservative manifesto, and we are putting in extra money—£5.5 billion more than Labour was promising—to ensure that we can pay for it.

Graham Evans (Weaver Vale) (Con): I welcome the changes that my right hon. Friend has announced today in turning the NHS into a learning organisation rather than a denial machine. Does he agree that there should be a best practice industry standard for healthcare in this country, which learns and compares itself with other countries’ healthcare systems, such as Germany, France and Canada?

Mr Hunt: That is a very interesting idea, and I am happy to take it away. I am a strong believer in learning from best practice all over the world. Sometimes it is difficult to gather the data, but it is an interesting idea.

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Mr Barry Sheerman (Huddersfield) (Lab/Co-op): The Secretary of State might be in aware that in Huddersfield we are having great difficulty in attracting and recruiting A&E specialists, nurses and GPs. He will know that I am more an education specialist than a health specialist, but given that this is an NHS reform statement, is it not time that we had a serious, fundamental look at how we educate and train everyone in our health service—doctors, nurses, technicians, the whole lot? At the moment it seems more appropriate to sometime in the 20th century than to looking forward in the 21st.

Mr Hunt: The hon. Gentleman makes an important point. As part of what I said in my statement, we are looking at how we train doctors. My hon. Friend the Member for Weaver Vale (Graham Evans) talked about creating a learning culture, and the big change that we need to make is creating a culture in which people feel supported to speak out about any concerns or anything on which they think they can see a way of doing something better. They must not feel that that could threaten their career prospects. We do not have that culture in the NHS at the moment, but we need it if the NHS is to be the world’s largest learning organisation, as I argued in a speech this morning. I think staff are up for it, but it is a big change.

Mr Bernard Jenkin (Harwich and North Essex) (Con): I thank my right hon. Friend very much for his extraordinarily embracing response to the Public Administration Select Committee report on clinical incident investigation. We started less than a year ago with the germ of an idea, and it has turned into what amounts to a radical reform of safety investigation in the health service. That is a tribute to him and to the Committee’s witnesses, but it is a tribute to the health service itself that it has embraced the idea, which is a big change that I believe will be transformative.

May I pick up on the Secretary of State’s reluctance to provide special legislation for the immunity of those giving evidence to the new patient investigation body? Will he keep an open mind on the subject? If he wants that body to be truly independent and to have a special status, he should remember that the marine accident investigation branch and the air accidents investigation branch have specific legislation to provide for such immunity. Public interest disclosure protection must not be challenged by freedom of information requests, given that freedom of information has been extended into areas where we never imagined it would go. We have to be specific in legislation that that cannot happen in this instance.

Mr Speaker: Too long—I hope the answer will be somewhat briefer.

Mr Hunt: It will, Mr Speaker.

My hon. Friend’s idea is really interesting, and I am happy to take it up and explore whether we need to replicate that immunity so that we can get to the truth more quickly in a no-blame context.

I thank my hon. Friend for the work of the Public Administration Select Committee. I think it is true to say that we would not have the new patient safety investigation service, modelled on the air accidents investigation branch, which has worked so well in the

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airline industry, if it had not been for the work of PASC. It brought the idea to my attention and it was a good idea, and I know that he will help me make sure that it is a success in practice as well.

Kate Green (Stretford and Urmston) (Lab): I support the comments of my neighbours, the hon. Member for Altrincham and Sale West (Mr Brady) and my hon. Friend the Member for Wythenshawe and Sale East (Mike Kane). Three years ago the new health deal for Trafford resulted in the reduction of overnight and weekend services at Trafford General hospital on the basis that patients would receive better specialist care at Wythenshawe hospital. Does the Secretary of State understand that local people feel that the process has been chaotic, opaque and unresponsive to their concerns, and will he undertake to review the decision as a matter of urgency?

Mr Hunt: I thank the hon. Lady for the responsible approach that she took to the changes at Trafford general. Of course, I will listen to her concerns carefully, alongside those of her colleagues, and take them up with the NHS. Perhaps if she comes to the meeting that I am organising for her colleagues, that will provide an opportunity for me to do that.

Helen Whately (Faversham and Mid Kent) (Con): I welcome a huge amount of the statement, particularly about the balance between transparency and more autonomy and the combination of scrutiny and support. Does the Secretary of State agree that not only hospitals and GPs but community and social care services need to be 24/7?

Mr Hunt: My hon. Friend speaks with great knowledge about health matters, because of her previous job. [Hon. Members: “McKinsey.”] Yes, McKinsey, which does some important work for the NHS. She is absolutely right that we need to be able to discharge into the community on all seven days, and it is important that the primary care and social care systems are part of that change.

Liz McInnes (Heywood and Middleton) (Lab): When does the Secretary of State intend to implement the recommendation of the Royal College of Pathologists and introduce the role of medical examiner, to provide independent scrutiny of deaths? That has been repeatedly delayed, despite the success of five pilot schemes and the fact that it was recommended in the Francis report.

Mr Hunt: That is an important recommendation, and the Government support it. We intend to implement it, but there are costs involved, which we are going through as part of the spending review process.

Tom Pursglove (Corby) (Con): Local people in Corby and east Northamptonshire want to see a truly seven-day NHS. One way of achieving that in our area is to get moving on the new urgent care centre at Kettering, which has attracted cross-party support. Some Members could learn valuable lessons from that project and from what has been going on in Northamptonshire. I thank Ministers for all that they have done in the past to help get that project moving. Will the Secretary of State do everything he can to help it come to fruition in the months ahead?

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Mr Hunt: It sounds a promising project, and I will keep myself closely informed of its progress. We need to better integrate urgent care centres into the work of GPs and hospitals so that, for example, somebody’s GP medical record can be accessed in those centres and any advice that people get there can be seen by their hospital consultant or GP at a later date.

Rachael Maskell (York Central) (Lab/Co-op): I must first declare an interest as a state-registered health clinician who worked in acute medicine until the election.

I have witnessed pilots of seven-day working, on the ground and across the country, that have just taken five-days-a-week services and stretched the same complement of staff to seven days a week, therefore not making the service any more efficient or safe. With £22 billion of efficiency savings, or cuts, how will we fund seven-day working?

Mr Hunt: A lot of the efficiency will come from seven-day working, and I do not agree with the hon. Lady that there will be a simple cost increase. The cost to a hospital of cranking down all its services on a Friday afternoon and then having to crank them up on a Monday morning is huge, and it is not efficient. Part of the savings will come from having more streamlined services that operate to a consistently high standard across the week.

Bob Blackman (Harrow East) (Con): Many of my constituents complain about the lack of availability of GP appointments at weekends and outside normal hours. The consequence of that is that people who are ill turn up at A&E, causing pressure on it. I know that my right hon. Friend is taking action on that, but what is he doing to ensure that we have proper seven-days-a-week working across the NHS in primary care as well as in hospitals?

Mr Hunt: My hon. Friend is absolutely right to draw attention to the fact that our manifesto commitment was to a true seven-day service across hospitals and general practice. That is why, a few weeks ago, we announced in our new deal for general practice plans to recruit 5,000 GPs so that we can increase capacity and make sure that people can get routine appointments in the evenings and at weekends.

Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP): I welcome the NHS Pay Review Body’s report on seven-day services. There is a compelling case for such services, but contractual barriers to reform need to be addressed. Today’s statement refers to England and Wales, and the Northern Ireland Assembly has devolved responsibility for health. Will the Secretary of State consider having contact with the other UK regions, to assist them in engaging with national bodies based here on the mainland on how this important matter can be taken forward?

Mr Hunt: I am very happy to do that. We can learn a lot from each other across the UK about how things are implemented. I thank the hon. Gentleman for his interest in English health matters, because there is always a good read-across.

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BBC Charter Review

12.39 pm

The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Mr John Whittingdale): With permission, Mr Speaker, I should like to make a statement. I have today laid before Parliament a BBC charter review consultation paper, copies of which are being deposited in the Libraries.

The British Broadcasting Corporation is cherished and admired, not only in this country but around the world. At its best, the BBC sets international standards of quality. Even in a multimedia age, its most popular programmes continue to draw the country together in a shared experience, as happened with the London Olympics and world-beating dramas such as “Sherlock” and “Doctor Who”. The BBC reaches 97% of the UK population every week. It has a pivotal role in helping the United Kingdom to reach every corner of the globe, as reflected in the recent report that found that the UK leads the world in terms of soft power.

The BBC is almost 100 years old. There have been many changes in that time, but the scale of change in the media sector over the last decade has been unprecedented. People are consuming a vast array of content from multiple sources, using technology that either did not exist or was in its infancy 10 years ago. Ten years ago, when a Government last conducted a charter review, millions of households still received just five television channels. Much of the social media that is now ubiquitous was, at the very most, at an embryonic stage. And few people owned the sort of devices that colleagues use daily, including in the Chamber.

One of the few things that is certain about the media landscape of the future is that we cannot be sure how it will look, not least because we cannot predict how much will stay the same. Predictions about the demise of television have proven premature, undoubtedly in part because technology has evolved but also because many people still enjoy sitting down to watch television in their living room. Radio also retains an important place in people’s daily lives.

The current BBC royal charter will expire at the end of 2016. This paper launches the Government’s consultation, which will inform a number of decisions that we need to take about the future of the BBC. The BBC Trust will play an integral role in this process, running a series of public seminars and events.

Fundamentally, we need to consider four questions. What is the overall purpose of the BBC? What services and content should the BBC provide? How should the BBC be funded? How should the BBC be governed and regulated? The BBC has six public purposes, set out at the last charter review. They are sustaining citizenship and civil society; promoting education and learning; stimulating creativity and cultural excellence; representing the UK, its nations, regions and communities; bringing the UK to the world and the world to the UK; and delivering to the public the benefit of emerging communications. We need to ask whether these purposes are still relevant and right.

One key task is to assess whether the idea of “universality” still holds water. With so much more choice in what to consume and how to consume it, we must at least question whether the BBC should try to be all things to all people—to serve everyone across every

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platform—or if it should have a more precisely targeted mission. Along with considering the mission and purpose of the BBC, we will consider whether the charter should also define its values, and what those values should be.

The public purposes set the framework for what the BBC should be seeking to achieve, and the charter and supporting framework agreement articulate what activities it should undertake to accomplish this. The upcoming charter review will look at whether the scale and scope of the BBC is right for the current and future media environment and delivers what audiences are willing to pay for.

Twenty years ago the BBC had two television channels, five national radio stations and a local radio presence. It is now the largest public service broadcaster in the world, with nine television channels, five UK-wide radio stations, six radio stations that reach one of the home nations, 40 local radio stations, and a huge online presence. The charter review will look at whether that particular range of services best serves licence fee payers. It will also assess what impact the BBC has on the commercial sector. There is evidence that the BBC helps to drive up standards and boosts investment, but also concern that public funding should not undermine commercial business models for TV, radio and online.

The BBC is highly used and valued by the majority of people in this country. But variations exist, and there are particular challenges in reaching people from certain ethnic minority backgrounds and in meeting the needs of younger people, who increasingly access content online. Variations exist among the different nations and regions too. These are issues that we will need to take into account throughout the process of the charter review.

The BBC’s global reputation is second to none and the BBC has a central role in determining how the UK is perceived internationally. Each week, BBC services reach more than 300 million people across the world, and the director-general has set a target of 500 million.

The charter review also gives us an opportunity to look at the content the BBC provides, both in terms of the mixture of that content and its quality. We will analyse the way that the BBC’s content is produced. It is essentially shaped by two main elements—the broader regulatory framework including the terms of trade, which set out how the BBC and other broadcasters work with independent producers, and the BBC’s quota systems. The BBC executive has already made some radical proposals that would remove quotas and turn the BBC’s production arm into a commercial subsidiary. Those and other reform options will all need to be considered as part of the charter review. We will also look at BBC Worldwide, which contributes a substantial amount of additional income to the BBC.

I turn now to the issue of BBC funding, a subject on which I know there are strongly held views. The licence fee has proven to be a very resilient income stream for the BBC, bringing in £3.7 billion last year, but it is not without its challenges. There is no easy solution to the broad question of how the BBC should be funded. The licence fee is levied at a flat rate, meaning that it is regressive. A subscription model could well be an option

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in the longer term, but cannot work in the short term because the technology is not yet in every home to control access.

Therefore, the three options for change that are viable in the shorter term are a reformed licence fee, a household levy, or a hybrid funding model. In the longer term, we should consider whether there is a case for moving to a full subscription model. All have advantages and disadvantages.

There are a number of other funding issues that the charter review will cover. I have already announced to the House that the BBC, rather than taxpayers, will meet the cost of free TV licences for over-75-year-olds. That will be phased in from 2018-19, with the BBC taking on the full costs from 2020-21. We also anticipate that the licence fee will rise in line with the consumer prices index over the next charter review period, but that is dependent on the BBC keeping pace with efficiency savings elsewhere in the public sector and it is also subject to whatever conclusions are drawn from the charter review about the BBC’s scope and purpose.

I am grateful to David Perry QC, who has conducted an independent review of the sanctions appropriate for non-payment of the licence fee. The “TV Licence Fee Enforcement Review”, which is being published today, has concluded that decriminalisation would not be appropriate under the current funding model. The Government will now consider the case for decriminalisation as part of the charter review. I am today laying the “TV Licence Fee Enforcement Review” before Parliament and placing copies in the Libraries.

More people—especially younger people—now access catch-up television exclusively online and without a licence. That is perfectly legal, as the existing legislation was drawn up when the iPlayer did not even exist. The Government have committed to updating the legislation. We will also analyse the merits of a contestable public service funding pot that would not just be limited to the BBC. And we will look again at what areas and activities should have their funding protected in future. Broadband roll-out, digital switchover, local television, the World Service and the Welsh language channel S4C were protected in the last charter period. As I announced the other day, the broadband ring-fence is to be phased out by 2020-21, and S4C will be expected to find similar savings to those in the BBC.

Finally, there is the question of how the BBC is governed and regulated. Any organisation as large as the BBC needs effective governance and regulation. There have been occasions when the BBC has fallen well short of the standards that we expect of it. Editorial failures in the light of the Jimmy Savile revelations, the aborted digital media initiative, and the level of salaries and severance payments are among the issues that have caused disquiet. A lack of clarity in the BBC’s governance structures has contributed to those failures.

The last charter brought in a new regulatory model, creating the BBC Trust, which exists to represent licence fee payers and hold the BBC to account. That structure has been widely criticised, and the chair of the BBC Trust has herself called for reform. There are three broad options: reforming the trust model, creating a unitary board and a new stand-alone oversight body, or moving external regulation wholesale to Ofcom. As with funding options, each of those has pros and cons.

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While the BBC’s editorial independence must not be compromised, that does not mean that we are not entitled to ask whether the BBC could be more transparent and to scrutinise how the BBC relates to the public, Parliament and Government. Any public body should be fully accountable to the public. People should be able to give voice to how well they think the BBC spends public money—some £30 billion over the current charter period—and how well it meets its myriad other responsibilities.

The British Broadcasting Corporation is part of the fabric of this country and a source of great pride. We want it to thrive in the years to come. This consultation paper sets out the framework for what I hope will be a wide-ranging and informative national debate about the future of the BBC. I commend this statement to the House.

12.50 pm

Chris Bryant (Rhondda) (Lab): I am grateful to the Secretary of State for foresight of his statement, which he very honourably gave us one full hour before he stood up. That is right. It is not what some other Ministers have done in recent years, so I am grateful to him.

The BBC is our cultural NHS. It is a beacon of accuracy and impartiality around the world. It is not just part of the national furniture; it is our greatest cultural institution. It is a miracle of constitutional engineering: independent of Government, yet funded by the public. It is the cornerstone of our creative industries, earning respect and money for Britain and British values. As the Secretary of State said, it drives up standards and boosts investment. The public love it and want it to inform, educate and entertain—and yes, that includes making “Strictly”, “Top Gear”, “The Voice”, “The Great British Bake Off” and big British sporting events on BBC Sport.

That is why the Government’s attitude to the BBC rather mystifies me. The Secretary of State says that we should consider the matter of universality—the universality of the BBC. But surely the golden thread that runs through the concept of the BBC is that we all pay in and we should all get something out, including my constituents as well as his—those who like opera and those who like soap opera. He seems to accept that the licence fee should remain in place for the full period of the next charter. That is what I understood him to say. Can he confirm that clearly now? When will he close the iPlayer loophole, which he referred to last week, and what legislative method will he use?

Referring to the promised £145.50 plus CPI interest rate increase in the licence fee, the chair of the BBC Trust said:

“The word of a chancellor and a secretary of state you should be able to trust”,

but the Secretary of State seems to cast doubt today on that deal. So what is it, deal or no deal? Will it be £145.50 plus CPI interest rate or not? [Laughter.] I am glad the Secretary of State liked that one.

The Secretary of State says that the funding of S4C was protected in the previous charter period. That is not the view of anybody in Wales. It was not. It has actually been cut by one third since 2010, and he has just suggested that the further 20% cut to the BBC will mean a similar shrinkage to S4C. The proposal is barely mentioned in the Green Paper, so I presume that he is

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not really looking at it with any seriousness. Will he consult the Welsh Government and the Welsh people on the future of S4C and make sure that its future is as guaranteed as that of the BBC?

The Green Paper asks whether the BBC should still broadcast Radio 1 and Radio 2. Where is the audience demand for that? Are people shouting: “What do we not want?”, “We don’t want Radio 2”, and “When do we not want it?”, “Now”? Of course they are not. Radio 1 and Radio 2 are the most popular radio stations in Europe. Why on earth is the Secretary of State even considering closing them down?

The Secretary of State says the review will look at the “scale”—his words—of the BBC, a point repeated on page 4 of the Green Paper. Will he confirm that this is in direct contradiction to the recent negotiations with the BBC, when he said he would look not at the scale of the BBC, only at the purposes of the BBC? Is his real aim a smaller BBC? [Interruption.] I see the Minister for Culture and the Digital Economy nodding his head that it is his aim. I ask, because many will be worried that this is just what The Daily Telegraph predicted on 12 May, when it reported, “Tories go to war with the BBC”, because the Prime Minister was infuriated with its election coverage. Would it not be profoundly unpatriotic to seek to diminish the BBC and thereby diminish Britain? Has any Member ever met a foreigner who has said, “You know what? I love Britain, I just hate the BBC”?

Dr Matthew Offord (Hendon) (Con): I have.

Chris Bryant: You go on the wrong holidays! [Interruption.] Yes, probably in Russia—or Italy under Berlusconi.

There are some things that we can agree on. The BBC always needs reform. The trust is bust. These three weeks prove it. Either the chair lip-syncs the director-general or, frankly, she undermines him. Whatever the new structure—and I favour a unitary executive board with the primary regulatory role being met by a board of Ofcom—the next charter must ensure that the Chancellor’s backroom, gun-to-the-head way of doing Government business with the BBC can never be repeated. The BBC is not a Government plaything, nor should it be a branch of the Department for Work and Pensions. It belongs to licence fee payers, and the public should have a say in its future, as the Secretary of State himself wrote earlier this year. Will he make sure that that is the case in future?

This process has been utterly shabby from the outset. Since the Secretary of State stood at the Dispatch Box last week, he and his Department have breached the ministerial code: they gave the precise details of his plans to The Sunday Times last weekend; they issued a press release on Sunday morning laying out the membership of a new panel, which he has not even bothered to mention today; and they leaked the substance of and direct quotations from the Perry report to the Daily Mail yesterday. That means he has not just let you down, Mr Speaker, he has not just let the House down, but frankly he has let himself down. I would be angry, but I am just disappointed. Who briefed The Sunday Times and the Daily Mail? Was it a special adviser or a civil servant? Did the Secretary of State authorise the briefings? If not, has the relevant person been dismissed?

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That brings me to the panel the Secretary of State has set up. They may all be talented and clever, but what process did he use to select the membership? It certainly was not the Code of Practice for Ministerial Appointments to Public Bodies. Did he just get out his Rolodex and invite along all the people he had dinner with sometime last year? Most of the panel members have a direct financial interest and a conflict of interest with the BBC. The panel is to look at the BBC as a news provider and consider whether it should provide Radio 1 and Radio 2, yet three panel members run internet companies, another was managing director of a radio station, one runs the Arts Council and is, therefore, effectively a Government employee, and another runs a newspaper group. All of them are in direct competition with the BBC. How can they possibly be independent? Like Blofeld in “You Only Live Twice”, the Secretary of State has lined up a tank of piranhas, but he has not quite reckoned with the ingenuity of M and Bond in the shape of Judi Dench and Daniel Craig, who lined up to attack him yesterday.

On BBC Worldwide, which the Secretary of Sate referred to in his statement, is he considering selling it off? On decriminalisation of non-payment of the licence fee, the Daily Mail said yesterday that the Perry report declares that it is “crystal clear” that the system should remain as it is. Is that an accurate quotation? The Secretary of State was very opaque on his plans, but will he follow the advice of the Perry report or not?

The whole point of the BBC is that politicians should meddle with it only on very rare occasions. Yes, it is accountable to the public through Parliament and, yes, the charter renewal process gives Ministers a moment of great power over the corporation. But I urge the Secretary of State to curb his self-confessed inner free-market zealotry. With power comes responsibility. I will stand with him if he genuinely wants to strengthen the BBC, but, where he acts to undermine it or diminish it, I and Opposition Members will oppose him every step of the way.

Mr Whittingdale: I thank the hon. Gentleman for his recognition of our wish to co-operate with him by supplying the statement in advance. It is my intention that his party should have the opportunity to play a full role in what I hope is, as I said, a debate about the future of the BBC. I agree with many of his opening remarks about the importance of the BBC; indeed, they very much reflect my own. I share his admiration for many of the programmes that he mentioned. Even if I wanted to close down “Strictly Come Dancing”, which I do not, it would be completely wrong for the Government to decide which programmes the BBC should and should not make. It is, however, perfectly legitimate to ask that BBC programmes be distinct—that is part of the BBC’s overriding purpose and an aspect that we will consider—but the charter review is not about specific programmes, however much certain newspaper writers would like to think it is.

On the hon. Gentleman’s specific questions, we have made it clear that the licence fee is frozen under the terms of the current charter. During the future charter period, it will not be possible to move towards a subscription model, or something like that, in the short term because

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the technology is not there, but we will consider whether in the coming charter we should examine how it might become an option in the future; but that is an open question. The other issue he raised, which is a more immediate challenge, was the iPlayer loophole. It is our intention to try to close that in the next year, and we will introduce legislative proposals to do so.

On the agreement with the BBC over the future rise in the licence fee, the words I used in my statement were precisely the words set out not only in my answer to the hon. Gentleman’s urgent question last week, but also in the letter sent to the director-general of the BBC. It hardly represents reneging on an agreement, when all we have done is re-quote what was in the letter.

On S4C, we have made it clear that we will consult the Welsh Government—and indeed the Scottish and Northern Irish Governments—during the charter review, although the question of funding for S4C is a distinct matter that will obviously be considered during the spending review and other things. Having said that, we will, as part of the charter review, be considering the BBC’s involvement in supporting and funding S4C.

On Radio 1 and 2, which the hon. Gentleman got very excited about, I certainly think there is a strong role for BBC Radio in providing a different type of genre and opportunity, including for unsigned bands, which would not have the same opportunity in the commercial sector. Radio 1 plays a valuable role in fulfilling that objective, and there is no proposal to close Radio 1 or 2. All these things are part of the wider debate about the BBC’s place in the broadcasting landscape, and however much people might wish the statement to contain details of exactly what the Government wish to do, it does not; it is part of a debate, and that applies as well to the question of scale and scope.

The hon. Gentleman asked if I was considering scope. We are considering it; it would be extraordinary not to, given the amazing change that has taken place and the proliferation of choice over the past 10 years. The question of whether the BBC still needs to do everything it set out to do 10 years ago seems to me to be a legitimate question. I am grateful, however, for his support on the reform of governance arrangements. I am interested that he has reached a conclusion, even if we are still open-minded about it, but I look forward to his giving greater details during the charter review.

The hon. Gentleman was very critical about the funding arrangements that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor and I agreed with the BBC, but I would draw his attention to the remarks of his colleague, the shadow Chancellor, who said:

“All public institutions including the BBC I think have to do their part. We have always said that sensible savings at this time are really important and I don’t think the BBC can be excluded from that.”

As for the hon. Gentleman’s claimed breaches of the ministerial code, I have to say that I am not responsible for what appears in The Sunday Times, the Daily Mail or any of the other newspapers, some of whose accounts of what is in the charter review process appear to be entrants for the Booker prize for fiction. On the advisory panel, I merely say that it is not a public body, but a group of individuals, each of whom has considerable experience and knowledge in their particular fields, and they are there to provide advice, nothing more.

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Finally, the hon. Gentleman said that the BBC was very precious and that we should only meddle with it on rare occasions. I think that a charter review that comes around once every 10 years probably meets the definition of a rare occasion, and it is entirely appropriate, given that the charter expires at the end of next year, that we take this opportunity to have the very full debate I have set out today.

John Redwood (Wokingham) (Con): Is it not now time for us to have a BBC England, to match BBC Scotland, and is it not the case that many people in England deeply resent the way in which their country is being balkanised and broken up under some kind of EU plan and that they do not want their much-loved broadcaster assisting the EU in doing that?

Mr Whittingdale: On my right hon. Friend’s first point, the BBC has a duty to serve the nations and regions, and while there is a specific BBC executive responsible for England, nevertheless, as I suspect might become apparent during the debate, there is a strong feeling that the BBC needs to do more to serve particular regions. On the BBC’s role in any discussions on our EU membership, as he is aware, the BBC is under a duty to maintain objectivity and impartiality, which I hope it will bear in mind, particularly during what I suspect will be quite a controversial debate.

John Nicolson (East Dunbartonshire) (SNP): I thank the right hon. Gentleman for bringing his Green Paper before the House and for the opportunity to read it in advance.

There have been lurid headlines anticipating what the right hon. Gentleman might say, presumably because of the lurid comments made by so many of his BBC-phobic colleagues on the Tory Back Benches. In the event, however, the Green Paper asks a lot of the right questions, including: how to anticipate viewers’ changing needs in the light of new technology; how best to provide for the nations and regions, as well as for minorities and young people; why many management figures in the BBC are so horrendously overpaid—an excellent question; and, crucially, how to fund the BBC going forward.

It is the SNP’s belief that responsibility for broadcasting in Scotland should transfer from Westminster to Holyrood. Scotland collects £320 million of licence fee revenue annually, but the BBC is only given £175 million to spend in Scotland every year, which is manifestly unfair. I want to ask the Secretary of State two questions. Why was the Scottish Government not consulted and asked for their views in advance of the Green Paper, given Lord Smith’s recommendations? Secondly, on funding, he has presumably anticipated the effect a new funding model would have on the licence fee per household. It is currently £145.50. What would its upper cap be, per household, under any new system?

Mr Whittingdale: The hon. Gentleman brings a particular knowledge and experience, as a former employee of the BBC, although I am sure he was not one of those within the corporation whom he recognised as possibly being overpaid. He raised two specific questions. On the involvement of the Scottish Government, the Smith commission agreement set out that there should be full consultation, and we are committed to that. I wrote to the Scottish Government about the terms of reference

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for the charter review, and I intend to remain in touch with them during the debate over the next three months. We are obviously interested to hear their views.

On the transfer of responsibility for the BBC to Holyrood, I point out that it is the British Broadcasting Corporation and that Scotland, although he might not wish it, remains part of Britain, so I fear I might disappoint him on that.

Lastly, the future of the licence fee will be considered during the charter review, and the hon. Gentleman can obviously make representations on that point, along with any other matters.

Damian Collins (Folkestone and Hythe) (Con): The Secretary of State set out the concerns about the governance of the BBC and mentioned three options for reform. Is it his expectation that the BBC Trust, as we know it today, will go as a consequence of the charter renewal and that there will be a new model for governing the BBC?

Mr Whittingdale: It is fairly clear that the BBC Trust does not work in its present form. The shadow Secretary of State used stronger language than I did in saying that it is “bust”, but it is widely accepted that it is not working properly. What should replace it is an important issue that we shall consider in the course of the charter review. The need for change is clear.

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab): I welcome the right hon. Gentleman’s statement and the Green Paper which, on the face of it, certainly looks more balanced than I had feared and more balanced, I expect, than the Murdoch press had hoped. Will the Secretary of State reassure my hon. Friend the Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant) and his own critics in the other place—senior Conservative politicians—on the make-up of the advisory panel, which seems very skewed with people who have been hostile to the BBC? Also, how are the public, who are after all the BBC’s stakeholders, going to be let in to this conversation?

Mr Whittingdale: I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for his opening remarks. The advisory panel is, as I said, an advisory body, and it does not play a formal role. As for its composition, let me point out that it includes, among others, the current president of the Voice of the Listener and Viewer, who is also the former chairman of Ofcom, and a former member of the BBC executive board. These are people who bring considerable knowledge and expertise. I think all fair commentators would recognise that they are well qualified to express views—but that is all they will be doing: expressing views. The responsibility for charter review remains with the Government. As for the involvement of the public, which the right hon. Gentleman raised and which is equally important, it is the intention of the BBC Trust to hold a number of public meetings. We hope that the trust will work to ensure that the public have every opportunity to have an input to the charter review process.

Jason McCartney (Colne Valley) (Con): It was a pleasure to meet Professor Brian Cox, who was in Parliament yesterday to open the parliamentary education centre. Does the Secretary of State agree that his programmes, such as “Wonders of the Universe” and “Stargazing Live”, represent the BBC at its best because such programmes not only educate and inform, but entertain?

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Mr Whittingdale: I absolutely agree with my hon. Friend. I was sorry to miss the opening of the education unit; it was fantastic that Professor Cox was able to come. On the specific point, I share my hon. Friend’s admiration for those programmes. They help to fulfil the BBC’s purpose of educating, but as he has recognised, education is achieved much more easily if it can be entertaining at the same time. Brian Cox achieves both of those purposes.

Paul Farrelly (Newcastle-under-Lyme) (Lab): After last week’s raid on the BBC, I want briefly to quote from February’s Select Committee report “Future of the BBC”. The Committee recommended

“that the Government seek cross-party support for establishing an independent review panel now on the 2017 Charter, along the same lines as the previous Burns’ model, led by a figure similar to Lord Burns…We expect sufficient time to be allocated for this and for the development of, and consultation on, Green and White Papers”,

yet we now have a rather different unilaterally announced panel, and a Green Paper issued, unlike with the last charter review, before any outside input or consultation at all. Will the Secretary of State explain why, for the second time in a week, he has so radically departed from what he so strongly recommended while Chair of the Select Committee fewer than five months ago?

Mr Whittingdale: As the hon. Gentleman will be aware, the time available before the expiry of the charter is now quite limited. We want to achieve a debate, and in time to reach firm views for renewal, but it would be difficult to set up an independent advisory panel within the current time period. That is why we decided not to go down that road, although I stand by what is in the Select Committee report—that there is an argument for doing so. The advisory panel is not an independent panel; it is simply an advisory group to provide advice. What is much more important, as the right hon. Member for Exeter (Mr Bradshaw) suggested, is for the public to have a full opportunity to get involved so that we get as wide a cross-section of views as possible, and we have put arrangements in place to ensure that.

Julian Knight (Solihull) (Con): My right hon. Friend is to be congratulated on the launch of this extensive consultation process and the information laid before us today. It seems that there is little off limits. However, I and many of my Solihull constituents will be slightly disappointed that there are many mentions within the document of the Scots, Irish and Welsh, but little mention of the unequal position for the English regions, particularly the west midlands. For every licence fee bought in my region, we receive back only £14.50 in investment. Will my right hon. Friend assure us that he will press top-heavy BBC management to correct this unfair situation?

Mr Whittingdale: I am aware of the widely held view that the BBC needs to do more to serve individual regions. In the case of my hon. Friend’s region, I know there was a recent debate on the topic in Westminster Hall, in which he participated. It is indeed wholly appropriate to consider this issue in the course of charter review, and I hope my hon. Friend will continue to make his points while that happens.

Nia Griffith (Llanelli) (Lab): No one on the obscurely appointed panel is from Wales. The Secretary of State has just said that he will consult the Welsh Assembly

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Government on the charter review and that the funding is to be decided separately. He is anticipating a further 20% cut to S4C on top of the 32% already implemented since 2010. In view of all that, what guarantee can he give, or what structure would he like to see put in place to ensure, that S4C will have some funding for the future? Otherwise, it will simply be unable to plan ahead.

Mr Whittingdale: The funding by the Government of S4C, along with all the other elements of Government expenditure, will obviously be considered at the time of the spending review. There is a commitment for the next couple of years. I am aware of the concerns of S4C, and I briefly spoke to its chairman last night. I hope to have another opportunity to discuss this and other matters with him and his colleagues in the near future.

Peter Heaton-Jones (North Devon) (Con): There is a great deal that I, too, welcome in this document. Does the Secretary of State agree that it would be a mistake if this became a debate solely—important though this is—about value for money, particularly as between the different services that the BBC provides? I specifically mention local radio, and there is a figure in the document that could be construed as meaning that BBC local radio is the most expensive of the BBC’s radio services. As someone who spent 20 years in it, I can say that it is a very efficient service. In my area, BBC Radio Devon is certainly greatly prized.

Mr Whittingdale: I completely agree with my hon. Friend about the importance of BBC local radio. It seems to me that it serves a very valuable purpose, which is not served by the commercial sector at all. As for the cost, I am not sure about BBC Devon, but my visits to BBC Essex certainly gave me the impression that it has not been blessed with huge amounts of cash in recent times.

Mr Nigel Dodds (Belfast North) (DUP): I welcome the Secretary of State’s commitment to consult the Northern Ireland Executive on the charter review. However, let me say on behalf of many of my constituents that there will be deep disappointment that there is not going to be an early move on the issue of decriminalisation and sanctions for non-payment of the licence fee. I think that is a big mistake. Will the Secretary of State assure me that this will happen as soon as possible? It is also our view that we should move as quickly as possible to the subscription model for the BBC and get rid of the regressive, unfair current funding arrangements.

Mr Whittingdale: I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman, and I can give him the assurance that the Northern Ireland Executive will be involved in the same way as other Governments in the home nations. As for decriminalisation, Mr David Perry has produced an extremely thorough analysis. As I have only just placed it in the Library, I can quite understand that the right hon. Gentleman will not have had a chance to look at it, but it raises a number of quite serious problems with decriminalisation that would need to be addressed if we went down that road. The Select Committee report also identified problems, but the Perry report goes further in pointing out other practical problems that would need to be solved. I encourage the right hon. Gentleman to go away and look at that. The issue will be considered as part of the charter review, along with the future of the licence fee, which, as he has observed, has some disadvantages.

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John Howell (Henley) (Con): I used to be a presenter for BBC World Service Television, so I am not one of the BBC-phobic MPs on the Conservative Back Benches, but I understand the need for reform. Independent production in this country is a particularly vibrant and healthy sector. Can my right hon. Friend assure me that during the review he will examine the relationship between the BBC and the independent sector in order to ensure that it becomes less bureaucratic than it is at present, and takes full advantage of that vibrancy and health?

Mr Whittingdale: The growth of the independent production sector has been one of the outstanding successes of the last 10 years or so. It has been assisted in large part by the BBC’s independent production quota, and also by the terms of trade. Obviously there have been big changes, and we will need to examine those. As my hon. Friend knows, the BBC itself has come up with a proposal for 100% competition for all BBC commissioning. It is an interesting proposal, but my hon. Friend can rest assured that I shall bear in mind the continuing success of the independent production sector throughout this process.

John McDonnell (Hayes and Harlington) (Lab): In his statement, the Secretary of State did not make a single reference to the BBC’s staff. I find that surprising, given the concerns that he expressed in his previous role. The staff are now extremely anxious about their future because of the resettlement fee, and this will not reassure them. Will the Secretary of State tell us how he will ensure that they are involved more thoroughly in the consultation process?

Mr Whittingdale: I think that members of the BBC Trust will have heard what the hon. Gentleman has said. I certainly think that members of the BBC staff, and, indeed, former members—a number of whom appear to be in the Chamber this afternoon—will have views that they will wish to contribute. I am anxious to hear from existing employees, and I hope that a look at the Green Paper may reassure them a little, because its content is some distance away from what some reports suggested it would contain.

Matt Warman (Boston and Skegness) (Con): As a journalist, I had the pleasure of covering a huge amount of the BBC’s programme output, and, subsequently, the launch of the iPlayer. I thought that those were excellent services, but I also endured the launching of an endless stream of apps that seemed to have very little public value. The problem was that there was very little focus on the precise purpose of any specific product. Does my right hon. Friend agree that when it comes to services such as football on the BBC—which would serve very well on commercial channels— versus, for instance, a feature section on the website, we should be a lot clearer about what the BBC is actually for?

Mr Whittingdale: I entirely agree with my hon. Friend. In its online activities, the BBC is operating in a highly competitive space where there are a large number of commercial providers, which is why there has been concern about its impact on commercial activities. That is something that we shall need to consider, as is the exact nature of BBC content. The content currently has to accord with one of the public purposes of the BBC,

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but it is fair to say that it is almost impossible to think of any programme that could not be deemed to meet at least one of those public purposes, so they may well need to be drafted more tightly.

Jonathan Edwards (Carmarthen East and Dinefwr) (PC): Of major concern in Wales is the future of S4C, which has made real-terms cuts of 36% since 2010. Today the Secretary of State reiterated his view that the channel needed to make further savings. Does he not recognise that further reductions could fundamentally challenge the future of S4C and the independent production sector in Wales?

Mr Whittingdale: S4C is publicly funded, and I do not think it is possible to exempt any publicly funded body from the necessity of seeking greater efficiency savings and making a contribution to the overall objective of mending our economy. I shall certainly want to discuss the issue further with S4C—as I said earlier, I had an opportunity to talk to representatives briefly last night—but I am also discussing it with my colleagues in the Welsh Office.

Stephen Phillips (Sleaford and North Hykeham) (Con): During the last Parliament, the Public Accounts Committee examined severance payments for BBC executives. We reported that our examination

“exposed a dysfunctional relationship between the BBC Executive and the BBC Trust that casts doubt on… the BBC's governance model.”

My right hon. Friend clearly believes that the model of the trust is broken. Will he go further, and do what it is obvious to me, to my hon. Friend the Member for Folkestone and Hythe (Damian Collins) and to the hon. Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant) that he should do? Will he rule out reforming the trust, and indicate that either some independent body or Ofcom must have oversight of the BBC?

Mr Whittingdale: I think it was the experience of witnessing some of the exchanges that took place between members of the Public Accounts Committee and representatives of the BBC and the trust that convinced us that the present arrangement was not working. As for ruling things out or in, I think it would be wrong for me to rule anything out before we have even begun the consultation. I must say, however, that I have considerable sympathy with what my hon. and learned Friend has said.

Ian Paisley (North Antrim) (DUP): I welcome the Secretary of State’s very clear statement of intent. Will he assure us that he will do three things during the charter review? First, will he talk to DUP Members, who represent the single largest section of the community in Northern Ireland? I think there is good evidence to suggest that the BBC in Northern Ireland has been totally biased against our community, and I feel that a good conversation with the Secretary of State about these matters would be helpful. Secondly, will he ensure that the World Service is included in the review? As he knows, we pay 73p a year in fees for that wonderful service, and I hope that it will be protected for the future.

Thirdly, will the Secretary of State look into the issue of Twitter? I understand that up to 200 people work for Twitter at the BBC. That means a wage bill of five or six million quid, at a very generous estimate.

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Mr Whittingdale: Of course I shall be happy to talk to the hon. Gentleman and his colleagues. I hope that he and his party will become actively involved in the charter review process, and I look forward to discussing that with them in due course. I entirely share his admiration for the World Service. I mentioned that the United Kingdom was recently rated No. 1 in the list of the most effective proponents of soft power, and the World Service is an essential part of that. Having being involved in discussions about, for instance, what was happening in Ukraine in my previous capacity as chairman of the all-party group, I know how important the service is, and I want it to continue.

I am sorry; I have forgotten the hon. Gentleman’s final point.

Ian Paisley: Twitter.

Mr Whittingdale: Oh—Twitter. I am not sure that it is for me to say how many people the BBC should employ tweeting, but if the figure that the hon. Gentleman gave is correct, it does seem an awful lot. Perhaps the BBC would like to examine that when it is seeking additional efficiency savings.

Mr Peter Bone (Wellingborough) (Con): I thank the Secretary of State for making his important announcements to the House first, thus allaying fears that they had been leaked to the press.

During his exchanges with the hon. Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant), did the Secretary of State say that we had stuck with the licence fee because it was not currently possible to change to a subscription service for technical reasons? If so, what are those technical reasons?

Mr Whittingdale: What I said was that there might be attractions in moving, in due course, towards at least an element of subscription—and that is something that we will consider during the review—but it would not be possible to introduce a subscription system at the moment, because such a system requires the ability to switch off people who do not pay the subscription, and most households do not have the technology that would enable that to happen.

Ian C. Lucas (Wrexham) (Lab): The Secretary of State is right in saying that BBC local radio is a highly valued service. Unfortunately, it does not exist in Wales. Does he think that the contestable public fund to which he referred in his statement would be available to provide such a service?

Mr Whittingdale: We have not decided whether there should be a contestable fund, but if there were, its purpose would be the promotion of public service programming by other potential providers. I think that, in theory, if someone wanted to make an approach to establish a local Welsh radio station, it would be a possible candidate, but nothing has been decided at this stage.

Dr Matthew Offord (Hendon) (Con): Reading Hansard this week, I realised that I was not the only Member of the House to have witnessed not only political correctness at the BBC but nepotism and, for some if not others,

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inflated salaries. Given that the charter renewal will provide an opportunity to look at the funding of the BBC, does the Secretary of State expect it to act in a more commercial manner in the future?

Mr Whittingdale: The BBC gains considerable income from its commercial activities, which are carried out by BBC Worldwide. How that is done is something we will want to look at. However, one of the principal reasons that £3.7 billion of public money goes towards supporting the BBC is to support programming that is in the national interest and that has great public importance, but which would not necessarily be produced commercially.

Gavin Robinson (Belfast East) (DUP): Mr Speaker, last night you missed the focus in the Chamber on my experience, or inexperience, of how the House operates. In preparing to come to the House, however, I watched a very good BBC production, the original version of “House of Cards”. I am not going to put about any stick this afternoon, but I watched “House of Cards” through Netflix, which costs £6.99 a month. When I watch BBC iPlayer, I do it through Now TV, which costs £5.99 a month. Even when I add those two together, it is still better value for me than the licence fee, from which I do not get any great benefit. Will the Secretary of State tell the House what discussions have taken place with organisations such as Netflix, Now TV, blinkbox, Flixster and other successful organisations—[Interruption.] Now TV is Sky—that are succeeding in providing a good service and a version of media that more people wish to access?

Mr Whittingdale: The hon. Gentleman rightly identifies those services, which have recently entered the market and are proving extremely successful. Some might be cheaper than the licence fee and some might be more expensive, but the one thing they have in common is that people can choose whether they want to subscribe to them, which of course they cannot do with the licence fee. I remain an admirer of the original version of “House of Cards”, which he rightly says was produced by the BBC, and of the very clever adaptation for the American market, which was done by Netflix. Both versions are examples of superb drama, and I say that not just because the author is my daughter’s godfather.

Martin Vickers (Cleethorpes) (Con): Somewhat inevitably, we as politicians judge the BBC in a slightly different way from the majority of our constituents, who just want an organisation that provides them with their favourite programmes, such as “EastEnders” and “Match of the Day”, and stations such as BBC Radio 2. May I urge my right hon. Friend to take a cautious approach to some of the suggestions that have been put forward in the past week or two? We should not assume that our constituents will thank us if they end up having to pay more to watch their favourite programmes. Can he assure me and my constituents that their interests, in terms of what it costs them to watch their favourite programmes, will be given serious consideration?

Mr Whittingdale: I hear what my hon. Friend says, and I have a lot of sympathy with him. The existing cost of the BBC licence fee is substantial for many families on low incomes. What we have said is that, subject to the conditions that I set out in my statement, we anticipate

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that the licence fee will rise in line with inflation from the beginning of the next charter period, but that will still represent a real-terms freeze. The BBC is quite at liberty to make the case, during the charter review, for more funding in order to provide more, but I would need a lot of convincing before going down the road of increasing the cost to families, for the reason that my hon. Friend has described.

Mr Barry Sheerman (Huddersfield) (Lab/Co-op): Does the Secretary of State agree that this is an important time of change in broadcasting generally? The BBC is a national institution that dominates our country in many ways, but we also have a very intimate relationship with it. We have all grown up with it, and we know it intimately. We all have our foibles, and one of mine is that I cannot stand some of our broadcasters and would like to see them changed. I am thinking particularly of the family that seems to dominate “Question Time”. There are two great challenges for the BBC at the moment. It is British, and there is a bunch of people locally, in Britain, who would love to get in there and dismember it. We all know who they are—a mixture of Russian oligarchs, pornographers and goodness knows who else—but the real challenge is not the small people but the Googles and the global media people. They represent the real challenge, and we must protect the BBC, because it is British, and help it to stand up against that kind of globalisation.

Mr Whittingdale: I hope that the hon. Gentleman is not waiting for his invitation to go on “Any Questions”. I completely agree with him about the importance of the BBC. It is an immensely important institution, and our purpose during the charter review is to look at ways of strengthening and modernising it, precisely because of the technological developments and new services that have come about in the last 10 years. It needs to be modernised, but I certainly do not wish to destroy it or undermine it.

Edward Argar (Charnwood) (Con): Like the right hon. Member for Belfast North (Mr Dodds), I am grateful to the Secretary of State for his reassurance that decriminalising non-payment of the licence fee will be considered in the context of charter renewal, although I am disappointed that it will not happen sooner. Will my right hon. Friend reassure me that he remains genuinely open-minded—notwithstanding the issues identified in the Perry report—towards the decriminalisation of non-payment of the licence fee?

Mr Whittingdale: I understand that there are strong feelings right across the House on the issue of decriminalisation. Indeed, the report produced by the Committee that I chaired during the last Parliament made it plain that the Committee also agreed with decriminalisation. Having said that, the Perry report raises some very real challenges that would need to be overcome if we were to go down that road, and we will have to take those into account during the charter renewal debate.

Diana Johnson (Kingston upon Hull North) (Lab): Many of my constituents value highly the local radio station, BBC Radio Humberside—no more so than in 2007 when large parts of Hull were flooded. The station

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provided essential information to people at that time. I am concerned at the Secretary of State’s saying that local people would be able to put forward their views at public meetings, because such meetings are not often held in areas such as Hull; they tend to be held in places such as Leeds. Will there be any other opportunities for local people to feed in their real concerns about the possible changes?

Mr Whittingdale: The hon. Lady is absolutely right to point up the extremely important role that local radio plays, particularly at times of local disasters. She has given the example of what happened in Hull. I know that BBC local radio also played a part in a process that had a rather happier outcome—namely, the nomination of Hull as the city of culture. On the question of public meetings, the way in which they are organised will be a matter for the BBC Trust. The hon. Lady will see when she reads the Green Paper in detail that we have tried to give people every opportunity to contribute, including through writing in to the Department and making their views known online.

Tom Pursglove (Corby) (Con): In the past, I have asked the Secretary of State about the possibilities surrounding the BBC diversifying its streams of revenue. For example, it benefits from a huge archive. What consideration will be given, during the charter review process, to opening up that archive online and perhaps enabling people to download material for a small charge?

Mr Whittingdale: My hon. Friend makes an important point. One of the BBC’s great assets is its extraordinary history of great programming, which still has value. I know that the BBC is looking into how it might make that available through the BBC archive online, and that is certainly something that has the potential to provide it with an additional source of revenue.

Sammy Wilson (East Antrim) (DUP): So long as the BBC is guaranteed a source of income, whether through the licence fee or the proposed household levy, there will be no incentive for it to address its well-documented, massively wasteful expenditure or the issue of bias—whether it is left-wing bias, pro-EU bias or man-made climate change bias—which so annoys millions of people across the United Kingdom. Does the Secretary of State not agree that the only way of giving the BBC an incentive to address those issues is to give people the choice of whether they wish to pay for it or not?

Mr Whittingdale: The hon. Gentleman makes the case for moving towards a subscription model, which, as I have said, in the longer term is an option that should be considered. He will have the opportunity to make that case again in the course of charter renewal. He raised a separate issue about BBC bias. At the moment, complaints about bias are examined by the BBC Trust. Whether that is the right place and whether it should be done externally by an independent are questions that we will want to consider as part of charter renewal.

Kevin Foster (Torbay) (Con): I agree with the Secretary of State that the BBC across the UK is cherished and admired, not least BBC Radio Devon. Productions that show life across the UK are a vital part of the BBC’s public purpose, but does he agree that that must be

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linked with such content being created across the UK in order for local communities to feel properly represented by and valued by their BBC?

Mr Whittingdale: My hon. Friend is right, in that the BBC’s content should reflect all the different parts of the UK but as part of the indie quota one of the things we achieved was that commissions have been placed right across the UK. During the short time I was able to spend at a reception last night for broadcasters and producers in Wales I met several small independent production companies from Wales which have been very successful in providing programming, not just for S4C, but for the BBC and indeed other broadcasters.

Jeremy Lefroy (Stafford) (Con): Like the hon. Member for North Antrim (Ian Paisley), the Secretary of State and hundreds of millions of people around the world, I greatly value the World Service, which is almost always a voice of truth and sanity. But to compete with the other international stations, both on radio and television, the World Service and World Service Television will need greater investment in the coming years. Where does my right hon. Friend think that will come from?

Mr Whittingdale: My hon. Friend makes an extremely important point. As I indicated, the role of the World Service is vital, particularly given Russia’s huge investment in its propaganda outlets and China’s investment in its broadcasting. The need for an impartial and respected voice of truth, which is what the World Service represents, is greater today than perhaps it has been for a long time. As he knows, the funding of the World Service was transferred to the BBC but it is nevertheless protected. Again, we will need to look at that during the charter review.

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Point of Order

1.42 pm

Stephen Doughty (Cardiff South and Penarth) (Lab/Co-op): On a point of order, Mr Speaker. In the past couple of hours there has been an announcement that more than 720 jobs may be at risk at the Tata speciality steels division in Rotherham. Obviously, that is devastating news for many hon. Members who unfortunately cannot be in the House because of constituency business. It reflects the wider challenges facing the steel industry and energy-intensive industries more generally, which I know is a matter of concern to Members on both sides of the House. We had a constructive debate with the new steel Minister in Westminster Hall this week, but this devastating news has come out since that debate. Have you received notice of any intention for a statement to be made by the steel Minister on this news, and on the steps the Government are taking to stand up for the steel industry in the UK?

Mr Speaker: The short answer is that I have received no indication of an intended Government statement on the matter. However, the hon. Gentleman will be aware of the means available to him to probe the Government on this subject before we depart for the summer recess. I do not know whether it will be possible for him to air his thoughts further today from the Back Benches—that is one option and there will be other options on Monday and Tuesday, which he does not need me to spell out for him. I am grateful to him for putting that important matter, which will be of widespread concern, on the record.

Bill Presented

Criminal Cases Review Commission (Supplementary Powers) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Andy McDonald, supported by Keir Starmer, Grahame Morris, John McDonnell and Andy Slaughter, presented a Bill to amend the Criminal Appeal Act 1995 to make provision about supplementary powers for the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) to secure information from public bodies; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on 11 March 2016, and to be printed (Bill 60).

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Summer Adjournment

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House has considered matters to be raised before the forthcoming adjournment.—(Guy Opperman.)

1.44 pm

Pauline Latham (Mid Derbyshire) (Con): I wish to discuss Derby City Council’s decision to close the cattle market in Derby with one week’s notice. There has been a cattle market in Derby since the 12th century but within one week, with no consultation with anybody, the council has decided to close it, depriving local farmers of the opportunity to bring their cattle calmly and sensibly to a market close by. Once this market has closed and been demolished—that is what the council plans to do—people will have to go to Leek, Newark or further afield. The cattle that go to this well-used market will face additional stress and longer journeys, and farmers will have much greater fuel costs. As the Deputy Leader of the House knows, farmers struggle to make a living as it is and the extra fuel costs will cause some of them to cease farming. Some people have been going to the cattle market since the more recent one opened.

The problem is that Derby City Council has spent years and years not investing—it does that with many of its buildings—so it is now trying to say, “It will cost £190,000 in lost revenue, and we cannot afford this because of Government cuts.” However, this is actually about good housekeeping in Derby. The council claims that £2 million-worth of funding will be required to bring this market and the wholesale market up to scratch, but that is because it has not bothered to look after it for many, many years. That is a failure of Derby City Council’s local government strategy of downgrading everything and not spending money on proper investment and good housekeeping, but spending money on its pet projects.

I have received representations from farmers and from local people on this issue, and councillors feel very aggrieved that nothing was said before a week ago. Last night, the council voted to close the market without any more ado. The council is not only going to close it; it is going to demolish it and sell the site off for business units. I am not against business units, but we need a cattle market in the area. The problem we have with Derby City Council is that it wishes to ignore what the countryside is about, because it has only one farm within the city boundary and it does not care about farmers and what they are doing. This closure is a retrograde step, because Derby is the centre for many rural communities who come into Derby to bring their cattle. The auctioneers have been there for many years and this market is a centre of excellence—or it was until the council decided to close it. It does not have to close until next year, when the leases run out, so the council could have undertaken a better study in order to decide on its viability or whether there were alternatives and other people would be prepared to invest in it.

As I have said to the Deputy Leader of the House before, Derby City Council does not care about anybody outside its boundary. The council does not care that this is the centre for the farmers, it does not care about the welfare of the animals and it does not care about the people’s livelihoods that it is a affecting, because it says that this is nothing to do with Derby. The council is riding roughshod over these interests. The Government should be looking at this and saying, “You cannot just

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blame it on Government cuts.” That is what the council does, but this is not down to Government cuts; it is down to very bad housekeeping. I would like this House to examine this at some point in the future to stop councils riding roughshod over the will of the people.

Derby City Council does not do the same thing with other buildings. Buildings such as Allestree hall in my constituency have been going to rack and ruin for many years because the council has not invested in it. It has a golf course attached to it and the council could sell it off; it keeps promising to sell it off but it does nothing. The trouble is that when somebody eventually buys it and develops it, they will have to spend two, three, four or perhaps 10 times as much as they would have had to spend 10 years ago. Can we examine how we can make local authorities make good housekeeping decisions about the buildings they own, now and in the future?

1.49 pm

Mr Graham Allen (Nottingham North) (Lab): My elation at being called first from the Opposition Benches is matched only by the slight annoyance that I felt yesterday when I spent six hours in here without being called. But I am delighted and really grateful to be called to speak today.

In the first of my three brief points, may I ask whether it is possible, in this day and age, for the Procedure Committee to consider having a list of speakers for a debate on the back of the Speaker’s Chair, so that colleagues can have some way of managing their day sensibly? Although Members will obviously be in the Chamber well before they speak and well after they speak, they will be able to plan their days more effectively.

Jake Berry (Rossendale and Darwen) (Con): That is an absolutely excellent point. In a modern Parliament, there should be no reason why we cannot have more control over who speaks and when they speak. I wish to put it on the record that I am delighted that the Deputy Speakers are not hiding the lists as well as they may have done in the past. At least we can get some information, but having a list on the back of the Speaker’s Chair will be even more helpful.

Mr Allen: Indeed, that is a welcome development. Communication channels, even informal ones, should be established. We could take this a little further and ensure that this place attracts Members more seriously, rather than have them undergo this sort of endurance test before they can make a point of importance in a debate.

Going from the micro to the macro, my second point is about English devolution. Colleagues in the House—I look to some of those on the SNP Benches—will no doubt vouch for the fact that I have served my time on the Scotland Bill and I hope I made some helpful contributions. For me, that was really a warm-up for English devolution, which affects an even larger number of people in the Union than the Scotland Bill, important and essential though that is.

The Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill is in the other place at the moment. It has been scrutinised carefully on the Floor of the House, which means that everyone has been able to contribute to what is, arguably, the most important Bill that will come before this House over the next five years.

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I do not wish to get sidetracked on to English votes for English laws, which is a relatively straightforward and perhaps minor procedural matter that has very little to do with the devolution of power to the localities, cities, regions and councils of England. The proposal is misnamed. It is in fact English MPs’ votes for English laws, which is yet another Westminster bubble issue. Devolution is about how we all exercise power in the localities and about how electors and members of the public can see that they are in control of their politics. That is where we need to get to. I hope very much that the Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill will come to this place briskly in September, that colleagues from all parts of the House will consider it and work on it, and that it goes as far as we have gone with our Scottish friends on the Scotland Bill.

What is good about devolving power to Scotland is that Scottish people can rightly take control of their own destinies and lives as much as is humanly possible within a Union and a federation of nations. I would welcome that 100%. I have sat through the proceedings on the Scotland Bill to learn all the lessons. One of the lessons for England is to do with financial devolution. We need to ensure that there is income tax assignment so that local government—whether it is based on combined authorities, regions or whatever people in England wish it to be—can go forward and people can take control.

What unites Scottish, English, Welsh and Northern Irish people and their representatives on this issue is the fact that Whitehall has had its day. It is a massive over-centralised beast that tries to control everything. Unless we put it beyond change or entrench it, which is one of the many issues that I raised in the debates on the Scotland Bill, it will inevitably get sucked back to the centre. The gravitational pull of one Government or another to control will be so strong that unless we are clear about entrenching it—and there are lots of way to do that—we will find that the power that we would like to give will inevitably go back to the centre. That is why Labour’s posture going into the 2015 election was not adequate. Suggestions of beefing up the amount of money that the centre gives to the localities and creating super local enterprise partnerships rather than genuinely devolving power to England meant that people felt that we were not differentiated from other parties, and we paid a very dear price for that.