17/03/2016 Business Questions


Live coverage of the announcement of Commons business for the week ahead and questions to leader of the Commons Chris Grayling.

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Significantly, 14% increase in visits to cathedrals, showing how


cathedrals appeal to all generations. Thank you. Is on this


question, Mr Chris Bryant. Will the Leader of the House give as the


future business, please? The business for next week, on Monday


the 21st of March, we have the continuation of the budget of eight.


On Tuesday we have the conclusion of the budget they'd. On Wednesday


proceedings on the high-speed rail London to West Midlands bill,


followed by consideration of Lords amendments, followed by a motion of


the European communities amendments act, followed by a motion related to


short money. On Thursday there will be a debate relating to court


closures, followed by a debate on matters to be decided before the


forthcoming Easter recess adjournment, and I might also say


that next Thursday we will be told... We look forward to that. The


business for the week commencing the 11th of April, when we return from


the Easter recess, Monday the 11th of April will be the second reading


of the Finance Bill. Tuesday the 12th will be a debate on reform and


support arrangements for people with contaminated blood, a subject


determined by the backbench business committee, and the chairman of ways


and Means is expected to name a proposed Private business for


consideration. Wednesday will be an opposition day, and Thursday will be


a further day nominated by the backbench business committee. Friday


the 15th of April we are not sitting. The business in Westminster


Hall for the 24th of March will be a general debate on the NHS in London.


He means that I'm not going to be here next week, so my eminently


capable deputy will be taking this up on our behalf. What a dreadful


two fingers budget. Two fingers up to the most vulnerable in the land,


those who cannot dress clean themselves, and two fingers crossed


behind our back in the hope that the black hole will come right by the


end of the Parliament. What a turnaround. Only weeks ago the


Chancellor told us that the future was sunny. Now he says that storm


clouds are on this horizon. That is a routine that Dame Edna haired wage


would be proud of. Every single target missed. He's no William Tell


either! Growth figures, wrong, product over the, wrong. The deficit


was meant to be abolished by 2015, and now he hopes beyond hope to have


a surplus by 2020. Does anyone really believe this? Isn't this


another pledge not worth development is not printed on? More leaks than


Wales, more spin than a whirling dervish in a washing machine. He


boasted yesterday about extra money for school sports, when he cut it in


the first place. That is like a burglar going to the police and


begging for a reward for turning himself in. Frankly, burglars can't


be choosers! Can the leader explained for us the commitment to


turn every school into an academy? There are 15,632 schools in England,


which are not yet academies. The cost for the conversion is ?44,837,


which comes to ?700 million. But the Chancellor wrongly allocated ?140


million to academy changing. Where is the shortfall of ?560 million


coming from? I have to say that there were some things to rejoice


about. I am glad that the Severn Bridge tolls will be cut in half,


thanks to the campaign by my honourable friend for Newport East.


Last week, I'm sure you will I announced that the obesity strategy


will be out soon, and now we have it, or at least part of it, the


sugar tax. I am delighted that finally the Chancellor has realised


the dangers of Cork. LAUGHTER -- Coke.


It is just a shame that he could not have said call -- cola instead.


Regarding independence payments, how can he tell us how they will be


brought in? Surely they should be in primary legislation. Surely the


changes should be brought in in primary legislation so there can be


proper scrutiny in both houses. Give another recent cuts to disability


benefits, will the government produced an impact assessment? There


is something deeply distasteful about a cut per person to the


200,000 most vulnerable people in our country, while the richest get a


?200 tax hand-out. I am not surprised that Graham Ellis, a


disability campaigner, has resigned from the Tory party. We will fight


these changes, but I warned the leader before not to try to pull a


fast one on working tax credits by using secondary legislation that


cannot be amended, and I do it again now. Yesterday saw the government


defeated three times in the House of Lords. By big majorities as well.


Nearly two to one in every case. There is more to come. Isn't it time


the government gave up on this didn't it than piece of legislation?


I have told to become. -- be more calm. We have the debate for short


money next week. Our usual discussions have been productive,


and I thank the leader for the part he has played. I am hopeful that


these will be published soon, this afternoon, or on Monday? Many


members have had real difficulties recently, with banks which have in


dealing with money laundering in a disproportionately. We all want to


tackle money-laundering, but it must be crazy that people are being


denied bank accounts simply because they are connected to a politically


exposed person. Can the government ensure there will be a debate on


this in government times we can get the balance right and tell the banks


where to go. Holy Week starts on Sunday, so I wish all members and


families a happy Easter. Next week Jewish people remember the attempt


of Jews to be killed in Persia. That was not the last annihilation of


them. 74 years ago today the first Polish Jews were gassed in an


extermination camp. Anti-Semitism is still alive today, and we must do


everything in our power to stop religious intolerance and racial


hatred affecting our political parties. That means calling out


anti-Semitism wherever we find it, even if it is inconvenient to


ourselves, and expelling those who continue these file arguments from


our political parties. I hope the leader would also agree that all


religious prejudice is equally despicable, and would frankly this


on the Tory campaign against Labour's candidate for Mayor of


London, which is the most desperate, divisive and racially charged


campaign London has ever seen. They should the ashamed. Can I also echo


the words that the Shadow leader has said about wishing happy Easter


period to all of those who work in this House. Can I start by


addressing the issue of member security. There were a number of


incidents following a recent vote. This will always be completely


unacceptable. I hope the police will deal with them strongly. Can I


remind members that the new security packages available to them and their


staff, if any member experiences teething problems with this new


package, with the police tell myself or the chairman of ways and Means,


and we will address these issues. We have heard a lot about the budget.


You can tell when the opposition are maddest. Normally it is easy to


catch the eye of the Shadow leader, he is always chatting across the


chamber. But yesterday I could not catch his eye for the moment because


he knew just how bad it was. Next week, we will see a continuation of


the budget debate. I could not make head nor tail of what the Leader of


the Opposition was saying he would do yesterday, but at least this week


we had another insight into Labour's economic policy. It turns out that


the Shadow Chancellor draws his inspiration from Marks, Trotsky and


-- to. Labour's policies would crush the middle classes and working class


people. This morning the Shadow Chancellor could not even said he


supported capitalism. That is where they have got to as a party. He


raised a question about the changes to independence payments. We will


publish details in due course. All members are produced with an impact


assessment. He mentioned the trade union bill in the Lords, I would


remind the House that we are seeking to give trade union members the


choice about whether they contribute to the Labour Party or not. Two


nations to our party are from people who choose to donate to our side of


the political spectrum. They have to depend on people who are obliged to.


That is what has the change. I am also grateful for the


collaborative discussions that have taken place on the short money


motion. The motion will be published before next week. On the


money-laundering points, I agree with him. This concern is shared on


all sides of the House. We cannot have a situation, not just when


individual members, but members of their families are affected by a


change that is unacceptable. We have discussed it with the Treasury and


have received assurances that they believe people should not be


affected, but clearly, they are. I therefore will treat this as a


matter of great importance and I think we all should. He made a point


about anti-Semitism. Of course, anti-Semitism has featured recently


in a number of political activities, and that is unacceptable and should


always be so. But I should remind him. He makes a comment about the


election in London today. I would also remind him that anti-Semitism


was also present in elections a year ago in the general election in


London, and not from our side of the political spectrum. I hope he takes


the words he has said today and makes sure they are properly put


into route in his party. It is not acceptable in any part of life. It


should not happen. Finally, this week we had the revelation that the


shadow leader doesn't want to be shadow leader. He wants to be


Speaker, so much so that he appears to be even preparing a campaign


team. Of course, there is not a vacancy for your job. But I did have


an idea for him. This week is apprenticeship week, and I wondered


if you might consider taking him on as an apprentice Speaker. But there


is one small problem. If the honourable gentleman wants to be the


next Speaker, he needs to remember one thing. You need to be popular


and respected across the House, and he still has some work to do.


Could we have a debate on the TUC's dying to work campaign, which


focuses on strengthening legal protections for terminally ill


employees like my constituents Jackie Woodcock, who has been


treated badly by her employer, which tried to force her to resign? Mr


Speaker, my honourable friend raised this issue yesterday. She's right to


bring forward a case like this. I would hope every employer would


treat with respect and care anybody in such a terrible situation,


whether in the public or private sector. We expect decency from


employers in this country. Can I also thank the Leader of the House


for announcing next week's business. It is the usual day after the Budget


night before, and already, the wheels are coming off and the


smattering of fiscal fairy dust is wearing thin, revealing the useless


old banger underneath. I think all of us who listened to the Today


programme this morning enjoyed greatly the evisceration of the


Chancellor of the Exchequer when he was asked, to gentle enquiring from


John Humphrys, what does it take to get sacked from his job? As he


defiantly tried to defend his own targets. We also have to commend


some of the conservative disabled activists who have made their voices


heard in the last 24 hours, particularly with that website. Even


conservative members are recognising in this Budget the redistribution


aspect of it from the poorest to the wealthiest. That is what


characterises this Budget more than anything else. The Leader of the


House often talks about him and I wandering through the same lobby.


Maybe next week, we will have this opportunity with the tampon tax. I


opposed this because of women being taxed for their biology. Leader of


the House, come on. You and I can much through the lobby together to


oppose the Chancellor and his EU politicised Budget. Regulations that


deprive overseas pensioners of the operating to the pension has been


forced through this House without any debate. Some 550,000 pensioners


will be included in this with so many people involved, half a


million, surely you have to have some sort of statement from the


government about their intent in this regard and I hope the Leader of


the House will give with this. Last week, my constituents got in touch


with my office, watching the spectacle in this place. They were


appalled at the behaviour of a small number of politically motivated,


predominantly conservative members filibustering on private members'


bills, just to stop consideration of bills that they don't personally


like. We saw an almost destructive glory in the way they filibuster


against the NHS bill. Of course, they are entitled to do this


according to the rules and boy, did they take advantage. But why is it


only private members' bills that this applies to? The rest of the


debates in this House are properly timetabled and regulated. This has


to end. Our constituents are taking an increasing interest in these


private members' bills. There is a procedural committee looking at


this, I accept that. A strong we worded message from the leader of


saying this cannot go on would be helpful. Lastly, tugged away in the


Budget statement yesterday were plans to extend English modes for


English law to income tax. But apparently, legislation is quiet for


this. With the Leader of the House explain how this will be progressed


what type of legislation will be put in place, and will it give us the


opportunity to properly scrutinise this dog's breakfast that is Evel? I


would love to hear the leader's remarks on that. First up, the


honourable gentleman talked about evisceration is in interviews. I


presume he heard the interview with Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish First


Minister, on the Sunday Politics last week, which could not expect


how her sums added up she could not explain how it was possible for


Scotland to carry on spending the same amount of money without tax


increases or how she would deal with the huge Budget deficit without


spending cuts. So if we are talking about people with no idea how to


manage an economy, no idea how to manage finances, we just have to


look to Edinburgh. He talked about the Budget more broadly. He talked


about people on low incomes. Our policy since 2010 has taken the


lives of people back into work and lifted more than half a million


children out of households where no one works into an environment where


people get up in the morning and go to work and bring a sense of


responsibility to their lives. By 2019, the top 20% of our population


will pay 50% of all taxes. This is a government that is proud of its


record, that has made a difference to this country. All we hear from


the party opposite is carping about success. He talked about the bill


last Friday. I find it baffling that he is complaining about the handling


in this house of an NHS bill. The last time I looked, the NHS in


Scotland was devolved. So why is the SNP so concerned about debates in


this House about the National Health Service, when this House has nothing


to do with the National Health Service in Scotland? Surely it is


another example of SNP opportunism. And he talks about English votes for


in just laws. -- English votes for English laws. We were clear that


this would apply to tax measures which do not apply in Scotland. It


seems not fair to me that the SNP should be able to impose increased


taxes upon the English if they gang up with others to do so. That is


what we sought to avoid. That is what our reforms will make sure


cannot happen in future. Can I follow up with my right honourable


friend his response on money-laundering? When are we going


to have a debate about this? Will the government commit to voting


against these proposals, and does my right honourable friend agree that


the current proposals show that we are being contaminated in our public


life by the corruption in the rest of the European Union? This is an


important point. I am looking into this as a matter of urgency. It is


important not just for people in this House, but for members of


families as well. We will need to discuss this on a cross-party basis.


We want to make sure this cannot affect our only members, our


parents, children and siblings as well as ourselves. The Leader of the


House and myself are becoming very good pen friends, writing to each


other on a regular basis. Following our recent correspondence, I welcome


the leader's commitment to ensuring sufficient chamber time to be found


for the number of days allocated to the backbench business committee.


That is provided for in standing order 14. However, I note our views


are not aligned on the nub of days that are to be allocated this


session. Standing order 14 is clear that only days when backbench


business have presidents should count towards the allocation. I


think there is a dispute about the number of days that remain to us.


Might I suggest that there might be merit, touting the clerks of our


committee to make sure there is clarity on the amount of backbench


time remaining so that the government does not find itself in


the unfortunate position of falling short of the amount of time required


to provide the backbench community on the floor of the house? I did not


realise they have so much influence. Last week, when I spoke in my


exasperation about Newcastle United, within 24 hours, there was a change


of management! Office chair of the backbench business committee.


Exercises and influence beyond what we previously knew! The Leader of


the House. I hope for his sake that the result of a change is that his


team marches to survival in the Premier League, although I notice


they did not manage it last week in their match against Leicester. But I


suspect that most of us who support other teams, perhaps not Tottenham


supporters, but the rest of us, for at least the last eight weeks have


been Leicester City supporters. We wish them well for the remainder of


the season. I hope the honourable gentleman manages to turn up at St


James' Park next season cheering on a Premier League team. In terms of


the allocation of time, the difference between us is that there


was a period of time at the start of this session after the general


election before the backbench business committee could be formed,


so a number of days were set aside for general debates. I am happy to


meet him to talk about that, but if the backbench committee is only


there for a part of a session, there are time pressures that we have to


cater for. I remember making sure there was time for general debates


in that period before his committee was formed and I am happy to talk to


him about it. Would my right honourable friend find time for a


debate on the erecting of statues in the centre of London? I find it


extraordinary that in Westminster Square, there is no statue of the


first female Prime Minister and more pertinently, that there is no statue


of Her Majesty The Queen, the longest reigning monarch ever and


about to celebrate her 90th birthday. First of all, on the


Queen, I think we all look forward to celebrating her 90th birthday. We


look forward to activities up and down the country and of course, we


should all be thankful to my honourable friend the Mayor of


London and the Secretary of State for Transport for deciding that


Crossrail should be named the Elizabeth line, a fitting tribute to


the Queen. On the subject of a statue of Margaret Thatcher, I know


the shadow leader, a champion of equality and opportunities for


women, would join me in thinking it is appropriate for Britain's first


female Prime Minister to be celebrated in such a way. Didn't the


House reach a historic low in political opportunism yesterday,


when the Prime Minister defended himself and his lamb a double record


on air pollution by claiming credit for the clean air act, which was


passed by this House ten years before he was born? The subject is a


serious one and I recently had a debate that was pulled because the


government didn't have us suitable blister available. -- did not have a


suitable minister available. 9000 people die every year because of


abolition, 70 in the city I represent -- because of air


pollution, and there are no plans to make our policies even legal. This


is a scandal that should be addressed. I would make two points.


Firstly, it is an issue that we are dressing, for example through the


work we have put in to incentivise hybrid and electric cars and looking


at ways to cut emissions from power stations. We have done as much as


any previous government. The point that and macro misses that we on


this side of the House are proud to be part of a party that over the


last 200 years has been responsible for most of this country's great


social reforms. That is a track record but we regard as a foundation


upon which we should build for the future.


Cross Cani Chase there are many voluntary groups supporting families


with dementia. -- cannot chase. Will my right honourable friend join me


in commending the work of this group as well as the others who provide


this incredibly valuable support, and can we have a debate in


government time to discuss what further support will be provided to


those families affected by dementia? As my honourable friend may know,


members of the Cabinet went through the training module to be a dementia


friend couple of years ago, and it was enlightening. I have experienced


dementia and my family and it taught me things I did not previously now,


so the work that is done by these groups make a real difference to


those who are suffering and also to those who are helping those who are


suffering. I commend her, her colleagues and those involved in


this area of the work. While I welcome the budget news regarding


further small business rate relief, I am concerned with the impact this


will have on local authorities, such as my own. Can we have a debate to


discuss what measures will be put in place to ease the burden on


cash-strapped councils, many of whom are already struggling to balance


books? First of all, as we heard last week there have been people on


those benches who say that we need to do something about the business


rate impact on small businesses. I am delighted the Chancellor did that


in his budget statements. I did not notice I mentioned to that in the


remarks earlier. Next Monday and Tuesday she will have the


opportunity to put those discussions in place. The front page of the


Jewish Chronicle today gives a litany of the anti-Semitism that


sadly we are beginning to see more and more frequently in the ranks of


the Labour Party, and in other institutions like universities in


this country. Can we have a debate on the subject of the increasing


anti-Semitism in public bodies and institutions? This is an important


point, where I agree with the Shadow leader and my honourable friend,


anti-Semitism has no place in our society, and when we hear words from


the parties opposite, we have heard of too many occasions in the past 12


months where they have tolerated tolerated anti-Semitism in their


ranks. That is unacceptable and something they should change.


I was shocked to learn the House has still been using Betamax tapes for


parliamentary recordings, and they now have to stop because they are


not being produced any longer. Technological adaptation is slow,


can he do this and update on steps being taken to update this?


Honourable members will be aware that trials have been taking place


on the use of tablets in division lobbies. Those trials are now


beginning to show distinct improvements, which is likely to be


the way we record in the future, which allows us to publish things


quickly. I do not support going further on swipe cards, as the


opportunities we have to go through the division lobby... HMS


Shropshire, a heavy cruiser, was completed for the Royal Navy and


served with distinction until 1942. Can we have a debate on when the


Royal Navy will once again name and naval ship after Shropshire? He


makes his point in his customary way, and I'm sure the Ministry of


Defence will have noted his comments. There will be plenty of


opportunities for ships to carry the name of his county. Could the leader


help honourable members who are keen to meet the young constituents


coming to the excellent new education centre, but find getting


into the education centre quite a trial. It is easier to get into Fort


Knox and it is to get into the education centre with the level of


security. As you know this is a subject which is of concern to me.


This is a matter that is subject to discussion. We have to take


appropriate steps for child protection and make sure common


sense applies. Sometimes with the budget you have to read the redbrick


to see what it was really about and to see what the Chancellor meant, --


the Redbook. There was a lot of loading of debt reduction, and I


understand that on the 24th of June, when we come out of the EU, he will


have ?15 billion a year to reduce the public debt. So in regard to


that, we had a tie produced for him with his initials on it. I think it


does to jobs. That the Chancellor wants to come out of the EU, and he


can promote it himself. Could we have a written statement on that?


Yes, far be it from me to comment on the aesthetic virtues or otherwise


of the tie, but the use of props in this place is generally deprecated.


The honourable gentleman has got away with it. He is always ingenious


in a variety of different ways. He makes his point in his effective


way, and I know he is playing an active part in the campaign to leave


the European Union. I suspect he may have more of a challenge than he


thinks to change the Chancellor's mind on this. And maybe more of a


challenge to ask the Chancellor to a tie of that colour. The Leader of


the House might not know this, but it is estimated that autism costs


this country ?23 billion a year. Today after the budget it is worth


about that some. You're a great supporter of autism charities and


often host events in your rooms. But isn't it the fact that we have


recently found we have taken away the educational element of the


personal allowance by people on the autism spectrum received, which


means they cannot get education. Can we have a debate on this? First of


all, I share his understanding and his view on the issue of autism.


There is some fantastic work done in society to help young people on the


autistic spectrum, and I pay tribute to a school in my constituency and


its counterparts around the country that do a fantastic job working with


young people. I would say to him that as a government we have looked


more money into education, more money into the support we provide


for people with disabilities, and there is enormously good work being


done around the country. The Leader of the House may be aware that the


new leader furnished hospital in Henley has now reopened and treated


its first patient. Would he agree to have a debate on the future of


community and local hospitals will be can reinforce the message that


this clear is in the best interest of patients? I remember when I was


helping with the campaign to get my honourable friend elected for the


first time, so I am the weighted to see that the work he has done since


then has come to fruition and his town has a great new facility. On


Tuesday he will have the opportunity to tell the Secretary of State how


much difference it will make to his constituency. Given that recesses


approaching, the upcoming regulations that will deprive


550,000 overseas pensioners will be enacted when we return to this


House. Will the government bring forward a debate to allow us to


consider this? This issue has been raised on many occasions, and when


these pensions were moved, they were aware of the arrangements. It would


cost many hundreds of millions to sort this out. The government has no


plans to do so. Could the Leader of the House seek that Treasury


Minister attends the chamber to discuss the decision about Lloyds


bank to redeem notes early rather than waiting until they reached


maturity? We will have the debate over the next three days in the


budget, -- on the budget, and we will discuss this. The Chief


secretary will be here on Tuesday to make sure he raises the point. I


welcomed the Prime Minister's statement about universal superfast


broadband. That was a few months ago. Can we have a debate in


government time so we can see the mechanisms for it going forward? We


are all in favour of it, it should be debated, we should know exactly


what to do, and I could offer Anglesey as a pilot scheme. It is a


priority for the government to provide superfast broadband and


connectivity to all rural areas. I would want to see Anglesey included


in that. We have made good progress, we have got as far as any other


country in Europe in developing modern communication networks, but


there is work to do. In the last Parliament, the government tasked


the Law Commission with drafting a wildlife Bill. That may -- they have


done. Could he say when such legislation might come forward? We


cannot give advanced notice of what will be in the Queens speech in May,


but I have spoken to the ministers involved, who tell me they are


looking at the issue carefully and have to respond over the course of


this year, and Law Commission bills are normally given a parliamentary


slot, but I cannot commit to an exact timetable. Yesterday the


government claimed to be on the side of both the workers and the Next


Generation. Could be there for half action beyond the rhetoric and have


an urgent debate on the irony that workers aged under 25 are excluded


from the government's new national living wage? The evidence we are on


the side of workers and young people is in the number of apprenticeships,


the deep crease in the number of unemployed junk people, we are


making real progress. When I took over as employment Minister in 2010,


I regarded with some trepidation though sessions I had with six


formers and college students talking about their future prospects. I


would not have such trepidation today. They have business


investment, opportunities. It is a transformed picture compared to six


years ago. For the last two decades, the level of transport


infrastructure spend in London has dwarfed that of the regions. Perhaps


in the region of ten to one. That the government has come forward to


build Crossrail two, which so far has received no scrutiny in this


House. Could we have a debate in government time regarding this? He


is right to talk about the need to provide balance across the country


in investment and infrastructure. But if we look back at the years of


Labour government can do project that sat on the shelf, they are


being built. -- project that sat on the shelf, they are now being built,


which I did not see happening when the opposition were in power. Can we


have a debate on the withdrawal of mobility cars, which is preventing


disabled people carrying out jobs they have secured. Does it make any


sense to put disabled people out of work in this way? There will be


debates on the budget and on any changes in the welfare system, but I


will remind him that it is important for government to ensure we provide


support with that is needed, when it is needed, but we also get the best


value for taxpayers money. Trees are important to us all, some might say


in transforming much of the hot air that we expend, but particularly


ancient trees are bio by the, and there are only 2% left in the


country. Bio diverse. Can we have a debate about the protection of


ancient woodland? We must protect ancient woodland and


also create woodlands for the future. One of the most exciting


developments over the last few years have been the Woodland Trust's plan


for new forests in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to


commemorate the centenary of the First World War by turning farmland


into a Forest that will be enjoyed by generations to come. My


honourable friend is right, we need to protect what we have got, but we


need to create the ancient woodlands of the future as well. I have yet to


hear a satisfactory response to previous pensions questions I have


asked. So it is no surprise that the government is trying to force


through operating regulations which will have a devastating impact on


fully paid-up UK pensioners living overseas. The government cannot keep


ignoring these groups of people who have done the right thing. Surely we


must have an urgent debate to allow this to be properly discussed. There


has just been a debate on the issue of women's pensions. But the


honourable lady does not accept is that we do not agree with her. My


view on the issue of women's pensions is that it is a difficult


one. Putting any transition in place is always difficult because someone


is always affected by the changes, but if we are to have an affordable


and fair pension system for the future, we have to put through some


of these changes and sometimes not make changes, even though people may


want them. Many of my constituents are concerned about post Office


plans to move their local branch, despite strong local objections.


Given that many such changes, good and bad, will be made by the Post


Office in constituencies across the country in the coming years, can we


have a debate on the post office's approach to its branch modernisation


programme and on its approach to consultation and taking into


consideration the views of local people? This is something that is


visible to members across the country. As my honourable friend


says, there has been a range of changes within the post office. I


would say that at least this is about upgrading post offices. We


have often battled to save post offices from closures. Now there is


an opportunity for them. We have seen sadly in the past, the


disappearance of many local bank branches. Of course, the post office


offers an alternative to many small businesses and I hope that will help


secure its future in many communities. This probably does not


need a debate, but this morning my question to DEFRA was


unceremoniously dumped by the department. Could the Leader of the


House looked at the possibility of ensuring that when such a thing


happens, that the department contact the table office rather than letting


them know by letter, which I only received yesterday? The honourable


lady once a statement on the matter. I am happy to give her a short one.


The question concerned was transferred between departments


because it was judged to be the best place for the question to be


answered. I have ensured that her question will be answered today. I


do think the department concerned did the right thing in telling her


that, but I will pass on the message that they might consider telling the


table office as well. Can we have a debate on inward investment? This


will give the House the opportunity to consider the announcements in the


past few days from Avon products, who intend to move their worldwide


headquarters from the United States of America to the UK, and from the


South African owned company who plan to create 6000 jobs in South Wales.


Those are two really good announcements which we welcome.


Given all the pressures in the steel industry, we want to see as many new


investments in Wales as possible. The honourable gentleman says it is


labour. Actually, it is because this government made the UK a strong


place for international businesses to invest. We also saw the decision


to build a new factory to build Aston Martin cars in south Wales. It


is reassuring to see that even in a difficult time internationally, the


UK is still seen as a strong place for international investment in the


long term. As of today, 78 members of this house, from seven parties


including the government party, have signed an EDM seeking to know a


statutory instrument freezing pensions. Regulations that deprive


overseas pensioners of blue uprating adjustment to their state pension


have been forced through this House without a debate. Will the


government hid the cross-party initiative to annul this revelation


and bring forward a debate urgently to assess the devastating impact


these changes will have on UK pensioners living abroad and perhaps


this time, he might answer the question. I have answered the


question. I have been the work and pensions minister and have looked at


this issue before. The government has no intention of changing the


current situation. The cost of doing so would be enormous and the


situation these pensioners face has been in place for decades. Horlick


nationwide Limited are a recruitment business in rugby who have developed


IT software to much HGV drivers with haulage contractors. Last year, the


NHS spent 3.3 billion on agency staff and ministers are working to


reduce this figure. The owner of Katmai College believes he can match


available medical staff with hospital trusts and has outed


talking to the NHS innovations team. May we have a debate to consider how


companies in the private sector can share innovative ideas with the


public sector? My honourable friend talks about what sounds like a very


interesting opportunity. One of the tragedies of the argument that comes


particularly from those benches about removing the private sector


from the NHS is that we would lose the opportunity to see that kind of


innovation. People in my constituency of Halifax are under


pressure and facing hospital reconfiguration. We understand that


pharmacies are facing a cut of 6%, which the government expects will


see up to 3000 closed nationally. Can we have a debate to discuss the


role of pharmacies, the role they play in alleviating the pressures on


GP surgeries and our A departments and how those pressures would get


worse if we saw up to 3000 closed nationwide? I know this is an issue


of concern. The government is sticking to ensure we use the money


we have as effectively as possible, that we are funding the right mix of


pharmacies. We want to see pharmacies in all those communities


where they are required. I have no doubt this will be brought before


the House in due course. The minister responsible, my honourable


friend for North East Bedfordshire, is sensitive to the concerns she has


raised and he will seek to do the right thing in making sure we have a


balance between spending money wisely and maintaining the right mix


of pharmacy services. Will the Leader of the House make time for a


debate on the effect of sodium valproate, a drug given to treat


epilepsy and other neurological conditions, but which has an impact


on unborn babies? My constituent is campaigning for years following the


birth of her two sons, who were affected by this drug, which is


still being prescribed today. This is obviously a difficult and


sensitive issue. I don't know enough about the drug, but I will make sure


the Health Secretary is aware of the concerns she has raised. He is here


next week and I would ask her to consider bringing it up with health


minister is then as well. I previously asked the Leader of the


House if this House would have a debate on the disproportionate size


of the House of Lords compared to the House of Commons, but it was


dismissed, so I will try again. Can we have a debate on the role of a


bicameral parliament in a representative moxie in the 21st


century in order to consider whether it is appropriate that more than


half of the members of the UK Parliament are appointed by the


Prime Minister, rather than elected by the people? Last week, I remember


that the party opposite were praising the House of Lords for one


of the votes they had passed through. Right now, this country has


greater priorities than sorting out changing and reforming the House of


Lords. The Leader of the House didn't and so one of the points


raised by the honourable member for Perth and North Perthshire. There is


an amendment on the order paper today timetabled by colleagues from


Berwick-upon-Tweed, asking as a Budget amendment to remove the


tampon tax. Will he support this in solidarity with members Brexit women


across the country? Of course, the imposition of VAT on women's


sanitary products is a matter for the European Commission. We have


made representations as a government and are expecting a response


shortly. I hope the commission will agree with every person in this


House that this tax is inappropriate. If no one has yet


done so, may I wish you, Mr Speaker, with a certain amount of Irish blood


in me, a happy St Patrick's Day to you and a whole House? Mr Speaker,


it is unacceptable that this government should choose to do


nothing, not even allow a debate on the hugely important issue of the


uprating regulations of state pensions. It will affect half a


million or more overseas pensioners and will lead to them having their


pensions frozen. The Leader of the House is aware that this is due in


to come into force while this House is in recess, and given the depth of


feeling across this House, surely this is an issue worthy of an urgent


debate? This issue has been considered many times over the


years. The government position on it has not changed. The First Minister


of Scotland is committed to not 95 or any other figure, but 100%


coverage for superfast broadband for Scotland. Given that the UK controls


the regulations over mobile signals, can we have a debate on how the UK


Government might achieve that for mobile signals across the UK? We are


working to achieve that and we are looking ahead to the reduction of


five GN this country. I wait with interest to see how successful the


First Minister of Scotland is, having made a substantial promise.


Some of her promises in the past have not come to fruition. This


House rightly celebrates community champions. One group organised a


lunch for disabled people who would otherwise have spent Christmas Day


on their own. Isolation affects millions. Can I ask if we can debate


this serious issue? It is clearly a big challenge for our society and


something that can only be dealt with in local communities and by the


kind of work he has described, which I praise. As he will know, I have


suggested to the backbench business community that they might set aside


a day for the whole House to debate the work of voluntary sector groups


that can make such a difference to people like those he describes.


Given the well-known views of the Leader of the House on matters


European, can I urge him to come to the aid of the thousands of UK


citizens living in the EU who face being deprived of their pension


upgrade, a move which is not even going to be discussed in this House?


And I urge him to overcome the European democratic deficit and


organise such a debate? That does not apply in the EU. On that same


theme, apart from the general unfairness of the frozen pensions,


analysis has shown that the frozen pensions prevent some pensioners


from emigrating and forces others to return to the country. So reversing


that would save money on health, welfare and housing, which should


appeal to the Leader of the House. Therefore, I will try again. Can we


have a debate on this? I am not of the view that government policy


should be about getting pensioners to move to other countries. The


Leader of the House wrote to me on the 24th of February in relation to


the issue of the pension fund of employees of the Commonwealth War


Graves Commission and said to me on the 24th of February that no


decision had been made. Yet on the 29th of February, ministers had said


a final decision was made in September. Could the Leader of the


House provide a statement as to why he gave such inaccurate information?


I would not have made that comment without having been told by the


Ministry of Defence that that was the case, so I will have to ask them


to respond to him. Order. Statement, the Secretary of State for Wales.


Secretary Stephen Crabb. I will make a statement on the publication of


the report of the mercury view. On the 5th of November 2012, the Prime


Minister announced the stubs of an independent review into the scope


and conduct of Sir Ronald Waterhouse inquiry into allegations of child


abuse in care homes include between 1974 and 1990. We are talking about


dark and shameful events that are stain on our nation. These were


children in the care of the state because they were vulnerable and the


state let them down. Our first thought will always be the


victims, supporting them in bringing the perpetrators to justice. A




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