Business Questions 28 June 2018

Posted on June 28th, 2018

I raised with the Leader of the House, that the Government seems to be too busy fighting among themselves to fight for this country. We have the Defence Secretary at loggerheads with the Chancellor, who has had to concede to the Health Secretary, promising money that the Chancellor said he did not have. The Chief Secretary to the Treasury has said that the Environment Secretary is talking nonsense, and the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union has apparently pulled a white rabbit out of a hat, rather than a White Paper. The Leader of the House has also joined in, saying that the Environment Secretary and the Trade Secretary are tearing to shreds the Prime Minister’s preferred option for the customs partnership. There’s loyalty for you.

 

You can read me speech in full below:

 

I thank the Leader of the House for announcing the business; we are back to a week and a day.

 

When the Leader of the House tables a change in Standing Orders, will she give the Opposition sight of the motion? We did not have that when there was a change from three to five days in the estimates motion. There was no prior discussion through the Whips Office or the usual channels. Can she let us know the reasons behind the change?

 

May I also pick up on what the Leader of the House said about me a couple of weeks ago? She said I was not “fulfilling the democratic will of the people of Walsall.” My constituency may have voted to leave, but one ward voted to remain and my job—and the job of all Members—is to balance the 48% and the 52%. Our duty is to act in the best interests of all our constituents and the whole of the UK. We have to hear the evidence on the impact. Perhaps she will rephrase that and wait for the Electoral Commission report on the leave campaign during the referendum. I am sure she will find time to debate that report in Government time and, in the meantime, join me in congratulating the excellent journalist Carole Cadwalladr in winning the George Orwell prize for her investigative work with the whistleblower Christopher Wylie, which resulted in an apology from Facebook and the collapse of Cambridge Analytica because they misused personal data.

 

Saturday is the International Day of Parliamentarism—I think that is how it is pronounced—a new day that was agreed by the United Nations, which adopted a resolution on the interaction between the UN, national Parliaments and the Inter-Parliamentary Union. Of course, this Government voted down the fact that Parliament is sovereign last week. They do not want to give Parliament a final say. The Leader of the House will know that that had nothing to do with the negotiations; all that Parliament wanted was to be sovereign and to have a final say on the terms of the deal.

 

We need that final say because the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union first told us that there were no sectoral analyses, then, after pressure from the Opposition, he published them. He then said that there was no preliminary analysis on our exiting EU; then he published it. Now he says that there is a White Paper, but it is apparently written in invisible ink. We need to know when it will be published. Will the Leader of the House tell us when that will happen? Will she also tell us whether the Trade Bill and the Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Bill will return before the recess? They seem to be stuck in a legislative logjam, and we do not appear to have anything to do after 9 July. Will she table the next stages of those Bills?

 

How do we mark Armed Forces Day on Saturday? The Opposition Labour party has called for proper investment in our armed forces so that the UK can retain its rightful place as a tier 1 military nation, and I am pleased to see that the Defence Secretary has now joined us in making that call. Will the Leader of the House tell us when the Government will make time for a statement on restoring our armed forces to a tier 1 military nation?

 

It was Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Day yesterday. We have heard what the Foreign Secretary thinks of business, and the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care joined in last Sunday. The Tory leader in Wales has had to resign over his anti-business comments. Business leaders have rightly raised their concerns, in a measured way, about what they are going to do to plan for their workforce and for their companies. And, as if to underline the Government’s anti-business credentials, they have now turned off the switch on the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon. This seems to be an anti-business, anti-innovative Government.

 

The Leader of the House has announced an estimates day on the NHS. When can we have a debate on Torbay—another council that is about to collapse? It was a pioneer in integrated care. As a member of the Health Committee, I visited Torbay, where I saw an integrated service that tracked “Mrs Smith” from the start of the process in social care, through the NHS and back out again. They told us that, when the Health and Social Care Bill became an Act, they would not be able to pool the budgets. When we went to Denmark, they wanted to look at our system. They looked at Torbay and reminded us about “Mrs Smith”.

 

The Government seem to be too busy fighting among themselves to fight for this country. We have the Defence Secretary at loggerheads with the Chancellor, who has had to concede to the Health Secretary, promising money that the Chancellor said he did not have. The Chief Secretary to the Treasury has said that the Environment Secretary is talking nonsense, and the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union has apparently pulled a white rabbit out of a hat, rather than a White Paper. The Leader of the House has also joined in, saying that the Environment Secretary and the Trade Secretary are tearing to shreds the Prime Minister’s preferred option for the customs partnership. There’s loyalty for you.

 

I want to join the Leader of the House in talking about some positive aspects. My hon. Friend the Member for Torfaen (Nick Thomas-Symonds) is having a discussion on the political life of Nye Bevan. He will be speaking on the NHS in the Macmillan Room on Wednesday and, with your kind permission, Mr Speaker, hosting a reception in Speaker’s House. I also want to celebrate 200 years of the Library, which is absolutely fantastic. Again thanks to you, Mr Speaker, there will be a reception in Speaker’s House. I want to join you and the Leader of the House in thanking Melanie Unwin and Mari Takayanagi, who have taken four years to curate the “Voice and Vote” exhibition in Westminster Hall. I, too, encourage all Members and their constituents to visit that fantastic exhibition.