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Police Reform

1.30 pm

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mrs Theresa May): With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a statement about our ongoing work to ensure the highest standards of integrity in the police. I have always been clear that I believe the vast majority of police officers in this country do their job honestly and with integrity. They fight crime in our villages, towns and cities; they deal with dangerous criminals; they strive to protect the vulnerable and keep our streets safe; and they have shown that they can cut crime even as we cut spending. Under this Government, crime is down by more than 10% since the election, proving that it is possible to do more with less. But as I have said before, the good work of the majority threatens to be damaged by a continuing series of events and revelations relating to police conduct.

That is why, over the past 18 months, the Government have been implementing a series of changes to improve standards of police integrity: the College of Policing has published a new code of ethics, which makes clear the high standards of behaviour expected from all police officers; a national list of chief officers’ pay and rewards, gifts and hospitality is now published online, and the final list of business interests will be published for the first time later this summer; a national register of officers struck off from the police has been produced and made available to vetting and anti-corruption officers in police forces; the Government will legislate later this year to ensure that officers cannot resign or retire to avoid dismissal in misconduct hearings; and we have beefed up the Independent Police Complaints Commission, so that in future it can take on all serious and sensitive cases involving the police. In addition to those specific measures, many of our other police reforms—the creation of the College of Policing; having direct entry into the senior ranks; the election of police and crime commissioners; and the changes to Her Majesty’s inspectorate of constabulary —will make a positive difference when it comes to police integrity.

Since I began the Government’s programme of work to improve public confidence in the police, further events and revelations have reinforced the need for reform: we have had reports on the misuse of stop and search, and the poor police response to domestic violence; we have had the findings of the Ellison review, which examined allegations of corruption during the initial, deeply flawed investigation of the murder of Stephen Lawrence; and we have had Sir David Normington’s review of the Police Federation, which recommended change from “top to bottom”.

The measures we have introduced are vital, but we cannot stop there, and so I want to tell the House about my plans for further change. I want to open up policing to the brightest and best recruits. The Government have already introduced direct entry to open up the senior ranks of the police and bring in people with new perspectives and expertise. In London, the Metropolitan police received 595 applications for between five and 10 direct-entry superintendent posts; 26% of the applicants were from a black or minority ethnic background—this compares with 8.6% of traditional recruits—and 27% were female. In addition, using seed funding that I announced at the Police Federation conference in May,

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the Metropolitan police is setting up Police Now, the policing equivalent of Teach First, which will attract the brightest graduates into policing. But I want to go further. The College of Policing will undertake a fundamental review of police leadership, which will look at how we can go further and faster with direct entry; how we can encourage officers to gain experience outside policing before returning later in life; and how we can open up the senior ranks to candidates from different backgrounds. The review will start immediately.

In addition to those reforms, I want to ensure that the systems and processes that deal with misconduct by police officers are robust. That means where there are cases of wrongdoing, they must be dealt with effectively and, where necessary, appropriate disciplinary action must be taken. In March, I announced I would be creating a new offence of police corruption through the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill, but that alone is not enough. The police disciplinary system is complex. It has developed organically rather than been structured to fit its purpose. It lacks transparency for the public, it is bureaucratic and it lacks independence, so today I can tell the House that we will be reviewing the whole police disciplinary system from beginning to end. This review will be chaired by Major-General Clive Chapman, an experienced, independent and respected former Army officer, and I want it to draw on best practice from the private and public sectors. I have asked Major-General Chapman to look for ways to ensure that the disciplinary system is clearer, more independent and public-focused. I intend to consult publicly on the policies that emerge from the review later this year. In addition to the review, I want to make some specific changes to the police disciplinary system. In particular, I want to hold disciplinary hearings in public to improve transparency and justice, and I will launch a public consultation on these proposals later this year.

In my statement on the Ellison review on 6 March, I said I would return to the House with proposals to strengthen protections for police whistleblowers. Police officers and staff need to know that they can come forward in complete confidence to report wrongdoing by their colleagues, so the Government will create a single national policy for police forces on whistleblowing to replace the current patchwork approach. This will set out the best principles and practices on whistleblowing, and ensure consistency of approach across all forces. Following the publication of HMIC’s integrity inspection, I am prepared to consider putting the whistleblowers’ code on a statutory basis. We will also require forces to publish more information on the number of conduct issues raised by officers and the action taken as a result. From 2015 onwards, the Home Office will collect and publish data about conduct and complaints brought by police officers and police staff about their colleagues, but I still want to go further. In the autumn, I will launch a public consultation on police whistleblowing. The consultation will look at a range of new proposals to protect police whistleblowers. For example, I want to consider how we can introduce sealed investigations—these prevent both the force and suspects from learning that an investigation is taking place—into serious misconduct and corruption by police officers.

I also want to take an in-depth look at the police complaints system. Last year, I announced reforms to the IPCC to ensure that all serious and sensitive cases

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are dealt with by the IPCC. That included the transfer of resources from the police to the IPCC and measures to ensure that the IPCC has the right capacity to deal with demand. As I told the College of Policing conference in October, this work is on track and the IPCC will begin to take on additional cases this year, but now is the time to build on those reforms. Public satisfaction surveys on the handling of complaints show that satisfaction levels remain consistently low. According to the crime survey for England and Wales, fewer than a quarter of those who complain to the police are satisfied with the outcome of their complaint. The overall number of complaints being handled independently is still far too low. This year, a review undertaken by Deborah Glass, the former deputy chair of the IPCC, found that 94% of cases referred to the IPCC in 2012 were referred back to be dealt with by the police.

Police and crime commissioners are locally developing new and innovative approaches to police complaints. In Thames Valley, Anthony Stansfeld has announced a complaints, integrity and ethics committee to provide scrutiny of how the force handles complaints. In Greater Manchester, Tony Lloyd has appointed an independent complaints ombudsman to resolve complaints before they become part of the complaints system. We need the police complaints system to keep up with the changes we have seen in police structures, to reflect the changes made locally by PCCs and chief constables, and to meet public expectations. So today I will launch a review of the entire police complaints system, including the role, powers and funding of the IPCC and the local role played by PCCs. The review will look at the complaints system from end to end, examining the process every step of the way and for all complaints, from the most minor to the most serious. The review will commence immediately and conclude in the autumn this year. It will include a public consultation on proposals for a system that is more independent of the police, easier for the public to follow and more focused on resolving complaints locally, and that has a simpler system of appeals.

The measures I have announced today will ensure that we are able to examine the entire approach to cases of misconduct, improper behaviour and corruption, but in working to ensure the highest standards of police integrity, I want to leave no stone unturned. This year, I commissioned HMIC to carry out a review of anti-corruption capability in police forces. HMIC is also carrying out an inspection of police integrity as part of its planned programme of inspections for 2014-15. In addition, I have agreed with the chief inspector that HMIC’s new programme of annual inspections of all police forces, which will begin later this year, will look at not only a force’s effectiveness and efficiency but its legitimacy in the eyes of the public. Every annual inspection will therefore include an examination of whether each force’s officers and staff act with integrity.

Taken together, these measures represent a substantial overhaul of the systems that hold police officers to account. They will build on our radical programme of police reform, and they will help to ensure that police honesty and integrity are protected, and that corruption and misconduct are rooted out. That is what the public and the many thousands of decent, dedicated and hard-working police officers of this country deserve. I commend this statement to the House.

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1.40 pm

Yvette Cooper (Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford) (Lab): I thank the Home Secretary for sight of her statement. Our long British tradition of policing by consent depends on our maintaining and ensuring the very highest standards of integrity and professionalism in British policing. The international reputation of our police is high. We know about the bravery and integrity of many officers across the country, but we also know that when policing goes wrong, it can cast a deep shadow over all that excellent work and undermine consent and confidence, too. That is why we have called for much stronger action on standards in policing. Lord Stevens is leading a major independent commission on the future of policing, which recommends radical reform. The reforms include: a new stronger police standards authority, replacing the Independent Police Complaints Commission and the Her Majesty’s inspectorate of constabulary, with the power to launch investigations without referral and make sure that lessons are learned; chartered registration for every police officer; the ability to strike officers off the register; high professional and ethical standards against which officers must be measured throughout their career; public misconduct hearings; and a new Police First scheme to bring bright graduates, especially from technology backgrounds, into policing and many further reforms.

Today the Home Secretary has announced not strong reforms but a series of reviews—three reviews and one consultation. Many are welcome as far as they go. We welcome stronger action on whistleblowers, with greater protection for whistleblowers and transparency for the public. We welcome more support for police leadership, although she will be aware that when West Yorkshire tried her existing proposals on direct entry, none of the dozens of people who applied met the right standards. We agree that the complaints procedure and disciplinary system need to be reformed because they are not working, but these reviews just do not go far enough. Why not get on with it and introduce a proper register of chartered police officers? I am glad that she has agreed with our call for public disciplinary hearings, but, again, why not get on with disciplinary reform and hand it over to the College of Policing, giving it the power to hold public hearings and to strike people off? Why waste time on piecemeal reforms of the IPCC and the complaints procedure, when the truth is that they need to be replaced?

We have repeatedly called on the Home Secretary to replace the IPCC. The IPCC is supposed to be able to deal with things that go wrong in policing. It is better than the Police Complaints Authority that it replaced, but it has failed in its remit because it lacks the powers, capacity and credibility it needs. It failed on Ian Tomlinson. It failed on the Stephen Lawrence case and had to apologise to the family as a result. It failed to set out the clear lessons to be learned from a series of death in custody cases, including the Camm case in West Yorkshire. It has failed to deal with the problems from plebgate, and is still failing even to make a decision on whether to investigate what happened at Orgreave more than 12 months after a complaint was raised. How many reviews does she need to tell her that this system is not working? If she answers only one of my questions today, will she explain why she will not just admit that the IPCC is failing and needs to be replaced by a much stronger body?

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The one thing that the Home Secretary is not reviewing that she should be is her flagship policing reform of police and crime commissioners. She spent £100 million—enough for several thousand constables—on elections in November, and only 15% of voters turned out. Now she is about to spend nearly £4 million of taxpayers’ money on a by-election in the middle of August. What will the turnout be then? How low will turnouts have to fall before she admits that she got those flagship police reforms wrong?

The Home Secretary also claimed that her other policing reforms were working, but the HMIC has today admitted that neighbourhood policing is now being eroded. Prosecutions and convictions are falling for violent crime, rape, domestic violence and child sex offences—even though all those offences are going up. There were 7,000 more violent crimes last year, but 7,000 fewer people were convicted of violent offences. She is failing to reform the police to deal with new and growing crimes. There has been too little action on online fraud, which is growing exponentially. On online child abuse, the National Crime Agency has details of more than 10,000 suspects, but it has no plans to investigate them all, to arrest them or to bar them from working with children because it admits that it does not have the capacity and systems in place to cope.

In the face of those challenges, what are the Home Secretary’s police reforms? The answer is lots more reviews. I am glad that she is moving in the direction that we called for and we are keen to work with her if she will agree now to go much further, but so far we have standards that are not high enough; enforcement that is not strong enough; police and crime commissioners no one wants to vote for; fewer police on the beat; fewer criminals being caught; and less justice for victims. The Home Secretary’s reviews are too little and too late. We will work with her if she goes further. We need not just reviews but reforms that work.

Mrs May: Yet again, the shadow Home Secretary has given us a completely confused response on Labour’s policy on a whole range of issues. Let me touch on some of the specifics that she mentioned. She asked why we do not have a register of police officers, but I have to say to her that the Labour party was in Government for 13 years, and if it thought that that was so important, why did it not do something about it? It did not even do anything about the police officers who were struck off and who, once they had departed one particular police force, were able to join another. We have introduced the register of struck-off police officers, so, unlike Labour, we are taking action.

The shadow Home Secretary talked about Labour’s proposal to merge the inspectorate of constabulary with the IPCC. I have to say that that would be a profound mistake. The inspectorate under this Government has become more independent of the police and of the Government. It has delivered hard-hitting reports on stop and search, the recording of crime statistics and domestic violence. Later this year, it will publish, for the first time, annual inspection reports of every constabulary in the country so the public can understand how their local police force is performing. Only today we have seen one of the most transparent and fair reports ever published by HMIC, so we should not be taking any risks in abolishing the inspectorate. Of course we do need to look at police complaints and the role of the

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IPCC, which is why I have just announced a consultation on changing the whole system of police complaints from end to end—from minor complaints to the most serious. It is a sensitive matter, which is why we will consult on it properly and get the policy right rather than jumping to some risky merger of HMIC and the IPCC, as Labour has proposed.

The right hon. Lady also mentioned the matter of the police and crime commissioners and the by-election for the PCC in the west midlands. Labour has been in Opposition for more than four years. There is less than a year to go before the general election, and she cannot even make up her mind about whether or not she supports the idea of police and crime commissioners. On the one hand, she tells us that Labour is happy to have police and crime commissioners, but on the other she says that they were not a very good idea. She really needs to make up her mind as to whether or not Labour supports police and crime commissioners. Somehow, among all this, she seems to be making the point that with the reviews and consultations that I have announced, there is not enough action on police reform. Again, I wish she would make up her mind. Does she or does she not want police reform? I remember the days when she called police cuts and police reform “the perfect storm”. If what she says amounts to a genuine conversion to the ranks of those who believe in police reform, I welcome her belated conversion.

The right hon. Lady also refers to the inspectorate of constabulary’s report. I do not know whether she has read today’s report, but the lesson is perfectly clear: police reform is working and crime is falling. The police are leading the way across the public sector by demonstrating, whatever the Labour party says, that it is possible to do more with less.

Let me quote what the inspector of constabulary says about police cuts:

“Police forces in England and Wales are to be congratulated. The vast majority have risen to and met the considerable challenge of austerity, with plans in place to save over £2.5 billion over the last four years—while protecting the front line as best they can and making sure that the public still receive an effective service.”

Yet again on that issue, as on so many such as police and crime commissioners and police reform, what we hear from the shadow Home Secretary is nothing more than confusion and chaos. She needs to get her story straight about whether she, like me, wants to build on the excellent police that we have in this country and to ensure that we give them the support that they need to carry on doing an effective job of cutting crime day in and day out.

Damian Green (Ashford) (Con): Does my right hon. Friend agree that the underlying key to the many welcome and necessary reforms she has announced today is a culture change, symbolised by the individual assent of every police officer to the new code of ethics so that the high standards that the vast majority of police meet day in, day out will be met by every serving officer?

Mrs May: I thank my right hon. Friend for his observation, and may I also take this opportunity to thank and commend him for the work he did in the Home Office as both Immigration Minister and, latterly, as Policing Minister, while also being a criminal justice Minister. He is absolutely right. The code of ethics from the College of Policing is a very important step forward

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and it is about exactly what he says: ensuring that the high standards of honesty and integrity that we see from the vast majority of officers apply to every officer.

Keith Vaz (Leicester East) (Lab): I welcome the Home Secretary’s statement, which is very much in keeping with the recommendations made by the Select Committee over a number of years. Through her, may I welcome the new Minister for Policing, Criminal Justice and Victims to his Front-Bench post? The Committee considered the case of the right hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr Mitchell), a 30-second incident that has so far cost £271,000. If her proposed reforms had been in place, would that have meant that that case, for example, would been dealt with in a different way? Does she accept the basic principle that whether a case is serious or minor the police should never be left to investigate matters themselves without proper oversight?

Mrs May: I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his question. He refers, of course, to a case that involved not just misconduct hearings inside the police but the Crown Prosecution Service considering the potential for charges and criminal investigation. Of course, the changes I have announced would make no difference to any criminal investigations, but if misconduct hearings were to be heard in public, that would make a difference. As for his last point about the importance of ensuring that people can have confidence that complaints and misconduct issues are being dealt with properly, that absolutely underpins the reforms.

Dr Julian Huppert (Cambridge) (LD): The Home Secretary is absolutely right to praise the work of the vast majority of police forces, but also right to highlight the need for public confidence and to make sure that the few rogue police officers do not do down all the others. May I press her on one particular point? She said that police officers would not be able to retire in order to avoid misconduct hearings. Will that have any application to the wide number of ongoing historic inquiries? Will retired police officers be required to come and say what they know?

Mrs May: It is important that we do this because one concern that the public had was that they had seen police officers who were under suspicion or potentially subject to misconduct hearings being able to retire or resign and those misconduct hearings were stopped. We have been very clear that in those circumstances, misconduct hearings should continue and if an officer would have been struck off, they should go on the list so that they will not be employed by another force. The measure I have announced is part of ensuring that that can take place. We have also, of course, taken some action on the IPCC’s powers for people to attend interviews. The question of what is said when someone attends an interview is another issue, but we have already taken some steps as regards these historic cases.

Thomas Docherty (Dunfermline and West Fife) (Lab): Last night, the hon. Member for Wealden (Charles Hendry) had a very thoughtful Adjournment debate, responded to by the Minister for Policing, Criminal Justice and Victims, about a case in Sussex. One of the

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points the hon. Gentleman made was that the family of a road traffic victim had lost confidence in Sussex police, who were trying to investigate one of their own officers. Does the Home Secretary feel that there is merit in reconsidering whether other police forces should be asked to lead on the investigation when off-duty officers are involved?

Mrs May: I note the hon. Gentleman’s point and I understand that the case considered in last night’s Adjournment debate went before the courts and the individual concerned was found not guilty by the court—[Interruption.] I understand the point he is making about the question of the police investigating the police. One of the issues when the complaints system is considered will be the question of public concern about the police investigating the police. Obviously, the issue to which he refers involved a criminal investigation that was taken before the courts.

Sir Tony Baldry (Banbury) (Con): It must be a matter of public policy that any public servant should be allowed to raise concerns about criminal or other wrongdoing in public institutions without feeling that they might be sanctioned or subject to disciplinary proceedings, so may I urge my right hon. Friend to consider putting the whistleblower’s code on a statutory footing not just for the police force but across Government? If it is on a statutory footing, the whole House and the whole of Parliament can come to a view about what we believe should be the effective protections for anyone whistleblowing in the public sector.

Mrs May: My right hon. Friend makes an important point. As I said in my statement, I shall certainly consider putting it on a statutory footing. I recognise his point about the ability of Parliament to consider the issue, but HMIC is carrying out an integrity inspection and I shall consider again the matter of whether whistleblowing should have a statutory basis after it has published its report.

Julie Hilling (Bolton West) (Lab): The major complaints I get in Bolton West are about the slowness of or lack of response from the police, and police officers tell me that the reduction in the number of back-room staff and officers is affecting their ability to respond. What will the Home Secretary do about that?

Mrs May: I suggest that the hon. Lady looks very carefully at the comments that have been made by the inspectorate of constabulary. It is absolutely clear about how police forces up and down the country have been protecting front-line responsibilities and services despite the fact that they have been dealing with cuts.

Nick Herbert (Arundel and South Downs) (Con): I strongly welcome my right hon. Friend’s statement and her indication that police reform will continue and is unfinished business. Is it not the case that the series of extremely problematic incidents that have confronted the British police over the past few years reveal that there are issues of culture and leadership that must now be addressed, and that that is an important role both of the College of Policing, which needs a higher profile, and of the direct-entry reforms that she is proposing?

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Mrs May: My right hon. Friend makes a number of very important points. May I say how important his thoughtful contribution on police reform, which he developed in opposition and then brought into government as Policing Minister, was in ensuring that we set off on this process of police reform and made some of the major changes that have made a difference? There is an issue with culture and leadership and the College of Policing will take up the question of leadership in the work it is now doing. The college is establishing itself and I think it is doing an excellent job. We should all be out there reminding people of the important role this new body is playing.

Mr Gareth Thomas (Harrow West) (Lab/Co-op): My right hon. Friend the Member for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford (Yvette Cooper) rightly drew attention to the chief inspector of constabulary’s comments about seeing evidence of the erosion of neighbourhood policing. How does the Home Secretary think that the reviews and consultation she has announced might reverse the loss of 100-plus officers in Harrow since she entered the Home Office?

Mrs May: Yet again, I refer to my quotation from the inspectorate of constabulary’s report. It is very clear about the work that has been done by forces up and down the country to protect front-line services that are being provided to the public. As the hon. Gentleman will know, the Metropolitan police are in the business of recruiting more officers.

Mr Philip Hollobone (Kettering) (Con): I think that the police are doing a fantastic job. Crime is down 10% and 40 of the 43 police forces have been outstanding in how they have managed their budgetary constraints. I declare my interest as a special constable with the British Transport police. All British Transport police officers on the London underground are constantly monitored by CCTV on all platforms, and they know that if they do something wrong it will be recorded. May I encourage the Home Secretary to encourage those forces that are above ground to give every police officer a camera on their police vest? That can minimise the number of complaints that are made and provide perfect evidence to correct any anomalies.

Mrs May: My hon. Friend makes an important point and I thank him for his work as a special constable with the BTP. Let me also record the fact that alongside police officers and staff, police community support officers and specials have also contributed to the fall in crime that has taken place across the country.

Body-worn video cameras are very important to ensure that evidence is collected properly. In certain circumstances, such as domestic violence, that can be particularly important. They are also important for the police officer because they can protect them when complaints are made about their behaviour.

Barry Gardiner (Brent North) (Lab): Many of my constituents will welcome the Home Secretary’s recognition of the reports of misuse of the stop-and-search powers. She will know that in London, fewer than one in five stops results in an arrest and many fewer than that go on to a successful prosecution. May I echo the remarks of the hon. Member for Kettering (Mr Hollobone) about

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the importance of cameras worn on uniforms? The pilot in London is proving successful. Will she roll it out across the rest of the country?

Mrs May: The pilot in London is proving successful, as have pilots elsewhere. Other forces such as Hampshire have already looked at the option of body-worn video cameras. As a Government, we certainly think that to introduce them would be a good move. It is an operational decision for chief constables to take, but I am pleased to say that a number of bids to the new police innovation fund have been precisely about new technology such as body-worn video cameras.

I commend the Met for looking at how it conducts stops and searches. It has changed its practice to make it more targeted and focused, and results have been better following that. It has signed up to the voluntary code that the Government have introduced, as have other forces.

Ben Gummer (Ipswich) (Con): My right hon. Friend has been immensely brave in addressing the culture change that is required to restore public confidence in the police. I wonder whether, as part of her review, she could look at something that politicians heretofore have been rather nervous about touching, which is the relationship between the press and the police. Too often, unauthorised contacts, in transactions for cash or not, have meant that people have been tried by the public before they are brought before the courts, even if they are not brought before the courts. It is an important matter that should be looked at in detail.

Mrs May: My hon. Friend raises an important issue. Given some of the instances that we have seen of reporting in the press, I recognise the comment that he makes. We have made a number of moves on this already. Some came out of the Leveson inquiry, but I had already looked at this issue, in particular better accountability within police forces for the relationships that officers have with the media. I am pleased to say that forces have adopted new guidance for their officers on when it is appropriate for them to deal with the media and when it is not.

Mr Peter Bone (Wellingborough) (Con): Most police officers have the highest integrity, but there are a few crooks within the police force. When someone complains about a police force in which they have completely lost faith, and the complaint is taken up by the IPCC, they are surprised that the complaint is referred back to the same force. I welcome the Home Secretary’s review, but it is an important issue that has to be tackled.

Mrs May: I recognise that point. Many members of the public, whether they have made a complaint or not, are concerned about the fact that so much is referred back to the force that the complaint has been made against. We have already started the transfer of serious and sensitive cases from a force to the IPCC and have moved resources to the IPCC for that. The first cases will be heard by the IPCC this year. The review of complaints from end to end will also look at other types of complaints to ensure that at every stage the public can genuinely have confidence that a complaint against the police is taken seriously.

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Nick de Bois (Enfield North) (Con): The Home Secretary has said that the measures represent a substantial overhaul of systems that hold police officers to account. Does she agree that the processes that will be used to implement the changes must not create a culture in which all police officers feel that they have been in dereliction of their duty, since so many of them work to the highest standards?

Mrs May: I agree with my hon. Friend. This is always one of the difficulties in talking about this subject. As I said in my statement, and have repeated, the vast majority of police officers work with honesty and integrity, doing the best job that they can day in, day out, but sadly some do not operate with that same honesty and integrity, and of course their bad name tends to taint the names of other officers. We cannot repeat often enough that the vast majority of officers do their job with honesty and integrity. I hope that the code of ethics that the College of Policing is introducing will ensure that high standards of ethics are observed by every police officer.

Mark Pritchard (The Wrekin) (Con): I am wowed by the Home Secretary’s statement. The potential is huge for real police reform over the coming months and years. It is good news for honest police officers and for the public. Will my right hon. Friend consider allowing complainants and defendants to record interviews or statements given in police stations so that they can take away their own record of their dialogue with the police, not just rely on the police record?

Mr Speaker: I think the hon. Gentleman has established a first. The Clerk Assistant tells me he has never seen the word “wowed” appear in Hansardin that context. It is good to know what the hon. Gentleman looks and sounds like when he is wowed.

Mrs May: I thank my hon. Friend for his comments on the changes that we are introducing. I will take away the point that he has made about defendants and interviews. He will have noted that the Attorney-General is on the Front Bench as well, and will have noted that issue.

Bob Stewart (Beckenham) (Con): Superintendents have huge responsibilities—professional responsibilities, and a requirement to lead. Direct entrants, who are possible future superintendents, will require quite a long period of training. How long might that training period be?

Mrs May: My hon. Friend makes an important point about the need for training. We have been clear that direct entrants need to have a period of training. The College of Policing has developed such training, which lasts 18 months. I am pleased to see that one of the side benefits of direct entry is that the training of direct entrants will be looked at in conjunction with that of officers who are promoted to superintendent levels through the police force. This is welcomed by the Police Superintendents Association of England and Wales.

John Howell (Henley) (Con): I am glad that the Home Secretary is tackling the issue of complaints, and I welcome the consultation. I do not want her to prejudge the consultation, but how difficult will it be to get the police complaints system to take on board imaginative schemes such as that of Anthony Stansfeld?

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Mrs May: My hon. Friend raises an interesting aspect. I hope that, by saying that we intend to look at the complaints system from end to end, we will inspire people to think innovatively and creatively. He mentions the work of the police and crime commissioner that he and I share—we both have constituencies in Thames Valley. I also mentioned Tony Lloyd’s work in Greater Manchester. Other PCCs have been looking at what they should do in relation to complaints. This is an opportunity to ensure that we have a system across the country in which people can have confidence, not a piecemeal system.

Jackie Doyle-Price (Thurrock) (Con): May I encourage my right hon. Friend to do as much as she can to inject independence into complaints management much earlier in the process? Professional standards units in police forces have a conflict of interest. They need to protect their own as well as to investigate complaints. Does she agree that PCCs now provide an opportunity to inject that independence much earlier in the process?

Mrs May: Yes. I will certainly reflect on the timing issue that my hon. Friend has raised. It is important. It is all part of the process of ensuring that there is a complaints systems that people feel operates properly and effectively and in which they can have confidence. We want people to know that if they have a genuine complaint about the police, it will be dealt with seriously and something will be done about it.

Bob Blackman (Harrow East) (Con): Although I recognise and understand the value of opening up the recruitment process for senior ranks to outsiders, does my right hon. Friend agree that this should add value to the police, rather than diminish and denude the ability of officers to rise from the ranks to the most senior positions and use the value of the experience they have gained for the benefit of the whole country?

Mrs May: Yes, absolutely, and we want to see a mix of people at those superintending ranks, both people who have come in directly and people who have come through the force and are able to use their experience in the force. I think this reform is important in opening up the police to different experiences, to different skill sets and to different expertise, and I think that greater diversity of expertise in policing will be of benefit to policing.

Andrew Stephenson (Pendle) (Con): One of the biggest challenges that our police forces face is cybercrime, which will mean that we need some police officers with a skill set totally different from that required in the past. How will the Home Secretary’s reforms, such as direct entry, help our police to meet the challenges posed by these new forms of crime?

Mrs May: My hon. Friend makes a good point, because of course, with direct entry, it will be possible for people who have very particular areas of expertise to come into policing. However, we are also doing some other things to tackle cybercrime. The new national cybercrime unit, which has been set up in the National Crime Agency, is an important part of this process, and the National Crime Agency is looking at some innovative thinking of what I might call professional specialists, in

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the sense of specials who have a very particular area of expertise, such as in forensic accounting or in cyber, who potentially could be attached to the NCA and could be an extra-valuable resource for them.

Mr Speaker: I am most grateful to the Home Secretary and to colleagues.

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Points of Order

2.11 pm

Mr Peter Bone (Wellingborough) (Con): On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I wonder whether you could give me some advice. I have a constituent who applied for a passport eight weeks ago and is travelling on Monday. My office tried to contact the Home Office’s hotline. My staff got through but were told that because of data protection the hotline staff could not discuss the case. I rang back, and they certainly spoke to me, and they then told me that yes, the application is in the Liverpool office and has not been looked at. But this is only a replacement passport, not a new one. My constituents tried to get an appointment to be fast-tracked; they were willing to drive to Liverpool for it. There are no appointments available. My constituents want me to find out what action I can take, Sir, to sort this out.

Mr Speaker: I do not think the timing of the raising of this point of order is accidental. Sadly, as the hon. Gentleman knows, I myself can provide him no salvation, but it may be that help is at hand. Home Secretary.

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mrs Theresa May): Thank you, Mr Speaker. If my hon. Friend passes the details of that constituent to either myself or the immigration Minister, we will ensure that the issue is taken up. Of course, as I indicated to the House in June when I made a statement about the Passport Office, we have opened up the possibility of a free upgrade for individuals whose passport has been waiting more than three weeks and who have an urgent need to travel, so we will take that case up.

Mr Speaker: I hope that is helpful.

Yvette Cooper (Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford) (Lab): Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. Many Members across the House may have experienced what I have experienced, certainly in my constituency office, which is an increase in the number of cases of people being concerned about passport delays and struggling to get their passports in time. Would the Home Secretary agree to publish weekly figures about the detail of the backlog in the passport agency, so that we can tell whether her reforms are actually working?

Mr Speaker: The natural spirit of last-day generosity has been very fully exploited by the shadow Home Secretary. That is not a matter for the Chair. However, the point has been made with some force and it is open to the Home Secretary to respond if she wishes.

Mrs May indicated dissent.

Mr Speaker: But I think we will have to leave it there on that matter for now.

Mr Gareth Thomas (Harrow West) (Lab/Co-op): On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Ministers had, by this morning, still not confirmed that this House would be able to scrutinise the British nominee to the next European Commission, the noble Lord Hill, before the European Parliament does so in September. That would be an EU reform that the Prime Minister would not need any

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other country to agree to. I wondered whether you had had any confirmation of such a process being allowed in future?

Mr Speaker: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman both for his point of order and for his courtesy in giving me advance notice of it. The hon. Gentleman will know well that the matter of pre-appointment hearings for ministerial nominees to various public offices is what I think I can best describe as a developing area of parliamentary scrutiny. There have been many exchanges between the Liaison Committee and the Government on this matter. No doubt those exchanges will continue, but it is not a matter for the Chair in the House; nor am I in a position to offer the hon. Gentleman any information beyond that which he already possesses.

That said, if the hon. Gentleman happens to have some spare time and would care to read my Michael Ryle memorial lecture, which now features on the parliamentary website and which I delivered, if memory serves me correctly, at the end of June in Speaker’s House, he might find it a satisfying read. What is for sure is that he will find that I do myself have some views on that matter. We will leave it there for now.

If there are no further points of order, we come to the ten-minute rule motion.

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Child Benefit Entitlement (Disqualification of Non-UK EU Nationals)

Motion for leave to bring in a Bill (Standing Order No. 23)

2.15 pm

Mr Philip Hollobone (Kettering) (Con): I beg to move,

That leave be given to bring in a Bill to disqualify non-UK citizens from the European Union from entitlement to child benefit; and for connected purposes.

Mr Speaker, may I first thank you for giving me permission to move the motion? The purpose of the Bill, were it granted by the House, would be to end the absurd anomaly whereby any EU national can come to this country to work, leaving their children behind in their country of origin, and then British taxpayers pay child benefit to those children. I think that is wrong, the Prime Minister thinks it is wrong, most of the people in this country think it is wrong, and this Bill would put that wrong right.

What is child benefit? It is a universal non-taxable cash payment for families with children. It is currently worth £20.50 a week for the eldest eligible child and £13.55 for each subsequent child. As of August 2013, 7.6 million families receive child benefit for over 13 million children and qualifying young people. Expenditure in 2013-14 on child benefit totalled £11.5 billion. Families with children may also receive means-tested support through child tax credit, and approximately 4.1 million families are receiving child tax credit for around 7.8 million children and young people.

Child benefit has been said to perform a number of different functions, and different functions are emphasised at different points in time, but one of the main features of child benefit is that it provides a contribution from society as a whole to the next generation. Indeed, in August 2006 the Child Poverty Action Group highlighted the intergenerational redistributive effects of child benefit. It said:

“Since everyone—childless people, as well as those with children—will benefit in due course from the productivity of children being brought up now, society”

as a whole

“should share the cost of bringing up those children with their parents, as an investment by us all in the next generation.”

Well, that only applies if the children concerned are actually resident in, and growing up in, and will make a future contribution to, this country. Where those children are resident abroad and will not be in this country, that effect does not apply.

Domestic legislation already provides that both child benefit and child tax credit cannot normally be paid in respect of children resident abroad. That is what this House, this Parliament, has legislated for. However, under provisions in EU law on social security co-ordination within the European economic area as a whole, both child benefit and child tax credit may be payable to EEA migrants in the UK in respect of their dependent children resident in another member state. The provisions relating to payment of family benefits for children resident in another member state are in EC regulation 883/2004.

As a result of this perfect example of EU regulations superseding British law, as of 31 December 2013, 20,400 awards of UK child benefit, covering 34,268 children,

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were made in respect of children living in other EEA states. That equates to around 0.3% of all child benefit awards. Although not a large number, I think most people in this country would regard this as wrong.

At the end of December 2012, there were 4,011 child tax credit awards under EC regulation 883/2004 in respect of 6,838 children. The majority of families benefiting from child benefit with children resident abroad were in Poland—13,175 Polish families with 22,093 children; in second place, with 2,505 children, was the Republic of Ireland; in third place, with 1,712, was Lithuania; in fourth place, with 1,429, was France; in fifth place, with 1,091, was Latvia; and in sixth place, with 1,019, was Spain. Thirty-one countries within the EEA are eligible and a total of 34,268 living overseas are receiving child benefit from UK taxpayers.

Under the key provision, EC regulation 883/2004, an EEA migrant in the UK who is covered by the UK social security system can claim either or both child benefit and child tax credit for their dependent children, even if the children are not resident in the UK. Where the family benefits are payable by the state that has primary responsibility, if those benefits in that country are less than the family would get in the country where the working member of the family is working, the latter country has to pay a supplement to make up the difference. The benefit the Polish families are entitled to in this country is more than they would have got in Poland, so British taxpayers are supplementing the Polish child benefit to which they would be entitled. My constituents, and I would suggest the vast majority in this country regard that as simply absurd.

It is difficult to determine the cost of all this. The reason, given by Her Majesty’s Government in a written answer from my right hon. Friend the Member for Bromsgrove (Sajid Javid), then Financial Secretary to the Treasury, is that

“Information about the value of such awards is only available at disproportionate costs because under the priority rules”—

which I have just described—

“in that regulation not all awards of UK family benefit are made at the full UK rates.”—[Official Report, 28 January 2013; Vol. 557, c. 615W.]

But some sections of the media have claimed that spending on child benefit for children resident in other countries now amounts to about £30 million a year.

How do we change this? One way is through this Bill. The other, as stated in a written answer in November 2010, is that amendments would have to be made to the EC regulation, which would require

“a proposal by the European Commission and…co-decision with the European Parliament and the Council.””—[Official Report, 28 January 2013; Vol. 519, c. 444W.]

I pray in aid of my quest the support of not only the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but the Prime Minister himself. I understand that Her Majesty’s Opposition also regard the situation as absurd. In The Daily Telegraph in April 2013, the Chancellor said:

“The truth is we are absolutely wrestling with that issue at the moment and trying to find a way that is legal to make sure that benefits do not go to the continent of Europe. The European Union rules are pretty tough…but we are looking at all sorts of

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ways to make sure that British taxpayers pay for benefits that are paid in this country rather than abroad.”

In January, on “The Andrew Marr Show” the Prime Minister said:

“I…think it’s wrong that someone from Poland who comes here…we should be paying child benefit to their family back at home in Poland.”

He said that we should not be doing that. Yet, in response to that comment, the Polish Foreign Minister said:

“If Britain gets our taxpayers, shouldn’t it also pay their benefits? Why should Polish taxpayers subsidise British taxpayers’ children?”

Describing children living in Poland as British taxpayers’ children just underlines the absurdity of the whole position.

Let me make it clear to the House: I am not in favour of Britain’s membership of the European Union. I believe we would be better off out as a nation if we controlled once again our tax and fiscal regimes, our work and benefits system, and ultimately our borders. There are now almost 2.5 million EU nationals living in this country, about half of whom have come from the new entrant eastern European countries. I hope that my Bill will play a small role in ultimately securing the exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union.

Question put and agreed to.


That Mr Philip Hollobone, Gordon Henderson, Mr David Nuttall, Philip Davies, Martin Vickers, Mr Peter Bone, Nigel Mills, Jim Shannon and John Baron present the Bill.

Mr Philip Hollobone accordingly presented the Bill.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 6 March; and to be printed (Bill 83).

Mr David Heath (Somerton and Frome) (LD): On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. The former Leader of the House assured me and others, I believe on more than one occasion, that we would have a statement before the House rose for the summer recess on the aftermath of the flooding earlier this year. That is not forthcoming, and with a new Secretary of State I understand perfectly well why that may be the case, but would it be appropriate for the Secretary of State to write to Members affected by the flooding giving an update, and to put a copy in the Library, so that Members are informed over the recess about what has happened?

Madam Deputy Speaker (Mrs Eleanor Laing): The hon. Gentleman has very considerable experience—including on the Front Bench—of how matters are timetabled to appear on the Order Paper and before the House. I know he is well aware that that is not a point of order for the Chair and that I have no control whatsoever over the Secretary of State, but the hon. Gentleman has made his point and I am sure that it will be heard by those on the Treasury Bench and conveyed to where he really wishes it to be sent.

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Electronic Communications

2.28 pm

The Minister for Security and Immigration (James Brokenshire): I beg to move,

That the draft Data Retention Regulations 2014, which were laid before this House on 21 July, be approved.

The Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014, which passed into law last week, was a necessary response to a European Court of Justice judgment that called into question the legal basis on which we require communications service providers in the UK to retain communications data. The judgment was handed down in April this year, not August as the explanatory memorandum accompanying the regulations incorrectly states—an administrative error for which I apologise to the House.

Communications data—the who, where, when and how of a communication, but not its content—are crucial for fighting crime, protecting children and combating terrorism. Indeed, Members will have seen the recent reporting on the National Crime Agency’s child abuse investigation, which led to more than 600 arrests and the protection of more than 400 children. The NCA has confirmed that much of the operation would have been impossible without access to communications data. Where an investigation starts with an internet communication, as in online child sexual exploitation cases, for example, communications data will often be the only investigative lead. The loss of such data would have been potentially devastating and would have impacted seriously on the ability of the police, law enforcement agencies and security and intelligence agencies to investigate crime, uncover terrorist links, protect children, solve kidnappings and find vulnerable people in danger. I am therefore extremely grateful for the support shown in both Houses for the passage of the Act. I put on the record my thanks to right hon. and hon. Members—and in particular to the Opposition—for the constructive way in which they engaged in the debates.

However, as was made clear last week, secondary legislation is required to cover the detail of the operation of the data retention regime and to ensure that the appropriate processes and safeguards can be applied to the retention of such data. That approach mirrors the existing position, in which the detailed data retention regime is set out in secondary legislation. That has worked well for a number of years. It is to those regulations that our attention must now turn.

Members will be aware that a provisional draft of the regulations was published before the legislation was introduced. The regulations before the House today are substantially the same as those which have been available for scrutiny and examination. I am grateful to the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments for considering and reporting on them. I put on record my thanks to the hon. Member for Leeds East (Mr Mudie), the Chairman of that Committee, for arranging an exceptional meeting to consider the regulations.

Before turning to the content of the regulations, let me deal with the discussion that took place during the passage of the Act about the speed at which the legislation was being passed. Without revisiting those debates today, I will briefly explain why we consider it necessary for the regulations to be passed before the summer recess.

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To ensure a strong legal basis for continued retention by service providers, we need to get the regulations in place before the House rises. The regulations ensure that the data to be retained are subject to appropriate safeguards, and the communications service providers concerned will welcome the certainty that the regulations bring.

The Act gives the Secretary of State the power to issue a data retention notice to a communications service provider, if he or she considers the retention to be necessary and proportionate. The regulations made under the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014 revoke and replace the 2009 data retention regulations. In large part the regulations replicate the obligations placed on providers under the 2009 regulations. In particular, they set out the types of data that can be retained. As was made clear during the debates on the Act, the list goes no further than the existing regulations. Crucially, the regulations set out the nature of the controls that must be placed on the data, both to ensure that they are adequately protected while they are being retained and to ensure that they are appropriately deleted at the end of that period.

The regulations also ensure that service providers are not penalised financially as a result of complying with a notice or the regulations. That is in line with previous practice and is a fair way of ensuring that the data are retained effectively and that there is no distortion of the communications market, given that obligations may be placed selectively. The regulations contain transitional provisions for the continued effectiveness of a notice under the 2009 regulations, until a new notice is given under the new regulations. We will work closely with providers in the coming months as they make the transition to the new regime.

As I highlighted to the House, the regulations contain additional safeguards. They differ from the 2009 regulations only in the context of those additional safeguards. They provide for data to be retained for a maximum of 12 months and allow the notice to specify that different types of data may be retained for shorter periods, where appropriate. If it is not proportionate to retain certain data for a full 12 months, a lower period can be chosen. The 2009 regulations provided for a blanket 12 months, although the directive on which they were based allowed for periods between six and 24 months.

The regulations also provide for a number of issues which must be considered before a retention notice is issued. I wish to assure the House that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary and I take our responsibilities seriously, scrutinising in detail any case for imposing a data retention notice to ensure that it is necessary and proportionate. It is with equal care and attention that we will approach our obligation to keep such notices under review.

The Home Office has always worked closely with communications service providers prior to serving a data retention notice, and the regulations enshrine this existing best practice in law by requiring the Secretary of State to take reasonable steps to consult the provider affected. As I have previously explained, the regulations will ensure that the data are subject to appropriate safeguards and controls. Those who followed the scrutiny of the draft Communications Data Bill, including some Members in the House this afternoon, will be aware that there was some uncertainty as to the extent to

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which the Information Commissioner would oversee the integrity and deletion of retained data, as well as their security. The regulations therefore clarify that the Information Commissioner will oversee all elements of the protection and security of the data. We have discussed this with the commissioner and will provide him with the necessary additional resources to carry out this vital role.

Finally, the regulations amend the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 to enable the creation of a data retention code of practice. That will allow us to provide further guidance to communications service providers on how to implement their obligations under a mandatory data retention notice and the regulations.

The House may wonder why certain other changes that we agreed to make are not given effect in the regulations. Separately, we will also update the data acquisition code of practice under RIPA to make it clearer that the officer authorising access to the data should be independent of the operation, and to ensure that consideration is given to the level of intrusion where there may be concerns relating to professions that handle privileged information. I know that that has been of concern to hon. Members on both sides of the House.

The House will have the opportunity in due course to review and comment on both draft codes of practice. In addition, we have announced that a number of public authorities will lose their access to communications data under RIPA and we will bring forward secondary legislation in the autumn in this regard. Hon. Members who followed the discussions about the draft Communications Data Bill will be aware that communications service providers are also able to retain communications data on a voluntary basis under a code of practice made under the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001. The regulations apply the same security safeguards and access restrictions to data retained under that code.

As right hon. and hon. Members know, the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act will be repealed on 31 December 2016. Any notices made under the Act and the regulations will similarly fall away. The Government have begun the process of a wider review of investigatory powers and it is right that there should be a full and proper debate on the threats, capabilities and, of course, safeguards that govern the use of such powers. I am sure the House will agree that that should include a wider public debate on the issues.

Dr Julian Huppert (Cambridge) (LD): I am sure the Minister will agree that for that public debate and a review to take place, we need good statistics and information. One of the few things that seems to be missing from the previous regulations and the new ones is a section about statistics. Will he confirm that there will be the same or stronger requirements on public communications providers to keep good statistics on such data and how they are used? How will those will be provided to the Government, who will then publish them?

James Brokenshire: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for highlighting this aspect. As he knows, in the debates last week we underlined the need for greater transparency and reporting of information about the use of the powers under the Act. I can assure him that we will take that forward. He will be aware, too, of the requirement

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on the interception of communications commissioner to report on a six-monthly basis—I know that was of concern—to assure the House and the public about the use of the powers under the new Act. Therefore, I expect that providers of information and communications service providers retaining that information would provide data to facilitate transparency and to ensure that the public are informed about the use of the powers under the Act.

As has been made absolutely clear over the past week, this legislation merely preserves the status quo. The Act passed last week and the regulations before the House today do not extend or create any new powers or obligations on communications companies that go beyond those that already exist; they simply ensure that the communications data that have been retained by the communications service providers will continue to be available to ensure that the police, the law enforcement agencies and the security and intelligence agencies have the capabilities they need to protect the public and keep us safe. I commend the regulations to the House.

2.40 pm

Mr David Hanson (Delyn) (Lab): I very much support the process that the Government have brought forward today. The Opposition will support the regulations before the House this afternoon. As the Minister has said, they are made under the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014, which we debated last Tuesday, although it seems a long time ago. It was certainly an interesting debate.

The Minister has outlined clearly why the regulations are needed. Last week we supported him in taking the Act through the House, because we recognise, as he does, that retaining records and data is vital in fighting crime, whether tackling serious organised crime, dealing with child abuse or helping to prevent terrorism. We also welcome the safeguards we discussed last week in relation to access to those data. As he explained, the regulations put in place broadly what is already in place, and they therefore have our support.

In offering our support, I wish to raise two issues that the Minister might like to respond to in any winding-up speech he cares to make. First, there was limited consultation on the regulations. As outlined in the explanatory memorandum, the 2009 regulations had a 12-week public consultation. Due to the pressing nature of the legislation we passed last week, the regulations before us had nothing that could be called a full consultation. Therefore, can the Minister confirm that the six-monthly review by the Information Commissioner of how the legislation is working will include the regulations so that providers and other individuals have an opportunity to put on the record any concerns they have about their operation and so that those concerns can be examined?

James Brokenshire: The interception of communications commissioner is required to make a six-monthly review, and my expectation is that that would certainly cover the use of those powers. We need to consider the interrelationship with the Information Commissioner, because it is a separate regulator that looks at the retention of those data. Obviously, we will consider any interrelationship and any discussions that might need to take place between the two regulators to give an assurance to the public about the use of those data.

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Mr Hanson: I am grateful to the Minister for that response. My main point is that the legislation’s sunset clause means that it will cease to have effect in December 2016. The regulations are being made by the House today, but I want to ensure that they are examined on a regular basis, given that there was no proper consultation because the Act had to be rushed through last week.

Secondly—I raised this matter privately with the Minister’s office earlier today—the initial regulations specified 8 August 2014 as the date on which the European Court of Justice declared the data retention direction 2006/24/EC invalid. The date was in fact 8 April. I just want to be clear that the Minister has relayed that matter to the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments so that there is no doubt about what we are discussing today and the way it has been framed.

James Brokenshire: I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for contacting my office earlier today to highlight that point, to which he will have heard me make specific reference in my opening remarks. A further draft of the explanatory memorandum is certainly in the process of being relayed, if that has not already been done, as he rightly indicated. We are clear that that has no bearing on this afternoon’s debate.

Mr Hanson: I just thought that it was worth placing that on the record, as I would not wish there to be any confusion, given the nature of the debate we are having today.

I am happy to support the regulations, given the potential for review and the safeguards we have put in place with regard to the Act. I look forward to formal reviews, as secured by the legislation. Given the assurances the Minister has given today, he will have our support for the regulations.

2.45 pm

Dr Julian Huppert (Cambridge) (LD): I will speak to the regulations only briefly. I think that there are a couple of points worth making. It is interesting to compare the debate we are having now with the one in 2009. Back then, no time at all was given to discuss the regulations, which were moved without debate by the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull North (Diana Johnson). Some Members who have expressed concern about these regulations voted in favour of the previous ones, even though they covered rather more. There was a debate in a Committee that lasted for 62 minutes, and it is very interesting to see how roles have changed. The hon. Member for Gedling (Vernon Coaker), who was then the Minister, said that they did not go far enough and that we needed to collect much more information from communications providers—he mentioned Facebook, but we can date the debate by his references to Bebo and Myspace as the other key providers. He was essentially calling for the Communications Data Bill—the snooper’s charter—that part of the Government, or at least the Home Secretary, wanted to see.

In 2009 there was also a very nice speech from the hon. Gentleman who is currently the Minister. He took a very strong stance that RIPA should be used only to combat serious crime and for the protection of national security. I do not know whether he has told the Home Secretary that that is the Conservative position, because it seems to have changed somewhat—we have moved on

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very slightly. We also heard my right hon. Friend the Member for Carshalton and Wallington (Tom Brake) saying, “Yes, communications data are important, but we need some more safeguards.” In fact, the safeguards he itemised have largely been delivered in these new regulations, so I am glad that we have made progress.

There is concern, as expressed in the debate we had last week and by the public, about the idea that more information could be collected. For example, there is a concern that this could open the door to the collection of web logs and many other elements. It is worth having a look at the schedule to these regulations, which lists all the things that can be collected, and comparing it with the previous regulations. They are exactly the same—not a single word in the current regulations was not in the regulations introduced five years ago. On that basis, it is fairly clear that there are no new powers and that no new information—web logs, for example—can be collected.

However, there have been a number of other changes. The Minister highlighted the fact that we have taken the opportunity to move from saying that all data must be collected for 12 months to saying that it must be collected for up to 12 months. I very much welcome that, because I think that there are a lot of data that can be of great use the next day, the next week or perhaps the next month, but which are not needed for the full 12 months. We also have—I do not think that the Minister referred to this—a higher standard of data integrity and security required. The wording has been changed from requiring data to be stored in a way that is as good as it had been stored to requiring the best that is available, so the requirement for data integrity and security is actually tighter. Of course, the Secretary of State is required to keep that under review.

The one thing that there is not enough of—this is why I am pressing the Minister—is the idea of transparency. I want him to ensure throughout that as much information as possible is available. He and I have discussed how long the data can be kept for and how much of it is used in the 11th month available and so forth. That information must be available for all usages throughout the year so that we can make the right decisions. Wherever we draw the line, there will be some information on the other side of it. We want to make an informed and rational decision. I hope that he will ensure that all the notices make sure that those data are collected, as the interception of communications commissioner has also called for.

These regulations represent a step forward from the previous regulations. They collect no new information, but they tighten it very slightly. I hope that the House will pass them so that we can continue to collect the data that protect our security, with that slight extra tweak on civil liberties.

2.48 pm

John McDonnell (Hayes and Harlington) (Lab): I would like to vote against these regulations but will not, because I do not wish to eat into the time for the summer recess debate, which I also want to participate in—there is self-interest in that as well. I just want to raise again the issue of professional secrecy. The Minister said in his introduction that that would be dealt with. In last week’s debate, it was to be dealt with in codes of practice and guidance, but now it will be built into the

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decision-making process. The concerns raised relate to the legal profession and to journalism. I would welcome the opportunity, as secretary of the all-party group on the National Union of Journalists, to meet the relevant officials to talk through how the protections will be implemented and what advice they might be able to give to ensure that there is no incursion on the rights of journalists to report accurately and truthfully.

I see that, in paragraph 6.1 of the explanatory memorandum, the Minister has signed off the usual caveat:

“In my view the provisions of the Data Retention Regulations 2014 are compatible with the Convention rights.”

Bearing in mind that a similar statement was struck down last time in relation to the directive, will he take the exceptional step of publishing the legal opinion on which he based his judgment? I have a sneaking suspicion that this one might be challenged as well.

2.50 pm

James Brokenshire: I am grateful for the support for the regulations offered by my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge (Dr Huppert) and the right hon. Member for Delyn (Mr Hanson). I understand the concerns that the hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington (John McDonnell) flagged up last week during our debates on the Act. He has highlighted issues relating to different categories of what I might describe as either protected or special groups of individuals in relation to the powers under RIPA. It would be the intent to obtain data from a communications data provider that would principally be at issue in such a context, and that would appear to fit within the code of practice relating to acquisition and disclosure. We therefore intend to bring forward amendments to that code as part of the arrangements.

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However, I recognise that the hon. Gentleman has flagged up those issues, and I will perhaps write to him—

John McDonnell: Or meet me?

James Brokenshire: Equally, I will see whether it is possible to facilitate a meeting with my officials so that they can hear more directly any concerns that might be raised.

I can tell the right hon. Member for Delyn that the interception of communications commissioner will look at the operation of the new legislation, which includes the regulations made under it, as part of his six-monthly review. I hope that that clarifies that point and gives him further assurance.

I also want to make it clear that I stand by the statement in the explanatory memorandum about compliance with the European convention on human rights. That is the purpose behind the Act and the regulations, reflecting the judgment. That is why we have made these changes to secure the legal base—

John McDonnell: And the legal opinion?

James Brokenshire: The hon. Gentleman asks about the legal advice. He will know that it is not the practice of the Government to share or publish our legal advice, but I stand by the statement that has been made. I welcome the support of the House this afternoon, and the regulations will come into effect.

Question put and agreed to.


That the draft Data Retention Regulations 2014, which were laid before this House on 21 July, be approved.

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Backbench Business

Summer Adjournment

2.52 pm

Mr David Amess (Southend West) (Con): I beg to move,

That this House has considered matters to be raised before the forthcoming adjournment.

Before the House adjourns for the summer recess, I wish to raise a number of points. The first relates to the reshuffle. Some colleagues were pleased; some were disappointed. No one has asked me for my advice, but I can tell my colleagues that, having waited 31 years for preferment, I am still optimistic. My advice to colleagues who are still ambitious is if you keep your head down and serve your time, you will eventually gain preferment.

I was unable to support either of the teams playing in the final of the World cup, but I am very concerned about the performance of the English football team. They badly let us down. In 1966, it was my home team, West Ham, that provided Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters. They led the team and scored all four goals. All those players were home grown. Nowadays, the premier league is an absolute disgrace. Our footballers are paid far too much money, and they underperform. I advise everyone to boycott premier league matches, although not those of the other leagues. The rest of our football teams are fantastic, but we will never win the World cup again if we continue to have all these overseas players.

My next point relates to a scurrilous article about working-class Conservatives. I wish to advise the House that no one in the Conservative party asked me to produce a booklet on that subject; it was done entirely on my own initiative. I was not embarrassed by the fact that the first pamphlet mentioned 14 Members, but I have now been overwhelmed by colleagues who tell me that they are working class. In fact, I am now producing a hardback edition of the publication, so it would appear that these Benches are awash with working-class Conservatives.

I also want to mention banks. This House has spent a great deal of time talking about how the banks are letting us down, but nothing has changed. The worst of them all is probably Barclays bank, whose customer service is an absolute disgrace. I wish there was a little more resolve among colleagues to do something about the banking sector.

Over the weekend, the lift in a residential care home in my constituency broke down. The lifts there are run by Otis elevators—the same people who run the lifts in No. 1 Parliament street. The care home had 24-hour insurance cover, but it took three days for the lift service to be restored. That was an absolute disgrace.

I have long been unhappy with the management of the probation service in Essex, so I was delighted when the Government I support—well, I support the Conservative part, at least—said that that probation service was going to be reorganised. To my horror, however, I have found out that the management of which I was so critical still seem to be involved in the service. I want to know how the management of the Essex Community Rehabilitation Company was appointed, what they are being paid and how many people were interviewed for the jobs.

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Along with many other colleagues, I attended events that were part of Royal Mail’s dog awareness week. Those events were designed to raise awareness of the dangers of dogs attacking postmen and postwomen when they are delivering letters. Those people do a fantastic job, and we should be much more appreciative of them. I am particularly pleased that Royal Mail is producing a special stamp relating to Southend being the alternative city of culture in 2017.

There is too much variation in diabetes treatment across the UK. Recent evidence shows continuing variation in the prescribing of diabetes medicines across the country, and immediate action is needed to ensure that diabetes patients can access the full range of treatments and essential care processes.

I have long been critical of the South Essex Partnership Trust. Day in and day out, week in and week out, I hear parents and other relatives of loved ones expressing their concern that those with mental health problems are not getting the support that they deserve. Recently, I have had contact with a family whose son, a troubled young man who has displayed homicidal thoughts, attempted suicide twice in one week. He was allowed to walk free by SEPT, which put him and his family in a very vulnerable position. As usual, SEPT got away with issuing a quick questionnaire and prescribing sedative medication. I want to continue to work with the Minister of State who is responsible for care and support to ensure that SEPT is inspected as soon as possible and that the management team is replaced.

I am delighted that Southend hospital is working in partnership with the wonderful Macmillan organisation. A new support centre has been installed at the hospital, and in the first month it has already helped to support 100 cancer patients on their challenging journey.

I am concerned about the cancer drugs fund. Takeda UK has recently brought to my attention that the fund, which has been extended to March 2016, is not guaranteed to continue after that date. I hope that all parliamentarians will do all they can to ensure that the wonderful support for the fund continues.

Arthritis affects 10 million people in this country. I have recently met representatives of a number of arthritis-related charities. The British Society for Rheumatology is campaigning for the Government to create greater public awareness of the problem when people go to see their general practitioner.

Physiotherapy is an important profession in the United Kingdom. I recently attended a reception on the Terrace organised by the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy. The total cost of adult social care in the UK in 2012-13 was £19 billion. Physiotherapy could do a great deal to reduce those costs.

I happen to have had the honour of being the chairman of the all-party group on the Philippines. That country had the biggest economic growth in the region, in 2013, but it is currently under threat from the South China sea problem. A great part of it is now being claimed by China on the basis of an imaginary nine-dash line. China has asserted indisputable sovereignty over those waters, to the exclusion of the Philippines and Vietnam, among others, so I very much hope the Government will do all they can to help the wonderful Philippine nation.

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The issue of Cyprus has been raised in this House many times. Cyprus has proved time and again that it is a reliable and predictable regional partner to the United Kingdom. I welcome the fact that negotiations on the island have resumed under the auspices of the United Nations Secretary-General. A just and viable solution to the Cyprus problem will allow Cyprus to fully utilise its role in the region.

It is about time that we recognised that the UK needs a national cemetery. Some 94% of the population believes that a national cemetery should be set up to honour UK veterans and those who serve in the armed forces. I hope that colleagues will get behind that particular proposal.

Something is certainly happening regarding the dredging of the River Thames. A local branch of the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations has been waiting to schedule a meeting with the Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the hon. Member for North Cornwall (Dan Rogerson), for nearly three months. By the time this debate has finished, I expect a clear date for that meeting.

I am honoured to have a number of magnificent schools in the area I represent. Westcliff high school for girls is the second best school in the whole country, but between 2012 and 2017 it is having to make an effective reduction of 16% in its budget, and that is before it makes any pay increases to reward its highly skilled staff. Similarly, Southend high school for boys is coping with a 10% drop in available income at the moment, so I hope the Department for Education will do something to support those wonderful schools.

Southend is in the current Guinness book of world records, having gathered together the greatest number of centenarians ever. Sadly, I have to report to the House that that record has just been broken by the United States of America, which has gathered together 31 centenarians. I am pleased to say that on 5 October at Nazareth house we will attempt to break the world record again. If any colleagues have centenarians in their constituencies, please send them along.

This Saturday, 26 July, Rossi Ice Cream, in partnership with Cancer Research UK, will attempt to break the world record for the longest chain of people licking ice cream. I invite all colleagues to join us at Garon park to lick Rossi ice cream.

I wish you, Madam Deputy Speaker, Mr Speaker and the other deputies a wonderful summer, and I thank all the staff of the House of Commons for the marvellous support they have provided for us over the past year.

Madam Deputy Speaker (Mrs Eleanor Laing): I am sure that the whole House echoes the hon. Gentleman’s kind words to the staff of the House.

3.3 pm

Jim Fitzpatrick (Poplar and Limehouse) (Lab): I am grateful for the opportunity to speak in the summer Adjournment debate. I am particularly pleased to follow the hon. Member for Southend West (Mr Amess), a fellow West Ham United supporter. I have to report to him that an unkind comment was made in the Tea Room as I left at about 8 o’clock this morning. Colleagues said that by the time we come back for the next sitting in September, West Ham will be in the bottom three again.

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I am sure that will not be the case, but you never know. I am also pleased to be able to refer, like the hon. Gentleman, to my working-class roots. I cannot imagine that anybody who has been in this place for as long as he or I have been could still call themselves working class—that would be like defying gravity—but we do have working-class origins and are naturally very proud of them.

As the hon. Gentleman has demonstrated, it is customary to raise a number of issues in the pre-recess debate. I intend to do that as well, but not as many as the hon. Gentleman. I want to talk about Gaza, Zamir Telecom, east London river crossings, Tower Hamlets council, cycling, leasehold reform and housing. Given that so many colleagues wish to speak and that time is brief, it will suffice for me to use only a sentence or two in addressing most of those issues.

I will start with the easiest issue, namely cycling. The Transport Committee recently produced a report on cycling safety, and the all-party group on cycling produced a report earlier this year on the back of The Times campaign, which resulted from the serious injury to one of its staff and deaths earlier this year. With the success of the Tour de France in the UK and of the cycling scheme promoted by Mayor Johnson in London, cycling is going from strength to strength. Last year, however, the Prime Minister promised a champion for cycling, but that has not materialised. We certainly need it.

On east London river crossings, most people will know—Londoners certainly do—that the centre of gravity in London has been moving east for 30 years, and it will continue to do so for the next 30 years. If half of London’s population does not already live east of Tower bridge, it very soon will, yet west of Tower bridge there are more than 20 crossings over the Thames but only two to the east of it. Fortunately, consultation started today on another new crossing. One is already assured by the Department for Transport, Transport for London and the Mayor of London, but we need more than two. If London is going to continue to thrive, we need to make sure that the Thames is bridged or tunnelled, and we need those two crossings very quickly.

PricewaterhouseCoopers is undertaking an investigation into the economics and finances of Tower Hamlets council over the past four years. The Electoral Commission recently produced a report on the chaos of the 22 May election. The police have undertaken a number of investigations into allegations. I commend Chief Superintendent Stringer, the borough commander, and his staff and colleagues for the assiduous way in which they investigated all those allegations. Tower Hamlets council is a work in progress. There is still a lot to be done. We want to make sure that next year’s general election is as clean, fair and transparent as possible, and I encourage everyone involved to continue to work in that direction.

On leasehold reform, Martin Boyd and Sebastian O’Kelly of the Leasehold Knowledge Partnership and Carlex have been working assiduously to press the need for leasehold reform. It is estimated that between 5 million and 7 million householders in England are leaseholders, and they are subject to unscrupulous efforts by freeholders to overcharge them for insurance, service charges and other aspects of their lease. The hon. Member for Worthing West (Sir Peter Bottomley), the right hon. Member for Kingston and Surbiton (Mr Davey) and I have been working with the Department for Communities and Local Government and other Departments. Real progress

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is being made on leasehold reform for the first time since 2002, and I commend the coalition for that. The Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, the hon. Member for Keighley (Kris Hopkins), who has responsibility for housing, has met us several times and I encourage him and his colleagues to continue to make progress, because millions of our fellow citizens are being ripped off by unscrupulous individuals who take them for every penny they can get. The issue affects pensioners and former council tenants who have exercised their right to buy but who are exposed to unfair service charges. They need protection. The issue crosses class boundaries—from former council tenants right the way through to many people living in £1 million properties in my constituency and docklands who are equally exposed because of gaps in legal protection.

Housing is the biggest issue in Tower Hamlets and I know the same is true for many colleagues in London and in constituencies across the country. All parties are promising more house building in their manifestos next year—at least, that is how it looks. Clearly, that is an important and fundamental promise that needs to be kept. When we came to power in 1997, our focus was on properties, particularly council properties and social housing, that were below the decency threshold. We focused on bringing those 2 million homes up to decency standards, but that meant that we did not focus on new build as much as we ought to have done in the early years. Obviously, that needs to be focused on now.

My last two items are Zamir Telecom and Gaza. Zamir Telecom in my constituency is, as its name implies, a telecommunications company that services Bangladesh. There is an arrangement whereby it employs 50 people in my constituency, and more than 100 in Dhaka in Bangladesh. It was subject to a previous dispute with the Bangladesh Government and the Ministry of Communication. There was a court settlement in 2008, but three years later the Bangladesh Government reimposed difficulties to prevent it from functioning. UK Trade & Investment is involved; there are Government-to-Government communications; I have written to the Foreign Office and to the high commissioner; and there is a memorandum of understanding between Governments. There is a court case, and there have been two judgments for Zamir Telecom, but there has been a judgment in chambers against it.

Zamir Telecom is a good local company, about which I am bidding for an Adjournment debate in September, so perhaps you, Madam Deputy Speaker, could exert your influence, as could the Deputy Leader of the House, to get me some space to raise the matter and get an official response from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills or the Foreign Office. This company has grown from strength to strength for a number of years, but if this matter is not resolved, the prospect is that it might close completely, with jobs being lost in the UK and in Bangladesh.

The final item I want to raise is Gaza. I know that we had an extensive statement and question and answer session yesterday afternoon with the Prime Minister, and that the former Foreign Secretary, the right hon. Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), made a statement last Monday. I also know that Gaza was raised during Foreign Office questions earlier, but I did

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not get a chance to come in this morning. I just want to reinforce the interest I have already shown by signing the early-day motion, by my question to the Prime Minister yesterday and by my letter to the Foreign Office 10 days ago. I advise the House that I have had more than 1,200 —it is probably going on for 1,400—e-mails from constituents on this matter alone over the eight days from when the latest Israeli action started to Sunday just gone.

This matter clearly exercises the House, but I cannot put it better than by quoting my right hon. Friend the Member for Doncaster North (Edward Miliband), the Leader of the Opposition, who said in a speech to our national policy forum at the weekend:

“I defend Israel’s right to defend itself against rocket attacks. But I cannot explain, justify or defend the horrifying deaths of hundreds of Palestinians, including children and innocent civilians.”

The death toll yesterday was 500—it is probably closer to, or has even exceeded, 600 by now—and 3,000 people have been injured, with tens of thousands displaced. The whole House has expressed concern about this matter. The whole House recognises Israel’s right to defend itself, but with its level of equipment, technology and intelligence, the targeting of hospitals, beaches, schools and residential apartments just does not seem proportionate. I do not think that anybody could possibly say that it looks proportionate. The right to defend is one thing; the mass killings that are going on are something else.

I have a history of attacking Islamist groups in my constituency—I was very interested to hear the statement on Birmingham schools by the new Education Secretary earlier today—and I am more often called Islamophobic, but I have now been getting e-mails calling me anti-Semitic, so I must be doing something right, or I am upsetting both sides equally. Whatever it is, I am trying to do what I think is appropriate, to reflect my constituents’ concerns and to make points that are appropriate.

In agreement with the hon. Member for Southend West, I thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker, and Mr Speaker and your colleagues, as well as all the staff, security and police of the House for their service this year. I wish everybody a good summer.

Several hon. Members rose—

Madam Deputy Speaker (Mrs Eleanor Laing): Order. Before I call the next speaker, I should say that the first two speakers in this debate have been perfect in their discipline with the length of their speeches. A great many Members wish to speak this afternoon and this debate is timed—we have to finish at 7 pm—but if everybody keeps to about eight minutes, out of courtesy to other Members, then everyone who wishes to speak will have the chance to do so. I will not at the moment put on a formal time limit, but rely on the courtesy of each Member to his and her fellow Members. The person to set the example perfectly is Mr Nigel Evans.

3.14 pm

Mr Nigel Evans (Ribble Valley) (Con): No pressure then, Madam Deputy Speaker. I hope to be perfect, but I am clearly not as perfect as the hon. Member for Poplar and Limehouse (Jim Fitzpatrick) or my hon. Friend the Member for Southend West (Mr Amess). My hon. Friend regularly takes part in pre-recess Adjournment debates; indeed, it would not be a pre-recess Adjournment

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debate without him. His list of ideas would flavour admirably any future manifesto, and I wish him well with his suggestions. The hon. Gentleman was my Member of Parliament for a while when I lived in Limehouse. I must say that I cannot believe that he has angered anybody—never mind the two sides, as he intimated—because I believe that he is one of the more effective Members of Parliament who just says it as it is, rather than being overtly partisan at times. I thank him for his speech.

The hon. Gentleman mentioned housing, and the only issue I will speak about today is housing in the Ribble Valley. Yes, we need new housing—there are no two ways about it—and in certain high-pressure areas, such as London, we clearly have to look at extra appropriate and affordable housing. However, I live and represent an area in the Ribble Valley that is under siege from developers.

Towns such as Clitheroe, which has already taken several hundred houses, has found a place within the core strategy for 1,040 more homes in a strategic site. Even though an area of more than 300 homes at Waddow was turned down just the other day, another application has now gone in for more than 275 homes there. I congratulate Councillors Kevin Horkin and Ian Brown on fighting those applications. A three-phase application in Langho, off Longsight road, could eventually end up with 900 houses, and Councillors Lois Rimmer and Michael Thomas are fighting those applications admirably.

In Copster Green, 32 houses have recently been turned down by the local authority, and we will look at how, if that application goes to appeal, it is handled by the inspector. Although Ribble Valley has not adopted its core strategy, we believe that it is almost ready. The inspector and the local authority have worked hand in hand to ensure that the agreed amount of housing is at an appropriate level. There had previously been a hiccup, when historical figures were used. We will be watching very carefully to ensure that the almost adopted core strategy has some weight, which is vital.

Councillor Simon Hore has taken a great interest in an application that may well be made in Chipping. On the site of an old chair works that is now disused—sadly, it has gone into liquidation—there is an application for a hotel and spa, and the same applicant intends to put more than 50 houses on a cricket field not too far away. I know that a number of local residents are up in arms about losing not only the facility, but the site, on which I am in discussions with the developer.

Councillor Ricky Newmark has valiantly tried to fight applications for a total of more than 200 houses on several sites in the one area of Sabden. I have mentioned in Prime Minister’s questions the case at Barrow. It is a community of just over 200 houses, and an application has been put in for 504 houses. That was turned down by the local authority, but then overturned on appeal. One can only imagine the impact of 504 houses on that particular area.

Not far away from Barrow is Whalley, which has already accepted hundreds of new houses. That includes an application from the Co-op, funnily enough, for more than 80 houses, where the application has been approved for some time, but the Co-op has not made a start on the houses, so one really starts to wonder why the application was put in in the first place. Hundreds of houses are going into neighbouring Whalley, even though

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hundreds have already been built in nearby Calderstones. I congratulate Councillors Terry Hill and Joyce Holgate on their representation in that area.

The final area that I will mention is Longridge, although a number of other villages have accepted new houses, some through appeal. There are applications for a total of 1,700 houses over five sites in Longridge, which is a relatively small town. It also has the problem that neighbouring Whittingham, which is in Preston and so is in a different local authority area, has given permission for the construction of 650 houses. That was years ago and not a single house has been built. It is also considering giving permission for the building of 400 houses on the border of Longridge. The people who live in those areas will use Longridge as their main market town.

A couple of websites called “Save Whalley Village” and “Save Longridge” have been set up. I went to a public meeting in Longridge to which more than 500 people turned up to protest against the over-development of the town. They spoke with great enthusiasm and passion. They are not saying no to any house building, but no to the over-development of the area that they love. We must start to listen to people. I know that we regularly say that if somebody says no to something, they are a nimby. Frankly, if I lived in an area where there were applications for the over-development of a number of sites, I would be proud to be a nimby. I would want to protect my backyard, my front yard and the sides of my property too. I do not think that referring to people as nimbys helps.

The local authorities, councillors and residents in those areas are doing a sterling job. We need to look again at the powers of the Planning Inspectorate. When a local authority turns down an application by a certain percentage and an inspector tries to overturn that decision, it should go back to the local authority. If the local authority again turns it down by a similar percentage or a higher percentage—the Government can look at that—that should be final. Localism should mean that the local councillors who represent local people have the final say. We should not have a person who comes up from Bristol, looks at the application and says off the top of his head, “That seems to fit some sort of criteria,” and then off he goes, leaving destruction and chaos in his wake. We need to look again at empowering local authority councillors to protect their areas. We all know—without going into detail, because I am coming up to my eight minutes—why people do not want to see their areas destroyed.

We need to look at other areas, such as around Ribble Valley, Pendle, Burnley and Blackburn, where money could be spent on regeneration, which is far better than building on greenfield sites. We should look at charging no VAT on the regeneration of housing stock to bring it back into use. We need more protection for areas that are struggling with their core strategy, but that aim to get it in place as quickly as they can. There should be no presumption in favour of building.

The Planning Inspectorate seems to have a similar slogan to Obama’s “Yes we can” or “Yes you can”, whereas the people who live in these areas say, “Please, enough is enough.” I think that “Enough is enough” beats “Yes we can.”

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3.23 pm

Eric Joyce (Falkirk) (Ind): I have two issues that I will put together as seamlessly as I can. I might not be as seamless as the hon. Member for Southend West (Mr Amess) because I plan to breathe a couple of times.

A little while ago, there was an issue in my constituency and the surrounding area involving the Grangemouth refinery. It was a sad story and there was much tumult locally. I will not bore Members with the detail but, suffice it to say, there was an issue between the employer and the trade union, Unite, that almost led to the closure of the refinery, which employs about 1,400 or 1,500 people and a further 4,000 or 5,000 in the local labour chain. In the long run, 5,000 or 6,000 people would have lost their jobs, had the refinery shut. I have my views on the situation, but I do not think that this is the place to air them.

In due course, the situation was solved by a combination of the union seeing a bit of sense and the employer negotiating with the UK and Scottish Governments. The UK Government gave some guarantees about future investment. This week, the employer, INEOS, announced that it had secured a £230 million facility through the Government’s loan guarantee scheme and that, in addition, it was investing £300 million in a new plant to process shale gas imported from the US. For the first time in many years, that will secure the jobs at Grangemouth for a long time to come. It has always been touch and go whether Grangemouth’s future would extend beyond five or 10 years; it now seems to be secure for at least 20 years.

I hasten to say that Grangemouth is not in my constituency, but it is just a few hundred yards away and the majority of the people who work there live in my constituency. There are also several thousand people in the supply chain who live in my constituency.

A couple of issues arise from the current situation. First, given that the gas that is imported will come from fracking, we need to take a position on whether we support fracking. I do support fracking, but it is a contentious issue and not everyone in this House agrees with it. In addition, Dart Energy has a substantial coal bed methane extraction project in my constituency. I firmly support that as well. Locally, the Scottish National party has campaigned against coal bed methane extraction. I do not know what position it will take on the importation of gas that is extracted through fracking. The view that it has taken suggests that it will be against it in principle, and therefore against the employment of a large number of my constituents. However, I will leave it to the SNP to answer that. Having said that, the SNP Government in Scotland have made a contribution of £6 million. The Scottish Government are taking one position and the local representatives are taking another.

The extractive industries in Falkirk, Grangemouth and the surrounding area in central Scotland are concerned primarily with oil. I am fortunate to be one of the civil society representatives on the extractive industries transparency initiative to which the UK is signing up. That is going very well and the Government have just submitted their application to the EITI. That is an important symbolic measure for the UK.

Of course, the primary element of the EITI in the UK is oil and gas. That leads on to the second issue that I want to raise. Recently, I have had quite a lot of communication with politicians from other parts of the

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world who are involved in the EITI, which is about transparency and good governance in the extractive industries. That relates mainly to mining in some countries and mainly to oil and gas in others.

Recently, I have had a lot of contact with Nigeria. The governor of Rivers state, which is Nigeria’s Aberdeen as it is the main centre of the oil industry, has led the EITI process in that country. By chance, I was in the region a couple of weeks ago for a day or two and I visited him. It was striking what a good job is being done there. What is being done varies across Nigeria and we tend to hear the bad news stories. One can see the link between the money that is being paid into the state and the investment by the state—both the federal state and Rivers state—into the infrastructure. That is the whole point of EITI. Hundreds of new schools are being built, several of which I visited. A monorail system and a good road system are also being built. That is a good example of what can happen through good governance.

I am reluctant to praise the Government, but they are pushing ahead with some good legislation and have signed up to the transparency and accounting directives. The beneficial ownership stuff will also be coming up shortly. The UK is pretty much in the lead on that, with the support of the Opposition.

I will conclude on this point, Madam Deputy Speaker, because you will pull me up if I go over my eight minutes. I do not want to delve into how other countries vote or into which Governments are returned. I know that nobody wants to do that, except for in a few rare cases where there is consensus. However, I have noticed over the past couple of weeks that the party of government in Nigeria has effectively started campaigning. I am a little sympathetic to the plight of the opposition in that country, not because I know a great deal about the internal politics of Nigeria, but because I see what is going on in Rivers state, which is very good. I am therefore prepared to accept that the opposition—the All Progressives Congress—has some kind of plan. I would not wish to be any more explicit than that. It seems to me that there is a coherent opposition. The governor of Rivers state is an important member of that opposition and there are many others. At the moment, we tend to hear the party of government’s campaign through one or two things that are said in this House. I noticed that there was a visit by the Finance Minister of Nigeria two weeks ago, and those things were echoed in statements in meetings around the place. Some things that were said were essentially party political, and Members who were, I think, being supportive for good reason of the Nigerian Government were essentially echoing party political themes, and the opposition in Nigeria cannot campaign at the moment because it is unlawful to campaign until November.

I urge Members to reflect on the fact that there is a presidential election next February in Nigeria, and some of the stuff that is coming out, and coming through London and back through CNN, the BBC World Service and so on, is blatantly party political campaigning that the Nigerian Government can do, but which an increasingly well-organised opposition cannot.

3.30 pm

David Tredinnick (Bosworth) (Con): The last time I was called to speak was not by you, Mr Deputy Speaker, or by another Deputy Speaker, but was actually at the

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Glastonbury rock festival—the Glastonbury festival of performing arts. I was asked to speak in the speaker’s tent, and follow in the illustrious footsteps of Tony Benn, God bless him. I think I was asked to speak because although perhaps not on the same scale, I have had what has been seen as a radical agenda in this House in promoting complementary medicine over the past 20 years. I do not regard that as particularly controversial, but it is something I have stuck to, and I think that Benn’s law certainly applies to me.

As colleagues will recall, Tony Benn said that when someone has a controversial idea:

“First they ignore you, then they say you’re mad, then dangerous… and then you can’t find anyone who disagrees with you.”

I have found over the years that that has happened, and I have had relentless attacks. The right hon. Member for Southampton, Itchen (Mr Denham) once called me the hon. Member for Holland and Barrett. I have had a fake Twitter account set up called “Inside the head of David Tredinnick”—[Laughter.] Yes. With my brain displayed. In the 2001 general election I had the honour of having a science candidate stand against me. He polled 196 votes against my 23,000, which colleagues will agree is not a bad result. I have been attacked by sceptical people over the years, and I regard many of the people who bombard Members’ websites as bullies and ignorant. They have never studied the subjects they are criticising. They are abusive and it is almost a breach of privilege in trying to stop colleagues speaking out.

I want to talk, quite briefly, wearing four hats—as a member of the Health Committee since the beginning of this Parliament, as a member of the Science and Technology Committee, as vice-chair of the Government’s herbals working group, and as chair of the all-party group for integrated healthcare. My researcher tells me that I have chaired nearly 100 meetings of that group.

I was somewhat surprised to find billed at Glastonbury a pair of speakers from the other side of the House: the right hon. Member for Leigh (Andy Burnham), who is the shadow Health Secretary, and a certain former Member for Brent East, Mr Livingstone. I was not sure whether the right hon. Member for Leigh was the warm-up act for Mr Livingstone, or whether Mr Livingstone was the warm-up act for the right hon. Gentleman, but it would have been interesting to go to the Left Field, the field for left-wingers, where they were speaking. I was in a more modest tent.

I had quite a challenge because I was asked to follow Jonathan Cainer who, as one or two colleagues may know, is the astrologer who writes for the Daily Mail. I did a little research on that, and he has 12 million followers worldwide and 10,000 subscribers to audio forecasts. People who are sceptical might think it strange that somebody like that can attract such a following, but in that situation I think another parliamentary rule applies. You can fool some of the people all of the time, all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all the time.

Mr Nigel Evans: Speak for yourself!

David Tredinnick: Yes, thank you.

In this instance it is just possible that Jonathan Cainer has something that people do believe in, and I have made a study of astrology in connection with health

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care over the past 20 years. I was on the last parliamentary delegation to Hong Kong before the Chinese took it back, and Governor Chris Patten said, “David, what would you like to do? Do you want to go up to the Stanley barracks, go out on a frigate or to the new territories?” I said, “No, Governor. I would like to see your astrologer.” And as Governor of Hong Kong he had one. I went to meet the astrologer and he was very concerned about the buildings around Government House.

I have been to India and talked to people there and to the Indian Government about the Indian astrological system, lahiri, which is part of their culture. In western culture, Culpeper’s book, “Astrological Judgement of Diseases from the Decumbiture of the Sick” of 1655 is the longest in print, so in all cultures we have that tradition.

I will conclude my remarks because I know I will get a lot of friendly e-mails for having had the temerity to talk about astrology in this House, but I am absolutely convinced that those who look at the map of the sky for the day that they were born and receive some professional guidance will find out a lot about themselves, and it will make their life easier. As Propertius, perhaps the most famous Roman poet, said, “A man should live his life in the endeavours which suit him best.”

I am happy for you to intervene, Mr Deputy Speaker, and remind me how much time I have left.

Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Lindsay Hoyle): One minute.

David Tredinnick: Well I will definitely get a lot of friendly e-mails, because I have not got on to saying that I believe firmly as a member of the Health and Science and Technology Committees of the House that we must consider ways of reducing demand for antibiotics. Both the Health Committee and the Science and Technology Committee have reported that by using complementary medicine and by listening to the witnesses we can reduce that demand. I hope that in future we stop looking just at increasing the supply of drugs and consider the way that complementary and alternative medicine can reduce the demand for drugs, reduce pressures on the health service, increase patient satisfaction, and make everyone in this country happier.

3.36 pm

Barbara Keeley (Worsley and Eccles South) (Lab): It is a pleasure to follow my colleague from the Health Committee who spoke on a theme we hear quite a bit about in our meetings—less so the astrology, but we hear quite a bit about the other aspects.

I want to talk about carers, who are a key part of our society. The challenges of caring should be a vital part of the debate on social care. Now that we talk so much more about the integration of health and social care, we must remember that unpaid family carers provide most of that care. It is not paid for—it is given. The Care Act 2014 gave local authorities responsibility for assessing a carer’s own needs for support, and for deciding whether those needs are “eligible” for support. I believe that that legislation fails carers in two ways. We know that £3.7 billion has been cut from adult social care budgets since 2009-10. Giving carers new rights to assessment and support is a hollow improvement because the support available to them is dwindling because of higher eligibility levels and increased charges.

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Macmillan Cancer Support reports that only one in three carers of people with cancer had heard of a carer’s assessment, and only one in 20 carers have actually had one. A survey in 2013 found that more than 70% of carers come into contact with health professionals, including GPs, doctors and nursing staff, during their caring journey. We have given the duty to assess carers to a body that a lot of carers do not see. It has always been clear to me that health professionals should have a key role in identification, but currently they identify only one in 10 carers, and GPs identify fewer than that.

The need for NHS bodies to identify carers and ensure that they are referred to sources of advice and support was raised at all stages of the debate on the Care Bill in the Commons, but was not accepted by the care Minister. Labour tabled new clauses to ensure that NHS bodies were required to identify carers and ensure that carers received advice and support, but they were voted down. In my constituency I see how that leaves carers with inadequate support. Last week I raised the example of a 62-year-old man from Eccles, who is caring for his wife who has Alzheimer’s. When Mr Bielawski sought an urgent GP appointment for his wife, he was told that it would take five weeks for her to see her GP and two weeks to see any GP, or he could take her to Salford Royal hospital’s A and E department. That is clearly not acceptable, but it is what happens when there is no duty on GPs or their staff to identify carers. If they did that, carers and the people for whom they are caring could be given the support and the priority that they deserve. In my view, a carer for somebody with Alzheimer’s disease should receive more priority than Mr Bielawski was given.

I believe it is time for the national Government to make a covenant with carers to show how society values their caring, and how we intend to support them to continue to care in future. A covenant could address flaws in the Care Act 2014, widen the definition of carer and address additional burdens that have been put on carers by this Government’s welfare reforms.

I suggest that, initially, under the covenant, NHS bodies should have a duty to identify carers, which I have just discussed; GPs and hospital staff should signpost carers to that help and support; NHS bodies should ensure that carers receive relevant medical services, because many carers need health checks that they never get; the definition of carer should be widened to include young carers and parent carers; and schools and colleges should recognise the needs and rights of young carers, and have procedures in place to identify them. More generally, the Government should have a role in ensuring that children and young people are protected from inappropriate caring.

We should not—absolutely not—charge carers if they need an extra room for their caring responsibilities. The bedroom tax currently affects 60,000 carers, and I am glad that Labour has pledged to abolish it. I hope that we have an early vote on that. Given the reported policy U-turns in other parties, I hope they will join Labour Members in that pledge to abolish the bedroom tax. Given that current welfare reforms have had an impact on carers, the Government should ensure that future legislation is more carer-proofed, so that changes do not negatively affect carers’ ability to care.

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My last point on the care part of my speech is on Labour’s whole person care proposals, which would bring together three fragmented services—NHS, mental health and social care—into a single service co-ordinating all a person’s needs. I trust that supporting carers will be central to Labour’s proposals, because, as I have said, carers provide so much of the care needed.

The bedroom tax has hit my constituency hard. Around 1,400 households are still affected. A small number have been able to move and downsize, but for the rest of those affected, the true impact of the bedroom tax is becoming clearer. Some households affected by the bedroom tax were helped by the local authority’s discretionary housing payment scheme, which was well managed and targeted appropriately by Salford city council. Despite that help, only 49% of those households affected have been able to pay the tax, and 51% of have slipped into arrears, which have risen by £90,000 in recent months. As I said, Labour has pledged to abolish the bedroom tax. That will be a relief to my constituents, but meanwhile, it is worth saying that the policy is taking my constituents into debt and into misery.

Talking of Department for Work and Pensions chaos, I recently took up the case of a constituent, Mr Koppens, who had undergone major surgery for tongue and neck cancer—a very difficult cancer. My constituent told me that, in an operation lasting more than 13 hours, he suffered heart attacks, and that he continues to have unstable angina. Given his medical history, he is not allowed to drive. Despite that, a DWP decision maker put Mr Koppens into the work-related activity group, so that he was required by the local jobcentre to attend an interview. He was referred to the Work programme.

Mr Koppens was astonished at that outcome. He felt that the jobcentre was putting pressure on him, and making him feel like a cheat and that his cardiologist and doctors were liars. In the end, he attended an interview with the Work programme provider, but during the interview, he started to suffer chest pain. He asked for a first-aider but there was no first-aider, so he had to ask for an ambulance to be called. I was amazed to discover that, despite all that, as Mr Koppens was leaving to go to the hospital, the centre’s manager remonstrated that Mr Koppens’s wife, who had driven him to the interview, had failed to sign in properly when they arrived.

Furthermore, I have had to raise with Ministers eight cases of constituents who have claimed personal independence payment from May 2013, June 2013, August 2013 and September 2013. They have encountered lost forms, waits of six months or more for an Atos assessment, and a lack of updates or information when they contact the DWP. The process appears to be in complete chaos. I hope the newly appointed Ministers will be able to make some impact on the chaos at the DWP because my constituents are suffering from it. To be frank, I am not holding my breath.

Another local issue is air pollution. Last Thursday, I asked the following question to the new Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs:

“The M60, the M62 and the M602 run through my constituency…We have extremely high levels of air pollution from road traffic. Indeed, the Highways Agency has had to shelve its plans to widen the M60 near my constituency because that would have brought too much road traffic”

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on to the motorway

“and made our unacceptable air pollution worse. Now that the European Court of Justice has ruled that the Government are failing to meet their air pollution targets…what plans”


“Ministers have to tackle air pollution in areas such as mine, to prevent my constituents from suffering respiratory disease and early death?”—[Official Report, 17 July 2014; Vol. 584, c. 1001.]

Not surprisingly, the Secretary of State—she had been in her new role for only 48 hours—found that she could not answer that question, so I hope the Deputy Leader of the House has an answer today because, in summertime, the pollution tends to make my constituents very ill.

The hon. Member for Southend West (Mr Amess) spoke of the need for a national cemetery, but in the past 24 hours, I have been dealing with the problem of dozens of gravestones dumped on land near the Manchester ship canal. I thank Chief Superintendent Mary Doyle of Greater Manchester police, and David Seager of Salford city council, for dealing with that sensitive matter and for trying to find a solution that respects the families who own the gravestones, which should never have been dumped. I wish you, Mr Deputy Speaker, a good recess, and I thank all who support our work, particularly the Hansard writers and Noeleen and her team in the Tea Room.

3.45 pm

Sir Bob Russell (Colchester) (LD): Britain’s road safety record is arguably the best of any industrial country in the world. The number of people who lose their lives on the road today is about a third of what it was almost 50 years ago. Great progress has been made, and successive Governments can take pride in that. It is in that context, therefore, that I draw the House’s attention to the inexplicable possibility of a relaxation of certain aspects of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. This year, we commemorate the 40th anniversary of its passing in Parliament with the unanimous support of all political parties, which it has had over those years.

Based on the figures of 40 years ago, it is estimated that 1,000 lives have been saved every year—40,000 lives have been saved. That is not to mention the injuries at work that have been prevented. We should think about the impact that such injuries have on the lives of people who are injured, their families and work colleagues, and the about impact on hospitals’ accident and emergency departments, which hon. Members know are already overburdened. In that context, to even talk of or think about diluting something that saves lives and prevents injuries, and makes work a safe environment, is unbelievable. The fact that the Government and others are thinking about it is something that we should take very seriously.

It is worth noting that the whole Olympic stadium was built without the loss of a single life. We should contrast that with the large number of deaths that occur in the building of World cup stadiums and Olympic stadiums elsewhere in the world. The 1974 Act was crucial in ensuring that safe environment in that flagship development, which we all enjoyed two years ago. We give praise in equal measure to employers organisations and trade unions, as well as Governments, for allowing that to happen.

Into that great success story of safety and of lives being saved, it is being suggested that the approved code of practice in construction regulations should be diluted.

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I draw attention in particular to what is known as appendix 4. Many of us assume the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 applies only to dangerous occupations such as building, but it applies everywhere, including in our constituency offices. I was going to say it applies to the Houses of Parliament, but I have a feeling that they are exempt. I would like to think they follow the code of conduct. Health and safety accreditation schemes cover industries from A to Z, from air travel to zoos—just about everything.

Appendix 4 is adopted by a whole range of organisations to ensure that their work force can work in a safe environment. It is simple to read; clear; easily understood and applied; relevant and applicable across a wide range of industry sectors, not just, as I said, in construction industries; and widely used and recognised because of its regulatory standing as part of an approved code of practice. I therefore hope in this very brief contribution—I want to keep it very tight—that my right hon. Friend the Deputy Leader of the House will ensure that common sense breaks out. If 1,000 lives a year are being saved and people at work are being saved from serious injury—not to mention the impact that that would have on their place of work and on their employers’ ability to do whatever that business is doing—why do away with it? If it is going to be done away with, what will the consequences be, purely in terms of injuries, on our accident and emergency departments?

The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 has been a great success story. In the same way that we have made our roads safer, we should ensure that we do not make our workplaces less safe.

3.50 pm

Chris Bryant (Rhondda) (Lab): I congratulate the hon. Member for Bosworth (David Tredinnick) on his speech. I disagreed with every word of it. I was intrigued to hear that he is the chair of what I think he called the Government herb committee. That conjured images from my childhood of the television programme, “The Herbs”. Parsley the Lion, Dill the Dog, Lady Rosemary and Bayleaf the Gardener all went flooding through my mind.

I was delighted by the contribution from my hon. Friend the Member for Worsley and Eccles South (Barbara Keeley). I completely agree with her on the bedroom tax. I am determined that when Labour wins the general election next year, we will repeal the bedroom tax. If the Deputy Leader of the House, who will wind up for the Government, is still a Member of Parliament then, I look forward to him voting with us, even if he cannot bring himself to vote with us on this matter before that date.

I wish to raise two specific issues. The first is concussion in sport. Members may know that in the United States a legal action against the National Football League has led to a $1 billion class suit. It looks as if the money set aside by the sport will still not be enough to compensate those who have suffered from industrial injuries. That was due to the negligence shown by the sport, and the cover-up: the sport had conducted research, but was not prepared to make it public. I believe—as do some other Members; we have produced a joint report—that exactly the same thing is happening in the United Kingdom. The sporting bodies in this country need to take this matter far more seriously than they do.

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On 19 January 2002, Jeff Astle died. He was perhaps one of the most iconic soccer players of the late 20th century. He played for West Bromwich Albion and was renowned as a great header of the ball. The coroner decided that he had died because of repeated minor traumas to his head caused by heading the ball. Some people say that football has changed in the intervening years. However, the research conducted in the US shows that the use of a lighter ball makes absolutely no difference to the chronic traumatic encephalopathy that can be suffered by players.

When Jeff died, the Football Association in this country promised—it swore blind to Jeff’s family, his lovely widow and his daughters—that it would conduct 10 years of thorough research, and that it would make that research public. To date, no research whatever seems to have been done. If any research has been done, it has been covered up and not made public. Not only is that a disgraceful way to treat the family of Jeff Astle, but the FA is verging on the criminally negligent in how it is treating other players who are in exactly the same position.

We only had to watch two of the last matches of the World cup to see examples. In the final, Christoph Kramer was playing for Germany when he received what was quite clearly a concussion, but he went back on to play. Afterwards, he said that he could not even remember most of the first half of the match because of the blow he had taken to his head. Javier Mascherano, one of the Argentine players, was also clearly concussed in a semi-final game, but went back on to the field of play. That sends the message to young boys and girls playing many different sports in which they might receive a blow to the head that it is better to go back on the pitch, even if they have received such a blow.

To appreciate the all-too-possible danger of a double impact, particularly to children, we need only consider the case of Ben Robinson, who a few years ago went back on the pitch, received a second concussion and died. Of course, I am not saying that every child should be wrapped in cotton wool—we want people to enjoy their sport—but the message coming from big sport, broadcasters, doctors and sporting bodies is that it is better to get back on your feet, go back on and play. Where there is good research proving that chronic traumatic encephalopathy is leading to long-term depression, mental illness, early onset dementia and possibly suicide, surely to God we need to take that seriously, and where there is no research, in sports with regular brain injuries, surely to God we need to ensure that research is done, and all the sporting bodies need to work together.