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Business of the House

11.29 am

Ms Angela Eagle (Wallasey) (Lab): Will the Leader of the House give us the business for next week?

The Leader of the House of Commons (Chris Grayling): Before I do, it may be appropriate—I hope this view is shared by Members in all parts of the House—for us to express our solidarity with and good will towards the Parliament in Kabul, after the dreadful terrorist attack there this week. We express all our sympathies for those affected. It is a matter of great dismay to me when a democratically elected Parliament is a target in this way.

The business for next week is as follows:

Monday 29 June—Consideration in Committee of the Scotland Bill (day 2).

Tuesday 30 June—Consideration in Committee of the Scotland Bill (day 3).

Wednesday 1 July—Opposition day (4th allotted day). There will be a debate on an Opposition motion. Subject to be announced.

Thursday 2 July—General debate on Britain and international security.

Friday 3 July—The House will not be sitting.

The provisional business for the week commencing 6 July will include:

Monday 6 July—Conclusion of consideration in Committee of the Scotland Bill.

Tuesday 7 July—Opposition day (5th allotted day). There will be a debate on an Opposition motion. Subject to be announced.

Wednesday 8 July—My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer will deliver his Budget statement.

Thursday 9 July—Continuation of the Budget debate.

Friday 10 July—The House will not be sitting.

Ms Eagle: May I associate myself with the Leader of the House’s commiserations and good thoughts for those caught up in the awful events in the Parliament in Kabul?

There is just over a year and a half until the BBC’s charter runs out, but the Government still have not set out a timetable or plan for its renewal. After the Prime Minister’s election threat to close down the BBC, and given that the last charter renewal process began three years before the charter expired, could the Leader of the House say when and how the House will be kept informed of progress on this important issue?

On Tuesday, the Equality and Human Rights Commission revealed that a staggering 88% of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people had experienced some form of hate crime, and 35,000 such cases go unreported every year. As I dust off my pink Stetson, ready to join the LGBT community at Pride, does the Leader of the House agree that we need to redouble our efforts to root out prejudice and discrimination at home and abroad? Does he agree that the Foreign Secretary’s decision to ban the Pride flag from being flown at UK embassies around the world sends exactly the wrong signal?

Later today, EU leaders will meet in Brussels. The Prime Minister has briefed that the meeting is all about his renegotiation, but I read this morning that one senior EU diplomat has said that discussion on the

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subject would be “cursory”, so I thought I would take a look at the agenda. I can see items on migration, terrorism, jobs, growth and competitiveness. Squeezed in just before the end, above the adoption of the minutes of the last meeting, is our Prime Minister. His Back Benchers have got him on the run, and his tour of European capitals has been an object lesson in how to lose friends and alienate people. One Slovak official said:

“He is not the brightest spark in terms of getting what he wants…His approach is making him irrelevant”.

But not to worry: the Prime Minister has come up with a cunning plan. Instead of successful renegotiation, he has apparently decided to rebrand our membership of the EU by calling us associate members. Given that the right hon. Member for North Somerset (Dr Fox) has indicated that Eurosceptics, such as the Leader of the House, will resign before the referendum, perhaps the Prime Minister should consider offering his Cabinet associate membership to hold his Government together.

This Government really do say one thing and do another. Just last year, they promised more disabled people would be in work. Now we know that fewer than one in 10 disabled people on the Work programme have actually found a job. Before the election, the Government claimed they had exceeded their target for selling off Government land for house building, but now we know that they were counting land sold off from 1997. On Monday, the Prime Minister claimed he had saved £1.2 billion through the troubled families programme, but within minutes the National Institute of Economic and Social Research had dismissed his comments as “pure, unadulterated fiction”, so may we have a debate in Government time on the Tory parallel universe where a person can say something and do the complete opposite, and hope nobody will notice?

It is three months since the right hon. Member for Surrey Heath (Michael Gove) ceased being Chief Whip. I would be missing him, if he had ever bothered turning up, so I thought I would take a look at what he has been up to in the Ministry of Justice. After a period of uncharacteristic silence, he has suddenly sprung to life and issued a detailed guide on grammar for his civil servants. His rules include never using the word “impact” and avoiding “anything too pompous”. I wonder who on earth he has in mind, Mr Speaker. Over at his old Department, I notice that the Secretary of State for Education has also been tackling the big issues. She has appointed a new low level bad behaviour tsar, presumably to help deal with Tory Eurosceptics.

Finally, I feel compelled to mention the developing drama in the Liberal Democrat leadership race. Only the Liberal Democrats could manage to have a split when they have eight MPs. This week the right hon. Member for North Norfolk (Norman Lamb) had to apologise after his activists were caught discrediting his rival by calling round the party’s entire membership, which cannot have taken very long, although he earned the endorsement of boxer Frank Bruno, which means that at least he has one big hitter.

Chris Grayling: The hon. Lady began with a question about the BBC. The next 18 months will be an important period in deciding how the future of the BBC will be shaped. We have a new Secretary of State—a very welcome appointment—who has been in post only a

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few weeks. He has already started work on this important issue and the House will be updated in due course about progress on that front.

On hate crime, I absolutely agree with the hon. Lady. It is not simply a matter of those in the LGBT community; in other parts of society hate crime is wholly unacceptable in whatever form—in relation to sex, colour, creed or whatever. All of us in the House should deprecate it and we should always seek to ensure that our authorities deal with it in the appropriate way. I hear the hon. Lady’s comments about flags. She will no doubt raise that question also with the Foreign Secretary. There are many countries around the world which need to change their approach to gay rights and I very much hope they will do so.

On Europe, let us be clear. What I hope and believe will come out of the European summit is a historic agreement with our European partners to renegotiate our membership of the European Union. That is a major step forward. I listen with interest to the Labour party, which seems to waver in the wind on this issue. It opposed a referendum; now it supports a referendum. It seems to support some form of renegotiation, but it does not appear to believe that any change is necessary to our relationship with the European Union. When Labour Members have a clear policy and a clear view on what our relationship should be, perhaps we will start to listen to them and take them seriously, but right now, we will not do so.

On the employment front, I am sorry to tell the hon. Lady that the Work programme has been a great success. It has led to a massive drop in the number of long-term unemployed in this country. This Government have, and the coalition Government as well had, a fantastic record on employment. We have seen a huge increase in the number of people in work to record levels. We have seen a massive drop in unemployment and a very welcome increase in the number of disabled people in work.

The hon. Lady mentioned guidelines issued by Ministers —in this case, on grammar. I would rather have a former Education Secretary issuing guidance to his correspondence team on how best to phrase letters from his Department than a Chief Secretary to the Treasury issuing instructions to his civil servants about how to make his coffee.

Finally, it would be wrong to end without a quick glimpse at the Labour leadership contest this week. I have, as usual, taken a look to see what has been happening. I had a look at the website of the Wallasey Labour party—where else to get an insight into what is going on? There, on the front page, I found an article about the Labour leadership candidates with the headline “The candidates are awful”. Enough said.

Sir David Amess (Southend West) (Con): Will my right hon. Friend find time for a debate on burial and cremation services, as Government burial funds are not keeping pace with the increasing costs of making dignified funeral arrangements?

Chris Grayling: My hon. Friend raises an important point. Through the current system, the Government provide nearly £50 million of support a year for people going through the trauma of bereavement. I encourage him to bring forward a debate in the House or to raise the matter in oral questions, and I know that Ministers will listen sensitively to the points that he raises.

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Pete Wishart (Perth and North Perthshire) (SNP): I thank the Leader of the House for announcing the business for next week and for his comments on the attack on the Parliament in Kabul, which I think were well made.

Next week we will return to consideration of the Scotland Bill, with two days for further amendments to try to improve it and return to it the principles of the Smith commission, which the Scottish Parliament’s devolution Committee believes have not been met, and neither does the House of Commons Library, as my hon. Friend the Member for Moray (Angus Robertson) told the Prime Minister yesterday. Will the Secretary of State for Scotland therefore come to the House next Monday and Tuesday in a much more accommodating mood, in order to ensure that the principles of the Smith commission are met?

The Leader of the House had better not be thinking about amending the Scotland Bill in the unelected House of Lords. The House of Lords, I can tell him, has never been held in such contempt by the Scottish people, who see it as nothing other than a repository for the donors and cronies of the UK parties. The Bill must be amended in the elected House of Commons, so may we have an assurance that any important amendments will be made here and not in that bloated, ermine-coated, absurd legislature down the corridor?

I see that we are to have a debate next week on English votes for English laws as it would apply to north Wales, secured by the hon. Member for Ynys Môn (Albert Owen)—I do not see him in his place. Perhaps we will at last get some answers on English votes for English laws, because the Leader of the House has failed to answer a single parliamentary question on the matter. We now have three weeks until the summer recess, so will he bring forward his plans and start answering questions? He is going to have to turn up to the debate next Wednesday, so can we hear some more about English votes for English laws and how that will affect my hon. Friends and you, Mr Speaker, because it will place you in the most invidious political position. We need some answers.

Lastly, the Scottish schools go on holiday next week. Our recess is almost three months long, yet we seem unable to match our recess arrangements with the school holidays in a large part of the United Kingdom. Many of my hon. Friends have young children. It is great that English Members will get to spend the whole recess in their constituencies with their families, but my hon. Friends will not. We are off for almost three months! Surely it is not beyond the wit of this House to design a recess period to cover that. I suggest that we do away with the Daily Mail fortnight in September and with the conference recess. Let us have a recess that covers all the school holidays and then let us return here, like everybody else in the country, after the August bank holiday. Surely that makes sense for everybody. I hope that the Leader of the House will consider that suggestion.

Chris Grayling: First, on the Scotland Bill, I can only reiterate that the Government are fulfilling our obligation and implementing the Smith commission’s report. The hon. Gentleman will have plenty of opportunities to bring forward amendments if he so chooses and to question Scotland Office Ministers about the content of the Bill. However, as the Prime Minister said clearly yesterday during Prime Minister’s questions, we are

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fulfilling our obligation to the Scottish people by delivering the package of devolution that we set out before them. They looked at it and chose to stay within the United Kingdom, and I am very grateful that they did. We are fulfilling the agreement we made at the time, and that is what the Bill does.

On English votes for English laws, I can only reiterate that we will bring forward our proposals shortly. They are measures that both the Labour party and the Scottish National party should support—the Labour party because it no longer has a presence in Scotland, so it should understand the need for fairness in this country’s devolution settlement, and the SNP because, as a champion of devolution, it should understand the need for fairness. I hope that when I bring forward the proposals shortly they will welcome them and see them as an important part of solidifying our constitutional arrangements.

I understand the hon. Gentleman’s point about the recess arrangements. The Chief Whip and I will always think carefully about how best to structure the parliamentary calendar. It is not always easy to provide a solution that satisfies everyone, but we will always try to make this place as child and family-friendly as possible.

Finally, although there are still some terrible conflicts around the world, which we hope to see resolved, I have to report to the House that one conflict close to home appears to have been resolved. The morning race for the Front Bench below the Gangway on the Opposition side has stopped, peace has broken out and an agreement has been reached between the two parties on where they will sit in future. That is good news for this House, although perhaps bad news for the bookmakers.

Several hon. Members rose—

Mr Speaker: Order. As I mentioned earlier, a statement by the Secretary of State for Transport will follow these exchanges, and thereafter there is to be a very well subscribed debate. Therefore, there is a premium upon brevity. I am looking for single, short supplementary questions, preferably without preamble, and the Leader of the House’s characteristically pithy replies.

Matt Warman (Boston and Skegness) (Con): Yesterday I initiated a well-attended Westminster Hall debate on superfast broadband. Does the Leader of the House agree that that matter is vitally important to all our constituents and should be debated more fully?

Chris Grayling: I commend my hon. Friend for initiating that well-attended debate. We have now established the new Committee structure, and the Backbench Business Committee will be able to meet shortly. I encourage him to talk to the Committee members with a view to trying to secure one of the Back-Bench business days for that purpose.

Clive Efford (Eltham) (Lab): May we have a debate on the role of the National Crime Agency in preventing harm to children? I have been raising my concerns about a substance called Miracle Mineral Solution, which is being promoted particularly to parents of children with autism as a cure for that condition. I have been asking the National Crime Agency why this is not considered a direct threat to children. It is being promoted as something that can be given orally in a baby’s bottle or even as an enema. May we have a debate to ensure that the National Crime Agency is on top of issues like this?

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Chris Grayling: The hon. Gentleman raises an important point. I was not aware of that particular substance. We have Home Office questions on Monday week, and I hope he will take advantage of the opportunity to raise this issue with Home Office Ministers. We should clearly take it very seriously.

Mr Nigel Evans (Ribble Valley) (Con): I do not have a pink T-shirt or even the use of a pink bus, but this weekend hundreds of thousands of people will be celebrating the diversity and equality that we all cherish in this country. Unfortunately, in about 80 countries people cannot do that because it is illegal. Mr Speaker, few people have done more than you to promote LGBT rights in this Parliament. Will the Leader of the House please have a word with the Foreign Secretary about the displaying of the rainbow flag over the Foreign Office and high commissions and embassies throughout the world? That would send the important signal that we stand by the side of those who are oppressed, and indeed, in some cases, those who fear death for the crime of being born gay.

Chris Grayling: I am happy to communicate the issue to my right hon. Friend. I am very sympathetic to the work that has been done to address this around the world. As I said earlier, it is shocking that many countries still regard homosexuality as illegal. All of us in this House should work to end that.

Caroline Lucas (Brighton, Pavilion) (Green): May we have an urgent debate on the Government plans to sell off a majority stake in the Green Investment Bank—a move that will damage investor confidence, set back the low-carbon economy, and, crucially, undermine the very reason for setting up the bank, which was to lever private investment by de-risking it?

Chris Grayling: I am not surprised to hear the hon. Lady’s concerns given her views. I believe that it is far better for an organisation like the Green Investment Bank to be able to stand on its own two feet. If it can function as an effective organisation without the need for taxpayer support, that is surely a good thing. It is a sign that investment in green business, green industries and green technologies is becoming more and more mainstream in the investment world.

Jack Lopresti (Filton and Bradley Stoke) (Con): Will my right hon. Friend find time for a debate about the provision of healthcare across south Gloucestershire, especially the long-awaited and much anticipated community hospital on the old Frenchay hospital site, which has been delayed for long enough?

Chris Grayling: I commend my hon. Friend for being such a powerful advocate for his constituency. He has campaigned on this issue for a long time. My colleagues in the Department of Health will have heard what he said. A lot of this is now down to local decision making, so the influence that he has locally will play a big part in it. Health questions will take place in 10 days’ time, and he will have the opportunity to restate his point then.

Mike Gapes (Ilford South) (Lab/Co-op): As we see the dangerous situation in Kobani in Syria, is it not time that we had a full debate in this House about our

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strategy towards Syria and the region, and what we can do to help the brave Kurdish fighters who are fighting against the horrible Daesh cult and its misogynist, homophobic, murderous policies?

Chris Grayling: I endorse the hon. Gentleman’s concerns about the dreadful things happening in parts of Iraq and Syria. It is absolutely right and proper that the international community should stand against this and be supportive of those who are resisting that terrible regime, and of course we are playing our part as a nation in doing so. One of the reasons we are having next Thursday’s debate on international affairs is that over the past few weeks I have listened carefully to the comments made by Members on both sides of the House on the need for this and similar issues to be debated. That opportunity will be available this time next week.

Mr Philip Hollobone (Kettering) (Con): Although investigatory powers in Britain and international security are undoubtedly important topics, it is also important that this House debates what everybody else in the country is talking about. Night after night we see on our television screens the wave of human misery coming to our shores from the middle east and north Africa and the problems being caused at Calais. That is what everybody is talking and concerned about, so may we have a full day’s debate on the Floor of the House about Britain’s immigration policy and how we are going to tackle both legal and illegal immigration being too high?

Chris Grayling: I recognise that this is a matter of great concern to the public and, indeed, the Government. My hon. Friend will be aware that my right hon. Friend addressed the issue in the House yesterday. What is happening in Iraq and Syria and the crisis in the Mediterranean were two of the key reasons for ensuring that there is a full day’s debate next Thursday—I hope my hon. Friend will take advantage of that—to discuss what we all regard as a crucial issue. What is happening in north Africa and the Mediterranean is frankly shocking.

Kirsten Oswald (East Renfrewshire) (SNP): May we have a statement on what steps are being taken to prevent companies funded by the Department for International Development from pursuing policies and contract terms that lead to systemic food wastage?

Chris Grayling: The hon. Lady raises an important point. I will make sure that her concerns are passed to DFID and I suggest that she look to bring an International Development Minister to the House through an Adjournment debate, in order to raise the issue directly. I know she will continue to ask questions about the issue.

Paul Scully (Sutton and Cheam) (Con): At their school assembly yesterday, the pupils of Cheam Park Farm junior school gave me several messages in support of the Send my Friend to School campaign. May we have a debate to discuss how this Government can help in the objective of making free education available to more children around the world?

Chris Grayling: I commend the teachers at Cheam Park Farm junior school for their work in raising awareness and helping their pupils to raise their concerns.

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My hon. Friend can look those pupils in the eye and say that this Government have an excellent record in providing financial support through our international aid budget to those parts of the world where young people do not have adequate access to education or, indeed, other basic needs in life, such as clean food and water. We are doing everything we can internationally to help the development of those communities, and those young people should feel proud to be part of a country that is doing its bit in the world.

Tom Blenkinsop (Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland) (Lab): Two years ago a constituent of mine used Safestyle UK to fit windows throughout her property. Two years on, the windows still rattle and leak water, but Safestyle UK denies any responsibility. May we have a debate about consumer rights and how we can improve them so that people are not ripped off by cowboys?

Chris Grayling: The hon. Gentleman is performing one of the most important functions of a constituency Member of Parliament, which is to put pressure on organisations that are simply not delivering for the people we represent. I am sure that merely by having raised the issue today, he will have stirred some people outside this place. He will have another opportunity to do so in BIS questions on Tuesday and I hope he will continue to do so. It is right and proper that we put pressure on organisations that fail to deliver for our constituents.

Mr Peter Bone (Wellingborough) (Con): When the Leader of the House referred to the European Council summit and said that he expected the Prime Minister to report back that the European Union had agreed to the fundamental reforms, I think I saw, for the first time in 10 years, some flying pigs looping and laughing. I do not know whether you caught that, Mr Speaker. Will the Leader of the House confirm that the Prime Minister will make a statement on Monday about the European Council?

Chris Grayling: I was not necessarily commenting on the outcome of the negotiations, but merely that the negotiations are starting. My hon. Friend will form his own view about whether there are flying pigs around, but I assure him that there will be a statement on Monday. The Prime Minister will appear before this House and take questions in detail not only about this issue, but about the Mediterranean, to which my hon. Friend the Member for Kettering (Mr Hollobone) referred.

Rachael Maskell (York Central) (Lab/Co-op): This week North Yorkshire police held a summit on the sharp increase in antisocial behaviour fuelled by excess drinking in York city centre at weekends. When will this House have an opportunity to debate an increase in police levels linked to licensing legislation, to ensure that city centres can be safe, family-friendly and good for business?

Chris Grayling: One of the things we have always believed is that it was a mistake for the last Labour Government to go as far as they did on the road towards all-night drinking. I think it had an effect on

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antisocial behaviour and put extra pressure on police. We have taken a number of measures since then that will contribute to easing that problem. The hon. Lady will always have the opportunity, at Home Affairs questions and through the Adjournment debate system, to raise concerns related to her constituency when she feels the existing powers do not go far enough.

Mr Jacob Rees-Mogg (North East Somerset) (Con): Following the brouhaha over the Crown Estate, the Scotland Bill and the Sovereign Grant Act 2011, will my right hon. Friend make time available for a debate to allow our friends in the Scottish National party to reaffirm their loyalty to our and their sovereign?

Chris Grayling: I note the welcome nods from Scottish National party Members. I am glad that the First Minister has clarified the situation this morning in no uncertain terms. I think that we, on both sides of this House and in all parts of the United Kingdom, should be absolutely proud of our monarch. We value her and are amazingly grateful for everything she has done for us. The fact that she is in Germany today, representing this country again, is an example of how well served we are by her and by our royal family.

Grahame M. Morris (Easington) (Lab): The Leader of the House has announced that we will have a debate next Thursday on international affairs in Government time. May I suggest that the House should have the opportunity to discuss some domestic issues, notably the proposed £200 million cut in public health budgets, £3.6 million of which is to be cut from Durham County Council in my area? It flies in the face of all the evidence and expert opinion, will damage preventive healthcare and is extremely short term. Members from all across the country would like the opportunity to discuss it.

Chris Grayling: I simply remind the hon. Gentleman that we, both in coalition and in Government, have continued to increase funding for healthcare, somewhat against the wishes of the shadow Health Secretary, who argued that we should reduce funding for healthcare and that it would be irresponsible to continue to increase it in the way we have. I am very happy with our record.

John Glen (Salisbury) (Con): My constituent, Mohamed Kalefa Aisa, is currently studying in Salisbury on a visitor visa. There are no flights back to Libya because of the turmoil and my constituent is stranded here. The border agency expects him to travel to another country to reapply for a visa. Will the Leader of the House make time for a debate on our immigration rules in the light of the impractical and unrealistic advice my constituent has received?

Chris Grayling: I understand the difficulty that my hon. Friend’s constituent faces, given the very difficult situation in Libya. My advice is to approach the relevant Minister directly. I know that Ministers try to be flexible when there are exceptional circumstances, although, of course, given the immigration pressures upon us, they have to be pretty rigid in upholding the rules, otherwise we would be opening the door to very large numbers of other people who wish to come here.

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Liz McInnes (Heywood and Middleton) (Lab): May we have a statement on why the Ministry of Justice is still paying G4S and Serco millions of pounds every month to supply electronic tagging equipment more than a year after both companies were barred from running the contract?

Chris Grayling: G4S and Serco do not run the contracts— Capita does.

Dr Tania Mathias (Twickenham) (Con): With the Davies commission about to report any day, do the Government plan to have a debate on the commission’s findings before the summer recess, and will the Government put them to a vote?

Chris Grayling: I assure my hon. Friend that the Secretary of State for Transport is well aware of how important the issue is in this House. Once the report is received by Government, he will certainly come to the House and take questions, before deciding how to proceed.

Nick Thomas-Symonds (Torfaen) (Lab): The roll-out of universal credit has begun in my constituency, with it having been available to single new claimants since April. It has enormous implications for very vulnerable people, many of whom do not have access to the internet and now have to get used to managing money differently. Will the Leader of the House find time for a debate on access to universal credit for the most vulnerable people in our society?

Chris Grayling: Labour’s policy has been, I think, to be supportive of universal credit, so I am not sure how the hon. Gentleman’s comment fits in with that. The reality is that universal credit creates a new structure that means that people are better off in work than sitting at home on benefits doing nothing. If people are going to get away from the benefits environment that many of them live in and get into the workplace, as we all want them to, they will need knowledge of, access to, and the ability to use technology, which is available through jobcentres, public libraries and other facilities. I think we have got this absolutely right and that universal credit will make a transformational difference to people’s lives.

Craig Tracey (North Warwickshire) (Con): My constituency has a growing problem of heavy goods vehicle drivers parking overnight on industrial parks and in neighbouring residential areas, such as Coleshill. They are predominantly drivers from eastern European countries. Hams Hall distribution centre is seeing up to 70 trailers a night. As a result, there is an increase in accidents and antisocial behaviour. May we have an urgent debate on the provision of adequate lorry parks and on the need for consideration to be given to this matter when granting planning on industrial parks?

Chris Grayling: By coincidence, the Secretary of State for Transport has just walked into the Chamber, so he will have heard my hon. Friend’s remarks. I understand the nature of the challenge and there are things that could be done to address it. I would like service station providers to cater more for this need, which is clearly present. It should not be imposed on local communities and estates. I know that the Department for Transport will be happy to listen to his comments.

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Steve McCabe (Birmingham, Selly Oak) (Lab): In the last Parliament, the Government established, at considerable cost, the post of police and crime commissioner, which they argued was vital for democratic accountability. The post is now to be subsumed into the office of metro mayor, which will be imposed by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government with an additional precept, whether local people want it or not. May we have a debate on what the Government mean by democratic accountability?

Chris Grayling: I think that police and crime commissioners have made a real difference by providing a focal point for those who are concerned about local policing. Of course, the two posts are combined in London. I know that the Labour party has always been sceptical about police and crime commissioners, but that does not seem to have stopped a large number of former Labour Members of Parliament standing to be police and crime commissioners.

Andrew Stephenson (Pendle) (Con): Exactly a year ago today at Prime Minister’s questions, I raised the tragic case of 17-year-old James Goodship, who had tragically drowned just days before in Lake Burwain in my constituency. As this week is drowning prevention week, may we have a debate on how we can reduce the rate of such drownings and tragedies across the UK?

Chris Grayling: That was a tragic event and our sympathies are very much with James Goodship’s family. I pay tribute to my hon. Friend for taking up the mantle of this issue and for working intensively in Parliament to raise awareness of the risks. His comments will be heard in this place and outside it. An Adjournment debate might provide a valuable opportunity to discuss the issue with Ministers and to allow other Members of Parliament who have experienced similar tragedies in their constituencies to contribute.

Tom Brake (Carshalton and Wallington) (LD): I have received many emails about the case of Andargachew Tsige, as I suspect has the Leader of the House and every other Member of the House. He is a British man who is being held under a death sentence in incommunicado detention in Ethiopia. Has the Leader of the House had any requests from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to come and debate the matter? If he has not, will he follow the matter up with FCO Ministers?

Chris Grayling: I, too, have received a number of emails on the matter, as I suspect have many Members. I deprecate the death penalty wherever it is in place around the world. I have always opposed it and I oppose it in this case. This is clearly a worrying case. I will certainly pass on the concerns to the Foreign Office, so that it is aware how many Members have had constituents raise these concerns with them.

Tom Pursglove (Corby) (Con): Steel production is a crucial employer in Corby. As vice-chairman of the all-party parliamentary group for steel and metal related industries, I know that Members from all parts of the House want to come together to secure the future of the industry. May we have a debate in Government time on carbon taxation and the steel industry, with a Treasury Minister at the Dispatch Box?

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Chris Grayling: It is enormously important that we support key industries like steel. It is an important part of the local economy in my hon. Friend’s constituency and in many other parts of the country. Ministers from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills will be before the House next week. I hope that he will take that opportunity to raise his concerns with them. Of course we have a challenge ahead in tackling climate change and bringing down carbon emissions, but we also have to be smart when it comes to looking after our industries.

Mary Glindon (North Tyneside) (Lab): Two weeks ago, the Leader of the House kindly offered to pass on a request to the Prime Minister to meet Muscular Dystrophy UK and six young boys with Duchenne muscular dystrophy who need Translarna. The decision on the drug is imminent, but the boys have heard nothing. Will the Leader of the House kindly do something to hasten the response from No. 10?

Chris Grayling: I will duly apply a nudge. The Prime Minister is well aware of the issue, because as I said previously he met one of the boys back in January, but I will make sure that the message is passed to No. 10 for the hon. Lady.

Wes Streeting (Ilford North) (Lab): At a meeting I hosted this morning with higher education sector leaders, concern was once again raised about the damaging impact that the inclusion of students in the Government’s net migration cap is having on one of our most important export industries. Will the Leader of the House arrange a debate about that? There is concern about the policy in all parts of the House and beyond.

Chris Grayling: I do regard it is an anomaly that students are contained in some of the migration figures, but that is not a matter for this country. It is set by international statisticians and statistical rules. A large number of students come to this country, and we have taken appropriate steps to make sure that those who come here are legitimate. That is right and proper. We have a thriving higher education sector, but we must also have a system that is careful in ensuring that people who come here should be here.

Kate Green (Stretford and Urmston) (Lab): Joseph Gleave and Son, an SME based in Stretford that has supplied the Ministry of Defence for many years, reports chaotic tendering practices, onerous timescales and contracts being extended or awarded without proper competition.

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That is good for neither the business nor the taxpayer. May we have a debate in Government time on defence procurement?

Chris Grayling: Of course, we will have Defence questions again early in July, so I encourage the hon. Lady to raise the issue with Ministers at that point, but I will make sure that I pass on her concerns on behalf of the company in her constituency to my colleagues at the Ministry of Defence after this session.

Diana Johnson (Kingston upon Hull North) (Lab): During the passage of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013, Rev. Melvin Tinker in Hull told me that if I supported it, he would instruct his congregation not to vote for me. That might have something to do with why my majority went from 641 to 12,899. However, this weekend he has equated homosexuality with paedophilia and put it in the same category. May we please have a debate in Government time about the responsibilities of the established Church of England on community cohesion and not inciting crimes of hate?

Chris Grayling: First, let us be absolutely clear: there is absolutely no connection whatever between homosexuality and paedophilia. Paedophilia is a crime; homosexuality is a reality of our society and something we have moved to support through same-sex marriage and other changes in recent years. It is never acceptable to equate the two.

I would also say that it is important to be sensitive about these issues, as we were during the passage of the Act, particularly in relation to those with strong religious views. We are, and we should be, but there is never any justification for equating homosexuality and paedophilia.

Mr Speaker: The misguided Reverend is obviously rather a blinkered fellow, to put it mildly.

Conor McGinn (St Helens North) (Lab): It was announced yesterday that my local authority in St Helens is having a further £23 million cut from its budget, meaning that by 2020 it will have suffered a 50% reduction in funding under this Government. May we have a debate on the crisis in local government funding and its impact on critical services?

Chris Grayling: Local government has certainly faced budget reductions in recent years, as have many parts of government, but it has also been noticeable how well most councils across the country have adapted to the changes and sustained their services. If the hon. Gentleman’s council, which I have a sneaking suspicion may be a Labour council, has not been able to do that, maybe it is time for a Conservative council in St Helens.

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Network Rail

12.8 pm

The Secretary of State for Transport (Mr Patrick McLoughlin): With permission, Mr Speaker, I wish to make a statement about Network Rail following today’s publication of its annual report.

In September 2014, Network Rail was reclassified as a public body as result of an accounting decision by the Office for National Statistics. Since then the Government have had greater direct oversight of the company. I want to report to the House on Network Rail’s performance and the actions that I am taking to hold it to account.

Some things are working well. Our railways are carrying more passengers than ever before, and journeys have more than doubled since privatisation—they went up on average by 4.2% in the last year alone. Safety has improved, and the reliability of assets on the railways is up. Network Rail reopened the line at Dawlish after the horrendous storms in the time expected. It has opened a new station at Reading ahead of schedule and under budget, and a modernised Birmingham New Street complex will be fully open later this year.

I do not pretend that everything is perfect, however, because it is not. Where performance has fallen below the standards I expect, I want it sorted out. What we saw at Kings Cross at Christmas and at London Bridge earlier this year was unacceptable, and I said so at the time. Since then, Network Rail has demonstrated that it has learned those lessons. I pay tribute to the significant programmes of work it delivered over Easter and the May day bank holidays, but to improve performance we need to invest and we need good management. The truth is that much of this work should have been done decades ago. Successive Governments failed to invest the sums necessary in our rail network, and that is why we find ourselves in the current situation.

When faced with a choice between building the infrastructure our country needs and our railway becoming a brake on growth and opportunity, the Government choose to invest for the future, in projects such as Crossrail in London and HS2. In 2012, the Government set out the most ambitious rail investment programme since the Victorians: a £38 billion programme on enhancing, operating and maintaining the current network. That means hard work and good design; and thousands of people working night after night, sometimes in very difficult conditions. On the 216 miles of the Great Western line alone, Network Rail needs to alter about 170 bridges, lower parts of the track bed, install 14,000 masts of overhead line equipment and electrify parts of the railway constructed by Brunel in the 1830s, so that new British-built fast trains can speed up services and provide more seats and services. Members and their constituents want these improvements, and I am determined that they will happen.

In parts of this programme, Network Rail’s performance has not been good enough. Already, the chief executive and the board are responding. Since joining Network Rail in 2014, the chief executive Mark Carne has reviewed the organisation’s structure, performance and accountability. He has strengthened his team and he has a structure for improvement. I want to see him drive that forward, but there are still challenges. Important aspects of Network Rail’s investment programme are costing more and taking longer: electrification is difficult; the UK supply

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chain for complex signalling works needs to be stronger; construction rates have been slow; and it has taken longer than expected to obtain planning consents from some local authorities. That is no excuse, however. All those problems could and should have been foreseen by Network Rail, so I want to inform the House of the action I am taking to reset the programme and get it back on track.

First, none of Network Rail’s executive directors will receive a bonus for the past year. The current Chairman, Mr Richard Parry-Jones, is stepping down. His replacement will be the current transport commissioner in London, Sir Peter Hendy, someone of huge experience who helped to keep London moving during the Olympics. I am asking him to develop proposals, by autumn, for how the rail upgrade programme will be carried out. Secondly, I am appointing Richard Brown as a special director of Network Rail with immediate effect. He will update me, and report directly to me, on progress. Thirdly, I intend to simplify Network Rail’s governance by ending the role of the public members. I thank them for their commitment, but the reclassification of Network Rail has changed the organisation’s accountability. Fourthly, it is important that we understand what can be done better in future investment programmes. I have therefore asked Dame Colette Bowe, an experienced economist and regulator, to look at lessons learned and to make recommendations for better investment planning in future. I will publish her report in the autumn.

I know that Members on both sides of the House value the improvements that are planned to the railway in their area. Network Rail’s spending should stay within its funding allowance. Electrification of the Great Western line is a top priority and I want Network Rail to concentrate its efforts on getting that right. On the midland main line, better services can be delivered through works such as speed improvement. Electrification will be paused: I want it to be done and done well; it will be part of our future plans for the route.

Meanwhile, the next franchise for the trans-Pennine route between Leeds and Manchester will bring modern trains and additional capacity. Current work on electrification will be paused, because we need to be much more ambitious for that route, building a powerhouse for the north with a fast, high capacity trans-Pennine electric route. We are working with businesses and cities in the north to make that happen. We have seen electric trains introduced this year between Liverpool and Manchester, and between Liverpool and Wigan, and the work that will see them spread to Bolton and Blackpool is under way.

In the south-east, Crossrail and Thameslink are well under way. In Anglia, we will bring about modern, faster trains to Ipswich and Norwich in the next franchise. For passengers in the south-west, the new contract with First Great Western will provide significant extra capacity. I hope to be able to announce news on further new trains for the region soon.

We will keep commuter rail fares capped in real terms for the whole of this Parliament. People’s earnings will rise more quickly than rail fares—the first time that this has happened since 2002. Passengers want a railway that is better, faster and more reliable than today. Powered by a huge increase in investment and ambition right across the country, that is what they will get. I commend the statement to the House.

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12.16 pm

Michael Dugher (Barnsley East) (Lab): I thank the Secretary of State for advance sight of his statement.

Let us be absolutely clear: the Government’s total failure to deliver a fit-for-purpose railway has today been completely and damningly exposed. First, the publication of the latest national rail passenger survey—I note the Secretary of State did not mention it—shows that passenger satisfaction has dropped once again. Now we have the Secretary of State announcing that vital investment projects, such as electrification of the midland main line, which he promised to deliver, are being shelved owing to his repeated failure to get a grip of Network Rail. The electrification of the trans-Pennine express railway line between Manchester, Leeds and York has also been shelved—so much for the northern powerhouse—and we remain concerned about the future of the electrification of the Great Western line.

The Secretary of State spent the election campaign repeating promises that he knew he would break after the election. That is what has been revealed today. The truth is that passengers have had to endure a catalogue of failure on our railways by Ministers since 2010. There was the Christmas rail chaos, which the Secretary of State referred to, although he neglected to mention that Ministers had been warned about that and failed to act. While delusional Ministers talk about “fair fares” and “comfortable commuting”—which is a world away from the misery for commuters at London Bridge—there have been inflation-busting fare rises of on average more than 20%. We have also seen the collapse of the west coast franchise competition, which cost the taxpayer £50 million. Ministers may try today to shift all the blame to Network Rail, but this happened on the Government’s watch and the responsibility for the mess lays squarely with the Government.

Let me turn to a number of specific questions. Will the Secretary of State confirm that when the Government placed the development of key Network Rail projects on hold for up to two years after the 2010 election, important preparation work was not undertaken, and therefore, as the rail regulator has said, they committed to the projects in 2012 based on “limited development work”? We know that Network Rail started to put together a list of projects that would be axed back in November. Why has it taken so long for the Government to reveal them to the House and to be honest with the travelling public? Crucially, can the Secretary of State confirm that he received a report on 1 September last year on the state of those programmes from Network Rail, his Department and the regulator? He has refused to publish it. Why did he sit on the report and pretend to the public that everything was fine until after the election?

Labour first raised the issue of delays to the Great Western project in the House more than a year ago. Why has it taken so long for the Government to admit that there were fundamental problems with the project? Why did the Secretary of State not listen to the Transport Select Committee six months ago when it warned that key rail enhancement projects had

“been announced by Ministers without Network Rail having a clear estimate of what the projects will cost, leading to uncertainty about whether the projects will be delivered on time, or at all”?

Why did he not raise the alarm when the estimated cost of electrifying the midland main line rose from £250 million

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to £540 million and then to £1.3 billion; or when the cost estimates for Great Western electrification rose from £548 million to £930 million and then to £1.7 billion?

Just two weeks ago, the Secretary of State refused to answer my questions about the need to tackle the failures at Network Rail and whether he was planning changes to Network Rail. Will he explain why he has dithered for so long when he has had the power to exert more ministerial responsibility over Network Rail, including by appointing a special director, since September last year?

The Opposition have warned time and again that fundamental change in how our railways are run is needed, that Ministers need to get a grip, that passengers should have a proper voice and that more public control is needed. We welcome the appointment of Sir Peter Hendy as chairman of Network Rail, and we will look carefully at some of the other announcements that the Government have made.

The news today exposes a catalogue of failure by Ministers, and it deals a fatal blow to the Government’s claim that they are delivering a better railway for passengers. Is it not clear that the Government’s real legacy is one of rail fare hikes, plummeting passenger satisfaction, ongoing disruptions and delays, major projects running years behind schedule, promises of vital investment betrayed, and a railway that is not fit for purpose, and all the while out-of-touch Ministers sat in Whitehall overseeing a complete and utter shambles?

Mr McLoughlin: It is true that I have been Transport Secretary for two and a half years. Despite the catalogue of terror that the hon. Gentleman has outlined, over those two and a half years there have been only two occasions on which the Opposition have chosen to debate transport on Opposition days. One was a day after I was appointed, and the other was on the day that the hon. Gentleman’s predecessor was sacked as shadow Transport Secretary. With regard to their warning us and wanting the subject lifted up the political agenda, we have heard nothing from the Opposition, because they are truly embarrassed by their record, whereas we have invested in the railways, lifted them and given encouragement to the railway industry.

Today I have made no cuts whatever to the rail investment strategy—the largest rail investment strategy that has ever taken place. The amount of money invested is exactly the same as it was last week—the budget within which the strategy has to be delivered. I will take no lessons from a Labour party that in 13 years electrified 10 miles of railway lines; we have electrified more this year than it did in all that time. Then there is the £895 million project to rebuild the railways around Reading and to remove major bottlenecks; the £750 million transformation and upgrade of Birmingham New Street station; the refurbishment of Nottingham station, with all the investment going into it. There has been more investment in Nottingham in the last five years than was seen in the 13 years of the last Labour Government. Then there is the new station built at Wakefield; the completed Ipswich Chord and the Doncaster Chord; phase 1 of the £6.5 billion Thameslink project; the completion of Crossrail tunnelling. I could go on a lot more, Mr Speaker. I will take no lectures. I am determined to get on top of, and see the delivery of, those programmes, which are so important for our constituents.

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Sir Simon Burns (Chelmsford) (Con): Does my right hon. Friend accept that my constituents are fed up to the back teeth with points and signalling failures that, through the failings of Network Rail, have too often disrupted their services, and that it is the same with the electrification and upgrading of the track? They will warmly welcome my right hon. Friend’s initiative to seek improvements, and to pin Network Rail down to deliver and to maintain the £38.5 billion investment. Can he confirm that the new franchise for Anglia, which will be warmly welcomed in Chelmsford, includes the new rolling stock and will cover inter-city trains and, more importantly, the vast majority of trains that my constituents use—the commuter trains into Liverpool Street?

Mr McLoughlin: Let me first congratulate my right hon. Friend on his well-deserved inclusion in the recent honours list. I am looking forward to receiving the invitations to tender for the franchise and the results of the franchise competition for the Greater Anglia line. I think we need improvements on that line so that Ipswich and Norwich can be reached in 60 and 90 minutes. As my right hon. Friend well knows, the inclusion of new rolling stock will score very highly on the franchises that are currently being tendered.

Mike Weir (Angus) (SNP): I note the change in the structure of Network Rail announced by the right hon. Gentleman today. Given that Network Rail still plays a part in Scotland’s rail network, will he consult Scottish Ministers before implementing those changes? Most of the changes in railways refer only to England, and I have no real comment on them, but when HS2 was announced, it was said that it would not be extended to Scotland because of the increased journey times through the rest of the network. Will he assure us that none of the changes will jeopardise journey times to Scotland?

Mr McLoughlin: I spoke to Keith Brown last night to outline what I anticipated saying this morning, and I shall meet him again on Monday, when we will discuss a number of these issues. On HS2, as soon as it starts to operate, I believe Scotland will benefit. Anyone travelling on the Javelin train from St Pancras down to areas in Kent that are not served completely by the high-speed line will get the advantage of using that line. I hope that that answers the hon. Gentleman’s questions.

Sir Alan Haselhurst (Saffron Walden) (Con): Is my right hon. Friend aware that perceptive travellers on the West Anglia and Great Eastern lines will recognise that his statement shows that he has listened to and responded to all the various pieces of advice he has had from all different quarters, and therefore this statement is particularly welcome? It will be enhanced if the more reliable journeys that we hope these changes will bring about will be on new trains as well.

Mr McLoughlin: I am grateful to my right hon. Friend, who has never lost an opportunity to impress on me the importance of train services for his constituency or indeed to press for extra investment in the railways. I come back to the point I made at the start of my statement: this Government are fully committed to huge investment on our railway network. When we announced the £38 billion, it was beyond the expectations

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of many people in the railway industry, and I want to ensure that it is delivered efficiently and effectively—for the part that is paid for by fare-paying passengers, as well as for the part that is funded directly by the taxpayer.

Mrs Louise Ellman (Liverpool, Riverside) (Lab/Co-op): Network Rail certainly has many good achievements, but last January the Transport Select Committee warned that escalating costs and poor planning jeopardised the investment programme and, indeed, questioned whether that programme was ever realistic. Will the Secretary of State explain precisely what his statement means for the pause in electrification in the north and for the midland main line service?

Mr McLoughlin: I congratulate the hon. Lady on being elected unopposed as the Chair of the Transport Select Committee. The pause is exactly what I said—a pausing of that particular scheme until I receive the report from Sir Peter Hendy. I made it clear that the midland electrification would always follow the Great Western, which would always be the priority. When people see some of the challenges facing the Great Western electrification, they will certainly understand that.

Jeremy Quin (Horsham) (Con): My constituents will warmly welcome my right hon. Friend’s commitment on commuter rail fares, but will he reassure them that his getting to grips with Network Rail will help to resolve all the outstanding issues in the southern region?

Mr McLoughlin: I can give that reassurance. Let me add that the railways Minister, my hon. Friend the Member for Devizes (Claire Perry), has been particularly good at keeping all local Members in touch, especially those who have experienced problems. I must, however, say to my hon. Friend in all fairness that there will be occasions, during what will be a major refurbishment, when passengers will be caused discomfort and inconvenienced. I am afraid that that is part of our legacy of having to catch up with all the under-investment that was happening for so many years. [Interruption.] The hon. Member for Barnsley East (Michael Dugher) mentions London Bridge. I am the first to admit that some of the conditions faced by people there have been unacceptable, but some of the conditions faced by me at St Pancras were unacceptable, and it is now a fantastic station that is almost a destination in its own right.

John McDonnell (Hayes and Harlington) (Lab): I refer Members to my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests. I am the chair of the RMT parliamentary group.

I assume from his statement that the Secretary of State has resisted some of the calls from the wider elements of his party for the breaking up and privatisation of Network Rail. The fourth point that he made in his statement was,

“it is important that we understand what can be done better in future investment programmes.”

May I suggest to him that one of the key elements of that would be to start listening to some of the workers on the front line? May I also suggest that Dame Colette

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Bowe’s review should include a mechanism for ongoing consultation with the trade unions about how those programmes can be improved?

Mr McLoughlin: I am certainly willing to consider the hon. Gentleman’s suggestions. Some of those workers on the front line do an incredibly difficult job, sometimes in the most horrendous conditions and often in the middle of the night. That is one of the lessons on which we should draw when considering what happened at King’s Cross over Christmas.

Sir Edward Garnier (Harborough) (Con): My right hon. Friend and I are regular users of the midland main line from St Pancras through Market Harborough to Leicester and, in my right hon. Friend’s case, beyond. Our experience, I suggest, is fairly satisfactory. This morning, however, local government leaders in the east midlands, and in Leicester in particular, expressed a fear that the so-called pausing of the electrification might have an effect on development in the east midlands. Can my right hon. Friend assure me that it will have no effect whatsoever on the commercial and economic development of the area?

Mr McLoughlin: As my right hon. and learned Friend says, both he and I use that line regularly. The priority for the route is to improve capacity and speeds, so that there can be six rather than five trains an hour from St Pancras. We will press on with the rebuilding to speed up and straighten the track at Market Harborough, and with the rebuilding of the Derby track layout. That will mean faster services soon, and it will enable us to make the most of the electrification and new trains that will result from future franchises.

Graham Stringer (Blackley and Broughton) (Lab): Eight months ago, when the Secretary of State appeared before the Transport Committee, I asked him whether he was satisfied with the governance arrangement for Network Rail whereby it was, in effect, marking its own homework. He said then that he was completely satisfied with the arrangement, but today he has come to the House and changed it. Does he not regret that decision? In his statement, he blamed Network Rail for not having foreseen these problems, but if he had taken action then, would he not have been able to foresee them and do something about them?

Mr McLoughlin: As I said, the reclassification took place in September. When I appeared before the Transport Committee, I was asked to give my opinions on matters as they were at the time. Since then, owing to the greater accessibility and more direct control from which we have benefited, I have had a chance to think a bit more about what ought to be done, which is why I have made my statement today.

Mims Davies (Eastleigh) (Con): May I urge my right hon. Friend to work positively with the new management of Network Rail, the Solent local enterprise partnership and local stakeholders in my constituency to accelerate the development of the Chicken Hall Lane link road?

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Mr McLoughlin: I shall be more than happy to look into what my hon. Friend has suggested, and respond to her in due course.

I was a junior Transport Minister some 25 years ago, and in those days railways were not talked about. Today, however, it is clear that they are very important in providing connections for all our constituents, and that they are benefiting from investment as a result of what this Government and the last Government have done.

Mr Clive Betts (Sheffield South East) (Lab): There will be a great deal of anger in Sheffield today about the decision on the midland main line, especially among businesses. There will also be some cynicism about the fact that the electrification which was on track before 7 May has been abandoned so soon after that date. Will the Secretary of State confirm that, contrary to what he has just said, Ministers gave clear commitments—both in the House and in writing—that it would be completed by 2020? He has reneged on those commitments today, and he really has no idea when, or if, electrification will actually take place.

Mr McLoughlin: It is wrong to say that I have reneged on those commitments. What I have said is that the Great Western railway line was always a priority for electrification, but that I want to see electrification on the other lines as well. A fair amount of the work that is required, such as bridge building and replacement, has already been done on the midland main line, and I hope very much that the line will be electrified, but at present it is right for us to ensure that we secure the best value for money on the railways.

Stephen Hammond (Wimbledon) (Con): My right hon. Friend is right to say that electrification is difficult. I know that he has spent a great deal of time in the past year ensuring that Network Rail bears down on its costs. I warmly welcome his statement, particularly what he said about governance measures. May I urge him, however, to take all necessary measures to ensure that Network Rail stays within its spending and funding allowances? That, and only that, will enable passengers to see the benefit of the Government’s long-term commitment to rail investment.

Mr McLoughlin: I entirely agree with my hon. Friend. The level of our investment in the railways is unprecedented in comparison with that of recent Governments, but it is also important for us to secure best value for our investment. That is one of the tasks with which I have charged Sir Peter Hendy, and I look forward to receiving his report later this year.

Jonathan Edwards (Carmarthen East and Dinefwr) (PC): I am glad that the Secretary of State has confirmed that the electrification of the Great Western line is a priority, but can he confirm that the pre-election promise made to the people of the west of my country that the line would be electrified as far as Swansea by 2018 will be honoured?

Mr McLoughlin: What I can tell the people of Swansea and the hon. Gentleman’s constituents is that they will experience the benefits of the new intercity express programme in—I think—2018. I will clarify the exact

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date in a letter to the hon. Gentleman. As for electrification all the way to Swansea, it is part of the programme that, as I have said, is a top priority.

Edward Argar (Charnwood) (Con): My constituents will welcome, as I do, my right hon. Friend’s clear commitment and determination to improve our railways, and his strong track record on tackling issues that the Labour party left unaddressed for so long. They will, however, be a little disappointed by the pause in the electrification of the midland main line. I shall not labour the point, but can my right hon. Friend reassure me that it is just that—a pause, not a cancellation—and that he remains committed to the electrification? Will he, or the railways Minister, agree to meet me to discuss the rail services that are used by my constituents in Leicestershire?

Mr McLoughlin: Either the railways Minister or I will certainly meet my hon. Friend to discuss that issue in more detail. As I said earlier, the priority for the midland main line is still the provision of six trains an hour from St Pancras, which we can achieve by rebuilding and straightening the track at Market Harborough and remodelling the track at Derby station, but I still want to see the electrification of that line.

Tom Brake (Carshalton and Wallington) (LD): The Secretary of State was generous in describing Network Rail’s performance at London Bridge as “unacceptable”. I think it was an absolute shambles and a disgrace, and passengers suffered the consequences for months afterwards. I am pleased that he has cancelled any bonuses and hope that if, in the next financial year, Network Rail’s performance is just as diabolical, it will not get any then, either. Will he consider whether passengers should be compensated if trains are delayed by just 15 minutes, and encourage the train companies and Network Rail to publicise on every delayed train, and at every station at which delayed trains arrive, how passengers can claim compensation?

Mr McLoughlin: I accept that what passengers had to put up with earlier this year at London Bridge was unacceptable; I do not think anybody would argue with that for one second. I will certainly look at the right hon. Gentleman’s suggestions on how passenger services can be improved, but the refurbishment taking place at London Bridge means that passengers will see a hugely better-built station with more capacity. It will be a great enhancement to passenger services once it is finished, but I accept that some of the delays and the way in which information was given out was absolutely unacceptable, and both Network Rail and we have learned lessons from that incident.

Mr Philip Hollobone (Kettering) (Con): A pause in the electrification project for the midland main line is not good news from my Kettering constituents, especially when the rate of return on the project is greater than that for the Great Western electrification, where all the delays and problems have occurred. What effect will that have, if any, on the timing of the franchise renewal for the midland main line? Given that my right hon. Friend has just told the House that better services can be achieved before electrification, will he do his best to reinstate either before or in the

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franchise renewal the half-hourly service north from Kettering, which was halved under the previous Labour Government?

Mr McLoughlin: I will certainly look at what my hon. Friend asks for and see if it is possible. The extended franchise that I have set out, and which we will look at, for East Midlands Trains is on target, but when we go out for re-franchising there will be an opportunity to look in greater detail at some of the improvements that my hon. Friend has just called for.

Paul Blomfield (Sheffield Central) (Lab): The Secretary of State knows that his deliberate decision to choose to de-prioritise electrification for the midland main line means that talk of a northern powerhouse will be seen as empty words in Sheffield, but he also said that the line improvements will continue. Will he confirm that that means all the line improvements, including Market Harborough, and will he say when the work will be completed?

Mr McLoughlin: I have just confirmed to many of my hon. Friends that the Market Harborough work will go on. I find it a little hard to take from Opposition Members that we have done nothing for the northern powerhouse. Labour did nothing in 2004 when it let the previous franchise to Northern Rail on a zero-growth plan. That was its ambition in 2004 for the north: zero. We have a great ambition for the north and there will be improvements, as we see the roll-out of the electric services that I referred to in my statement. Anybody who goes today to Sheffield’s Victoria station will see a station that has been rebuilt as a result of this Government’s investment.

Mr Peter Bone (Wellingborough) (Con): We have at the Despatch Box one of the very best Ministers in the Government, but my constituents will be very disappointed about the midland main line news. That could be corrected, however, by the improvements he has described. The real problem with the line is capacity and train numbers. If we get that sorted, we will see that my constituents are quite happy.

Mr McLoughlin: I am grateful to my hon. Friend; it is fair to say that I get more support from him in this job than I did in my previous one. The point he rightly makes about trains and their increasing frequency from St Pancras is very important, and I am glad to say that—although not a direct link as far as his constituents are concerned—I was able to attend the opening of a new station in Northampton, and also to see lots of road investment in Northamptonshire.

Kate Green (Stretford and Urmston) (Lab): My constituents will be alarmed at the pause in the electrification of the route between Manchester and Leeds, and not just those who use it. What consequences will there be for improved train services on other lines that depend on electrification for the release of rolling stock?

Mr McLoughlin: I went some way to say what we have done as far as the northern area is concerned and the northern powerhouse. For the first time we are seeing electric trains from Manchester to Preston and from Preston to Blackpool, and huge investment in the Manchester Victoria line. I have talked about the release

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of rolling stock as far as the Great Western main line is concerned, and that is one reason why I chose that area to take priority.

Mr Robin Walker (Worcester) (Con): I thank the Secretary of State for continuing the investment in the Great Western main line, but having visited my constituents recently he will be acutely aware that they take longer to get to and from the capital than they did in 1910. Can he reassure me that nothing in the statement will delay the pressure on First Great Western to deliver a two-hour service between Worcester and the capital, or the delivery of Worcestershire Parkway station?

Mr McLoughlin: I can confirm that nothing in the statement will impact on the improvements that my hon. Friend wishes to see.

Kerry McCarthy (Bristol East) (Lab): I welcome the assurance that the Great Western main line will remain a priority, but as we have heard, the cost of the scheme has more than trebled to £1.7 billion, and the rumours are that it has already been delayed by more than a year. What reassurance can the Secretary of State give people travelling on that line from Bristol to London that there will not be any further pain and misery in the months and years to come?

Mr McLoughlin: When the hon. Lady says “further pain and misery”, I note there may be occasions when, because of ongoing work, trains will be altered and timetables changed. We cannot carry out this huge electrification programme, as I outlined earlier in my statement, over the length of track and through some of the tunnels we are talking about, without there being some big engineering challenges, but it is absolutely right that the Great Western main line takes priority, and that the new trains that will run on the line from 2017 to 2018 are there and used.

Robert Neill (Bromley and Chislehurst) (Con): I welcome the Secretary of State’s statement on Network Rail. As someone who has worked with Sir Peter Hendy in London government, I know he is a world-class transport executive and will make a better job of delivering major projects like London Bridge than those that my constituents have had to put up with so far. Will my right hon. Friend to keep up the pressure started by his rail Minister on existing franchise holders such as South East Trains? I can top my hon. Friend the Member for Worcester (Mr Walker): Napoleon III chose to live in exile in Chislehurst because it had a fast and reliable train service to London. My constituents are now selling their houses and moving out because it is so bad on a daily basis, as I know.

Mr McLoughlin: I thank my hon. Friend for his comments about Sir Peter Hendy. My hon. Friend the rail Minister needs no encouragement from my hon. Friend or anybody else to keep up the pressure on those services.

Diana Johnson (Kingston upon Hull North) (Lab): What does pausing trans-Pennine electrification mean for the privately funded initiative put forward to electrify the line from Selby to Hull—which was, of course, missed out in his Department’s original plans?

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Mr McLoughlin: The hon. Lady is not being quite fair, because I made some extra money available to take that route to the next GRIP stage. To say that we missed it out is slightly unfair, but leaving that to one side, I hope that the plans being developed will be acted on.

Richard Fuller (Bedford) (Con): The pause in electrification of the midland main line has a potential impact on the selection of the route to complete the east-west rail link—a crucial issue for my constituents in Bedford and Kempston. Will my right hon. Friend show his characteristically robust and decisive approach, write to the head of Network Rail and ask him to stop dawdling and decide which of the two routes from Bedford is the right one to complete the link? Will my right hon. Friend also ask my hon. Friend the rail Minister to visit Bedford and speak to me and the Mayor of Bedford about this very important issue?

Mr McLoughlin: I am sure the rail Minister will be more than happy to meet my hon. Friend in his constituency to discuss the problems being faced. I will certainly feed in what he has said to Sir Peter Hendy as he completes the review that I have asked him to undertake.

Nigel Mills (Amber Valley) (Con): My constituents will also be disappointed by the pause in the electrification of the midland main line. They want to know whether it is a pause or a cancellation, so will the Secretary of State say when he might expect that electrification to happen? Is it by 2025 or might it be a bit earlier than that?

Mr McLoughlin: If my hon. Friend will allow me, I will allow Sir Peter to make his report before I start saying what will be in it. I usually find that that is the best course of action on these occasions, rather than anticipating what will be in a report that I have just commissioned before I have received it. As I have said to other colleagues on the subject of the line that my hon. Friend and I both use regularly, getting to the position where we have six trains an hour from St Pancras will be an improvement.

Ben Howlett (Bath) (Con): I thank my right hon. Friend for his statement and I am pleased that the largest investment in the Great Western main line through Bath since the Victorians is a top priority—I am sure that has nothing to do with the fact that Sir Peter Hendy comes from Bath. Does my right hon. Friend agree that it is shameful that the Opposition are making political capital out of this statement, given their appalling record when they were in government?

Mr McLoughlin: My hon. Friend will soon find out, as he is here a bit longer, that the Labour party just taking political opportunity and making political capital out of something it failed in all its time in government to do anything about is nothing new. I walked with my hon. Friend through the park area in Bath where some of the electrification of the railway will take place. One problem we face is that going through huge heritage areas and great conservation areas such as his constituency is more problematic, but we are determined to meet the challenge.

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Tom Pursglove (Corby) (Con): Along with my constituents in Corby and east Northamptonshire, I am very frustrated about the content of today’s announcement in relation to the midland main line electrification. I know what they will ask me when I return to the constituency tonight. They will say, “How can you justify spending billions of pounds on HS2 yet delay the progress of this electrification?” What reassurance can the Minister give to my constituents?

Mr McLoughlin: The reassurance I give to my hon. Friend’s constituents is that HS2 is about improving and increasing the capacity on our railways because of the growth we are seeing. If we did not improve that capacity, we would have even greater problems down the line in providing the kind of extra services he wants for his constituents, not only on passenger services but on freight, which has grown hugely on our railways—by more than 100%. I would say that to his constituents, and that our Government are committed to the infrastructure investment that I know he is keen to see in the rest of his county, not least on some of the roads around his constituency.

Craig Williams (Cardiff North) (Con): I thank my right hon. Friend for his statement. As a Cardiff Member, I particularly welcome the commitment to the Great Western line as his top priority—the biggest railway investment going on in Wales for some time. Have the under-investment problems been compounding Network Rail’s skills shortage? I am thinking in particular of the huge under-investment by the Labour party in 13 years.

Mr McLoughlin: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that. A huge amount of investment will be going into Wales, in terms not only of the track, but the new trains. They are on order and are being built at this moment.

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Tom Tugendhat (Tonbridge and Malling) (Con): Will my right hon. Friend please say a few words about what he is going to do in the southern area? A lot in this statement addresses the midlands and the north, but a lot of my constituents, whom I have the honour to represent, rely on Southeastern and Southern rail, which are not mentioned at all in the statement. Network Rail’s efforts would be greatly appreciated in improving the service there, too.

Mr McLoughlin: My hon. Friend’s area does get the advantage of the 115 new train sets—1,140 carriages—for the Thameslink programme, which will have a massive impact on his constituents. I accept that there is growing pressure for more services right across the country, but huge amounts of investment are already being made and what I am doing today is making sure that both the fare-paying passengers and the taxpayer are getting the best value for the money that they are investing in our railways.

Mr Speaker: I am most grateful to the Secretary of State and to colleagues. Before we embark on the next business—the general debate—I should mention in passing that by my calculation no fewer than half a dozen hon. Members who will be seeking to catch the eye of the Chair in the course of the debate are not yet present in the Chamber. [Interruption.] The Secretary of State rightly, as a parliamentary veteran, looks duly shocked by that, and I hope that at this very moment they are beetling along towards the Chamber. It is worth gently making the point that it is a very well-established expectation that a Member who wishes to speak in a debate should in almost all circumstances, and certainly unless he or she has given notice otherwise, be present at the start to hear the opening speeches.

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Reports into Investigatory Powers

12.55 pm

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mrs Theresa May): I beg to move,

That this House has considered reports into investigatory powers.

When I made my statement on the publication of the Anderson report two weeks ago, several right hon. and hon. Members requested a full debate in this House. As I said then, and as I have said many times in the past, these are serious and sensitive matters. They require careful deliberation of the evidence, to ensure that the legal and privacy framework governing the use of investigatory powers is properly accountable and as robust as possible. These principles—accountability, transparency and a robust legal framework—are underscored by the report by David Anderson, QC. His report was preceded by the Intelligence and Security Committee’s “Privacy and Security” report, which was published in March and which examined the appropriate balance between the need for security and respect for privacy.

Today, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has laid two further reports before the House: the annual report of the Chief Surveillance Commissioner and the annual report of the Intelligence Services Commissioner. Later this summer, a panel co-ordinated by the Royal United Services Institute and established by the former Deputy Prime Minister, the right hon. Member for Sheffield, Hallam (Mr Clegg), will report on the legality, effectiveness and privacy implications of the UK’s surveillance programmes and assess how law enforcement and intelligence capability can be maintained in the face of technological change. Together, those reports represent substantial independent review of the frameworks and oversight governing the use of investigatory powers.

In addition, last year, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister appointed Sir Nigel Sheinwald as his data envoy. Sir Nigel has submitted his report to my right hon. Friend and although, for obvious reasons of sensitivity, it cannot be published, a summary has been placed on the Cabinet Office website. Sir Nigel focused both on short-term and longer-term co-operation, and on the need to create an international framework between democratic countries. That would ensure that, where necessary and proportionate, data can be accessed even when they are held outside the requesting country’s jurisdiction.

As I have said before, and as the Anderson and other reports make clear, the use of investigatory powers by the police and the security and intelligence agencies is essential for national security and for the fight against crime. If the police are to investigate serious crimes such as murder and rape, if our law enforcement agencies are to track down criminals that operate online and if we are to protect the vulnerable and stop those who mean to do us harm, the police and the security and intelligence agencies need access to these powers when appropriate.

As this morning’s figures show, the threat from terrorism is serious and it is growing. In 2014, 289 people were arrested for terrorism-related offences, an increase of 30% compared with the previous year. We know that investigatory powers are important for tackling terrorism, and that communications data have played a significant

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role in every Security Service counter-terrorism operation over the last decade. Since 2010, the majority of MI5’s top-priority UK counter-terrorism investigations have used intercept capabilities in some form to identify, understand or disrupt plots seeking to harm the UK and its citizens.

Although the Anderson report and others recognise the necessity of investigatory powers, just as important is having the right regulatory framework, the right oversight and the right authorisation arrangements governing their use. As David Anderson has said, he regards it as imperative that the use of sensitive powers is overseen and fully declared under arrangements set by Parliament. It is therefore entirely right that Parliament should have the opportunity to debate those arrangements. Just as the Anderson review was undertaken with cross-party support, I am committed to ensuring that we take forward these arrangements on the same basis.

I want to turn first to David Anderson’s report. It is, as I have said before, a comprehensive report, covering the full range of sensitive intelligence capabilities, and there are 124 recommendations. I hope that right hon. and hon. Members have now had the opportunity to read it for themselves, and reflect on what David Anderson has said. David Anderson makes it clear that there is a need for investigatory powers—within an appropriate framework—in the fight against terrorism and serious crime. He notes the significance of communications data in prosecutions and that sensitive interception powers are not used routinely. He said:

“Interception is therefore used only in the most serious cases... But interception can still be of vital importance for intelligence, for disruption, and for the detection and investigation of crime.”

He also agrees with the Intelligence and Security Committee and others on the importance of bulk data, saying that

“its utility, particularly in fighting terrorism in the years since the London bombings of 2005, has been made clear to me.”

But David Anderson is also firmly of the view that the system needs updating, and he supports the need for a new legislative framework, noting that the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 was enacted 15 years ago. He makes a number of recommendations regarding transparency, oversight and authorisation.

On the legislative framework, David Anderson makes the point that legislation is currently spread over several different Acts, and recommends bringing it together in a single law. On oversight, he recommends the merging of the three oversight commissioners—the Interception of Communications Commissioner’s Office, the Office of Surveillance Commissioners and the Intelligence Services Commissioner— into a new single independent surveillance and intelligence commission. On authorisation, Anderson comes down on the side of judicial authorisation of warrantry, although the ISC takes a different view and has endorsed the existing system. Anderson points out the care with which Secretaries of State approach the task and makes it clear that European Court of Human Rights jurisprudence does not require a system of judicial authorisation, but he is of course mindful that requirements may change in the future.

Joanna Cherry (Edinburgh South West) (SNP): Shortly after the right hon. Lady spoke in the House two weeks ago, The Guardian reported that Downing Street was indicating that the Prime Minister is unlikely to agree to David Anderson’s recommendation for a judicial

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authorisation of warrants. Does that mean that she is effectively ruling out judicial authorisation of warrants at this early stage?

Mrs May: Perhaps the hon. and learned Lady will let me read the very next sentence in my speech, which says that, on these recommendations, the Government have not yet reached a decision. These are important matters and we must consider them carefully. Today’s debate will inform our view.

The ISC’s review into privacy and security also supports the agencies’ need for investigatory powers, but recommends that the legal framework needs updating and calls for increased transparency, strengthened safeguards and improved oversight. The review involved a detailed investigation into the capabilities of the intelligence agencies and contained an unprecedented amount of information about how they are used and the legal framework that regulates their use.

The Committee found that all the surveillance activities of the intelligence agencies are lawful and proportionate. It concluded that the agencies do not seek to circumvent UK law—including the Human Rights Act 1998—and do not have the resources, capability, or the desire to conduct mass surveillance. It commended the agencies for the care and attention they give to complying with the law.

None the less, it concluded that the current legal framework is “unnecessarily complex” and should be replaced with a single Act of Parliament, governing everything the agencies do to increase transparency. Going further than David Anderson, the ISC’s recommendations include replacing the legislation that underpins the agencies as well as the legislation relating to interception and communications data. Its recommendations include allowing Secretaries of State to disclose the existence of warrants where that can be done without damage to national security; increased checks, scrutiny and use of the warrant process; and more resources—and more checking of the agencies’ activities—by the Intelligence Services Commissioner and the Interception of Communications Commissioner. As with David Anderson’s report, debate on these issues will inform the Government’s view.

Robert Neill (Bromley and Chislehurst) (Con): My right hon. Friend is making an important point. On informing the Government’s view, I welcome her concession that the Government will think carefully about the Anderson review on judicial oversight. She also mentioned earlier the importance of cross-party working on parliamentary oversight, where appropriate. Will she undertake to include the relevant Select Committees of this House in that cross-party approach?

Mrs May: First, may I congratulate my hon. Friend on his election to a chairmanship of one of those Select Committees? I suspect that he is thinking of the Justice Committee. Of course it is not for the Government to indicate to Select Committees what business they should be undertaking, but I have every expectation that relevant Select Committees will wish to look at this matter. The Government will take all representations and consider them in the round in their response to the reports.

In addition, as I mentioned earlier, the Prime Minister has today published the annual reports of the Chief Surveillance Commissioner and the Intelligence Services

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Commissioner. I commend both of those reports to the House. Both demonstrate the value of rigorous independent oversight and provide reassurance on the work of the agencies and the powers that they oversee. I thank the Chief Surveillance Commissioner, the Intelligence Services Commissioner and their staff for their excellent work, their dedication and public service.

I appreciate that Members of the House will not yet have had time to study the reports in detail, but I would like to draw their attention to the findings of the Intelligence Services Commissioner, who is clear about the seriousness with which these powers and the granting of warrants are approached by the agencies and Government. He says:

“The agencies take great care to seek other less intrusive means before undertaking this level of intrusion and often consult their lawyers to ensure the legality of their submission.”

He goes on to say that great care is carried out by the warranty units at the Foreign Office, Home Office and Northern Ireland Office, which

“will question the agencies concerning the use and applicability of the suggested activity.”

The final check in the process is the oversight provided by a Secretary of State, who can refuse a warrant and who he says

“are aware that they are ultimately accountable for the operation.”

As I have already said, the Government have not yet taken firm decisions on particular recommendations in David Anderson’s report, or indeed on any of the other reports we will discuss today. There are many voices both inside and outside the House who have important views that need to be heard. We must consult those, including the police, the security and intelligence agencies, law enforcement agencies, and the telecommunications companies, as they are most directly affected. We also need to hear what Members of this House have to say.

I am clear that, whatever legal and privacy framework we propose, it will need to be agile and capable of responding to urgent cases. It will need to be clear and accountable, to be capable of commanding public confidence, and to ensure that sensitive powers are available in a way that will stand the test of time.

The reports that we are discussing today provide a firm basis for consultation, and today’s debate—the second time this House has discussed this matter in two weeks— will be an important contribution to that process. As I have said previously, the operation and regulation of the investigatory powers used by the police and the security and intelligence agencies is a matter of great importance to the security of this country and an issue of great interest to many Members.

The Government are committed to introducing a Bill on investigatory powers early next year, so that it can receive Royal Assent before the sunset clause in the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act comes into effect at the end of 2016. In order to meet that timetable and allow the full parliamentary scrutiny, we intend to bring forward a draft Bill for consideration in the autumn, which will be subject to full pre-legislative scrutiny, including by a Joint Committee of both Houses.

As we move forward in our discussions, it is important that we remind ourselves about the very serious nature of what we are debating, because these powers are about protecting and saving people’s lives. In any debate about the right balance between security and privacy, it is important that we remember the full context of the

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threats we face. They include the threat from terrorism—both from overseas and home-grown in the UK. Since the attacks on 7 July 2005, the Security Service believes that around 40 terrorist plots have been disrupted. Around 700 people have gone from the UK to Syria and Iraq to fight or support terrorist organisations—a number of them to join ISIL or Daesh—and around half have returned. ISIL has made it clear that it wants to strike us here in Europe, and we know that it uses sophisticated propaganda and modern technology to spread hatred and in some cases advocate or facilitate acts of terrorism.

We also face other threats from organised criminals and the proliferation of cybercrimes such as child sexual exploitation, and threats from hostile foreign states and from military and industrial espionage.

Without the use of investigatory powers, it would be difficult to investigate, prosecute and prevent not only terrorist-related activity but crimes such as murder, rape, human trafficking, child sexual exploitation, cybercrime and kidnap. We know that communications data are used in 95% of serious and organised crime investigations handled by the Crown Prosecution Service. Similarly, intercept has played a significant role in investigating crime and preventing terrorism. In 2014, 2,795 interception warrants were issued. Of those, the majority—68%—were issued for serious crime, 31% for national security and 1% for a combination of serious crime and national security.

In the face of such threats, the Government would be negligent if we did not ensure that those whose job it is to keep us safe have the powers, support and capabilities they need. I am committed to ensuring that. However, security and privacy are not, as I said before, a zero-sum game. We can only enjoy our privacy if we have our security, just as we can only be free to live our lives as we wish, enjoy the many benefits that this country has to offer and go about our lives unimpeded and free from threats because security underpins our way of life.

Too often in the debate about investigatory powers, we are drawn into arguments in which privacy is prioritised at the expense of security or security at the expense of privacy, but it is possible to have a proper balance between the two. We must consider these issues in the round. Through parliamentary scrutiny, we must ensure that we have a framework set by Parliament that delivers as it is intended to and that can command public confidence. That framework must be underpinned by thoughtful and constructive debate, and I look forward to hearing what right hon. and hon. Members have to say in what I believe will be a well-informed and interesting debate.

1.11 pm

Yvette Cooper (Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford) (Lab): I thank the Home Secretary for her thoughtful speech and for scheduling the debate so swiftly after the publication of David Anderson’s report. I called for the debate in response to the statement two weeks ago and it has been swiftly delivered.

I should also apologise to the House, as I already have to the Home Secretary and to you, Mr Speaker, for the fact that I cannot be here for the closing speeches. It is my daughter’s school graduation, so I hope the House will forgive me for being there instead.

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This will be a good debate and it is an opportunity to debate the right legal framework to protect our liberty and security in the digital age. I join the Home Secretary in paying tribute to the quiet heroism of our intelligence services, agents and counter-terror police. Their work is necessarily secret and their successes are rarely reported, but their success is measured, bluntly, by a lack of column inches and TV headlines. We are rightly all proud of them.

There is also no doubt that as the world becomes increasingly connected and as we increasingly rely on smartphones, tablets and other technology to communicate and organise our lives, that has repercussions for the fight against terrorism and serious and organised crime. David Anderson’s report contains the startling fact that in 1975 there were 1 billion connected places, that by 2010 there were 5 billion connected people and that by 2020 there will be 50 billion connected devices.

Our lives are increasingly online, and with that opportunity come great challenges. For example, we know that Twitter is a lot of fun for many people, including many Members of this House—although, perhaps, not yet the Home Secretary—but it has also been used to connect extremists and recruiters with young people in the United Kingdom, including the young girls who left for Syria from Bethnal Green earlier this year. New devices, mail services and apps are used to help us all keep in touch, build amazing new businesses and organise our lives, but also by some to commit crimes and abuse. Online crime has risen exponentially and we have also seen awful cases of online child abuse that we are still failing to address as a country.

We have also seen growing problems with organised cyber-attacks for major companies, infrastructure and the Government. The operations of the police and intelligence agencies need to be able to keep up with these new forms of crime and national security threats, but at the same time the checks and balances, safeguards and oversight that are needed must keep up with new technology. We have a long and proud tradition in Britain of having those checks, balances and safeguards for our liberty and our privacy. We must ensure that action by the state is proportionate, so those checks and balances must keep up with the fast-moving changing technology.

We have argued for some time that the legal framework is out of date. The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act is, in David Anderson’s words,

“incomprehensible to all but a tiny band of initiates”

and in the long run that means that it is “intolerable”. Its interaction with previous legislation, including the Telecommunications Act 1984, is baffling, too, and even after being briefed on some of the work that the agencies do and having studied the legislation over seven years—often with a wet towel wrapped around my head, which was the only thing that enabled me to get my head around it even temporarily—I still find it hard to be clear about what is possible and what is not under the law as it stands and about the extent of existing safeguards. That is unsustainable as a framework for legitimacy for the vital work the agencies do, which is why we have called for some time for a review of RIPA, why we argued for it in the debates last summer and why we have welcomed the Government’s agreement to ask David Anderson to produce this report.

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The report is extremely thorough and ranges from ideas of privacy in ancient Babylonia to what Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of a rather different kind of empire, thinks of the topic. It provides us with an opportunity for Parliament, civil society, the intelligence community, law enforcement, communication providers and, crucially, the public properly to consider the powers and safeguards we need.

As David Anderson recently said:

“The threat that I see of not accepting my recommendations, or recommendations along these lines is that people become disenchanted with the whole business of intelligence gathering. They believe some of the wilder allegations…that the state is reading into people’s emails the whole time when patently it isn’t. If this sense of disillusionment and disenchantment is perpetuated and spreads further then I think both law enforcement and intelligence lose the public confidence that they actually need if they are going to do an effective job.”

Emily Thornberry (Islington South and Finsbury) (Lab): My right hon. Friend is making a good and comprehensive speech. Is it not appropriate that David Anderson’s report is entitled “A Question of Trust”? Surely that is one of the most important things in bringing the public with us on this issue.

Yvette Cooper: My hon. Friend is exactly right. There is strong support for the work of the intelligence agencies and the work they do in Britain, which has historically always been the case, but we should never take that for granted. It would not be fair on the intelligence agencies to take it for granted, so maintaining that sense of trust and confidence across the whole of society and not simply across the majority of people is extremely important for the work that they do. If we are to protect both our liberty and security in a democracy, we need to achieve consent for and understanding of the law and it is not just those who are concerned about surveillance who value greater clarity. It is also an essential mission of our intelligence agencies as part of defending democracy and protecting liberty and security.

The Home Secretary has been clear that there is no doubt that investigatory powers are vital in confronting terrorism, child abuse and other serious and organised crime. During the Home Secretary’s statement two weeks ago, I mentioned the awful case cited in David Anderson’s report in which communications data were used, rightly, to stop the abuse of three children who were all less than four years old. There are other cases. For example, Operation Overt dealt with the largest and most serious terrorist plot we have ever faced. Between 2008 and 2010, 10 individuals were convicted of plotting to blow up multiple transatlantic airliners. A key part of the evidence that brought the plotters to justice was coded conversations by email between the conspirators and extremists abroad in which they discussed the preparation for their attacks and the selection of targets.

It is clear from the review and other evidence that the powers passed through the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014 last summer are essential and must be renewed, and will need to be renewed in good time before the sunset clause at the end of next year. It is also right, however, that we ensure that the legal framework that governs them is updated so that it properly reflects the needs of security and the need for safeguards.

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In 2012, the Home Secretary made proposals in the draft Communications Data Bill that would have gone much further than the current legislation. I argued at the time that there were serious problems with the Bill, because it put too much power in the hands of the Home Secretary. The Joint Committee set up to scrutinise the draft Bill also, rightly, raised substantial concerns. David Anderson’s report makes it clear that he does not think that the draft Bill was the right approach. He noted that the first clause was “excessively broad”. The important question of IP addresses, which was encompassed in the draft Bill, has now been dealt with in other legislation. On weblogs, which the Home Office said at the time it wanted to pursue, David Anderson concluded that he

“was not presented with a detailed or unified case”

on the viability, practicalities or legal considerations.

On perhaps the most significant and the most controversial measure in the draft Bill—requiring internet service providers to hold huge amounts of third-party data—he commented:

“I did not get the sense that this was judged to be the priority that it once was, even within law enforcement”,

and he concluded:

“Accordingly…there should be no question of progressing this element of the old draft Bill until such time as a compelling operational case has been made, there has been full consultation with CSPs and the various legal and technical issues have been fully bottomed out. None of those conditions appears to me to be currently satisfied.”

Experts have also expressed substantial concerns about encryption and the cost and proportionality of the proposals.

Where David Anderson and the agencies confirm that there is a problem is in ensuring that companies whose headquarters are overseas comply with UK law, particularly for data and communications that involve those who are living and operating in the UK and those who pose threats to the UK. The Home Secretary referred to the report by Nigel Sheinwald, whose work is vital because, as the agencies and the Home Secretary recognise, UK law is only part of the answer; legal and diplomatic arrangements with other countries are immensely important. In fact, there is a growing range of views that the proposals in the draft Communications Data Bill were not the right way to deal with that genuine and significant problem in relation to companies based overseas.

On that basis, I ask the Home Secretary to confirm that she has dropped the original draft Communications Data Bill and is starting with a fresh approach. I think it would help our debate in this place and the development of future proposals that should balance the appropriate powers and the appropriate safeguards. Will she confirm that that draft Bill has been dropped and a new approach will be taken?

Mrs May: After the Joint Committee that scrutinised that draft Bill had done its work, we made it clear that we would take on board in principle the various recommendations the Committee made. Obviously, David Anderson’s report refers to some of the issues in the draft Communications Data Bill, so we will have to look at that in the context of subsequent proposals. We were clear that we would accept all the principles that that Committee set out, including that the original draft Communications Data Bill, which was an attempt to future-proof our legislation, was too wide ranging.

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Yvette Cooper: I thank the Home Secretary for that reassurance that the Government agree that the old draft Bill was too wide ranging. We look forward to the replacement proposals and hope they will meet the assessment test set out by David Anderson, whose report is pretty comprehensive and well judged on these matters.

I also warmly welcome David Anderson’s recommendations for a fundamental overhaul of the commissioner system and the establishment of a new body, the independent surveillance and intelligence commission. The current commissioner system, although undoubtedly staffed by excellent people who have taken their roles forward, is too low profile and not substantial enough in performing a vital oversight role. It is hard for the public to assess where oversight properly lies. When one considers that we regulate our TV channels in a more high-profile and systematic way than our intelligence agencies, it is clear that reform is needed.

The new body would have supervisory responsibility and aim to build public trust. I would like it also to have a role in working with the Home Secretary on a suitable process for transparency, where that is possible in line with operational requirements, about both the law and our country’s capability. David Anderson’s report calls for greater public avowal and transparency about capabilities and legal powers. While everyone understands that many national security operations need to be secret to be effective, I know the Home Secretary will consider that recommendation closely, because sufficient transparency is of course needed if we in Parliament are to be able to take responsible decisions and get the legislation right.

The report recommends transforming the system of authorisation for interception warrants. The proposals on judicial authorisation are among the most significant reforms to the framework that David Anderson proposes. There is precedent: a system of judicial approval by commissioners exists for the police in relation to property interference, intrusive surveillance and long-term undercover operations. Also, as the report notes, the UK is an outlier among the “Five Eyes” states—the others are Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the USA—in not having prior judicial authorisation of interceptions of communications.

Importantly for the safety and security of our country, such a provision could go some way to solving one of the most significant challenges our agencies face: getting co-operation from communications companies based in the United States. In his report, David Anderson states:

“One major company went so far as to suggest that if the UK introduced judicial authorisation, more cooperation would be forthcoming, though I was not left with the impression that this was a universal view.”

He adds that

“US companies…find it difficult to understand why they should honour a warrant signed by the Secretary of State”

when the US has a system of judicial authorisation of warrants. So there are pragmatic considerations as well as constitutional considerations for us in determining what impact increasing judicial authorisation might have on that greater co-operation involving overseas companies.

Of course the detail must be right and reforms should not adversely affect the relationship between the Executive and the judiciary in relation to other aspects of Government

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powers. They should also recognise the importance of the Home Secretary’s role in determining what the threats are to national security, rather than leave such an important task to the judiciary. However, it should be possible to make those reforms, and I believe that now is the right time to introduce judicial authorisation into the process. Clearly, there are different ways of doing it—for example, it would be possible to have different frameworks for different kinds of warrant. David Anderson recognises that there would be differences in relation to sensitive missions that affect other countries and our relationships with them. Clearly, rather than leave such cases to a purely judicial process, such cases would require decisions to be made by the Foreign Secretary, who is accountable to Parliament for those sensitive relationships with other Governments.

Dr Andrew Murrison (South West Wiltshire) (Con): How does the right hon. Lady reconcile the need to take account of the wider political construct with the duty of the judiciary to act according to the law? Surely she is making a powerful argument for the status quo.

Yvette Cooper: No, I am not. I am part way through an argument that there are different kinds of warrant and different circumstances. In cases involving foreign affairs, where sensitive relationships with other Governments may be at stake, the Executive clearly have an important role to play; they cannot be seen simply as judicial matters. However, there are other kinds of warrant—for example, intercept warrants for the purposes of tackling serious and organised crime, where if the action was not intercept, but was instead knocking down someone’s door and breaking into their home, authorisation would be an entirely judicial process. There are significant questions about why intercept in the interests of pursuing serious and organised crime should have no judicial authorisation, whereas knocking down somebody’s door should have judicial authorisation.

That is why I think there is a strong case for introducing judicial authorisation to provide a clearer system of separation of Executive and judiciary and to introduce clearer checks and balances into the process. It does have to be done in the right way and there will be different considerations around crime and national security and foreign affairs, but I believe it is possible because other countries manage it. If we were the only country in the “Five Eyes” that did not have a process of judicial authorisation, even though we have similar intercept arrangements, that would pose a big question for us. Those who simply defend the status quo need to explain why they think the arrangements in all those other countries are inadequate and worse than ours, given the added legitimacy that some judicial authorisation processes should bring.

I recognise the complexity here; that is why it is wise that we hold this debate now, in advance of the Government making their final decisions on the issue and setting out their proposals. It is also wise that we have a period of consultation on the draft legislation, so that people can table amendments and have these debates. However, I do not see why judicial authorisation need threaten or jeopardise the work of the agencies—quite the reverse. If it is a way to provide greater legitimacy, and support from overseas, for this work, it could add strongly to the process, and to agencies’ work.

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On the legislative process, I welcome the Home Secretary’s proposal for a period of proper reflection and discussion on the detail before final votes are taken in Parliament. That is the right approach. We are keen to continue discussions with her on this subject, and I welcome the briefing that she provided for me to enable us to do that. When the Snowden leaks first appeared in the media, there was a sense that Parliament was not debating these issues, that the Government were not responding, and that other countries were having a more informed and up-to-date debate about the response and the processes.

Tom Brake (Carshalton and Wallington) (LD): On the subject of having a more informed debate, does the right hon. Lady agree that the Sheinwald report, redacted if necessary, should be published? Many believe that its proposals, including on international treaties, would do away with the need for some of what is proposed for any investigatory powers Bill.

Yvette Cooper: I have not seen the Sheinwald report or had prior briefing on it, so I could not say how much redaction would be needed, but the right hon. Gentleman is right that the more transparency we can have in this debate, the better, so I urge the Government to consider allowing maximum transparency in this regard, to the extent possible, given the operational sensitivities and our relationship with the US Government on this. Clearly, the more we can look at the detail of alternative ways of providing the powers, safeguards and legitimacy needed, the better, and the better informed the parliamentary debate will be.

The initial debates and the response from the Government were not sufficient. However, we have since had reports from the Intelligence and Security Committee and David Anderson, and we have another forthcoming external report from the Royal United Services Institute for Defence Studies. This is the opportunity for Parliament to make sure that we have a proper updated response on the complexities of the digital age and how we maintain our security and liberty in it. More safeguards and checks and balances are needed, but it is also important that our intelligence agencies can deal with the serious and growing threats that the Home Secretary talked about. We need to make sure that our talented men and women in the agencies can face those real and serious threats, but also have legitimacy for the work that they do, and the continued confidence of the public. That is in all our interests.

In a democracy, our liberty and security are the targets of terrorists who seek to harm and divide us. Liberal democracy will triumph over extremism and tyranny, but for it to do so, we need to strengthen ourselves by renewing our security and our liberty. The Anderson report helps us to have a debate about how best we do that to protect our democracy.

Several hon. Members rose

Mr Speaker: Order. It might be helpful for the House to know that approximately 20 Back-Benchers are seeking to catch my eye. At this stage, I am not imposing a formal time limit, but a certain self-restraint, or self-denying ordinance, would be helpful. We can be led in this important mission by Mr Dominic Grieve.

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Mr Dominic Grieve (Beaconsfield) (Con): Thank you, Mr Speaker. I think we can indeed be led in it by me, for this reason: notwithstanding my wholehearted thanks to the Home Secretary for the speed with which she enabled this debate to take place, a consequence of that speed—I hope she will not take this as a criticism—is that the material in our possession is now of such infinite complexity and depth that to do justice to all of it in this debate would be impossible. Indeed, one of the clear advantages of starting the legislative process in the autumn is that those of us who would like to participate properly in it have time to do a lot of holiday homework before we come back to the House then. I have always felt that one of the problems with the subject is that most of us in Parliament labour under a state of extraordinary ignorance, and have great difficulty getting to grips with some of the issues.

I spent four years and two months in the Government as the Attorney General, and without betraying state secrets, it may come as little surprise to the House to hear that I had some involvement with issues surrounding the lawfulness of Government. Of course, lawfulness extends to the interception of communications, and communications data, just as much as it does to everything else. It is possible that in that time, I had the wool pulled over my eyes—by the agencies, for example. However, my impression of the agencies from my dealings with them, particularly on surveillance and interception—this point is properly made in the ISC report—was of an absolutely rigorous desire to maintain legality; a willingness to get legal advice on areas of difficulty, as was mentioned earlier; and a very high standard of ethics. That standard of ethics went beyond legality to an understanding that in trying to protect us and prevent crime, they had to do a difficult job that could intrude into the privacy of the citizen, and that at all times they had to act in a reasonable, necessary and proportionate way. That was the clearest impression that I took from them. I left office with considerable admiration for the work done in that field.

That is not to say that everything can simply be left as it is, and that we can adopt a Panglossian view of the current state of affairs. As I mentioned in a previous intervention on this matter since the election, I think that there is complete unanimity in the House on the view that the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 is not fit for purpose. I hope I may be forgiven for saying this: it has been described as almost incomprehensible, except to initiates, but I think even the initiates sometimes found it incomprehensible. I have a little lurking suspicion that because there has always been an anxiety that the legal framework will betray the level of operational capability, certain aspects of the Act were made deliberately opaque, even when it was drafted. We can hardly be surprised if, 10 years down the track, it appears even more incomprehensible than I suspect it was to those parliamentarians whose unhappy lot it was to scrutinise it when it was first being enacted.

The Act clearly is not fit for purpose. It clearly needs replacing. How we craft that replacement will—David Anderson’s report says this will be key—determine whether we can build trust. I will not get too carried away on the subject of distrust. David Anderson’s report rather highlights that notwithstanding Snowden, trust in the work of the

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agencies in this country on matters of surveillance and interception are rather high, and I have no reason to think that the public are hoodwinked. They seem, on the whole, to regard the institutions as benign and there to protect us, and I think they are right.

The question is, therefore, how we go about that process. I want to make only one point about this. We have had—let us face it—the complexity and the problems to which the Snowden revelations led. I have little doubt that those revelations have done very considerable damage in many cases, as has been cited, to the operational capacities of the agencies involved and their ability to protect us. On the positive side, that provides an opportunity for a more informed discussion so that the issues surrounding predictability in relation to what we legislate on can be better established for the future, and we do not end up with, or we have less of a problem with, people arguing that the legislation does not mean what it says.

That will be one of the great challenges for my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary. I wish her well in it. Those of us who have some inkling of what this is about will endeavour to help her as much as we can so that we can succeed in bridging the two requirements—that the legislation is open, transparent and understandable, and at the same time that it preserves operational secrecy, which will be a particular difficulty. I look forward to doing that aspect of the work in this House when the legislation comes back.

I turn to a number of the broad recommendations in David Anderson’s report, which is an amazing piece of work. I was delighted when he was appointed as independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, and the rigour with which he has delivered the report has entirely vindicated my right hon. Friend in trusting him to do this work. For the purposes of today’s debate, I shall centre on two or three points.

The first, which I suspect will be one of the big issues, concerns judicial authorisation. I am conscious that it may be argued, and I have heard it argued, that because our system broadly seems, particularly to the Executive, to function quite well, we should stick to the ISC report and continue with the current warrantry system. Against that, the right hon. Member for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford (Yvette Cooper) was right to make the point that we are very unusual in having our current system of warrantry. In other “Five Eyes” countries with high levels of intelligence capability and responsibility, a judicial system has been operated successfully. It is clear to me that a judicial oversight system, with possible exceptions where complex issues of policy may be involved, would probably enhance trust, although I would not get totally carried away with that. One must always bear in mind the potential problem that if the judiciary is seen to be turned into a rubber stamp for the Administration, that slightly removes the judiciary from the key work that it normally does: the arbitration of disputes, which is a different issue.

Nevertheless, my broad approach is that—if I may put it this way to the Home Secretary—the burden of proof is a little bit reversed. It seems to me, in the light of David Anderson’s report, that if the Government wish to maintain the current system, they will have to make a case why it is markedly better than that which

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would replace it. Beyond that, I am open minded. One argument I have heard is an anxiety that flexibility would be lost, and that it would not be possible to get warrants authorised quickly. I am not persuaded by that. I have seen injunctions obtained from judges in the middle of the night—indeed, judges signing injunctions in the bath and handing them out through the bathroom door—so that is not necessarily an overwhelming obstacle to involving judicial commissioners. They would necessarily be judges, though ex-judges and others might be able to do this work, and it would produce a measure of independence. If the Home Secretary concludes against David Anderson’s recommendation, I am quite prepared to listen, but she will have to make the case as to what would be lost by shifting the system to that which he has suggested.

Linked to that is the question of whether we should have a single commission. The two probably go together. A single commission makes a lot of sense. I am not sure about cost—it might cost no more, but it would certainly enable people to perform slightly different roles within one organisation. Again, I shall be interested to hear the Home Secretary’s views on that.

Other matters that have cropped up could be looked at today. Some anxiety over legal professional privilege has been expressed by both the Law Society and the Bar in the light of David Anderson’s recommendations. I am not entirely persuaded by that. One problem is that we need to preserve legal professional privilege, but the great difficulty has always been how to decide whether legal professional privilege applies if both the lawyer and the client are in criminal collusion with each other and legal professional privilege does not apply to the material that must be examined to decide whether that is the case. That will be another thorny subject, and I hope we can come back to it and craft legislation that provides the reassurance that lawyers undoubtedly need, preserves the principle of legal professional privilege, and also ensures that the material can, if necessary, be accessed if there is good reason to believe that what is taking place is not covered by legal professional privilege at all.

To conclude, I have covered only a number of very broad topics. There is so much more in the report that we will have to look at. I hope we have time before and during legislation to do justice to an immensely complicated issue. Of one thing I am convinced: we have been very well served by our agencies in this area hitherto, both in maintaining the very standards that we should be proud of in a democratic society, and in carrying out a difficult job that sometimes involves a difficult balancing act between privacy and the necessity of serving the wider public, all done in a spirit of which this House and the public should be proud. That was absolutely the impression I was left with. I would like to see us succeed in putting in place a framework for the future that ensures that in 10, 20 or 30 years people can still say the same thing.

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