Ben Bradshaw

Working Hard for Exeter


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My question in the House of Commons yesterday.

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab): This Government have already forced the licence fee payer to fund broadband roll-out and the failed vanity project of local TV, and now they are making the BBC a branch office of the Department for Work and Pensions. Does the right hon. Gentleman not accept that this represents a significant assault on the BBC’s independence, and that it is to Parliament, not the Government, that the BBC is answerable? Just before the election, he published a report on the future of the BBC in which he said that it was of paramount importance that this House and the other place should be consulted fully on anything to do with charter renewal. He has broken that promise today, and I am extremely disappointed that he has done so.

Mr Whittingdale: On the right hon. Gentleman’s first point, I have already announced that we will be phasing out the broadband ring-fence over a period. I seem to recall that it was his Government who financed the digital switchover from the licence fee. As I have said, the licence fee settlement is a matter that will be considered as part of the charter renewal process, as it will obviously be affected by any decision taken on the purposes and scope of the BBC as a result of the charter review. We have sought to give the BBC the assurances that it has requested, but that has not in any way pre-empted the decisions that may be reached as a result of the charter review.

My Question on BBC

My question in the House of Commons yesterday.

My questions in the House of Commons from throughout June are below.


4th June 2015

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab): I am sorry that the Secretary of State is not answering this question, because only a couple of months ago, when he was the Chair of the Select Committee, he authored an excellent report highlighting the scandal of the imbalance in funding for the English regions compared with London. Now that he is in a position to implement it, will he?

Mr Vaizey: I am afraid that this is the second time that Opposition Members have asked for the Secretary of State to respond. Unfortunately, they have to put up with me, and I apologise for that. I am pleased that the chief executive of the Arts Council took note of the excellent report put forward by the Select Committee. As a member of that Select Committee, the right hon. Gentleman should be aware that civil servants now pore over these reports as though they were sacred texts.

11th June 2015

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab): Can the Secretary of State clear up the confusion caused by the Chancellor’s recent comments about a separate rail franchise for Devon and Cornwall? He will be aware that those bits of the First Great Western franchise are the least profitable. Is there not a danger that they would be unviable on their own, and that we would suffer service cuts?

Mr McLoughlin: My right hon. Friend the Chancellor said what I would say as well—that we are always looking at ways to improve the franchising system and the service for passengers. I very much hope that new rolling stock will be announced for that particular line in the not too distant future.

11th June 2015

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab): Is it not an act of the deepest cynicism for the Government, a few months before the election, to announce, in a fanfare of self-congratulation, a very modest increase in spending on cycling safety, only for that money to be axed in the first week after the election? Why should any of Britain’s millions of cyclists believe a single word the Government say?

Claire Perry: I am slightly disappointed, because I know that the right hon. Gentleman is a keen cyclist, and I am sure he will know and welcome the fact that when the last Administration came to power, cycle spending across the country was around £2 a head; that currently it is around £6 a head; and that in the cycle ambition cities, it will reach £10 a head. I have been assured that the cycle ambition city programme, which the previous Government introduced, will fully deliver its outputs. He should welcome that.

22nd June 2015

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab): How much investment and how many jobs will be lost to the economy of the south-west of England as a result of the Secretary of State’s decision?

Amber Rudd: The investment in renewable energy over the past six years has been £7 billion a year. We are committed to ensuring that the UK is the leading country in developing renewable energy. We have been particularly successful in offshore wind—we have more offshore wind than the rest of the world put together and hope to become a serious exporter of it. Renewable energy is important for jobs and important for building on our commitments.

24th June 2015

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab): With the death of yet another cyclist—again, a young woman commuter, beneath the wheels of a tipper truck—will the Prime Minister meet a small delegation from the all-party parliamentary cycling group to discuss what more can be done to protect vulnerable road users, including the call by the acting leader of the Labour party for a ban on these killer lorries in our towns and cities at peak times?

The Prime Minister: I am very happy to have that meeting. It seems to me that although a lot has been done in London to try to make cycling safer on our roads with the cycling strategy—money is being invested and cycle lanes are being introduced—the number of fatalities is still very high, and it is extremely depressing that young lives are being snuffed out in this way. I am very happy to have that meeting and perhaps keep in contact with the Mayor about this important issue.

My Questions in June

My questions in the House of Commons from throughout June are below.  

Many thanks and congratulations to all who've worked so hard to save jobs at Exeter Pluss factory, which supports people with disabilities into employment. Read more about the latest update here.

Pluss Factory Update

Many thanks and congratulations to all who've worked so hard to save jobs at Exeter Pluss factory, which supports people with disabilities into employment. Read more about the latest update...

On Monday I asked the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport about FIFA.

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab): I welcome the right hon. Gentleman’s overdue promotion, and the positive signal that it sends to the House about the importance of Select Committees. Does he agree that there is a model for the cleaning up of an international sporting organisation—namely, what we did about the Olympics after Salt Lake City—which will, however, require concerted action by the individual states’ sporting organisations and, critically, their Governments? Does he agree that the British Government and others that want clean football must take the lead in that action?

Mr Whittingdale: I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his kind remarks. I completely agree with him. What happened 15 or 20 years ago following the Salt Lake City bid, which led to a complete reform of the International Olympic Committee, provides a very good precedent for the tackling of matters such as this. The IOC, which at that time suffered from allegations much the same as those that are now swirling around FIFA, did clean up its act, which shows that a result is certainly possible. The British Government will work with the FA in putting as much pressure as we can on other football associations to ensure that FIFA takes the same route as the IOC.

Question on FIFA

On Monday I asked the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport about FIFA.

Below is my speech in yesterday's House of Commons debate on health.

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab): I congratulate the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire (Dr Whitford), who is the health spokesperson for the SNP, on an excellent maiden speech. I am sorry that the Secretary of State and the Under-Secretary of State for Health, the hon. Member for Battersea (Jane Ellison), are not in their places because they are the Ministers who have a little bit of historical knowledge about the past couple of years in the NHS. I hope that the Under-Secretary of State for Health, the hon. Member for Ipswich (Ben Gummer), will relay the comments of other Members to them, so that the hon. Member for Battersea can respond to them fully at the end.

I want to stress how pleased I am that my right hon. Friend the Member for Leigh (Andy Burnham) spoke mainly about the deteriorating financial situation facing the NHS. To be perfectly honest, I was astonished that the Secretary of State had nothing at all to say about that. He cannot say that he and fellow Ministers have not been warned, because many MPs on both sides of the Chamber have been sounding alarm bells about this for some considerable time.

Last February the Government commissioned a series of reports on what they called the most financially challenged health economies in the country, of which Devon was one. Since then, nothing has happened: the Government have refused to publish those reports. I tabled a freedom of information request just before Dissolution asking where the consultants’ report was, and was told it could not be published because it would, in time, inform the making of decisions that would affect local NHS services in Devon. Why have we been waiting so long for action by this Government to address the financial situation, which in the meantime has got much, much worse?

Let me give some of the figures for my area. My local commissioning organisation, the Devon clinical commissioning group, announced last week that its deficit has risen to £40 million this year. My local hospital, the Royal Devon and Exeter hospital, which is one of the best performing and best managed hospitals in the country and which had never registered a deficit until the last two or three years, is now going to register a £20 million deficit this year; and Derriford hospital in Plymouth is looking at a deficit of £30 million. That is £90 million in deficits in just part of a county in part of our country. It is simply unsustainable for the Government to claim that there is no problem with NHS finances. The longer the Government delay action, the bigger the impact will be on services and on patient care.

The Minister may recall, because it received national publicity, that the response of my local CCG last autumn to the serious situation it faced was to announce a widespread programme of rationing and cuts. The measures, which hit the national headlines, included preventing anyone who was obese or who smoked from having any routine operation, and rationing cataract operations to one eye and hearing aids to one ear. That provoked such widespread condemnation, not only from the public in Devon, but from across the country and from all the professional organisations, that, following an Adjournment debate I had with the Under-Secretary of State for Health, the hon. Member for Battersea (Jane Ellison), the plans were dropped. However, the underlying financial situation has not been addressed, and it has got worse.

I was told by Health Ministers just before the election that there was a plan afoot—a success regime, which is a rather unfortunate way to describe a way to address a not-very-successful situation—but that nothing would be announced before the general election. How much longer do we have to wait for that so-called success regime, or some sort of action to remedy the Government’s failure, to be introduced? People in Devon and across the country want to know when action will be taken and delivered.

Members have said that the disastrous Lansley reforms have made the job of Health Ministers much more difficult. One of the reasons why we have been unable to grip the problem in Devon and elsewhere is that we now have so many different organisations in the NHS responsible for regulation and performance management. We have Monitor, responsible for foundation trusts; we have the NHS Trust Development Authority, responsible for non-foundation trusts; and then we have NHS England, responsible for CCGs. No one has gripped this problem: Ministers have not gripped it, the different bits of the NHS have not gripped it, and that is why it has got out of control.

I remember very well—I have the scars on my back—the time when we were in government and the finances got out control. It happened for different reasons—we were increasing capacity in the NHS at such a rate that the NHS lost control of its spending. The situation now is much more serious, because spending has been so tight, so the impacts of the loss of control we are seeing in the NHS now are extremely serious cuts or the sort of rationing that my local CCG proposed last autumn, which Ministers rejected. I want the Minister who winds up the debate to give an assurance that the Government do not believe that that sort of model offers an answer to the financial crisis affecting many trusts and the NHS as a whole. I hope that Ministers will look carefully at the fragmented landscape of NHS management, performance management and regulation, which is preventing us from finding a solution to this problem.

Let me give one more example. We had cross-party support in Devon—I am pleased that the hon. Member for Totnes (Dr Wollaston) is still in her place—for the integration of community services in most of the county. They are currently delivered by North Devon district hospital, but everyone else, including Conservative Members such as the right hon. Member for East Devon (Mr Swire) and the hon. Members for Central Devon (Mel Stride) and for Tiverton and Honiton (Neil Parish), agree with me that it would make much more sense to integrate those services vertically in our parts of Devon. That has not happened, because the North Devon trust objected and Monitor launched an investigation, which is still dragging on, with no resolution reached.

We have lost months of time and millions of pounds, and we have not been able to get on with improving the integrated care that the Secretary of State and everyone with any sense in this Chamber has talked about during the course of this debate. Please, will the Under-Secretary of State for Health, the hon. Member for Ipswich (Ben Gummer), address the financial crisis that his Secretary of State failed even to mention in his opening remarks, and will he think carefully about the changes in delivery structures we need if the local health service is to deliver the improvements, the savings and the care that our public need?

Speech on NHS

Below is my speech in yesterday's House of Commons debate on health.

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