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January 2018 Commons Interventions

On NHS waiting times

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab)

Where does the postponement of tens of thousands of operations leave the promise made by the Health Secretary to the Select Committee, the last time he appeared before us, that he would begin to reverse the very bad deterioration in routine waiting times for operations that we have seen in the past seven years?

Mr Dunne

Many areas of the country are doing very well with their waiting times. There are some—this tends to be concentrated in a relatively small number of trusts—where the referral to treatment targets are not being met, and need to be met. Part of the funding settlement achieved in the Budget in November is designed to bring down waiting time targets, to get more people treated within an 18-week period. That will clearly exacerbate the problem during this immediate period in which procedures are being deferred, but we hope that it will not last long.

On apprenticeships

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab)

May we have a statement from the Education Secretary about the completely inexplicable decision by the Education and Skills Funding Agency to reject Exeter College’s bid to continue to deliver apprenticeships in local small businesses, despite it having one of the best records in England? I warn the Government that there will be serious consequences for the provision of apprenticeships in my local area.

Andrea Leadsom

I am sorry to hear about that. I encourage the right hon. Gentleman either to seek an Adjournment debate or to raise the matter at Education questions since it is a very specific point.

On gay conversion therapy

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab)

5. To ask the right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, what discussions the Church of England has had with the Government as a result of the General Synod’s call to ban gay conversion therapy. [903528]

The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Dame Caroline Spelman)

Following all meetings of the General Synod, it is standard practice for the clerk to the General Synod to inform the appropriate Department. That was done on 21 July following the vote at the Synod to ban conversion therapy. A response was received from the relevant Minister on 24 August.

Mr Bradshaw

It would be helpful if we knew a little more about what that response actually said. As the right hon. Lady will know, this so-called therapy does dreadful damage to young people emotionally and psychologically; its ban is long overdue. The sponsor of the excellent motion in the General Synod has asked for a meeting with the relevant Minister, but that has been refused. I hope that the right hon. Lady will intervene on her behalf.

Dame Caroline Spelman

I am obviously not responsible for the Government’s decision, but the General Synod voted clearly and unequivocally to ban gay conversion therapy. I can share some of the contents of the letter that the Minister wrote to me. The Government are strongly against the practice of so-called reparative or conversion therapy. They have no current plans to ban or restrict it through legislation, because existing voluntary registers already provide safeguards for the public, but I will certainly assist in the way that the right hon. Gentleman suggests by writing to the Minister.

On Exeter College apprenticeships

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab)

I thank the Minister for her efforts on behalf of Exeter College, which, as she will know, was inexplicably not granted the contract by the Skills Funding Agency to provide apprenticeships through small firms. I would like her to continue those efforts, working with officials from her Department and the agency, because if this is not rectified, or a way ​through found for this, it will do serious damage both to the provision of apprenticeships in the Exeter area and to Exeter College, which is one of the top performing colleges in the country.

Anne Milton

I know that the right hon. Gentleman has worked very hard on behalf of Exeter College. I praise my officials who continue to work with individual Members to ensure that these problems are ironed out.

On Article 50

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab)

Given the damage that the chaos in government is already doing to our economy, if the Minister will not accept the way out that has just been offered by my right hon. Friend the Member for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford (Yvette Cooper), the Chair of the Home Affairs Committee—incidentally, the vote she proposed should be a free vote—why will he not do as the hon. Member for North East Somerset (Mr Rees-Mogg) suggests and extend article 50?

Mr Walker

I do not recall hearing that suggestion from my hon. Friend the Member for North East Somerset (Mr Rees-Mogg). The Prime Minister has set out a clear approach, saying that the UK can benefit from its independent trade policy and pursue global trade in the future. That is what we are seeking to deliver.

On Brexit Impact Assesments

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab)

Why have the Government assessed the impact of all the scenarios but not the one they say they want, the fantasy cake-and-eat-it one?

Mr Baker

I am grateful for that question, because I can reassure the right hon. Gentleman and the House that we will continue to develop and expand our economic analysis. We cannot control the timing of leaks, and were we to have chosen to publish an analysis, as we will when we approach the meaningful vote, it will of course contain the relevant information.

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