I thank the Leader of the House for the forthcoming business. Colleagues on the Opposition Benches will be particularly pleased to see that we will have all stages of the Social Security (Special Rules for End Of Life) Bill. Thanks to those colleagues who have worked so hard on that.
I wish all Members and staff an enjoyable summer recess. As it is culture’s come-back summer, I invite everyone to visit Bristol West and our fantastic cultural life, as well as to visit festivals, the Proms and Edinburgh. Speaking as someone who was at a prom last night, it is fantastic that we are back in real life. I congratulate the Lionesses, who I understand are a football team, on their thrilling victory against Spain last night—that is what it says here. Sorry, anyone who knows me knows that I do not understand football; I do however understand a team at their peak, strong leadership and an electrifying atmosphere, and I have to say it sounds like a far cry from the Tory leadership debate.
I have a bit of an end of school report here. First, on behaviour, there is no sign of the updated Members code of conduct in the forthcoming business. The Standards Committee’s welcome work and recommendations have been with us for a while now. Will the Leader of the House tell us when he will allow them to be debated and voted on?
“Bills going up”, “taxes rising to the highest level in 70 years”, and, “the economy is heading for a recession”—those are not just my words, but those of the leadership contenders, talking about the Prime Minister’s legacy and the cumulation of 12 Tory years. These were senior Ministers in his Administration, yet yesterday at Prime Minister’s questions, there was applause, cheers and a standing ovation. I hear rumours that there were even tears of despair that it was all over. Can Government Members not remember why the Prime Minister was forced out of office, including by some I can see in this Chamber, I think? This was the man who partied through the pandemic, ground our economy to a halt, stood by as Britain burned, and they all tolerated his bad behaviour.
Moving on with the end of term report, on paying attention, we have a Prime Minister who has already checked out by checking in at Chequers, failing to attend crucial Cobra meetings. The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, not the Prime Minister, came to this House to answer questions on extreme heat, but only when forced to do so, and he might as well not have bothered. He said to “wear a hat”, “stay in the shade” and to drink water. This is not an online local residents’ group; they are the Government. When will they start acting like one?
As the chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance told MPs just last week, this consequence of the climate emergency was predictable and predicted, yet whether healthcare, transport or safety at work, this Government left us all underprepared for the national emergency. Their consultation on a national resilience strategy closed nearly 10 months ago, and still there is no plan for resilience. Where is it?
This morning, the High Court ruled that the Government’s net zero strategy breaches obligations under the Climate Change Act 2008—passed, by the way, by a Labour Government—so will the Leader of the House ask the Tory leadership contenders to say how they plan to meet targets?
Moving on to attendance, it is yet another week where the Home Secretary did not bother to turn up to the Home Affairs Committee. There was a note—a bit like having a note from your mum saying, “Please let her be excused”—but yesterday, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy sent another note saying why he was not going to the Environmental Audit Committee. That scrutiny is part of their jobs, and they know it. Mired by infighting, this party cannot even manage the basics, so could the Leader of the House remind Cabinet colleagues about simply turning up?
Moving on with the school report to the subject of science, the Government have not bothered to fill the vacancy of Science Minister. It has been two weeks, and we are supposed to have the UK as a science superpower. Can the Leader of the House tell us when the remaining vacancies will be filled?
Moving on to the organising of work, backlog Britain is still piling misery on to millions of people, crippling our economy and costing billions. For example, with the Home Office, Members and staff tell me that despite civil servants’ tireless work, everything is still bad: offices spending hours on hold to departmental hotlines, costing the taxpayer; MPs waiting months for responses on asylum claims and passport applications for constituents; people left stranded; and families forced to pay more for worse. I have asked week after week for the Home Secretary to make sure that there are enough people just to pick up the phones. Has the Leader of the House been passing on my messages? What is he going to do to reduce the long, hot, slow queues at the Home Office hub in Portcullis House? Will he tell the Home Secretary to sort this out?
I will finish my end of term report. Whether it is writing off billions to fraudsters or turning Britain into a laughing stock on the world stage, there seems to be no hope that either of the two remaining Tory leadership contenders will offer the change we need. Like every single Tory MP, they propped up this Prime Minister; they were complicit. There is no plan. Labour is ready to take over, and that is the only way we will get a fresh start. Thank you for your indulgence, Mr Speaker.