24 Penny Mordaunt debates involving the Department of Health and Social Care

Mon 22nd Feb 2021
Wed 18th Nov 2020
Mon 23rd Mar 2020
Coronavirus Bill
Commons Chamber

2nd reading & 2nd reading & 2nd reading: House of Commons & 2nd reading

Covid-19: Contracts and Public Inquiry

Penny Mordaunt Excerpts
Wednesday 7th July 2021

(2 years, 9 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Penny Mordaunt Portrait The Paymaster General (Penny Mordaunt)
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I thank all Members who have spoken in the debate and I associate myself with the remarks and the tributes that have been paid to all those who have lost their lives, and the incredible work that so many have done to help in the pandemic. I was particularly moved by the story of the twin brother of my hon. Friend the Member for Bury South (Christian Wakeford). My twin brother started the pandemic as cabin crew for Virgin Atlantic, and in fact still works for it, but he volunteered at the Nightingale Hospital London and then retrained as a phlebotomist to help with the blood plasma work and antibody work for the NHS. I am incredibly proud of him, of all my constituents and of everyone across the country who has done such an amazing job in the pandemic.

At the heart of all the speeches have been core questions of those in public life—that we should take responsibility, fulfil our duty and act in the public interest. This debate is the latest in a long line of debates and urgent questions on this topic. The Minister for Prevention, Public Health and Primary Care, my hon. Friend the Member for Bury St Edmunds (Jo Churchill), set out yet again the facts and figures, but I remind the House that we are talking about goods and services that included 32 billion items of personal protective equipment and 15,000 ventilators with enormous numbers of component parts. It was a massive and highly complex procurement at a time when the rest of the world was doing the same. Against that backdrop, less than 1% of that PPE was not fit for purpose. I pay tribute to all those who made that happen.

We were focused on getting the right spec in the right volumes to the right people in the right timeframe. We followed up thousands of offers of help and the same processes were applied to all expressions of interest. Although SNP Members have collective amnesia, they were on the daily calls and fully know the nature of the hotlines that we set up. All this information is in the public domain and subject to scrutiny. Procurement rules were not suspended. The efforts made and the motivation behind them were recognised by many public bodies that hold us to account. They were recognised by the National Audit Office in its November report and even in the judgment in respect of Public First. Are there lessons that could be learned? Yes. Could we have been better prepared? Yes. Were we late with our paperwork? Yes—but as a procurement officer at the Cabinet Office said, “I’d rather be late with my paperwork than a nurse go without PPE.”

We have been subject to an enormous amount of scrutiny: two PACAC reports; 15 Public Accounts Committee reports; one Treasury report; one report from the independent auditor; three Boardman reports; one review from the Committee on Standards in Public Life; one review from the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards; one review from the House of Lords Commissioner for Standards; two reports from the Information Commissioner’s Office; and one joint inquiry from the Health and Social Care Committee and the Science and Technology Committee. All those, as well as the inquiry that the Prime Minister has announced. We are also accountable before the law; it is ironic that I cannot talk about many of the contracts people would be interested in because they are subject to legal proceedings.

I always take pleasure in taking part in SNP debates; I have done a few and am beginning to notice a pattern. I have been called here previously to defend the UK’s position on jobs, while the SNP has dismissed the 545,000 Scottish jobs that are reliant on Scotland’s being part of the UK; I have been called here to discuss the importance of hypothetical EU funding mechanisms, while the SNP dismisses the very real United Kingdom dividend to the taxpayers of Scotland of £2,000 per person; and in another debate the SNP sought to be the champions of democracy while they ignored the result of two referendums. Although it might be a surprise to some that, in a week when we have had more revelations about the Scottish Government’s own lack of financial propriety and literacy, the SNP has called a debate on such schemes, it is not a surprise to me: I think it shows admirable consistency, as well as a complete lack of self-awareness with a large helping of assumed piety.

In addition to the many things we have done in government to improve transparency and procurement, let me tell the SNP and the House what we have not done. We did not hire to run our testing service, at the cost of £10 million, a firm that promptly furloughed its staff; the SNP did. We did not ignore firms that offered PPE to NHS Scotland; the SNP did. We did not provide guarantees to a company to the tune of £5 million per job to be secured—yes, £5 million per job—and then fail to secure those jobs; the SNP did. We did not secure loans without due diligence; the SNP did. Our National Audit Office did not say that we had no framework for working with private companies and, indeed, needed urgently to establish one; Audit Scotland did say that of the Scottish Government. We are not having to face replacing lost public funds from capital budgets—money earmarked to build schools and hospitals; the SNP is.

We did not ignore recommendations made by our auditing body, unlike the SNP, which has been criticised for ignoring Audit Scotland’s reports for the past three years; and we did not ignore inward investors who wanted to put their own money into Scotland and instead give preference to another firm that could do so only with public funds, as the media report this week.

If SNP Members want to start to gain some credibility on these matters, I suggest two things. First, they should implement the recommendations of their own scrutiny bodies and place information on deals, guarantees and dealings with private companies—including in respect of the Gupta Family Group—in the public domain.

Secondly, I want SNP Members to think about the context in which we are having this debate. This week, we learned that Scotland contains six of the 10 places with the highest infection rates in Europe. On average, Scotland’s schoolchildren have missed 119 days of schooling in this pandemic, and those from deprived backgrounds even more so. A massive 216,000 operations have not taken place in NHS Scotland. We have a huge catch-up job to do, and we must ensure that we can keep a vaccine programme on track.

We all face these issues and challenges, and we will meet them better if we meet them together. For our part, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster will continue to engage with Scottish colleagues. Our four-nation NHS will continue to work together, as will our chief medical officers. My fellow Ministers and I—all comprehensive school educated, by the way—will come to this House to be held to account, and we will continue to reject the distracting, delusional and divisive debate from the SNP. We will do the responsible thing. We know our duty to the Scottish people, and we will always be guided by what is in their interest. I hope that, one day, the SNP will do the same.

Covid-19

Penny Mordaunt Excerpts
Monday 22nd February 2021

(3 years, 2 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Penny Mordaunt Portrait The Paymaster General (Penny Mordaunt)
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I would like to thank all Members who have contributed to today’s debate, as well as my hon. Friends the Members for Bracknell (James Sunderland), for West Dorset (Chris Loder), for Keighley (Robbie Moore), for Isle of Wight (Bob Seely), for North West Durham (Mr Holden), for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Aaron Bell), for North Norfolk (Duncan Baker), for Bromley and Chislehurst (Sir Robert Neill) and for Stoke-on-Trent North (Jonathan Gullis), who wanted to contribute but who were not called due to lack of time. I also want to echo the many voices in the Chamber this afternoon who have praised our fantastic NHS and social care workforce, our key workers and carers and all the volunteers who are providing assistance through the pandemic. They are seeing us through the greatest health crisis in a generation. I also want to thank every member of the British public; they have made huge sacrifices in the past year in the battle against covid-19.

I want to start by addressing the comments many Members have made about people with learning disabilities and their carers. Often, when we think of care homes, we tend to think of older people. When we say “social care”, we do not think about people of working age. When we say “carers”, we do not think about the army of informal carers out there, and when we think of residential care, we do not think of mental health settings or of people with learning disabilities or behavioural disabilities. The hon. Members for Ellesmere Port and Neston (Justin Madders), for Worsley and Eccles South (Barbara Keeley), for Gower (Tonia Antoniazzi), and for Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle (Emma Hardy) all raised the issue of people with learning disabilities. I want to pay tribute to campaigners, including Jo Whiley and her sister Frances, and Ciara Lawrence from Mencap, who have done a huge amount to raise the needs of people with learning disabilities and who also help the Cabinet Office in our communications with those people.

Hon. Members have raised several issues and I am going to ask the Department for Health and Social Care to respond directly to those wider issues raised about group six, but I would say that statements had been made and policy is very clear around the blanket use of DNRs. That is totally unacceptable, and the Care Quality Commission’s review is going to report in March—next month—so we will not have long to wait for its work. All of us can help in this, and certainly if I as a constituency MP encounter somebody who I feel should have a vaccine, I encourage them to go and talk to their GP. It is our job to stand up for those people. My hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich (Tom Hunt) pointed to the plight of people with a learning disability who have to be outside a school setting. I have huge sympathy with this. This summer, at the age of 47, I was diagnosed with very severe dyslexia, and I know that distance learning and working from home can really exacerbate the difficulties.

I want to turn to the raft of issues that have been raised around data and dates, and whether we are going to unlock too late to build up resistance going into the winter. I want to thank my right hon. Friend the Member for Tunbridge Wells (Greg Clark), and also my right hon. Friend the Member for South West Wiltshire (Dr Murrison), whom I should like to thank for the work he is doing on the vaccine roll-out. My right hon. Friend the Member for New Forest West (Sir Desmond Swayne), my hon. Friend the Member for Gloucester (Richard Graham), and my right hon. Friend the Member for Epsom and Ewell (Chris Grayling) also raised these issues. I point them to the SPI-M SAGE modelling, which looked at the options of unlocking earlier and concluded that we might end up in a situation where we would be peaking in excess deaths in excess of what we experienced in April last year. This plays into comments made by my hon. Friend the Member for Winchester (Steve Brine) about the backdrop of this against the vaccination programme and whether it makes sense to unlock so late while the vaccination programme has gone on. That modelling did build in the vaccination programme, including the speed of roll-out and the likely take-up. A pack was placed in the House of Commons Library at 3.30 this afternoon with all this information in, and I encourage colleagues to go to look at it.

I thank the hon. Member for Hampstead and Kilburn (Tulip Siddiq) for the work she is doing on volunteering on the vaccination programme, and I pass my sympathies on to the hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Rushanara Ali) for her recent loss. They both raised the very important issue of the under-vaccinated in the BAME community, which is of huge concern and is being taken into account. Directors of public health are monitoring the take-up by ethnic group, and the UK covid-19 vaccine uptake plan and the vaccination equalities committee, which is bringing together directors of public health, local authorities, faith and community groups, are completely focused on this. The only way through it is to ensure that take-up in those community groups improves.

Many Members, including the hon. Member for Birmingham, Selly Oak (Steve McCabe), my right hon. Friend the Member for South Northamptonshire (Andrea Leadsom), my hon. Friends the Members for Mid Derbyshire (Mrs Latham) and for Totnes (Anthony Mangnall), the hon. Member for Edinburgh West (Christine Jardine) and the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr Carmichael), raised the issue of ongoing support for business. I encourage colleagues to lobby the Chancellor heavily, and we will not have long to wait to hear about that additional support. I wish particularly to focus on the plight of businesses in the constituency of the hon. Member for Glasgow South (Stewart Malcolm McDonald), who are stuck between a rock and a hard place, in the form of the Department for Work and Pensions and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs. I undertake to ensure that those issues are addressed.

I wish to comment on two issues raised by the hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Matt Western). I completely agree with the comments he made about the validation of the NHS and the system we have—our universal healthcare system, not linked to employment—and how fantastic that has been. However, I think the past 12 months have also been a validation of the excellence in the private sector, and in the third and social sectors, from manufacturers and inventors, to services and support, and of course the social care sector, 70% of which is in the independent sector. Our citizens would be much be better off if we in this place focused on getting good outcomes for taxpayers’ money and not on outdated dogma. I also add that attempts this afternoon to paint the Health Secretary as some sort of criminal mastermind are likely to fail.

Finally, I wish to touch on comments made by my hon. Friend the Member for Broxbourne (Sir Charles Walker), which were echoed in comments made by my hon. Friends the Members for Winchester, for Thurrock (Jackie Doyle-Price) and for North East Bedfordshire (Richard Fuller). This is really about how we live with this virus, and how we recover and return to normality after such trauma and distortion for our way of life. First, I would like to reassure my hon. Friend the Member for Broxbourne that the chief medical officer and his colleagues do focus on ethics a great deal; they are decent, compassionate people who are also directly affected by this virus. People are anxious about the virus and the disease. They are anxious about enforcement, and this is layered on to the huge responsibilities that they feel—responsibilities towards those they care for and those they employ. I know that that results in great stress and strain.

My hon. Friend the Member for Beaconsfield (Joy Morrissey) and the hon. Member for Twickenham (Munira Wilson) also focused on the plight that young people, in particular, are facing. This is not lost on me or on my hon. Friend the Minister for Patient Safety, Suicide Prevention and Mental Health, and we have been working across government on mental health support, which we will bring forward shortly.



In concluding, I will say that we will get through this. I know that we will because I have seen what the public have done over the last 12 months. They have been stoic and heroic. We must focus on the future with as much determination, grit, compassion and care as we have over the last 12 months. The road map is a plan, but, as my hon. Friends the Members for Rushcliffe (Ruth Edwards), for Redcar (Jacob Young) and for Ipswich pointed out, it is also hope. This debate has served as a reminder to us all of what is required for us to fulfil that hope and to repay the trust that the public put in us when they sent us here.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved,

That this House has considered covid-19.

Covid-19

Penny Mordaunt Excerpts
Wednesday 18th November 2020

(3 years, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Penny Mordaunt Portrait The Paymaster General (Penny Mordaunt)
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I thank all hon. Members who have contributed to the debate. It is a chance to remember those whom we have lost, and to share the hopes and fears of our constituents, who collectively have shown such resolve and sacrifice since the start of the pandemic and in the face of ongoing restrictions. It is also our opportunity to thank and pay tribute to the many individuals and organisations who are helping in the response. We have heard tributes to those providing PPE and scrubs, and even to pizza suppliers. The hon. Member for Nottingham North (Alex Norris) said that he hoped the Government were in listening mode. We are. I personally am in listening mode at 10 am every single weekday, when colleagues can find me and raise any issues, particularly cases that they are struggling to get sorted out with Departments.

I want to spend a bit of time talking about procurement, which, as the hon. Member for Putney (Fleur Anderson) pointed out, it is extremely important to get right. We have followed clear processes throughout the whole pandemic. We have also issued new public procurement notes—not just for central Government, but for partner bodies. At the heart of that is value for money, and we always remember that it is not our money that we are spending. Accusations have been made about the quality of the equipment provided. I want to get it on record that 0.5% of PPE supplied turned out not to be up to spec or was faulty. That is an incredible achievement by those 500 civil servants, who have done an amazing job in this pandemic.

There have been accusations of a high priority lane. There is no such thing. As all hon. Members will know, there is a triage service for Members of Parliament. Today I have heard the scheme criticised by certain Members who actually used it, including the hon. Member for Westmorland and Lonsdale (Tim Farron), who used it twice. Several MPs placed those contact points on their websites. No special treatment was given to those companies. The same due diligence was applied—all eight checks. What it did allow was gumption to be used. There were many great offers of help out there, and there were also some not so great offers of help. We wanted to avoid good bets being parked in a system and buried under thousands of not so useful inquiries. Those businesses and MPs were not on the take or the make. All of us were working together to meet huge demand, and to keep health workers, care workers and other key workers safe.

With regard to transparency, everything is in the public domain and is independently reviewed by the National Audit Office. The Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, my hon. Friend the Member for Bury St Edmunds (Jo Churchill), quoted the NAO report, which showed that no evidence was found that Ministers had improperly hidden interests, or had been involved in procurement decisions or contract management. If any part of Government—for example, the intelligence agencies—cannot reveal issues with procurement, there are systems to ensure that that is properly scrutinised in this place.

The National Audit Office said that we were behind in our paperwork, and that is the case, but as one civil servant said to me, “I would rather be behind in my paperwork”—and they will be catching up on that—“than care workers not have gloves.”

The 11 ministerial directions included bounce back loans, local authority grants, the coronavirus business interruption loan scheme, small business grants, and the leisure and retail support funds. Concerns were raised with Ministers about them, but Ministers said, “No. Crack on: people need support.”

The hon. Member for Nottingham North rightly raised the issue of Test and Trace, as many others have done. I shall not go through all the statistics, but the latest published results, for the week of 29 October to 4 November, show that where communication details were given 78.3% of contacts were reached and told to self-isolate. He made very good points both on lab capacity and on support, which I shall raise with the Department, and, of course, on the importance of locally led contact tracing. We now have 80 local authorities involved in that. It is a central system, but they are doing the contact tracing locally.

Many Members, including Opposition Front Benchers, have spoken about the exit from this particular lockdown in England and the importance of getting the right balance. Hon. Members have also spoken about data. The Treasury provides regular data. We have key performance indicators in health.

My hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch (Sir Christopher Chope) mentioned the quality of answers he was getting. I am on this and have sent two of his questions back to Departments in order for them to do a better job.

I agree with the points raised by the hon. Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant) with regard to risk management and what we can learn. The hon. Member for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath (Neale Hanvey) made several points, but I say to him that, as well as the financial reasons that are often given for the Union of the United Kingdom, it is not just about head; it is also about heart. It is about our mutuality, and I think there is no greater example of that than the NHS—four devolved systems all learning from each other’s unique strengths, but working as one for the benefit of the whole United Kingdom.

Many Members spoke about the fact that covid has stamped on the fault lines of inequality in our country. The hon. Member for Hemsworth (Jon Trickett), who is no longer in his place, mentioned the Marmot curve, and he was right to do so. However, although we have had a lot of cross-party co-operation, it is quite wrong for people to revert to the default setting of claiming that the motives of Government Members are a result of their being either evil or stupid. Those are ridiculous stereotypes, but they still persist in our politics. The idea that people who were on free school meals as children or who grew up in deprivation or in the care system suddenly become a bunch of rotters when they get their Conservative party membership card is ridiculous.

The hon. Member for Hampstead and Kilburn (Tulip Siddiq) rightly raised important points about the BAME community and our Central Office of Information work. I shall write to her at length. The Central Office of Information does an incredible job in outreach and uses surrogate spokesmen, as she suggested.

My hon. Friend the Member for Dewsbury (Mark Eastwood) raised very important points about workforce resilience, and I will take them up. Many Members raised issues about additional support and paid tribute to their constituents. The hon. Member for Enfield North (Feryal Clark) and my hon. Friend the Member for Bury South (Christian Wakeford) raised issues about care home visits. Their points were well made. Pilots are taking place for fast testing and improving all that. My hon. Friend the Member for Hastings and Rye (Sally-Ann Hart) raised excellent points about parking, which I shall take up. I shall also ensure that we publish on the parliamentary website clarity around exams, because there have been statements made about that.

In the 10 seconds that I have left, I would like to thank all hon. Members for their contributions. When I spoke before, I mentioned that although we were in darkness, there were many points of light.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved,

That this House has considered covid-19.

Diana Johnson Portrait Dame Diana Johnson
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On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I was really disappointed that in the Minister’s winding-up speech there was no reference to Hull. I made a very clear ask for a response to the letters from the three Hull MPs and the leader of the council. I think the Minister might want to respond to that point.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I will happily respond. I am sorry that I did not have a lot of time at the Dispatch Box. However, during the course of the debate I arranged for the covid-19 taskforce—who, through the Cabinet Office and my office, will co-ordinate this—to have a meeting with the hon. Lady and any other people, whether colleagues in this place or the local resilience forum. The notes that she has given us today on further logistical support are incredibly important, and we will act on them. I will see her after this debate to confirm all that.

Rosie Winterton Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Rosie Winterton)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Thank you. I should just say that both Front Benchers agreed to keep their contributions shorter than they ordinarily would have done in order to accommodate as many Back Benchers as possible.

Coronavirus Bill

Penny Mordaunt Excerpts
Penny Mordaunt Portrait The Paymaster General (Penny Mordaunt)
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I do not have a lot of time left, so if I cannot address some points now, I will try to address them in the Committee stage. I would like to briefly put on the record, echoing the sentiments that every Member has expressed in this debate, my thanks to our care and health professionals, the police, the military, volunteers and everyone who is working so hard to combat this crisis. I also wish to thank all hon Members who have contributed on Second Reading. The key points are: that the vast majority of powers in the Bill will not be live at Royal Assent; that parts of this Bill and those powers can be switched on and off—they do not stand or fall together; and the powers the Bill creates can be switched on and off as well. That addresses many of the points that have been made by some Members. We are only taking powers that we need. Many Members, including the hon. Member for Croydon Central (Sarah Jones), raised points about renters and the self-employed, but the Bill today is about the powers we need to take now and not about every aspect of our response.

I am now going to deal with the shadow Secretary of State’s points. I thank him for his approach to working with the Government on all aspects of this response. What he says on social distancing and the offer of support he has made for further measures is noted, and I thank him for that. He asks about EU joint procurement. Not all member states are part of that procurement system, and we have chosen other routes. He asks about car parking, and I believe there are ongoing discussions with trusts about that and about pay for nurses taking time out of training. They will be paid in accordance with the terms and conditions of those roles.

I want to turn to the issue of social care, which was mentioned by many Members, including the hon. Member for Hornsey and Wood Green (Catherine West), my right hon. Friend the Member for Romsey and Southampton North (Caroline Nokes), and the hon. Members for Coventry South (Zarah Sultana), for Newport West (Ruth Jones) and for Dulwich and West Norwood (Helen Hayes). I fully understand why this is such an issue. Carers, adults in social care, parents of children with learning disabilities and others often feel that they have a fight on their hands at the best of times, and we are heading for what I hope will not be the worst of times. I understand their concerns around that and wish to provide them with reassurance. The purpose of these powers is to protect the most vulnerable when we come under great strain in these systems.

Clause 13 is live on Royal Assent, but clauses 14 and 9 are not. They need further regulations in order to commence. The Minister for Care, my hon. Friend the Member for Faversham and Mid Kent (Helen Whately), is doing an amazing job of ensuring that we understand what is going on around the country. If these powers are switched on, we will understand what is happening, taking data from the CQC and from other areas as well. I think I can provide the assurance that hon. Members are seeking on that, and I am happy to do so at length in Committee, if I get the chance.

My right hon. Friend the Member for South West Surrey (Jeremy Hunt) mentioned personal protection, as did many other hon. Members. We are working with business, and there has been an incredible response from industry—injection moulders and others—to produce more PPE. The strains in the system are not to do with the volume, but the distribution, but military assistance and other assistance has been stood up to get that to where it needs to be.

I am sure that hon. Members will hear more in the future about testing and the new end-to-end testing scheme that has been put in place, and about mobile phone data. My right hon. Friend mentioned Dr Tedros, and we should all pay tribute to his efforts and those of his team.

The hon. Member for Dulwich and West Norwood, along with my right hon. Friend the Member for South West Surrey, mentioned the “Transforming Care” aspects. I know that the schemes that my hon. Friend the Minister for Care has put in place, which monitor referrals and other such data, will give us confidence that we can understand what is happening in the system.

The right hon. Member for Ross, Skye and Lochaber (Ian Blackford) emphasised the importance of our working together and that we needed to put economic measures in place. I would say to him that we have to recognise that people who are travelling to other parts of the country might be doing that with the best of intentions. He is right, and we are right, to ask them to follow the chief medical officer’s advice, and that is why we need to be clear about that advice, and about staying at home and the support systems that are around people in their communities—

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I am sorry, but I am very short of time.

Other hon. Members have mentioned businesses, with examples of good practice and, I am afraid, bad practice. That needs to be called out. My right hon. Friend the Member for Chipping Barnet (Theresa Villiers) spoke about care homes and, obviously, policy is under review but we have to find the right balance between giving those individuals mental health and social support and keeping them safe.

The hon. Member for Sefton Central (Bill Esterson) mentioned sick pay and what further support we could give to caseworkers and so on. The DWP is looking at training and teach-ins for citizens advice bureaux, caseworkers and others so that we can ensure that as these initiatives come out they are well understood.

In the short time I have left, I must pay tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for High Peak (Robert Largan) on his maiden speech. As the Opposition spokesman pointed out, Louise and Terry, as I believe they are known, are no doubt watching on television and I am sure that the whole House will want to send them our best wishes as they follow the chief medical officer’s advice and to let them know that their son has done very well for himself. He was absolutely right to acknowledge—I know that Members understand this—that we are in a very privileged position compared with many people, and I know that that is in everyone’s thoughts as we consider our own personal response to this situation.

The hon. Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant) rightly raised the matter of people’s behaviour. My hon. Friend the Member for Winchester (Steve Brine) also mentioned that this is not a new issue, and that we have trained very heavily.

I am sorry to disappoint hon. Members. I have the issues they have raised in front of me and I will say more about them, including the issue of funerals, in Committee. I commend the Bill to the House.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read a Second time; to stand committed to a Committee of the whole House (Order, this day).

Further proceedings on the Bill stood postponed (Order, this day).

Oral Answers to Questions

Penny Mordaunt Excerpts
Tuesday 28th January 2020

(4 years, 2 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Edward Argar Portrait Edward Argar
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First, 1.7 million more people are being seen within the four-hour target now than before 2010. I hope that the shadow Minister will acknowledge that that reflects the significant increase in demand due to the number of people going through the system. He talks about the review of standards. That is a clinically-led review, and I am sure he would want to let those clinicians lead it. We will see what it reports and will consider its recommendations when they come back to us. In the meantime, we are getting on with investing in our NHS, and improving services.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt (Portsmouth North) (Con)
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T1. If he will make a statement on his departmental responsibilities.

Matt Hancock Portrait The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care (Matt Hancock)
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As well as working to protect the public from infectious disease outbreaks, we are working to improve technology and recruit the workforce that the NHS needs. Figures just out show that we have record numbers of nurses working in our NHS—up by over 7,800 on the same time last year.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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May I acknowledge the good work done by the Minister for Care, my hon. Friend the Member for Gosport (Caroline Dinenage), resulting in a regional breakdown of the transforming care programme? It shows where progress is not being made, and that the target of 35% of in-patient beds being closed down will not be met by this March. How will the Secretary of State shut down these hell-holes, and will he hold to account commissioners who are still sending people with learning disabilities to them?

Matt Hancock Portrait Matt Hancock
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I am really pleased that my right hon. Friend has driven forward, and is holding us—and, in turn, the NHS—to account for delivery of this vital agenda; it is incredibly important to get this right. The number of people with learning disabilities and/or autism who are in in-patient settings is falling, but not as fast as I would like. We have a clear commitment in the long-term plan to bring it down by half. As she says, there is a target to bring it down by the end of March. The Minister for Care has done a huge amount of work to drive this forward, and we will do everything we can to ensure that all these people, who are some of the most vulnerable in the country, get the best support they can in the right setting. I welcome my right hon. Friend’s scrutiny.

Oral Answers to Questions

Penny Mordaunt Excerpts
Tuesday 29th October 2019

(4 years, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Matt Hancock Portrait Matt Hancock
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This is an important issue and I care very much about getting the roll-out right. I chastise the hon. Gentleman slightly for his tone. The Minister met the Terrence Higgins Trust yesterday. It agrees with the approach that we are taking. The roll-out from a trial to routine commissioning will happen in April. There are some gaps where local authorities need to do more, but from an NHS perspective, there are thousands more places available on the trial. If the hon. Gentleman feels strongly about the issue, as I do, he should be working with us to get local authorities to do their part, because the NHS is doing its part.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt (Portsmouth North) (Con)
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May I congratulate the Secretary of State on setting the 2030 target on HIV infections? Access to PrEP is vital for reducing new infections, but access to healthcare professional time is also critical. Does he therefore agree with me and the trust that we must do everything to remove the funding and logistical obstacles that are discouraging clinics from filling the many places that are now available on the trial?

Matt Hancock Portrait Matt Hancock
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I wholeheartedly agree with my right hon. Friend, who is absolutely spot on about this, but there is more that we need to do in ensuring that the health inequalities of people who are homosexual or LGBT are reduced across the board. We have a whole plan to make that happen. She played an important part in government, and I will rest at nothing to ensure that we address these problems, but we should not engage in the sort of scaremongering that we have heard from the Opposition.

NHS Investigations (Jimmy Savile)

Penny Mordaunt Excerpts
Thursday 26th June 2014

(9 years, 10 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Jeremy Hunt Portrait Mr Hunt
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I would like to associate myself with the right hon. Gentleman’s comments; I share his disbelief and shock that it has taken so long. In some ways justice will never be done, because Savile died before it could be served on him, which is one of the biggest tragedies of all. I agree: there was a major lack of judgment, some of it because of the different attitudes prevailing at those times. One of the big differences today is that we make links between what is disgusting but not illegal behaviour and potential abuse in a way that did not happen in those days. I want to share with the right hon. Gentleman what most shocked me personally in the reports, and it was the way in which Savile interfered and abused people who had just come out of operations and were recovering from them. The fact that Savile was able to do that, without being supervised, is shocking and when those people spoke up about what had happened, they were not believed. That is one of so many lessons that need to be learned; I know that everyone wants to learn them.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt (Portsmouth North) (Con)
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It is clear from the Portsmouth report that there were incidents with no corroborative evidence of the abuse. In one local case, the complainant was unconscious at the time of the alleged incident and learned of it from a hospital cleaner who witnessed it. Does my right hon. Friend agree that “no proof” is not the same as “it did not happen”, that his welcome words of apology should apply to all those who think they may have been abused and that we need a clear process for how such unprovable complaints can be dealt with?

Jeremy Hunt Portrait Mr Hunt
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Absolutely right. The case that my hon. Friend mentions was a real tragedy because that person suffered very real psychological harm in subsequent years as a result of what they were told by the cleaner. There are two points. First, we cannot necessarily corroborate, but we can see a pattern. What is impressive about these investigations is the fact that the investigators say time after time that although it is not possible to prove that these things happened, they believe that they did happen because the evidence was credible. On one or two occasions, they say that they are not sure, but in the vast majority of cases, they thought that the evidence was credible. Secondly, there will continue to be times when offences are alleged, but it is not possible to prove them in a court of law. The big lesson to be learnt is that that does not mean no action should be taken. We must do what it takes to protect patients.

Oral Answers to Questions

Penny Mordaunt Excerpts
Tuesday 25th February 2014

(10 years, 1 month ago)

Commons Chamber
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Jeremy Hunt Portrait Mr Hunt
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The right hon. Gentleman has still not addressed the fundamental question of why he did not introduce an opt-out for the use of personal data, which this Government are doing. We have taken more steps than his Government ever did, and we will continue to work hard to ensure that this important scheme goes ahead. The right hon. Gentleman should know better.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt (Portsmouth North) (Con)
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T2. There is great unmet need among older people in our communities, particularly for dementia care and support. In Portsmouth we are holding a community summit to join up local agencies to meet that unmet need. Will the Minister meet me to discuss what central Government can do to ensure that advice on additional funding streams is clearly and readily available?

Norman Lamb Portrait The Minister of State, Department of Health (Norman Lamb)
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I thank my hon. Friend for that question and pay tribute to the agencies in Portsmouth that are coming together to hold the summit and discuss that critical issue. The Prime Minister’s challenge on dementia has made real progress in improving diagnosis rates and the way that society treats dementia, and I would be happy to meet my hon. Friend to discuss the issue further.

Oral Answers to Questions

Penny Mordaunt Excerpts
Tuesday 26th November 2013

(10 years, 4 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Dan Poulter Portrait Dr Poulter
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Obviously, we work closely with the devolved Administrations on all such matters. We have UK armed forces, and with health being a devolved responsibility, it comes to each part of the United Kingdom to put in place the right support. On the whole, that is done very well, but I am particularly proud of the efforts the Government have made on veterans’ mental health and on specialist prosthetic centres, which can be commissioned by the devolved Administrations if they wish to make such facilities available.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt (Portsmouth North) (Con)
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Many veterans are young men and women, and I know from my own constituency case work that a tremendous burden is often placed on elderly parents in caring for them, especially if they are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Does the Minister agree that better integration between medical services in the armed forces and the NHS will benefit those families as well as the veterans themselves?

Dan Poulter Portrait Dr Poulter
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My hon. Friend speaks with considerable knowledge of the subject from her tradition and strong record of service. She will know that an important aspect of providing proper support for veterans is ensuring that we give their families the right support. We are working very closely with armed forces families and services charities to ensure that we do exactly that. That is why we have also put in place mental health first aid support for the families of servicemen and women to ensure that families know how to support veterans when they run into difficulties with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Managing Risk in the NHS

Penny Mordaunt Excerpts
Wednesday 17th July 2013

(10 years, 9 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Andy Burnham Portrait Andy Burnham
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I am grateful to my hon. Friend and I will come to that precise point, as one would think that that was a responsibility of a Secretary of State. Who knows, though, what their responsibilities are now. Presumably that is a matter for NHS England as well. We shall return to the point in a few moments.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt (Portsmouth North) (Con)
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Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Andy Burnham Portrait Andy Burnham
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No, I want to make some more progress.

As I said a moment ago, what chance do these hospitals have when they get these misleading headlines running them down when they are trying and struggling to make progress, alarming staff, alarming patients, demoralising staff and casually trading figures—[Interruption.] No. I will not give way. [Interruption.]

--- Later in debate ---
Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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The right hon. Gentleman is making some important points about accountability, responsibility and the grip the Secretary of State should have on his Department. In that vein, can the right hon. Gentleman please tell the House how many of the 400 warnings about United Lincolnshire, 300 warnings about Blackpool and more than 200 warnings about Basildon went across his desk?

Andy Burnham Portrait Andy Burnham
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This is all part of the spin in which Government Members have been engaging in recent days. [Interruption.] Okay, so let me answer and then the same test will apply to the Secretary of State as the hon. Lady is applying to me. She is referring to letters sent by members of the public to the Department of Health. I am sure that this has not changed with the change of Government; contrary to what she has just said, those letters do not come across Ministers’ desks. They are not formal warnings to Ministers, and it is very important to be precise with language here. This Secretary of State will have received many, many hundreds of letters about hospitals up and down the country that he will not have seen, and it is not right for the hon. Lady to come along, again, with slurs and half truths to try to muddy the waters.