I am very glad that my hon. Friend supports the Government’s policy. The first £3.7 billion of funding for 40 new hospitals has now been confirmed, with a further eight schemes to be invited to bid for future funding, to deliver 48 hospitals—we are building back better and bigger than was promised in our manifesto—by 2030, so we will deliver on the commitment.
The Department of Health and Social Care is aware of the issues surrounding past use of reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete in construction, including at Airedale General Hospital, and I note that my hon. Friend raised that. The Department is focusing on work on designing the criteria for the further eight new hospitals, which will be communicated to trusts in due course. My hon. Friend has made a plea for his own hospital, and he is right to do so, but I am sure that he may also want to make that plea to my right hon Friend the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care.
It is an absolute pleasure to do that, and to congratulate Maria Lovell on what she is planning to do to raise money for her preferred charities as the Luton civic mayor. Civic mayors bring a great deal of pleasure to their communities. They have an ability to thank people who work in the voluntary sector, who are unsung heroes across our communities. The hon. Lady is so right to raise this issue, because it is not just civic mayors; it is lords-lieutenant, high sheriffs—all those people who just go round and say thank you. This is a really good bit of our civic society and one we should all take pleasure from.
The Prime Minister indeed said that leaseholders ought to be protected from large costs, but the correct Bill for that will be the building safety Bill that the Government are bringing forward. The Fire Safety Bill is in its amending stages and will return to the Floor of the House in the normal way.
It is always very sad to hear of cases of this kind, and I thank my hon. Friend for raising this really serious matter with the House. Knife crime is a great scourge on our society, and it is truly dreadful to see people’s lives taken away and to sense that justice has not been done. I do not know the details of the case she mentions, and I therefore as a Minister ought not to go into the details. It is essential that our justice system is able to operate free from political interference, but we must bring violent criminals to justice as well. The Government are spending over £200 million of taxpayers’ money on early intervention projects to prevent young people from committing violent crime in the first place, and we will also be piloting new knife crime prevention orders, introduced through the Offensive Weapons Act 2019. These are preventive orders that will provide an additional tool for police to steer young people away from serious violence. My hon. Friend will have the opportunity to raise this issue specifically at Justice questions on Wednesday 8 December.
The hon. Lady asks me a particularly difficult question, because although next Thursday is scheduled for Lords amendments, the guarantee I can never give is what may come along in terms of statements and urgent questions, which depends on the demand from this House to be kept updated about affairs that are going on. It is always a difficult balancing act, in that the House wishes and has the right to be informed of things first, but it also has its regular business to go through. That debate is scheduled for the whole of the day, and therefore I hope that there will be sufficient time. I will at least do my best to ensure that I am not too long-winded when making my own statement.
I know this is a matter of concern to many hon. and right hon. Members, as we all value the pubs in our own constituencies, and in these very difficult times, the closures have fallen very heavily upon them. There is support available of £3,000 a month for pubs that are forced to close or only to do takeaway, and there is other support for pubs in the different tiers. The £3,000 has been set at the median level of rent that they would have to pay, so the figure is based on an assessment. There will be time to discuss this because there will be a whole day’s debate on the covid regulations next week, and I encourage the hon. Lady to raise her point again then.
I begin by thanking the hon. Member for Luton South (Rachel Hopkins). It is an absolute pleasure to follow her. I used to find that I was very often in agreement with her distinguished father on matters relating to the European Union, though it has to be said not on anything else. I thank all Members who have contributed to this debate on their lordships’ amendments. It has been a pleasure to be part of this important Bill, and I am very grateful for all the kind words that have been said about my hon. Friend the Minister for the Constitution. I will ensure that a copy of Hansard is sent to her so that she knows how highly respected and valued she is both as a Member of this House and as a Minister.
I also spoke on Second Reading, and both then and now, it has been a genuine pleasure to hear about the constituencies of hon. Members. In particular, I noted the plea from the hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Matt Western), who basically said that he loved his constituency and likes it as it is. I think that many Members across the House have huge sympathy with that view. It makes these types of debate extremely difficult for us, because all of us have an enormous affection for the places that we represent and we have incredible ties to them. I did not agree with all of his speech, but I must confess that I sympathised very much with the bit when he was praising his own area. However, this Bill will meet the Government’s manifesto commitment to have updated and equal parliamentary boundaries, and I am glad to see that it has broad support across the House, even though there are differences over some of the details.
If I may come to those, I will not try to repeat the points that I covered in my opening remarks, in the interests of time, but the shadow Minister, the hon. Member for Lancaster and Fleetwood (Cat Smith)¸ made a point about young registration. I would point out that we have seen a significant number of 18 to 24-year-olds register since online registration came in, with 8 million of them taking the opportunity of that.
The hon. Lady referred to the appointment of the deputy chairmen. It is worth reiterating that they are High Court judges anyway, so their independence has already been proved at the earlier appointment. I do not think we need have any worry about their continued independence. The hon. Lady also accused the Government of appointing a crony as the BBC chairman. As the appointment has not yet been made, I am not sure how we can have appointed the crony, unless the hon. Lady is accusing the Government of being Billy No Mates, which may possibly be the case, because no appointment has been made.
The hon. Member for Glasgow East (David Linden), as always, made an extremely charming and well-informed speech, with his one aim clearly in sight. His one aim is, of course, the independence of Scotland. That is his view; that is what he campaigns for. I fundamentally disagree with him, but he always puts his case elegantly and in the best traditions of this House. I just remind him that there are particular protections for Scotland, with the regulations relating to constituencies over 5,000 square miles and, of course, the protection of the constituency of Na h-Eileanan an Iar. I think that should be in entrenched legislation to keep the hon. Member for Na h-Eileanan an Iar (Angus Brendan MacNeil) safely in this House, as he is a great figure and contributor to our debates. I apologise, Madam Deputy Speaker, that I did not notify the hon. Gentleman that I was going to mention him, but I hope he will not mind.
I am also relieved that the hon. Member for Glasgow East, when he read out at the end of his speech my words on an earlier occasion, had not looked through my speeches on the parliamentary constituencies Bill when it was passing through the House in 2010 and 2011 and did not quote those back at me. That might have been rather more embarrassing.
I come to the right hon. Member for Warley (John Spellar) and the hon. Member for Cardiff South and Penarth (Stephen Doughty). I am afraid I think they should stand for election to the House of Representatives, because they seem more interested in American politics than in British politics. Fascinating though that is, this House is concerned with the politics of the United Kingdom.
The hon. Member for North East Fife (Wendy Chamberlain) is not in her place, but she made the point that there will be an extensive change with the 5% level. That is inevitable because this change has been so long delayed. English constituencies are based on the register for 2000 and therefore are 20 years out of date. She made the very fair point that the difference between 5% and 7.5% is a variation on a theme, which is why I think we can reasonably, as a House, agree on 5%. It is a matter of getting the balance right. I think 5% is reasonable.
If I may come to my hon. and right hon. Friends, a number of them—my right hon. Friends the Members for Basingstoke (Mrs Miller) and for Elmet and Rothwell (Alec Shelbrooke) and my hon. Friend the Member for Heywood and Middleton (Chris Clarkson)—raised the issue of ward divisions. It is important to note that the Boundary Commission—the independent Boundary Commission—has the ability to use smaller areas, and therefore if it wants to use smaller areas to meet the 5% requirement, it will be able to do so.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Basingstoke asked the specific question whether, basically, the Boundary Commission will have to follow the law, to which the answer is of course yes, it will have to follow the law, although in doing so it is independent. She also pointed out that Lords amendment 7 basically seeks to undermine the principle of the Bill by widening it, and if we end up widening it too much, we get away from what we are trying to achieve.
My hon. Friend the Member for Gedling (Tom Randall) made a telling point about the different purpose of data that has been collected. Suddenly using it for one thing rather than another raises all sorts of problems. He also kindly pointed out that the deputy chairmen are already impartial judges, which I reiterate because it is fundamental to the fairness of this process.
My hon. Friend the Member for Heywood and Middleton made, I must confess, both a wise and entertaining speech and noted the partisanship of some of the amendments. I must confess that we have seen through the Opposition’s tricks and noted that the amendments are partisan, and that is why we will have pleasure in voting against them. Let us be honest about it: the Opposition know they are partisan too, but they felt they had to make some complaints on a principle—that we should have equal seats—that most people across the House agree with.
My hon. Friend the Member for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine (Andrew Bowie) pointed out the size of his own constituency and the right of people to choose whether they participate in the electoral process or not. Of course that is a freedom that we have.
I loved the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for North West Durham (Mr Holden) that we should follow Malta, and we must—what a great thing to do. Malta is a wonderful place, and one thinks of its fantastic history in surviving not one but two sieges, one in the 16th century and one in the 20th century. I will not say the joke about making a Maltese cross, Madam Deputy Speaker, as you might think it out of order, and it is very old and hackneyed.
It is very important that companies such as Churchill China and Steelite have the opportunity to supply the Government and to make a success of their businesses. I congratulate my hon. Friend on his question. He is a wonderful campaigner for the businesses of Stoke-on-Trent. Supporting high-quality small businesses through the procurement system is something that many Members want to see realised. As we return powers from the European Union, the Government are interested in looking at how public procurement works and how it can be improved. As regards purchases for Chequers, I think that is a matter for a private trust. However, I am sure that with his indefatigable charms, he will make sure that the trust that runs Chequers knows where china can come from.
The hon. Lady is absolutely right to ask for a debate on this issue, and I note what she says about the Backbench Business Committee’s willingness to give her one. It will of course be possible to raise this at the pre-recess Adjournment debate, when a Minister will be answering, and I would encourage her to do that. We expect Westminster Hall to reopen from 5 October, so that will provide the opportunity for more debates. I hope that it will be possible to facilitate Backbench Business Committee debates once we are back after the recess.
My right hon. Friend has made an eloquent plea to the Chancellor, and put it more finely than I possibly could, so I will ensure that his words are extracted from Hansard and sent to the Chancellor so that he may consider them while preparing his Budget.
What an excellent idea. Right hon. and hon. Members will know that Parliament does not have to be in Westminster and that in the middle ages, Parliament darted around all over the country—it met in Leicester and Shrewsbury, and the last Parliament to meet outside London met in Oxford. Therefore, if we were to become a peripatetic Parliament, we would be able to meet in Harlow and all sorts of exciting places. My hon. Friend’s pitch for Harlow has fallen on ripe soil and will be very well received, particularly in the other place—I think they could think of nothing finer.
That is a very important point. I have noticed that many questions are raised on the general railway provision in this country. In relation to specific constituency issues, the Minister of State, Department for Transport, my hon. Friend the Member for Daventry (Chris Heaton-Harris), is holding meetings with all Members—any Members who want to go—and I suggest to the hon. Lady that it would be a good idea to seek one of those meetings to persuade him of the necessity of what she is recommending.