Health Questions 10th May 2016


Mr Speaker: Order. I shall call the hon. Member for Nottingham North if he guarantees that his grey cells will produce a one-sentence, pithy question.

Mr Graham Allen (Nottingham North) (Lab): Will the Minister responsible for dental matters meet me and the hon. Member for Mole Valley (Sir Paul Beresford) to discuss dental ill health in children and how we can change the dentist contract to make it more prevention-friendly? I have got a lot more to say, but I will sit down.

Mr Speaker: That was possibly the hon. Gentleman’s greatest inquiry in his membership of the House.

Alistair Burt: Yes.


Prime Minister's Questions 4th May 2016


Mr Graham Allen (Nottingham North) (Lab): Q13. What assessment he has made of the effect on the performance of Government of the introduction of five-year fixed-term Parliaments; and if he will make a statement. [904875]

The Prime Minister: What matters is what works and allows the Government to make long-term decisions in the long-term interests of the country. In my view, five-year fixed-term Parliaments are an important part of that.

Mr Allen: Will the Prime Minister ensure that his Government’s performance includes the long-overdue creation of a centre of evidence on sexual abuse of children—something that I first raised in Prime Minister’s questions with Margaret Thatcher in 1989? We can deal with the awful consequences of child sex abuse for victims and perpetrators, but we must also use early intervention expertise to stop it happening in the first place. Will the Prime Minister back the excellent work of Ministers and Members from all parties and get this much-needed What Works centre up and running without delay, within the five-year term of this Government?

Mr Speaker: I am glad the hon. Gentleman rescued his own question with those last words. We are grateful to him, constitutionally at least.

The Prime Minister: I am sorry that it has taken so long for a question in 1989 to get an answer, but I can tell the hon. Gentleman that setting up a centre of expertise on sexual abuse is exactly what the Home Office is doing. It will play a significant role in identifying and sharing high-quality evidence on what works to prevent and deal with sexual abuse and exploitation. Alongside this, the Department for Education’s existing What Works centre will ensure that social workers across the country are able to learn from the best examples. It is a good example of Government reform, which I know the hon. Gentleman supports.


Leader of the House Questions 21st April 2016


Mr Graham Allen (Nottingham North) (Lab) 7. If he will make an assessment of the effectiveness of departmental Question Times in holding the Government to account.

The Deputy Leader of the House of Commons (Dr Thérèse Coffey)

Departmental Question Times are a valuable opportunity for Members to scrutinise the Government. ​Topical questions add an opportunity for pressing events of the day to be covered, and of course the Prime Minister is here weekly to answer questions from any Member of the House.

Mr Allen: I want to try yet again to stem the growing blight of planted questions from Members on both Front Benches, which has now reached oppressive levels. Back Benchers are treated as though they are in bazaar in Marrakesh, having questions thrust at them—this operates on both sides of the House—and then getting emails to remind them to ask those questions. Parliamentary questions are meant to enable Back Benchers of all parties to hold the Government to account, not to enable games to be played between the two Front-Bench teams. This practice is now extending to planted Adjournment debates and planted Westminster Hall debates and, if we are not careful, my hon. Friend the Member for Gateshead (Ian Mearns) will be seeing planted Back-Bench debates very soon. Will the Leader of the House meet the Speaker and the Chair of the Procedure Committee and have another look at this, so that what should be Back-Bench time can once again be as much about Back Benchers as about Front Benchers, as it was when I first started in this House?

Dr Coffey: I do not think that the Government should interfere in what Members can or cannot submit as questions. That is for Members to decide—

Mr Sheerman: It is the Government! It’s the Whips!

Dr Coffey: I can honestly say that I have never been handed a question by a Whip. Dare I say that, on today’s Order Paper, the Scottish National party has tabled two sets of the same question? Members will want to work together in this way to pursue a particular theme. I do not think it is right for the Government to try to tell Back Benchers what questions they can or cannot submit.



Home Office Questions 22nd February 2016


8. Mr Graham Allen (Nottingham North) (Lab): What steps she is taking to encourage police and crime commissioners to support early intervention programmes; and if she will make a statement.

The Minister for Policing, Crime and Criminal Justice (Mike Penning): The Government have supported the first police early innovation leadership academy and provided grant funding for the Early Intervention Foundation. This is really interesting work being done to protect young children. Naturally we will help and encourage chief constables and PCCs up and down the country to help to reduce crime, support victims, and closely engage with their partner agencies, such as the foundation.

Mr Allen: The American comedian Eddie Cantor said, “If those currently on the most-wanted list had been the most wanted as children they would no longer be on the most-wanted list.” In that context, will the Minister welcome the work that his Department is doing with the Early Intervention Foundation in creating police leaders’ academies on early intervention, and will he ensure that funding is available so that every police and crime commissioner elected this year can attend such courses, as this is the best crime prevention measure we know?

Mike Penning: I praise the work of the Early Intervention Foundation; the work it does is very important. Other agencies also do really important work. We all know that if we can catch them young we can prevent people from turning into the types of criminals that sadly this society sees too often in our prisons.


Scotland Questions 10th February 2016


7. Mr Graham Allen (Nottingham North) (Lab): What recent discussions he has had with Ministers of the Scottish Government on the effect of devolution on the powers and autonomy of Scottish local government; and if he will make a statement. [903491]

The Secretary of State for Scotland (David Mundell): I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman has had the opportunity to read my speech of 21 December, in which I set out that I fully support the devolution of power from Holyrood to local communities, as Lord Smith recommended in his commission agreement. This is the responsibility of the Scottish Parliament to implement, and I encourage them to do so.

Mr Allen: Will the Secretary of State condemn those who use devolution to centralise power in Holyrood—whether it is the centralisation of the police, the fire service, health spending, local government spending, courts, colleges and enterprise companies? Will he ensure that he stands together with those who feel that devolution does not stop at Holyrood, but goes down to the Scottish local authorities and to the Scottish people?

David Mundell: I absolutely agree with the hon. Gentleman, and I can tell him the best way to achieve it, which is, under Ruth Davidson, to elect more Scottish Conservative MSPs to the Scottish Parliament.


Work and Pensions Questions 7th December 2015

2.Mr Graham Allen (Nottingham North) (Lab): What steps his Department is taking to reduce the number of young people who are long-term unemployed; and if he will make a statement.

The Minister for Employment (Priti Patel): Long-term youth unemployment has fallen by over a third over the past year, and our goal is to make sure that all young people are either earning or learning. We continue to provide extra support for young people on benefits and will introduce the new youth obligation in 2017.

Mr Allen: With the Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill, which is before the House today, will the Minister do more to devolve greater control of the Work programme to councils and more to empower local managers? When universal credit comes in, will she ensure that the DWP works closely with councils on that support in order to transform the delivery of services to vulnerable people?

Priti Patel: I thank the hon. Gentleman for his comments and congratulate him on the work he has being doing locally in his community with the DWP and other partners, and the local authority too. He is absolutely right. Through the Work programme, and under devolution, we are working with communities, local authorities, jobcentres and other partners and stakeholders—the specialist organisations that can provide the right kind of support to support employment and to help to get more people back to work. He is absolutely right to hold up his area as a good local example.


Women and Equalities Questions 26th November 2015


1.Mr Graham Allen (Nottingham North) (Lab): What steps the Government are taking to tackle the gender pay gap; and if she will make a statement.

The Minister for Women and Equalities (Nicky Morgan): My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and I could not be clearer: we want to consign the gender pay gap to the history books. We are therefore introducing new regulations that will require larger employers to publish their gender pay gap information. That will encourage companies to take action and to drive change on this important issue. Transparency is important, and we also want to tackle the underlying causes of the gap, which is why I want to see girls entering the broadest range of careers and reaching the top of their professions.

Mr Allen: Will the Secretary of State, who I know cares about this issue, symbolically forgo her salary from 9 November until the end of the calendar year so that she knows from personal experience what it feels like to do the work of a male colleague but for 20% less salary? Does she not think that all Governments have failed in this field, and that now is the time not to have declarations about change over a generation, but to seize the legislative agenda, for which she would have massive support across the House, finally to bring pay equality to women in our country?

Nicky Morgan: I thank the hon. Gentleman for the question, but I am not interested in tokenistic gestures. He can give up his salary if he feels so strongly about it and wants to make a statement. The important thing is that this Government are taking action on the issue, which his party did not do in 13 years of government. 
He is right to say that the matter now needs to be tackled by legislation, and the Government will publish regulations shortly to make that happen.


Energy and Climate Change Questions 11th November 2015

12. Mr Graham Allen (Nottingham North) (Lab): What steps her Department has taken to encourage schools to invest in solar energy; what discussions she has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Secretary of State for Education on the effect of borrowing restrictions on investment by schools in solar energy; and if she will make a statement.
The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Andrea Leadsom): In April 2014, my Department published a leaflet encouraging schools to invest in solar PV, which was followed up with a letter to local authorities in November 2014. We encourage deployment through the financial incentive of the feed-in tariff, but discussions are always ongoing with other Departments on what more can be done to help schools invest in solar.
Mr Allen: Thousands of schools cannot make their contribution on renewables and save thousands of pounds each year because of the Chancellor’s rules on borrowing to install solar. One school, Wilmslow High, wants to do this, and its local MP, a Mr George Osborne, has said:
“I am happy to support you wherever I can”, but he is awaiting a reply from the Department of Energy and Climate Change. Will the Department reply to the local MP so that he can make representations to himself as Chancellor and end these ridiculous rules?
Andrea Leadsom: I would like to apologise publicly to the local MP. I shall look into the matter today. Restrictions on school borrowing are necessary, however, to protect public sector accounts. School borrowing contributes to public sector net debt and borrowing—two important fiscal measurements that we must control in order to bring down the national deficit and retain economic confidence—which is why we have no plans to lift restrictions on borrowing.

Mr Speaker: I feel sure that the Minister will have looked into the matter by lunch time.


Foreign & Commonwealth Office Questions 20th October 2015

Mr Graham Allen (Nottingham North) (Lab): What discussions he has had with his international counterparts on establishing an authoritative figure for the number of people killed in the second Gulf war and its aftermath; and if he will make a statement. [901656]

Mr Ellwood: I frequently discuss Iraq with my international counterparts. The Government have not produced any estimate for the number of Iraqis killed as a result of terrorism and war-related violence since 2003, although we are aware that others do so. Our focus today is on supporting the Government of Iraq in their efforts to build a more stable and secure future for their people.

Mr Allen: It is amazing that the British Government do not have a clue how many people have been killed by the British and American forces’ adventure in Iraq; I hope the Minister will find an accurate figure for Parliament. Does he regard the invasion of Iraq as a success?

Mr Ellwood: I did say that there are others, including the Iraqis themselves, who have put together those numbers, and I am more than happy to share those with the hon. Gentleman if he wants to see them. With regard to the decision to invade Iraq, lessons have certainly been learned. We await the Chilcot inquiry, but I recall that after the invasion a diktat went around the Department for International Development saying that the war was illegal, so in Basra we went from being liberators to occupiers. That is not the way to do it. There are lessons to be learned, and we are learning such lessons and applying them in Iraq today.

Defence Questions - 13th July 2015

Mr Graham Allen (Nottingham North) (Lab): Does the Secretary of State believe that after the invasion of Iraq and the intervention in Afghanistan and Libya, we have less international fundamentalist religious terrorism or more?

Michael Fallon: I believe that our contribution in Libya to preventing an imminent massacre in Benghazi, the work that we have done in Afghanistan, which my hon. Friend the Minister for the Armed Forces described, and our support for the legitimate democratically elected Government of Iraq have all been worthwhile endeavours.


Culture, Media and Sport Questions - 9th July 2015

Mr Graham Allen (Nottingham North) (Lab): Does the sports Minister accept that a lot of culture, media and sport often appears to be somewhat middle class? Will she do her bit to ensure that the deprived areas of the UK are properly looked after by visiting Nottingham North, my constituency, and examining the state of sport there?

Tracey Crouch: As somebody with a constituency that has two areas of multiple deprivation, I do understand some of the concerns that the hon. Gentleman raises, and if my diary permits, I would be delighted to come to Nottingham.


Prime Minister's Questions - 1st July 2015

Mr Graham Allen (Nottingham North) (Lab): If he will hold discussions with his Cabinet colleagues to review the effect on voters’ perceptions of Parliament of Prime Minister’s Question Time.

The Prime Minister: I regularly reflect on Prime Minister’s questions with Cabinet colleagues and others. For all its faults, and there are many, I would say that it has two important points: it puts the Prime Minister on the spot to the public, but it also puts the Government on the spot to the Prime Minister—needing to know issues right across every Department before coming to the House at 12 o’clock on a Wednesday is an important mechanism of accountability.

Mr Allen: Given that Parliament may be moving out of this place in 2020, will the Prime Minister take that opportunity to share the joys of Prime Minister’s questions, which he has just outlined, and this federal Parliament by convening it in each of the nations of the United Kingdom and thereby symbolise his Government’s and this Parliament’s commitment both to the Union and to devolution?

The Prime Minister: As I said in an earlier answer, I am committed to trying to cut the cost of politics, and I am not sure that that would help. It is important that we take our politics and issues to all the different regions of the country, and that is something the Government are very committed to do, not least with our regional economic plans for every region of our country. As for the future of this House of Commons and where we stand and where we debate, that is a matter for the House of Commons, but I have to say that I have a slight emotional attachment to this place—the place at this Dispatch Box specifically.


Business, Innovation & Skills Questions 26th March 2015

Mr Graham Allen (Nottingham North) (Lab): Does the Minister accept that if we are to improve basic maths and English, a key step is to bring forward, with some urgency given that the Government are about to go to the electorate, a number of proposals already in the Department, such as the disadvantaged learners fund and proposals to ensure our FE provision is completed—in my case at Basford Hall FE?

Nick Boles: The hon. Gentleman has been a champion for his constituency, and not just a champion but an initiator and a creator of very good ideas and programmes. We are very keen to work with him to support disadvantaged learners in the outer Nottingham estates in the way he has outlined. We are currently looking at how we will fund that, but he has my commitment that we will be working with him to achieve his goals.


Cabinet Office Questions 25th March 2015

Mr Graham Allen (Nottingham North) (Lab): What assistance is the Minister for Civil Society giving to the National Citizen Service to maximise the number of students from disadvantaged backgrounds who participate in it so that they can play their full part in a programme that would benefit them more than those from more affluent areas?


The Minister for Civil Society (Mr Rob Wilson): The hon. Gentleman’s interest in the NCS is welcome and I know is reflected in his constituency, where demand for the programme is high among pupils at Bulwell academy and Bluecoat Beechdale academy. I am delighted that the latest independent evaluation found that in 2013 16% of NCS participants were in receipt of free school meals, compared with about 7% of 16 and 17-year-olds in the general population.


Home Office Questions 23th March 2015

10. Mr Graham Allen (Nottingham North) (Lab): What steps she is taking to encourage police and crime commissioners to support early intervention programmes.


The Minister for Crime Prevention (Lynne Featherstone): As part of the work of the Home Office crime prevention panel, the Early Intervention Foundation and the College of Policing recently launched new guidance to help front-line police support early intervention. The police and crime commissioners from Dorset, Lancashire and Staffordshire were involved in the development of the guidance.


Mr Allen: May I ask the Minister to do something very practical? We are grateful that she launched the report, but will she ensure that every single police and crime commissioner and every single chief constable gets a copy of it so that they can not only reduce crime by cutting down dysfunction in the population early on in life, but save the taxpayer a lot of money through not having to invest money late on through late intervention?


Lynne Featherstone: The early intervention guidance for police will provide invaluable support in stopping potential criminals before they commit crimes, which will save the police a great deal of work in the long term. The guidance is already available online. We encourage all police officers, police community support officers, chief constables and PCCs to read it. I am happy to take up his suggestion if I have time, because the more officers have access to it, the better. I am sure that we can get it done before Thursday.

Mr Graham Allen (Nottingham North) (Lab): What recent discussions he has had with the First Minister on income tax assignment to Wales being carried out on the same basis as applies in Scotland.


The Secretary of State for Wales (Stephen Crabb): I have regular discussions with the First Minister on holding a referendum on the devolution of income tax to the National Assembly for Wales, as provided for in the Wales Act 2014. Following our commitment to a funding floor for Wales there is no reason for the First Minister not to call a referendum in the next Parliament.


Mr Allen: Does the Minister accept that Scotland has now set a precedent on income tax assignment that can meet the base load of its expenditure? Will he continue his work to ensure that Wales also has income tax assigned? Will he talk to his colleagues in England to ensure that they understand that the basis of devolution in England must be financial independence by income tax assignment, too?


Stephen Crabb: I am a bit surprised by the hon. Gentleman’s question, because the Government have worked really hard to deliver a devolution package for Wales that strengthens and clarifies, and makes devolution fairer for Wales. The negative response from Welsh Labour in Cardiff in recent days speaks more about the divisions between Labour in Westminster and in Cardiff. He really should speak to his own colleagues.


Prime Minister's Questions 11th February 2015

Mr Graham Allen (Nottingham North) (Lab): If he will commission a new Magna Carta to renew democracy in the UK as part of the celebrations of the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister: We should be proud that in Magna Carta our country established rules of justice and freedom that, 800 years later, still inform our constitution and resonate around the world. While there is a long-standing debate over the issue, there are no plans at present for a written constitution.

Mr Allen: I note that the Prime Minister says “at present”. Does he agree, though, that there are unacceptably high levels of voter disengagement, with more people staying at home than voted Labour and Conservative at the last election? Would he commit his Government, now, to preparing an all-party constitutional convention, in order to give every UK citizen a copy of our society’s rulebook—either a statute of the Union or a written constitution—as a part of electors feeling once again that they own our democracy?

The Prime Minister: Obviously, I always look at the hon. Gentleman’s suggestions very carefully, because he has made a number of sensible cross-party interventions over recent years, but I have my doubts whether another talking convention is the answer. I think we need to look at some of the constitutional issues that leave people feeling left behind, not least English votes for English laws, and make sure that we put those things in place. The disappointment I have with the Labour party is that it is prepared to talk about all-party talks on Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland, but when it comes to empowering English people and making sure that they have rights in this House, it is completely absent from the debate.

Energy Questions 5th February 2015

4. Mr Graham Allen (Nottingham North) (Lab): What assessment he has made of the effect of recent changes to the incentive scheme for installing solar power panels on businesses that install those panels. [907445]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change (Amber Rudd): Solar PV has been a major success story, with the most recent deployment figures showing a total of 5 GW of capacity across the UK, 99% of which has been put in place under this Government. The solar strategy, published last spring, set out a range of actions that will allow more businesses to enjoy reduced energy bills through installing solar PV. The changes we have made, financial and non-financial, for solar PV will make it an affordable part of our low-carbon energy mix, and we anticipate that splitting the feed-in tariff will promote rooftop solar, particularly at industrial premises.

Mr Allen: Unfortunately, I do not have many small businesses in my constituency, so it is a tragedy when I lose one; losing MG Renewables, which had invested in a fleet of vehicles, was a matter of great regret. Will the Minister reassure the House that we will have a steady and clear set of incentives, rather than this constant changing, which makes it particularly difficult for small businesses to plan and maintain their viability? Will she talk to the Treasury and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to ensure that?

Amber Rudd: Small businesses are essential to economic growth, and we are determined to support them. I understand the hon. Gentleman’s point, which is about the support for solar through our feed-in tariffs. Owing to the reducing capital costs of solar, we have reduced the support. It is essential that we strike the right balance between using taxpayers’ money and supporting businesses, but I appreciate his point and will bear it in mind.

International Development Questions 4th February 2015

Mr Graham Allen (Nottingham North) (Lab): What steps she is taking to target humanitarian assistance at the poorest children in the developing world. [907429]

The Minister of State, Department for International Development (Mr Desmond Swayne): We work with agencies such as UNICEF and Save the Children to meet the immediate needs of children, but our key agenda is to link humanitarian assistance with long-term development.

Mr Allen: Getting food and shelter to children is essential, but will the Minister consider the global investment that is necessary in the social and emotional rehabilitation of children? That will make them less traumatised by their experience; enable them to raise good families of their own and to rebuild their cultures; and, perhaps above all, make them more resistant to political and religious fundamentalism.

Mr Swayne: Yes; absolutely. I pay tribute to the hon. Gentleman’s work in driving forward that agenda. He is right that people will not achieve their potential while they are traumatised and do not have education and proper support. One third of refugee children are without primary education and some three quarters are without secondary education. It is for that reason that we have more than doubled our budget for education in conflict-affected and fragile states. We are determined to drive forward that agenda internationally.

Justice Questions 3rd February 2015

Mr Graham Allen (Nottingham North) (Lab): What assessment he has made of the potential effect of the Rebalancing the Outer Estates Foundation in Nottingham North constituency on reoffending rates among young people not in education, employment or training. [907363]


The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice (Andrew Selous): I very much welcome the hon. Gentleman’s commitment to improving education, skills, training and employment for his constituents. He has a long record of working in early intervention projects—an area that I am personally very committed to.

Mr Allen: I refer Members to my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests.

Does the Minister agree with the old cliché that the best crime prevention measure is a job for young people? Will he commend the work of the rebalancing foundation in Nottingham North and visit it in order to see a number of the schemes that we have undertaken, including building—or hoping to build—a special college for 14 to 17-year-olds who are not in education, employment or training?

Andrew Selous: The evidence backs up what the hon. Gentleman says: only 32% of adults said they were in paid employment in the four weeks prior to custody, so the hon. Gentleman’s question is along the right lines. The evidence also tells us that more than a third of young people who go to prison in Nottingham reoffend. That is why we are putting education and skills at the heart of our transforming youth custody programme. The Government have also given £100,000 from the local enterprise partnership to the project in the hon. Gentleman’s constituency.


Culture Media and Sport Questions 15th January

Mr Graham Allen (Nottingham North) (Lab): What steps he is taking to encourage the development of creative industries to help regenerate outer city estates.

The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Sajid Javid): Economic estimates for the creative industries published this week have shown that the sector plays a leading role in our long-term economic plan. The figures estimated that in 2013 there were 84,000 jobs in the creative industries in the east midlands, and the Government continue to work closely with the sector so that it can produce further jobs and growth across Britain.

Mr Allen: Welcome as those figures are, does the Secretary of State agree that there is sometimes an imbalance with the creative industries necessarily being located in the inner cities, city centres and business districts for tourism, heritage and media, and that very few go to the outer city estates and working-class areas of the sort I represent? I chair the Rebalancing Nottingham North charity. Will he find some time in his busy diary to meet me and discuss how we can balance the expansion of creative industries so that everyone can benefit?

Sajid Javid: The hon. Gentleman is right to highlight that important point, and I commend his excellent work in taking forward the Rebalancing the Outer Estates Foundation. He will know that the Arts Council supports many regions around the country and helps with that rebalancing effort, but there is always more we can do, and I or the Minister for Culture and the Digital Economy would be happy to meet him to take that issue forward.

Prime Minister's Questions 10th December 2014

Q14. [906557] Mr Graham Allen (Nottingham North) (Lab): What assessment he has made of the effect on the performance of Government of the introduction of five-year fixed term parliaments; and if he will make a statement.

The Deputy Prime Minister: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman and the Committee he chairs for their work on the operation of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011. Fixed-term Parliaments give greater predictability and continuity, enabling better long-term legislative and financial planning. The full effect of introducing fixed-term Parliaments is something that can only be assessed over time, which is why the Act will be reviewed in 2020.

Mr Allen: Nearly 25 years ago, I asked the then Prime Minister, Mrs Thatcher, at Prime Minister’s questions whether she would set up a national institution to reduce the sexual abuse of children. May I congratulate the Deputy Prime Minister and his Government on setting up, over the past five years, a series of “what works” organisations to provide best practice including early intervention? Will he and other party leaders consider putting in their manifestos the creation of a national institute for the study and prevention of sexual abuse of children so that we do not have another 25 years’ worth of belated inquiries? Such an institute would pre-empt perpetration and help victims with the best evidence-based practice and programmes both nationally and internationally.

The Deputy Prime Minister: I happen to know that the hon. Gentleman is seeing my right hon. Friend the Minister for Crime Prevention on that issue next week. I and my party agree with the hon. Gentleman about the merits of “what works” initiatives. A “what works” institute for crime prevention would be a good idea. He shines a spotlight on the reprehensible and grotesque crimes of child sex abuse and exploitation. I agree that we need to work together, which is why the National Group on Sexual Violence against Children and Vulnerable People has been set up, to work across agencies, areas and local authorities to bear down on these reprehensible crimes.

Scotland Questions 26th November 2014

10. Mr Graham Allen (Nottingham North) (Lab): Is the Secretary of State aware that devolution, like Union, is a principle and not an expedient, so it should apply to all the nations of the United Kingdom, Scotland included? Is he also aware of a letter signed by Mayor Boris Johnson, Councillor Sir Richard Leese and all the senior local government officers and leaders asking for the same package to be applied—or for consideration to be given to its application—to England as Lord Smith wishes to apply to Scotland?

Mr Carmichael: I share the hon. Gentleman’s analysis of what devolution is actually about. I say to him, however, that in Scotland we have debated our constitutional future over decades. Change can be achieved only by building the broadest possible consensus from the lowest possible level up, taking in parties outside the political process. The people of England will need to do that if they are to have a better constitutional future.

Health Questions 22nd October 2014

12. Mr Graham Allen (Nottingham North) (Lab): What contribution his Department is making in support of the health objectives of the rebalancing project on dental checks for three-year-olds, foetal alcohol syndrome and lung screening for people over 60. [905549]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Jane Ellison): The hon. Gentleman and I have spoken a number of times about his valuable project. He knows that I am very interested in it and its outcomes. The Government are committed to improving oral health, with a particular focus on children, to reducing the incidence of foetal alcohol syndrome and to improving outcomes for all cancers. Results of major trials on lung cancer screening, including our own £2.4 million UK trial, are due in 2015. At that point, the UK national screening committee will review all the available evidence, looking towards a pilot.

Mr Allen: The rebalancing project, which covers my constituency, is I hope an innovative way of working that does not require additional money from the Government, but focuses on key health inequalities, such as a dental check for every three-year-old, the foetal alcohol syndrome prevalence study that we are trying to do and lung cancer screening for everyone over 60. Will the hon. Lady keep an eye on this work, use her reputation as a very committed Minister and visit us in Nottingham to see whether the work we are doing can be spread elsewhere in the UK?

Jane Ellison: All the issues that the hon. Gentleman outlines are extremely important. We, too, are very interested in the prevalence study on foetal alcohol syndrome. He may be aware that the World Health Organisation has just launched some work in that area, which will be of great interest to him. It would of course be a delight to visit the project.

Cabinet Office Questions 30th April 2014

Mr Graham Allen (Nottingham North) (Lab): What progress his Department has made on developing social finance.

The Minister for Civil Society (Mr Nick Hurd): I am proud that Britain leads the world in developing social investment. The hon. Gentleman is a tireless champion of its power to support early intervention. A new tax relief has gone live this month. There are now 15 social impact bonds in operation. I hope that he will welcome our announcement today of two more funds to support social impact bonds, which we believe will generate better outcomes for young people who are at risk of not being in education, employment or training.

Mr Allen: There is an important judgment from the European Court of Justice today on the Robin Hood tax, which will have a big influence on civil society and the big society. However, that will be minuscule compared with the potential impact of a serious social impact bond market on early intervention, which the Minister mentioned, and on council projects. It is two years since Big Society Capital was established, so is it not time to review the working of the Act that set it up to see whether we can take it further?

Mr Hurd: I am very proud of Big Society Capital as an institution. I have seen the impact that its investments are having on the ground. It has committed £149 million and has done important work to build this important market. It is just two years in and is about to publish its second annual report. We are always looking to ensure that it succeeds. I am more than happy to pass that question on to the Big Society Trust, which is its governing body, and get its response.

19th March 2014

Mr Graham Allen (Nottingham North) (Lab): What discussions he has had on the potential benefits of replicating aspects of the Scottish devolution model in England; and if he will make a statement.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (David Mundell): The devolution settlement is designed to meet the needs and wishes of the people of Scotland. This Government are committed to devolving power across the United Kingdom to the most appropriate level, taking account of local need. In England, we are achieving this in many ways, including the city deals programme in which Nottingham is a participant.

Mr Allen: A lasting democratic settlement in the UK must be based on the twin principles of union and devolution. Does the Minister share my view that separatism will be weaker and devolution will be stronger and more believable, not least to the Scottish people, if its benefits are spread to England too?

David Mundell: This Government are committed to devolution within England, and the hon. Gentleman is a prominent advocate of that. He recognises, as I do, that independence in Scotland is the end of devolution there.

29th January 2014

Mr Graham Allen (Nottingham North) (Lab): What progress he has made on developing social finance.

The Minister of State, Cabinet Office (Mr Nick Hurd): Britain is proud to lead the world in developing the emerging market of social investment. Big Society Capital has already committed £140 million, and the number of social impact bonds has risen sharply. Grants are flowing to help social entrepreneurs to become more investment-ready, and a new tax relief will go live in April.

Mr Allen: I refer to my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests. Having properly evidenced early-intervention programmes is the biggest known deficit reduction programme. In order for such programmes to start up, we need effective social finance. Will the Minister meet me to discuss what more his Department and, above all, Big Society Capital can do to maximise that possibility?

Mr Hurd: I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on his leadership in setting up the Early Intervention Foundation and on the work that it published today on domestic violence. He is entirely right that part of the value of social investment is its ability to create space to finance early intervention. That is where a lot of the social impact bonds that I mentioned are focused. I know from my conversations with Big Society Capital that it is very interested in engaging with What Works centres, including the Early Intervention Foundation. Following the hon. Gentleman’s question, I will write to the chief executive, asking him to update me on his engagement with the Early Intervention Foundation and other What Works centres.

6th January 2014

Mr Graham Allen (Nottingham North) (Lab): Ofsted inspections often critique, but usually deliver only advice from a small bag of short-term fixes, many of which have failed before. Will the Secretary of State meet me to discuss how Ofsted can be given the power to deliver 10-year strategic interventions to help schools deliver school readiness at four and 11, so that improvements are sustainable, unlike Ofsted’s short-term fixes?

Michael Gove: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for raising that issue. I believe that we will have an opportunity to meet and talk tomorrow. I met some great head teachers from his constituency last year and their direct testimony weighed heavily with me. I know that he has talked to them about how we can ensure that Ofsted provides even more support in the future. Other schools have noticed a significant change in the way in which Her Majesty’s inspectors provide support after an inspection, which is sometimes necessarily tough and stringent.

8th July 2013

Mr Graham Allen (Nottingham North) (Lab): The Secretary of State will be aware that my constituency sends the fewest number of young people to university or college of any in the UK. One of the ways we are tackling that is through innovative early intervention, and by making great use of continuous assessment, which allows children from under-privileged backgrounds to gain the confidence to take some serious examinations at the end of the national curriculum. Would he meet with the six very hard-working head teachers in my constituency to understand how any changes to continual assessment will undermine their pupils’ prospects of going to university?

Michael Gove: I would be delighted to meet head teachers from the hon. Gentleman’s constituency.