MPs debate Accident and Emergency Services and Food Banks

18 December 2013

MPs debated accident and emergency services on Wednesday 18 December 2013, in the House of Commons, in the first of two debates to take place on subjects chosen by the Opposition. The second Opposition debate was on food banks

Debate on Accident and Emergency Services

MPs debated the following motion tabled by the Opposition:

"That this House is concerned about recent Government statements on Accident and Emergency (A&E) and Government claims that it is not in crisis; notes that last week, 79 A&Es and the NHS overall missed the Government’s A&E target; further notes that attendances at hospital A&Es have increased three times faster since 2009-10 than in the period from 2004-05 to 2009-10, and that in the last 12 months more than one million people have waited more than four hours; believes there are a range of reasons for the current pressure on Accident and Emergency but that difficulty in accessing GP services is one of the primary causes; regrets the Government’s decision to cut funding for evening and weekend GP opening and scrap the guarantee of a GP appointment within 48 hours; and, to ease the pressure in Accident and Emergency, calls on the Government to reverse for winter 2013 its scrapping of the 48-hour appointment guarantee."

The debate was moved by Shadow Secretary of State for Health, Andy Burnham. Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, responded on behalf of the Government.

The Opposition motion was negatived on division (Ayes 242 votes, Noes 307 votes, Division 163).

Debate on Food Banks

MPs debated the following motion tabled by the Opposition:

"That this House notes that the number of people using foodbanks provided by the Trussell Trust alone has increased from 41,000 in 2010 to more than 500,000 since April this year, of whom one third were children; further notes that over the last three years prices have risen faster than wages; further notes the assessment of the Trussell Trust that the key factors in the rising resort to foodbanks are rising living costs and stagnant wages, as well as problems including delays to social security payments and the impact of the under-occupancy penalty; calls on the Government to publish the results of research into foodbanks commissioned by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which Ministers promised would be made public in the summer of 2013; and further calls on the Government to bring forward measures to reduce dependency on foodbanks, including a freeze on energy prices, a water affordability scheme, measures to end abuses of zero hours contracts, incentives to companies to pay a living wage and abolition of the under-occupancy penalty."

The debate was moved by Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Maria Eagle. Minister of State for the Department for Work and Pensions, Esther McVey, responded on behalf of the Government.

The Opposition motion was negatived on division (Ayes 251 votes, Noes 294 votes, Division 164).

Related information

House of Commons Library Analysis

The House of Commons Library produces briefing papers to inform MPs of key issues. The papers contain factual information and a range of opinions on each subject, and aim to be politically impartial.

About Opposition day debates

Opposition days are days allocated in the House of Commons in each session for the discussion of subjects chosen by the Opposition.
Seventeen days are at the disposal of the Leader of the Opposition, the leader of the largest opposition party, to decide which matters are debated. Three days are usually divided between the other opposition parties.

The Opposition generally use them to raise questions of policy and administration. Frequently, two separate subjects are debated on an opposition day.

Watching Opposition day debates from the public gallery

UK residents and overseas visitors can watch proceedings in the House of Commons by visiting the public gallery.

This article was produced by the Commons Digital Outreach Team. Follow the @HouseofCommons on Twitter for updates on the UK House of Commons Chamber.

Image: PA

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