Mr Peter Hain (Neath) (Lab): The Motability car that my severely disabled constituent, Mark Francis, has had for 11 years is being taken from him in two weeks. Born with hereditary spastic paraplegia and unable to walk without crutches or sticks, he is sadly deteriorating by the week. I have been told that his case will be reconsidered, yet the Department for Work and Pensions is punitively and callously snatching his car from him on 25 February. Will the Prime Minister immediately rectify that heartless and disgraceful injustice?
The Prime Minister: As ever, I am very happy to look at the individual case raised by the right hon. Gentleman. Of course, with the replacement of disability living allowance with the personal independence payment, the most disabled people will be getting more money and more assistance, rather than less, but as I say, I will happily look at the case.
Mr Peter Hain (Neath) (Lab): I agree with much of what the Foreign Secretary says, including that President Putin is a calculating, ruthless and lethal authoritarian. Does not the whole crisis spring from the failure after the cold war ended to establish a common European security system to which Russia felt attached? Instead, there has been a kind of cold peace. Surely the way forward is a negotiated solution, or an attempt at one, in which there are limits to NATO expansion and European Union expansion in return for an end to Russian aggression.
Mr Hammond: The situation is that, after the cold war, when 19 ex-Soviet republics, or whatever it was, liberated themselves from the Soviet Union and became independent countries able to set their own path in the world, we sought to build a normal relationship with Russia—one in which Russia would join the community of nations and become richer and more normalised, and one in which the Russian people were able to become more prosperous. President Putin has chosen to set his face against that future and to hark backwards to the Soviet Union or perhaps to the Russian empire. We should remember that he is on public record as saying that the collapse of the Soviet Union was the worst disaster of the 20th century. Many of us would think it was one of the great achievements of the 20th century.
I do not think we can compromise with somebody whose avowed intention is to exercise control over independent neighbouring countries in such a way that they cannot determine their own future, whether that is a future aligned with the European Union and NATO or a future aligned with Russia and other allies. That must be for those people in those independent countries to choose for themselves.
Mr Peter Hain (Neath) (Lab): Do the Government agree that the provision of a special pension for those severely injured during the troubles who were unable to build up an occupational pension of their own, long argued for by the WAVE trauma centre’s injured campaign group and included in the Stormont House agreement, should be supported by all parties, and that questions around who should be eligible for that pension can be resolved to ensure that those who were severely injured through no fault of their own are not denied the opportunity to have some financial independence as they grow older?
Dr Murrison: As the right hon. Gentleman will know, because he will have read the Stormont agreement, this item was left largely unresolved, although open. I am afraid to say that the problem revolves around the definition of victims, notwithstanding the 2006 order. That is work in hand and it is something that we will have to return to.
Mr Peter Hain (Neath) (Lab): May I add my congratulations to my right hon. Friend personally and to all of the Committee, especially as this was a unanimous report? There were differences among Committee members, as I saw when giving evidence. On the question of speed, is that not true of all the recommendations? No doubt he will come on to that in respect of the director general.
Mr Straw: I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for his intervention and for his evidence. We did come to the issue from different perspectives, but the fact that this is a unanimous report does not reflect any sense of it coming from a search of the lowest common denominators—rather, the highest common factors. I will come on to the issue of implementation in a moment.
Mr Peter Hain (Neath) (Lab): On the economy, how does the right hon. Gentleman respond to today’s research by the university of Oxford and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine that only a fifth of claimants who have had their benefits sanctioned and then taken away have found work? Surely this will not rebalance the economy or make it stronger, let alone make it just, and it is diabolically punitive.
Stephen Crabb: I have not seen that report so I am not going to get drawn into commenting on the specifics, but I have seen the latest figures for the performance of the Work programme in Wales, which should give us encouragement that we have a set of measures in place that is helping to bring down long-term unemployment.
Mr Hain indicated dissent.