10:34
Lucy Powell Portrait Lucy Powell (Manchester Central) (Lab/Co-op)
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Will the Leader of the House give us the forthcoming business?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait The Leader of the House of Commons (Penny Mordaunt)
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The business for the week commencing 4 December will include:

Monday 4 December—Remaining stages of the Victims and Prisoners Bill.

Tuesday 5 December—Opposition day (1st allotted day). Debate on a motion in the name of the official Opposition. Subject to be announced.

Wednesday 6 December—Second Reading of the Sentencing Bill.

Thursday 7 December—General debate on tackling Islamophobia, followed by a debate on a motion on the implementation of public registers of beneficial ownership in the UK’s overseas territories and Crown dependencies. The subjects for these debates were determined by the Backbench Business Committee.

Friday 8 December—The House will not be sitting.

The provisional business for the week commencing 11 December includes:

Monday 11 December—Second Reading of the Leasehold and Freehold Reform Bill.

Lucy Powell Portrait Lucy Powell
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So it is another week, and another business statement, yet still no emergency legislation on Rwanda as promised. It has been another week of infighting, division and chaos on illegal and managed migration from the Conservative party. Apparently, some in the Cabinet—I do not know whether the Leader of the House is one of them—are holding that legislation back, while others clamour for it, with the Minister for Immigration going rogue. The Prime Minister is stranded between them, too weak to face down either side and too weak to act. Weeks after it was promised in days, when will we finally see the treaty and legislation?

As well as a treaty to negotiate, we have the ongoing situation between Israel and Gaza—I welcome the further extension in the temporary truce this morning—war still raging in Ukraine, a diplomatic row with Greece, visits to Kyiv and the middle east, a NATO summit, COP28 this week and a visit to Brussels next week, yet not a peep from the Foreign Secretary in this House, and no reporting back to Members. When I last raised this issue with the Leader of the House, she said that the House must be able to “hold him to account”. When? I welcome the Procedure Committee looking into the matter, but the Government could and should do more to ensure that we are able to raise issues directly and regularly, now. We have had no Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office statements this week or last, only an urgent question—yet again the Government are being dragged here instead of respecting the House of Commons, and it is just not good enough. The next questions to the Foreign Office will be on Tuesday 12 December. Will the Leader of the House ensure that some progress on holding the Foreign Secretary to account is made before then?

It is not just foreign policy decisions that Members are keen to ask Lord Cameron about. Questions about his dealings with Greensill Capital continue to rumble on. Thanks to diligent work by my deputy, my hon. Friend the Member for Blaenau Gwent (Nick Smith), the Insolvency Service has been asked whether Lord Cameron could be considered a “shadow director” of Greensill. If that is the case, he could be subject to the same duties and liabilities as a director. His tax affairs from the time are now under scrutiny for failing to provide details of his personal use of planes owned by Greensill Capital. My hon. Friend has written to the Chair of the Treasury Committee to ask her to consider whether Lord Cameron’s failure to declare that information to the Committee is potentially in contempt of the House. Will the Leader of the House encourage the Chair of the Committee to investigate that? Will she also ensure that Lord Cameron does not wriggle out of frequent appearances in front of the Foreign Affairs Committee?

It is not just his lordship who is dodging scrutiny, because that is the Government’s tried and tested tactic on every front. Day by day, they are eroding the conventions of this place with their cavalier approach to scrutiny and good government. On Monday, Members debated minimum service level regulations for rail without the opinion of the Government’s own independent assessors, because they did not give them enough time to look at them. Yesterday we had Report stage of the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill, and the Government tabled 240 new amendments, some really substantial, at the last minute. It is outrageous.

Even the former Leader of the House, the right hon. Member for North East Somerset (Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg)—not someone I often agree with—thinks that the Government take a dictatorial approach to new legislation. It has also emerged that the Government’s Leasehold and Freehold Reform Bill not only will not apply to new flats, but now will not even apply to the sale of new houses. We have a flagship Bill to ban lease- holds that does not even ban leaseholds. What a shambles. This is child’s play and no way to run a Government.

Finally, this week saw some serious questions about what can only be described as the possible bribery of sitting Members. The hon. Member for Ashfield (Lee Anderson) was recorded revealing that he had been offered a lot of money to join the Reform party. The offer was five years of an MP’s salary as insurance for defecting. These allegations are incredibly serious and tantamount to bribery from a rival political party, potentially in breach of electoral law. It has subsequently emerged that the Government Chief Whip was made aware of these enticements being offered months ago and believed them to be serious and potentially criminal. Have these matters now been passed to the police? If so, when? If not, why not? Why has it taken a secret recording to bring these very serious matters, which go to the heart of our democracy, to the attention of this House?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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First, may I wish everyone a happy St Andrew’s day? I am sure I speak for the whole House when I say that our thoughts are still with the hostages who are still in Gaza and their families. We hope that situation can be resolved quickly.

First, the hon. Lady raises the issue of the Foreign Secretary being answerable to this House. She will know that a senior Foreign Office Minister is available to lead on matters, and on very serious issues the Prime Minister would speak from this Dispatch Box. The Foreign Secretary has been forward-leaning and suggested a number of things that he thinks would be highly appropriate for how he could be held to account in this place and directly by Members of this House. No decisions have been taken yet, because we are waiting to hear from the Procedure Committee. It is right that matters for this House are dealt with by the Committees of this House.

The Foreign Secretary has been forward-leaning. I know that many Members have been concerned in particular about liaison with Members of this House who have hostage families living in their constituencies, whether they are British nationals or have a connection to Britain. The Foreign Secretary is meeting and has offered to meet all such families, and he is in touch with hon. Members who are in that situation. When the Procedure Committee brings forward measures—it is always sensible in its deliberations—I am sure those measures will be put in place.

The hon. Lady criticises us for not allowing scrutiny of legislation. Her point might have had more traction if in yesterday’s sitting we had not finished an hour early. Part of the reason for that was that only one Opposition Back Bencher spoke in the debate. I think we were having votes when Report should have been concluded.

The hon. Lady talks about the Leasehold and Freehold Reform Bill. She will know that Bills can be amended during their passage through the House, and we have committed to including a ban on new leasehold houses during the Bill’s passage, despite what has been reported. That commitment has not changed.

The hon. Lady talks about migration and emergency legislation, and I will put that in context. It is slightly ironic that Labour is eagerly awaiting further legislation from us on these matters when Labour Members have opposed all the new powers that we have brought in to protect our border. They fought against us in ending free movement and deporting foreign criminals, they would wish to take an extra 110,000 people every year from Europe, and Labour in Wales is giving asylum seekers £1,600 a month. The legislation will be brought forward shortly, but I am not holding my breath on the Opposition supporting it. Further business will be announced in the usual way.

Nigel Evans Portrait Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Nigel Evans)
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I call the Father of the House.

Peter Bottomley Portrait Sir Peter Bottomley (Worthing West) (Con)
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I welcome the news that the Leasehold and Freehold Reform Bill, which will bring in modern housing terms, will have its Second Reading in a week or so. Through my right hon. Friend, may I say to the Government that even if we have to add things to the Bill as it goes along, that is better than having to wait another year for this overdue opportunity to reform effectively the scandalous abuses within leasehold, which are loaded so much against 6 million home occupiers—the tenants of leasehold homes?

I draw my right hon. Friend’s attention to the named day question I tabled for the Foreign Office about the acid attack on Shahzad Akbar on Sunday in England. If Ministers think it is appropriate to make an oral statement, will she please encourage them to do so? It is just as shocking to have a Commonwealth country suspected of an acid attack on one of its nationals—a human rights lawyer—in this country as it was to have the Russian attack in Salisbury and the alleged Indian attack in Canada.

May I ask my right hon. Friend to draw to the Home Secretary’s attention the letter he will have received today from the human rights lawyer Clive Stafford Smith, asking whether the police force in the relevant area was right to assess the risk to this man as low when in fact it was high, and whether is it true that the local police had switched off the automatic number plate recognition system for some reason, when that might have helped to detect the culprits of this terrible acid attack?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I thank my hon. Friend for his warm welcome for the Leasehold and Freehold Reform Bill. I will certainly ensure that the Home Secretary is aware of his concerns with regard to that police force. He will know that the next Foreign Office questions are on 12 December, but I will certainly ensure that both the Foreign Secretary and his lead Minister in the Commons are aware of his concerns about that terrible attack.

Deidre Brock Portrait Deidre Brock (Edinburgh North and Leith) (SNP)
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I am sure that the hearts of all of us in the House go out to those innocents who have suffered in Gaza and Israel, and who continue to suffer.

I, too, wish the House a very happy St Andrew’s day —to you, Mr Deputy Speaker, and to us all. On this special day, I have first a word of thanks. The Leader of the House has described me in this Chamber and on social media as “sanctimonious”, “delusional”, “treacherous” and “slopey-shouldered”. I cannot say how much that language from a Tory is a badge of honour for me in Scotland, so I am grateful. Even more, her comments last week about Scotland’s drug policies were literally front-page news. The Daily Record described them as “an odd rant” —one of the more positive responses. One correspondent asked:

“Why does Penny hate Scotland so much—was she scared by the bagpipes as a child?”

We certainly look forward to her reply to that.

I am afraid that that answer from the Leader of the House illustrated comprehensively the attitudes and contempt on the Government side of the House for the people of Scotland. Maybe she needs to refresh her Government’s growing army of scriptwriters in Edinburgh —paid for, of course, by taxpayers’ money. No more fat- free, out-of-date Trumpian rants, please.

The Leader of the House has claimed that she takes an interest in the welfare of Scotland’s children, so obviously she will have seen the remarkable new assessment of the Scottish child payment posted on the London School of Economics website by a number of academics expert in social policy and economics. It says that the Scottish Government’s payments are

“predicted to have a monumental impact on reducing child poverty rates”,

and that they will

“transform Scotland from being one of the most unequal places to live in Europe to being one of the most equal.”

I feel that this House should be given an opportunity to debate it, as child poverty in England rockets. Given her stated interest, will she please confirm that she has read that assessment? If not, would she like me to send her a copy? Or maybe it is really all about clickbait and social media reach, and she does not care at all.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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Let me add some more adjectives to what the hon. Lady described. The SNP really has surpassed itself this week in being self-obsessed, self-pitying and self-delusional. I have hit on why it is losing the case for independence: if Scotland were to take the leap, surely it would want its leaders to be the sort of people to step up, take responsibility and work hard to improve their opportunities, but despite the Scottish Government being one of the most powerful devolved Administrations in the world, they cannot accept responsibility for anything.

Given that the SNP has been in power for 16 years and in every single year its budget has been 20% higher than in England, who does the hon. Lady think is responsible for Scotland’s declining A&E performance, increased waiting times, 70% hike in drug-related deaths and 10% increase in the attainment gap? What about the 10 years that the Scottish Government have missed their cancer and housing targets, the rising crime, the soaring violence in schools, the lowest police numbers since 2008 or the 1,700 fewer teachers? Who does she think is responsible for the fact that some police forces do not even investigate certain offences, and are warning that soon they will not be able to attend call-outs?

Who does the hon. Lady think is responsible for plummeting international rankings in maths, literacy and science? Who does she think has snaffled more than half the £1 billion in extra tax that Scottish residents have to pay, which never reaches public services? She talks about Scottish schoolchildren, but who has chosen to pay so much less to Scottish schools per pupil than anywhere else in the UK? The autumn statement has given the Scottish Government an additional £545 million. We are about to hear their budget, and it is a pretty safe bet that it will not be spent wisely. By all means, the hon. Lady can send me what she likes, but there is a trend here. Scottish SNP supporters will soon be outnumbered by the pandas in her local zoo.

Siobhan Baillie Portrait Siobhan Baillie (Stroud) (Con)
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I want to raise the brilliance of the Fromehall Mill team and to encourage everyone to look at the Stroud Times article and video as they try to raise share support to buy the mill. It is a multi-business powerhouse with everything from bikes and bakeries to artificial intelligence and social action. Will my right hon. Friend tell the House when the next round of community ownership fund bids will be announced? Can we have a debate in the House about smaller companies around the country that are using, selling and teaching AI technology, because they are doing an incredible job?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I thank my hon. Friend for all her work to champion that brilliant local community initiative. We expect to be able to inform applicants to the third round of the community ownership fund by the end of December. She will know that Levelling Up, Housing and Communities questions are on Monday, where she may wish to make the case again.

Nigel Evans Portrait Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Nigel Evans)
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I call the Chair of the Backbench Business Committee.

Ian Mearns Portrait Ian Mearns (Gateshead) (Lab)
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I thank the Leader of the House for announcing the Backbench Business debates for Thursday 7 December. Let me give her early notice that if we are awarded time on Thursday 14 December, the Committee will intend to schedule debates on knife crime and the potential merger of Vodafone and Three. Is the Leader of the House considering giving the Backbench Business Committee any time in the week beginning Monday 18 December? If she is, we would love to know as soon as possible so that we can allocate debates and let Members know. I am glad to say that the Committee was re-established this week and is up and running, but we already have a backlog of debates, with 13 on our waiting list. It is good that we have plenty of business to come.

The Go North East bus industrial action continues, with very few buses running for weeks and, on many routes, not at all. That is having a huge detrimental impact on our local economy and jobs, and on the learning of students who cannot get to their local further education colleges such as Gateshead College in my constituency. Students who struggled to make up the learning lost during covid are being hit again, since they are unable to attend at all without incurring massive additional expense. Can we have a debate in Government time about introducing a compensation scheme from public transport providers that are singularly failing in their service delivery obligations?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I thank the hon. Gentleman for his advert for forthcoming debates. It is good to know that the Backbench Business Committee is busy. I will certainly let him know as soon as possible about the week of 18 December. He will know that we always try to give as much notice as possible.

I am very sorry to hear about his ongoing constituency issue. That is why we believe minimum service standards in vital sectors—transport is one of them—are so important. I will make sure that the Transport Secretary has heard about that ongoing situation. It is very well understood that students from lower socioeconomic groups will be disproportionately affected by such action.

Caroline Dinenage Portrait Dame Caroline Dinenage (Gosport) (Con)
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May we have a debate on decisions by probation and prison services to release on licence? Last Friday, my constituent Levi Kent was stabbed to death. The man charged with his murder was sentenced to two years in prison for wounding with intent just in January this year and was released on licence in September. Will my right hon. Friend back my calls for a serious case review into the licensing decision and monitoring, which may have freed someone who should be in prison to murder?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I am sure I speak for the whole House when I say how appalled we are to hear of that situation. Our thoughts are with my hon. Friend’s constituents and all those affected by this appalling tragedy. The Lord Chancellor is aware of this case. I am sure it will need to be subject to a review into what happened in this instance, but I know the Lord Chancellor’s door is always open to her and I think he may have already contacted her. I thank her for all she is doing in her constituency in the aftermath of this appalling event.

Emma Lewell-Buck Portrait Mrs Emma Lewell-Buck (South Shields) (Lab)
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Cases of rickets in children, which is associated with malnutrition, have risen by over 700% in the last two years. My Healthy Start Scheme (Take-Up) (No. 2) Bill would have prevented over 157,000 babies, children and pregnant mothers from missing out on essential food and vitamins, but the Government rejected it. Can we please have an urgent debate on why the Government have dragged our children into Victorian levels of poverty?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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The hon. Lady will know that there are over 500,000 fewer children living in absolute poverty under this Administration, and that the Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, my right hon. Friend the Member for South Northamptonshire (Dame Andrea Leadsom) has been doing incredible work, bringing together Government Departments to focus on the early years and to create much more effective pathways at a local level for children who are particularly vulnerable.

Maggie Throup Portrait Maggie Throup (Erewash) (Con)
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Will my right hon. Friend consider a debate in Government time on the effectiveness of the process of calling in? Although the mechanism technically exists to help in planning cases, such as the one I am dealing with in relation to proposals for two drive-through fast food outlets on a busy highways interchange near Risley in my constituency, I fear that in practice the process of calling in does not work as it should and needs urgent reform.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I thank my hon. Friend for all she is doing to make sure that the views of her constituents are heard in such matters. She will know that the next Levelling Up, Housing and Communities questions will be on 4 December. I invite her to raise it directly with the Secretary of State. I will also make sure that he has heard what she has said today.

Nigel Evans Portrait Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Nigel Evans)
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I call Jim Shannon. [Hon. Members: “Ooh!”]

Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP)
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You caught me off guard there, Mr Deputy Speaker. Thank you very much for bringing me in early.

In every one of our constituencies, across the whole of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, we have girlguiding groups, which we greatly support as they do wonderful work with girls of all ages. It is therefore with much concern that I ask the Leader of the House, very kindly, whether we may have a debate in Government time on the Floor of the House on the proposed devastating decision by Girlguiding UK to sell off its UK activity centres and to stop direct delivery of girlguiding in British overseas territories and on UK military bases. It will have a catastrophic impact, not just here but across the seas, on young women in the British family, which we all want to preserve and retain.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I thank the hon. Gentleman for his early question this week. I think that would be an excellent topic for a Backbench Business debate. Many Members were agreeing with him as he outlined the issues. I know that one of the problems is that the guiding community does not feel that it was properly consulted in advance of the decision being taken, and I know that many right hon. and hon. Members have written to the board to question it. I think an airing on the Floor of the House or in Westminster Hall would be welcomed.

Caroline Nokes Portrait Caroline Nokes (Romsey and Southampton North) (Con)
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I know my right hon. Friend is as shocked as I am by some of the working practices of SSE in providing power to commercial premises. My constituent Philip Liddell of ACE Liftaway has paid £73,000 on deposit to SSE, but because of SSE’s delays with SSE’s solicitors, it has now asked him for an additional £50,000 to move an electricity substation on his commercial premises—an increase of 69%. Mr Liddell did not cause the delay, but he has no choice but to pay up. Will my right hon. Friend find time for a debate in this Chamber to discuss SSE’s working practices and how it is holding people to ransom?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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That is a shocking case. As I would normally do, I shall write to the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, but I am sure that SSE’s diligent public affairs department is listening to business questions, is terribly shocked to hear about the situation, and will get in touch with my right hon. Friend or her constituent before 3 o’clock, when I put my letters in the postbox. I hope that she will keep me posted on progress.

Matt Rodda Portrait Matt Rodda (Reading East) (Lab)
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Reading gaol has been empty for 10 years now, and there has been a strong local campaign to turn the historic prison into an arts and heritage hub. The campaign is supported by me and the right hon. Member for Reading West (Sir Alok Sharma), by our local council and by many others. The Ministry of Justice promised us an update this autumn on this important project, but sadly, none has yet been forthcoming. Will the Leader of the House raise the matter with the Justice Secretary?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I fully understand why the local community wants that heritage building to be brought into use, and it has an arts connection through some of its former inmates. Given that the next MOJ questions is in the new year, I shall certainly raise it with the Lord Chancellor and his team, and ask them to update the hon. Gentleman.

Pauline Latham Portrait Mrs Pauline Latham (Mid Derbyshire) (Con)
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I recently visited the Falkland Islands, at the invitation of the Falkland Islands Government. A subject that arose while we were there is the complete lack of broadband and internet connectivity. I was unable to receive or reply to emails, or look at anything on the web. This is holding back individuals and, in particular, business opportunities in the Falklands. Will the Government arrange a debate to explore how we can improve broadband and internet connectivity in overseas territories?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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My hon. Friend raises an important point, and many Members who have visited the Falkland Islands will fully understand what she means. In addition to stifling economic opportunities, it is a particular problem for the spouses of our serving personnel out there, whose ability to remain economically active is very limited by this situation. I shall certainly make sure that all the relevant Departments hear what she has said, and we will see what they can do to rectify the situation.

Patrick Grady Portrait Patrick Grady (Glasgow North) (SNP)
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The welfare of animals is hugely important to many of my constituents, and they were pleased to see the announcement of the Animal Welfare (Livestock Exports) Bill in the King’s Speech, although they would have liked it to go further and cover issues such as puppy smuggling. When can we expect the Bill to be presented to the House and its Second Reading?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I welcome the hon. Gentleman’s approval of that Bill. He will know that we are still committed to the other measures that were in our manifesto. We will just be doing them in other ways, such as fulfilling our commitment on primates through secondary legislation. He will not be surprised to hear me say that further business will be announced in the usual way, but it is good to know that he will be supporting the Government on these measures.

Christopher Chope Portrait Sir Christopher Chope (Christchurch) (Con)
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When can we have a debate on the World Health Organisation’s pandemic preparedness treaty and the associated international health regulations? Does the Leader of the House realise that there is a lot of concern across the country that this treaty will result in a loss of personal liberty and a real challenge to our sovereignty as a Parliament?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I shall certainly make sure that the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care has heard my hon. Friend’s concerns on this matter. I know that many Members have an interest in pandemics, which do not respect borders. International co-operation is needed, but there will be concerns about how the World Health Organisation has responded to particular situations. I know the House will want to scrutinise such measures in detail.

Chris Elmore Portrait Chris Elmore (Ogmore) (Lab)
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My constituent, Mr Jones, had his car written off by a third-party insurer in December 2022. Due to an insurance loophole, Mr Jones has been forced to settle the car hire costs because his insurer, Admiral, booked the car hire in his name and not through Admiral. Nine months on, Admiral is still refusing to cover the costs and the third-party insurer says it has no liability, so Mr Jones is left thousands of pounds out of pocket because Admiral did not do its job properly. Will the Leader of the House ask Ministers in the Department for Transport or the Department for Business and Trade to try to rectify this loophole, so that nobody else is left short-changed by insurance companies that simply dodge the rules?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I am very sorry to hear about that case. I will raise it with the relevant Departments but, again, I hope the public affairs team at Admiral has heard his question. This is a competitive market, and we have legislated to improve competition on such matters. If it has not already, I hope the public affairs team will be in touch with the hon. Gentleman to discuss what recompense could be made.

Andrew Selous Portrait Andrew Selous (South West Bedfordshire) (Con)
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The record 1,455 police officers in Bedfordshire are extremely welcome. Can the Home Office reassure the chief constable of Bedfordshire that apprehending illegal and dangerous motorcyclists who terrorise communities is what the Government and, indeed, the people of Bedfordshire want him to do? One young man has already lost his life and another has suffered life-changing injuries as a result of this behaviour. Roads and footpaths need to be kept safe for adults and children.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I thank my hon. Friend for all he is doing in the wake of these tragic incidents. I will make sure the Home Secretary has heard his concerns about the action that his local police may or may not be taking. This kind of antisocial behaviour causes misery for many people, which is why, through our antisocial behaviour action plan, we have committed £160 million to help local authorities make high streets, footpaths and so on much safer for their communities. The police have powers to deal with these situations, and we expect them to be used.

Wera Hobhouse Portrait Wera Hobhouse (Bath) (LD)
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This weekend marks small business Saturday, and I look forward to visiting our wonderful Christmas market in Bath, which brings in £50 million for the local area. Anyone who has not been to Bath at Christmas should please come. It is absolutely magical.

I am pleased that footfall in Bath is above pre-pandemic levels. However, many UK businesses are struggling to recover. This year has seen the most company insolvencies since 2009, and the autumn statement offered no energy support for businesses. Can we have a ministerial statement on what the Government will do to stop businesses closing this winter?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I thank the hon. Lady for the advert for small business Saturday; I am sure that all Members of this House will be involved in it, celebrating the incredible entrepreneurial organisations and individuals in their constituencies. A number of measures were set out in the autumn statement to help our high streets and, in particular, the hospitality, retail and leisure sectors. We recognise that they are the backbone of this economy and they are often the focal point for many other services and social interactions in our communities. They should be treasured and I hope that everyone does that this Saturday.

Tom Randall Portrait Tom Randall (Gedling) (Con)
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One reason why the good people of Gedling voted to leave the European Union was to take back control of our borders. There have been several high-profile and complex challenges in doing that, be it dealing with the emergence of criminal gangs or complicated legal proceedings. So may we have a statement to set out the progress the Government have made on this issue since we left the EU?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I thank my hon. Friend for his question. He will know that progress is being made on this matter: boat crossings are down by 33%; the legacy backlog is down by 42%; asylum decision processing has increased by 250%; returns are up by 29%; and immigrants are 43% less likely to be in receipt of any form of state benefits. Since we left the EU, we have been working to change our systems. In December 2020, we ended free movement—that was opposed by the Labour party—and changed access to benefits. In April last year, we passed the Nationality and Borders Act 2022 to deter entry into the UK and to help us to remove people who have no right to be here. In December last year, we signed the deal with Albania, reducing the number of people coming here by 90%. In May, we introduced measures to reduce the rise in the number of students bringing dependants and to stop students switching out of the student route. In July, the Illegal Migration Act 2023 became law, although, again, it was opposed by the Labour party—70 times. Again that legislation is helping us to remove people who should not be here and to speed up removals. In October, we opened a consultation on capping the numbers that we would take from safe and legal routes. More legislation will come to the Floor of this House imminently, particularly to enable the Rwanda plan to be put into full effect—no doubt, it will be opposed by the Labour party. Now that we have greater control, we should use those controls.

Kevin Brennan Portrait Kevin Brennan (Cardiff West) (Lab)
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The Government Chief Whip is a Minister but, by convention, does not make statements from the Dispatch Box. So will the Leader of the House please give confirmation on accusations made by the GB News presenter who also has a side hustle as the hon. Member for Ashfield about being effectively offered a bribe in his role as a Member of Parliament? I know this was reported to the Government Chief Whip, but have they reported that allegation to the police for proper investigation?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I thank the hon. Gentleman for raising that point; this is a serious matter. I am not aware of the situation that he refers to, but if these matters were being investigated by the police, it would probably not be wise to comment on them on the Floor of the House.

Cherilyn Mackrory Portrait Cherilyn Mackrory (Truro and Falmouth) (Con)
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Before I ask my question, Mr Deputy Speaker, let me declare an interest, as a Cornish fishwife. The Cornish inshore fleets, particularly the under-10 metre fleet, are alarmed at proposals for a potential ban on the landing of pollock in the next round of negotiations for fisheries quota. The Cornish Fish Producers Organisation and the Cornish fishermen I know tell me that pollock is the staple for much of the inshore fleet, parts of which rely on it entirely. Sadly, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has so far not listened to the suggested compromises that have been tabled, which include keeping the fishery open for just line-caught pollock. Therefore, on behalf of all six Cornish MPs, including myself, may I ask for a debate in Government time on the potential impact that this ban is likely to have on the already precarious livelihoods of our Cornish fishermen?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I thank my hon. Friend for raising this important point on a subject close to her heart. She will know that since we left the EU there have been good opportunities for our fishing communities. In one instance, a fishing port not far away from her has seen its annual sales go from £40 million to £70 million. This should be a success story and, of course, what benefits the fishing community benefits hospitality, leisure, retail and many other things. She will know that there will be an opportunity to raise this matter with the Secretary of State on 7 December and I urge her to do so.

Rachel Hopkins Portrait Rachel Hopkins (Luton South) (Lab)
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Today is Fuel Poverty Awareness Day, and I thank National Energy Action for its work ensuring everyone can have a warm, safe and healthy home. I recently met with Friends of the Earth Luton, as part of its United for Warm Homes campaign, who told me that in my constituency there are 36 energy crisis hotspots, representing over 50% of neighbourhoods in Luton South, where below average incomes meet high fuel bills. Will the Leader of the House provide Government time for a debate on an emergency home insulation programme to start in neighbourhoods hit hardest by the energy crisis?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I thank the hon. Lady for her question and I shall ensure her suggestion is heard by the Secretary of State. She will know about the financial support that we have given households, as well as recent measures in the autumn statement, that mean over £100 billion in support has been provided. On average, low- income households have received £2,500 a year to enable them to cope with higher energy bills. Through her auspices, her constituents could make use of a number of insulation schemes, including those in the private and public sectors. I will ask the Department to ensure she is aware of all those schemes.

Andrew Jones Portrait Andrew Jones (Harrogate and Knaresborough) (Con)
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We often have debates about parliamentary standards for MPs, which I have contributed to, but we rarely debate the standards adopted by political candidates. They are not elected, and most never will be, yet that large group of people has a significant effect on the public perception of our politics and politicians. If we want to improve standards in politics, that begins at the grassroots level of political activism. During my time as an MP, there have been far too many instances of behaviour by my political opponents that have failed any definition of acceptable standards, or even legal ones. Can we have a debate about how we raise the bar throughout our political system, including local party associations and candidates for office?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I hope what my hon. Friend says will be met by agreement from both sides of the House, particularly from party leaders. I happen to know that my hon. Friend has suffered appallingly at the hands of a particular individual and I urge him to raise that matter with the relevant party leader. We should take these things seriously. I know from my own party that our candidates are required to sign up to the Nolan principles of public life, which is matched with training. This week our sitting MPs and parliamentary candidates received training from the Antisemitism Policy Trust. This is an incredibly important point and I hope we will all hold our colleagues, whether they are MPs or prospective parliamentary candidates, to account on this matter. I hope that my hon. Friend’s particular situation is resolved swiftly.

Christian Wakeford Portrait Christian Wakeford (Bury South) (Lab)
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Last Sunday, I was proud to march against antisemitism, standing shoulder to shoulder with British Jews alongside my friends and constituents. I welcome the increase in funding to the Community Security Trust, as laid out in the autumn statement, and thank it for keeping my constituents safe. However, since the pogrom of October 7, we have seen a staggering 1,300% increase in antisemitism, with many Jews no longer feeling safe in Britain. With that in mind, can we have a debate in Government time on tackling antisemitism and hate speech, to ensure people of all communities feel safe?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I thank the hon. Gentleman and all hon. Members who joined that march or showed solidarity to the Jewish community on that day. We must all continue to do that when the headlines disappear when the situation is resolved, as I hope it will be soon. I met with the Jewish Leadership Council yesterday to look at what more we can do. As well as showing support to the Jewish community, we need to show support to other faith communities who want to do the right thing, stand in solidarity together, and continue to work at strengthening ties. We must support individuals who reach out to other faith groups in their communities, and ensure that they do not face intimidation.

Anna Firth Portrait Anna Firth (Southend West) (Con)
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As we continue to celebrate Disability History Month, may I raise again the lack of any disabled lift at Chalkwell station in my constituency? It is an absolute disgrace. It is the main station giving access to our beaches, and with 40 steep steps it is completely inaccessible to anyone with a disability or with a pushchair. I have raised this matter in the House five times now. This year I have been promised twice that it will be sorted out. Given that rail companies have a duty under the Equality Act 2010, itself a consolidating Act, to make reasonable adjustments, please may we have a debate in Government time on when the provisions will be enforced in a timely manner?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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My hon. Friend is a diligent campaigner on this matter, rightly so, and her campaigning has yielded some results: I understand that the Department for Transport has said that Network Rail expects to award the construction contract early next month for that work. It is a very bad situation that needs to be rectified. In the meantime, disabled passengers, if they cannot use that station, can contact c2c, which will arrange alternative transport at no additional cost, but, of course, that is not optimum. With the hon. Lady’s campaigning, I hope that optimum is not far away.

Tonia Antoniazzi Portrait Tonia Antoniazzi (Gower) (Lab)
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Last week, I raised with the Leader of the House the case of Teagan Appleby, as did her Member of Parliament, the hon. Member for Dover (Mrs Elphicke). We did, as a result, have a meeting with the Minister, so I thank the Leader of the House for that. However, both the hon. Lady and I asked for an emergency intervention by the Department. This is day 37 of seizures and, last night at 7.30, Teagan’s mum, Emma, was told that there is nothing else that can be done. A brain operation would not address Teagan’s seizures. She currently has access to an oil, which her parents must pay for while she is in an NHS hospital. She needs another oil. I passed Emma’s number to the officials on Monday. I have seen the Minister in these corridors, but nothing has happened. I have asked for an emergency intervention. It is now Thursday. We need one and I urge the Leader of the House to make that intervention on my behalf and on behalf of everybody who is supporting Teagan.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I thank the hon. Lady for her ongoing work on what is a very difficult case. I shall ensure, immediately after these questions, that the new Secretary of State has heard what she has said. As she will know, I am not aware of what the healthcare professionals caring for her constituent are saying that she needs, but if it is something that the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care can intervene and act on, I am sure that she would want to do so.

Alexander Stafford Portrait Alexander Stafford (Rother Valley) (Con)
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Colleagues will be aware of the brilliant Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice in Rother Valley, and the work that it does supporting children and their families through some of the worst times imaginable. I wish to highlight the £25,000 raised for Bluebell Wood by eight of my constituents in Maltby—Conner Wesley, Rob Pryke, Craig Edwards, Matt Whitehead, Corey Mangham, Chris Daley, Danny Bearman and Caleb Wedge—in their coast-to-coast walk across England, raising two and a half times their target and making sure that Bluebell Wood has the resources that it needs to help those who need it the most in their time of need.

May we have a debate, in Government time, to discuss what this Government can do to help our charitable constituents support hospices such as Bluebell Wood?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I thank my hon. Friend for getting the names of his fantastic constituents on record, and I thank them for all the work that they have done to raise such a huge sum for this very important children’s hospice. We all know the incredible work that these organisations do and how valued they are by all who come into contact with them. Were my hon. Friend to apply for a debate on this, I am sure that it would be well attended.

Stewart Malcolm McDonald Portrait Stewart Malcolm McDonald (Glasgow South) (SNP)
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A few short years ago, my brother died by himself, at home and alone, having taken an overdose of drugs following a life of serious, harmful addiction. Last week, the Leader of the House stood at the Dispatch Box and dismissed the pilot in Scotland of drug consumption facilities. She dismissed them as somewhere safe and warm for heroin users—people like my brother—to take their heroin, but they are healthcare facilities designed to help people with addiction problems, and turn their lives around. She did it in the most ignorant and contemptuous way possible, so I invite her to my constituency to meet the families who are thankful that a pilot is finally taking place. Maybe she will then come back and make an apology at the Dispatch Box. Given her love of clicks, if she puts it on Twitter I will even share it.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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The hon. Gentleman can go and look at last week’s Hansard, because that is not what I said. I was actually saying that that would be a legacy of the Scottish National party. What I criticised the Scottish National party for was having let down a generation of children by destroying an education system, reducing the number of teachers, starving schools of resources, widening the attainment gap and many other things. I am genuinely sorry for the hon. Gentleman’s loss, and I know a great deal about the particular pilot, which the Government support the Scottish Government’s doing, but his obligations to the children of Scotland are important, and the Scottish Government are failing them. I will not apologise for holding him and his party to account.

Rehman Chishti Portrait Rehman Chishti (Gillingham and Rainham) (Con)
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Levelling up round 3 resulted in over £1 billion of support for 55 projects around the country, yet not many of them were in the south-east. Gillingham high street in my constituency urgently needs that funding and regeneration. The autumn statement also included funding for town centres, not many of which were in the south-east. Levelling up is about levelling up the north, south, east and west. Will the Leader of the House clarify when we will have a statement regarding round 4 of levelling-up funding? Can we please ensure that that funding goes to all parts of the country, including areas such as Gillingham in the south-east, because we urgently need our fair share of resources, allocated on a merits basis?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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My hon. Friend makes a compelling case for projects and funding going to his constituency. He will know that the levelling-up agenda has been at the heart of successive Conservative Administrations. The next Question Time will be on Monday, and I hope that my hon. Friend will attend to put those questions directly to the Secretary of State.

Fleur Anderson Portrait Fleur Anderson (Putney) (Lab)
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December 9th marks the 75th anniversary of the signing of the genocide convention. I am chair of the all-party parliamentary group on prevention of genocide and crimes against humanity, and we will mark this time by calling for a strategy. I invite you, Mr Deputy Speaker, the Leader of the House, the shadow Leader of the House, and all Members present to come to a drop-in that we will hold next Wednesday in Portcullis House Room U from 12.30 pm to 2.30 pm, to talk to experts about how, as parliamentarians, when we say, “Never again,” we can really mean that. Will the Leader of the House support a debate on this issue?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I thank the hon. Lady for advertising her event. I shall certainly try to come along, subject to my duties in this House. It is incredibly important that hon. Members know what steps we can take, and what policies we can put forward, to ensure that these things never happen again, and to deepen our knowledge of such things as the international definitions and the appropriate terms to use for different situations. She is providing the House with a timely education session.

Miriam Cates Portrait Miriam Cates (Penistone and Stocksbridge) (Con)
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At a recent football match in the Sheffield and Hallamshire women’s football league, a young woman was seriously injured following a collision with a male player—a trans woman—on the opposing team. As has been well publicised in the national media, a number of other teams in that local women’s league have withdrawn from fixtures against that particular team out of concern for the safety of their players. Unlike other sporting associations, the FA has not yet acted to ban biological males from playing in women’s football, which is threatening the safety and the fairness of the women’s game at a time when its popularity is rightly rising. Will my right hon. Friend give time for a debate on women’s football, and the role of the FA in ensuring the safety of female players?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I thank my hon. Friend for her question. When I was Minister for Women and Equalities, I raised it with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, in part because FIFA’s own rules do not allow biological men and biological women on the same pitch together. The FA has different rules for different levels and categories of the game. I know that there are local teams here who have trans women playing on them and they are very valued, so I think it depends on the level of the game—that is certainly the response that I received at the time from such sporting bodies. The issue is receiving new focus, however, and clearly the constituents she mentions are concerned about it, so I urge her to raise it both with the Equalities Minister and at CMS questions, which are on 11 January.

Andrew Bridgen Portrait Andrew Bridgen (North West Leicestershire) (Reclaim)
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I am delighted to hear that this is Whistleblowing Awareness Week, because some weeks ago I was given access to 5 million confidential New Zealand Government vaccination records by a whistleblower. The data was anonymised and passed to scientists and data analysts in the UK and other countries. I will share a fraction of that analysis: the mortality rate in New Zealand rose post vaccination for five months, regardless of what time of year the vaccine was taken. That rate of mortality increase rose with every subsequent booster that was taken. From the data, the chances of the excess deaths in New Zealand being random and not due to the experimental vaccines has been calculated at one in 100 billion. It is the vaccines that are causing excess deaths in New Zealand, just as it is the vaccines that are causing excess deaths in the UK and elsewhere. Can we please have a statement now from the Government, suspending these experimental mRNA vaccines before any more death and harm is done to our population?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I thank the hon. Gentleman for raising this question. I think in New Zealand over 11 million doses of the covid-19 vaccine were administered. In England and Wales it was 150 million, and it is estimated that over 120,000 deaths were prevented by covid vaccines in England up to the end of September 2021. I disagree with what he says about the critical issue of vaccinations; I think they are life-saving. The report to which he refers has been debunked around the world, and he fails to mention the part that states that while an adverse event

“can occur after vaccination, that does not mean it was caused by vaccination.”

It is incredibly important that we look at the facts in this matter. We have the covid inquiry going on at the moment and, thanks to the work that our science base did in producing those vaccines, we were able to save millions of lives. It is incredibly important that we combat any misinformation about the vaccine.

Alun Cairns Portrait Alun Cairns (Vale of Glamorgan) (Con)
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The Leader of the House is more than aware that Barry in my constituency has not only the best beach front, but the best coastline in the whole of the country. Barry is to be enhanced even further by a successful levelling-up bid of £20 million to deliver a marina for the town, following a long-standing campaign. May we have a debate in the Chamber on regeneration in general, not only to consider the benefits that a marina will bring but, more importantly, on attracting further investment and using the levelling-up fund successfully to create quality jobs and better facilities in Wales’s largest town?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I congratulate my right hon. Friend on securing that very large sum for his constituency. He is right that, in addition to the immediate facilities that it will enable to be constructed, there will be immense business opportunities for hospitality, leisure, retail and many other things. I think all hon. Members who have heard him will be very interested in visiting and seeing the results.

Gareth Thomas Portrait Gareth Thomas (Harrow West) (Lab/Co-op)
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This Friday is Romania’s national day, a chance to celebrate the contribution of Romania to European efforts to support Ukraine and to acknowledge the huge contribution that the British Romanian community make here. I was pleased last night to host 150 members of Romanian churches in the UK, including some of the most senior figures in the Romanian Christian community. Will the Leader of the House join me in welcoming the contribution of Romania to the efforts to support Ukraine, and take this opportunity to praise the contributions of British Romanians to our country?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I say “Multe mulţumesc” to the hon. Gentleman for his question. Romania has made a huge contribution to our efforts with Ukraine, and I join him wholeheartedly in paying tribute to everything Romanians have done, as well as to the many levels of partnership between our two nations. I thank him very much for the advert, and I am sure that all Members of the House will send their good wishes for Romania’s national day.

Martin Vickers Portrait Martin Vickers (Cleethorpes) (Con)
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Yesterday, the BBC announced that it was reducing the time allocation for the “Newsnight” programme. [Interruption.] The reason given was that it wants to concentrate more on online coverage and have more serious debate. The airwaves are not exactly short of talking heads. Would it be appropriate, notwithstanding the fact that the Media Bill is currently in Committee, to have a debate about the BBC and its role as a national broadcaster?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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Hansard may not have picked up that there were mixed views to that news across the Chamber. Obviously, the BBC is operationally and editorially independent—it is up to the BBC to determine how it delivers its services—but it must ensure that it continues to provide the news content required to deliver its remit, as set out in the charter and the agreement. The first purpose of that is:

“To provide impartial news and information to help people to understand and engage with the world around them.”

The Government expect Ofcom, as the BBC’s independent regulator, to ensure that the BBC is robustly held to account in delivering its public services. If there were to be a debate, I am sure that it would be a very lively one.

Patricia Gibson Portrait Patricia Gibson (North Ayrshire and Arran) (SNP)
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There has been a 26% reduction in the number of free-to-use ATMs in my constituency since July 2018, alongside a 30% reduction in the number of free-to-use ATMs across the UK over the past five years. An increasing number of ATMs are switching to the pay-to-use model because the interchange fee fails to cover the cost of maintaining the machines. I am sure that the Leader of the House would agree that it is important to halt the decline of free-to-use ATMs, so will she make a statement on the need for interchange fees to rise to a level that properly covers the cost of providing and managing the UK’s free-to-use ATM network, particularly in the light of interest rate increases and the rising cost of labour and distribution?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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The hon. Lady raises an important point. Of course, this issue has a disproportionate impact on rural communities, where there is less choice of available ATMs. I shall certainly ensure that the Secretary of State has heard her concerns. If she were to apply for a debate, I am sure that it would be well attended.

Tom Hunt Portrait Tom Hunt (Ipswich) (Con)
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For over 10 years, 100 of my constituents at the Mill development in Ipswich have been in limbo, unable to move on with their lives, re-mortgage or sell their properties, because the Mill has deep structural and cladding problems. The previous creditor-freeholder was the National Asset Management Agency—the Irish entity created to recoup losses to the Irish taxpayer after the banking crisis. Some £15 million received from a court case was meant to be spent on cladding remediation, but NAMA, before it washed its hand of the development, took the vast bulk of that money. What has happened to it? We do not know. Does the Leader of the House agree that that is a deeply immoral way for that entity to behave? It has caused immense anxiety and distress to my constituents, who, after 10 years, feel that the situation has moved backwards, not forwards. Will she advise me on what steps I should take and on whether my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister might raise the matter with his counterpart in Ireland?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I am very sorry to hear about the ongoing situation in my hon. Friend’s constituency. Questions to the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities will be on Monday, and he may wish to raise it directly with the Secretary of State then. Given the international dimension to the matter, I shall certainly ensure that the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office is briefed. If my hon. Friend would like to give me further information, I will ensure that it is passed to the relevant Minister.

Michael Ellis Portrait Sir Michael Ellis (Northampton North) (Con)
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May we have a debate on BBC impartiality? Surely we cannot have BBC presenters using their on-air status to espouse fake news about Israel, or to make scurrilous suggestions about the Prime Minister’s motivations, as has been described in The Daily Telegraph today. It published a well researched piece of journalism on the subject, having trawled through the social media of some BBC journalists and personnel. Anti-Israel bile and bias is there for all to see. What are we going to do about the BBC?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I think we all want our national broadcaster to be the best in the world, and we want its editorial standards and policies, and those who work for it, to be the best in the world. The BBC is operationally independent, but I hope it will reflect on what has happened over the past few weeks. I hope it will look at what it can do, perhaps through training, and at what is happening with its editorial teams and those who work for it in the field, so that the British public can rely on getting impartial, good advice, produced to the highest journalistic standards. The BBC is usually very good at these sorts of things, but there are certainly questions that I, as a licence fee payer, would want answered in this respect.

Selaine Saxby Portrait Selaine Saxby (North Devon) (Con)
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This is National Tree Week, and it is also 50 years since Conservative MP Sydney Chapman suggested the “Plant a Tree in ’73” campaign. It is even more important now that we preserve our woodland and plant productive forests for sustainable manufacturing and construction. What conversations has my right hon. Friend had with Cabinet colleagues on the deforestation due diligence legislation that we committed to in the Environment Act 2021, and on its progression through the House, and what other steps can I take to assist on this issue?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I thank my hon. Friend for mentioning Sydney Chapman and his campaign; it is nice to know of the legacy that Members of this place can leave. My hon. Friend will know that we are committed to implementing the provisions that she mentioned at the earliest opportunity through secondary legislation. We also recognise that businesses need clarity on their obligations, so that they can prepare to meet them. Questions to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs are on 7 December, next week, so she may wish to raise her point directly with the Secretary of State then.

Scott Benton Portrait Scott Benton (Blackpool South) (Ind)
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Although the Government’s decision to reduce air passenger duty has boosted regional aviation, further reform of public service obligation routes is still required if we are to maximise the use of regional airports, such as Blackpool airport. Will my right hon. Friend find time for a debate on reforming PSOs, and may we have a debate on how we can support regional airports and regional aviation?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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Regional airports are absolutely vital to local economies, and they are one of the things that make us very attractive to inward investors. This is an important matter. The hon. Member will know that he can raise it directly with the Secretary of State for Transport on 14 December, and I encourage him to do so.

Peter Gibson Portrait Peter Gibson (Darlington) (Con)
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I know that my right hon. Friend will share my concerns about teenage suicide. This week, David Smith and Hilary Rabbett, the parents of 17-year-old George, came to Parliament to launch their new charity, I’m George’s Mate. It seeks to raise awareness of mental health issues and to provide suicide prevention courses in schools and colleges. George tragically attempted suicide in May this year. He has been supported by his mates, who are regularly visiting him as he regains consciousness. Will my right hon. Friend join me in raising awareness of this incredible new charity, which will be of interest to colleagues right across the House? May we have a debate on what more can be done for our young people on suicide prevention?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank my hon. Friend for giving us all the opportunity to welcome I’m George’s Mate—it sounds like a wonderful initiative, and all credit and praise are due to his constituents David and Hilary for the work they are doing on that. He will know that the new five-year suicide prevention strategy for England, which was published in September, sets out our ambition to reduce suicides within two and a half years, together with over 100 actions to make that happen. However, we will only be able to do so through the likes of David and Hilary and that grassroots action, providing the support that people need, including peer support. We have backed our plan with £10 million in a new grant fund, and it was precisely those sorts of community organisations and social enterprises that we were thinking of when we set it up.

Sara Britcliffe Portrait Sara Britcliffe (Hyndburn) (Con)
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Nineteen years ago today, at the age of nine years old, I woke up to the news that my beautiful mum had died. She had an illness —she was an alcoholic. My story of this loss through addiction is not an isolated case. While I welcome the Government’s harm to hope strategy and the funding for local authorities, more needs to be done to provide wraparound care and support for the families of those who have an addiction. Will my right hon. Friend support a debate in Government time to see what further actions can be taken to support people with addictions, so that we stop others losing loved ones far sooner than they should?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Can I thank my hon. Friend for raising this matter, and say that we are all thinking of her today in particular? [Hon. Members: “Hear, hear.”] She will know better than anyone the impact that alcoholism and its health aspects can have on families, and on children in particular. I thank her for sharing her personal story today, which will help raise awareness and shine a spotlight on the importance of these services.

My hon. Friend rightly acknowledges that the Government have made additional investment in this area. I also salute the healthcare professionals around the country who are doing fantastic work, introducing alcohol screening services at accident and emergency and elsewhere in areas where there is high prevalence of these issues. We need to do more on that front: the Government are tackling a number of issues in our legislative programme, including smoking, but alcohol abuse remains a huge concern for many people in this nation, and we must continue to be vigilant and see what more we can do to help families in that situation.

Mark Pawsey Portrait Mark Pawsey (Rugby) (Con)
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In Rugby, we are doing our part to build the homes that the country needs for the future, and as a consequence, my constituency is the fastest growing in the west midlands. We have seen new schools and roads—all delivered ahead of schedule—but we need our local health provision to expand as well. On recent visits to Rugby, Health Ministers have heard the case for enhanced urgent and emergency care provision at Rugby’s Hospital of St Cross in order to support that growing population. May we have a debate to consider how all aspects of infrastructure may be delivered in a timely fashion?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I congratulate my hon. Friend on all the work he and his constituents have been doing to help the regeneration of his local area. It is vital that local health services and other services can keep pace with such growth. As my hon. Friend knows, his local integrated care board has seen its funding increase substantially—it is over £1.6 billion this year. That ICB is best placed to make decisions about where that money needs to be spent, but I will also make sure that my hon. Friend’s concerns have been heard by the Secretary of State for Health, so that she may be able to help him and ensure that the provision he wishes to see is there, particularly in accident and emergency.

Neil Hudson Portrait Dr Neil Hudson (Penrith and The Border) (Con)
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I am delighted that the Government have listened to me and responded positively to my campaigning for funding for the rural enterprise hub in my constituency, with the Chancellor awarding us £7 million as part of the autumn statement. That is a real shot in the arm for our rural community, providing jobs and an economic boost: it is truly levelling up in action. Levelling up should be for the whole of the United Kingdom—towns, cities and rural areas; north, south, east and west—which is exactly what this Conservative Government are ensuring. Can we please find time for a debate on the impact and benefits of levelling up for both rural and urban areas?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I congratulate my hon. Friend on his success in his campaign, and I congratulate everyone who has worked on the rural enterprise hub in his constituency. He articulates absolutely correctly the ambition that was set out in the levelling up White Paper. He will know that the second rural-proofing report, “Delivering for rural England”, which was published in September last year, showed a vision for what levelling up would look like in areas such as his, and we are determined to deliver that. He will also know that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in particular has done some further work on unleashing rural opportunity, and through that we will continue to build on all the work we did in the original White Paper. I encourage him to speak to the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities on Monday to further the additional asks I know he has.

Matt Vickers Portrait Matt Vickers (Stockton South) (Con)
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I recently met representatives of the Bishopton Villages Action Group, who are concerned about plans for a raft of separate solar farms that would collectively cover almost 2,500 acres of this small community, changing the character of this beautiful rural area and taking away prime agricultural land. Will my right hon. Friend grant a debate in Government time on how we can ensure that the community impact of multiple solar farms in close proximity is given proper consideration in the planning process?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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My hon. Friend is right to raise this matter, and I know that other Members in this House have similar views, so it is a prime candidate for a debate, and I would encourage him to apply for one. I know that many Members want to support campaigns and further activity to ensure that we are making best use of agricultural land, growing more and supporting our farmers and food producers. He is running a very important campaign, and if there is anything I can do to support him in that, ask and it shall be so.

Marco Longhi Portrait Marco Longhi (Dudley North) (Con)
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Will the Leader of the House agree to a debate in this Chamber on policing? We have seen systemic failures in the Met police, as evidenced to the Home Affairs Committee, of which I am a member, and West Midlands police has now in fact been put into special measures. Could we revisit the effectiveness of police and crime commissioners and how they hold police leadership to account? The system is clearly not quite working well in the midlands and London, and probably elsewhere.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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This is a very serious matter. I understand that, under the police and crime commissioner’s watch, knife crime in the west midlands has increased by almost a fifth in the last year, and the police are failing in many other areas as well. I know my hon. Friend, like many others, supports Andy Street taking ownership of the West Midlands police. His constituents and others deserve better, and I know that this matter is being looked at by the Home Secretary, who has described it as a total “failure of leadership” from Labour’s West Midlands police crime and commissioner.

National Insurance Contributions (Reduction in Rates) Bill: Allocation of Time

Ordered,

That the following provisions shall apply to the proceedings on the National Insurance Contributions (Reduction in Rates) Bill—

Timetable

(1) (a) Proceedings on Second Reading and in Committee of the whole House, any proceedings on Consideration and proceedings on Third Reading shall be taken at today’s sitting in accordance with this Order.

(b) Proceedings on Second Reading shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion three hours after the commencement of proceedings on the Motion for this Order.

(c) Proceedings in Committee of the whole House, any proceedings on Consideration and proceedings on Third Reading shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion four hours after the commencement of proceedings on the Motion for this Order.

Timing of proceedings and Questions to be put

(2) When the Bill has been read a second time:

(a) it shall, despite Standing Order No. 63 (Committal of bills not subject to a programme order), stand committed to a Committee of the whole House without any Question being put;

(b) proceedings on the Bill shall stand postponed while the Question is put, in accordance with Standing Order No. 52(1) (Money resolutions and ways and means resolutions in connection with bills), on any financial resolution relating to the Bill;

(c) on the conclusion of proceedings on any financial resolution relating to the Bill, proceedings on the Bill shall be resumed and the Speaker shall leave the Chair whether or not notice of an Instruction has been given.

(3) (a) On the conclusion of proceedings in Committee of the whole House, the Chair shall report the Bill to the House without putting any Question.

(b) If the Bill is reported with amendments, the House shall proceed to consider the Bill as amended without any Question being put.

(4) For the purpose of bringing any proceedings to a conclusion in accordance with paragraph (1), the Chair or Speaker shall forthwith put the following Questions in the same order as they would fall to be put if this Order did not apply:

(a) any Question already proposed from the chair;

(b) any Question necessary to bring to a decision a Question so proposed;

(c) the Question on any amendment, new Clause or new Schedule selected by the Chair or Speaker for separate decision;

(d) the Question on any amendment moved or Motion made by a Minister of the Crown;

(e) any other Question necessary for the disposal of the business to be concluded;

and shall not put any other questions, other than the question on any motion described in paragraph (15)(a) of this Order.

(5) On a Motion so made for a new Clause or a new Schedule, the Chair or Speaker shall put only the Question that the Clause or Schedule be added to the Bill.

(6) If two or more Questions would fall to be put under paragraph (4)(d) on successive amendments moved or Motions made by a Minister of the Crown, the Chair or Speaker shall instead put a single Question in relation to those amendments or Motions.

(7) If two or more Questions would fall to be put under paragraph (4)(e) in relation to successive provisions of the Bill, the Chair shall instead put a single Question in relation to those provisions, except that the Question shall be put separately on any Clause of or Schedule to the Bill which a Minister of the Crown has signified an intention to leave out.

Consideration of Lords Amendments

(8) (a) Any Lords Amendments to the Bill may be considered forthwith without any Question being put; and any proceedings interrupted for that purpose shall be suspended accordingly.

(b) Proceedings on consideration of Lords Amendments shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion one hour after their commencement; and any proceedings suspended under sub-paragraph (a) shall thereupon be resumed.

(9) Paragraphs (2) to (7) of Standing Order No. 83F (Programme orders: conclusion of proceedings on consideration of Lords amendments) apply for the purposes of bringing any proceedings to a conclusion in accordance with paragraph (8) of this Order.

Subsequent stages

(10) (a) Any further Message from the Lords on the Bill may be considered forthwith without any Question being put; and any proceedings interrupted for that purpose shall be suspended accordingly.

(b) Proceedings on any further Message from the Lords shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion one hour after their commencement; and any proceedings suspended under sub-paragraph (a) shall thereupon be resumed.

(11) Paragraphs (2) to (5) of Standing Order No. 83G (Programme orders: conclusion of proceedings on further messages from the Lords) apply for the purposes of bringing any proceedings to a conclusion in accordance with paragraph (10) of this Order.

Reasons Committee

(12) Paragraphs (2) to (6) of Standing Order No. 83H (Programme orders: reasons committee) apply in relation to any committee to be appointed to draw up reasons after proceedings have been brought to a conclusion in accordance with this Order.

Miscellaneous

(13) Standing Order No. 15(1) (Exempted business) shall apply to proceedings on the Bill.

(14) Standing Order No. 82 (Business Committee) shall not apply in relation to any proceedings to which this Order applies.

(15) (a) No Motion shall be made, except by a Minister of the Crown, to alter the order in which any proceedings on the Bill are taken, to recommit the Bill or to vary or supplement the provisions of this Order.

(b) No notice shall be required of such a Motion.

(c) Such a Motion may be considered forthwith without any Question being put; and any proceedings interrupted for that purpose shall be suspended accordingly.

(d) The Question on such a Motion shall be put forthwith; and any proceedings suspended under sub-paragraph (c) shall thereupon be resumed.

(e) Standing Order No. 15(1) (Exempted business) shall apply to proceedings on such a Motion.

(16) (a) No dilatory Motion shall be made in relation to proceedings to which this Order applies except by a Minister of the Crown.

(b) The Question on any such Motion shall be put forthwith.

(17) (a) The start of any debate under Standing Order No. 24 (Emergency debates) to be held on a day on which the Bill has been set down to be taken as an Order of the Day shall be postponed until the conclusion of any proceedings on that day to which this Order applies.

(b) Standing Order No. 15(1) (Exempted business) shall apply in respect of any such debate.

(18) Proceedings to which this Order applies shall not be interrupted under any Standing Order relating to the sittings of the House.

(19) (a) Any private business which has been set down for consideration at a time falling after the commencement of proceedings on this Order or on the Bill on a day on which the Bill has been set down to be taken as an Order of the Day shall, instead of being considered as provided by Standing Orders or by any Order of the House, be considered at the conclusion of the proceedings on the Bill on that day.

(b) Standing Order No. 15(1) (Exempted business) shall apply to the private business so far as necessary for the purpose of securing that the business may be considered for a period of three hours.—(Ruth Edwards.)