Sale of Arms: War in Yemen

Chris Stephens Excerpts
Monday 13th July 2020

(1 year, 11 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Greg Hands Portrait Greg Hands
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First, I could just say to the hon. Gentleman that I refer him to the answer I gave earlier: I have already given repeatedly the reason why we are not publishing the reports on any incidents. Secondly, on the international human rights violations regime launched last week by the Foreign Secretary, we think that new sanctions regime will give the UK a powerful new tool to hold to account those involved in serious human rights violations or abuses.

Chris Stephens Portrait Chris Stephens (Glasgow South West) (SNP)
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Can the Minister provide true clarity about the total value exported to Saudi Arabia, including arms traded through open licences, and will he provide the number for how much the UK has profited from the conflict since the war began?

Greg Hands Portrait Greg Hands
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We publish quarterly the list of licences granted. I would suggest that the hon. Member look at that list.

Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (Accession)

Chris Stephens Excerpts
Wednesday 17th June 2020

(2 years ago)

Commons Chamber
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Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Eleanor Laing)
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If we go a bit faster, we will be able to get everybody in.

Chris Stephens Portrait Chris Stephens (Glasgow South West) (SNP)
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We all want the highest standards. Can the Secretary of State explain a bit more the road map to ensure the highest food standards? Will the Government look again at setting up a food standards commission when it comes to trade deals?

Elizabeth Truss Portrait Elizabeth Truss
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We already have the Food Standards Agency, which is specifically established as a non-ministerial department to ensure independence over high-quality food standards. Any change to British food standards would need to be voted on by the UK Parliament. That is very strong protection.

Oral Answers to Questions

Chris Stephens Excerpts
Thursday 14th March 2019

(3 years, 3 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
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I am a tad taken aback that the hon. Member for North Swindon (Justin Tomlinson) feels it necessary to disclose to his ministerial boss his personal habits in relation to such matters, but there we go.

Chris Stephens Portrait Chris Stephens (Glasgow South West) (SNP)
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T5. Yesterday, I was delighted to welcome to Parliament the Tea in the Pot women’s support service, and many of its staff are 1950s-born women. Will there be an equality impact assessment regarding the effect of recent pension credit changes on 1950s-born women? Will the impact on pensioner poverty also be measured?

Justin Tomlinson Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Justin Tomlinson)
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There has been an impact assessment all the way through. If the hon. Gentleman highlights a good group, I am sure that the Minister with responsibility for pensions would be delighted to meet its representatives.

European Union (Withdrawal) Act

Chris Stephens Excerpts
Monday 14th January 2019

(3 years, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Chris Stephens Portrait Chris Stephens (Glasgow South West) (SNP)
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Good morning, Mr Speaker. I, too, was hoping to catch your eye on 10 December, but the Prime Minister saw to that when she cancelled the debate. When I saw there was a prime ministerial statement today, I wondered if it was Groundhog Day.

I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen North (Kirsty Blackman), and the hon. Member for Brent North (Barry Gardiner) who spoke from the Front Bench from the Labour party, on their speeches about the benefits of immigration and being pro-immigration. I hope that the Chancellor, too, will congratulate both hon. Members, because there is a real concern about the Government’s direction of travel on immigration. We have already heard of individuals applying for universal credit who have lived here for 20 or 30 years, and worked and contributed to the economy, but who, because they were born outside the UK, are being denied universal credit or are receiving questions from the Department for Work and Pensions. I hope the Chancellor will take that back.

I hope the Government will also look at the advertisements for the EU settlement scheme. It seems quite inappropriate that they are seeking to charge people to retain rights and benefits they already have. I am very concerned, too, about what the deal would do for the protection of workers’ rights. As Opposition Members have said, there are too many vague assurances, when what we actually need is a binding agreement. We need to look at the EU’s direction of travel. It is now seeking to introduce changes to improve the work-life balance of parents and to help those in the gig economy. It is far better than the timid approach adopted here in the UK. We are seeing in Europe a real determination to put in place transparent and predictable working conditions.

While the EU is going in that direction, there is a fear among trade unions here about the lack of enforcement, particularly during the transition period, when disputes will be brought to a joint committee. The difficulty with that is that individuals and trade unions will not be able to take those complaints directly to the disputes committee or the European Court of Justice.

We have heard many Conservative Back Benchers talk about the benefits of trade agreements. What will happen for individuals in trade unions, who under international trade agreements are often excluded from bringing challenges under those agreements to enforce their rights at work? It is clear to me that the Government, who spent years challenging in court the trade unions’ argument that tribunal fees should not be put in place, who were responsible for the anti-trade-union Act, and who take a timid approach and refuse to ban zero-hours contracts, cannot be trusted on workers’ rights and protections and the EU protections currently in place.

Finally, some argue that the EU is a neoliberal institution, but a no deal would lead to even more neoliberalism. The answer to that criticism of the EU is not more neoliberalism. We saw that in the financial crash, when there was criticism of neoliberalism. We do not need more of that; we need less, and we need far more protections at work and elsewhere.