Debates between James Brokenshire and John Bercow

There have been 25 exchanges between James Brokenshire and John Bercow

1 Tue 29th October 2019 Oral Answers to Questions
Department of Health and Social Care
2 interactions (123 words)
2 Thu 5th September 2019 Building Safety
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
2 interactions (68 words)
3 Thu 5th September 2019 Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland Office
2 interactions (101 words)
4 Mon 22nd July 2019 Oral Answers to Questions
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
5 interactions (251 words)
5 Mon 13th May 2019 Domestic Abuse
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
4 interactions (1,299 words)
6 Mon 8th April 2019 Oral Answers to Questions
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
2 interactions (73 words)
7 Mon 4th March 2019 Oral Answers to Questions
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
11 interactions (422 words)
8 Wed 20th February 2019 Antisemitism in Modern Society
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
4 interactions (1,053 words)
9 Mon 28th January 2019 Oral Answers to Questions
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
5 interactions (193 words)
10 Thu 13th December 2018 Local Government Funding Settlement
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
5 interactions (247 words)
11 Mon 10th December 2018 Oral Answers to Questions
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
2 interactions (172 words)
12 Mon 12th November 2018 Appointment of Sir Roger Scruton
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
11 interactions (729 words)
13 Thu 1st November 2018 Budget Resolutions
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
2 interactions (188 words)
14 Mon 23rd July 2018 Oral Answers to Questions
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
2 interactions (71 words)
15 Mon 18th June 2018 Oral Answers to Questions
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
5 interactions (299 words)
16 Mon 11th June 2018 Grenfell Tower
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
2 interactions (139 words)
17 Mon 21st May 2018 Tower Block Cladding
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
2 interactions (513 words)
18 Wed 16th May 2018 Grenfell Tower
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
2 interactions (349 words)
19 Mon 30th April 2018 Oral Answers to Questions
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
6 interactions (195 words)
20 Thu 26th April 2018 Lung Cancer
Department of Health and Social Care
2 interactions (1,205 words)
21 Wed 28th February 2018 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
3 interactions (167 words)
22 Wed 20th December 2017 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
8 interactions (251 words)
23 Wed 13th September 2017 Oral Answers to Questions
Northern Ireland Office
2 interactions (90 words)
24 Mon 3rd July 2017 Northern Ireland: Political Situation
Northern Ireland Office
11 interactions (2,001 words)
25 Wed 28th June 2017 Oral Answers to Questions
Northern Ireland Office
2 interactions (119 words)

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between James Brokenshire and John Bercow
Tuesday 29th October 2019

(11 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber
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Department of Health and Social Care
Mr Speaker Hansard
29 Oct 2019, 12:41 p.m.

We are all grateful to the national health service, but I know that the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (James Brokenshire) has spoken movingly of the particular debt of gratitude he owes to the institution.

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire (Old Bexley and Sidcup) (Con) - Hansard
29 Oct 2019, 12:41 p.m.

I am delighted to echo that again in the context of the fact that next month, November, is Lung Cancer Awareness Month. I ask my right hon. Friend to commend the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation and all those who are highlighting the signs of this disease to save lives, quite literally, because of the need for early diagnosis. Equally, could he update the House on the lung health checks programme, which is targeted screening that could quite literally save lives from this terrible disease?

Building Safety

Debate between James Brokenshire and John Bercow
Thursday 5th September 2019

(1 year ago)

Commons Chamber
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Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Mr Speaker Parliament Live - Hansard
5 Sep 2019, 12:02 p.m.

I remind the House that I am looking for single-sentence questions without preamble.

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire (Old Bexley and Sidcup) (Con) - Parliament Live - Hansard

May I support what my right hon. Friend has said in his statement about driving forward cultural change and ensuring that people are safe in their homes? I also encourage him to follow through on the social housing Green Paper to see that tenants have that voice to challenge their landlords and to drive change.

Northern Ireland

Debate between James Brokenshire and John Bercow
Thursday 5th September 2019

(1 year ago)

Commons Chamber
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Northern Ireland Office
Mr Speaker Parliament Live - Hansard
5 Sep 2019, 11:35 a.m.

My apologies to the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (James Brokenshire). If I had seen him earlier, I would have called him earlier, but it is a pleasure to call him now.

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire (Old Bexley and Sidcup) (Con) - Parliament Live - Hansard
5 Sep 2019, 11:35 a.m.

Thank you, Mr Speaker. I congratulate my right hon. Friend on his appointment. It is a privilege to serve in office and I wish him all success with his role. He highlighted in his written statement yesterday the need to intensify negotiations with the parties. That is the way to avoid legislation being needed. Perhaps he could set out what form he expects that to take.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between James Brokenshire and John Bercow
Monday 22nd July 2019

(1 year, 2 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Mr Speaker Hansard
22 Jul 2019, 2:42 p.m.

It is good of the hon. Gentleman to blow his own trumpet.

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 Jul 2019, 2:42 p.m.

I commend my hon. Friend the Member for Walsall North (Eddie Hughes) for his private Member’s Bill setting out the steps that are needed to bring the leasehold market into an appropriate space. He will have heard what I said about bringing ground rents down to zero. We have given that commitment, and the right thing is that we move forward with our proposed legislation. I am sure that, with his ingenuity, he will be able to scrutinise it and, no doubt, come up with further proposals to ensure that legislation is effective.

Break in Debate

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Parliament Live - Hansard

Again, we hear the same from the hon. Gentleman. When I look at the real-terms increase in core spending that councils have received this year, what do I get from Labour Members—opposition to that. They did not support it. They did not support that additional funding going into social care—children’s and adults’. We on the Government Benches have listened and responded. We will continue to take that forward, with the funding that has gone in over five years to support 20 local authorities to improve their social work practices, in addition to my commitment to listen to the sector and to advance its cause as we look to the spending review ahead to see that social care—children’s and adults’—is effective and delivers for our councils and our communities.

Mr Speaker Hansard
22 Jul 2019, 2:54 p.m.

Order. In calling the hon. Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Louise Haigh), I wish her a very happy birthday.

Domestic Abuse

Debate between James Brokenshire and John Bercow
Monday 13th May 2019

(1 year, 4 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
James Brokenshire Portrait The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government (James Brokenshire) - Parliament Live - Hansard
13 May 2019, 4:08 p.m.

Mr Speaker, I echo your words in relation to Tessa Jowell’s contribution in this place and the debate that we were privileged to be part of just a year ago. It is good to see the hon. Member for Croydon Central (Sarah Jones) in her place. We are in different places now, but the debate was a shared endeavour, and we were both privileged to be part of that special debate, when Tessa was here, and to champion the cause so well and so effectively.

With permission, Mr Speaker, I will make a statement on a new sustainable approach to delivering support for victims of domestic abuse and their children in accommodation-based services across England.

Domestic abuse is a devastating crime experienced by more than 2 million adults a year, with women twice as likely to be victims. That is completely unacceptable, and we have much more to do if we are to reach a point where no family lives with the threat of domestic abuse. Domestic abuse can take many forms and affects the young and old, male and female, but whoever the victim is, those fleeing abuse must have somewhere safe to go.

Just last year we announced £22 million to provide over 2,200 new beds in refuges and other safe accommodation, supporting more than 25,000 survivors with a safe space to rebuild their lives, but I know much more must be done to ensure a consistent approach across the country and to ensure that survivors have a safer future.

At the 2017 general election, the Prime Minister made a manifesto commitment to review funding for refuges. The violence against women and girls strategy for 2016 to 2020 set out our ambition to provide support for refuges and other accommodation-based services, helping local areas to ensure that no victim is turned away from the support they require at the time of need.

We also committed to reviewing the locally led approach to commissioning domestic abuse services. To meet that commitment, in January 2018 we began a full review of the funding and commissioning of domestic abuse services in England. We have worked closely with sector partners, drawing on their data, expertise and knowledge. This review complements wider Government work on tackling this devastating crime and supporting victims, including our new draft Domestic Abuse Bill.

Through the course of the review we have engaged with specialist domestic abuse service providers and their representative bodies, local authorities, police and crime commissioners and other organisations that support victims to understand fully both the challenges in commissioning and delivering these vital services and the positive features of the current system. We are grateful for their engagement and extensive input into our work.

We know there are dedicated professionals delivering support to victims and their children in accommodation-based services across England. This support helps victims move from danger and abuse to safety and independence, and their children to regain their childhoods. That includes the vital work of service managers and support staff, counsellors, outreach workers and play therapists, and I pay tribute to their work.

However, we also know that we need to do more to ensure that all victims and their children can access support at the right time, underpinned by a sustainable approach to provision. We understand that victims and their children will live in a variety of different forms of safe accommodation and will need support to stay safe and rebuild their lives in all of them. That includes outreach support to remain safe in properties with enhanced security measures, in emergency or temporary accommodation, in dispersed accommodation and in refuges.

Although refuges play a critical role in supporting victims at high risk of serious harm, we have deliberately kept our definition of accommodation-based services wide to include the full range of safe accommodation in which victims and their children may require support. That will help local areas to meet the support needs of diverse groups of victims and their children, and those at lower and medium risk, to prevent their needs from escalating.

Having reviewed the current system and listened to the views of expert stakeholders, today I am proposing new local authority-led arrangements for delivering support to victims of domestic abuse and their children in accommodation-based services in England. The proposals will place a new statutory duty on upper-tier local authorities—county councils, metropolitan and unitary authorities, and the Greater London Authority—to convene a local partnership board for domestic abuse accommodation support services.

The local partnership boards should include representation from police and crime commissioners, health bodies, children’s services and housing providers, along with specialist domestic abuse service providers. The boards will be required to assess need for domestic abuse services; develop domestic abuse strategies; commission services to meet the support needs of victims and their children; and report progress to my Department.

In two-tier areas, lower-tier local authorities—city, district and borough councils and, in this instance, London boroughs—will have a significant role to play in contributing to needs assessments, strategy development, service commissioning and reporting on progress. Those areas will be subject to a statutory duty to co-operate with the local partnership board.

To support local authorities and local partnership boards to meet these new requirements, I am proposing that we should produce new statutory guidance, making our expectations clear. This new approach will be backed by funding from the Government to ensure that services are put on a sustainable, long-term footing; it will be determined through the forthcoming spending review and informed by the consultation.

I want to safeguard provision of support; to clarify expectations of governance and accountability; to ensure needs assessments are undertaken; and to enhance our understanding of service provision across England, through monitoring and reporting. I also want to ensure that the diverse needs of all victims and their children are met, including those with protected characteristics. This is part of a wider Government drive to tackle domestic abuse and end this pernicious crime for good. Our Domestic Abuse Bill, published in January, is the most comprehensive package ever to tackle domestic abuse. We have also brought in a new offence to capture coercive and controlling behaviour, and new domestic abuse protection orders will allow the police and courts to intervene earlier. It is our duty to ensure that victims and survivors can receive help by providing the support they need to transform their lives and move to safety and independence.

Through this consultation, I want to hear views on our proposals from victims and survivors, service providers, local authorities, housing providers and other public agencies, as well as professionals who support victims and children every day. I believe that this announcement today will provide much-needed help to ensure that more victims and their families better overcome their experiences, and move on to live full and independent lives. The consultation will run from today until 2 August. A copy of the consultation document will be placed in the House Library, and I commend this statement to the House.

Break in Debate

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Parliament Live - Hansard
13 May 2019, 4:30 p.m.

I thank the right hon. and learned Lady for her comments and for her leadership as one of the key Members across the House who have championed the issue for so many years. I recognise her contribution in getting to the place at which we have arrived today. She is right to say that this is a national public policy issue, and that we need to deal with variability to ensure a national standard that we seek to reach through this new statutory duty—hence, the consultation. She clearly and plainly makes the point that we need to ensure the necessary financial investment and support for these measures, and I am grateful for her support regarding those conversations with the Chancellor.

Mr Speaker Hansard
13 May 2019, 2:30 p.m.

I am not sure whether the hon. Member for Stirling (Stephen Kerr) was present at the start of the exchanges—I was advised that he was not. Was he here?

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between James Brokenshire and John Bercow
Monday 8th April 2019

(1 year, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Parliament Live - Hansard
8 Apr 2019, 2:30 p.m.

Councils have been preparing for a range of issues. As we leave the European Union, changes to regulations might be required and training and support might be needed, as well as contingency planning so that we have a smooth transition from where we are today to leaving the European Union.

Mr Speaker Hansard
8 Apr 2019, 2:30 p.m.

The hon. Member for North Wiltshire (James Gray) is another mentee of the right hon. Member for New Forest West (Sir Desmond Swayne).

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between James Brokenshire and John Bercow
Monday 4th March 2019

(1 year, 7 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Parliament Live - Hansard
4 Mar 2019, 2:40 p.m.

As my hon. Friend will know, there is a statement coming up later this afternoon, so I will save my comments for that, but it is a £1.6 billion fund, with a competitive element, and I would encourage people to bid into that.

Mr Speaker Hansard
4 Mar 2019, 2:40 p.m.

I am sure that the hon. Member for Crawley (Henry Smith) will be in his seat for that statement and will leap to his feet to make his point with his customary force and alacrity.

Break in Debate

James Brokenshire Portrait The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government (James Brokenshire) - Parliament Live - Hansard
4 Mar 2019, 3:22 p.m.

Today marks 12 months on from the Novichok attack in Salisbury. Our thoughts remain with all those affected by this appalling crime, and we remain determined to see those responsible brought to justice. I pay tribute to the people of Salisbury for the strength and resilience they have shown and for the way that the community has come together at a time of incredible challenge. I am sure that the whole House will want to join me in thanking not only those involved in the clean-up operations, but everyone who has worked so hard to support Salisbury’s recovery from this incident.

At a time when we need to show our resolve in standing up against division and hatred, I want to thank hon. and right hon. Members from across the house for their incredibly moving contributions during last week’s antisemitism debate and to everyone who supported yesterday’s “visit my mosque day”. Strong communities will be a key to success post-Brexit, and I will be making a statement to the House on the new stronger towns fund later this afternoon.

Mr Speaker Hansard
4 Mar 2019, 3:23 p.m.

I remind colleagues that topical questions are very brief. A sentence or so is quite sufficient. We do not need a long preamble. Chris Philp, get in there, man.

Break in Debate

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Parliament Live - Hansard

My hon. Friend has set out a number of important ideas. I certainly welcome the recent statistic showing the number of first-time buyers at a 12-year annual high. There are further measures through the national planning policy framework, which include an expectation that local authorities secure 10% of new units for affordable home ownership including discount market sales and starter homes.

Mr Speaker Hansard
4 Mar 2019, 3:24 p.m.

No more than two sentences, I am sure—John Healey.

Break in Debate

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Parliament Live - Hansard
4 Mar 2019, 3:31 p.m.

I am not unsympathetic to my hon. Friend’s long-standing campaign to turn Southend into a city, given that it is my birthplace. I therefore welcome any initiatives that see investment in Southend, and I commend the work that he is doing.

Mr Speaker Hansard
4 Mar 2019, 3:31 p.m.

Indeed, Southend will probably judge that it should have its very own ambassador from the Philippines—not merely an ambassador visiting Southend, but an ambassador to Southend.

Antisemitism in Modern Society

Debate between James Brokenshire and John Bercow
Wednesday 20th February 2019

(1 year, 7 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Mr Speaker Hansard
20 Feb 2019, 4:04 p.m.

Before I call the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, I point out for the benefit of the Front-Bench representatives, of whom there are three for the purposes of this debate, that no fewer than 18 right hon. and hon. Members are seeking to catch the eye of the Chair. I know, therefore, that while addressing the issues fully, they will wish to tailor their contributions to take account of the likely level of Back-Bench demand.

James Brokenshire Portrait The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government (James Brokenshire) - Hansard

I beg to move,

That this House has considered antisemitism in modern society.

Today’s debate is timely, given the growing challenge of antisemitism, and fittingly, it comes less than a month since we marked Holocaust Memorial Day and a short few weeks after I had the privilege of joining mourners from around the world to bury six unknown victims of the holocaust—the Shoah—including a child. It was the first time that this has happened on British soil and probably the only time that it will. These were incredibly moving moments not just for the Jewish community, but for our entire country. For me personally, it was a poignant reminder of my father-in-law, who escaped Nazi Germany and came to Britain with the help of the MI6 agent Frank Foley, whose actions also saved the lives of thousands of other Jews. Millions of others were not so lucky. I pay tribute to Members across the House for their powerful testimony and reflections in remembrance of what was one of the darkest chapters in human history. That chapter should have been, as the last of those who lived through it leave us, the final word on the evil of antisemitism and hatred and bigotry in all their forms, but sadly, as the need for today’s debate demonstrates, the oldest hatred is still with us.

Break in Debate

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Hansard
20 Feb 2019, 6:55 p.m.

With the leave of the House, I would like to conclude this extraordinary debate. It is a difficult debate to summarise, however, because we have had such wide-ranging, heartfelt and painful contributions that have underlined the chilling aspect of antisemitism and how, while this place is a bastion of free speech, actually that free speech is at risk from bullying and intimidation. That was hard to listen to. It gives us a warning that antisemitism is serious. I quoted the statistics in opening the debate, but it does not give us the colour or sense of reality that we were given by so many of the appalling examples that hon. Members underlined in their contributions.

Given the wide-ranging nature of the debate and the passion and honesty with which hon. Members have spoken, it feels slightly invidious to draw attention to specific contributions, but I was struck by the contribution of the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent North (Ruth Smeeth). Standing here at the Dispatch Box, I can see the Jo Cox coat of arms just above the hon. Lady and am struck by that sense of there being more in common than divides us, and yet this afternoon we have highlighted a lot of division.

The hon. Member for Liverpool, Wavertree (Luciana Berger) highlighted the theme of family history, which was mentioned by a number of colleagues. That history matters to us all. She rightly said that she will not be intimidated—I am going back to the issue of freedom of speech. She made the point, as did the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent North, that she is not going anywhere, and nor should she. They or any hon. Member should be able to make the points they wish to make in the House as they have done.

The comments of the right hon. Member for Barking (Dame Margaret Hodge) were equally notable. She talked about anger and anguish, which came through in a number of contributions, probably most notably in the contribution of the hon. Member for Bassetlaw (John Mann). I pay tribute to him for his courage and bravery and for the leadership he has shown through his work and the all-party parliamentary group.

That sense of leadership was a theme in the debate. We need to show leadership as the Government, but equally all leaders of political parties need to show it. I deliberately opened by saying that we should not make this a partisan debate, but people outside the Chamber might wish to reflect on the powerful contributions that have been made by so many this afternoon.

Education and learning the lessons of the holocaust was a strong theme. Our holocaust national memorial and learning centre has been widely supported. It matters that it will be here, next to this seat of democracy, because of the warning it provides to us all. We may take comfort in having a democratic society, but we cannot take it for granted. A number of hon. Members gave that warning this afternoon.

The challenges of the online world were mentioned by a number of colleagues. My hon. Friend the Member for Congleton (Fiona Bruce) also mentioned the education theme. My right hon. Friend the Member for Chipping Barnet (Theresa Villiers) spoke of the regret she felt at having to make the speech she made this afternoon. It is a regret that we are here today to debate this again. We have heard the message: we have had so much talking, but it is now about action more than words. We all need to instil that sense of action within us.

I conclude with the words of the Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis. At a recent sitting of the Home Affairs Committee, he drew a black dot on piece of paper to represent the stain of antisemitism and said:

“The white area represents the situation of Jews in the UK today. It is great to be Jewish in Britain and we are proud to be British. This is a truly wonderful country. But, in that context, we’ve got a problem. It used to be smaller, but it has now got bigger, and it could get bigger and bigger unless we deal with it effectively.”

As long as I am in this role or involved in public life, that is what I will continue to do. It is our responsibility to shrink that black dot. I hope that, by virtue of what we have done today, we will help to turn it into a full-stop.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved,

That this House has considered antisemitism in modern society.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between James Brokenshire and John Bercow
Monday 28th January 2019

(1 year, 8 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Parliament Live - Hansard
28 Jan 2019, 2:51 p.m.

No, through our schemes more than half a million households have been helped into home ownership through Help to Buy and right to buy. The number of first-time buyers rose 82% between 2010 and 2017, and we have seen the first sustained rise in home ownership among 25 to 34-year-olds in 30 years. That is a positive step forward, although we know there is more to do. It is through initiatives such as Help to Buy that we are making that difference.

Mr Speaker Hansard
28 Jan 2019, 2:51 p.m.

The hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Kevin Hollinrake) knows all about houses as a whizz kid estate agent. Let us hear from the fellow.

Break in Debate

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Parliament Live - Hansard

I note the way in which my right hon. Friend is championing her constituents in her customary powerful and passionate way. She will understand, on the issue of calling in, that this is quasi-judicial and I am therefore unable to comment. However, I note the way in which she has championed the cause.

Mr Speaker Hansard
28 Jan 2019, 3:36 p.m.

The fact that the hon. Member for Colne Valley (Thelma Walker) served with distinction as a headteacher and the fact that she has been waiting so patiently are, in my judgment, not unrelated.

Local Government Funding Settlement

Debate between James Brokenshire and John Bercow
Thursday 13th December 2018

(1 year, 9 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Parliament Live - Hansard
13 Dec 2018, 12:29 p.m.

I was in Bristol just a few short weeks ago looking at the issue of homelessness, but I recognise the hon. Lady’s bid for me to look at some of the other important services and the work going on that is affecting her community. Yes, there are pressures on children’s social care—I recognise that, and it has been recognised in today’s announcement. I will continue to work with my colleagues at the Department for Education as we look at the spending review and ensure that we have a sustainable system knowing the pressures that are there.

Mr Speaker Hansard
13 Dec 2018, 12:31 p.m.

In a similarly festive spirit, I can tell the hon. Member for Bristol South (Karin Smyth) that she has brought back fond memories for me, because in 1992 I fought the Bristol South constituency. Unfortunately for me, and probably for the benefit of the nation, the Bristol South constituency fought back.

Break in Debate

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Parliament Live - Hansard
13 Dec 2018, 12:29 p.m.

I am grateful to my hon. Friend and, indeed, to all the Somerset MPs who have highlighted to me some of the specific issues that have been engaged in. I welcome the feedback that she has relayed to the House on how we acknowledge some of the particular pressures in rural areas. It is interesting to note, Mr Speaker, that, by the sound of it, you came very close to going into the Bristol area. However, we will continue to focus on all areas around the country as we look at the spending for councils moving forward.

Mr Speaker Hansard
13 Dec 2018, 12:33 p.m.

Not that close.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between James Brokenshire and John Bercow
Monday 10th December 2018

(1 year, 9 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Parliament Live - Hansard

It is a bit rich for the right hon. Gentleman to talk about policy, given that his own side has very little policy to show at all on a range of issues. He asks a fair question about building the homes that our country needs, which is why it is right to highlight to the House the 222,000 additional dwellings in the past year. That is profoundly about not only building the homes our country needs, but about ensuring that we are looking at viability and getting these issues of land value capture addressed—

Mr Speaker Hansard
10 Dec 2018, 2:39 p.m.

Order. It is impossible to describe the extent of my gratitude to the Secretary of State, who is among the most courteous Members of the House, but I say very gently to colleagues that we have a lot of questions to get through. We therefore need short questions and short answers so that we can reach people lower down the Order Paper, because I am more bothered about the Back Benches than I am about the Front Benches.

Appointment of Sir Roger Scruton

Debate between James Brokenshire and John Bercow
Monday 12th November 2018

(1 year, 10 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Parliament Live - Hansard
12 Nov 2018, 4:53 p.m.

I am not going to repeat the word that the hon. Gentleman used and read it into the record, but I think he should consider his terms. As Sir Roger has made very clear, he has been offended and hurt by suggestions that he is in any way antisemitic or Islamophobic. Most of what has been reported is highly selected, taken completely out of context and distorted to paint an inaccurate picture. I do not have to agree with Sir Roger to acknowledge this, nor do I have to agree with his views on a number of different issues. However, we live in a free society where people can hold different opinions. I am proud that we do still live in a society where that remains possible.

I ask the hon. Gentleman to reflect further on some of the points he made. He made some points regarding Prime Minister Orbán’s regime. If, in fact, he read the speech that was given, he would see that Roger Scruton actually took a very firm line against antisemitism—quite the opposite of the situation that has been presented by the hon. Gentleman today. I continue to believe that Sir Roger is the right person to lead this important work.

I welcome the hon. Gentleman’s point about the need to take this work forward, but I hope that he will recognise the huge contribution that Sir Roger Scruton has made to public debate in so many different ways. This is about freedom of speech and freedom of expression, and although we do not necessarily agree with all that Sir Roger has to say, he is uniquely qualified to provide support to our work on the built environment and aesthetics. We should support him and get on with that job.

Mr Speaker Hansard
12 Nov 2018, 3:39 p.m.

Now, Mr Bacon, your moment has arrived.

Break in Debate

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Parliament Live - Hansard
12 Nov 2018, 4:56 p.m.

We have the right to speak our minds in this House, as the hon. Lady has done, and my respect for the hon. Member for Denton and Reddish, even if I may disagree with his views, ensures that this place is the place that it is. We live in a world where people communicate in 140 characters. We are talking about someone who delivers long lectures and has written extensively in many different books and some controversial articles. It is important to see that context. Sir Roger has accepted in the past that he has got it wrong—for example, he acknowledged in 2010 that he had changed his position on homophobia and was wrong. It is part of that public debate that leading intellectuals are entitled to explore ideas and change their minds where necessary.

Mr Speaker Hansard
12 Nov 2018, 3:39 p.m.

What a rich galaxy. I call Mr Jacob Rees-Mogg.

Break in Debate

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Parliament Live - Hansard
12 Nov 2018, 5:04 p.m.

I note my right hon. Friend’s personal thoughts on aesthetics. I certainly will be looking carefully at further appointments to the commission, because it is important that we have a good reflection of views there so that we are challenging, thinking and making the case for building beautiful places that are designed to last and to reflect a sense of community and identity with the places in which we live and of which we should be proud.

Mr Speaker Hansard
12 Nov 2018, 5:05 p.m.

The Clerk at the Table advises me that I am under no obligation to say anything about Sir Roger, because of course one meets all sorts of people in the course of one’s work and one’s life, but in the light of what the Secretary of State and the hon. Member for North Wiltshire (James Gray) have just said, I simply inform the House that I have of course met Roger Scruton many times over the years. I express no view about the appointment—that is not for me to do—but I did read his book “The Meaning of Conservatism” in 1982 and I have read many of his articles over the years, and I simply took the view that this issue should be aired in the Chamber. That is what is happening, and Members are very properly expressing their views on the subject.

Break in Debate

Mr Speaker Hansard

The hon. Gentleman’s generosity of spirit knows no bounds.

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Parliament Live - Hansard

The short answer is probably very few, which is the point my hon. Friend is making. We need people who are prepared to come forward to advise Government and provide support. It is important that we continue to attract skilled, talented people to do that, and the Government will continue to champion freedom of expression and speech.

Budget Resolutions

(1st reading: House of Commons)
Debate between James Brokenshire and John Bercow
Thursday 1st November 2018

(1 year, 11 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Mr Speaker Hansard

I inform the House that I have selected the amendment in the name of the Leader of the Opposition. As I intimated earlier, approximately 77 Members want to speak and I know that the Front Benchers will do their best to tailor their contributions to take account of the extent of interest in the House.

James Brokenshire Portrait The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government (James Brokenshire) - Parliament Live - Hansard
1 Nov 2018, 12:14 p.m.

This week’s Budget was a Budget for our proud public services, jobs, housing, opportunity and enterprise, and a brighter future for every part of our country. Above all, it was a Budget dedicated to the British people and their tireless efforts to rebuild the economy and to bring it back from the brink and the chaos under the last Labour Government. Let us not forget what a mountain we have had to climb.

Thanks to the Labour party, we are running the highest budget deficit in peacetime, with the Government having to borrow £1 for every £4 they spent. It has been difficult to turn that around, but the families and communities that make up this great country can be confident that their hard work and the Government’s balanced, long-term approach have paid off.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between James Brokenshire and John Bercow
Monday 23rd July 2018

(2 years, 2 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Mr Speaker Hansard

A Chartwell standard, perhaps.

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Hansard
23 Jul 2018, 2:47 p.m.

I do agree with a lot of what my right hon. Friend highlights about the importance of design and style to ensuring that we create homes for the future that we can be proud of. This is something that we are considering carefully as we finalise the national planning policy framework. We will publish that shortly, and I hope he will see that in the final version.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between James Brokenshire and John Bercow
Monday 18th June 2018

(2 years, 3 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Parliament Live - Hansard
18 Jun 2018, 2:45 p.m.

I firmly recognise the right hon. Gentleman’s point about the urgency of the situation, which is why we have committed an additional £1 million to local authorities to identify the sites. In my time as Secretary of State, we have made an additional commitment of £400 million to the social sector to ensure that we get on with this remediation. I am intent on pursuing that level of action and focus to ensure that a sense of safety and assurance is given. Since the publication of Judith Hackitt’s report, I have announced that we are pursuing a consultation to bring into effect a ban on combustible cladding. The right hon. Gentleman and the House should be in no doubt that this Government gives priority to the issue, and we will continue to pursue that approach.

Mr Speaker Hansard

These are extremely important matters, but may I very gently say to colleagues—on Back Benches and Front Benches alike—that we must speed up?

Break in Debate

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Parliament Live - Hansard

I commend the hon. Lady for the work that she has done locally, as I commend the strength of her community in the face of this appalling tragedy. I cannot speak about the awarding of Backbench Business debates. If she seeks one, I am sure that it will be considered carefully. We have updated the House regularly on the response to Grenfell, and we will continue to do so.

Mr Speaker Hansard
18 Jun 2018, 2:45 p.m.

The Secretary of State is quite right to disavow responsibility for the Backbench Business Committee. The hon. Lady could, however, usefully sidle up to and have a word with the hon. Member for Gateshead (Ian Mearns), who chairs that Committee. He is not in his place at the moment, but I dare say that he will be in due course. I am sure that she will find that a most useful conversation.

Grenfell Tower

Debate between James Brokenshire and John Bercow
Monday 11th June 2018

(2 years, 3 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Mr Speaker Hansard

That is an example of what I call shoehorning. The hon. Gentleman has shoehorned his very legitimate and intense preoccupation with matters Birmingham into an exchange about matters Grenfell, but we know he has done that in a positive spirit, and therefore the House is, I think, benignly disposed to him.

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Hansard
11 Jun 2018, 5:34 p.m.

I know that that is an issue of particular concern to the hon. Gentleman. He will know that the Government have committed £400 million in respect of the remediation of combustible cladding. He makes a slightly different point, but we obviously have given financial flexibilities to local authorities in respect of other measures, and we are looking to provide any further technical detail in relation to the remediation of cladding in the coming weeks, and working with local government to ensure that the £400 million is duly utilised.

Tower Block Cladding

Debate between James Brokenshire and John Bercow
Monday 21st May 2018

(2 years, 4 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Hansard
21 May 2018, 2:30 p.m.

May I underline what I said in my opening comments about the importance of remembering and reflecting on the very moving testimony that has already been provided in the public inquiry? It is right that all those affected are able to share their memories of those who lost their lives and, indeed, that there should be no time limit on that process. We all need to reflect extremely carefully on the testimony given.

The right hon. Gentleman raises many points, a number of which we dealt with last week during the debates on Grenfell Tower and during my statement on the Hackitt report. He knows that I have been very clear about wanting to speed up the process, which is why I said last week that it is not a question of waiting for the final recommendations to be fully implemented, and it is why I took the steps that I did in relation to combustible cladding and other issues such as the use of desktop studies. I have outlined that although the consultation on desktop studies closes later this week, I will obviously not hesitate to ban them if they cannot be used safely.

The right hon. Gentleman highlights the advice from the fire authorities. Obviously, we are guided by the National Fire Chiefs Council on these matters, and the London fire brigade has given its advice in that regard. He mentions sprinklers. I would underline the points that I made last week—that is, we have given certain advice regarding the provision of sprinklers on new blocks of over 30 metres in height, but for existing buildings it is for the building owner to decide. As Dame Judith Hackitt rightly pointed out in her report, no single fire safety measure, including sprinklers, can be seen as a panacea.

I have already outlined the further steps that we are taking regarding remediation. We gave further instructions to local authorities last week to further empower them to take action in respect of identifying buildings. There is no lack of urgency on my part or on the part of my Department when it comes to moving forward with addressing these issues and underlining and recognising the serious concerns that have been expressed. Equally, I have underlined our desire to do the right thing in relation to fire safety. We will be taking the actions that I outlined last week and underlined again today to ensure that we are following this through and pursuing it rigorously.

Mr Speaker Hansard
21 May 2018, 2:30 p.m.

Order. There is considerable interest in this matter, as I would have anticipated, and which I shall endeavour to accommodate, but it might help the House if I advise colleagues that I do not want to run this urgent question at great length. There is another to follow; there will be many further opportunities to debate Grenfell; and of course we have other important business of which to treat. Succinctness personified would be appreciated and could be aided by the right hon. Member for New Forest West (Sir Desmond Swayne) if he were standing, but it will not be because he is not.

Grenfell Tower

Debate between James Brokenshire and John Bercow
Wednesday 16th May 2018

(2 years, 4 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Hansard
16 May 2018, 2:42 p.m.

This announcement is all about providing financial support to ensure that the works can be carried out swiftly. If the hon. Gentleman has specific points about Birmingham City Council, I will certainly look into them, and if I need to add anything else, I will certainly do so.

Right hon. and hon. Members will be aware that I updated the House by way of a written statement, as promised, on our investigations into the failure of a fire door at Grenfell Tower. To reiterate, our independent expert panel has said that the risk to public safety remains low. However, we have informed the manufacturer’s customers about the performance issues with such doors and have advised building owners about the action that they should take. My Department will continue to work with the sector to consider what further support building owners may need to address any issues quickly.

We also need to improve building safety and rebuild public confidence in the system, and issues have been raised about the need to listen to residents and understand the experiences of people in living social housing, which is why we will shortly bring forward a social housing Green Paper to look at how well social housing is serving those who depend on it.

In conclusion, 71 people died last June in the greatest loss of life in a fire in a century, and a 72nd resident from the tower passed away earlier this year. The toll on those who survived and the wider community was also on a scale unseen. I am determined that we will not falter in our support for them or in our efforts to find the answers they need and deserve. There is still much to do, and I hope that Members across the House will work with us to deliver a legacy that is truly worthy of the Grenfell community—a legacy that never forgets what happened and one that ensures that no other community has to go through what they endured.

Mr Speaker Hansard
16 May 2018, 2:42 p.m.

I am as grateful to the Secretary of State as I was to his shadow for his commendable brevity.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between James Brokenshire and John Bercow
Monday 30th April 2018

(2 years, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Parliament Live - Hansard

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his welcome. In some ways, local government is in my blood: my father was the chief executive of a council, and some of the current debates about councils are ones that I had as a boy, believe it or not.

Mr Speaker Hansard
30 Apr 2018, 2:49 p.m.

It sounds as though mealtimes chez Brokenshire were enormous fun.

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Hansard
30 Apr 2018, 2:49 p.m.

Let’s not overdo it, Mr Speaker.

I hoped that the hon. Member for Denton and Reddish (Andrew Gwynne) would welcome the additional funds that have been given to councils for core spending. They constitute an important statement from the Government, who have given councils a real-terms increase in recognition of the challenges that they face. I hope the hon. Gentleman will also note the forthcoming social care Green Paper, which will enable us to engage in a further and broader debate about long-term funding for social care.

Break in Debate

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Hansard

I would be delighted to hear more about this project, which sounds as though it is making a big difference. That is what it is about: delivering on the ground.

Mr Speaker Hansard
30 Apr 2018, 3:34 p.m.

Order. I am sorry, but demand has exceeded supply, as per usual. We must now move on to the next business.

Lung Cancer

Debate between James Brokenshire and John Bercow
Thursday 26th April 2018

(2 years, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Department of Health and Social Care
Mr Speaker Hansard
26 Apr 2018, 5:05 p.m.

Just before I call the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (James Brokenshire), let me say that I will not be in the Chair for this debate—it will be admirably chaired by the Chairman of Ways and Means—but I want to say, pursuant to the debate only a week ago, what a pleasure it is to see the right hon. Gentleman in his place, having contributed so forcefully and powerfully in last week’s debate, and I wish him Godspeed with this debate and in every other respect. The whole House is happy to see him in good heart, good spirit and good health, leading debates on these important matters.

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire (Old Bexley and Sidcup) (Con) - Parliament Live - Hansard
26 Apr 2018, 5:05 p.m.

I am very grateful to you, Mr Speaker, for your kind wishes and kind comments and the support that you have given to me as I renew my acquaintance with the ways and processes of the Back Benches. I very much appreciate your kind words and support.

A week ago today, I had the privilege to speak in the brain tumour debate inspired by the incredible work of Baroness Tessa Jowell. It was one of those very special moments in this House, which was made even more poignant by Tessa being present to hear the debate and to hear the tributes to her courage, her spirit and her determination to bring about positive change for people to live well with cancer for longer. The abiding theme through all that debate was a message of hope—hope for the future, hope for others, and hope in the face of personal physical adversity. There was also the overriding power of human kindness, compassion and love, and I want to return to some of those themes later on.

At the end of August last year, I was out in Northern Ireland for a family weekend. It was a Saturday afternoon and we had had some fun exploring somewhere new with the kids and we were about to have some lunch. I had just sat down when I realised that I needed to clear something from my throat, thinking that it must be a bit of food or perhaps some phlegm. The next think I remember is looking down and realising that my tissue had a bright red blob of blood in it. I felt my heart pounding and a knot at the very pit of my stomach at the shock. That is the thing about cancer: half of us will get it, and it can strike just when we least expect it.

Of course, I could have left it; we blokes are pretty good at doing that. I felt fit and full of energy and I did not have any pain. It actually never happened again. I could have said, “It’s a one off; it’ll just sort itself out.” I did not, because deep down I knew that something really was not right. I trusted my instincts. I did not delay in going to see my GP. I trusted his advice in seeing a consultant when my initial X-ray was clear

“because we probably shouldn’t just leave it there.”

I trusted my consultant’s advice to have a bronchoscopy—a tube down my throat to have a poke around in my lungs—after my CT scan showed a small area of inflammation

“because we probably shouldn’t leave it there.”

At each stage, I could have left it there. I was too busy with work, too busy with Brexit and too busy with the Northern Ireland political talks, but I did not leave it there and that saved my life. I was lucky because my cancer was caught early. I was able to receive curative treatment—surgery to remove the upper part of my right lung—but, sadly, too often that does not happen. Too often people find out that they have cancer too late, and that is what we need to change.

Every year around 36,000 people will die from lung cancer. That is more than breast, prostate and pancreatic cancer combined. It is the UK’s biggest cancer killer and survival rates remain stubbornly poor. One of the main reasons for this is that it is detected at a point when curative treatment is no longer an option. Two thirds of lung cancers are diagnosed when the disease is at an advanced stage. Let me give hon. Members a sense of what this means. Some 83% of lung cancer patients diagnosed at stage 1, when the cancer has not spread, survive their cancer for at least a year. This drops to just 17% at stage 4, when the cancer has spread to another organ. But this is not a numbers game. It is real life—and death.

The Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, which does such excellent work, gave me just one example of this stark reality. Steph lost her dad to lung cancer in December last year. He died 12 weeks after diagnosis. She said:

“I think the worst thing was my dad wasn’t given the opportunity to really fight it.”

We are talking about mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, friends, loved ones and colleagues. Lives are cut short because we do not pick up on the signs and symptoms. We just do not get it picked up quickly enough.

Symptoms could include a persistent cough that just will not go away; feeling breathless but just not knowing why; hoarseness in the voice; unexplained tiredness or lack of energy; weight loss that cannot be understood; coughing up blood. Yet, according to opinion research commissioned by the British Lung Foundation and BritainThinks, one in five people in the UK are unable to name any symptoms of lung disease at all. Smoking is a clear risk factor, but many people who have never smoked develop lung cancer. I was one of them. Around 15% of lung cancers are in non-smokers. Given that 46,000 people are diagnosed each year, that is a big number in its own right.

I have been struck by the number of people who have asked me, “Did you smoke?” And that is how I have come to appreciate that stigma and misperceptions can be a barrier to getting people the help they need. Rightly, we have made huge steps forward in smoking cessation programmes. We have firmly cemented in people’s minds that lung cancer and other lung diseases are caused by smoking. But there are unintended consequences. Lung cancer can be caused by a number of factors, not just smoking, yet British Lung Foundation opinion research suggests that as many as a quarter of us assume that everyone with a lung condition is a smoker. This was brought home to me when I was contacted by someone with cystic fibrosis—a genetic condition—who told me that even he had been asked if he had smoked. There is even the suggestion that lung conditions are considered less sympathetically.

If someone links lung cancer so strongly to smoking and they have never smoked, they might simply ignore symptoms. Equally, if someone has obvious symptoms but is struggling with feelings of guilt or blame because they do smoke, they might not seek help. We need to challenge perceptions and ensure that stigma does not get in the way. We need to see that people with lung cancer receive the support and treatment they need, whether or not they have smoked.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between James Brokenshire and John Bercow
Wednesday 28th February 2018

(2 years, 7 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Cabinet Office
James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire (Old Bexley and Sidcup) (Con) - Hansard

rose—

Mr Speaker Hansard
28 Feb 2018, 12:30 p.m.

It is excellent to see the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (James Brokenshire) back in his place.

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Parliament Live - Hansard
28 Feb 2018, 12:30 p.m.

Thank you, Mr Speaker. It is very good to be back. Last year, I had the privilege to open the Guy’s Cancer Centre at Queen Mary’s Hospital in Sidcup in my constituency, not knowing then how relevant that might be to me. I pay tribute to the NHS and the outstanding people who work within it. My own treatment has been absolutely outstanding. I know that early diagnosis and early treatment is key. With that in mind, will my right hon. Friend see that the lung health check programme, announced by NHS England in November, is implemented as speedily and as widely as possible? Will she do all she can to challenge the stigma attached to lung cancer and some of the false judgments that are made, so that it receives the attention it deserves and those suffering with the disease receive the care they need?

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between James Brokenshire and John Bercow
Wednesday 20th December 2017

(2 years, 9 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Cabinet Office
James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Hansard

The only shambles is the Opposition’s approach to Brexit. At this time of the year, many people will mark the 12 days of Christmas; we have had at least 12 different approaches to Brexit from Labour. Yes, we will be leaving the common agricultural policy, as the Prime Minister said on Monday, but she also underlined clearly our commitment in respect of those direct payments and, as I say, the transition and the need to provide certainty. The hon. Gentleman’s scaremongering does nothing to add to this—

Mr Speaker Hansard

Order. The trouble with these answers is that they are too long.

Break in Debate

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Hansard

I do agree in terms of the maintenance of the Good Friday agreement—the Belfast agreement—and, very firmly, in terms of not seeing any hard border re-emerging, and that is what has been reflected in the joint report.

Mr Speaker Hansard
20 Dec 2017, noon

I think we should hear from the former Chair of the Select Committee. The final inquiry in this section today—Mr Laurence Robertson.

Break in Debate

Mr Speaker Hansard
20 Dec 2017, noon

Order. I am rather disappointed that the former Chair of the Select Committee was not heard in hushed and reverential tones, but we may have to wait until 2018 for that.

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Hansard

I agree with my hon. Friend in terms of the need to see devolved government restored. That is where the focus needs to remain and it is why the Government will be doing all that we can, and reinjecting further momentum into the process, so that we see that Executive re-established and devolved government functioning for all the people of Northern Ireland.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between James Brokenshire and John Bercow
Wednesday 13th September 2017

(3 years ago)

Commons Chamber
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Northern Ireland Office
James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Hansard

I certainly hear that message loud and clear. There is no direct way in which I can intervene; there is no legislation that would authorise me to do so. As I said in a speech in Cambridge on Friday, if we were to be in the situation where the UK Government have to make direct directions, that is certainly an issue that I would have to consider.

Mr Speaker Hansard

Having heard the hon. Gentleman regularly expostulating from his seat, it would be good to hear him on his feet. Mr Martin Docherty-Hughes.

Northern Ireland: Political Situation

Debate between James Brokenshire and John Bercow
Monday 3rd July 2017

(3 years, 3 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Northern Ireland Office
James Brokenshire Portrait The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (James Brokenshire) - Hansard
3 Jul 2017, 4:01 p.m.

With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a statement about the political situation in Northern Ireland.

As the House will recall, following the resignation of Martin McGuinness, the then Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland in January, an election took place to the Northern Ireland Assembly on 2 March. Despite intensive discussions in the three weeks following the election, the Northern Ireland parties were unable to reach agreement on the formation of a new Executive. In order to facilitate further discussions between the parties, Parliament passed legislation immediately prior to Dissolution extending the period in which an Executive could be formed until 29 June. Last Thursday—29 June—I made a statement in Belfast setting out that while differences remain between the parties, progress had been made and that it was still possible for a resolution to be achieved. I urged the parties to continue focusing their efforts on this, with the full support of the UK Government and, as appropriate, the Irish Government. In that regard, I want to recognise the contribution of the Irish Foreign Minister, Simon Coveney, and his predecessor, Charlie Flanagan.

In the past few days since the passing of the deadline, some progress has continued to be made, including on the most challenging issues, such as language, culture and identity, but gaps remain between the parties on a defined number of issues. The Government remain committed to working with the parties and the Irish Government to find a way to close these gaps quickly in order to reach an agreement that will pave the way for the restoration of devolved government. The Prime Minister has been actively involved, following on from her meeting with each of the parties, including speaking to Arlene Foster and Michelle O’Neill on Friday night. I continue to believe that a deal remains achievable, and if agreement is reached, I will bring forward legislation to enable an Executive to be formed, possibly as early as this week.

But time is short. It has been six months since a full Executive were in place to represent the people of Northern Ireland. In that time, it has been civil servants, not politicians, who have made decisions on spending. Without political direction, it has not been possible for strategic decisions to be made about priorities in areas such as education and health. This has created pressures that need to be addressed, and it has led to understandable concern and uncertainty among businesses and those relying on public services alike, as well as the community and voluntary sector. This hiatus cannot simply continue for much longer.

There is no doubt that the best outcome is for a new Executive to make those strategic decisions in the interests of all parts of the community in Northern Ireland. It should be for a new Executive to make swift decisions on their budget and make use of the considerable spending power available to them. While engagement between the parties continues and there is prospect of an agreement, it is right that those discussions remain our focus. At the same time, we will not forget our ultimate responsibility as a Government to uphold political stability and good governance in Northern Ireland.

I made a written statement in April that sought to provide clarity for those civil servants charged with allocating cash in Northern Ireland, to assist them in the discharge of their responsibilities. Some £42 million in resources flowing from the spring Budget and budget transfers from the last financial year remain unallocated, and they are intended to provide an incoming Executive with the room to decide how they should best be spent.

If we do not see resolution in the coming days, however, it will become urgent that we reflect further on whether clarity is required for Northern Ireland permanent secretaries about the allocation of those resources. In that situation we would also need to reflect carefully on how we might allocate funding made available to address immediate health and education pressures, as set out in last Monday’s statement on UK Government financial support for Northern Ireland, recognising Northern Ireland’s particular circumstances. If no agreement is reached, legislation in Westminster may then be required to give authority for the expenditure of Northern Ireland Departments through an appropriations Bill.

From my conversations with the head of the Northern Ireland civil service, I know that we have not quite reached that critical point yet. But that point is coming and the lack of a formal budget cannot be sustained indefinitely. Similarly, decisions on capital expenditure and infrastructure and public service reform in key sectors such as the health service cannot be deferred for much longer.

One area on which there is much consensus, however, is the need for greater transparency on political donations. In line with the commitment set out in the Conservative party’s Northern Ireland manifesto at the general election, I can confirm that I intend to propose legislation that will provide for the publication of all donations and loans received by Northern Ireland parties on or after 1 July 2017.

All of that reinforces further the importance of the parties coming together and reaching an agreement. It sets out, too, some of the hard choices we face if uncertainty persists. I am also conscious that, with the deadline now passed, I am under a duty to set a date for a new election. I will continue to keep that duty under review, but it seems unlikely that that would of itself resolve the current political impasse or address the ultimate need for political decision making, however we proceed.

As the Government for the whole United Kingdom, we will always govern in the interests of all those in the United Kingdom. Therefore, if resolution were to prove intractable and an Executive could not be restored, we would of course be ready to do what is needed to provide that political decision making in the best interests of Northern Ireland.

I am clear, however, that the return of inclusive, devolved government by a power-sharing Executive is what would be profoundly in the best interests of Northern Ireland, and that will remain our overriding focus in the crucial days ahead.

The UK Government will continue to govern in the interests of everyone in Northern Ireland by providing political stability and keeping an open and sustained dialogue with the parties and with the Irish Government, in accordance with the well-established three-stranded approach.

I stand ready to do what is necessary to facilitate the quick formation of an Executive once an agreement is reached, and that is where our focus should lie. I commend this statement to the House.

Break in Debate

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Hansard
3 Jul 2017, 4:15 p.m.

I certainly join the hon. Gentleman in underlining that core message. I appreciate and welcome the support he has given to the Government in trying to reach a point where agreement is concluded and we are able to move swiftly in this House. I appreciate the opportunity we have had to discuss these issues over the last few days and I will certainly maintain that dialogue with him.

The hon. Gentleman raises a number of points. He highlights the frustration of many people in Northern Ireland that no deal has been concluded thus far. A theme that I know binds us together is how we can achieve that conclusion, with an inclusive power-sharing Executive of locally elected politicians getting on and making decisions in the best interests of Northern Ireland.

The hon. Gentleman asked about the engagement of the Prime Minister. She has been involved throughout the process. She met all the leaders of the political parties in London and has maintained contact throughout this time. As I indicated, in recent days she has, as she has previously, spoken to the leaders of the two main parties. He will recognise that particular interventions may not necessarily have the desired outcome. From his previous involvement in Northern Ireland he will know of occasions that did not lead to the outcome he wished for at the time, in places such as Leeds Castle, for example. Different solutions and scenarios present themselves in different cases. A defined number of issues remain outstanding and we need to give them our focus and attention, rather than extending out and changing the whole dynamic. We will continue to keep matters under careful review. Resolution is possible if the willingness is there. It is with that urgency that we must approach the days ahead.

There is opportunity here. I spoke about the additional funding that could be available to an incoming Executive to enable them to act and to take strategic decisions. It is profoundly in Northern Ireland’s interest for locally elected politicians to do that.

I will write to the hon. Gentleman and set out further details on transparency issues relating to political donations—I think that is probably the best way to do it—and I will put a letter in the House of Commons Library. I will also introduce legislation spelling that out so that everyone will be able to see the next steps very clearly.

Mr Speaker Hansard
3 Jul 2017, 4:18 p.m.

Order. Consistent with what I said to the House last week, I am keen to uphold the tradition that Members wishing to take part in exchanges on a statement should be those, and only those, who were here at its start. I do not wish to embarrass individuals. A couple of Members who came in late are, very graciously, not standing, but that is not uniform. Those who came in late and are standing should not be doing so. It is quite wrong to wander in halfway through a statement and then expect to be called. Some people might even think it a tad arrogant, but there we go.

Break in Debate

Mr Speaker Hansard
3 Jul 2017, 4:21 p.m.

Order. That is a matter of stylistic objection—or even, on the part of the right hon. Gentleman, aesthetic objection—but it cannot be said to be a matter of order.

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Hansard
3 Jul 2017, 4:21 p.m.

It may not surprise the hon. Member for Edinburgh North and Leith (Deidre Brock) to know that I do not agree with the analysis that she set out in her questions. We stand four-square by our undertakings under the Belfast agreement and its successors, and the agreement relating to decision making here at Westminster does not contravene those important elements—something that is specifically spelled out in that agreement.

The hon. Lady highlights the issue of political donations and transparency. We conducted a consultation with all the political parties in Northern Ireland to seek their views first, and that was the reason for the decision we have taken today, reflecting those views and that input and the commitment in my party’s manifesto.

The hon. Lady highlights the issue of Brexit and contact with the Northern Ireland Executive. Obviously there are not elected politicians there, so we have sought to engage with the Northern Ireland civil service within the Executive, but that takes us only so far. That is why I profoundly believe that we need to see an Executive in place, to be an additional voice for Northern Ireland, strongly making those points, and to ensure that, alongside them, we get the best possible deal for Northern Ireland through EU exit.

Mr Speaker Hansard
3 Jul 2017, 4:23 p.m.

Order. What an extraordinary state of affairs: I was planning to call the right hon. Member for North Shropshire (Mr Paterson), but he now seems a little disengaged from our proceedings. He toddled up to the Chair and I thought he was interested. He can speak—go on Mr Paterson, let’s hear it.

Break in Debate

Mr Speaker Hansard
3 Jul 2017, 4:23 p.m.

And there I was thinking that the right hon. Gentleman had come up to the Chair and just muttered some prosaic pleasantry, which I readily greeted. It is very honest of him to say that he was late, but I had not known that he was, and therefore as far as I am concerned he was not.

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Hansard

Regrettably, the answer to my right hon. Friend’s question is that without an Executive in place, the devolution of corporation tax cannot happen. That underlines one of many reasons why an Executive is needed to get on and ensure that that vision of prosperity and further investment can take place, and an Executive would absolutely aid that.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between James Brokenshire and John Bercow
Wednesday 28th June 2017

(3 years, 3 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Northern Ireland Office
James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Hansard
28 Jun 2017, 11:51 a.m.

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his kind comments about Kris Hopkins, who served in the House with distinction, including in the role that he played in the Northern Ireland Office.

I hope the hon. Gentleman will appreciate that our focus is on seeing that an Executive is restored. I have been clear on not wanting to pre-empt what may happen should that not be the case. Obviously, there would be profound and serious implications in that context. I can assure him that we will work with all parties, and indeed have discussions with his party and others across the House, to see that these issues are considered very carefully, but our focus—

Mr Speaker Hansard

I am very grateful. Mr Ranil Jayawardena.