All 10 James Duddridge debates involving the Cabinet Office

Tributes to Sir David Amess

James Duddridge Excerpts
Monday 18th October 2021

(8 months, 2 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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James Duddridge Portrait James Duddridge (Rochford and Southend East) (Con)
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David was a man of faith and convictions—faith in his religion and convictions in his politics. He was, above and beyond everything else, a family man and a very funny man. He would often break all the rules, cutting through pomp and ceremony, and connecting with people. When introducing me, he would always make up a story: I was the “Strictly Come Dancing” winner at his annual party for people over the age of 100; before there was a raffle, he would describe me as a lottery millionaire at a charity fundraiser; and there was my favourite ice breaker, which was, “Meet James, he is my neighbour. He has recently got out of prison.”

David would hold the audience with his anecdotes and stories, and I would like to share the story of the boiled sweet. David was a regular visitor to the Vatican, given his faith. In the receiving line, people were getting items blessed, and David, perhaps slightly absent-mindedly, being used to these things, reached into his pocket for a boiled sweet—he had a sore throat. David got his timing wrong and the Pope took the sweet, thinking it was a revered object to be blessed, and blessed the revered object—[Laughter.] And David had to put it in his pocket. It was a holy sweet. When David would tell the anecdote, as he would do many a time—I suspect Members have all heard it—he would again reach into his pocket and say, “And this is the sweet that was blessed!” I suspect that many sweets have been passed off as the holy sweet, but there is only one chosen one.

As the neighbouring Member of Parliament for what we must now say is Southend city—thank you, Prime Minister, as it means a lot to everybody, it really does—colleagues would sidle up to me and say, “You’re David’s neighbour, aren’t you?” A bit tentatively, I would say, “Yes”, but I knew what was coming. It was always an outrageous story of his behaviour at a meeting or, in particular, on an overseas trip, which completely broke the ice. He was indeed a great man. David loved animals, but there will no longer be the infamous “dog of the day” tweets. He will never again dress as a knight in full battle finery, mount a horse and ride across the city of Southend, as he did after receiving a knighthood. That really is unbelievable; it seems as though I am making it up.

Mr Speaker, thank you for coming on Saturday. To have the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition and yourself there sent a real message to the town—the city—that the nation cared and the nation was mourning with us. The impact of David’s death has been profound on the city. Southend is in shock and I am in shock. I am told that the pathway for the city will be difficult. Having spoken to people around Jo Cox’s family, I know that this is going to be a long process. We do not want to be the city where the MP was murdered; we want to be the city with the longest pleasure pier in the world, with a great airport and with a successful football team—even though David was conflicted on the latter, as a confirmed man of the east end and a West Ham supporter.

David loved his mum, who lived to 104. In Southend, we all assumed that David would go on forever. The late Eric Forth told me that David would be the Father of the House. I just thought it was going to be thus one day, but it was not so. In gathering my words, I thought of the phrase “cut short in his prime” and then smirked to myself; it seemed ridiculous, as he was aged 69. But he was sprightly, a secret gym goer, with a full head of floppy hair, and I just felt there was more ahead of him than behind him. Sadly, his future was stolen from us all, and Southend and this House are poorer for it. Over the weekend, I kept watching the news, hoping that the ending of the story or news clip would somehow be different from the previous ending.

At a vigil in Southend there were hundreds of people from all walks of life. Every story was very different, but at the same time every story was the same: David listened, David cared, David delivered—he had a knack of getting things done. Like others have said, I always expected him to turn up late, so I was not surprised when he was not there at the beginning of the vigil, but I really did expect him to be there, because he is always there.

It is unbelievable that David is not coming back. Members can think of the last meeting they had with him—I think of the last Remembrance Day service and the last Christmas with him dressing up as Santa Claus and going out and giving chocolates to the kids in the Neptune ward in Southend, whether they wanted them or not! I would bring the remainder to my kids, who would stick them to one side, despite all the rules about eating chocolate.

This is not the last of David: he lives on in us all. I do not think David would have seen himself as a mentor to people in this House—he would not have called himself that—but that is what he was, by demonstration and osmosis. David inspired great loyalty in his staff, and his office was always packed with people, paperwork and, as anyone who has been there would know, fish and birds, despite the House authorities’ ban on the subject. It was part office, part museum of decades of political memorabilia, part pet shop. It was an office like the politician: unique.

David is survived by a lovely family: Julia, his wife, and his children David jr, Katherine, Sarah, Alex and Florence. It is with sadness that the family comes from all corners to be back together in the city of Southend. We pray for them collectively. Their statement yesterday was poignant. They said:

“we ask people to set aside their differences and show kindness and love to all.”

That should not be beyond us all; it is not a bad instruction to this House. Let us take that message back to our constituencies. Let us make some good of this horror. To Julia: Southend thanks your husband for his service. Rest in peace, my good friend. Rest in peace.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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Can I just say, to reassure the House, that the animals are being looked after and his office is being looked after?

I urge Members to think of others as we try to get through a very long list of speakers. I call the Mother of the House, Harriet Harman.

Oral Answers to Questions

James Duddridge Excerpts
Wednesday 10th June 2020

(2 years ago)

Commons Chamber
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Kim Johnson Portrait Kim Johnson (Liverpool, Riverside) (Lab)
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What discussions she has had with her international counterparts on requiring private creditors to cancel debt owed by developing countries during the covid-19 pandemic.

James Duddridge Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development (James Duddridge)
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The UK, the G20 and the Paris Club will suspend debt repayments from the poorest countries due this year. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer and his G20 counterparts have called on private sector creditors to do likewise. At the World Bank spring forum, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Development amplified that call, along with other World Bank governors.

Navendu Mishra Portrait Navendu Mishra
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Happy birthday, Mr Speaker. Following comments from the UN Secretary-General in recent weeks on the increase in allocations of its special drawing rights currency to give countries more access to funding, what is the Secretary of State doing to get an SDR issuance agreed multilaterally? Will she support the UK and other rich countries transferring some of their allocation to poorer countries?

James Duddridge Portrait James Duddridge
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Last time, the allocation was split, and I am sure we would want it to be used by developing countries if special drawing rights were exercised. That could be part of the solution, but as the hon. Gentleman knows, 85% of the banks need to agree, and the US effectively has a blocking right, which means that this is perhaps not a short-term solution but one to work on over time with international partners.

Mary Kelly Foy Portrait Mary Kelly Foy
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I welcome the Government’s role in the G20’s suspension of bilateral debt payments due in 2020 from the world’s poorest countries, as well as their donation of £150 million to an IMF debt relief scheme used for covid-19. However, the World Bank is yet to take action on debt relief, despite that being one of the most important things we can do to support developing countries in this global pandemic. Can the Minister tell me what actions the Government will take to ensure that the World Bank moves to cancel debt payments, to support the world’s poorest?

James Duddridge Portrait James Duddridge
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I thank the hon. Lady for recognising the work that has already been done on suspension and relief. That will perhaps be looked at again, in terms of private sector relief and expanding either the data or the amounts of both those schemes, before looking at cancellation issues, which will have a longer-term impact. We need to focus on solutions that will help immediately and leave longer-term solutions for the longer term, but that is still very much on the table. I would not want to leave the House with the impression the World Bank is doing nothing. The international development banks overall are putting $200 billion into developing countries over the next 15 months as a result of the covid crisis.

Kim Johnson Portrait Kim Johnson
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Have a wonderful birthday, Mr Speaker. The coronavirus is having a significant impact on developing countries. The economic impact of the crisis is very severe. Poor countries face a debt crisis unlike anything we have seen. Their finances have been decimated by the global crisis, with private creditors exploiting the debt. The commitments made by the G20 at the spring meetings were a great start in reducing countries’ debt burdens. However, does the Minister agree that suspension is not enough and that it will lead to a further debt crisis in two years’ time? Does he agree that what countries urgently need now from the G20 is the cancellation of debt payments?

James Duddridge Portrait James Duddridge
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The hon. Lady is right that suspension on its own is not an adequate response, but it was the right response to make immediately. She mentions the private sector. The Institute of International Finance is already working with the 450 main private sector lenders and put in place the terms of reference 10 days ago. The private sector, far from being abusive, can join that debt suspension. There will be a case potentially for extending that period and extending relief more generally, and we will continue our discussions with Her Majesty’s Treasury on that. Ultimately, for some countries, cancellation may be an option, but we have to remember that 50% of countries were struggling even before covid.

Mark Pawsey Portrait Mark Pawsey (Rugby) (Con)
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What discussions she has had with representatives of the member states of the African Union to help support the response to the covid-19 pandemic in Africa.

James Duddridge Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development (James Duddridge)
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I was delighted that the chair of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki, was able to join and speak at the Gavi summit. This week, I would have spoken to all eight AU commissioners. Under our strategic partnership with the AU, we are revising our joint plan to work on covid-19 implications and intend to hold a virtual high-level dialogue later this month. I also speak to member states of the AU more directly.

Mark Pawsey Portrait Mark Pawsey
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The pandemic has shown us the vulnerability of not only the health systems in African countries, but their economies. The African Union has warned that nearly 20 million jobs may be lost. Has the Minister seen the excellent work of the African Development Bank as it focuses on the recovery and, in particular, focuses on the private sector as the key to employment and prosperity?

James Duddridge Portrait James Duddridge
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I thank my hon. Friend for that question. He clearly shares my concern that this is an economic crisis as well as a humanitarian and health crisis. The private sector and the African Development Bank play a critical role alongside supply chains, but particularly the ADB in relation to protecting livelihoods. I look forward to working as an alternate governor to the Secretary of State for that great organisation in Abidjan.

Jerome Mayhew Portrait Jerome Mayhew (Broadland) (Con)
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What co-operation there is between her Department and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on prioritising development opportunities identified as FCO objectives.

Oral Answers to Questions

James Duddridge Excerpts
Wednesday 4th March 2020

(2 years, 4 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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David Evennett Portrait Sir David Evennett (Bexleyheath and Crayford) (Con)
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8. What steps her Department is taking to help improve infrastructure in developing countries.

James Duddridge Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development (James Duddridge)
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DFID has over 150 infra- structure programmes, including providing water, roads, electricity, schools and hospitals. This Government established the International Development Infrastructure Commission to accelerate our work in this area.

Gareth Davies Portrait Gareth Davies
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Infrastructure is critical for economic growth, creating jobs and boosting businesses, but we must also be mindful of the natural environment. What steps are the Government taking to ensure that new infrastructure development in developing countries is sustainable?

James Duddridge Portrait James Duddridge
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DFID is directly investing in infrastructure programmes that will enhance climate resilience in developing countries. Our work is focused on creating the right enabling conditions to direct private finance into low-carbon infrastructure, expanding Africa’s financial markets and unlocking investment through innovative instruments such as green investment bonds.

David Evennett Portrait Sir David Evennett
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I welcome my hon. Friend’s work in this important area. As we look to the UN climate summit in Glasgow later this year, can he update the House on the work with countries across Africa to help them develop their clean energy potential?

James Duddridge Portrait James Duddridge
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I thank my right hon. Friend for his passion for Africa. We are committed to working with African countries to boost renewable energy potential and cleaner energy alternatives. For example, the Africa clean energy programme is working in over 15 countries to increase the deployment of off-grid renewable energy.

Meg Hillier Portrait Meg Hillier (Hackney South and Shoreditch) (Lab/Co-op)
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The Department invested nearly £300 million of taxpayers’ money in the airport on St Helena. Will the Minister update us on whether aircraft can now land and take off from that expensive airport?

James Duddridge Portrait James Duddridge
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I am familiar with the situation, as the hon. Lady knows, and I am more than happy to update her in writing.

Gregory Campbell Portrait Mr Gregory Campbell (East Londonderry) (DUP)
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Access to clean water is an essential prerequisite to development in sub-Saharan Africa. What steps are being taken to support small charities that excel in that much-needed activity in that land?

James Duddridge Portrait James Duddridge
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The provision of water is essential, and the Department is particularly keen to enable small charities, particularly small British charities, in this sector. If the hon. Gentleman has any particular ideas, my colleagues and I are more than happy to receive them.

Antony Higginbotham Portrait Antony Higginbotham (Burnley) (Con)
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T1. If she will make a statement on her departmental responsibilities.

Priorities for Government

James Duddridge Excerpts
Thursday 25th July 2019

(2 years, 11 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
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Of course, the bulldozers are some way off, but I am following the court cases with a lively interest because I share the hon. Lady’s concerns about air quality and pollution. However, I would point out parenthetically that NOx pollution has in fact fallen by 29% under this Conservative Government. The hon. Lady did not point that out. I will study the outcome of the court cases with a lively interest.

James Duddridge Portrait James Duddridge (Rochford and Southend East) (Con)
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Angela Merkel has indicated that there might be some flexibility on the backstop. Does the Prime Minister believe, as I do, that the French and Germans are likely to put the EU under more pressure to be flexible?

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
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We should approach these talks in the spirit of maximum optimism, although optimism seems to be a quality that is deprecated on the Opposition Benches. It is a well-founded optimism because common sense dictates that now is the moment for seriousness and compromise, and I think that is what we are going to find.

Oral Answers to Questions

James Duddridge Excerpts
Wednesday 17th July 2019

(2 years, 11 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Rory Stewart Portrait Rory Stewart
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We are immensely fortunate in the UK with our diaspora communities because they provide both powerful advocacy, for example, with Somaliland on female genital mutilation, and expertise—linguistic, deep country expertise—to ensure that our programmes on the ground are of the requisite quality.

James Duddridge Portrait James Duddridge (Rochford and Southend East) (Con)
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T2. Mindful of recent Ebola outbreaks, what lessons have been learnt to help countries become more resistant to Ebola, particularly in the health sector?

Rory Stewart Portrait Rory Stewart
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I am lucky enough to have just returned from the Congo, where I was looking at Ebola in Beni and Butembo. The situation of Ebola in the Congo is serious; we now have—[Interruption.]

Oral Answers to Questions

James Duddridge Excerpts
Wednesday 13th March 2019

(3 years, 3 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Oliver Dowden Portrait Oliver Dowden
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As the hon. Gentleman is aware, in respect of lower grades—those below the senior civil service—there is a delegated pay process. The overall framework is set by the Cabinet Office and the Treasury, and it is for individual Departments to decide. We will go through the proper process, and no final decisions have been taken.

James Duddridge Portrait James Duddridge (Rochford and Southend East) (Con)
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3. What plans the Government have to encourage more candidates with disabilities to stand for election.

Brandon Lewis Portrait The Minister without Portfolio (Brandon Lewis)
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In December 2018, we launched the £250,000 EnAble fund, which provides grants to help cover disability-related expenses that people might face when seeking elected office ahead of the May local elections.

James Duddridge Portrait James Duddridge
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I thank the Minister for that answer. In the past, I have been a trustee of SHIELDS—Supporting, Helping, Informing Everyone with Learning Disabilities in Southend. What plans do the Government have to engage people who have learning disabilities in the electoral process?

Brandon Lewis Portrait Brandon Lewis
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I congratulate my hon. Friend, as I know he works hard in supporting what SHIELDS does. It is clearly doing positive work for people with learning disabilities in Southend. We are committed to supporting people with learning disabilities in participating in democracy. We are working, to that end, in partnership with the Royal Mencap Society, including, for example, through facilitating a meeting between Mencap and political parties on the provision of easy-read manifestos.

European Council

James Duddridge Excerpts
Monday 17th December 2018

(3 years, 6 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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It is not correct to say that no progress has been made, but I want to see further progress being made and that is what I am going to be working on.

James Duddridge Portrait James Duddridge (Rochford and Southend East) (Con)
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The draft withdrawal agreement is 585 pages long, and while I appreciate, although do not necessary agree with, the case for not producing a full plan for a managed no-deal Brexit, if the withdrawal agreement fails and is rejected in this House, how quickly will the full no-deal preparation be published?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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As I am sure my hon. Friend will recall, the formal position is that if the deal is rejected, the Government have a limited number of sitting days in which to bring forward proposals for the next stage and for dealing with that situation, and that is the timetable that we would obviously meet.

October EU Council

James Duddridge Excerpts
Monday 22nd October 2018

(3 years, 8 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
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As I often observe, repetition is not a novel phenomenon in the House of Commons.

James Duddridge Portrait James Duddridge (Rochford and Southend East) (Con)
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Will the backstop have the same legal status as a treaty? Will the agreement have the same legal status as a treaty?

Oral Answers to Questions

James Duddridge Excerpts
Wednesday 18th July 2018

(3 years, 11 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Alun Cairns Portrait Alun Cairns
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My hon. Friend is right, and I pay tribute to him for his work as Chair of the Welsh Affairs Committee. Not only does the UK remain the No. 1 destination for foreign direct investment, but Wales has seen a 20% increase in the employment created out of that investment. Our exports are growing to record levels and, interestingly, those to areas outside the European Union are growing at a faster rate than those to the European Union.

James Duddridge Portrait James Duddridge (Rochford and Southend East) (Con)
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The White Paper is a little light on the benefits of World Trade Organisation rules. Will the Secretary of State discuss the benefits of those rules with the Welsh Government alongside the White Paper?

Alun Cairns Portrait Alun Cairns
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I will naturally continue an ongoing dialogue with the Welsh Government about a whole host of issues. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Trade yesterday agreed to and committed to consult widely, including with the devolved Administrations. My hon. Friend is absolutely right that there are great opportunities as we leave the European Union to look at new markets, but nor should we undermine the existing complex supply chains that have built up over 40 years. The Chequers White Paper, I believe, allows us to do both.

Oral Answers to Questions

James Duddridge Excerpts
Wednesday 27th June 2018

(4 years ago)

Commons Chamber
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Chloe Smith Portrait Chloe Smith
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As you will know, Mr Speaker, given your role in connection with it, the Electoral Commission is an independent body. I am not able to respond at this point to questions about investigations that it is undertaking.

James Duddridge Portrait James Duddridge (Rochford and Southend East) (Con)
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3. What steps his Department is taking to encourage the use of small businesses in Government procurement.

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Oliver Dowden Portrait The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office (Oliver Dowden)
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Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, and we are determined to continue to level the playing field so that they can compete for Government contracts. That is why in April I announced a number of measures to help achieve that and have recently met the Government’s strategic suppliers and Ministers in several Departments to ensure that those measures are delivered.

James Duddridge Portrait James Duddridge
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I thank the Minister for that reply. Specifically, how will coastal towns such as Southend-on-Sea benefit from the changes in this procurement procedure?

Oliver Dowden Portrait Oliver Dowden
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As my hon. Friend will know, small businesses generate more than 16 million jobs and we are determined to level the playing field so that those in coastal towns such as Southend get their fair share of prosperity and win Government contracts. I encourage businesses in Southend to look on Contracts Finder, on which more than 17,000 small businesses are already registered, for procurement opportunities.