I thank my hon. Friend for everything she does for steel and for Scunthorpe. I can tell her that I do believe British steel has suffered, as a result of decisions taken years and years ago, from unfair energy costs—we need to fix it. This Government are getting on with making another of the long-term changes we are instituting: we are putting in the nuclear base-load that this country has long been deprived of.
Q12. In a couple of weeks’ time I will be introducing a Bill to ban the importing of hunting trophies. Not only has that had widespread public support and support from Opposition parties, but in the past the principle has been supported by Conservative manifestos, the Queen’s Speech and indeed the Prime Minister himself. So on Friday 10 December will the Prime Minister tell his Whips not to block the Bill, but to let it go forward, so that we can work together and end this vile trade as soon as possible?
The right hon. Gentleman is completely right, which is why we are going to introduce legislation in this Parliament to ban the import of hunting trophies and to deliver the change that we promised. I hope that he will support it.
Yes, and the opportunities are boundless. We are building on firm foundations. It is 50 years since the five power defence arrangements, the oldest defence agreement in the Pacific, which colleagues will know involves Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and the UK. There are already structures in that region. AUKUS adds a new structure and a deeply intensified level of co-operation, on a scale that has not been seen before.
I warmly welcome the deepening of our defence and security relationships with our long-standing friends and allies, Australia and the United States, and the bipartisan support for that, not only here but in Australia. At its base, must not this agreement ultimately also be part of the defence not only of our interests but of the rules-based international order, democracy and human rights, and an alliance of democracies? Does the Prime Minister accept that foreign aid soft power is an important component of that too?
Yes, it certainly is. That is why I think the UK can be very proud of the massive commitments that we make—£10 billion this year alone in official development assistance spending. The right hon. Gentleman is absolutely right that this enhanced defence agreement between the UK, Australia and the US is founded on shared values.
I shall decline that invitation, as a west midlands voter. The Prime Minister said earlier that he would use new freedoms to ensure that we buy British steel. Over the last year, the difficulties with PPE provision and vaccine production have demonstrated clearly the risks of neglecting British production capacity, let alone the impact on the prosperity and levelling-up agendas. So will the Prime Minister now instruct Government Ministers, civil servants and public bodies that when purchasing goods and services they must buy British first?
Yes, of course—look at what we are achieving. Since the PPE crisis began—since the pandemic began—we have turned things round. We have procured 32 billion items of PPE, and 85% of it can now be made in this country, which was completely impossible before the pandemic. Look at what is happening on vaccines: we have the Valneva factory in Scotland, and we have Novavax in Teesside, which is going to be absolutely indispensable for our future success. Those investments will not only help to protect our country against pandemics for the future but will help us to drive jobs and prosperity for the long term across the whole of the UK.
The right hon. Gentleman is, of course, completely right. Containment is the objective of the tiering scheme that the Government are announcing, and I hope the Opposition will support that tonight, in spite of what I gather is their decision to abstain, which seems extraordinary to me. We cannot simply allow the current restrictions to expire, for the reason he gives, with no replacement whatever. With the spread of the epidemic varying across the country, there remains a compelling case for regional tiers in England and, indeed, a compelling necessity for regional tiers.
If this boost for defence spending is the first fruits of the departure of Dominic Cummings, it is most welcome, especially in ensuring that we can continue to work effectively alongside our long-term allies and partners including the United States—even more so with the welcome arrival of President Biden. Will the Prime Minister ensure that, wherever possible, spending is directed to firms in the UK and that orders are pulled forward to get British industry moving? He can start with the fleet solid support ships by telling the Ministry of Defence to send out the invitations to bid not in some ill-defined spring as the MOD says, but early in 2021. That would be a welcome Christmas present and new year message not only for our shipyards but for our engineering and steel industries and their communities.
The right hon. Gentleman speaks for many in what he says about the fleet solid support ships—he certainly speaks for me. This is a great moment for shipbuilding in this country. Be in no doubt of the ambition of my right hon. Friend the Defence Secretary, the shipbuilding tsar who is now leading a renaissance in shipbuilding. I am sure he heard the right hon. Gentleman’s points loud and clear.
Of course, this Government were elected to build 40 new hospitals, and that is what we are going to do. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care will be setting out the list, but I can also tell my hon. Friend that the Queen Elizabeth Hospital was awarded £9 million in October for urgent upgrades to protect vital frontline care. I am sure he will understand that further, long-term solutions are now under active consideration.
I thank the Prime Minister for getting things moving on the disclosure and barring scheme. It was also good to hear him belatedly adopting the policy of jobs, jobs, jobs, but does he mean jobs in the UK, or in France, Poland, Germany, Korea and China? It is all very well announcing, for example, blue passports, but those are now not being produced in the north-east, but by a French company in a Polish factory. Will the Prime Minister now take back control and give instructions to the Treasury, the Cabinet Office, Whitehall and town halls to buy British and protect British jobs, jobs, jobs?
My hon. Friend the Member for Shrewsbury and Atcham (Daniel Kawczynski) behind me says from a sedentary position, “What has the right hon. Gentleman got against Poland?” We will create hundreds of thousands of jobs in this country. We will actively buy British. We will ensure that contracts go to great British companies, but what we will not do is turn our faces against the notion of international free trade and the market, which has brought colossal wealth to the people of this country. Those are the politics and the economics of the madhouse.
My hon. Friend brilliantly sums up the approach that we want to take. We want our seaside communities and fantastic national tourist areas to feel confident about welcoming visitors this summer. We want loads of staycations—I think we will get loads of fantastic staycations—but we want people to observe the rules and keep defeating the virus.
The way the disclosure and barring scheme is operating is damaging and discriminatory. When I raised the matter with the Prime Minister last week, I got the usual Home Office guff that the Government were “considering the Supreme Court judgment.” That judgment was in January 2019— 18 months ago. The Lammy report highlighted the problem in 2017. Can we have no more dithering? Will the Prime Minister sort out that scandal now?
I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on returning so fast to the fray on that issue. He is absolutely right, and the best thing I can do is write to him immediately, setting out what we propose to do. There are issues with the DBS scheme, and every MP will have received representations from people who feel that they have been unfairly treated by it. The scheme needs looking at, and we shall do so urgently.
Yes, indeed. I thank my hon. Friend for what he is doing to represent his young constituents. It is vital that we invest in people’s skills during what will unquestionably be economically difficult times. We are not just investing in training through our new £2.5 billion national skills fund: we also want to encourage as many in-work placements as possible and get people the live experience that they need.
Prime Minister, the rehabilitation of offenders is supported right the way across the political spectrum, but the current operation of the Disclosure and Barring Service is a major obstacle to people turning their lives around. It is inefficient, unfair and, frankly, discriminatory. The Lammy report dealt with this in some depth nearly two years ago, so we do not need any more commissions or inquiries. We need action and an end to the endless Home Office obstruction and delay. You can break the logjam, Prime Minister. Will you do it?
The right hon. Gentleman raises an incredibly important point. Any MP will have had very hard cases caused by the DBS system. It is important for the protection of children and young people, but we are considering the Supreme Court’s judgment and will set out our opinion in due course.
I thank my hon. Friend very much, and I agree with him, but whatever the defects of the Labour Government in Wales, my experience is that we have been working very well together across all the four nations and will continue to do so. My honest view is that all those who talk about confusion or mixed messages are grossly overstating the position. The common sense of the British people is shining through this argument. They can see where we want to go and where we need to go.
At the end of March, I asked the Prime Minister to help the thousands of our people stranded abroad, notably in south Asia and especially in the Punjab. Grudgingly, and much slower than other countries, the Foreign Office organised fights back, but many are still stranded. Furthermore, the FCO now seems to be washing its hands of those with indefinite leave to remain, even though they may have lived and worked here for years and are the husbands, wives, parents and grandparents of British citizens. Some have described it as another Windrush scandal waiting to happen. Will Prime Minister will sort this out?
I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his question. He actually nabbed me behind the Speaker’s Chair after he last put it to me. I can tell him that we estimate that 1.3 million British nationals have now been returned. I know that he would like the RAF to be more involved, but I can also tell him that we have put £75 million into a charter arrangement, and a whole range of airlines have signed up to it. We are doing everything that we can to bring people back as fast as we can.