7 Kemi Badenoch debates involving the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Wed 24th Jul 2019
British Steel
Commons Chamber
(Urgent Question)
Mon 29th Jan 2018
Tue 28th Nov 2017
Budget Resolutions
Commons Chamber

1st reading: House of Commons

Fairness at Work and Power in Communities

Kemi Badenoch Excerpts
Thursday 12th May 2022

(1 year, 11 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Kemi Badenoch Portrait The Minister for Levelling Up Communities (Kemi Badenoch)
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It is my pleasure to close today’s debate on behalf of the Government and the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. I begin by thanking hon. Members on all sides of the House who have contributed to today’s long and lively debate, following Her Majesty’s Gracious Speech earlier this week. Before I say more on how we are delivering on our pledge to strengthen communities, rebalance our economy and level up parts of the country, I first want to address as many as possible of the points raised by hon. Members during the debate.

I will start with the hon. Member for Sheffield South East (Mr Betts), who asked: where is the money? I do not think he is in his place, but I would like to thank him for his substantive engagement with the issues—he engaged far more than anyone else on the Opposition Benches. I am pleased that he found some things to praise in the set of Bills that we are bringing forward, unlike his colleagues, although I saw he was claiming credit for the policies that he agreed with; I am not quite sure whether that is right.

The hon. Gentleman asked where the money is, and the point I want to make—I know quite a few people will be making this point throughout the debate on the Queen’s Speech—is that levelling up means more than money. We have been providing funding, but it needs more than that; clearly, funding alone has not eliminated regional inequalities, so other types of action are required. I agreed with the point of the anecdote of the hon. Member for Barnsley Central (Dan Jarvis) about west and east Germany and the trillions of pounds spent. It is not about just pouring money into areas; that alone will not deliver levelling up.

I disagree with the point made by the hon. Member for Sheffield South East that levelling up means taking from wealthy areas and giving to others; it is not a zero-sum game. I also found his idea of devolving every single decision down to the most local level interesting, but if we did take up that radical idea, as he described it, he would then complain about postcode lotteries. To answer his question on the new powers that combined authorities will have, the final package of powers will be bespoke, and will depend on the needs of and proposals from local areas. Mayors could therefore have increased powers over budgets, employment and skills, transport, health and social care, and policing, but the Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill streamlines the process for a combined authority that proposes taking additional powers. The Bill will make devolving more powers to Mayors easier as long as they agree to take on greater responsibility. There will be a flexible choice, which is why the detail the hon. Gentleman was looking for will not be there; the detail will depend on the proposals from Mayors.

Many Members raised good points. My right hon. Friend the Member for North Somerset (Dr Fox) asked questions about inflationary shock, global commodity prices and monetary inflation that I am unable to answer; I am sure Treasury Ministers will. He also made a good point about the conflicting aims in trying to deliver housing; I hope he will take part in debates on those issues during Second Reading of the legislation.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Basingstoke (Mrs Miller) talked about the need to have effective monitoring of levelling up, and that will be found in the Bill. We have embedded that mission in it, recognising there is a need to help everyone everywhere because there are pockets of deprivation all over the country, not just in certain regions. I look forward to hearing her further contributions on that.

The hon. Member for Mitcham and Morden (Siobhain McDonagh) talked about the Secretary of State saying that we did not have a housing target any longer. That is not true; that is a straw man. He did not say that; he simply said that the housing target is not the only way we are measuring success. We are also looking at issues such as beauty, infrastructure, the environment and neighbourhoods. That does not mean we no longer have a housing target.

The hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr Sheerman) complained that the Secretary of State was not here to—

Clive Betts Portrait Mr Betts
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Will the Minister give way?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
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Yes, of course.

Clive Betts Portrait Mr Betts
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I apologise for returning a little late; I have been speaking at a housing conference and had to rush back. On this question of a target, the Government have a target, as the Minister has just said. Can she confirm that it is to build 300,000 homes a year before the end of this Parliament?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
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I confirm that we have not changed anything about our targets, but we are looking—[Interruption.] I am agreeing with the hon. Gentleman. We are looking at other things beyond targets, not just a statistic or number.

My hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch (Sir Christopher Chope) raised the issue of vaccines and vaccine damage payments. Again, I am unable to give an answer on that at the Dispatch Box, but the vaccines Minister, my hon. Friend the Member for Erewash (Maggie Throup), will have heard his comments, and I hope he will receive a response shortly. He made wider points about the economy that I think will be addressed in the debates around energy next week.

My hon. Friend the Member for South Dorset (Richard Drax) made many points that I agreed with, including on employment, and I want to acknowledge what he said about the risk takers being the employers; we often forget that when talking about employment.

The hon. Member for Middlesbrough (Andy McDonald) complained about the legislation in this Session and the last. The legislation we are bringing forward was in our manifesto. These measures were manifesto commitments, and we won an election on those commitments, so he should ask himself why he is at odds with the wishes of the electorate.

The hon. Member for Brent North (Barry Gardiner) made a passionate speech, as usual; but as usual, I disagreed with most of it. The hon. Member for Battersea (Marsha De Cordova) talked about ethnicity pay gap reporting. She and I have discussed this many times. A review of the success of gender pay gap reporting is coming, and it will be interesting for us to have a conversation on that.

Barry Sheerman Portrait Mr Sheerman
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On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. The Minister mentioned me, but then was intervened on, perfectly legitimately, by a colleague. I think she was about to say that I had made a wonderful speech and was about to rehearse the key points, but she was unable to finish what she intended to say about me.

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Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker
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I thank the hon. Gentleman, who is not going to get any compliments either. Let us return to the subject of the debate.

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
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Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. I think that the hon. Member for Huddersfield was begging for a shout-out, so I am happy to give him one. His points were wonderfully bonkers, and I disagreed with most of them.

Marsha De Cordova Portrait Marsha De Cordova
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The Minister rightly talks about gender pay gap and ethnicity pay gap reporting. Does she agree that it is also time to review disability pay gap reporting so that we can address the disability employment gap and, more importantly, get the impairment-specific data that will really highlight some of the flaws in relation to disabled people and employment?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
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The hon. Member raises a good point. The metrics that we would use for disability pay gap reporting would be quite significantly different. There are issues around ability that mean that disabled people are at a serious disadvantage compared with others, but I think that we are already exploring that; we certainly keep it under review. Of course, I am happy to take those conversations offline.

The hon. Member for Sheffield, Hallam (Olivia Blake) talked about social housing regulation and made some good points. When the Minister for homelessness and rough sleeping—the Under-Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, my hon. Friend the Member for Walsall North (Eddie Hughes)—takes that Bill through the House, he will be able to answer many points that I cannot at this point.

My hon. Friend the Member for Watford (Dean Russell) spoke movingly about loneliness. He has been a powerful advocate for fairness in the workplace, with his Tips Bill and his First Aid (Mental Health) ten-minute rule Bill evidence of that. I note the points made by my hon. Friend the Member for Gedling (Tom Randall), which I think will be addressed in the renters reform Bill. We can provide further details on that in due course.

I was amazed that the hon. Member for Enfield North (Feryal Clark) said that the levelling-up White Paper was thin—it was nearly 400 pages of policies and ideas. That is proof that Labour MPs do not bother to read anything. It is insane to pretend that the White Paper is thin. I encourage them to engage with the content.

The fact that the majority of the debate has consisted of Opposition Members asking, “Where is the employment Bill?” simply shows the paucity of their arguments. The Government have promised an employment Bill, but the vast majority of legislation to improve workers’ rights does not need to come in a package entitled “employment Bill”. I was in the Treasury when we implemented the furlough scheme, which is probably the greatest employment protection scheme ever devised in this country.

None Portrait Several hon. Members rose—
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Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
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No, I will not give way. The many Members who have risen should listen to the point that I am making rather than interrupt it. The fact is, the furlough scheme—the greatest employment protection scheme ever devised in this country—is an example of how the Government act innovatively, nimbly and quickly to deal with the serious issues of the day.

Chris Stephens Portrait Chris Stephens
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I thank the Minister for giving way, but she cannot have it both ways. She cannot give Opposition Members trouble by saying that all the Bills tabled are manifesto commitments when an employment Bill was in the 2015 Conservative party manifesto, the 2017 Conservative party manifesto and the 2019 Conservative party manifesto. When will the Government table an employment Bill? They promised it in January.

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
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I am making the point that we do not need an employment Bill to deliver employment legislation.

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
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We are still committed to one, but the fact remains—[Interruption.]

Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker
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Order. The hon. Member for Middlesbrough (Andy McDonald) may think that I did not notice that he was not here at the beginning of the Minister’s speech. He may not intervene, as he was not here at the beginning of her speech.

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
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The fact remains that we have already made progress on legislating to strengthen workers’ rights. We have closed the loophole that saw agency workers employed on cheaper rates than permanent workers and we have quadruped the maximum fine for employers who treat their workers badly. The fact is, we on the Government side measure how well we are doing not by the title of legislation but by the fact that we have delivered record high levels of employment.

Moving on to the points made by the hon. Member for Wigan (Lisa Nandy), she criticises us for not doing enough on the cost of living. I remind the House that at the autumn Budget, when she and all her colleagues had an opportunity to reduce the cost of living, like the rest of them she voted against measures in the autumn Budget to reduce the universal credit taper rate, which effectively gave low-income families a £1,000 tax cut. So they failed to support those on the lowest incomes. We do not buy their argument that they are interested in the cost of living, because when the legislation comes forward they vote against it.

The hon. Lady also criticised the Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill, just as she did the levelling up White Paper. I remember her comments during the debate on that. They were all sneering and no substance from someone who, again, clearly had not taken the time, like the hon. Member for Enfield North, to read it. She is constantly playing catch-up, because her immediate priority is to criticise instead of engaging with the policy detail. That is why the five-point plan she wrote in January consisted of five recycled policies we are already carrying out and some sour finger-pointing. That is not an action plan.

The fact is that we have done quite a bit on the cost of living. We are supporting families with the cost of living through £22 billion of support in 2022-23 and delivering the biggest net cut to personal taxes in over a quarter of a century. Our plan for jobs, as I mentioned earlier, is bringing unemployment back below pre-pandemic levels. We are delivering a £9.1 billion energy rebate with the £150 council tax rebate. We are increasing the value of the warm home discount to £150 and expanding eligibility to cover nearly 3 million households.

Barry Gardiner Portrait Barry Gardiner
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Will the Minister give way?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
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I am not giving way, because Opposition Members do not want me to list these things. We are protecting the vulnerable, including pensioners, with winter fuel payments of up to £300 and cold weather payments of £25 a week. We delivered a record cash increase in the national living wage, meaning a £1,000 salary boost for full-time workers. We raised the national insurance threshold from July, saving an average worker £330 a year. We cut fuel duty by 5p for 12 months. As I mentioned, we cut the universal credit taper rate.

Kirsty Blackman Portrait Kirsty Blackman
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Wil the Minister give way?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
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No, I am not giving way because the selective amnesia of Opposition Members never ceases to amaze me. They refuse to acknowledge the policies that they know we have carried out and they agree with. They pretend money is not being spent when we have spent it—and not just spent, but spent in unprecedented amounts. So there is no use giving way, just for them to repeat the same arguments they have been making over and over during the course of the debate.

I will move on to the comments made by the hon. Member for Barnsley Central (Dan Jarvis). He talked about levelling-up funds and money for local government. He knows that, as the Minister with responsibility for local government, this is something I care about very passionately. I know he is no longer a Mayor, but I will be working with local government leaders across the country. We have boosted funding to councils by £3.7 billion this year, an increase of over 4.5% in real terms, which will ensure councils have the resources they need to deliver key services. The poorest areas will receive 14% more per household than the least deprived areas. On who got levelling up funding, the truth is that all of this is based on the quality of the bids. We cannot guarantee that we can fund every bid, when they are compared with what is being presented by others.

The other thing Opposition Members say is that we have done absolutely nothing for the last 12 years. Just to remind them, in the last three years alone we have tackled the greatest public health emergency in a generation, delivered a historic funding boost to the NHS, ended the cruel lottery of social care costs with our £36 billion health and social care plan, led the world in the fight against climate change with our COP26 presidency, and tackled crime, closing over 1,500 county lines. We have delivered for the whole of the United Kingdom, securing vaccines for all four nations and agreeing the largest funding settlements since devolution.

Kirsty Blackman Portrait Kirsty Blackman
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If the Conservative Government have done all those wonderful things, how come my constituents cannot afford to eat?

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Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
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I am afraid the hon. Lady is being disingenuous with the way she is presenting the argument. She knows—[Interruption.] I will withdraw that remark, Madam Deputy Speaker. She knows that I do not know the specific circumstances of her constituents. What I can tell her is what the Government are doing. I would ask her, given that we have devolved so much policy to the Scottish Government: what are the Scottish Government doing to help her constituents?

I will go back to saying what we have been doing in this country. The fact is that we have delivered for the whole United Kingdom, securing vaccines for all four nations and agreeing the largest funding settlement since devolution. It is also ridiculous for us to be criticised by Labour Members for not devolving more. In 13 years of Labour government, there was no devolution except in London. We created so many devolution deals. We even provided jobs for three Labour MPs, Tracy Brabin, Andy Burnham and, until recently, the hon. Member for Barnsley Central—and they say that we are doing nothing on employment. I am afraid that many of the Opposition’s claims are simply not credible. [Interruption.]

The Queen’s Speech set out the Government’s ambitious —[Interruption.]

Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Eleanor Laing)
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Order. The noise is getting a bit too much. I cannot hear the Minister—[Interruption.] Look, it is obvious that hon. Members disagree with the Minister. That is what they are here for; they do not have to make so much noise about it. We have to hear what the Minister has to say.

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
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It is because they don’t like it up ’em and they know that the points I am making are hitting home.

This Queen’s Speech sets out the Government’s ambitious legislative agenda to grow and strengthen our economy, ease the costs of living for hard-working families and level up opportunity in all parts of the country. It includes the Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill, which will transform struggling towns and cities, supporting local leaders to take back control of regeneration, end the blight of empty shops on their high streets and deliver the quality homes that communities need. A renters reform Bill will deliver the biggest change to rental law in a generation, improving the lives of millions of renters by improving standards in the private and socially rented sector. A social housing regulation Bill will shift the balance towards tenants, strengthening their rights and creating a robust regulatory framework that drives up the standards of social housing everywhere.

I am very proud that my Department is contributing five Bills towards the Government’s ambitious legislative agenda. It has been a pleasure to work with ministerial colleagues, Parliamentary Private Secretaries and officials on these policies, and not least with our Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, who manages to be both Conservative and radical at the same time.

The Bills set out in Her Majesty’s Gracious Speech meet the demands of the moment. Our plan recognises the sacrifices that the British people have made over the past two years and allows us to return to our central mission of levelling up communities and creating a stronger, fairer and more united country.

Ordered, That the debate be now adjourned.—(Miss Sarah Dines.)

Debate to be resumed on Monday 16 May.

British Steel

Kemi Badenoch Excerpts
Wednesday 24th July 2019

(4 years, 8 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Greg Clark Portrait Greg Clark
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I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman; he knows about the manufacturing industry, and he is right in his description of it. I have to report that my request for the indemnity was granted readily; I think the lessons of the Redcar closure have been learned. I have no reason to suppose that the incoming Prime Minister will take a different view—in fact, quite the reverse. I have met him and his competitor, and during the days ahead I hope and expect that that support will continue to be available. But I should be clear with the House: British Steel is in the hands of the official receiver. Neither I nor any other Minister determines its future, so it will be important to conclude a sale to a long-term investor in it. That is not in the bag yet, but I think it is evident that everyone is doing everything they can to secure it.

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Mrs Kemi Badenoch (Saffron Walden) (Con)
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I was pleased to hear from the Secretary of State that he has been working tirelessly with British Steel and the official receiver to find a new buyer for the company. Can he tell the House what further plans the Government have to support companies in the supply chain, such as those in my constituency, over the coming days and weeks?

Greg Clark Portrait Greg Clark
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I am grateful to my hon. Friend, because she gives me the opportunity to pay tribute to Stephen Phipson, the director general of Make UK, the manufacturers’ organisation. He serves on the support group and has been present at the meetings, and he has convened a panel of suppliers and customers, to ensure that some of the uncertainty and challenges that they have faced during the insolvency of British Steel have been dealt with. Working with HMRC, the British Business Bank and the official receiver, the panel has had—as I think colleagues on the support group would accept—a positive role in providing help and reassurance to the supply chain across the country.

Oral Answers to Questions

Kemi Badenoch Excerpts
Tuesday 16th July 2019

(4 years, 9 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Andrew Stephenson Portrait Andrew Stephenson
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The latest Office for National Statistics index of production figures show that, despite strong fluctuations in recent months, the level of manufacturing output in May 2019 was the same as it was in May the previous year, and the level of the three months to May 2019 was actually higher than it was in the same period in 2018. That stands in stark contrast to the situation under the Labour Government, when we saw more than 35,000 manufacturing businesses cease to exist and 1.7 million manufacturing jobs lost.

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Mrs Kemi Badenoch (Saffron Walden) (Con)
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MetalMin is a manufacturing business in my constituency and part of the British Steel supply chain. Will the Secretary of State meet the directors of the company to discuss what specific support the Department is providing to British Steel suppliers to ensure that they can stay in business?

Andrew Stephenson Portrait Andrew Stephenson
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I thank my hon. Friend for her question. She will know that the Secretary of State and I are actively involved in the British Steel support group, which meets weekly. We will raise the concerns of her local business at that support group and I will come back to her.

Climate Change

Kemi Badenoch Excerpts
Monday 24th June 2019

(4 years, 9 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Chris Skidmore Portrait Chris Skidmore
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The way that the legislation from the Climate Change Act 2008 has been framed means that impact assessments are not needed specifically for the SI. We did not have an impact assessment when we moved from 60% to 80%, because the risk is incumbent on Government in making the legislation. The impact assessments that are needed under the framework of the Act arise through the carbon budgets themselves. We have already legislated for carbon budgets 1 to 5, to 2032. The framework for carbon budget 6 will be recommended by the independent Committee on Climate Change ready for next year: it needs to be implemented by June 2020. There will be a full impact assessment on the next period, 2032 to 2037.

Following the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Truro and Falmouth (Sarah Newton), it is the carbon budget process that needs the certainty in place for businesses and society to plan ahead. Any impact assessments that are made will reflect carbon budgets 6, 7 and 8. The Treasury is also taking forward its own independent impact assessment of the wider costs to business and society. That work is ongoing and will be presented at the time of the spending review.

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Mrs Kemi Badenoch (Saffron Walden) (Con)
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Many of my constituents, especially schoolchildren, will be delighted by this announcement, but others are rightly sceptical about the costs. What steps will the Minister take to ensure that the plan will be achievable and affordable?

Chris Skidmore Portrait Chris Skidmore
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My hon. Friend is right that the legislation today is not simply about warm words or passing a law. We need to be able to demonstrate the action that lies beneath it. Action will come relatively quickly with the publication of an energy White Paper in the summer that will look at the future of our energy supply, at a household level and an industrial level, and the energy network itself. The White Paper will demonstrate the action that the Government are taking and it will lead to a series of future consultations.

In order to lead the debate on climate change and demonstrate the global leadership that the UK wishes to have, it is right that the process highlights the need for clean growth. That is not oxymoronic: we can grow the economy at the same time as removing greenhouse gases from our atmosphere and ensuring that new, greener technologies and more renewable forms of energy come on board. It is right that we lead that conversation, that we reassure those who may be concerned about the future, and that we take action to demonstrate to those businesses worried about any economic impact that this transition is both just and sustainable.

Fireworks

Kemi Badenoch Excerpts
Monday 29th January 2018

(6 years, 2 months ago)

Westminster Hall
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Kemi Badenoch Portrait Mrs Kemi Badenoch (Saffron Walden) (Con)
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I start by recognising the role of the FAB—Firework Abatement —campaign in raising awareness and bringing this issue to Parliament again. I also echo the comments of my hon. Friend the Member for Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock (Bill Grant) about how it affects not only animals, but people with post-traumatic stress disorder. When people have returned from serving with our armed forces or have been through unimaginable experiences, the sudden and intrusive noises, the smell and a racing heartbeat can cause flashbacks to memories best left forgotten. Many more people are affected who are simply not listened to and whom we need to recognise.

I am at the debate on behalf of the 189 of my constituents who have signed the e-petition, as well as others who have written to tell me how their animals, especially dogs, are affected by firework explosions, which are intolerable. Notably, my constituents Liz Storey of Stansted Mountfitchet and Janet Harris of Great Leighs gave moving accounts of how disruptive it can be to live in the vicinity of a place where fireworks are frequently let off. A particular problem is the random displays unrelated to public celebrations. My constituents talked about horses being sedated and, when left in fields, no fence being able to contain them; Christmas meals at 4.30 pm ruined as explosions go off next door; and dogs requiring frequent medication in advance—work that is undone by random and unexpected fireworks. Dogs become so frightened that it can take months for them to rehabilitate, and even to settle when it begins to grow dark and they think that danger is imminent. In some horrible cases, they go missing, or worse.

The use of fireworks has spread from traditional celebrations to random parties in otherwise quiet neighbourhoods. Fireworks set off between close houses only amplify the noise and damage done. There are reports of accidents and even of our brave emergency responders being attacked by stray bursts. We need to remember that fireworks can cause harm in untrained hands.

At the root of the issue is how we can ensure responsible enforcement. Many in my constituency would like to see fireworks only at public displays. Currently, the police and local authorities do not have the powers that that would require. Alternatively, the Italian town of Collecchio passed in 2015 a law that allows only quiet fireworks. “Quiet fireworks” sounds like a contradiction, but we already see them year in, year out, in displays of, for example, comet tails or flying fish, and they are still aesthetically pleasing, so there clearly are steps that can be taken to innovate in the interests of our pets and children.

I should mention that I love fireworks. However, they must be used responsibly. My constituents are asking not for a ban, but just for more controls on private displays, and I think that there are grounds for looking into the legislation.

Oral Answers to Questions

Kemi Badenoch Excerpts
Tuesday 12th December 2017

(6 years, 4 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lord Harrington of Watford Portrait Richard Harrington
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I have heard the hon. Gentleman’s point before. It is a valid one and, as I said, I am looking into it.

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Mrs Kemi Badenoch (Saffron Walden) (Con)
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T1. If he will make a statement on his departmental responsibilities.

Greg Clark Portrait The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Greg Clark)
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Since we last met, my ministerial colleagues and I have launched the industrial strategy White Paper, and we can already see it in action. Last week we launched the first sector deal with the life sciences sector, which has attracted significant investment in the UK from companies including MSD and GlaxoSmithKline. We are determined to do even more, and to make the UK the best place to start and grow a business.

Many colleagues from both sides of the House joined us in celebrating Small Business Saturday on 2 December. I congratulate the organisers of that great event, which saw more than three quarters of a billion pounds spent with small businesses.

I attended the global forum on steel excess capacity in Berlin, which agreed actions by all G20 nations to tackle unfair subsidies. Today, colleagues will have noticed that the Minister for Climate Change and Industry is accompanying the Prime Minister to President Macron’s One Planet summit in Paris.

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Mrs Badenoch
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We all know that rapid advances are being made in self-driving cars. Does the Secretary of State agree that now is the time to adapt our regulatory framework to ensure that it is fit for the future?

Greg Clark Portrait Greg Clark
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My hon. Friend is absolutely right. That is why we have the Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill before Parliament. We are taking a lead in ensuring not only that we invest in research and development, but that we are ahead of the world in having the right regulatory system to support the adoption of this technology.

Budget Resolutions

Kemi Badenoch Excerpts
1st reading: House of Commons
Tuesday 28th November 2017

(6 years, 4 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Kemi Badenoch Portrait Mrs Kemi Badenoch (Saffron Walden) (Con)
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It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Walthamstow (Stella Creasy), even though I disagree with almost everything she said.

There is much to welcome in the Budget, and I am grateful to the Chancellor for listening to concerns about tax increases and for accepting a request from me, my right hon. Friend the Member for Harlow (Robert Halfon) and others to freeze fuel duty. I represent a large rural community where almost everyone has to drive, and the freeze will help us to keep down the cost of living.

Fuel duty is not the only duty that was frozen. The freeze on air passenger duty was warmly received by many of my constituents and local businesses, especially Stansted airport. Aviation is a key growth industry for us, and the freeze will help to ensure that Britain’s skies remain open post Brexit and will promote the global Britain programme.

Every day I receive letters from residents who want to know what the Government are doing to ensure a smooth transition as we leave the EU. Businesses in my constituency are pioneering new types of British exports worldwide—the English Cream Tea Company in Dunmow has managed the phenomenal feat of selling tea to China, and the exceptional craftsmanship of luxury products by Geoffrey Parker games in Wimbish village is recognised as some of the very best British manufacturing. They will be reassured to hear of the further £3 billion of investment, on top of the £700 million already committed, to prepare effectively for EU exit.

As the Government continue to push to increase the supply of much-needed housing, I stress the need for accompanying transport infrastructure in our industrial strategy. A new station at Cambridge South will help my constituents with their daily commute, will make it easier to get to Addenbrooke’s Hospital and will improve tech corridor research and development links with Chesterfield research park and with companies around Stansted. However, we also want to see further improvements to the West Anglia main line soon, ideally four-tracking to keep up with increased demand.

We have heard a lot over the past few days about the need for improved productivity. The announcement of an additional £8 billion through the national productivity investment fund, taking the total to £30 billion, is by far the most exciting measure, not just because of the investment in rail, broadband, science and innovation but because of the investment in emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and driverless cars.

I know that many in this House consider driving a recreational activity and see driverless cars as a threat to their hobby, but spare a thought for people like me who hate driving, a chore that eats into time better spent on other things. The productivity improvements from driverless cars will be immense. The average car is used just 10% of the time, and autonomous vehicles could increase that to 90%. Imagine a world that needs fewer cars. We could say goodbye to road rage, drink driving, texting at the wheel and unfit drivers ruining lives, and say hello to more free time, less congestion and cleaner air. It is a game changer for tackling rural isolation and geographical exclusion and, pardon the pun, will ensure that Britain remains in the driving seat in a competitive global market. The future is coming and I cannot wait, which is why I commend this Budget to the House.

--- Later in debate ---
Bim Afolami Portrait Bim Afolami (Hitchin and Harpenden) (Con)
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I have been listening to the debate for some time, and it is worth reminding the House of the Treasury document published as a result of a report done by a senior civil servant, Sir Michael Barber, on the public value framework. It indicated that the way in which we get value in our public services is not simply the input of money, but what is delivered. As we talk about all these millions and billions of pounds that we will spend on this, that and the other, I urge the House to consider that output and delivery are more important that what we put in.

Owing to time constraints, I will not say all the wonderful things that I could say about the Budget. The hon. Member for Birmingham, Edgbaston (Preet Kaur Gill) talked about certain areas of the public sector, and Conservative Members always need to remember the public sector as well as the private sector. In particular, however, I want to talk about my constituents in Hitchin and Harpenden, who are very dear to me. In their professional lives, they are overwhelmingly focused on financial services and small businesses, and there was one particular measure in the Budget that will really help them: the expansion of the enterprise investment scheme. I have done my homework on this, so I know that the EIS is critical and that the Government have doubled the annual allowance for investment in early-stage businesses and innovative growth capital.

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Mrs Badenoch
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I wanted to mention the enterprise investment scheme earlier, but I did not have time. Saffron Walden is right next to the Oxford-Cambridge corridor and houses many knowledge-intensive industries. Does my hon. Friend agree that increasing the allowance for the EIS will provide a boost to the small and medium-sized companies that are the backbone of this country—

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Lindsay Hoyle)
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Order. The hon. Lady had a good go when she spoke earlier, and a lot of Members have been waiting a long time to speak. Interventions must be very short. I also ask Members to be restrained in giving way; otherwise, it is not fair to all those who are waiting.