Mims Davies debates involving the Department for International Trade during the 2019 Parliament

Thu 23rd January 2020
19 interactions (579 words)

Oral Answers to Questions

Mims Davies Excerpts
Thursday 23rd January 2020

(1 year, 8 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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Department for International Trade
Marion Fellows Portrait Marion Fellows (Motherwell and Wishaw) (SNP)
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1. What recent discussions she has had with the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on increasing the level of employment for people with disabilities. [900369]

Mims Davies Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mims Davies)
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23 Jan 2020, 10:01 a.m.

This Government are committed to reducing the disability employment gap and seeing a million more disabled people in work by 2027. We help disabled people to start, stay in and return to work through programmes including the Work and Health programme, a new intensive personalised employment support programme, Access to Work and Disability Confident.

Marion Fellows Portrait Marion Fellows
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Inclusion Scotland recommends that the Access to Work fund should be increased and the cap lifted, and Leonard Cheshire recommends a cut in application waiting times so as not to jeopardise job offers. Will the Minister agree to put these proposals to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and meet me to further discuss what concrete steps can be taken to reduce the disability employment gap?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
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23 Jan 2020, 10:02 a.m.

The Access to Work programme is a demand-led scheme that helps disabled people to get advice and a discretionary grant of up to £59,000 per annum. It is a flexible in-work support programme, and it will deliver reasonable adjustments, working with employers. I am sure that Ministers will be happy to hear from the hon. Lady.

Nadia Whittome Portrait Nadia Whittome (Nottingham East) (Lab)
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2. What recent equalities impact assessment she has made of the EU Withdrawal Agreement. [900370]

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Patricia Gibson Portrait Patricia Gibson (North Ayrshire and Arran) (SNP)
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8. What recent discussions she has had with Cabinet colleagues on the effect of the increase in the state pension age on women born in the 1950s. [900377]

Mims Davies Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mims Davies)
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23 Jan 2020, 10:05 a.m.

State pension age entitlement is a matter that has been comprehensively debated on many occasions in Parliament over the decades. Meanwhile, there is a judicial review on the state pension age, which claimants have been given permission to appeal, meaning that there is still live litigation. We cannot comment on that litigation.

Justin Madders Portrait Justin Madders
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23 Jan 2020, 10:05 a.m.

Not so long ago, the Prime Minister said he would look at this issue with

“fresh vigour and new eyes”,

but as far as I can see, nothing has been done. What will the Prime Minister and this Government actually do to help those women?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
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23 Jan 2020, 10:05 a.m.

We are here for Women and Equalities questions. Women retiring today can expect to receive state pension for an average of over 21 years—two years longer than men—and if state pension age had not been equalised, women reaching the age of 60 would be expecting to spend over 40% of their adult life in receipt of state pension. I believe in equality and opportunity for older women. There are great opportunities out in the workplace now, and our local jobcentres can give women really good advice on that next stage of their working career.

Patricia Gibson Portrait Patricia Gibson
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23 Jan 2020, 10:05 a.m.

As we have heard, the Prime Minister is on the record as saying that he is sympathetic to this cause. In fact, last summer he said:

“Let’s see what we can do”.

Very much in that spirit, and despite what the Minister just said, does she agree that if she really believes what she just said, at the very least she should commission an impact assessment on the effect of these changes for women, so that they can get the justice they need?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
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23 Jan 2020, 10:05 a.m.

By 2030, 3 million women will stand to gain, on average, £550 more per year as a result of the recent reforms. The DWP has produced an estimate for keeping the state pension age at 60 for women and 65 for men, and that estimate assumes that state pension continues to be uprated at least at around average earnings going forward. The reality is that the Government’s reform has been focused on maintaining a balance between sustainability of the state pension and fairness between the generations, in view of the demographic challenges. My retirement age is 67. The Government have already introduced concessions costing £1.1 billion.

Carolyn Harris Portrait Carolyn Harris (Swansea East) (Lab)
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The appeal speaks for some of the groups of 1950s women, but certainly not all, and colleagues—both retreads and newbies—will by now have heard from women with different perspectives, all of whom will have a suggestion on how we resolve the issue. The appeal is silencing as many voices as it is speaking for, if not more. How can the silenced women be heard? They too are desperate, and they too need to be heard on this issue.

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
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23 Jan 2020, 10:09 a.m.

The Government’s position on the changes to the state pension age has been clear and consistent, and there are substantial problems with the various practical alternatives offered by different voices.

I understand what the hon. Lady is saying. We have an older workers champion, who is working with employers, in both the Department of Health and Social Care and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and that links into the industrial strategy. As Employment Minister, I am keen to tackle the stigma around older workers and the feeling that it is better to be retired than on benefits or not working. For me, this is about equality and opportunity. As we heard from my hon. Friend the Member for Chelmsford (Vicky Ford), people can have the best part of their career later in life.

Angela Crawley Portrait Angela Crawley (Lanark and Hamilton East) (SNP)
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5. What recent discussions she has had with Cabinet colleagues on (a) tackling the causes of racism and racial disparities in the justice system and (b) promoting equality of opportunity. [900373]

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Ben Spencer Portrait Dr Ben Spencer (Runnymede and Weybridge) (Con)
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T4. Constituents in Runnymede and Weybridge struggled last year to access Weybridge station because there was a broken lift. Thankfully this is now fixed, but can the Minister reassure my constituents that ensuring accessibility for all is a priority for this Government when franchises and contracts are awarded? [900387]

Mims Davies Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mims Davies)
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23 Jan 2020, 10:28 a.m.

Far too often, I see people not able to get around on our rail network and make their connections because of exactly the issues that my new hon. Friend has raised. As employment Minister, that is a matter of real concern. I will take on that issue of access of opportunity, getting on in life and getting out and about. A broken lift that affects people is just plain wrong. I will take up that matter with transport Ministers on his behalf.

Helen Hayes Portrait Helen Hayes (Dulwich and West Norwood) (Lab)
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T3. Her Majesty’s Crown Prosecution Service inspectorate recently linked a steep and alarming decline in rape convictions with cuts to the criminal justice system, which have left it close to breaking point. What representations is the Minister making to the Ministry of Justice and the Treasury to ensure that rape victims are able to access justice? [900386]