The hon. Lady is right that the socioeconomic duty she references is not commenced in England. It is in Scotland, however, and the figures are worse there, which shows that the duty is not the solution to the problems she raises.
I agree with my hon. Friend that the circumstances of a person’s birth or where they live should not be a barrier to social mobility. That is why we have established things such as the Social Mobility Pledge consortium with businesses, and 120 have signed up. There are 12 community renewal fund projects serving her constituency and the wider area, and £1.2 million from the shared prosperity fund to achieve those aims.
I agree with my right hon. and learned Friend on all those points—first, that Glenys Kinnock made an enormous contribution to politics in this country, as has her husband, to whom we send our condolences, and as does her son who, at this very moment, is working hard to support steelmaking in south Wales. It is a pleasure to work with him on the transition board in Port Talbot, even though we have disagreements from time to time on political matters. May I add to the tributes and support everything that my right hon. and learned Friend said?
I agree that the recent changes in the autumn statement will be beneficial for people in Wales.
I have regular—in fact, frequent—conversations with Cabinet colleagues and stakeholders to support the floating offshore wind industry, which will create high-quality jobs in Wales. The Government fully support plans for up to 4 GW of floating offshore wind in the Celtic sea, and we are working to bring forward an additional 12 GW through the 2030s, with the potential to bring forward up to £20 billion-worth of investment.
Previous offshore wind developments on England’s east coast have shown that appropriate planning is needed to minimise disruption to communities. Does my right hon. Friend agree that the development of floating offshore wind in the Celtic sea should mean single-cable corridors—one to his side of the water, and just one to the north coast of Devon or Cornwall—to reduce environmental and societal disruption?
I know that the electricity systems operator is currently reviewing the design of connections for offshore wind projects. Last week—or possibly earlier this week—I met the Crown Estate, and I have been meeting National Grid to discuss some of the issues around cabling and the reconfiguration of the grid. The decision as to where the cables will go and how many of them there will be is a fairly technical one that I fear I am not qualified to take a view on, but I can assure my hon. Friend that the Crown Estate and National Grid would be more than happy to talk to her about that.
We commit to responding as soon as we can to the final report. The hon. Gentleman is right that we have accepted the moral case for compensation. After the final report comes through, we will be bringing out our response as swiftly as we can.
Hotels are not and never were designed to be long-term accommodation for Afghans resettled in the UK. I am therefore pleased to say that, as of 1 September, in line with our promises, no legally resettled Afghans remain in bridging accommodation. As I told the House on 18 July, there is a small number for whom time-limited contingency accommodation will be provided, including where there is a need to bridge the short gap between the end of notice periods and settled accommodation being ready for them to move into, and in cases of medical need, where a family member requires continued attendance at a specific hospital.
Will my right hon. Friend join me in welcoming the new Afghan families to North Devon and thank everyone locally who is working to ensure that their resettlement is as smooth as possible and to give them a true Devonian welcome?
The Government recognise the challenges for disabled people and those with health conditions. The £150 disability cost of living payment should be seen as one part of the overall package. The benefits calculators on gov.uk will help people to claim the wider benefits that are out there—that is just one of the payments.
T3. Last week, I hosted the Institute of Physics and its campaign to increase diversity in physics, which is the second most popular A-level for boys but only the 16th for girls. What steps is my hon. Friend taking to encourage more girls to study physics beyond GCSE?
Studying STEM A-levels such as physics can boost potential earnings and, with a growing demand for students with STEM qualifications in the jobs market, it is important that girls take that opportunity. We are therefore working with the Department for Education in funding the Inclusion in Schools project, which is designed to increase the uptake of A-level physics among students from under-represented groups, including girls.
We have appointed a Government champion on menopause matters, Helen Tomlinson, who is doing sterling work. Our 50PLUS coaches in jobcentres are supporting women to progress, and I urge all employers to focus on supporting women, adjusting the workplace and listening to their needs so that 50-plus can be the most important, progressive and positive time of women’s working lives.
Some 78% of top UK energy companies have no women in executive director positions, and 28% have no women on the board. Does my right hon. Friend agree that we need to do far more to help women into science, technology, engineering and maths jobs?
My hon. Friend is correct. We have made great progress in getting young girls to take STEM subjects—the numbers are up 31%—but the challenge is to get them into work. The FTSE women leaders review has set a target of 40% of FTSE 350 companies having women on their board. The STEM Returners programme is key to getting experienced women back into the workplace and on to those boards.
The Cabinet Office’s Cobra unit has supported Departments with developing their contingency plans. We have co-ordinated preparedness activity across Government to minimise the impacts of industrial action on public services, but the only way we can truly avoid disruption is for union leaders to return to the negotiating table and work constructively in order to reach a fair and reasonable deal.
As ever, my hon. Friend is totally right. It is completely unacceptable that the people of East Devon can have their lives totally upended by strikes led by militant unions. We of course respect the right to strike, but we have a duty to protect the lives and livelihoods of the British people. That is exactly what this legislation does, and it is a pity that the Labour party will not support it.
My North Devon constituents would also like to get on with their daily lives. Does my right hon. Friend agree that it would be welcome if the Opposition also called on union leaders to get back around the table and work constructively to resolve these disputes?
I have great sympathy with my hon. Friend’s constituents. It really is incumbent on Labour Members, given their close relationship with the trade union movement, to encourage union leaders to come back to the table, and to support the minimum service legislation to protect our constituents, rather than kowtowing to their militant union paymasters?
I sympathise hugely with the hon. Lady’s constituent. That is one of many, many—far too many—tragic incidences that we are aware of in the House. That does not alter the fact that the compensation scheme needs to be done properly and effectively. We need to come back with a solution and an answer to the report, and to make certain that it is done appropriately. As the hon. Lady knows, those who were infected were paid interim compensation last year of £100,000 per person. We still need to work through what the report envisages.
In response to an earlier question about the emergency test, conversations with the Three network were mentioned. What reassurance can be given to constituents in remote rural areas, including some of my constituents who never received their alert and who are not with Three? I declare an interest: I am a Vodafone customer and my alert went off the next morning, as I was coming up the M5.
All these things point to the reason why we needed to have the test in the first place, which was to iron out these issues. In more rural areas, there are problems with signal, particularly with signal penetrating older houses. The answer is to extend the roll-out of mobile technology further, and the Government have very good plans for that.
Will the Prime Minister pay tribute to and congratulate my constituent Max Woosey, best known as the boy in the tent, whose three-year adventure camping outside is drawing to a close? To date, he has raised more than £750,000 for the excellent North Devon Hospice. Will my right hon. Friend wish everyone taking part in his final adventure, a camping festival at Broomhill Estate, great success?
I join my hon. Friend in paying tribute to Max and everyone else taking part in this fantastic initiative. I congratulate them on raising such a considerable sum of money for a very worthy local cause, and I look forward to hearing how the rest of it goes. Very well done.
I am a huge personal fan of the hon. Lady, but a lot of what she says in this space is simply not the case. I have written to her to correct the record. I think she may have inadvertently misled the House when talking about Op Courage waiting times. There are problems in this sector and I have spent a long time trying to correct them, but the reality is that the things she mentions, such as waiting times for Op Courage, are just factually not correct. There are areas where we need to work. We have launched the quinquennial review of compensation schemes. I have been going down this path for quite a long time. Never before have a UK Government committed to veterans’ services like the Government have today. That is the reality of the situation. Being a veteran now in this country is fundamentally different from how it was when I started, but I look forward to continuing to work with her in the months ahead.
It is always a pleasure to share good news with you, Mr Speaker. Just three years into our 10-year programme, we have already hit 50% of our target to relocate 22,000 roles from London across the UK. Therefore, more than 11,000 roles have been relocated from London, spreading prosperity and opportunities across the whole of our United Kingdom.
Does my right hon. Friend agree that Devon is the natural habitat for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and that, if we are keen to ensure our food security, surely we should locate the Department among our farmers, fishermen and the Met Office, not to mention our world-class universities specialising in climate and marine sciences, and where rurality is an immersive experience?
Departments select places for role relocations using workforce and locational analysis, as well as many other factors, which I am sure would include those referred to by my hon. Friend. As she knows, DEFRA already has 550 full-time employees in Devon and nearly 2,000 across the south-west more widely. I know from previous experience as a Minister that she is a fantastic advocate for her constituency and I am certain that she will continue to make her case.
I thank the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Moor View (Johnny Mercer) for coming to visit the Veterans Charity in Barnstaple earlier this year. Does he agree that such charities run by veterans often play an excellent complementary role to the excellent work his Department is doing?
I of course pay tribute to the Veterans Charity—it was a fantastic visit—but I also pay tribute to my hon. Friend’s advocacy of it over many years. It has been extraordinary. It provides great services down in the south-west, and I pay tribute to it.
I thank my right hon. Friend for his work on this issue. Let me also take this opportunity to thank the Pickwell Foundation, the volunteers and the GPs who are currently looking after people seeking asylum who have been badly placed in a hotel in Ilfracombe. On Monday, a single mum and her eight-month-old daughter will make a 10-hour round trip to Cardiff for a biometrics and interview appointment. Given his plans to streamline the asylum system, can my right hon. Friend confirm that, as matters improve, that will no longer take place?
I pay tribute to my hon. Friend’s local community in Ilfracombe for the support they are providing; they deserve credit and praise for that. As for her question, we want a processing system that is humane but also swift and effective for people, and that is what our reforms will deliver.
The Prime Minister has been crystal clear about the need to put integrity at the heart of his Government. It is also certain that the people of Scotland can trust this United Kingdom Government to deliver for Scotland, whether through the covid-19 vaccines or the record £41 billion budget for the Scottish Government. This is what really matters to my constituents in the Scottish Borders and to people across Scotland.
The Government recognise the important role that infrastructure plays in supporting the commercialisation of floating offshore wind at scale across the United Kingdom, including in the Celtic sea, and are committed to building capacity in infrastructure and supply chains to support the growing offshore wind industry.
My hon. Friend will no doubt be aware of the Kincardine floating wind farm off the coast of Aberdeen, but he might not be aware that the fabrication of its turbines took place in Rotterdam because UK ports do not have the capacity to do that work. Does he agree that, to realise the potential of this industry, investment in port infrastructure is crucial and that the lion’s share of this investment should be in the Celtic sea?
I commend my hon. Friend for raising this issue, as it is an important part of the Scottish economy. Scotland is a world leader in floating offshore wind, and it is home to both the world’s first and the world’s largest commercial floating wind projects—Hywind Scotland and Kincardine. The ScotWind leasing round, announced earlier this year, includes nearly 18 GW of potential floating wind capacity, underlining the scale of the opportunity.