Business of the House

Debate between Selaine Saxby and Jacob Rees-Mogg
Thursday 6th January 2022

(2 years, 1 month ago)

Commons Chamber
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Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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I hope that the family will be comforted by the wonderful tribute that the hon. Lady has paid to Mr White, the 32 years of service that she mentioned and his continuing to inspire people, even in his retirement. I think it is right that Members honour their constituents and their families in this way. I suggest this may be an opportunity to seek an Adjournment debate and I hope that in that debate, the hon. Lady will expand on her moving tribute.

Selaine Saxby Portrait Selaine Saxby (North Devon) (Con)
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In North Devon, an ever-growing number of residents are unable to see a NHS dentist. Wait lists are now many years long. Although I recognise that work is going on through the Department of Health and Social Care to increase the number of home-grown dentists, that is at least five years away. Will my right hon. Friend allocate Government time to debate how we can rapidly take full advantage of Brexit to ensure that international dentists, particularly where they are plentiful, as in India, can more easily come and work here as NHS dentists in areas of severe shortfall, such as North Devon?

Business of the House

Debate between Selaine Saxby and Jacob Rees-Mogg
Thursday 13th May 2021

(2 years, 9 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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I thank the hon. Gentleman for raising this important matter again. Concern about crime affecting retail workers is shared across the House. He pays tribute to the retail workers who stayed at work throughout the pandemic—the service that they gave to the nation was second to none. Like NHS workers, they made huge sacrifices and took risks—initially, they were unaware of the level of risk that they were taking—to ensure that the rest of us could have access to essential supplies. When it comes to time for debate, it is rather easy for me this week. The Queen’s Speech debate is going on, and that is an opportunity of several days’ length for people to raise any and all issues that they think are important. This is definitely an important issue.

Selaine Saxby Portrait Selaine Saxby (North Devon) (Con) [V]
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As the MP for North Devon, I am proud to represent some of the best beaches in the country, and I have pledged 10 hours of my time to join volunteers in cleaning them up during Keep Britain Tidy’s great British spring clean. Microplastics and nurdles are too small to be picked up by our wonderful volunteers, but they still cause great harm to nature and are finding their way into our food chain. Will my right hon. Friend consider allocating Government time to discussing how we can fix that problem at source, perhaps with new legislation in the Government’s Environment Bill?

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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I am grateful to my hon. Friend for her question. It is obviously important to protect the marine environment from litter and it is one of the Government’s priorities, which is why we introduced our robust ban on microbeads in rinse-off personal care products in 2018, preventing billions of tiny pieces of harmful plastic from entering the ocean.

My hon. Friend is fantastic in her war against litter. I say to her that we will fight litter on the beaches; we will fight litter on the landing grounds; we will fight litter in the fields and in the hills; we will never surrender to litter.

Business of the House

Debate between Selaine Saxby and Jacob Rees-Mogg
Thursday 25th March 2021

(2 years, 11 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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I thank the hon. Lady for her point, and I am delighted that the Lib-Dems are now becoming a party of deregulation. Speaking from the Treasury Bench, I confess that deregulation is something that warms the cockles of my heart. Seven private Member’s Bill managed to go through to the House of Lords, although inevitably not every Bill got through. The hon. Lady is right to raise the deregulatory ambition of herself and of others in the House, and there will obviously be private Member’s Bills in the next Session which, as I announced earlier, will start on 11 May.

Selaine Saxby Portrait Selaine Saxby (North Devon) (Con)
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Like my hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich (Tom Hunt), our excellent Devon and Cornwall police and crime commissioner, Alison Hernandez, is concerned about the growing issue of pet theft. In Devon and Cornwall there are, on average, 80 dog thefts a year, a quarter of which are linked to organised crime, yet no one has received the maximum sentence of only seven years. Will my right hon. Friend allocate Government time to debate how to tackle the issue of pet theft and ensure that the punishment reflects the crime? The loss of a loved pet—a member of the family—is far more than mere theft.

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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As I said to my hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich (Tom Hunt), this is a terrible crime, and the Government are taking measures to help tackle it better, with more than 6,600 additional police officers. I join my hon. Friend in thanking Alison Hernandez for her terrific work as police and crime commissioner, and for highlighting this important issue. It is worth adding to my earlier remarks, that if someone causes an animal to suffer in the course of stealing it from its owner, they are liable for prosecution under the Animal Welfare Act 2006. The Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill is currently in the House of Lords. If passed, it will increase the maximum penalty for such a crime to five years, which would be the highest penalty for animal cruelty in Europe. There is the risk of seven years in prison for pet theft, and five years for cruelty to animals. The penalties are there—or will be if the House of Lords obliges—and this is a question of enforcement and catching wrongdoers. That is where the extra 6,600 police will help.

Business of the House

Debate between Selaine Saxby and Jacob Rees-Mogg
Thursday 28th January 2021

(3 years ago)

Commons Chamber
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Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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I hope the hon. Lady is pleased that we have managed to find time for a Petitions Committee debate, which I promised I would do when Westminster Hall was temporarily closed.

The Government have a record infrastructure programme, with £600 billion in the next five years to deliver on the promise to upgrade and level up infrastructure. That is for roads and railways, along with gigabit broadband and 5G. On railways, there is £40 billion for rail, including £17.5 billion for renewal and upgrades over the next three years. So there is money available, it is being spent and the hon. Lady is right to petition for it for her part of the country.

Selaine Saxby Portrait Selaine Saxby (North Devon) (Con) [V]
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With covid cases in remote rural North Devon at 60 per 100,000, neighbouring Torridge at 50 per 100,000 and our hospital having just seven cases currently, will my right hon. Friend secure Government time to debate the timing of schools being able to fully reopen? With some of the worst broadband in the country, no visitors travelling into the area and the vaccine roll-out going well—and thanks to residents who have consistently kept cases below the national average—is there an opportunity for some Devon schools to have early confirmation that the good work being done in keeping infection rates down will result in schools opening on 8 March, if not earlier?

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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The Government’s priority every step of the way has been making sure that no young person would be disadvantaged by the situation we are in and returning to face-to-face learning as soon as we possibly can, while giving a fortnight’s notice for schools to reopen. There is support for children who may be falling behind. There is the £650 million catch-up premium, helping schools to support all pupils this academic year—worth £80 per pupil in most schools and £240 per pupil in special schools—in addition to the £350 million national tutoring programme targeted at the most disadvantaged students. The Government will set out plans as soon as we reasonably can, but as I said in response to the right hon. Lady the shadow Leader of the House, the certainty that is asked for cannot necessarily be given with an evolving pandemic.

Business of the House

Debate between Selaine Saxby and Jacob Rees-Mogg
Wednesday 30th December 2020

(3 years, 1 month ago)

Commons Chamber
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Selaine Saxby Portrait Selaine Saxby (North Devon) (Con) [V]
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Does my right hon. Friend agree that preventing the spread of covid-19 within workplaces is paramount? Can he therefore explain what additional measures are being considered to allow MPs to participate physically when we return after recess? I also take this opportunity to thank House staff for making today’s sitting possible.

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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I am very grateful to my hon. Friend for her question. We want to get back to people’s participating physically as soon as possible. The House has been running an effective testing system for people who may have covid, and the question of flow testing has been considered, but other priorities have meant that the facilities are not there for that. Obviously, higher-risk Members of Parliament will be vaccinated in accordance with their turn.   That will begin to take effect and I assume that some of the older Members of the House are beginning to get appointments to be vaccinated or, indeed, possibly are being vaccinated. It is important, however, that we get back physically so that we have the proper cut and thrust of debate, operate in the normal way on behalf of our constituents, and are in the same state as the rest of the country.

Business of the House

Debate between Selaine Saxby and Jacob Rees-Mogg
Thursday 17th December 2020

(3 years, 2 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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The hon. Lady raises a point that the Government have been tackling. We have brought forward the most significant building safety reforms in nearly 40 years. We are providing £1.6 billion to speed up the removal of unsafe cladding, making homes safer sooner. Almost 80% of buildings with dangerous Grenfell-style cladding have had it removed or are in the process of doing so, and that rises to 97% in the social housing sector. More than 100 buildings have started remediation on site in 2020 so far, despite the backdrop of the global pandemic, and that is more than in the whole of 2019. We are clear that works to remove unsafe ACM cladding must be completed by the end of 2021. I hope this will be some reassurance to the hon. Lady’s constituents.

Selaine Saxby Portrait Selaine Saxby (North Devon) (Con)
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Can my right hon. Friend confirm that, as the roll-out of the vaccine progresses, he will make Government time available to ensure that Members of this House are able to monitor and scrutinise the process and ensure that it is effectively reaching all of our constituencies?

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care has gone to great lengths to keep this House updated throughout the pandemic, and there will be a statement later from the Department on the latest state of affairs, when these issues can be raised. It is worth saying that, last week, we took a huge step forward in our collective fight against coronavirus, rolling out an initial 800,000 doses of the approved Pfizer vaccine, which is a considerable achievement. We have done remarkably well against our European friends. I notice that the Germans are getting a little bit antsy because we are ahead of them, and that is because we have a very efficient regulator.

Business of the House

Debate between Selaine Saxby and Jacob Rees-Mogg
Thursday 10th December 2020

(3 years, 2 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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The Joseph Rowntree Foundation is a famously left-wing organisation. It always takes up left-wing causes, and that is not a surprise; that is what it does.

In relation to a debate on covid and universities, there is a debate on Monday on covid generally. That will be a good opportunity to bring up these issues, which I recognise are important and on which universities will want formal answers from the Government.

Selaine Saxby Portrait Selaine Saxby (North Devon) (Con)
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Having heard from the tourism and hospitality industry in Devon this week, I am gravely concerned that tier 2 could be the death knell for a huge number of these businesses. Will my right hon. Friend secure Government time to debate how this vital sector can survive when households cannot meet indoors in tier 2 and these businesses are entitled to far less support than the revenue they are missing?

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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I will reiterate what I said before: these decisions were not taken lightly, and there is support available. I understand exactly the point that my hon. Friend makes, and I am very aware that this point has been raised more than any other during this set of business questions. The debate on Monday will be an opportunity to raise it, but I can assure her that the points made by her and other Members will be passed on within Government.

Business of the House

Debate between Selaine Saxby and Jacob Rees-Mogg
Thursday 22nd October 2020

(3 years, 4 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Selaine Saxby Portrait Selaine Saxby (North Devon) (Con) [V]
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While it is important that our workplace is covid-secure and that we lead by example in Parliament, can my right hon. Friend advise how we avoid overstepping into a territory of impractical, unhealthy working conditions that overstretch even Government guidance and instead have an effective, safe, yet sensible working environment for colleagues and staff across the House? What is the process for reversing the unpopular measures that have already been employed, as and when we eventually emerged from this pandemic?

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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I am grateful to my hon. Friend, because she gives me the opportunity to pay tribute to the House authorities, obviously to you, Mr Speaker, and to Marianne Cwynarski. Between you, you have done amazing work to ensure that the House’s proceedings are carried on in a covid-secure way and that the staff of the House and of Members are kept safe in the House of Commons while we have been following Public Health England’s guidelines. My hon. Friend is right to say that we provide an essential service and we must be here, and that the restrictions must be lifted as soon as they can be. They are all temporary. I look forward to this Chamber being full and bustling once again, but that will have to come when it is safe to do so. I look forward to not having to wear a face mask, but again that must be done when it is safe to do so. We must lead by example to the country at large, both in our dutifulness and in our adherence to the rules.

Business of the House

Debate between Selaine Saxby and Jacob Rees-Mogg
Thursday 1st October 2020

(3 years, 4 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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The hon. Lady raises something that it is absolutely right to raise in this House. The activity in Xinjiang against the Uyghurs is an egregious breach of human rights and the sort of thing that a civilised country would not be involved in. Communists do not always observe human rights. The spiritual leadership offered to the people of Tibet by the Dalai Lama is recognised across the world, and we will continue to play a leading role internationally, working with partners, to hold China to account for gross human rights violations. With regard to Hong Kong, we have offered a route to citizenship for British nationals overseas because of China’s failure to honour the joint declaration.

Selaine Saxby Portrait Selaine Saxby (North Devon) (Con)
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The pandemic has highlighted how essential access to high-speed broadband is. I ask my right hon. Friend for a debate in Government time to discuss the importance of rural broadband roll-out, so that constituencies such as mine can become better connected.

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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I assure my hon. Friend that the Government are offering huge support for rural broadband, including £5 billion of taxpayers’ money committed to fund gigabyte-capable broadband in the UK’s hardest-to-reach areas, on top of £1.9 billion spent on the Building Digital UK superfast programme to ensure that more than 96% of premises have access to superfast broadband. She is absolutely right that reliable broadband is a necessity for households and businesses; representing a rural constituency myself, I know what a difference it makes to the opportunities for businesses.

Business of the House

Debate between Selaine Saxby and Jacob Rees-Mogg
Thursday 18th June 2020

(3 years, 8 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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It may be helpful if I give the hon. Gentleman the latest update on Luke Symons that I have from the Foreign Office. Officials are in touch with his family, but we have no consular presence in Yemen, which means that we are unable to provide direct assistance. That has been the case since 2015, but the Government continue to press the Houthis to release Luke on humanitarian grounds. The case is being raised at the most senior levels within the Houthi regime, and we continue to call for Mr Symons’s release regularly, particularly in the light of the coronavirus. The Government are committed to doing everything we can to ensure his release.

The hon. Gentleman is right to raise those broader points about the situation in Yemen. It is troubling, and the Government have previously called for a ceasefire.

Selaine Saxby Portrait Selaine Saxby (North Devon) (Con)
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Will my right hon. Friend update the House on when we can expect a statement from the Secretary of State detailing when the tourism and hospitality industry can safely reopen so that it has sufficient time to prepare and put social distancing measures in place?

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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My hon. Friend represents a constituency that relies heavily on the tourism industry, and this is a particularly difficult time. The strategy for reopening the country is conditional and subject to the five tests being met, but as soon as it is safe to do so, we will be encouraging everyone to get out, book a great British holiday and support our brilliant tourism industry. Ministers have regularly provided statements in the House, and I am sure they will be eager to do so again as soon as we can encourage more of our hospitality and tourism sector to open its doors, and encourage people to have a staycation this year to help boost our domestic economy.

Business of the House

Debate between Selaine Saxby and Jacob Rees-Mogg
Thursday 4th June 2020

(3 years, 8 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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The hon. Lady raises an important point about the difficulties that universities across the United Kingdom will be facing. It is an obvious problem with what is happening and with the need temporarily to restrict numbers because of the consequences of the coronavirus. As I said earlier, the Secretary of State for Education will come to the House, hopefully next week, and I am sure that the hon. Lady will be able to raise her concerns then.

Selaine Saxby Portrait Selaine Saxby (North Devon) (Con)
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As we have noticed on being back in the Chamber this week, many of us across the House are in desperate need of a trip to the hairdresser. As we begin to look at measures for such businesses to reopen in July, when can the House expect an update, so that hairdressers, hotels and other hospitality businesses can adequately prepare to reopen with social distancing measures in place?

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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When I was a child I remember there being a song called “Long Haired Lover from Liverpool”. I have never aimed, in my whole career, to end up looking like the long-haired lover from Liverpool, but I fear I am heading in that direction. I have never had longer hair and I am beginning to wonder whether I ought to ask nanny if she can find a pudding bowl and put it on and see if something can be done as an emergency measure.

Conduct of Business After the Whitsun Recess

Debate between Selaine Saxby and Jacob Rees-Mogg
Wednesday 20th May 2020

(3 years, 9 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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Most of those questions were actually answered at the Commission meeting—the right hon. Lady is a member—that we had on Tuesday. Unfortunately, because of a dodgy connection, we could hardly hear her during the proceedings of the Commission and perhaps she could not hear all the points that were made.

We had reassurance from the House authorities that, yes, this will be a covid-19-secure workplace by the time we come back after the Whitsun recess; that a risk assessment has been carried by the parliamentary authorities; and that enormous steps are being taken to help and to assist parliamentary staff. What is the House doing? Well, there is extra cleaning going on. The same mechanisms will be used to clean pads as are used on the London Underground to try and ensure there is safety there; the congestion charge is being paid for members of staff so that they can drive to work and the Abingdon car park is being made available. Considerable steps have been made by the House authorities, as the right hon. Lady knows, to ensure that it is safe to work here.

Is this in line with Government advice? Yes, of course it is. The key question for right hon. and hon. Members to ask themselves is: do they think that proper scrutiny and proper legislative processes are essential? If they are, we need to be here. If they are not, they can work remotely. It seems to me, unquestionably, that those proper processes are an essential part of our country functioning. Therefore, we cannot do our jobs properly from home and therefore that is in line with the Government’s advice.

Selaine Saxby Portrait Selaine Saxby (North Devon) (Con) [V]
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I would like to thank my right hon. Friend for the work being done to ensure that Parliament is a safe working environment for all. Does he agree that while we have had to improvise due to the unprecedented situation we find ourselves in, we cannot effectively do our jobs from home? We should lead by example when asking the country to return to work. We could improvise further in Westminster, for example by taking advantage of more of the space available to enable more of us to participate fully and safely.

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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The Government’s advice is clear: work from home if you can. But what I and many others have increasingly realised is that this House cannot work effectively without meeting physically. Take last week for example: no debates on secondary legislation; no Public Bill Committees; no Delegated Legislation Committees. Compare that to a fairly standard and not particularly busy physical sitting week, such as the week commencing 2 March. That week the Commons considered the stages of four Bills instead of one and nine statutory instruments instead of none. In addition to Chamber time, the House held seven Delegated Legislation Committees and four Public Bill Committee sittings. I therefore very much welcome my hon. Friend’s valuable point that MPs’ work is absolutely essential and that we cannot do it from home.