Oral Answers to Questions

Simon Fell Excerpts
Wednesday 28th February 2024

(6 days ago)

Commons Chamber
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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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I welcome the hon. Gentleman’s support for the freeport. We are taking advantage of our Brexit opportunities to deliver two freeports in Scotland to attract jobs and investment in the industries of the future. With regard to infrastructure investment, not only do we provide the tax benefits for a freeport but £25 million of seed funding is available to the freeport, in discussions with the Government, that can be used on local infrastructure improvements that make sense to develop the opportunities that the freeport provides.

Simon Fell Portrait Simon Fell (Barrow and Furness) (Con)
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Q13. The AUKUS programme is not just a national endeavour designed to keep our nation safe; it is also an international partnership that speaks about our ambitious work across the globe to pursue security and contain threats. I want to personally thank the Prime Minister for his engagement with the Team Barrow initiative, which is bringing together senior civil servants, my council, BAE Systems and myself to drive this programme forward to make sure we can deliver those boats to time and to budget. That means improving and investing in the local area considerably. With that in mind, may I invite the Prime Minister to Barrow to meet not just the fantastic people building the boats of the future but to see how the programme is going to uplift Furness for the future?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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At a time of great instability around the world, with the war in Ukraine and in the Red sea, my hon. Friend is absolutely right to say that AUKUS is a game-changing defence and security partnership that will keep us safe and create thousands of jobs in the UK shipyards and the supply chain, building on the investment in places such as Barrow and Derby. He is a fantastic champion of what this industry means in his area, and the Team Barrow partnership is a crucial component of ensuring that AUKUS is a success. That is why the Chancellor provided millions of pounds of funding for a delivery board for Barrow. We have recently discussed this at Cabinet and I look forward to visiting my hon. Friend and his community to see the progress for myself when my diary allows.

Risk and Resilience: Annual Statement

Simon Fell Excerpts
Monday 4th December 2023

(3 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Oliver Dowden Portrait The Deputy Prime Minister
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The short answer to that is yes. That is why, for example, we have for the first time introduced cold weather warnings, working with the Met Office, which we have not done before. I have already outlined to the House the unprecedented level of funding we are putting into flood risk prevention. Indeed, when we look at the risks that may face us, the most common risk is likely to be related to severe weather in this country, and it is a big focus for the Government’s efforts.

Simon Fell Portrait Simon Fell (Barrow and Furness) (Con)
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Whether it is fraud, threats to cyber-security or the emergent risks of new technologies such as AI, the greatest defence we can have is better education and awareness so that individuals and businesses can better protect themselves, and that is especially true for our children. Could my right hon. Friend talk about how the new academy can play into the curriculum so that children can protect themselves against threats of misinformation, disinformation and criminal attacks, and about how that will help children and families?

Oliver Dowden Portrait The Deputy Prime Minister
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My hon. Friend is absolutely right to highlight this. As he says, AI will increase the threat landscape vis-à-vis cyber risks; I hope that we can also apply AI to reduce those risks. We are already working with the National Cyber Security Centre to develop products to inform individuals, and the new academy will work to provide education material. If everyone acted straight away when they got one of those annoying alerts to run the updates on their mobile phone, it would be the single best thing we could do to increase this nation’s cyber-resilience.

British Steel

Simon Fell Excerpts
Wednesday 8th November 2023

(3 months, 4 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Urgent Questions are proposed each morning by backbench MPs, and up to two may be selected each day by the Speaker. Chosen Urgent Questions are announced 30 minutes before Parliament sits each day.

Each Urgent Question requires a Government Minister to give a response on the debate topic.

This information is provided by Parallel Parliament and does not comprise part of the offical record

Nusrat Ghani Portrait Ms Ghani
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While negotiations were ongoing and support was being provided, we had a conversation to ensure that the supply chain continues to be resilient. A taskforce has been set up to ensure that supply chains continue to get support, working with the unions, Tata and the local community. We have been assured that supply chains will continue to secure the contracts that have been in place.

Simon Fell Portrait Simon Fell (Barrow and Furness) (Con)
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Supporting British Steel need not be just about money; it can be about ensuring that the Government are joining the dots for industry and explaining the pipeline of work available to it. With the Dreadnought and SSN-AUKUS programmes, we have generations of need for virgin steel. The same goes for the new nuclear programme. Will my hon. Friend confirm that the Government are doing that work and signalling to British Steel that the demand is there? Also, where we have control over procurement, are we ensuring that we lean towards the British market?

Nusrat Ghani Portrait Ms Ghani
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Absolutely. That is why procurement went up by £97 million recently. I was looking at what the industry group UK Steel reflected on when it came to steel produced by electric arc furnaces—the reality is that a substantial amount of speciality military-grade steel can be manufactured using electric arc furnaces. We are working very closely with the steel sector to do everything we can to ensure that it secures UK contracts.

Oral Answers to Questions

Simon Fell Excerpts
Wednesday 14th June 2023

(8 months, 3 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Paul Scully Portrait Paul Scully
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I gave a long answer the first time, so I can give a shorter one this time. We are already acting in that space. On the apprenticeship levy, we always work with employers and supply chains throughout this country to ensure it works as effectively as possible for what businesses need.

Simon Fell Portrait Simon Fell (Barrow and Furness) (Con)
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The submarine programme in Barrow will deliver thousands of jobs and generations of work, but we are struggling to grow our own. We have Furness STEM and UlverSTEM, which do good work, but this is an international endeavour with AUKUS and a national endeavour with Dreadnought. What discussions has the Minister had across Government about how we lean in to that skills challenge?

Paul Scully Portrait Paul Scully
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My hon. Friend is right to champion Barrow’s industry. We talk regularly with the Department for Education, colleagues from the Department for Work and Pensions, tech sectors and academia to ensure we get it right. We must remember that domestic and international talent are so important in this space.

Illegal Immigration

Simon Fell Excerpts
Tuesday 13th December 2022

(1 year, 2 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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I just gently point out to the hon. Lady that the backlog now, difficult though it is, is half as big as it was under the last Labour Government. Unlike then, we will not resort to giving people blanket amnesties, because that is not the right approach.

Simon Fell Portrait Simon Fell (Barrow and Furness) (Con)
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I warmly welcome this statement. Tackling the backlog is absolutely key to getting the heat out of the issue and dealing with it fairly and firmly. The same approach on Albania is welcome, too. Does my right hon. Friend agree that although Albania is the issue of the moment, this issue will move around the globe, and going upstream to tackle the criminal gangs, who have imported their dangerous business model from the Aegean to the channel, is absolutely crucial? Will he share his thoughts on that?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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My hon. Friend is absolutely right. That is why we are doubling the funding for Operation Invigor at the National Crime Agency, which will mean that it can disrupt twice as many organised crime gangs upstream—that is a European effort, and it has proven to be very successful in the past. It will get double the amount of resources to help to disrupt the gangs upstream in the first place.

Oral Answers to Questions

Simon Fell Excerpts
Thursday 8th December 2022

(1 year, 2 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Jeremy Quin Portrait Jeremy Quin
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As I have already said in this House, I very much regret the decision of those concerned to go on strike. I think it will impact people, and I very much regret that that is the decision taken. The hon. Gentleman will have to accept that there are constraints on the public finances, partly because of the money we are providing to ensure that we try to help people through what we recognise is a very serious point at the moment in terms of their personal finances. That support is available to all, including those on lower incomes—including those who may be choosing to go on strike.

Simon Fell Portrait Simon Fell (Barrow and Furness) (Con)
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Increasingly, we are living our lives online, whether for banking, shopping, sharing photos or whatever it may be. For many, that is normal, but many of those in our elderly and vulnerable population are doing it for the first time. On Tuesday this week, the all-party parliamentary group on cyber security heard about some of the threats people are facing, the enormous frauds they are leaning into and the money they are losing as a result. Could my right hon. Friend perhaps explain how the national cyber-security strategy is helping to bolster support for those people as they go online for the first time?

Oliver Dowden Portrait Oliver Dowden
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My hon. Friend raises an important point. That is actually a key part of the national cyber-security strategy—not just Government work but supporting businesses and individuals in keeping safe online. In addition, I have discussed with the Home Secretary further steps we can take to bring forward offences in relation to fraud.

Nuclear Test Veterans: Medals

Simon Fell Excerpts
Tuesday 22nd November 2022

(1 year, 3 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Johnny Mercer Portrait Johnny Mercer
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I pay tribute to the hon. Lady for her relentless campaigning on this issue. Whether I have been in or out of Government, she and I have had conversations and she has continued to campaign relentlessly on behalf of veterans. I know that they are incredibly grateful for what she has done.

The Prime Minister committed yesterday, when he saw the families, to meeting those who took part in the events. I know that he was very much moved by the events of yesterday. We are committed to getting this right going forward. I have seen the stories about medical records being destroyed and so on. I do not recognise that—again, I have looked into it—but I am always open to evidence that the hon. Lady or others may have. I am determined that we get this right. The medal is one part, but it is not everything for everybody, and I am determined that the Government get right our recognition of what the nuclear test veterans did.

Simon Fell Portrait Simon Fell (Barrow and Furness) (Con)
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I commend the Minister on his statement and thank nuclear test veterans, on my behalf and that of my constituents, for everything that they have done. The work going on in Barrow at the moment to build the next generation of nuclear deterrent stands on their very tall shoulders.

Will the Minister commit to ensuring that we never forget the sacrifice of those nuclear test veterans and the critical role they have played in keeping Britain and our NATO allies safe, and, in doing so, will he make sure that the new medal is made as widely and easily available as possible?

Johnny Mercer Portrait Johnny Mercer
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There is an important piece of work alongside this—it is important that people understand that the medal is only one part of it. We have committed almost half a million pounds to recording and documenting an oral archive of the experiences of the test veterans. One thing on which I have campaigned for many years is for us to truly understand what it means to go through such things. The pain of not being recognised after serving their country was etched all over the faces of many of the people who were there yesterday, and the Prime Minister certainly noted it, as did I. Going forward, we are determined to get this right.

Tributes to Her Late Majesty the Queen

Simon Fell Excerpts
Saturday 10th September 2022

(1 year, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Simon Fell Portrait Simon Fell (Barrow and Furness) (Con)
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I rise to pay tribute, and to offer heartfelt condolences on behalf of the people of Barrow and Furness, and my family, to King Charles and his family on the death of Her late Majesty.

Her Majesty served our nation for 70 years with a remarkable and unstinting sense of duty that should inspire us all, but even with tens of thousands of hours of her life captured on film and written about in so many column inches, we knew nothing about her politics or her views on any policy debated in this place, despite what we may have thought or suspected. The fact that she held audiences with Prime Ministers through wars, pandemics and times of national crisis and kept her counsel, even with the passage of so many years, speaks volumes about her character and her sense of duty.

Her Majesty was a fixture in our lives. All my life she has been there: she has been a constant. When I was young and fell in love with books for the first time, there she was, greeting Sophie and the Big Friendly Giant at the end of Roald Dahl’s novel. What I saw in my mind was not a character in a story with a crown on her head; it was our Queen. She was so much a part of our world and my world, and so magical at the same time, that of course it was entirely possible that it was Her Majesty taking breakfast with a giant.

I am glad that that sense of wonder and magic crosses the generations. My children were delighted to see the Queen sharing the screen and her jam sandwiches with Paddington Bear. She was comfortable with herself and her role—always a steady hand on the tiller of our nation as our unflappable, constant monarch, but still aware of what she meant to people and the joy and comfort that she could and did bring.

Her late Majesty was a friend and frequent visitor to Barrow and south Lakeland. She launched HMS Dreadnought, our first nuclear submarine, and when she launched the aircraft carrier HMS Invincible a crowd of 15,000 people gathered in the drizzle to witness her blessing the ship and christening it with a bottle of elderberry wine. She visited Furness General Hospital, our town hall and the North-West Evening Mail and opened our market. Celebrating her platinum jubilee, I was struck by just how many constituents came forward with stories of times they had met Her Majesty and just how important those moments were to them. Many of those moments were fleeting, but the impact that they made was substantial.

It has been quoted a few times today and yesterday, but Her late Majesty once said:

“Grief is the price we pay for love.”

We loved that remarkable lady for her service, her dignity and her unstinting dedication to the nation and to her people. In grief, we can reflect on that dedication to us and perhaps draw some comfort from her service and her life. I certainly hope that her family and His Majesty King Charles will find solace in the grace and gratitude of our nation. May she rest in peace. God save the King.

Oral Answers to Questions

Simon Fell Excerpts
Wednesday 8th June 2022

(1 year, 9 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Simon Fell Portrait Simon Fell (Barrow and Furness) (Con)
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6. What steps she is taking with Cabinet colleagues to help increase the number of women in STEM apprenticeships.

Michelle Donelan Portrait The Minister for Higher and Further Education (Michelle Donelan)
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We are supporting more women to access traditionally male-dominated fields such as STEM—science, technology, engineering and mathematics—and those that offer the highest wage returns. Our apprenticeship diversity champion network is championing gender representation among employers and industries where improvement is needed, and we are promoting STEM apprenticeships to girls in schools.

Simon Fell Portrait Simon Fell
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Providing opportunities in STEM for women is essential, as is showing that there are already women in these roles doing the jobs that they aspire to. I would like to praise two local businesses that have worked tirelessly on this: BAE Systems in Barrow, responsible for our submarine programme, which has increased female participation in its early years programme from 19% to 32% in just five years; and Oxley Developments in Ulverston, which has a 50% female workforce. Clearly there is something going right in this cluster in south Cumbria. With that in mind, could I invite my right hon. Friend to come and visit?

Michelle Donelan Portrait Michelle Donelan
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I would be delighted to take up the opportunity to visit my hon. Friend’s constituency and hear more about the work that his local businesses are doing to enhance the opportunities of young people.

Oral Answers to Questions

Simon Fell Excerpts
Tuesday 22nd March 2022

(1 year, 11 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Dominic Raab Portrait Dominic Raab
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The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right that we should continually challenge ourselves. The most important thing, though, is that we are focused on and targeted at those either with direct links into the Kremlin or who fund or indirectly fund, to put the squeeze on Putin’s war machine.

Simon Fell Portrait Simon Fell (Barrow and Furness) (Con)
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On 30 March last year, my constituent Tim Dack sadly passed away from covid-19. Before he passed away, he woke up from his coma and he proposed to his partner; she was then doubly saddened to find out that she could not be listed as his partner on his death certificate, despite the fact that they had lived together for multiple years. My understanding is that there are uncommenced provisions in the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 that would allow such listing to happen. Might one of my Front-Bench colleagues be able to enlighten me on when those changes will be brought forward?

Tom Pursglove Portrait Tom Pursglove
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I am grateful to my hon. Friend for raising that difficult and tragic constituency case. I would be grateful if he took the opportunity to meet me to discuss it in more detail, so that I can understand the circumstances and provide a full response.