Oral Answers to Questions

Stephen Metcalfe Excerpts
Wednesday 21st February 2024

(1 month, 3 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Andrew Griffith Portrait Andrew Griffith
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I warmly congratulate the Dyson Foundation on that. It is a fantastic example of philanthropy. As my hon. Friend will know, maths education is a key building block, and we are consulting on establishing a national academy of mathematical science, backed by £6 million of funding. The consultation ends this Sunday and I hope that many hon. Members will respond.

Stephen Metcalfe Portrait Stephen Metcalfe (South Basildon and East Thurrock) (Con)
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Improving diversity in STEM is not just the right thing to do; it is vital to our future success. Diversity brings new ways of thinking, a better understanding and a new approach. Can the Minister ensure that the Department for Education encourages people to think about STEM careers at the earliest possible level, particularly in primary schools?

Andrew Griffith Portrait Andrew Griffith
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My hon. Friend makes an important point about diversity in STEM starting at the earliest possible age. I will of course talk to my colleagues in the Department for Education about doing precisely that.

Oral Answers to Questions

Stephen Metcalfe Excerpts
Wednesday 15th November 2023

(5 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Saqib Bhatti Portrait Saqib Bhatti
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I thank my right hon. Friend for his kind remarks. As I said, the Government will take this issue incredibly seriously, and I am confident that, through the defending democracy taskforce and election cell, we will be able to do the utmost to protect ourselves from election interference. I offer to meet him to discuss this further and see what else can be done.

Stephen Metcalfe Portrait Stephen Metcalfe (South Basildon and East Thurrock) (Con)
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I too welcome my hon. Friend to his role. What discussions has he or his Department had about raising public awareness of the impact that AI will have on society, and increasing understanding that not all content, harmful or otherwise, might be what it seems?

Saqib Bhatti Portrait Saqib Bhatti
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I thank my hon. Friend for his remarks. We have just had a global, leading AI safety summit, which had immense coverage on that and also focused on frontier risks. We have always been clear that we will take a pragmatic, proportionate and contextual approach. With the 28 countries plus the European Union who have agreed to the Bletchley declaration, there is a great opportunity to use AI for our benefit, but we should also be wary of the risks involved.

Oral Answers to Questions

Stephen Metcalfe Excerpts
Wednesday 5th July 2023

(9 months, 2 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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The Prime Minister was asked—
Stephen Metcalfe Portrait Stephen Metcalfe (South Basildon and East Thurrock) (Con)
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Q1. If he will list his official engagements for Wednesday 5 July.

Oliver Dowden Portrait The Deputy Prime Minister (Oliver Dowden)
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I have been asked to reply on behalf of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, who is attending a service right now in Westminster Abbey to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the NHS. Mr Speaker, may I associate myself with your comments? The NHS continues to be a treasured national institution, and I am sure that, during this sitting, colleagues across the House will join you in celebrating its values and achievements and thanking staff for their huge commitment to patients.

This morning, I had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others. In addition to my duties in this House, I shall have further such meetings later today.

Stephen Metcalfe Portrait Stephen Metcalfe
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Mr Speaker, can I also associate myself with the remarks you made celebrating the 75th anniversary of the NHS? On behalf of my constituents and all our constituents, I thank its staff for the work they do, day in, day out.

Last Friday, I met a group of residents who have raised a petition to keep the last bank in Corringham town open. The viability of our town centres often depends on the presence of a small number of anchor businesses, such as a post office or a bank. Can my right hon. Friend therefore tell the House what action the Government can take to ensure that at least one of those organisations maintains a high street presence to support businesses and residents alike, particularly when they have received significant Government support?

Oliver Dowden Portrait The Deputy Prime Minister
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My hon. Friend is absolutely right to raise this issue. Banks are a cornerstone of our high streets. Of course, it is ultimately a commercial decision for banks, but I think it is right that they take into account the views of local communities. I am sure the bank in question will have heard his remarks to the House and I trust that it will take appropriate action.

Oral Answers to Questions

Stephen Metcalfe Excerpts
Wednesday 29th March 2023

(1 year ago)

Commons Chamber
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Dominic Raab Portrait Dominic Raab
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One thing never changes: the right hon. Lady always comes with her usual bluster and political opportunism. Let me tell her what I have been doing this week. We have delivered new legislation to support the victims of crime, including rape, and to protect the public. We have delivered a plan to stamp out antisocial behaviour and we have supported families with their energy bills. What has she done? What have Labour Front Benchers done? They tried to block our small boats Bill. That is the difference between them and us. We deliver for Britain; she likes to play her political games.

Stephen Metcalfe Portrait Stephen Metcalfe (South Basildon and East Thurrock) (Con)
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Q4. It is wonderful to see you in your place, Madam Deputy Speaker. As my right hon. Friend will be aware, the Thames freeport was recently given the final go-ahead to become fully operational, creating thousands of jobs and attracting millions in inward investment. Will he join me in congratulating the team behind the bid, and encourage businesses and investors from across the south-east—indeed, across the world—to take a closer look at the fantastic opportunities in Thurrock? Will he work with local education providers to ensure that my constituents have the skills needed to take up these fantastic opportunities?

Dominic Raab Portrait The Deputy Prime Minister
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I thank my hon. Friend. I certainly do support and pay tribute to all those who have made the new Thames freeport possible, with its potential to deliver over 12,000 new jobs. I look forward to seeing the local community, and wider communities, benefit from the tax benefits and custom zones. We will see how these plans progress. Again, I think it is good news to see the communities in Basildon and Thurrock taking full advantage of the Brexit opportunities.

Health and Social Care Update

Stephen Metcalfe Excerpts
Thursday 22nd September 2022

(1 year, 6 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Thérèse Coffey Portrait Dr Coffey
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GPs, dentists and pharmacists are all independent contractors, and it is up to them how they best manage and help patients. I am setting clear expectations on that. Furthermore, on pay uplift for people in the NHS, the Government have accepted the independent pay review body recommendation, and that is what we will be doing.

Stephen Metcalfe Portrait Stephen Metcalfe (South Basildon and East Thurrock) (Con)
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I thank my right hon. Friend for her excellent statement and her focus on the A, B, C, D. But none of that will be delivered without E—effort. I refer to the effort our vital nurses put in to keeping the NHS rolling, which will be vital in delivering on her plan. Will she join me in thanking them and encouraging them to get behind this plan as soon as possible?

Thérèse Coffey Portrait Dr Coffey
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I thank my hon. Friend, and I agree. We recognise and accept that, after the pandemic, there are still significant issues to address, and that is why this national endeavour is really important and why we want people to help. That is also why we have extended some of the measures we had during covid for a further two years, so that people can come back more readily to help the NHS. It is important that we strain every sinew to make that happen.

Oral Answers to Questions

Stephen Metcalfe Excerpts
Tuesday 22nd March 2022

(2 years ago)

Commons Chamber
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Victoria Atkins Portrait Victoria Atkins
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Forgive me, but the hon. Lady seems to have misunderstood how legislation happens in this place. Labour Members had the chance to vote for rapists to spend longer in prison through the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill; they did not just abstain, but voted against that. I entreat the Labour party to consider acting and putting real pressure behind their warm words and to stand with the Government to ensure that rapists spend longer in prison. That is what the Government are doing, and we will achieve that through the good work of Conservative colleagues.

Stephen Metcalfe Portrait Stephen Metcalfe (South Basildon and East Thurrock) (Con)
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9. What steps he is taking to increase the proportion of offenders who are employed on leaving prison.

Kit Malthouse Portrait The Minister for Crime and Policing (Kit Malthouse)
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The Government will deliver a presumption in favour of offering offenders the chance to work in prison, on release on temporary licence, and on release.

Stephen Metcalfe Portrait Stephen Metcalfe
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Does my right hon. Friend agree that getting offenders into employment is vital to reducing reoffending? Will he therefore outline to the House what steps his Department is taking to refocus on the key performance indicators that it measures, to ensure that offender employment is a priority for this Government?

Kit Malthouse Portrait Kit Malthouse
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My hon. Friend, in his usual manner, has put his finger on the button of part of the solution to the reoffending cycle. We firmly believe that there are three pillars for success in rehabilitating offenders: the first is a home, the second is a job, and the third is a friend. We are committing to providing all three to those who leave the secure estate. With all other Departments, we will publish our outcome delivery plan in the new financial year. I can reassure my hon. Friend that our right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister is setting extremely challenging and ambitious targets for the Department, particularly in regard to housing and employment.

Covid-19 Update

Stephen Metcalfe Excerpts
Wednesday 19th January 2022

(2 years, 3 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
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From memory, we have provided 350,000 carbon dioxide detectors and I think we are supplying 7,000 ventilators. I realise that that does not cover every school in the country but, on the other hand, not every school in the country has a severe problem, and many schools are dealing with it, in my experience, with a great deal of practicality and common sense.

Stephen Metcalfe Portrait Stephen Metcalfe (South Basildon and East Thurrock) (Con)
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I, too, welcome the Prime Minister’s statement. Will he reassure my vulnerable constituents that the move and general Government approach to covid is based on the trends in data, and that despite some still very high case rates, the risk of serious disease faced by a double-vaxxed and boosted individual is very low and they should continue to live their lives to the full, along with the rest of us?

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
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My hon. Friend is completely right. Covid has caused a great deal of apprehension across the country, particularly among vulnerable people, in my experience. It is important as we go forward and recover our freedoms that they, in particular, regain the confidence to live their lives to the full, as we would all want.

Oral Answers to Questions

Stephen Metcalfe Excerpts
Wednesday 19th January 2022

(2 years, 3 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Sheryll Murray Portrait Mrs Sheryll Murray (South East Cornwall) (Con)
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5. What progress he made at COP26 on supporting the transition to zero emission vehicles.

Stephen Metcalfe Portrait Stephen Metcalfe (South Basildon and East Thurrock) (Con)
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11. What progress he made at COP26 on supporting the transition to zero emission vehicles.

--- Later in debate ---
Anne-Marie Trevelyan Portrait Anne-Marie Trevelyan
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My hon. Friend the Minister for industry visited innovative UK companies Cornish Lithium and British Lithium just last week to see their exciting progress towards producing lithium in the UK. These are great examples of UK enterprise benefiting from Government funding to support jobs and growth in Cornwall and providing a critical mineral to support our green industrial revolution. We are looking forward to working further with industry as we develop our critical mineral strategy later this year.

Stephen Metcalfe Portrait Stephen Metcalfe
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The UK COP presidency has established the Zero Emission Vehicles Transition Council. That will bring together the Governments of the world’s largest car markets to work towards accelerating this transition. Can my right hon. Friend tell the House what role the council will play in the UK’s presidency year, ahead of COP27?

Anne-Marie Trevelyan Portrait Anne-Marie Trevelyan
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The UK will continue to work through the Zero Emission Vehicles Transition Council for an accelerated and equitable global transition to zero emission vehicles as well as delivery of its 2022 action plan, which includes collaboration on regulations, heavy goods vehicles, infrastructure and support to developing countries. The ZEVTC will be one of the leading initiatives for international collaboration under the Glasgow breakthrough on road transport.

Oral Answers to Questions

Stephen Metcalfe Excerpts
Wednesday 12th January 2022

(2 years, 3 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
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I am keen to hear what the APPG thinks the solutions are to this issue. The hon. Lady will know that collecting ethnicity data is a sensitive issue and it is not something that all people want to do, but I am happy to work with her and the APPG to learn about how we can come to some resolution.

Stephen Metcalfe Portrait Stephen Metcalfe (South Basildon and East Thurrock) (Con)
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Does my right hon. Friend agree that increasing diversity in the STEM sector is not only good for the individuals who will benefit from well paid, creative and rewarding jobs, but brings a wealth of talent and creativity to an ever more important sector?

Elizabeth Truss Portrait Elizabeth Truss
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My hon. Friend is absolutely right. We need all the talent in Britain on the pitch, which is why it is so important we get more people into STEM, particularly girls and women.

Oral Answers to Questions

Stephen Metcalfe Excerpts
Thursday 25th November 2021

(2 years, 4 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Stephen Metcalfe Portrait Stephen Metcalfe (South Basildon and East Thurrock) (Con)
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T1. If he will make a statement on his departmental responsibilities.

Steve Barclay Portrait The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office (Steve Barclay)
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With Black Friday and Cyber Monday fast approaching, I want to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the UK’s cyber professionals, who work tirelessly behind the scenes to help to keep us safe online. That is as important as ever, as the economy recovers from the impact of covid-19. Every day, cyber criminals target online retail, from scam texts, impersonating couriers and defrauding shoppers out of their money to damaging the reputations of small businesses by stealing their customer payment details. That trend has only increased during the covid pandemic as more and more trade has moved online. Indeed, since April 2020, more than 4,000 business sites have been identified as being targeted by cyber criminals.

Organisations such as the National Cyber Security Centre and the British Retail Consortium have spearheaded that work, providing tailored advice to businesses and citizens on how they can protect their activity online. Details of further steps to be taken will be set out in the upcoming national cyber strategy, which the Government will launch in December. The strategy recognises the increasing importance of cyber in our day-to-day lives, and it will underpin our democratic values and strategic alliances and ensure that the UK will be more resilient to the future cyber threats that we will no doubt face.

Stephen Metcalfe Portrait Stephen Metcalfe
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I was delighted to see the Prime Minister unveil plans to establish a new science and technology council—they are great plans. Does the Minister agree that that council will not only help us to realise the possibilities that research and technology have to offer and to tackle the great societal changes and challenges that we need to address, but cement our place in the world as a science superpower?

Steve Barclay Portrait Steve Barclay
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My hon. Friend raises an extremely important point. We are committed to being a science superpower and to putting science at the heart of our public policy making. That is why the Prime Minister set up the national science and technology council and why we have established the office for science and technology strategy, which will support those strategic decisions and ensure that the research and development uplift in funding from £15 billion to £20 billion can be targeted in the most effective way.