Business of the House

Stephen Metcalfe Excerpts
Thursday 2nd March 2023

(1 year, 1 month ago)

Commons Chamber
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Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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Mr Speaker, I want it to be placed on record that the hon. Lady has asked me three questions, and I anticipate that I may have more questions from her honourable colleagues. As a consequence, I would like it placed on record that my space is no longer safe, but I will soldier on. May I just welcome the SNP’s U-turn on allowing media access to their leadership contest hustings and not restricting the candidates to just one question.

Let me turn now, ruthlessly focused, to the three questions that the hon. Lady has asked me this week. She says that we have no business going through the House at the moment. We do have some big Bills to come, and she will know that we have many Bills currently waiting with their lordships. Part of the reason we have not been sitting through the night is that there is quite a lot of agreement in the House about the legislation that the Government are passing. We have had a lot of support from the Opposition Benches, which is partly why she is not having to sit for longer hours and do more.

The hon. Lady asks why we do not have an amendable business statement. I understand why an SNP Member would ask that question, because to the SNP, government is about virtue signalling, dividing nations and political posturing, but government is actually about getting things done and passing legislation. For that reason, we are concerned to control the Floor of the House to ensure that we get done what the people of the country voted for. She and her colleagues might like to try that sometime.

Finally, the hon. Lady said that her constituents were much better off than those in other parts of the UK. I gently point out that her stated policy would make them considerably worse off, because if we ever did have Scottish independence—God forbid—they would immediately lose £2,000 a head, which is the calculated cost of independence to every man, woman and child in Scotland.

Stephen Metcalfe Portrait Stephen Metcalfe (South Basildon and East Thurrock) (Con)
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May we have an urgent statement from the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities on the disaster that is the ultra low emission zone and the discussions that he has had with Mayor Khan about his friends, family and funeral tax, which will have a huge impact on constituencies in outer London and its borders? The expansion of the ULEZ has more to do with raising funds than with improving air quality.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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That is a recurring theme, and the concern is shared by not only Conservative politicians in this place but many politicians of all hues. When Commons business questions sounds more and more like London Assembly questions, something is going badly wrong in London.

Business of the House

Stephen Metcalfe Excerpts
Thursday 13th October 2022

(1 year, 6 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I shall try to keep the answers timely as well, Madam Deputy Speaker.

I thank the hon. Gentleman for raising this incredibly serious matter. I hope that all employers would have that duty of care and look after people. I have to say to all Members of this House that we have a responsibility, too, in how we conduct ourselves on social media. When we see colleagues suffering similar abuse, even if they are on the opposite side of the House, we have a duty to step in and ask that that desists.

Stephen Metcalfe Portrait Stephen Metcalfe (South Basildon and East Thurrock) (Con)
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Will the Leader of the House arrange an urgent debate in Government time on the Government’s ambitious infrastructure plans, which include the controversial Lower Thames Crossing? That would give me an opportunity to tell the Secretary of State about the impact that the project will have, the latest traffic modelling and its impact, the development consent order process, and the undervaluing of my constituents’ properties.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I thank my hon. Friend for raising those issues. He will know that this new Administration will want to have a greater focus on building the right infrastructure. I encourage him to apply for a debate in the usual way, and I will make sure that a number of Departments hear what he has had to say today.

Business of the House

Stephen Metcalfe Excerpts
Thursday 9th September 2021

(2 years, 7 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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Ministers do give accurate answers, and that is always important. What Mr Speaker said at the end of the urgent question was absolutely right: Members have a right to seek redress of grievance for their constituents, and Ministers have an obligation to respond as helpfully and efficiently as they can. Every day since 24 August, the call handlers have answered more than 94% of the calls that were made, and the average wait time since 20 August has been under a minute. The FCDO replied to all emails from MPs received by 30 August asking for an update by Monday evening—[Interruption.] Well, that is the information that is collated: emails received by 30 August have been replied to. [Interruption.] I would say to people who have not received a reply: resend your email—[Laughter.] I am appealing to people’s sense of realism. We all know from our own constituency email inboxes that emails do not always get through, so if anyone is in any doubt about an email, I would say that they should resend it. Hon. and right hon. Members have a right to a response, and the Foreign Office is working very hard to get those responses, but if Members are not getting a response, they should resend their emails, and if they do not get a response to that, they can come to my office and I will help them to get a reply. I have said many times that, as Leader of the House, I will always do my best to facilitate Members’ correspondence.

Stephen Metcalfe Portrait Stephen Metcalfe (South Basildon and East Thurrock) (Con)
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May we have a debate in Government time on the Government’s response to the ongoing issue of the increasing numbers of illegal migrants crossing the channel? I welcome the actions that the Government have taken and are proposing to take, but an update in the House and a wider debate to explore additional solutions to this serious issue could well be helpful to the Government.

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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The dangerous and unnecessary small boat crossings that we saw again last weekend are wrong, and the Government are determined to crack down on the criminal gangs that drive that activity and profit from it. I can tell my hon. Friend that there have been nearly 300 arrests and 65 convictions, and that we have prevented more than 10,000 migrant attempts. I was pleased to see that efforts are going to be made to send the boats back. That policy has been used very effectively by our friends in Australia. It took the profit away from the people smugglers, who are the real cause of the problem and who trade on the distress of unfortunate people.

Business of the House

Stephen Metcalfe Excerpts
Thursday 9th July 2020

(3 years, 9 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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There is a full legislative programme, as the hon. Gentleman knows, and Bills are being brought forward and processed rapidly by the House. We are doing well at achieving our constitutional obligations. In relation to the online harms Bill, the absence of the Bill does not remove the responsibility from the providers of these services to ensure that they are run and provided properly and that antisemitic material has no place on any properly run website.

Stephen Metcalfe Portrait Stephen Metcalfe (South Basildon and East Thurrock) (Con) [V]
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Nail bars, beauty therapists, masseurs and tattoo artists, along with similar businesses, are an important part of our high streets, while dance studios, gyms, small outdoor festivals and swimming pools are an important part of our cultural life. All are very keen to get back to work and reopen. They have gone to extraordinary lengths to make themselves covid-safe, yet they have not yet opened. May I echo the call for an urgent statement on the specific reasons why certain sectors cannot open, what the barriers to opening are and how those barriers could be addressed?

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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Indeed. What is being done is ensuring that things open up in a progressed way so that the lowest risk activities open first and the higher risk ones open later to ensure that it is safe to do so. The programme being followed is being followed very safely and seems to be working. I said earlier that some further openings will happen in mid-July and that is now not very far off, so there is good news coming. However, my hon. Friend is absolutely right to be championing those businesses. They want to get back to business. The Government want them to be able to get back to business, but it has to be safe.

Business of the House

Stephen Metcalfe Excerpts
Wednesday 27th March 2019

(5 years ago)

Commons Chamber
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Oliver Letwin Portrait Sir Oliver Letwin
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That is a neat way of expressing my hon. Friend’s view, with which, as it happens, I agree.

Stephen Metcalfe Portrait Stephen Metcalfe (South Basildon and East Thurrock) (Con)
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I am listening very carefully to my right hon. Friend and I think the thrust of what he is saying is that, if meaningful vote 3 were to be approved, none of this would be necessary to go forward. Will he therefore reiterate his call for those on all sides of this argument to support the withdrawal agreement? It may not be perfect for either side, but it is the best thing we have on offer and now is the time to get behind it.

Business of the House

Stephen Metcalfe Excerpts
Thursday 14th June 2018

(5 years, 10 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Andrea Leadsom Portrait Andrea Leadsom
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First, may I say good luck to all those taking part in the Great Exhibition of the North? It sounds like an amazing opportunity for local businesses and the community to come together. The hon. Gentleman will be aware that the Transport Secretary is doing everything possible to sort out the appalling situation with Northern Rail, and he believes and is reporting that the situation is improving. The hon. Gentleman will also be aware that the great north rail project means an investment of more than £1 billion designed to deliver space for 40,000 more passengers and over 2,000 more services a week, but nevertheless there can be no excuses for what has happened in recent weeks, which has been just appalling. I also heard his bid for a Back-Bench debate on tobacco on 19 July, and I particularly commend the Backbench Business Committee for this afternoon’s very important debate on Windrush.

Stephen Metcalfe Portrait Stephen Metcalfe (South Basildon and East Thurrock) (Con)
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Further to the question from my hon. Friend the Member for Southend West (Sir David Amess), and in advance of any future debate, in the light of the end of the consultation tomorrow, will my right hon. Friend encourage the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government to come to the House to inform us about what support he has received for the so-called Irish option of making deliberate trespass a criminal offence?

Andrea Leadsom Portrait Andrea Leadsom
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I know my hon. Friend will have plenty of support from across the House for his suggestion, which originally came from my right hon. Friend the Member for Rayleigh and Wickford (Mr Francois). I am sure the Minister will come to the House in due course, once the consultation is closed, with further ideas on what more can be done. I draw the attention of hon. Members to Housing, Communities and Local Government questions on Monday, where they may wish to raise this issue directly with Ministers.

Restoration and Renewal (Report of the Joint Committee)

Stephen Metcalfe Excerpts
Wednesday 31st January 2018

(6 years, 2 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Chris Bryant Portrait Chris Bryant
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My hon. Friend is absolutely right; that is a great book and it, too, is available in all good bookshops, although it is not by me.

Stephen Metcalfe Portrait Stephen Metcalfe (South Basildon and East Thurrock) (Con)
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I am swaying between the amendment that the hon. Gentleman is promoting and motion No. 2. The reason I am drawn more to the motion No. 2 is that I would like us to have the occasional foothold in this place—the occasional use of the Palace in an extended period. Is there any way that the amendment can achieve that?

Chris Bryant Portrait Chris Bryant
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“A foothold” is a difficult thing to specify, but some people have said, for instance, that we should keep the Chamber functioning—I guess that is what most people mean. The difficulty with keeping the Chamber running is that the Chamber is not just the Chamber. It is not a hermetically sealed unit; the air conditioning, the heating, the electricity and all the rest of it come from somewhere. The public have to have access through large parts of the building. We would also have to access from somewhere, and it could not just be through some kind of polytunnel. It is actually phenomenally difficult to achieve that.

There was one other option, which was for us to sit in Westminster Hall. I love the idea of sitting in Westminster Hall. The hon. Member for somewhere down in the south-west—the hon. Member for North East Somerset (Mr Rees-Mogg)—and I were joint advocates of that. The problem is that the floor is not solid—there are no solid foundations—and we would have to put something inside the roof, which could destroy it, so there are real problems.

Standing Orders (Public Business)

Stephen Metcalfe Excerpts
Thursday 22nd October 2015

(8 years, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Chris Grayling Portrait Chris Grayling
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I am giving to give way but then I must make some progress, because so many people want to speak.

Stephen Metcalfe Portrait Stephen Metcalfe (South Basildon and East Thurrock) (Con)
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Is the point not a simple one? Does my right hon. Friend agree that the people of Basildon and Thurrock will find it very hard to understand how people who are not affected by legislation can force it on those who are? What this measure does is resolve that issue.

Chris Grayling Portrait Chris Grayling
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I could not have said it better myself. My hon. Friend is absolutely right and puts his finger on the heart of these reforms. They are fair and sensible. Whatever Opposition Members say today, I am entirely comfortable, as a Unionist, in presenting them to this House.

Business of the House

Stephen Metcalfe Excerpts
Thursday 3rd April 2014

(10 years ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lord Lansley Portrait Mr Lansley
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I know the hon. Gentleman was in his place during Energy and Climate Change questions just now when these issues properly were raised. I cannot endorse the point he makes. It is important for people to be aware of the fact that the pension fund for any set of employees is designed to give them the maximum financial security in their old age. It is not intended necessarily to be an investment to be used simply in relation to their existing employment. Considerable risks are associated with that. None the less, these are matters for the trustees of any individual pension fund, but as he has raised these issues I will raise them once again with my hon. Friends at the Department of Energy and Climate Change, who are in continuing discussions with the trade unions and the businesses concerned.

Stephen Metcalfe Portrait Stephen Metcalfe (South Basildon and East Thurrock) (Con)
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As we heard yesterday, Visteon pensioners have announced that they and Ford have agreed in principle a multi-million pound deal to settle claims for pension losses suffered by former employees. Since my election, I, the Visteon pensioners and the all-party group on Visteon pensioners in their support—and with your co-operation, Mr Speaker, which I am grateful for—have been fighting for justice. Will my right hon. Friend therefore consider holding a debate that will enable interested Members to celebrate this great result, thank Ford for finally doing the right thing and, of course, congratulate Visteon pensioners on their dogged determination and, hopefully, delivering the justice they so rightly deserve?

Lord Lansley Portrait Mr Lansley
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I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that question, and it allows us further to reinforce the point my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister made about paying tribute to those who have campaigned and welcoming what has been offered now by Ford. I particularly pay tribute to my hon. Friend for leading the debate on 12 December last year on these issues. It is something of a novelty to be invited to have a debate not in order to ask for something, but to celebrate that something that has been asked for has been achieved. It leads us into new and happier territory for debates in this House. I cannot immediately promise that, but it is an engaging thought.

Business of the House

Stephen Metcalfe Excerpts
Thursday 14th June 2012

(11 years, 10 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lord Young of Cookham Portrait Sir George Young
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The hon. Lady raises an important issue. I know that there has been a dialogue between Ministers and the Association of British Insurers to ensure that adequate household insurance is available to those who live on flood plains. I will ask the appropriate Minister—I think that it will be a Treasury Minister—to write to the hon. Lady to bring her up to date with the discussions that are taking place, which I think are related in some way to the investment that the Government are making in flood protection measures in the areas concerned.

Stephen Metcalfe Portrait Stephen Metcalfe (South Basildon and East Thurrock) (Con)
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As my right hon. Friend will be aware, the Coryton oil refinery in my constituency has failed to find a buyer yet. May we therefore have an urgent debate on the importance of the refining industry to the UK economy? During that debate, may we explore what further support the Government could give to the industry, and the possibility of offering it some form of financial assistance —as we did to the banks—so that Coryton can remain open?

Lord Young of Cookham Portrait Sir George Young
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I understand my hon. Friend’s disappointment at the plans to close the Coryton oil refinery. It is disappointing that, so far, an alternative buyer has not been found. I understand that inquiries are still being made by the administrators, who are looking at a range of options for the future of the facility. I am not sure that keeping the refinery open indefinitely at public expense would be the best use of resources, but we are working with Thurrock council’s taskforce, which was set up in the light of the announcement, and I will ensure that my ministerial colleague at the Department of Energy and Climate Change does all that he can to achieve a satisfactory outcome. Of course I understand the concern of those who are losing their jobs.