Theresa May debates with Northern Ireland Office

There have been 12 exchanges between Theresa May and Northern Ireland Office

Tue 8th September 2020 Northern Ireland Protocol: UK Legal Obligations 3 interactions (59 words)
Wed 18th March 2020 Oral Answers to Questions 3 interactions (108 words)
Thu 16th January 2020 Northern Ireland Executive Formation 3 interactions (191 words)
Wed 6th March 2019 Oral Answers to Questions 77 interactions (4,070 words)
Wed 20th June 2018 Oral Answers to Questions 68 interactions (4,126 words)
Wed 21st March 2018 Oral Answers to Questions 72 interactions (3,516 words)
Wed 15th November 2017 Oral Answers to Questions 79 interactions (3,858 words)
Wed 13th September 2017 Oral Answers to Questions 76 interactions (4,014 words)
Wed 28th June 2017 Oral Answers to Questions 79 interactions (3,951 words)
Wed 15th March 2017 Oral Answers to Questions 72 interactions (3,117 words)
Wed 26th October 2016 Oral Answers to Questions 64 interactions (3,452 words)
Wed 20th July 2016 Oral Answers to Questions 51 interactions (3,103 words)

Northern Ireland Protocol: UK Legal Obligations

Theresa May Excerpts
Tuesday 8th September 2020

(5 months, 2 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber

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Northern Ireland Office
Brandon Lewis Portrait Brandon Lewis
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8 Sep 2020, 12:44 p.m.

The hon. Lady should wait until she sees the legislation tomorrow, because I hope she will then see that we are delivering on the very promises to which she just referred. She commented on the Prime Minister’s campaigning and our manifesto pledges, which I referred to in my opening remarks. The Bill, as she will see, will absolutely deliver on them.

The UK internal market legislation that we will bring forward this week delivers on our commitment to legislate for unfettered access, which Northern Ireland businesses have consistently asked us to do to ensure that we deliver certainty. The legislation will give the certainty that the people, businesses and economy of Northern Ireland have been asking for, and supports the delivery of the protocol in all circumstances, in line with the approach we set out in our Command Paper in May.

The safety net that we will implement, which we will outline this week, will deliver on the commitments made in the general election manifesto. Specifically, we will implement the provision in the protocol that Northern Ireland is fully part of the UK customs territory by ensuring that goods moving within the UK will never even inadvertently have to pay EU tariffs. We will ensure that businesses based in Northern Ireland have true unfettered access to the rest of the United Kingdom without paperwork, and we will ensure that there is no confusion about the fact that, while Northern Ireland will remain subject to the EU state aid regime for the duration of the protocol, Great Britain will not be subject to EU rules in that area.

Those steps are rightly part of the UK internal market Bill, the overriding aim of which is to ensure that the UK’s own internal market operates effectively, and I hope all Members will support that endeavour. The House will of course have an opportunity to debate these matters when it sees the details in full when considering the Bill. Further, the Bill will strengthen Northern Ireland’s place in the UK customs territory and ensure that the UK does take back control of its laws in an organised way after 31 December—exactly as we promised in the manifesto that won a resounding victory and mandate from the people of this country at last year’s election.

I cannot comment on the details of the Treasury Solicitor’s resignation because I have not seen his resignation letter, but we wish him well. We will continue to work at pace with the EU in the Joint Committee, and I stress to the hon. Lady that she should not presume what the outcome of the Joint Committee will be. We continue to work with the EU on that to ensure that we can reach a fair and positive outcome for Northern Ireland. That has always been and continues to be our priority.

Theresa May Portrait Mrs Theresa May (Maidenhead) (Con)
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The United Kingdom Government signed the withdrawal agreement with the Northern Ireland protocol. This Parliament voted that withdrawal agreement into UK legislation. The Government are now changing the operation of that agreement. Given that, how can the Government reassure future international partners that the UK can be trusted to abide by the legal obligations in the agreements it signs?

Brandon Lewis Portrait Brandon Lewis
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We have worked with the EU in a spirit of good faith, and both sides continue to work in that spirit to implement the arrangements that uphold the fundamental principles that lie behind the protocol. Of course, our first priority continues to be to secure agreement on the protocol on the Joint Committee and on the wider free trade agreement, but the withdrawal agreement and protocol are not like any other treaty. They were written on the assumption that subsequent agreements could be reached between us and the EU on the detail—that is the entire purpose of the specialised Joint Committee—and we continue to believe that that is possible, but as a responsible Government we cannot allow our businesses not to have certainty for January. The reality is that the UK internal market Bill and the Finance Bill are the last legislative opportunities we have to give the people and businesses of Northern Ireland the confidence and certainty that we will deliver what we agreed in the protocol, what we outlined in our manifesto and what we set out in the Command Paper.

Oral Answers to Questions

Theresa May Excerpts
Wednesday 18th March 2020

(11 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber

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Northern Ireland Office
Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
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18 Mar 2020, 12:36 p.m.

I hear the hon. Gentleman loud and clear. He echoes a point that was made by the right hon. Member for Ross, Skye and Lochaber (Ian Blackford). Of course, that is one of the ideas that will certainly be considered.

Theresa May Portrait Mrs Theresa May (Maidenhead) (Con)
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My right hon. Friend is rightly engrossed day to day in dealing with the developments of covid-19, but I would like to ask him to cast his mind a little further forward. The chief scientific adviser and the chief medical officer have been clear that the best solution to this is a vaccine, but the chief scientific adviser has said that that could be as much as a year away. He has also suggested that, until that vaccine is available, it may be difficult to ease restrictions successfully. Does my right hon. Friend agree with that analysis, and if so, what does a sensible exit strategy look like?

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
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The objective of the Government and of our scientific advisers is to depress the peak of the epidemic, to ensure that we get through it, so that we come out on the other side, and that we do that as fast as possible. That is why we are taking all the measures that we have announced. That is why we have announced the package of business support that we have. I am not going to give a timescale on it, but that is the strategy, and I am absolutely certain that it will succeed.

Northern Ireland Executive Formation

Theresa May Excerpts
Thursday 16th January 2020

(1 year, 1 month ago)

Commons Chamber

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Northern Ireland Office
Julian Smith Portrait Julian Smith
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16 Jan 2020, 11:32 a.m.

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his remarks and for his personal comments about me and my team. To confirm the situation on the DeSouza case, we are fully committed to the Belfast/Good Friday agreement, and there should never be an incentive to renounce British citizenship. That is why we have provided the same family reunification rights to all the people of Northern Ireland.

As for the hon. Gentleman’s question about broader issues for victims and those seeking justice, I point him to the Prime Minister’s comments. He and the Government are clear that we cannot accept the unfair or vexatious pursuit of our veterans when there is no new evidence. However, that must obviously be balanced against the need for truth for victims, and the Government will be addressing that in due course.

On the finances, at £2 billion, this is the best financial deal of any Northern Ireland talks settlement. The hon. Gentleman referred to a letter from the two First Ministers. I have seen the letter and the reply, which points out that this is an injection of money for this talks process: £1 billion of new money and a guaranteed £1 billion of Barnett-based funding up front. We then have the UK Budget in March, and we have a deal for Brexit. The key task for the Executive is to focus on their priorities. The hon. Gentleman referred to the programme for Government in appendix 2, which clearly states that the

“parties agree to publish, within two weeks of the restoration of the institutions, the fuller details of an agreed Programme for Government.”

This Government stand ready to work with the Executive over the coming months and years, and we really want to support them. This £2 billion is an extremely good start, and I am confident it is the basis for a strong future for Northern Ireland.

Theresa May Portrait Mrs Theresa May (Maidenhead) (Con)
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16 Jan 2020, 11:35 a.m.

I congratulate my right hon. Friend on his achievement in ensuring that the Executive can be reformed. It has been tantalisingly close on a number of occasions over the past couple of years, but he has brought it to fruition.

I also commend the Northern Ireland parties for coming together in the interest of the people of Northern Ireland, and I welcome the representatives from the Social Democratic and Labour party and the Alliance party to the House, alongside the representatives from the Democratic Unionist party.

I congratulate my right hon. Friends the Members for Old Bexley and Sidcup (James Brokenshire) and for Staffordshire Moorlands (Karen Bradley) on their commendable work over the years.

The Government are committed to having no hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, and the annex to this plan says that the UK Government will

“legislate to guarantee unfettered access for Northern Ireland’s businesses to the whole of the UK internal market”.

It does so on the assumption that that unfettered access is as unfettered as it is today. What are the implications of these commitments for the future trade deal between the UK and the European Union?

Julian Smith Portrait Julian Smith
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16 Jan 2020, 11:36 a.m.

I thank my right hon. Friend for her remarks and comments. This deal, above all, guarantees the Executive a seat at the table as we implement our Brexit deal. It also underscores our commitment to ensuring, in law, unfettered access for goods from NI to GB, and it reconfirms that all the arrangements for Northern Ireland in our Brexit deal are subject to the consent of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Oral Answers to Questions

Theresa May Excerpts
Wednesday 6th March 2019

(1 year, 11 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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Northern Ireland Office
Tim Farron Portrait Tim Farron (Westmorland and Lonsdale) (LD)
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Q1. If she will list her official engagements for Wednesday 6 March. [909622]

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister (Mrs Theresa May)
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6 Mar 2019, 12:03 p.m.

I am sure the whole House will join you in welcoming our Australian friends to the Gallery, Mr Speaker. I am reminded of the occasion when another former Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, visited this House. He watched Prime Minister’s questions and commented afterwards that however lively PMQs was here, it was a vicarage tea party compared with Australia.

The death of anyone through an act of violence is an appalling tragedy. A growing number of young people have lost their lives in a cycle of mindless violence that has shocked us all. Our thoughts and prayers are with the friends and families of all the victims. The responsibility for these crimes lies with the perpetrators of them, but we must all do more to ensure that justice is served and to tackle the root causes of this violence so that we can bring it to an end and ensure the safety of our young people. I will be holding a summit in No. 10 in the coming days to bring together Ministers, community leaders, agencies and others, and I will also be meeting the victims of these appalling crimes to listen to their stories and explore what more we can do as a whole society to tackle this problem.

I am sure the whole House will want to join me in paying tribute to Professor Lord Bhattacharyya who died, sadly, last week. His creation of the Warwick Manufacturing Group was truly a pioneering partnership between academia and industry. Our thoughts are with his family and friends, and I know he will be sorely missed.

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.

Tim Farron Portrait Tim Farron
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6 Mar 2019, 12:04 p.m.

I associate myself with the Prime Minister’s remarks and pass my condolences on to the families and loved ones of those who have been the victims of tragic crimes this week.

Britain spent £27 billion on bailing out the banks, and they have repaid us by closing down 3,000 branches since 2016, including the last branch in Grange this week. They have also failed to compensate innocent customers who have lost £2 billion in fraud. Does the Prime Minister agree that the banks have taken without giving for far too long, and will she meet me so that we can force the banks to compensate the victims of fraud and the communities that they have abandoned and prevent them from closing the last branch in town?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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6 Mar 2019, 12:05 p.m.

The hon. Gentleman talks about banks closing branches; of course, as people’s behaviour in terms of their access to their finances changes, banks respond to that. They are commercial organisations and those are decisions that they take. He talks about compensation, which is of course an issue that has been raised across the House in the past, and it has been taken up and is being looked at by the financial services ombudsman.

Simon Hoare Portrait Simon Hoare (North Dorset) (Con)
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Q2. Today sees the start of Lent, traditionally a time of abstinence and giving things up. Recently, it has become a season of doing something new and positive. Does my right hon. Friend agree that it would do our national soul some good if we all took up voting with the Government to leave the EU with her good deal and in an orderly fashion on 29 March? [909623]

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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6 Mar 2019, 12:06 p.m.

I thank my hon. Friend, who has put forward a positive suggestion for Members of this House, during Lent, to vote with the Government in the meaningful vote. Then, of course, across the House we would all be able to give up being a member of the European Union on 29 March.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab)
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6 Mar 2019, 12:07 p.m.

I join the Prime Minister in paying tribute to Lord Bhattacharyya, who died last week. As she said, he was a champion of the car industry and manufacturing in general, and he played a key role in saving Jaguar Land Rover, not only safeguarding jobs but, crucially, ensuring that international research is done in the UK. We thank him for everything he did.

Tomorrow is International Women’s Day, and I am delighted that for the Opposition the debate will be opened by my hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham East (Janet Daby), who is herself the daughter of people from the Windrush generation. We will be making the case for closing the gender pay gap, as we are determined to improve the lot of women in our society. In that vein, may I congratulate the hon. Member for Liverpool, Wavertree (Luciana Berger) on giving birth to a son this morning?

I join the Prime Minister in sending our thoughts and prayers to the families of those who have lost young people. Yousef Makki and Jodie Chesney, both 17 years old, were the ninth and 10th teenagers murdered already this year. Two hundred and eighty-five people have been stabbed to death in the past year—the highest level ever. I welcome the fact that the Prime Minister has announced that Cobra is being convened, but what extra funding is being provided to address the root causes of both knife crime and the increasing levels of violent crime on the streets of all our towns and cities?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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6 Mar 2019, 12:08 p.m.

First, I join the right hon. Gentleman in congratulating the hon. Member for Liverpool, Wavertree (Luciana Berger) on the birth of her son. We are all pleased to hear that that has gone well. In relation to International Women’s Day, I am pleased that today marks the launch of the book by his hon. Friend, the hon. Member for Leeds West (Rachel Reeves), “Women of Westminster: The MPs Who Changed Politics”. I hope that that book will be an inspiration to other women to come into politics and have a career in this House. I congratulate the England women’s football team, who last night won the SheBelieves cup, defeating Japan in doing so.

The right hon. Gentleman raises the specific question of knife crime, which I referred to in my opening comments. Of course, as I said, any death of a young person through an act of violence is a terrible tragedy, and we have seen too many young lives—too many lives of promise and potential—being cut short. Responsibility for these terrible crimes does lie with the perpetrators, and we will always stand with the victims to ensure that criminals are brought to justice. We will defeat the scourge of violence only if we understand and address its complex root causes. Yes, that does mean ensuring that all agencies, including the police, have the right resources and powers to do their jobs. It means tackling the drug crime that is fuelling gang violence in our cities and exporting it across the country, and it means intervening at every stage to turn young people away from violence, and that is exactly what the Government are doing.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
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6 Mar 2019, 12:10 p.m.

Many of us in this House will have sat in the living rooms of homes where a young person has lost their life through knife crime and will never forget that experience and never forget that feeling of hopelessness and loss that those families are going through. We owe it to those families and those young people who have lost their lives to do far more about knife crime and far more about ensuring that there are sufficient resources for the police to deal with it. Sara Thornton of the National Police Chiefs Council said:

“We think we need much stronger leadership from Government…and there needs to be more funding.”

The Metropolitan Police Commissioner said yesterday that, of course,

“there is some link between violent crime on the streets…and police numbers.”

A total of 21,000 police officers’ jobs have been cut. Violent crime is at the highest level since comparative records began. If there are sufficient police numbers, can the Prime Minister please explain why, yesterday, the Defence Secretary was offering to send in the military to assist with knife crime?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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6 Mar 2019, 12:11 p.m.

The Metropolitan Police Commissioner has recognised that the causes of knife crime are complex, and she has said:

“The police alone won’t sort this issue out, we can’t arrest our way out of this problem.”

I agree, which is why we need to tackle it across a number of fronts. We must continue to enforce the laws that bear down on violent crime. That involves the Offensive Weapons Bill in which we introduced the knife crime prevention orders. Those orders were asked for by the police, and we are introducing them. We will intervene early to stop young people going down into a life of crime and becoming involved in crime. We have published the serious violence strategy, and the serious violence taskforce is working. We have also put £200 million into the youth endowment fund, and our early intervention youth fund has already funded 29 projects working with police and crime commissioners. We do ensure that police have the right resources: £460 million more is available this year and nearly double that—nearly £1 billion extra—is available next year. We also need to ensure that we understand the different use and misuse of drugs that is fuelling much of this crime. That is why my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has set up the independent drugs misuse review, which will be led by Dame Carol Black.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
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6 Mar 2019, 12:13 p.m.

The police clearly do not have the resources to deal with the problem: safer neighbourhood teams have been cut and community police officers have been cut. Many areas see no police officers at all. There is nobody to supervise these special orders that the Prime Minister is talking about. Perhaps she will listen to Nazir Afzal, the former chief prosecutor of Greater Manchester. Tragically, his 17-year-old relative was recently stabbed to death in Birmingham. He said:

“When you reduce police numbers by 21,000…there isn’t the intelligence any more, there isn’t the neighbour policing any more”.

Does the Prime Minister now regret the cuts in police numbers, and in this review will she undertake to restore them to their former level?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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As I have just indicated, we are putting more resources into the police. [Interruption.] It is no good Opposition Members standing up saying, “No, you’re not.” It is a fact that more money is being put into the police this year and that more money is being put into the police next year. The real question is not are we putting more money into the police, because we are, but why did the Labour party oppose that money going into the police.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
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6 Mar 2019, 11:30 a.m.

Violent crime has doubled under the Tories’ watch. I have had a letter from Mike in Gosport—[Interruption.] Yes, it is important; he has something to say. Mike says:

“The crime rate has run out of control because there is no police presence…it has become a really unsafe town to live in”.

I think Mike speaks for millions of people around the country. When are towns such as Gosport and others going to get resources for the safer neighbourhood teams, and the local police they need to tackle rising violent crime and to provide the intelligence from which arrests can be made of those who have committed these crimes?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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6 Mar 2019, 11:30 a.m.

As we make more resources available to the police, they are available to forces across the country, including Hampshire. Of course we look at the powers and resources that the police need. That is why we are not just putting more resources in, but increasing the powers that the police have. We introduced knife crime prevention orders in the Offensive Weapons Bill. That is an important step, which we have taken because the police asked us to. If the right hon. Gentleman wants the police to be able to do their job on the streets, he needs to tell this House why he voted against the measures we introduced to increase the powers of the police to deal with those carrying knives and to apply custodial sentences in the cases of those who are caught twice carrying knives.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
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6 Mar 2019, 11:30 a.m.

Crime went down when Labour was in office. We increased the numbers of police officers and the safer neighbourhood teams. Police officers are telling me that there is simply not enough of them to do the job. Hampshire alone has lost 1,000 police officers, and its funding has been cut by £70 million. Does the Prime Minister understand the scale of need here?

The Local Government Association says that local services face a funding gap of £3.2 billion this year. By the way, that is double—in one year alone—what the stronger towns fund is offering over seven years. The number of rapes, murders and other serious crimes committed by offenders on parole has risen by more than 50% since the privatisation of the probation service was introduced four years ago. At least one company wrongly classified offenders as low risk in order to meet Government targets. Do the Government now accept that privatising the probation service to profit-making companies has been a disaster that should be reversed, and that the probation service should be brought back completely into the public service?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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6 Mar 2019, 11:30 a.m.

When we are looking at issues of probation, we want to ensure that we are genuinely reducing the level of reoffending. That is about a rehabilitation method that looks at a variety of issues, including the home of an individual coming out of prison, their employment and their relationship with their family. This was not done fully under the last Labour Government, which is why we saw such a high level of reoffending rates and it is why we need to take action.

The right hon. Gentleman keeps raising these issues, and I welcome the fact that he is accepting that dealing with serious violence and knife crime requires us to act across a number of areas. For example, it is about the work that we are doing with young people, and supporting intervention in hospital accident and emergency departments. We are expanding our support to the charity Redthread, which has introduced its youth violence intervention work in hospitals in Birmingham and Nottingham, as well as in London. We are also supporting the £3.6 million national county lines co-ordination centre.

In just two separate weeks of law enforcement action, we have seen more than 1,000 arrests and 1,300 individuals being safeguarded. We commend all the police officers and other agencies involved in that work. The Government are giving them the support that they need to do their job.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
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The problem is that violent crime has doubled. The rise has been driven by austerity—something that the Prime Minister told us a few months ago was over. Cuts to police and rising poverty; the police and the Home Office recognise the link, even if the Prime Minister does not. But the issues are wider: the privatisation of the probation service has been a disaster; mental health services are under-resourced; youth and children’s services are in crisis; more than 600 youth centres have been closed; 3,500 youth workers have lost their jobs; funding for colleges and schools has been cut; and exclusions are rising. The public services that were there to support young people have been systematically stripped away, and everyone can see the consequences. Can the Prime Minister not recognise that there has to be a holistic response? We cannot keep communities safe on the cheap, with cuts and privatisation. We have to invest in all our communities in every part of this country—something that this Government are incapable of doing.

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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We put more money into our local authorities; the right hon. Gentleman voted against it. We put more money into our police—[Interruption.]

Mr Speaker
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6 Mar 2019, 12:20 p.m.

Order. There is a very discordant noise from Opposition Back Benchers. The question has been asked—and, broadly speaking, heard—and the answer will be heard.

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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6 Mar 2019, 12:14 p.m.

We have put more money into our schools—£2.6 billion over these two years. We are putting more money into our local authorities—£1.3 billion next year, voted against by the right hon. Gentleman and the Labour party—and more money into our police: nearly £1 billion extra available to them next year, voted against by the right hon. Gentleman and the Labour party.

The right hon. Gentleman stands up here and talks about austerity. If he is that concerned about austerity, you would think that he would want to make sure that it could never, ever happen again. Let us remember why we had to take those measures—because of the state of the economy left by the Labour party. But what would his policies mean? Higher borrowing, higher taxes, crashing our economy, less money for our public services—he would take us right back to austerity, square one.

Huw Merriman Portrait Huw Merriman (Bexhill and Battle) (Con)
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Q8. Across the country, freeholders and leaseholders are being ripped off by management companies charging excessive service charges, often for services they do not require. Many of these people are vulnerable pensioners who are trapped in McCarthy & Stone properties with their asset depreciating thanks to the dominant involvement of FirstPort and Vincent Tchenguiz. May I ask the Prime Minister for two reforms: first, ground rents at peppercorn levels for retirement homes; and secondly, bringing in a charging schedule and an automatic re-tendering process so that all freeholders and long lease holders can bid with their own community interest companies to deliver services that they actually require? [909629]

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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6 Mar 2019, 12:22 p.m.

I recognise that this is an issue of real concern to many constituents. That is why we have committed to clamping down on those agents who abuse the system and protecting leaseholders and renters who are suffering at the hands of rogue agents, every day, from unexpected costs or from poor-quality repairs for excessive fees. We have asked Lord Best to chair a working group to look at regulating and professionalising property agents that will include reviewing the standards around the transparency of service charges and other fees and charges—how they are presented to consumers—and putting them into a statutory code for managing agents. But I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Communities Secretary will have heard the issue that my hon. Friend has raised and be happy to meet him to discuss this further.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (SNP)
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6 Mar 2019, 12:23 p.m.

Tove Macdonald is 87 years old. She was brought up under Nazi occupation in Denmark. She has lived in Scotland for 59 years. Why, Prime Minister, is she being forced to register in a country she has called home for almost the last 60 years?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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We want to ensure that EU citizens who are living here have their rights protected. We want to be able to ensure that they have the necessary support that they need and, indeed, the recognition of their status here in the United Kingdom. If the right hon. Gentleman is interested in defending and protecting the rights of EU citizens here in this country, then I hope he will vote for the deal, which does exactly that.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford
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6 Mar 2019, midnight

What a disgrace—a woman who has lived here for almost 60 years, and the Prime Minister wants her to register to stay here. Tove has children. She has grandchildren. She has married in Scotland. She has friends here. She has built her life here. Why is the Prime Minister making Tove register after almost 60 years? Will she end this heartless policy? Will she tell Tove and all EU citizens who have come to the UK to work, live and love that the UK is their home, without precondition?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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We have consistently said to EU citizens who have been living here for many years, as in the example that the right hon. Gentleman gave, and others who have come here more recently that we recognise the contribution they have made to our society and our economy, and we want them to stay. That is why we put EU citizens’ rights at the front of the negotiations with the European Union. It is why we have negotiated those citizens’ rights in the withdrawal agreement, and it is why this Government have given a confirmation and a guarantee that those rights will be protected even if we leave with no deal. That is the right way to protect the interests of EU citizens here in the United Kingdom. The right hon. Gentleman should recognise the commitment that this Government have given to all EU citizens in the United Kingdom. This is their home. We want them to stay, and they can stay.

Chris Philp Portrait Chris Philp (Croydon South) (Con)
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Q11. Five years ago, my constituent Barry Bednar’s 14-year-old son Breck was brutally raped and murdered. The perpetrator is now serving a 25-year prison sentence. However, in recent months, the victim’s family, including his teenage sister, have received repeated distressing and disturbing communications on Snapchat purporting to be from the perpetrator, graphically recounting the circumstances of the murder. The police have asked Snapchat to provide the data that would help them definitively identify who has been sending those messages—for example, data about the device from which the messages were sent—but Snapchat is referring the police to a mutual legal assistance treaty with the United States, and the police would have to go through a one-year process to get that vital data for their investigation. Does the Prime Minister agree that that is completely unacceptable? Will she join me in calling on Snapchat and other social media companies to promptly co-operate with police inquiries? If they do not do so, does she agree that legislation is required? [909632]

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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6 Mar 2019, 12:26 p.m.

The case that my hon. Friend raises is one of great concern, and I know that Members across the House will want to join me in sending our sincerest sympathies to Breck’s family. I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to Breck’s mother for her brave and powerful campaigning on the wider issue of internet grooming.

The Ministry of Justice has assured me that it is urgently looking into this issue, and I am sure it will update my hon. Friend as soon as possible. I agree with him; we want social media companies to recognise the responsibility they have and to work with law enforcement agencies. I know that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has written to my hon. Friend, to meet him and hear more from the family. It has become increasingly difficult for UK law enforcement to access data containing information on threats to UK public safety if it is held or controlled in other countries. That is why the Government recently legislated—we passed the Crime (Overseas Production Orders) Act 2019, which will give law enforcement agencies the power to obtain electronic data controlled by providers outside the UK where an international agreement is in place. He mentioned the United States; we expect to establish the first such agreement with the United States.

Phil Wilson (Sedgefield) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Q3. As I raised with the Prime Minister a couple of weeks ago, Conservative Governments have taken £6 billion out of the north-east since 2010. The Government now propose to give back £15 million a year over seven years through the stronger towns fund. At that rate of repayment, can the Prime Minister tell the House by which century the moneys owed to the north-east will be repaid? [909624]

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

6 Mar 2019, 12:26 p.m.

As the hon. Gentleman knows full well, we have been investing in the north of England. We have been investing in transport across the north of England. We have been investing in our public services. We are investing in the health service, and the north-east will benefit from that as well. Since 2010, in the north-east, there are over 35,000 more small businesses, more than 18,000 new affordable homes, and over 305,000 children are in good or outstanding schools. That shows that the hard work of this Government is paying off, and the people of the north-east are benefiting.

Stephen Metcalfe Portrait Stephen Metcalfe (South Basildon and East Thurrock) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

6 Mar 2019, 12:29 p.m.

Earlier this week, the owners of the Westgate shopping centre in Basildon terminated Smart Parking’s contract after a disastrous nine months of operation. I have now discovered that Smart Parking has signed a shared business services agreement with the NHS. May I ask my right hon. Friend to ensure that, before any contracts are signed, the Department of Health and Social Care fully researches the impact that the practices of Smart Parking would have on its users, customers, clients and staff?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

Obviously, my hon. Friend has raised an important issue, and the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care will be happy to meet him to discuss this further.

Dan Jarvis Portrait Dan Jarvis (Barnsley Central) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Q4. Amidst the noise of the Brexit debate, there is a real risk that we lose sight of the reasons why so many people voted to leave in the first place. I think that if we want to restore faith and trust, we need to devolve more political decision making away from Whitehall and closer to the people who will be affected by those decisions. Following on from the very constructive meeting that took place at Fountains Abbey in north Yorkshire with the Housing, Communities and Local Government Secretary and Yorkshire leaders on Friday, may I ask the Prime Minister personally to engage with the substance of the One Yorkshire devolution deal with a view to reaching an agreement that will best serve the interests of the people of Yorkshire? [R] [909625]

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

6 Mar 2019, 12:31 p.m.

I think the hon. Gentleman is a living example of devolution of powers from Whitehall out to the areas through the mayoralty that he is serving. We recognise the discussion and debate there has been on the issue of Yorkshire devolution. The One Yorkshire proposals did not meet our criteria for devolution, but my right hon. Friend the Communities Secretary has met Yorkshire leaders and discussions are continuing. However, the priority remains the implementation of the agreed Sheffield city region deal, which will bring £900 million of investment to the local area, which I am sure the hon. Gentleman will welcome.

Julia Lopez Portrait Julia Lopez (Hornchurch and Upminster) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

6 Mar 2019, 12:32 p.m.

It was with profound sadness that I saw my constituency this week join the all-too-long list of areas across our country to have lost a precious young person to knife crime. The public do not want to see politicians throw blame at one another for these stolen lives; they want to see them take responsibility for what is within their control, provide resource if resource is necessary and then demonstrate a relentless and total commitment to snuffing out violent crime. I welcome the announcement of an emergency summit, but what action will the Prime Minister be taking after that constantly to drive performance on these issues until we get the result the public rightly demand—to keep children safe?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

6 Mar 2019, 12:33 p.m.

May I say to my hon. Friend, as I did earlier, that any death of a young person at the hands of violence is a terrible tragedy? I recognise, as she says, that her constituency has seen just one of the latest examples of a young life cut short far too early. I also say to her that, yes, as I said, what we are doing is bringing together Ministers, local government, police and others—other agencies. This needs to be a cross-society approach to deal with this issue, because it is not just about catching the perpetrators of the crime; it is about preventing the crime from taking place in the first place.

That is one of the reasons why the Government will be launching a consultation on addressing this as a public health issue. There has been excellent work done under what was Strathclyde police force, now Police Scotland, looking at and using the public health approach. What that does is ensure that all agencies—not just across Government, but in local government and elsewhere—are able to be brought together to deal with this issue. What I want to do at that summit is to hear directly from those agencies what further action the Government can take, which we can then put in place to deal with the issue.

Anna McMorrin Portrait Anna McMorrin (Cardiff North) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Q5. It is my daughter’s 16th birthday on 29 March, and it is her generation that will be most impacted by Brexit. Perhaps the Prime Minister could give her an early birthday present, and delay Brexit until she has informed the House about the status of the police and National Crime Agency investigations after Vote Leave and Leave.EU were found guilty of corrupt activities by the Electoral Commission. [909626]

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

I think the hon. Lady has discussed the issue of delaying Brexit with me before, and I just simply say to her that this Parliament gave the people of the United Kingdom the decision to choose whether to leave the European Union or to stay in. They chose to leave the European Union. I think for trust in politics it is important that the Government deliver on just that.

Richard Bacon Portrait Mr Richard Bacon (South Norfolk) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

6 Mar 2019, 12:34 p.m.

Mr Speaker, you are right that the former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is very welcome here today. As he said in a lecture last night:

“If a state-sponsored adversary has enduring access to staff, software or hardware deployed into a target telecommunication network, then they only require the intent to act in order to conduct operations within the network.”

Given that Chinese law obliges all Chinese companies to assist the Chinese intelligence services, will the Prime Minister explain what the implications are for British Government policy?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

We look at these issues very seriously. As regards the issue of 5G security, we are looking at the right approach that we need to take. We want to be able to benefit from that new technology, but of course we need to manage the risks closely and we are considering a full range of policy options. Our review into 5G is still ongoing and no decisions have been taken.

Kirsty Blackman Portrait Kirsty Blackman (Aberdeen North) (SNP)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Q6. In January, 83% of Scottish MPs voted against the Prime Minister’s deal. Last night, an historic vote took place in the Welsh Assembly and the Scottish Parliament, with both Parliaments simultaneously rejecting the Prime Minister’s deal. Is it not the case that the Prime Minister has no mandate from Scotland either for no deal or for her deal? [909627]

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

We entered the European Union as the United Kingdom; we will leave the European Union as the United Kingdom. I also say to the hon. Lady that the SNP has no mandate from the Scottish people to continue to pursue independence. [Interruption.]

Mr Speaker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

6 Mar 2019, 12:36 p.m.

Order. Calm! [Interruption.] Difference of opinion is the essence of politics. There is an elaborate combination of finger wagging and head shaking going on, which may be personally therapeutic but is institutionally disadvantageous. In any case, we owe the hon. Member for Taunton Deane (Rebecca Pow) a decent hearing. I call Rebecca Pow.

Break in Debate

Mr Speaker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

6 Mar 2019, 12:38 p.m.

I think that by now the wash would have been completed. [Laughter.]

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

6 Mar 2019, 12:38 p.m.

Despite the laughter, my hon. Friend has raised a very important issue. May I thank her for continuing to be a champion of our environment? She did an enormous amount of work that led to the Government ban on microbeads, and she is now raising the issue of microfibres. She mentions that Members across this House are seeking to reduce their use of plastic during Lent. I think that it is incumbent on all of us to seek to reduce our use of plastic, not just during Lent but for the time to come.

Deidre Brock Portrait Deidre Brock (Edinburgh North and Leith) (SNP)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Q7. As one of the Aussie MPs in this House, may I say how much I share your appreciation for Australian tennis players, Mr Speaker? I would add my personal favourite, Evonne Goolagong Cawley, who was such a brilliant inspiration to so many of us when I was growing up in Australia. For a year now, the Prime Minister has been refusing to answer my questions about the visit of AggregateIQ to Downing Street, so may I ask her about the visit of Alexander Nix of Cambridge Analytica to Downing Street in December 2016? It was reported in The Spectator “Coffee House” blog, but not in the transparency data. May I ask the Prime Minister whom Alexander Nix met in Downing Street, what the purpose of the meeting was and—most importantly—why it was not reported in the transparency data? [909628]

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

6 Mar 2019, 12:40 p.m.

The hon. Lady has raised a specific issue with me, which I will look into, but she says we did not respond on the question about AggregateIQ. My hon. Friend the Minister for the Constitution has written to her about this and responded to her query.

Antoinette Sandbach (Eddisbury) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

6 Mar 2019, 12:40 p.m.

Women’s football is one of the fastest growing sports in the world. I hope you, Mr Speaker, and my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister will welcome the £70 million investment Cheshire Football Association is putting into developing a women’s football training centre in Winsford. May I invite the Prime Minister to come and open the facility—and take part?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

I thank my hon. Friend for her invitation. Earlier, I was pleased to congratulate the England women’s football team. I am sure the whole House will recognise the important work being done by Cheshire FA. I think it is a very exciting project. I welcome its commitment to providing this new world-class facility for women and girls’ football in Cheshire. I will look very closely at her invitation. It sounds very interesting, but of course I cannot commit my diary on the Floor of the House.

Mhairi Black Portrait Mhairi Black (Paisley and Renfrewshire South) (SNP)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Q9. My constituent arrived early to her employment and support allowance assessment, as requested by her assessors, only to be told that she would have to wait another 90 minutes to be seen. She has an open wound, so sitting for any great length of time causes her great distress and pain. After her 90-minute wait she was told that she would not be seen and would have to make another appointment—I believe it is happening right now. Does the Prime Minister think it is right that my constituent has to go through this humiliating process all over again? [909630]

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

6 Mar 2019, 12:40 p.m.

Obviously, the hon. Lady raises what sounds like a very distressing individual case. I will ensure that the appropriate Minister writes to her.

Ross Thomson (Aberdeen South) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

6 Mar 2019, 12:40 p.m.

Last week, MPs heard harrowing testimony from family members of a man who tragically committed suicide because he faced the loan charge, a 20-year retrospective tax facing thousands of families in my constituency and across the UK. On 9 January the Prime Minister said that the Government accepted the review into the loan charge, yet the all-party group on the loan charge was only advised this week by the Treasury that there is no such review. The Treasury has acted in bad faith, so will my right hon. Friend now personally intervene to ensure a genuine review and an urgent delay of the loan charge, so that the review, as promised, can be carried out?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

My hon. Friend raises an issue which is of concern not only to his constituents but others’ across the House. I will ensure that he receives a response from the Treasury that sets out exactly what is being done in the review that is taking place.

Dr David Drew (Stroud) (Lab/Co-op)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Q10. Last Saturday morning, with three colleagues, I met the heads and governors of Gloucester schools. Each school outlined the impact of education cuts on their particular establishment, but they agreed on one thing: the Prime Minister could make a real difference now with regard to special educational needs. I hope the Government will consider this. First, will the Government make sure that the additional needs budget is fully ring-fenced and invested in schools, rather than lost somewhere on the way? Secondly, will the Government take away the ridiculous and perverse incentive whereby the first £6,000 for any education, health and care plan has to be found by the school itself? If that were to be done, it would make a dramatic difference to our schools. I raised that in a debate on Monday, but unfortunately the Education Minister was unable to confirm. Will the Prime Minister confirm that the Government will look into that and do something about it? [909631]

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

We recognise we have asked schools to do more. That is why we recently announced an extra £350 million to support children with complex special educational needs. That includes an extra £250 million into the high needs budget across this year and next. That builds on the £6 billion in place for this year, the highest level on record. We have also put in an extra £100 million to create new school places to improve existing facilities for children with special educational needs and disabilities. That takes our total investment on that to £365 million through to 2021. The hon. Gentleman raises the question of the money actually going direct to the schools. I suggest that he needs to sit down—I am sure he has—with the local authority and discuss with it how it is using the money that is being made available to it.

Derek Thomas Portrait Derek Thomas (St Ives) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

6 Mar 2019, 12:44 p.m.

This week marks the beginning of Brain Tumour Awareness Month, and I bring the House’s attention to the event that is happening immediately after Prime Minister’s questions in Westminster Hall. Good progress is being made to find the right care and cure for people who have brain tumours, but will my right hon. Friend meet me and others to discuss how we can improve the life chances of children and young people who survive a brain tumour but are left with brain injuries? Essential therapies and support for children and young people in this situation is not consistent and often lacking, leaving them with significantly impaired life chances.

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

6 Mar 2019, 12:44 p.m.

My hon. Friend raises a very important issue and I thank the all-party group on brain tumours for all the work that it has done on this issue. It is essential to recognise the needs of parents and carers of children to ensure that the right support is in place when and where they need it. That is why those diagnosed with cancer, including children with brain cancer, will be benefiting from a tailored recovery package, individually designed to help them to live well with and beyond cancer. As my hon. Friend mentions, not just dealing with the cancer, but thereafter is an important element of this. NHS England is accelerating the roll-out to ensure full implementation by 2020, as recommended by the independent cancer taskforce. I understand that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care will be going directly to the event that my hon. Friend refers to, and I am sure that the appropriate Minister in the Department for Health and Social Care will be happy to meet to go through this in detail.

Paul Girvan Portrait Paul Girvan (South Antrim) (DUP)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Q12. The Prime Minister will be aware of our concerns about attempts to prosecute members of the security forces who conscientiously and courageously defended all the people of Northern Ireland against terrorism. Will she assure me that any proposal to provide greater legal protection for our armed forces will include those who served in Northern Ireland? [909633]

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

6 Mar 2019, 12:44 p.m.

We have been clear that the current system for dealing with the legacy of Northern Ireland’s past is not working well for anyone. Around 3,500 people were killed in the troubles; 90% were murdered by terrorists. Many of these cases require further investigation, including the deaths of hundreds of members of the security forces. The system to investigate the past does need to change to provide better outcomes for victims and survivors of the troubles, but also to ensure that our armed forces and police officers are not unfairly treated. That is why we are working across Government on proposals to see how best we can move forward. We are carefully considering the very large number of responses that we received to the consultation on this issue. We will be publishing our next steps in due course and the MOD is looking at what more can be done to ensure that service personnel are not unfairly pursued through the courts, including considering legislation.

Colin Clark (Gordon) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

The SNP Scottish Government have resurrected Alex Salmond’s call for a Scottish currency. Does the Prime Minister agree that this is reckless and risks destabilising the Scottish economy?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

6 Mar 2019, 12:44 p.m.

I seem to recall that, back in the 2014 referendum, the SNP were absolutely adamant that Scotland would keep the pound. There have been a few changes since then. They have looked at the option of the euro, then they went back to sterling, and now they are into an independent currency. This Government are working to secure a Brexit deal that protects jobs and our economy. The SNP should focus on that rather than continuing to pursue their independence fantasy.

Marsha De Cordova Portrait Marsha De Cordova (Battersea) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Q13. The Department for Work and Pensions is currently carrying out five reviews into disabled people wrongly deprived of social security support because of the flawed personal independence payment assessment. My constituent, Mr Delaurentis, was given just zero points despite being unable to prepare food for himself or even dress himself. We have recently learnt that over 4,000 people were wrongly deprived of their disability living allowance when reassessed for PIP. Seventeen thousand people have died before their PIP decision was reached, and over 72% of cases that go to an appeal tribunal are overturned in favour of the claimant, so when will the Prime Minister follow Labour’s policy and scrap this discredited and flawed PIP assessment framework? [909634]

Mr Speaker
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

May I gently say to colleagues that I am trying to accommodate as many Back-Bench Members as possible? This applies to both sides of the House: some extremely serious public purpose-focused questions are being put, but they are too long.

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

6 Mar 2019, 12:49 p.m.

Thank you, Mr Speaker.

On the ESA underpayments, obviously mistakes should not have happened and we need to clear this up as quickly as possible. The DWP is taking the issue very seriously. It has about 1,200 people working on sorting it out. We have already paid out almost £330 million. The Department expects to finish correcting the majority of the original cases by April and it aims to process additional cases by the end of the year.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan Portrait Anne-Marie Trevelyan (Berwick-upon-Tweed) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Yesterday, pupils from Tweedmouth Community Middle School won the national Modeshift STARS trophy for secondary schools for its amazing work to encourage more pupils to cycle to school. Will the Prime Minister join me in congratulating the school, its head, Mr Hulbert, and his team of staff, who are committed to creating a fitter, greener and more environmentally focused next generation of Berwickers?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

I am very happy to join my hon. Friend in thanking and congratulating Tweedmouth Community Middle School on its excellent work encouraging pupils to cycle to school. It is clearly an excellent achievement. We all know the importance of keeping our young people active. I congratulate Mr Hulbert and all the teachers, but particularly the students who have taken this up and put it into practice. It is a very good example of what schools are doing across the country.

Alan Brown Portrait Alan Brown (Kilmarnock and Loudoun) (SNP)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Q14. My constituent, Yvonne Chafey, has a four-year-old son, Logan, who is the only child in the whole of Europe with chromosome 7p duplication syndrome, which causes epilepsy and autism. Hardly any prescriptions of medicinal cannabis have been allowed to date, and with Logan being so unique, he will always be denied access under the current rules of proven benefit. What changes can be made to allow Logan to access cannabis products to ease his suffering without his family having to go through a very high-profile public campaign? [909635]

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

The hon. Gentleman has raised a distressing case about a constituent. We have taken steps to ensure that medicinal cannabis is available, but decisions on availability are taken by clinicians, as is absolutely right.

Paul Scully Portrait Paul Scully (Sutton and Cheam) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I welcome the publication of the draft domestic abuse Bill, and I hope it will pass successfully through the House. Does my right hon. Friend agree that, as well as tackling extreme abuse and violence, we should also raise awareness of the entry level acts of coercion, deceit and manipulation that lead to more extreme examples?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

My hon. Friend has raised an important issue. People will obviously have seen distressing cases of coercion and indeed some instances where that has been taken through the courts. We all need to recognise the importance of dealing with domestic abuse and recognise that for too long the issue of coercion was not accepted or addressed. It is important. It is this Government who are doing that. As he says, we must be very clear about the entry level behaviours that lead to that distress.

Chris Stephens Portrait Chris Stephens (Glasgow South West) (SNP)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Q15. Today is the 10th anniversary of the blacklist of construction workers being exposed, and today various news reports detail the extraordinary admissions in the Creadon report that the police and special branches across the UK and the security services supplied information to the Consulting Association. Does the Prime Minister agree that there now needs to be a full standalone UK public inquiry into the human rights conspiracy of blacklisting so that truth and justice can be served and those responsible for blacklisting can be held to account? [909636]

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

The hon. Gentleman raises an issue that has been raised on several occasions. Of course, the Government have responded on this and I would be happy to write to him on it.

Vicky Ford Portrait Vicky Ford (Chelmsford) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

This Ash Wednesday, will the Prime Minister give strong encouragement and support to the 48 Conservative MPs who are taking on an environmental challenge because we have seen the devastating impact of plastics across the world? Will she give a big shout-out to all Members of the House taking on a plastics pledge and raising the good work of Tearfund and the Department for International Development in reducing plastic pollution?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

I was pleased to see many hon. Friends giving up plastic last year, and I am pleased to hear that many colleagues are planning on supporting Tearfund’s plastics pledge. Through UK Aid Match, the UK Government will match donations of up to £2 million raised by Tearfund’s supporters for a project in Pakistan. We are committed to the UK being a world leader in tackling plastic pollution. Hon. Members are showing by their example the role that the UK is playing, and I congratulate and applaud them.

Sir Vince Cable (Twickenham) (LD)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

The Prime Minister will recall the advice she received from her Conservative colleagues as well as mine about the dangerous folly of making landlords responsible in criminal law for immigration control. Following the High Court ruling of Mr Justice Spencer that her policy is now increasing the risk of racial discrimination, will she not accept that her policy is fanning the flames of racism in return for nothing but tougher rhetoric about immigration control?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

It is absolutely right that the Government have taken the approach that we need to consider, when people are accessing different services, whether they have a right to be in this country. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has issued a written ministerial statement in response to the case in the courts and I understand that the Government are appealing the case.

Oral Answers to Questions

Theresa May Excerpts
Wednesday 20th June 2018

(2 years, 8 months ago)

Commons Chamber

Read Full debate Read Hansard Text
Northern Ireland Office
Alan Whitehead Portrait Dr Alan Whitehead (Southampton, Test) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Q1. If she will list her official engagements for Wednesday 20 June. [905947]

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister (Mrs Theresa May)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

20 Jun 2018, 12:02 p.m.

Yesterday marked one year since the attack on the Finsbury Park mosque. That truly cowardly attack was intended to divide us, but we will not let that happen. We have been joined today by the imam of the mosque, Mohammed Mahmoud, and I am sure that Members from across the House will join me in paying tribute to his extraordinary bravery and dignity. [Hon. Members: “Hear, hear.”]

Friday is the 70th anniversary of the arrival of the MV Empire Windrush at Tilbury docks. It is right that we recognise and honour the enormous contribution of the Windrush generation and their descendants. That is why we have announced an annual Windrush Day, which will keep alive their legacy for future generations and ensure that we all celebrate the diversity of Britain’s history.

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.

Alan Whitehead Portrait Dr Whitehead
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

20 Jun 2018, 12:03 p.m.

I concur with the Prime Minister’s remarks concerning the terrorist attack on the Finsbury Park mosque. One year on, it is right that we remember it.

Following the agreements to which the UK signed up at the Paris climate change summit, will the Prime Minister now commit to a new UK climate change target of zero net emissions before 2050?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

20 Jun 2018, 12:04 p.m.

The United Kingdom has been leading the way in relation to dealing with climate change. The United Kingdom was, I think, the first country to bring in legislation relating to it, and the Government have a good record in dealing with these issues. Crucially, we have ensured that we remain committed to the Paris accord. I pay tribute to my right hon. Friend the Member for Hastings and Rye (Amber Rudd), who played a key role in ensuring that the Paris accord was agreed to and that everybody signed up to it.

Simon Hoare Portrait Simon Hoare (North Dorset) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Q3. Dorset is the home of the Jurassic coast, but my right hon. Friend will be pleased to know that it is not full of dinosaurs. [Laughter.] We are a modern, embrace-the-day sort of a county.All my North Dorset constituents want to ensure the safety and dignity of women. As a husband and father, I do, too. Will the Prime Minister confirm that we will make the horror of upskirting illegal quickly, and in Government time? [905949]

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

20 Jun 2018, 12:05 p.m.

I reassure my hon. Friend that I agree with him: upskirting is a hideous invasion of privacy. It leaves victims feeling degraded and distressed. We will adopt this as a Government Bill. We will introduce the Bill to the Commons this Thursday, with Second Reading before the summer recess, but we are not stopping there. We will also ensure that the most serious offenders are added to the sex offenders register, and victims should be in no doubt that their complaints will be taken seriously and perpetrators will be punished.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

20 Jun 2018, 12:06 p.m.

I join the Prime Minister in welcoming my friend, Imam Mohammed Mahmoud, here today. He showed enormous humanity and presence of mind on that terrible day a year ago, when he prevented violence from breaking out on the streets of my constituency. I thank him and all the religious leaders in the local community who did so much to bind people together. As a country, we should be bound together in condemning racism in any form wherever it arises.

I was pleased that the Prime Minister mentioned the Windrush generation. I, too, join her in commemorating that event, when the Windrush generation arrived in this country. I hope that the hostile environment will be put behind us, and that we will take a special moment today to welcome a daughter of the Windrush generation as a new Member of this House. My hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham East (Janet Daby) brings to this House enormous experience of dealing with the problems of poverty and dislocation in her borough, and she will make a great contribution to the House.

Today marks World Refugee Day—a time to reflect on the human misery of 65 million refugees displaced across the globe. There is a responsibility on all political leaders both to aid refugees and to act to tackle the crises and the conflicts that drive this vast movement of people.

The Prime Minister said—[Hon. Members: “A question?”] Thank you. The Prime Minister said that extra funding for the national health service will come from three sources: Brexit, economic growth and the taxation system. Well, there can be no Brexit dividend before 2022. Economic growth is the slowest since 2009, so which taxes are going up?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard - -

20 Jun 2018, 12:07 p.m.

The right hon. Gentleman mentioned a number of issues in his opening question. First, I take this opportunity to say that when I visited Finsbury Park mosque after the attack, I was struck by the very close work that was being done by a number of faith leaders in that community. I commend them for the work that they are doing—they were doing it then, and that I know they continue to do it. We see such work in other communities, including in my own constituency of Maidenhead.

The right hon. Gentleman ended up by asking a question, I think, on the national health service, so can I be very clear about this? We have set out a long-term plan for the NHS. That is securing the future for the national health service. We have set a five-year funding settlement. That will be funded. There will be money that we are no longer sending to the EU that we will be able to spend on our NHS—[Interruption.] Hon. Members may shout about this, but I know that that issue is not the policy of Labour Front Benchers. In relation to money that we are no longer sending to the EU being spent on the NHS, the shadow Housing Secretary called it “bogus”, and the shadow Health Secretary said it was a deceit. Perhaps I can tell them what another Labour Member said a few weeks ago:

“we will use funds returned from Brussels after Brexit to invest in our public services”.

That was the right hon. Gentleman, the Leader of the Opposition.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

20 Jun 2018, 12:09 p.m.

I am very pleased that the Prime Minister is reading my speeches so closely. I said that the money sent to the EU should be ring-fenced to replace structural funds to regions, support for agriculture and the fishing industry, and funding for research and universities.

May I remind the Prime Minister that my question was about taxation to deal with the NHS promises she made at the weekend. Last year—she might care to forget last summer, actually—she wrote in the Conservative manifesto:

“Firms and households cannot plan ahead”

with the threat of unspecified higher taxes. By her own admission, households and businesses need to plan, so can she be straight with people? Which taxes are going up and for who?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard - -

20 Jun 2018, 12:11 p.m.

As I said on Monday, my right hon. Friend the Chancellor will set out the full funding package. We will listen to people and he will set it out properly before the spending review. I am interested that the right hon. Gentleman has now confirmed that the Labour party thinks there will be money coming back from the European Union. I think there is one circumstance in which there would be no money coming back from the EU: if we adopted Labour’s policy of getting a deal at whatever price.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

20 Jun 2018, 12:11 p.m.

At the weekend, the Prime Minister said that

“about £600 million a week more in cash”

would be spent on the NHS. She continued:

“That will be through the Brexit dividend.”

Our net contribution to the European Union is about £8.5 billion a year, but £600 million a week is more than £30 billion a year. Her figures are so dodgy that they belong on the side of a bus. We expect that from the Foreign Secretary, but why is the Prime Minister pushing her own Mickey Mouse figures?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard - -

20 Jun 2018, 12:13 p.m.

The right hon. Gentleman thanked me earlier for reading his speeches. I suggest that he or perhaps his researchers spend a little more time carefully reading and listening to what I actually say. He claims that I said that by 2023-24 there would be £600 million more in cash terms per week spent on the NHS from the Brexit dividend. No, I did not say that. I said the following: there will indeed be around £600 million more spent on the NHS every week in cash terms as a result of a decision taken by this Conservative Government to secure the future of the NHS. That will partly be funded by the money we no longer spend on the European Union. As a country, we will be contributing a bit more. We will listen to views on that, and my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer will bring forward the package before the spending review. If the right hon. Gentleman is so concerned about people’s taxation, why, when we increased the personal allowance, thereby taking nearly 4 million people out of paying income tax altogether, did he and the Labour party oppose it?

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

20 Jun 2018, 12:14 p.m.

Last night, the Prime Minister sent an email to Conservative party members telling them:

“The money we now send to the EU will go to the NHS”.

The Government’s own Office for Budget Responsibility says we will not see any dividend until at least 2023. The Prime Minister talks about a strong economy, but our economic growth last year was the slowest of any major economy, and it has already been downgraded this year. If growth does not meet expectations, does that mean—this is the question—extra borrowing or higher mystery taxes?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard - -

20 Jun 2018, 12:14 p.m.

It is the balanced approach that this Government take to our economy that has enabled us—[Interruption.] Oh, they all groan! They do not like to hear that there is a fundamental difference between us and the Labour party. We do believe in keeping taxes low, we do believe in putting money into our public services, and we also believe in dealing with our debt and making sure that we get debt falling. What would the Labour party do? The Labour party would not have money to put into the national health service, because the Labour party would bankrupt our economy. And yes, if we are talking about the amount of money that is being put into the NHS, let us just look at what the Labour party offered at the last election. The Labour party said that 2.2% more growth for the NHS would make it

“the envy of the world”.

Well, I have to say to my right hon. and hon. Friends that I chose not to listen to that. We are not putting in 2.2% more growth; we are putting in 3.4% more growth.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

20 Jun 2018, 12:16 p.m.

Under Labour the NHS increase would have been 5% this year, and the Institute for Fiscal Studies confirmed that this year there would be £7.7 billion more for the NHS. What is the Prime Minister’s offer? She has promised £394 million per week without saying where any of it is coming from, apart from those mysterious phantom taxes that the Chancellor is presumably dreaming up at this very moment.

There is a human element to all issues surrounding the national health service and public spending. Let me give an example. Virginia wrote to me last week. She said:

“my diabetic daughter has fallen down on 4 occasions in the last month. She has both legs in plaster and is being told there isn’t enough money for the NHS to give her a wheelchair”.

The IFS says that the NHS needs 3.3% just to maintain current provision, which I remind the Prime Minister is at crisis levels. Does she think that standing still is good enough for Virginia, or for anyone else who is waiting for the treatment that they need and deserve?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard - -

20 Jun 2018, 12:17 p.m.

We are putting in extra money to ensure that we see improved care in the NHS. Let me remind the right hon. Gentleman what the chief executive of NHS England, Simon Stevens, has said of our announcement. He said:

“we can now face the next five years with renewed certainty. This multi-year settlement provides the funding we need to shape a long-term plan for key improvements in cancer, mental health and other critical services.”

If the right hon. Gentleman wants to talk about what the Labour party does in relation to the health service—and that is where he started—let us look not at what it says, but at what it actually does. For every £1 extra that we spend on the NHS in England, Labour in Wales spends only 84p. Typical Labour: say one thing and do another.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

20 Jun 2018, 12:18 p.m.

Health spending grew by 5% in Wales last year, rather more than in England. The Prime Minister’s 3.4% is actually just 3%, as it is only for NHS England. There is nothing for public health budgets, nothing for community health, and, vitally, nothing for social care. That is less than is needed just to stand still.

After the longest funding squeeze in history, A&E waits are at their worst ever, 4 million people are now on NHS waiting lists, and the cancer treatment target has not been met for over three years. Nurse numbers are falling, GP numbers are falling, and there are 100,000 staff vacancies. NHS trusts are £1 billion in deficit, and there is a £1.3 billion funding gap in social care. The Prime Minister is writing IOUs just to stand still. Until the Government can be straight with people about where the money is coming from, why should anyone, anywhere, trust them on the NHS?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard - -

20 Jun 2018, 12:19 p.m.

I will tell the right hon. Gentleman why people should trust us on the national health service. Over the 70 years of the NHS, for 43 of those years it has been under the stewardship of a Conservative Government. Despite taking difficult and necessary decisions on public spending in 2010 as a result of the deficit left by the last Labour Government, we have consistently put extra money into the NHS. We have now announced a national health service plan that gives it certainty of funding for the next five years, and, working with clinicians and others in the NHS, we will see a 10-year plan to improve services and to improve care for patients. The right hon. Gentleman can stand up here all he likes and talk about the Labour party’s plans for money, but what we know is that the Labour party’s plans would bankrupt this economy. The IFS has said:

“Labour would not raise as much money as they claim even in the short run, let alone the long run.”

In short, its plan “absolutely doesn’t add up”: Conservatives putting more money into the national health service; Labour losing control of the public finances and bankrupting Britain.

Fiona Bruce Portrait Fiona Bruce (Congleton) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Q4. Reports from the Health Foundation across our front pages this week conclude that millennials will face worse health problems than their parents and that a key cause of this is relationship challenges, yet only 31% of millennials say they had strong relationships and support networks while growing up. What action is the Prime Minister taking in response to calls from over 60 hon. Friends to strengthen family relationships? [905950]

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard - -

20 Jun 2018, 12:22 p.m.

I thank my hon. Friend for continuing to highlight this important issue of family support and family relationships, and we are determined to do as much as we can to support families. That is why we are providing for high-quality relationships education, helping children to be equipped and prepared to maintain healthy and respectful relationships in their adult lives. The Department for Work and Pensions is providing relationship support services to families through the voluntary sector, and, backed up by up to £39 million, the reducing parental conflict programme will help councillors across England integrate support for family relationships into the local services for families. As my hon. Friend says, and as she has said before, children who are exposed to frequent, intense and poorly resolved conflict can experience a decline in their mental health; we understand the importance of supporting families at an early stage.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (SNP)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

20 Jun 2018, 12:23 p.m.

May I associate myself with the remarks of the Prime Minister on the incident a year ago at the Finsbury Park mosque?

Many of us in this House will be aware of the deeply distressing audio and images of children separated from their parents in US detention centres. Infants as young as 18 months are being caged like animals, babies of eight months are being left isolated in rooms, and last night the former head of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement said he expects hundreds of these children never to be reunited with their parents—lost in the system, orphaned by the US Government. Is the Prime Minister still intending to roll out the red carpet for Donald Trump?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

May I first of all say to the right hon. Gentleman that I am pleased to see him in this Chamber to be able to ask his questions? But on the very important issue he has raised of what we have seen in the United States, the pictures of children being held in what appear to be cages are deeply disturbing: this is wrong; this is not something that we agree with. This is not the United Kingdom’s approach; indeed, when I was Home Secretary I ended the routine detention of families with children. We have a special, long-standing and enduring relationship with the United States and there will rightly be a range of issues that I will be discussing with President Trump about our shared interests, and it is important that we make sure that when we welcome and see the President of the United States here in the United Kingdom we are able to have those discussions, which mean that when we disagree with what they are doing we say so.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

20 Jun 2018, 12:24 p.m.

I have to say that that is a disappointing answer from the Prime Minister. We should all be unreservedly condemning the actions of Donald Trump, and I ask the Prime Minister to do that. On the issue of immigration, while the US Administration call it a zero-tolerance policy, the Prime Minister calls it a hostile environment. We know that this Government detain children in detention centres here in the UK. The UK is the only EU country to detain people indefinitely. Will the Prime Minister today, on World Refugee Day, show some leadership and end her policy of indefinite detention?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

20 Jun 2018, 12:24 p.m.

First, in relation to the right hon. Gentleman’s question about what is happening in the United States, I clearly, wholly and unequivocally said that that was wrong. On the issue of the detention policy here in the United Kingdom, he referred to the detention of families with children and, as I have said, we ended the routine detention of families with children early after 2010. We do, on occasion, need to detain people, but we take their welfare extremely seriously. That is why, when I was Home Secretary, I commissioned Stephen Shaw, the former prisons and probation ombudsman, to look at this issue. As a result of his report, we introduced the at-risk policy, which means that we have a clear presumption that adults who are at risk should not be detained, along with better mental health provision for them. We have asked him to go back and look at this issue again, and he has reported. We are carefully studying that report and will publish in due course.

Lucy Allan Portrait Lucy Allan (Telford) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Q8. Last year, the number of children in the care system in England rose to a record of 73,000, with huge social and economic consequences. The care crisis review, published last week, found that the drivers of that increase included a risk-averse blame culture and a failure to direct spending to family support. Will the Prime Minister ensure that her children’s Minister considers the review’s recommendations, and will she commit to ensuring that state intervention to remove children from families is used only as a last resort? [905954]

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

20 Jun 2018, 12:24 p.m.

My hon. Friend is absolutely right to say that care proceedings should be a last resort. They should be undertaken only after other steps have failed, because we want every child to be in a stable, loving home that is right for them. The sector-led review that she mentions is an important contribution to work that is being done across the family justice system to address the pressure caused by rising public law volumes in family courts, and we are carefully considering the report’s findings and recommendations.

Mr Gavin Shuker (Luton South) (Lab/Co-op)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Q2. If I can summarise what we have just heard: President Trump has locked up 2,000 little children in cages and is refusing to release them unless he is allowed to build a wall; he has quit the United Nations Human Rights Council; he has praised Kim Jong-un’s treatment of his own people; and he has turned away Muslims. What does this man have to do to have the invitation that the Prime Minister has extended revoked? [905948]

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

20 Jun 2018, 12:24 p.m.

As I said—[Interruption.]

Mr Speaker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Order. The hon. Gentleman’s question was heard with courtesy, and the reply must be heard with courtesy.

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

20 Jun 2018, 12:24 p.m.

First, I have just said in response to questions about the pictures and the behaviour that we have seen in the United States and about the way children are being treated, that is clearly, wholly and unequivocally wrong. On the wider issue of the President of the United States coming here to the United Kingdom, there are many issues that Members of this House—including the hon. Gentleman’s right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition—consistently encourage me to raise with the President of the United States. We do that: when we disagree with the United States, we tell them so. We also have key shared interests with the United States, in the security and defence field and in other areas, and it is right that we are able to sit down and discuss those issues with the President. He is the President of a country with which we have had, and will continue to have, a long-standing special relationship.

Nigel Mills Portrait Nigel Mills (Amber Valley) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Q9. Residents across Amber Valley are worried about proposals to build housing on land next to sites on which contaminated waste was tipped in the 1970s. Does the Prime Minister agree that planning guidance should be changed to make it clear that a thorough, competent assessment of the risks of contamination should be carried out before permission is given to build houses on such sites? [905956]

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

I completely understand my hon. Friend’s concerns and have dealt with issues of contaminated land sites and development on them in my constituency in the past. We take local residents’ safety seriously in relation to contaminated land, and we ensure that the guidance is regularly updated. Developers are already required to ensure that they comply with a host of legal and regulatory safeguards before they build on contaminated land, and we also require that they work in conjunction with the Environment Agency and meet building regulations to ensure residents’ safety.

Ronnie Cowan Portrait Ronnie Cowan (Inverclyde) (SNP)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Q5. The Government granted a licence to British Sugar to grow cannabis on an industrial scale and licensed medical cannabis produced by GW Pharmaceuticals. They have now stalled, proposing that a panel should decide on a one-by-one basis who can benefit from medical cannabis. I am wondering what will happen on day one when 20,000 people apply to that panel. Can the Government not see the writing on the wall? Will they move now to provide medical cannabis under prescription to the many people who would benefit? [905951]

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

I offer my deepest sympathies to those suffering from severe conditions where other treatments have not been effective and where cannabis-based medicines have the potential to help. I recognise that people suffering from such issues will of course want to look to alleviate their symptoms, but it is important that medicines are carefully and thoroughly assessed to ensure that they meet rigorous standards, so that doctors and patients are assured of their efficacy, their quality and their safety

My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary announced a two-part review yesterday. We see from recent cases that we need to look at this carefully, and the first review will be carried out by the chief medical officer followed by a review from the Advisory Council of the Misuse of Drugs. My right hon. Friend is also acting to set up an expert panel of clinicians that can advise Ministers on any applications to prescribe cannabis-based medicines.

Antoinette Sandbach (Eddisbury) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Q10. Last Saturday marked two years since the murder of our colleague Jo Cox. Although she is no longer with us, Jo’s legacy still lives on through the work done in her name covering many issues, including loneliness. I welcome yesterday’s announcement of a £20 million fund to combat loneliness, and will my right hon. Friend join me in paying tribute to groups such as Age UK and Brightlife in my constituency that do so much to tackle rural isolation? [905957]

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard - -

20 Jun 2018, 12:33 p.m.

I am happy to join my hon. Friend in commending the work of the groups in her constituency that she referred to, such as Brightlife and Age UK. She is right that Saturday marked the two-year anniversary of the death of Jo Cox, but she is also right that Jo Cox’s legacy lives on every day in the work on the issues that she cared about, particularly loneliness. I was pleased that we were able to announce £20 million to combat loneliness, and that will be used to help bring people together, to explore the use of technology to connect people in remote areas and to improve transport connections to make face-to-face contact easier. Jo was passionate about seeing a step change in how we deal with loneliness in this country, and we are determined to support the continuation of her work after her sad and tragic death.

Gareth Thomas Portrait Gareth Thomas (Harrow West) (Lab/Co-op)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Q6. Thames Water and other water companies have profit margins close to 20%, paying out a huge £1.4 billion annually often to overseas owners that could be used to cut bills and accelerate repairs. Given that only Welsh Water, a mutual, makes no such payments, when might the Prime Minister get behind the efforts to double the size of the mutual and co-operative contribution to our economy? [905952]

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard - -

20 Jun 2018, 12:33 p.m.

There are many good examples of mutuals and co-operatives that operate in our economy, and they do well and provide services to individuals. There is no limit on the number of mutuals and co-operatives that could be set up. We want a mixed economy, and they play an important part.

Bill Wiggin Portrait Bill Wiggin (North Herefordshire) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Q11. My right hon. Friend will be aware that I have raised the issue of more beds for Hereford County Hospital no fewer than 12 times over the years. Will she now confirm that the funding is in place to deliver those much-needed beds? [905958]

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard - -

20 Jun 2018, 12:21 p.m.

As my hon. Friend says, he has been a consistent campaigner on this particular issue. We have announced over £3.9 billion of new additional capital funding for the NHS up to 2022-23, and the majority of that is to support the implementation of the local sustainability and transformation partnership plans. Major projects are under consideration across the country, and we intend to announce one large-scale scheme the size of the Shrewsbury and Telford plan every year going forward. They will be based on high-quality plans, but they will arise from local NHS leaders. It is important that such plans are driven by the local NHS, but they will ensure better care for patients.

Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi Portrait Mr Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi (Slough) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Q7. It is said there is no greater pain than losing a child, especially in circumstances that are entirely and easily avoidable. My Slough constituent Mark Scaife, whose son Michael tragically drowned in the Jubilee river, was shocked to learn that schools are not required to teach water safety and the impact of cold water shock. Does the Prime Minister agree that, as we are currently in the middle of the Royal Life Saving Society’s annual Drowning Prevention Week, now is the opportune moment to discuss this matter with ministerial colleagues and to announce the compulsory inclusion of these vital lessons? [905953]

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

I thank the hon. Gentleman for raising this important issue. Our sympathies are with the family.

We take the teaching of water safety very seriously, which is why we are supporting the National Water Safety Forum’s national drowning prevention strategy, which aims to achieve a 50% reduction in drownings by 2026 by encouraging people to stay safe while enjoying themselves. We have made sure that swimming and water safety is compulsory in the national curriculum for physical education at primary level, but we recognise there is more to do. We have established an implementation group, and we are reviewing the recommendations of the report, which is part of the Sporting Future strategy that aims to improve the swimming curriculum.

Bim Afolami Portrait Bim Afolami (Hitchin and Harpenden) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Q14. The Prime Minister knows that I, as the son of a doctor and a pharmacist, share her strong commitment to the NHS. Will she reassure me and this House that the additional funding that is being provided will lead to measurable improvements in patient outcomes so that this extra money is spent as wisely as possible? [905961]

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

I can absolutely give my hon. Friend that assurance. We do not want to see money going to the NHS and being wasted or spent on bureaucracy, and not actually getting to patient care. That is why it is so important that, alongside the extra money, as part of the 10-year plan we will be working with the NHS on making sure not only that we see better outcomes for patients as a result of this extra money but that the money is spent wisely and in the interest of patients.

Lisa Nandy Portrait Lisa Nandy (Wigan) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Q12. After four weeks of Northern Rail chaos, passengers in the north of England have had enough. The Government have said that Network Rail did not deliver and that Northern was not prepared, but I have been handed emails from within the Department for Transport that show Ministers and officials were warned of impending chaos as long as two years ago. These emails are a disgrace. In them, officials describe key Northern routes as valueless, discuss “a classic handling strategy” for Members of Parliament, discuss whether to throw “a sop” to Northern passenger groups and debate whether to propagate myths in order to divert public attention from agreed planned route closures.Will the Prime Minister explain to the House why she has withheld this key information from us and from the public? Or is she so incompetent that she literally does not have a clue what is going on in her own Government? [905959]

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

20 Jun 2018, 12:39 p.m.

The hon. Lady refers to documents that she describes as having been leaked from the Department for Transport. No Government respond from the Dispatch Box to leaked documents they have not seen. In advance of the timetable changes for both Northern and Govia in May, a separate independent panel was set up by the DFT to reassure the Department about the nature of those plans.

Lisa Nandy Portrait Lisa Nandy
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

20 Jun 2018, 12:39 p.m.

indicated dissent.

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

The hon. Lady may shake her head, but that independent panel was set up, and that independent panel advised the Department for Transport.

Justine Greening (Putney) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

20 Jun 2018, 12:39 p.m.

Is the Prime Minister aware that Birmingham airport will have 15% fewer international flights than otherwise, and that Manchester airport will have 11% fewer, Newcastle 14% will have fewer and Bournemouth will have more than 40% fewer, by 2030 as a result of Heathrow expansion? How do we help investment in our regions by suffocating the regional airports’ growth?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

My right hon. Friend asks about expanding Heathrow and the impact it is going to have on regional airports, so may I just tell her one anecdote? When we made our first announcement about the in principle decision on the third runway at Heathrow, I went down to Cornwall and visited Newquay. People there were very pleased and welcomed the announcement, because of the ability it was going to give them to improve their local economy and expand their tourist industry, in particular.

Ian Paisley Portrait Ian Paisley (North Antrim) (DUP)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Q13. Today, 123,000 individuals will visit community pharmacies across Northern Ireland. As the Prime Minister knows, the pharmacies are the front door and shop window of the health service, so telling them that the best way to solve their problem when they have a shortfall of more than £20 million is to write to a defunct Assembly is not an answer to their problem. What is she able to do for community pharmacists across Ulster today? [905960]

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

20 Jun 2018, 12:41 p.m.

I recognise the value of community pharmacies. I think everybody across this House recognises the valuable work they do in communities, and indeed we have recognised it with our £100 million contribution to a health transformation fund. We have done and will continue to do what we can in the absence of an Executive to protect the delivery of vital public services. The Secretary of State’s budget for 2018-19 addresses the key pressures across public services, including the Northern Ireland health service, and she will be bringing forward legislation to put the budget position on a legal footing. I know that she will be more than happy to meet the hon. Gentleman to discuss this issue further.

Mike Penning Portrait Sir Mike Penning (Hemel Hempstead) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

20 Jun 2018, 12:42 p.m.

May I join the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition in paying tribute to the bravery of the imam from the mosque in Finsbury Park? May I also pay tribute to two people who are also in the Gallery today and who have shown dignity, bravery and integrity: the parents of Alfie Dingley? Alfie got the licence yesterday so that he will not have so many fits, which is what we know this treatment will do. I thank the Prime Minister and, in particular, the Attorney General for their input into this, but I want us to try to work with the family so that we can speed this up for other families. I know that is the most important thing the family want now.

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

20 Jun 2018, 12:43 p.m.

I say to my right hon. Friend that I, too, welcome the parents of Alfie Dingley and commend them for the dignity they have shown in dealing with this difficult issue of ensuring that what they wanted to see for their son was available. As my right hon. Friend has said, a licence has now been issued, but it is right—this is the point of the reviews that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has set up—to make sure that our process of considering these drugs to ensure that they are going to be efficacious and safe for patients is not a long drawn-out one, because the length of process, as, sadly, Alfie’s parents found, can be deeply distressing.

Lord Dodds of Duncairn Portrait Nigel Dodds (Belfast North) (DUP)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

20 Jun 2018, 12:43 p.m.

The European Union and Michel Barnier say that they do not want a hard border on the island of Ireland, and we agree with that, but in his remarks yesterday on security co-operation he seemed to be erecting barriers in the way of the best possible co-operation between the UK and the rest of the Europe. The Belfast Telegraph, in its editorial today, says that this brinkmanship by the EU is a boon to terrorists. Will the Prime Minister make it clear that that kind of approach is completely wrong? It appears that the EU wants to make Brexit harder for the UK but easier for those who want to cause damage across Europe.

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

The future security partnership we want with the EU is an important part of the deal that we are negotiating with it. I set out our intentions on that security partnership in the speech I gave at the Munich security conference. I fully recognise the importance of this, and in particular, of some of the instruments we have been able to use within the European Union, to the working of the police across the border of Northern Ireland and Ireland, and to ensuring that those who would seek to do the people of Northern Ireland harm are apprehended, prevented from doing so and brought to justice. I am absolutely clear that that security partnership is a key, important and essential element of what we are negotiating.

Martin Vickers Portrait Martin Vickers (Cleethorpes) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

20 Jun 2018, 12:44 p.m.

In the Gallery today are two young men from my Cleethorpes constituency, Callum Procter and Oliver Freeston, both of whom won seats on North East Lincolnshire Council at last month’s elections. Oliver is just 18 years old and is perhaps the youngest councillor in the country. Will the Prime Minister congratulate Callum and Oliver? Does she agree that it is this country that provides the policies that allow young people to prosper and be successful?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

20 Jun 2018, 12:45 p.m.

I am very happy to welcome Callum and Oliver and to congratulate them on their important success in the May local government elections. The fact that it is under this Government and this party that we see an 18-year-old taking a seat on the council shows that, as my hon. Friend says, it is this Government who are ensuring that young people have the opportunities to prosper and to pursue their hopes.

Norman Lamb (North Norfolk) (LD)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

20 Jun 2018, 12:46 p.m.

The conclusions of the Gosport independent panel, which I set up with the Secretary of State’s support when I was a Minister, are truly shocking, not only because of the fact that 456 people lost their lives following the inappropriate prescribing of opioids, but because there was a closing of ranks that prevented families from getting to the truth. Does the Prime Minister agree that there now needs to be an independent and thorough police investigation by another force? Will she agree to meet me and family representatives to discuss the report’s implications? Does she agree that we must never again ignore families in this way and that there must be a mechanism whereby when allegations of wrongdoing are raised, they are investigated immediately, and that that mechanism must include the family?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard - -

20 Jun 2018, 12:48 p.m.

My thoughts, and I am sure those of everybody in the House, will be with all the families of the patients who died as a result of what happened at Gosport War Memorial Hospital. The events there were tragic and deeply troubling, they brought unimaginable heartache to the families concerned, and they are a matter with which the whole House should be concerned. The right hon. Gentleman raised the way in which the public sector often, in his terms, closes ranks; that is an issue that we have to deal with across the public sector.

I pay tribute to the right hon. Gentleman for establishing the inquiry when he was a Minister. I am sorry that it took so long for the families to get the answers from the NHS. I thank Bishop Jones and his fellow panel members for what they have done, and I would be happy to meet the right hon. Gentleman with Bishop Jones. This case shows why it is absolutely right that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care has been putting such a focus on patient safety and transparency in the NHS, because we need to ensure that we do not see these things happening in future. The findings are obviously distressing and deeply concerning. Of course, measures have been put in place to deal with issues, and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will make a statement on the report shortly.

Mrs Anne Main (St Albans) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

20 Jun 2018, 12:48 p.m.

Peak hurricane season is due to hit Bangladesh and the Rohingya in the camps there. The UK is leading in the provision of aid to the Rohingya; other countries pledge aid but do not deliver. What more can the Government do to put pressure on those countries that renege on their pledges of aid for the Rohingya?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

20 Jun 2018, 12:48 p.m.

My hon. Friend raises an important point: this country not only says what it is going to do but actually puts its money where its mouth is and goes out and helps people around the world, including the Rohingya in the circumstances to which she referred. We will continue to put pressure on all those countries that say they will do something but do not actually deliver the money, to ensure that they do.

Edward Miliband Portrait Edward Miliband (Doncaster North) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

20 Jun 2018, 12:48 p.m.

I want to return to the broader context of the question asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Luton South (Mr Shuker). This has been a chilling week for those of us from right across the House who believe in the values of tolerance and diversity. It is not just President Trump: Viktor Orbán has proposed a new tax on organisations that defend refugees and the Italian Government are targeting the Roma people. It is good that the Prime Minister said that President Trump’s policy is wrong, but I want her to do more, and I think that the House wants her to do more. What is she going to do proactively to defend those values? What work is she going to do with Chancellor Merkel and President Macron to make it clear to the rest of the world and to the European Union that these other values, which are so inimical to our country, cannot stand?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

We do work with Governments across Europe, particularly with the French and German Governments, on these issues of migration in relation to Europe. We expect all members of the international community to adhere to international law and commitments to human rights. As a Government, we oppose extremism in all forms, including when such extremism threatens to damage ethnic and community relations. We believe in the fundamental values of liberty, of democracy and of respect for human rights. We will continue to work with others to ensure that it is those values that are pre-eminent in everything that we and they do.

Andrew Selous Portrait Andrew Selous (South West Bedfordshire) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

The Prime Minister’s renewed commitment to the NHS is extremely welcome. Recently, the Health and Social Care Committee visited the Larwood House GP surgery in Worksop where, generally, all patients are seen by the doctors the same day. What more can the Government do to make sure that this best practice among GP practices is spread across the whole country so that all of our constituents can get in to see a doctor when they need to?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

My hon. Friend raises a very important point. One principle underpinning what we will be looking to the NHS to do across its 10-year plan is to ensure that the best practice that we see in many parts of the NHS is indeed spread across the whole of the NHS so that patients are able to get the access and the same standards that they need across the NHS. I commend the work that has been done in the GP surgery to which he has referred in his constituency. This is very important. I also commend work that is being done elsewhere to bring services together to ensure that patients see an improvement in the care and treatment that they receive.

Angela Eagle Portrait Ms Angela Eagle (Wallasey) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

The last Labour Government oversaw a 5.9% increase in spending on the NHS. The Thatcher and Major Governments managed 3.6%. So far, the Prime Minister’s predecessor, David Cameron, and the right hon. Lady herself have managed 1.9%. Why, therefore, are we meant to be happy and amazed by her unfunded pledge to deliver an increase of 3.4%, which is under the annual average achieved since the NHS was first created?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

As was recognised by the chief executive of NHS England, this is the funding that the NHS needs. Crucially, giving a multi-year funding settlement based on a long-term 10-year plan will give the NHS the stability and the certainty that it needs to be able to introduce the transformation that we all want to see in patient care. We will also ensure that, unlike what happened under the Labour party, this money will be seen in improved patient care.

Oral Answers to Questions

Theresa May Excerpts
Wednesday 21st March 2018

(2 years, 11 months ago)

Commons Chamber

Read Full debate Read Hansard Text
Northern Ireland Office
George Howarth Portrait Mr George Howarth (Knowsley) (Lab)
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Q1. If she will list her official engagements for Wednesday 21 March. [904494]

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister (Mrs Theresa May)
- Hansard - -

21 Mar 2018, 12:03 p.m.

Tomorrow marks the one-year anniversary of the Westminster terrorist attack. It was a sick and depraved attack on the streets of our capital, but what I remember most is the exceptional bravery of our police and security services, who risked their lives to keep us safe. I know that Members will be attending events tomorrow and over the weekend to mark this tragic anniversary.

I am sure the whole House will wish to join me in expressing our sincere condolences to the family and friends of the Red Arrows engineer who tragically died in the aircraft incident at RAF Valley yesterday.

Members across the House will also wish to join me in congratulating Andria Zafirakou, who recently won the global teacher prize. It is a fitting tribute to everything that she has done, and I look forward to meeting her shortly to congratulate her in person.

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.

George Howarth Portrait Mr Howarth
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

21 Mar 2018, 12:03 p.m.

I am sure that the whole House will want to be associated with the condolences and congratulations that the Prime Minister has just expressed.

Since 2010, Merseyside police has lost 1,084 police officers. In 2017, crime in Knowsley went up by 18.5%, and there were 21 firearm discharges, one of which resulted in a fatality. Across the force area, there were 94 firearm discharges, with four fatalities. Local MPs have met Home Office Ministers, but no extra resources have been provided. Will the Prime Minister arrange for the Home Secretary to meet local MPs to discuss what additional support can be given to deal with that serious problem?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard - -

I say to the right hon. Gentleman that with the Knowsley safety partnership with Merseyside police, crime statistics in his constituency have fallen by 9% since the year ending June 2010. He mentioned some incidents that are of real concern, and I am sure that the police are giving their full attention to them. We are ensuring that overall—[Interruption.] He points at the Home Secretary, but my right hon. Friend is ensuring that overall, in the next year, not only will we protect police budgets but we will see, with precept, £450 million extra available to police forces across the country.

Gareth Johnson Portrait Gareth Johnson (Dartford) (Con)
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Q3. May I associate myself with the Prime Minister’s earlier comments? Britain’s ability to trade with the world has been curtailed by the EU for over 40 years, but we have now won the ability to sign our own trade agreements around the world. Does the Prime Minister agree that that is Brexit’s greatest opportunity and ensures that we can embrace the globe as a truly proud international country once again? [904496]

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

My hon. Friend raises an important point. He is absolutely right—I agree with him that this is an important opportunity for the United Kingdom post Brexit, because for the first time in 40 years we will be able to step out into the world and forge our own way by negotiating our own trade agreements and signing trade deals with old friends and new allies alike. We will, of course, be able to do that. As he knows, from next March we will no longer be a member state of the European Union, and in due course we will be able to bring into force new trade arrangements around the rest of the world—a truly global Britain.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I, too, join the Prime Minister in commemorating the attacks that took place in Westminster a year ago, and I, too, will be at some of the events tomorrow. We should all remember this as an attack on democracy within our society.

I also join the Prime Minister in sending condolences to the friends and family of the Red Arrows engineer who sadly died yesterday. We wish the pilot well in his recovery.

I had the pleasure of meeting Andria Zafirakou, who won the global teacher award, just before she went off to receive it, and we should all congratulate her and Alperton School in Brent on the great work that she does there.

Today is the Kurdish new year, Newroz, so can we wish all Kurdish people around the world a happy new year and, particularly for those who are suffering so much in the conflict in Syria, a hope of peace in the year to come?

Does the Prime Minister believe that the collapse of Northamptonshire Council is the result of Conservative incompetence at a local level, or is it Conservative incompetence at a national level?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard - -

21 Mar 2018, 12:07 p.m.

May I first join the right hon. Gentleman in wishing all those who are celebrating a very happy Newroz?

If we are looking at what is happening in relation to local councils, obviously there has been a report on Northamptonshire County Council, but let us look at what we see across the board in councils. [Interruption.] Yes, yes—if we look at what is happening in councils up and down the country there is one message for everybody: Conservative councils cost you less.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My question was actually quite specific to Northamptonshire. The Tory leader of the council said:

“We have been warning Government from about 2013-14…we couldn’t cope with the level of cuts that we were facing”.

Three years ago, that council bragged that it was pioneering an “easy council” model. It then proceeded to outsource 96% of council staff, and transferred them to new service providers, which were run like private companies paying dividends. Now that council has gone bust. Does the Prime Minister really believe that the slash and burn model for local government is really a good one?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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21 Mar 2018, 12:09 p.m.

I say to the right hon. Gentleman, first, that it would be helpful if he accurately reflected the independent statutory inspection, which concluded last week. The report was clear that Northamptonshire’s failure is not a case of underfunding. Indeed, Northamptonshire’s core spending power is set to rise by £14.5 million, so the attack he is making—that this is all about the amount of money the Government are providing—is not correct. What we are ensuring is that councils are able to provide good services up and down the country, and that is what we see with Conservative councils up and down the country—they are costing people less than Labour.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

21 Mar 2018, 12:11 p.m.

But the problem is that Northampton- shire has gone bust, and this is caused by the Conservative Government and a Conservative council. It is a model still being used by Barnet Borough Council, which, until very recently, was run by the Conservatives—they lost control of it this week. Capita holds contracts there with an estimated value of £500 million. What has Barnet done? It has cut council staff every year and increased spending on consultants every year. Government cuts mean that councils across England are facing a £5.8 billion funding gap by 2020. So with hindsight, does the Prime Minister really believe it was right to prioritise tax cuts for the super-rich and big business? [Interruption.]

Break in Debate

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

21 Mar 2018, 12:12 p.m.

There seemed to be a lot of concern among Conservative Members about my suggestion that the Government had prioritised tax cuts for the super-rich and big business, and put them as more important than funding for social care, libraries, repairing potholes, bin collection or street cleaning.

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard - -

21 Mar 2018, 12:13 p.m.

The right hon. Gentleman talks about bin collection. Well, people living in Birmingham under a Labour-run council saw thousands of tonnes of waste on the streets because the council was failing to collect the bins. He talks about tax, and we all know that the top 1% of taxpayers are paying a higher burden of tax than they ever paid under Labour. And we all know what Labour would mean for council tax payers, because just this week the shadow Communities Secretary—[Interruption.] “Oh”, he says. Could that be because he does not want people to know what he is supporting? He has supported a plan to stop local taxpayers having the right to stop tax hikes; he is supporting a plan to introduce a land value tax—a tax on your home and your garden—and he wants to introduce a new hotel tax. We all know what would happen under Labour: more taxes, and ordinary working people would pay the price.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

21 Mar 2018, 12:07 p.m.

The shadow Secretary of State supports councils, thinks they should be properly funded and does not think they should be a vehicle for privatisation.

The leader of Surrey County Council, who happens to be a Conservative, has said:

“We are facing the most difficult financial crisis in our history.”

He did not mince his words, because he went on to say:

“The Government cannot…stand idly by while Rome burns.”

Council funding has been cut by half since 2010. Households in England now face council tax rises of £1 billion. The Tory leader of the Local Government Association says that

“councils will have to continue to cut back services or stop some altogether”

due to Government cuts. So as people open their council tax bills, is it not clear what the Conservative message is—pay more to get less?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard - -

21 Mar 2018, 12:14 p.m.

The average council tax for a band D property is £100 less under Conservative councils than it is under Labour councils. The right hon. Gentleman says that his shadow Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government is supporting councils, but I wonder whether he supports these councils: Haringey, where the Labour leader was forced out; Brighton, where the Labour leader was forced out; and Cornwall, where the Labour group leader was forced out. What had these people done? They had supported building more homes, providing good local services and tackling anti-Semitism in the Labour party. The message is clear: if you believe in good local services, want to see more homes built and want to tackle anti-Semitism, there is no place for you in the Labour party.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Labour councils build houses; Conservative councils privatise—[Interruption.]

Break in Debate

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

21 Mar 2018, 12:16 p.m.

We all admire zen, Mr Speaker.

Pay more for less is the Conservative message. In Leicestershire, the county council is pushing through £50 million-worth of cuts and council tax increases of 6%. Its deputy leader blamed chronically low Government funding. That is the Tory message: pay more to get less. It is not just households: the average small shop will see its rates bill increase by £3,600. Empty shops suck all the life out of our high streets and local communities, so why is the Prime Minister presiding over a Government who are tearing the heart out of our local high streets?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard - -

21 Mar 2018, 12:17 p.m.

First of all, we have provided extra support for small businesses in relation to business rates. Secondly, the right hon. Gentleman talks about Labour councils building homes, but we have seen more council homes being built under this Government than under 13 years of a Labour Government. He talks about what councillors are saying at a local level; I am pleased to say that yesterday two Labour councillors from Ashfield District Council joined the Conservatives, and what did one of them say? He said:

“Both locally and nationally”

the Labour party

“has been taken over by the hard-left who are more interested in fighting internal ideological battles than standing up for the priorities of working men and women.”

Conservatives will always welcome people who care about their local area and we will always stand up for people in their local area.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

21 Mar 2018, 12:18 p.m.

Half a million businesses will see their rates rise this year, some by 500%. Even Mary Portas, who led the Government’s “Save the High Street” campaign, said that it was simply a

“PR campaign which looked like ‘hey, we’re doing something’ and I hoped it might kick-start something—but it didn’t.”

The Conservative Government have slashed public services. They cut funding and expect councils to pick up the pieces. The result is that children’s centres are closing, schools are struggling, there are fewer police on the streets, older people are being left without care or dignity, and refuges are turning women away. The Tories’ own head of local government says it is unsustainable. Doesn’t it tell us everything we need to know about the Government that they demand that households and businesses pay more to get less?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard - -

This Government are spending more on our schools and on our NHS than ever before. We are able to do that because of the balanced approach we take to our economy and because of the strong economy we see under the Conservatives. I notice that in his six questions the right hon. Gentleman did not mention today’s unemployment figures. Employment is at a joint record high. Unemployment has not been lower since 1975. Economic inactivity is at a record low. That is a strong jobs market. Who benefits from a strong jobs market? Labour staffers, Labour council leaders and moderate Labour Members of Parliament.

Tom Pursglove Portrait Tom Pursglove (Corby) (Con)
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Q4. I can only assume that the Leader of the Opposition has not read the report about Northamptonshire County Council; I commend it to him. But I want to focus on a different issue today. Worldwide, every minute, millions of throwaway paper coffee cups go to landfill. To solve that, we need industry, consumers and the Government to work together. In that spirit, Amaray, a company in my constituency, has developed a fully recyclable alternative cup; it can be easily recycled, unlike the current option. Will my right hon. Friend join me in welcoming that innovation? Perhaps if she is around afterwards, I might be able to give one to her. [904497]

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard - -

21 Mar 2018, 12:20 p.m.

I am very happy to say to my hon. Friend that, if he would like to come along and see me afterwards, I am very happy to do that. He has raised an important point. As he knows, we are committed to wanting to leave our environment in a better state than we found it. I congratulate Amaray and welcome the innovation that it has shown. This is an important example of working with industry to ensure that we are dealing with this issue of plastic waste. We were clear in our 25-year environment plan that that is what we want to do, and Amaray is a very good example of exactly that.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (SNP)
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21 Mar 2018, 12:21 p.m.

May I associate myself with the remarks of the Prime Minister about the terrorist atrocity in Westminster a year ago? Our thoughts are obviously with those who gave their lives and, of course, with the emergency services. I also want to associate myself with the remarks about the loss of the engineer.

Does the Prime Minister agree that subverting the democratic political process of any country is totally unacceptable?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard - -

21 Mar 2018, 12:22 p.m.

We certainly believe in ensuring that democratic processes are able to continue and that people see free and fair elections. I think that is what everybody in this House would recognise and would accept.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

21 Mar 2018, 12:22 p.m.

I thank the Prime Minister for that answer. May I point out to her that the parent company of Cambridge Analytica is Strategic Communications Laboratories? It has been run by a chairman of the Oxford Conservative Association. Its founding chairman was a former Conservative MP. A director appears to have donated more than £700,000 to the Tory party. A former Conservative party treasurer is a shareholder. We know about the links to the Conservative party: they go on and on. Will the Prime Minister confirm to the House her Government’s connections to the company?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard - -

The right hon. Gentleman has been talking about two companies: the parent company, SCL, and Cambridge Analytica. As far as I am aware, the Government have no current contracts with Cambridge Analytica, or with the SCL group. The allegations are clearly very concerning, and it is absolutely right that they should be properly investigated. It is right that the Information Commissioner is doing exactly that because people need to have confidence in how their personal data is being used. I would expect Facebook, Cambridge Analytica and all organisations involved to comply fully with the investigation that is taking place. I am pleased to say that the Bill that we are bringing forward on data protection will strengthen legislation around data protection and give the Information Commissioner’s Office tougher powers to ensure that organisations comply. I hope that it will be supported by everybody across this House.

Mr Speaker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

We now have a lot of Back Benchers’ questions to get through.

Gordon Henderson Portrait Gordon Henderson (Sittingbourne and Sheppey) (Con)
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Q7. Some London boroughs are renting houses in Kent, including in Sittingbourne and Sheppey, for use as temporary accommodation for homeless families. My local authorities are then expected to provide those families with the support they need. That is putting a strain on Kent’s schools, hospitals and social services, which receive no extra funding to provide that support. Does my right hon. Friend agree that the London Mayor and the London boroughs should be providing more homes in the capital, so that London families can be looked after by them, instead of placing the burden of care on hard-pressed council tax payers in Kent? [904500]

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard - -

21 Mar 2018, 11:30 a.m.

My hon. Friend is right to speak up on behalf of his constituents on this issue. London authorities must secure temporary accommodation within their own borough, as far as is reasonably practical. We have also changed the law so that councils must take into account the impact that a change in location would have on a household. However, he is absolutely right: we do want the London Mayor and London boroughs to be able to build more homes. Money has been provided to the Mayor of London to build affordable homes. It is a pity that he has not been building as many as we would like.

Stephen Morgan Portrait Stephen Morgan (Portsmouth South) (Lab)
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Q2. School cuts in Portsmouth under this Government will reach £3.3 million by 2019, meaning that classrooms are being starved of the resources that they need, including textbooks and basic stationery. At the same time, approximately 40,000 children in the south-east are relying on food banks. If the Prime Minister were a teacher who had been under a pay cut for eight years, what would she buy a struggling child in one of my city’s classrooms—a textbook or a square meal? [904495]

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard - -

The hon. Gentleman raises the issue of school funding. As I said in response to the Leader of the Opposition, the amount of money that we are spending on schools is greater than it has ever been before. What matters is the quality of education provided in schools, which is why I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman did not welcome the fact that over 20,000 children in his area are now at a good or outstanding school; that is 9,000 more than in 2010.

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng (Spelthorne) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Q8. I am sure that we all recognise and welcome the employment figures announced today, but given the latest report that there are still unacceptably high levels of youth unemployment among ethnic communities in Britain, will my right hon. Friend explain to the House what the new £90 million fund will do to help young people into work? [904502]

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard - -

My hon. Friend raises an important point. We know these figures because of the race disparity audit that I commissioned when I became Prime Minister. The audit shows that there has been progress, but we need to do more because 16 to 24-year-olds in other ethnic groups are twice as likely as their white peers to be unemployed. The £90 million that I announced will help to tackle those inequalities in youth employment. The initiative will be run by the Big Lottery Fund, and it will identify the barriers to employment for those young people and help them to overcome those barriers. That is incredibly important. I was very pleased to visit Street League in Birmingham, which is already doing excellent work in this area.

Mrs Louise Ellman (Liverpool, Riverside) (Lab/Co-op)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Q5. The war in Syria has now entered its eighth year. In recent weeks, over 1,000 people have been killed in eastern Ghouta. In Afrin, hundreds of Kurds lie dead and 200,000 civilians are desperately fleeing for their lives; even the hospital has been attacked. What will the Government do to help to bring urgent humanitarian relief for those in such despair? [904498]

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard - -

We take the situation in eastern Ghouta very seriously indeed, which is why we have raised the issue at the United Nations Security Council. The Foreign Secretary has also raised this matter with others. We have been very clear about what needed to happen to ensure that people could be protected, that humanitarian aid could get in and that safe passage could be given to those for whom it was necessary due to their condition. We will continue to press this case.

Michelle Donelan Portrait Michelle Donelan (Chippenham) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Q9. The Select Committee on Education recently interviewed a panel of university vice-chancellors who failed to recognise that their salaries are outrageous, being twice that of the Prime Minister and mainly funded by the taxpayer and student debt. Given that these outrageous salaries are paid in even the poorest performing universities, will the Prime Minister confirm that this situation will be looked at in the post-18 education review? [904503]

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard - -

My hon. Friend has raised a point that others are concerned about as well. Of course, universities are autonomous from the Government, so it is up to them how they set the pay of their vice-chancellors and what level they set it at, but they should recognise that students and taxpayers are all contributing to our higher education system and expect value for money. The Office for Students, which has now been set up, will be acting to ensure greater transparency in relation to senior staff pay and requiring a justification for the total remuneration package that is awarded to the head of the provider and the provider’s most senior staff, so we will now start to see a light being shone very clearly on the issue that my hon. Friend raises.

Drew Hendry Portrait Drew Hendry (Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey) (SNP)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Q6. Last week, the Agriculture and Fisheries Secretary and Ruth Davidson said:“The Prime Minister has been clear: Britain will leave the CFP as of March 2019.”Now, the UK is staying in the common fisheries policy but with no say on quotas—the worst deal imaginable. What changed between last week and this week? [904499]

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard - -

21 Mar 2018, 12:30 p.m.

We will be working with the fishing industry, both fishermen and fish processors, to ensure that we do see a bright future for the fishing industry. I want to see three things: we will take back control of our waters, we will ensure that we do not see British fishermen unfairly denied access to other waters, and we want to rebuild our fishing industry. But it is the Conservative party that is committed to coming out of the common fisheries policy; the hon. Gentleman’s party wants to stay in the common fisheries policy.

Victoria Prentis Portrait Victoria Prentis (Banbury) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Q13. Cherwell is really proud to be building three houses a day but construction traffic is playing havoc with our road services. Will the Prime Minister meet me to discuss what more national Government can do to help with inevitable growing pains? [904507]

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard - -

First of all, I am very happy to congratulate Cherwell on the homes that it is building, but I recognise that this brings with it other challenges. At Budget, we more than doubled the housing infrastructure fund with another £2.7 billion, and earlier today my right hon. Friend the Housing Secretary, I am pleased to say, announced a further 44 areas shortlisted for funding for major infrastructure projects worth £4.1 billion, with the potential to deliver 400,000 more homes. I recognise the important role that infrastructure plays, and that is why the Government are delivering it.

Sir David Crausby (Bolton North East) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Q10. The Prime Minister was right to prevent members of the royal family and Government Ministers from attending the football World cup in Russia, but what is being done to safeguard everyday football fans in what was, in my view, already a dangerous place to watch football, even before the incident in Salisbury? What advice will be given to travelling English supporters, many of whom have already bought their tickets, and is she confident that adequate co-operation between our police and the Russian police will protect English fans? [904504]

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

I recognise the important issue that the hon. Gentleman has raised, because we want British football fans to be able to be safe when they are enjoying watching the England team. We are currently working very closely with the police in looking at what arrangements will be in place to support the England football fans who travel to Russia. The Foreign Office will be carefully monitoring the situation and ensuring that advice is available to football fans, so that they are aware of the circumstances there will be in Russia and what support will be available.

Pauline Latham Portrait Mrs Pauline Latham (Mid Derbyshire) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Q14. My right hon. Friend will be aware that I have mentioned Jacci Woodcock, a terminally ill constituent of mine who set up the Dying to Work campaign. Santander, her mortgage broker, has been incredibly helpful in freezing her payments and will take them from her estate when she dies, but now it has gone even further—it is not increasing the interest payments either. Does my right hon. Friend agree that other banks should follow the caring and compassionate example set by Santander and that we should encourage them to look after terminally ill people in the same way? [904508]

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard - -

21 Mar 2018, midnight

My hon. Friend has raised an issue that I know she cares about very deeply. I am certainly happy to join her in congratulating Santander on the support that it has provided to Jacci Woodcock. Obviously, my hon. Friend has raised a wider issue. It is important for employers to be aware of and to fulfil their legal obligations to their employees, including terminally ill employees, and I am sure that others will look at the excellent example that Santander has set.

Mohammad Yasin Portrait Mohammad Yasin (Bedford) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Q11. The Sunday Times said this week that Bedford’s relatively affordable housing and easy access to London have made it one of the best places to live in the UK, but Bedford constituents are concerned about the school funding cuts, court services cuts, the impending closure of our only walk-in centre, the big increase in homelessness and the loss of fast peak-time rail services to London. My question to the Prime Minister is, why are her Government ruining the prospects of our great town? [904505]

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard - -

21 Mar 2018, midnight

The prospects of the hon. Gentleman’s great town are being improved. They are being improved by the fact that we see thousands more children in good or outstanding schools in Bedford local authority than when we came to power. They are being improved by the fact that extra funding is going into the health service in Bedford. They are also being improved by the fact that this Government are ensuring we have a strong economy, providing jobs for people in his constituency.

Bim Afolami Portrait Bim Afolami (Hitchin and Harpenden) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

21 Mar 2018, midnight

Financial services are critical to thousands of my constituents and to the country as a whole. Will the Prime Minister take this opportunity to update the House on the progress made on ensuring that our future trade deal with the European Union includes an agreement on financial services?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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I am well aware of the importance of financial services for the United Kingdom, in my hon. Friend’s constituency and elsewhere, and also the important role that the City of London plays in the financial sector for the whole European Union. We are in discussion with the European Union about this matter, and there is a recognition of the significant role that the City of London plays and the importance of ensuring that we maintain access to finance across the European Union.

Ellie Reeves Portrait Ellie Reeves (Lewisham West and Penge) (Lab)
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Q12. Mental health issues affect one in 10 children, who on average have to see their GP three times before a referral, with many waiting up to 18 months for treatment. I acknowledge the Green Paper on this issue, but at a time when national funding in this area is being constantly cut, including a 5% reduction in funding to Lewisham child and adolescent mental health services, is this not another example of the Government saying one thing but doing another with our NHS? [904506]

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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21 Mar 2018, 12:34 p.m.

The Government are putting more funding into mental health provision. We have already committed to making available an additional £1.4 billion to improve children and young people’s mental health services, and we have committed that, by 2020-21, 70,000 more children and young people each year will have access to high-quality NHS mental health care. The hon. Lady rightly raises mental health as an important issue for us to deal with, and particularly the mental health of children and young people, but across the board we need to give more attention to mental health. We are putting money into it, and we are clear that we want to see parity of esteem between mental health and physical health in the national health service. That is something the Labour party in 13 years of government failed to do.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan Portrait Mrs Anne-Marie Trevelyan (Berwick-upon-Tweed) (Con)
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21 Mar 2018, 12:34 p.m.

The EU agreement published this week has sadly left my fishermen in Amble and the north-east very anxious. While it is great news that we will regain control of our fishing grounds at the end of the implementation period, there is real concern that our EU colleagues might try to take advantage of our losing our voice in the CFP by altering discard rules or quota rules during the implementation period. Will the Prime Minister consider asking the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to prepare a financial mitigation plan to protect our fleet until 2021 should we need to do so?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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The implementation period is there so that people have the certainty of being able to operate on the same basis until we reach the new partnership that we are negotiating. As I said earlier, in that new partnership, we want to take back control of our waters but ensure that British fishermen are not unfairly denied access to other waters and that we can rebuild our fishing industry. That is important. My hon. Friend mentioned quotas. It has been agreed that the stability key will not be changed, so the quotas that British fishermen will be operating under will not be changed. I know that DEFRA is looking actively at how we can ensure that we not only maintain our fishing industry, but enhance and rebuild it after we leave.

Liz Saville Roberts Portrait Liz Saville Roberts (Dwyfor Meirionnydd) (PC)
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21 Mar 2018, 12:40 p.m.

This week, every party in Westminster took part in an international summit to challenge violence against women in politics, and online abuse dominated the discussions. Last year, the Prime Minister’s Government considered a statutory code of practice for social media corporations, holding them to account for the abusive content they publish. Will she confirm whether she remains content with a toothless voluntary code, or will she now give us a digital guard dog that both barks and bites?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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21 Mar 2018, 12:40 p.m.

The hon. Lady raises an important point. On all these issues, we have taken the view that we should first sit down with those in the industry and work with them to see what they are willing to do on a voluntary basis, but they know that if that does not actually work, we will look at legislation. She raises an important point about the abuse that takes place. She refers particularly to the abuse that takes place within political campaigning, and I am afraid we have now reached a very sorry state of affairs in this country. We want to see free and fair elections and people having the confidence to be able to go out and put their views forward without fearing that they are going to be abused for it.

Daniel Kawczynski Portrait Daniel Kawczynski (Shrewsbury and Atcham) (Con)
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21 Mar 2018, 12:40 p.m.

The clinically led Future Fit programme for Shropshire seeks to improve and modernise hospital services across the county of Shropshire. We have been waiting for a decision on this issue for many years. Will the Prime Minister use her good offices to ensure that this vital scheme is supported in the coming weeks, so that we can secure this vital investment for Shropshire NHS?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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21 Mar 2018, 12:41 p.m.

My hon. Friend is right to speak up for the NHS in Shropshire in the way he has done. He will be pleased to see that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care heard his comments, and I think will be contacting him about this issue.

Nick Smith Portrait Nick Smith (Blaenau Gwent) (Lab)
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21 Mar 2018, 12:41 p.m.

The Bercow review made a big difference in improving services for children with communication needs—communication is the key life skill for children to learn and thrive—yet, a decade on, the latest report shows that much more needs to be done. Will the Prime Minister commit to a cross-Government strategy that puts this issue at the heart of policy and gives all our children the best possible start in life?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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21 Mar 2018, 12:42 p.m.

The hon. Gentleman has raised a very important issue. We welcome the report, and the Department for Education is going to be considering it carefully. We do not want to see any child held back from achieving their potential, and that includes ensuring that children with speech, language and communication needs are given the support they need. There has been particular training for teachers to support children who require additional help to communicate, and we will be introducing the education, health and care plans to make sure that children with additional needs receive the right support to succeed in school in the future, but we will look very carefully at what the report has said and obviously respond to it in due course.

Mark Francois Portrait Mr Mark Francois (Rayleigh and Wickford) (Con)
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21 Mar 2018, 12:43 p.m.

Unlike the SNP, I do not want to see Britain rejoin the disastrous common fisheries policy, but I do have some concerns about the fisheries aspects of the transitional agreement that has been provisionally agreed with the European Union. Before she travels to the European Council, will the Prime Minister reassure the House, and indeed fishing communities around the United Kingdom, that we will absolutely and unequivocally take back full control of our waters from 2021?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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21 Mar 2018, 12:43 p.m.

As I said earlier, the point about the implementation period is that it is the period during which people are able to make the changes necessary for the new partnership we will have. It ensures that businesses, fishermen included, do not face two cliff-edge changes in the way they are operating. By definition—because it is maintaining, as far as possible, the status quo, so that people do not have to make those extra changes—I recognise that it is not the same and will not be the same as the end state when we are able to have a future economic partnership and have a new relationship. As I said earlier, one of the elements that we will be looking for in reassuring the fishing industry and providing for the fishing industry is to ensure that we do take back control of our waters.

Albert Owen (Ynys Môn) (Lab)
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May I associate myself with the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition and the leader of the SNP in offering condolences to the family of the Royal Air Force engineer who was tragically killed in my constituency yesterday? The RAF has been part of my constituency for over 75 years, with a tight-knit group of aircraftmen and support staff on the ground. While they are grieving, will the Prime Minister join me in paying tribute to the RAF as it commemorates its century of dedicated service to our country?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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I am very happy to join the hon. Gentleman in saying what a great job the Royal Air Force does for us; of course he sees it at first hand, given its connection with his constituency. We should recognise the valour of all those who are serving in our armed forces—particularly, in this 100th year of the Royal Air Force, those who serve in the Royal Air Force. We thank them for it.

Charlie Elphicke (Dover) (Ind)
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May I welcome the Government’s decision to create a medical school at Canterbury in east Kent, which was fought for by all Kent’s MPs—particularly my hon. Friend the Member for Faversham and Mid Kent (Helen Whately), who has been indefatigable in that fight? Does this not underline the importance of training more doctors and nurses, to ensure that our health services in the regions are well staffed and looked after?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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My hon. Friend is absolutely right. I am pleased to welcome the new medical school in Canterbury, but also the four other new medical schools being set up around various parts of the country. He is also absolutely right that this is about ensuring that we are training a workforce for our national health service. We have raised significantly the number of training places—I think it is probably the biggest increase in training places that the NHS has seen for some considerable time.

Fiona Onasanya (Peterborough) (Lab)
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Given that mesh can shrink, degrade or twist in a woman’s body, may I ask the Prime Minister whether she will support proposals to “sling the mesh”?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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I recognise that this is a very real, important issue that has been raised. It is one of a number of women’s health issues that have been raised in this House that are causing concern to women. I will look in detail at it. I am happy to write to the hon. Lady about this, but I recognise the concern that there is about this particular issue. I am happy to write to her about what the national health service will be doing on it.

Robert Halfon Portrait Robert Halfon (Harlow) (Con)
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Will my right hon. Friend congratulate the remarkable staff of Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow, who have ensured that the hospital is out of special measures today, following a report from the Care Quality Commission? Will she support our campaign for a new hospital to ensure that the staff have a hospital fit for the 21st century?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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I congratulate the local hospital in Harlow that my right hon. Friend has referred to on coming out of those special measures. I think that is very important and I know it will give added confidence to his constituents. He tempts me to support a new hospital in his area. As he will know, the Secretary of State has heard his request, but what we do know is that we are putting more money into the national health service to ensure that we do get the best possible services provided to people through our national health service.

Mr Speaker
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Thank you. Before we proceed to next business, I take this opportunity to remind the House that tomorrow we will be commemorating the Westminster terrorist attack of a year ago, reference to which was made earlier. I propose that we begin our proceedings tomorrow after prayers with a minute’s silence in memory of those who died. There will also be, colleagues, a commemorative event in Westminster Hall at 12 noon and services in the chapel of St Mary Undercroft at 10 am, 2 pm and 6 pm. I hope that is helpful to colleagues.

Although points of order ordinarily come after urgent questions or statements, I understand that this inquiry appertains to exchanges with the Prime Minister. I am not sure whether that was today or on a previous occasion, but let us hear from the hon. Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Louise Haigh).

Oral Answers to Questions

Theresa May Excerpts
Wednesday 15th November 2017

(3 years, 3 months ago)

Commons Chamber

Read Full debate Read Hansard Text
Northern Ireland Office
Tom Tugendhat Portrait Tom Tugendhat (Tonbridge and Malling) (Con)
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Q1. If she will list her official engagements for Wednesday 15 November. [901742]

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister (Mrs Theresa May)
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15 Nov 2017, noon

I am sure that Members across the whole House will wish to join me in congratulating Her Majesty the Queen and Prince Philip on their upcoming platinum wedding anniversary this coming Monday. They have devoted their lives to the service of our country and I know that the whole House will wish to offer them our very best wishes on this special occasion.

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.

Tom Tugendhat Portrait Tom Tugendhat
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15 Nov 2017, 12:01 p.m.

My right hon. Friend’s stewardship of the economy and her predecessor’s excellent work in making sure that this economy grows have seen confidence in our country grow despite the troubles and tribulations that have been set before us. Our deficit has now come down, and our debts are oversubscribed. Will she take this opportunity to invest in our economy even more than she is already, and perhaps take the chance to build more homes?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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15 Nov 2017, 12:02 p.m.

My hon. Friend makes a very important point about investing in infrastructure, particularly in housing. We are doing exactly that, which is why we have seen more than a quarter of a trillion pounds in infrastructure spending since 2010. We are putting in another £22 billion from central Government for economic infrastructure. We are seeing billions of pounds going on rail projects and the biggest road-building programme for a generation. That is this Government building a country fit for the future.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab)
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15 Nov 2017, 12:02 p.m.

I join the Prime Minister in wishing Her Majesty and Prince Philip a very happy platinum wedding anniversary.

The thoughts of the whole House will be with the victims of the devastating earthquake that hit Iran and Iraq on Monday, leaving hundreds dead and thousands without shelter. I hope the Government are offering all necessary emergency help and support that can be used to save life.

I am sure that the House will join me in sending our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of the late Carl Sargeant, the Labour Assembly Member in Wales, who very tragically died last week.

Crime is up, violent crime is up and police numbers are down by 20,000. Will the Prime Minister urge her Chancellor—who I note is sitting absolutely next to her so it will be easy for her to make this demand on him—to provide the funding that our police need to make communities safe?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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15 Nov 2017, 12:03 p.m.

The right hon. Gentleman raised three points. On the earthquake that took place in Iraq and Iran, we are monitoring it closely. It was a devastating earthquake, and our thoughts are with all those who have been affected by it. We are looking at the situation and stand ready to provide assistance for urgent humanitarian needs if requested. The Government will do what is necessary and we will stand ready to help people.

I also join the right hon. Gentleman in offering condolences to the family and friends of Carl Sargeant, and I am sure that that goes for everybody across the House. He raised the issue of crime and policing. In fact, crime, which is traditionally measured by the independent crime survey, is down by well over a third since 2010. [Hon. Members: “Ah!”] We have protected police budgets, and we are putting more money into counter-terrorism policing. What matters is what the police do and how they deliver, and, as I say, the crime survey shows that crime is down by nearly a third since 2010.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
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15 Nov 2017, 11:30 a.m.

I have been following some tweets from some of the Prime Minister’s friends on the Front Bench. One says:

“Very disappointed and mystified at closure of Uxbridge Police Station.”

For the want of any doubt, that came from the Foreign Secretary, who is also—[Interruption.]

Break in Debate

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
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15 Nov 2017, 11:30 a.m.

I am very pleased that you do, Mr Speaker, because the Foreign Secretary is so excited that he will not even hear the answer. The real reason that the police station is closing is the £2.3 billion cut to police budgets in the last Parliament. And it gets worse—they will be cut by another £700 million by 2020. Under this Government, there are now 11,000 fewer firefighters in England than there were in 2010, and deaths in fires increased by 20% last year. In the wake of the terrible Grenfell Tower fire, the Prime Minister was very clear in saying that this could not be allowed to happen again and that money would be no object to fire safety. Will she therefore now back the campaign to provide local councils with £1 billion to retrofit sprinklers in all high-rise blocks?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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15 Nov 2017, 11:30 a.m.

On the first issue, the right hon. Gentleman might not have noticed, but the police and crime commissioner in London is the Mayor. Is he one of ours? No, he’s one of yours. The last time I looked, Sadiq Khan was a Labour Mayor of London, although perhaps the leader of the Labour party thinks that he is not Labour enough for him and his brand of Labour. Let us be very clear about funding for the Metropolitan police. There is more money and there are more officers for each Londoner than anywhere else in the country; that is the reality.

The right hon. Gentleman asked about the issue of fire. We absolutely take seriously the appalling tragedy at Grenfell Tower, which is why I set up the public inquiry and why the Communities Secretary has already set up the work that is taking place on the fire and building regulations to ensure that they are right. We continue to support Kensington and Chelsea Council in ensuring that we deliver for the victims of this awful tragedy.

The right hon. Gentleman asked about sprinklers. Of course, we want to ensure that homes are fit for those who live in them, and there is a responsibility on building owners in that regard. Some owners do retrofit sprinklers, but there are other safety measures that can be put in place. Perhaps he ought to look at what Labour councils have said on the matter. Haringey Council rejected calls to fit sprinklers, saying that what matters is introducing the “right safety measures”. Lewisham Council said that it needs to “weigh up” the issues, because fitting sprinklers can involve “cutting…through fire compartmentalisation”, which is another safety measure. Lambeth Council said that

“there were issues retrofitting sprinklers and questions about how effective they were”.

Even Islington Council said that it needs to look at “how effective” sprinklers would be.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
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15 Nov 2017, 12:09 p.m.

After the Lakanal House fire, the coroner thought that fitting sprinklers would be the right thing to do. The chief fire officer thinks that it is the right thing to do. The local authorities that have asked central Government for support to retrofit sprinklers have all been refused by the Prime Minister’s Government. Surely, we need to think about the safety of the people living in socially rented high-rise blocks.

Yesterday, I was passed a letter from a lettings agency in Lincolnshire, where universal credit is about to be rolled out. The agency—and I have the letter here—is issuing all of its tenants with a pre-emptive notice of eviction, because universal credit has driven up arrears where it has been rolled out. The letter says:

“GAP Property cannot sustain arrears at the potential levels Universal Credit could create”.

Will the Prime Minister pause universal credit so it can be fixed, or does she think it is right to put thousands of families, through Christmas, in the trauma of knowing they are about to be evicted because they are in rent arrears because of universal credit?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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15 Nov 2017, 12:11 p.m.

There have been concerns raised—there have been concerns raised in this House previously—over the issue of people managing their budgets to pay rent, but we see that, after four months, the number of people on universal credit in arrears has fallen by a third. It is important that we do look at the issues on this particular case. The right hon. Gentleman might like to send the letter through. In an earlier Prime Minister’s questions, he raised a specific case of an individual who had written to him about her experience on universal credit—I think it was Georgina. As far as I am aware, he has so far not sent that letter to me, despite the fact that I asked for it.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
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15 Nov 2017, 12:11 p.m.

I am very happy to give the Prime Minister a copy of this letter. I suspect this is not the only letting agency that is sending out that kind of letter.

The Prime Minister might be aware that food bank usage has increased by 30% in areas where universal credit has been rolled out. Three million families are losing an average of £2,500 a year through universal credit. The Child Poverty Action Group estimates more than 1 million will be in poverty due to cuts imposed by universal credit. If those are not reasons enough to pause the roll-out, I do not know what are.

Break in Debate

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
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15 Nov 2017, 12:12 p.m.

Thank you, Mr Speaker.

Last week, the chief executive of NHS England, Simon Stevens, wrote:

“the budget for the NHS next year is well short of what is currently needed”.

The A&E waiting time target has not been met for two years. The 62-day cancer waiting time target has not been met since 2015. So, again, can the Prime Minister spend the next week ensuring that the Budget does give sufficient funding to our NHS to meet our people’s needs?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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15 Nov 2017, 12:13 p.m.

On the first issue that the right hon. Gentleman raised, can I remind him yet again that universal credit is ensuring we are seeing more people in work and able to keep what they earn?

The right hon. Gentleman talks about what Simon Stevens says about the national health service. Yes, let us look at what Simon Stevens says about the national health service:

“The quality of NHS care is demonstrably improving…Outcomes of care for most major conditions are dramatically better than three or five or ten years ago.”

He said:

“What’s been achieved in England over the past three years? More convenient access to primary care services…First steps to expand the primary care workforce…Highest cancer survival rates ever…Big expansion in cancer check-ups”

and

“public satisfaction with hospital inpatients…at its highest for more than two decades.”

That is the good news of our national health service.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
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15 Nov 2017, 12:14 p.m.

Well, it is very strange that the chief executive of NHS Providers says:

“We are in the middle of the longest and deepest financial squeeze in…history.”

I have a pretty good idea that they know what they are talking about. Let me give the Prime Minister another statistic. The number of people waiting more than four hours in A&E has gone up by 557% since 2010. Two weeks ago, the opposition to us—the Tories over there—were very noisy when I mentioned—[Interruption.] You are the Government, we are the Opposition: you are in opposition to us. It is not complicated.

Two weeks ago, I raised the question of cuts in school budgets—teachers and parents telling MPs what the reality of it was about. The Prime Minister was in denial; every Tory MP was in denial. This week, 5,000 headteachers from 25 counties wrote to the Chancellor, saying:

“we are simply asking for the money that is being taken out of the system to be returned”.

Will the Prime Minister listen to headteachers and give a commitment that the Budget next week will return the money to school budgets so that our schools are properly funded?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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15 Nov 2017, 12:17 p.m.

Actually, I think this is a major moment: the right hon. Gentleman has got something right today. We are the Government and he is the Opposition. On the NHS, there are 1,800 more patients seen within the four-hour A&E standard every single day compared with 2010. He talks about school funding. We are putting more money into our school budget. We are seeing record levels of funding going into our schools. This Government are the first Government in decades who have actually gripped the issue of a fairer national funding formula, and we are putting that into practice. But you can only put record levels of money into your NHS and your schools with a strong economy, and what do we see as a result of policies that this Conservative Government have put in place? Income inequality: down under the Conservatives, up under Labour. Unemployment: down under the Conservatives, up under Labour. Workless households: down under the Conservatives, up under Labour. Deficit: down under the Conservatives, up under Labour. The right hon. Gentleman is planning a run on the pound; we are building a Britain fit for the future.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
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15 Nov 2017, 12:17 p.m.

I would have thought that 5,000 head teachers had a pretty good idea about the funding problems of their schools and a pretty good idea of the effect of Government cuts to school budgets on their staff and on their students. Indeed, the Institute for Fiscal Studies says that school funding will have fallen by 5% in real terms by 2019 as a result of Government policies.

With public services in crisis from police to the fire service, from the NHS to children’s schools, while a super-rich few dodge their taxes—[Interruption.] Ah, yes. The Government sit on their hands as billions are lost to vital public services. The Conservatives cut taxes for the few and vital services for the many. It is not just that there is one rule for the super-rich—

Break in Debate

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
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15 Nov 2017, 12:19 p.m.

Quite simply, is not the truth that this is a Government who protect the super-rich, while the rest of us pick up the bill through cuts, austerity, poverty, homelessness, low wages and the slashing of local services all over the country? That is the reality of a Tory Government.