Debates between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn

There have been 176 exchanges between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn

1 Wed 26th April 2017 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
13 interactions (2,073 words)
2 Wed 19th April 2017 Early Parliamentary General Election
Cabinet Office
2 interactions (356 words)
3 Wed 19th April 2017 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
15 interactions (1,338 words)
4 Wed 29th March 2017 Article 50
Cabinet Office
3 interactions (3,190 words)
5 Wed 29th March 2017 Oral Answers to Questions
Department for International Development
15 interactions (1,387 words)
6 Wed 22nd March 2017 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
16 interactions (1,558 words)
7 Wed 15th March 2017 Oral Answers to Questions
Northern Ireland Office
15 interactions (1,436 words)
8 Tue 14th March 2017 European Council
Cabinet Office
3 interactions (2,327 words)
9 Wed 8th March 2017 Oral Answers to Questions
Wales Office
13 interactions (1,274 words)
10 Wed 1st March 2017 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
15 interactions (1,789 words)
11 Wed 22nd February 2017 Oral Answers to Questions
Department for International Development
13 interactions (1,473 words)
12 Wed 8th February 2017 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
19 interactions (1,492 words)
13 Mon 6th February 2017 Informal European Council
Cabinet Office
3 interactions (2,405 words)
14 Wed 1st February 2017 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
13 interactions (1,225 words)
15 Wed 25th January 2017 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
13 interactions (1,651 words)
16 Wed 18th January 2017 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
13 interactions (1,285 words)
17 Wed 11th January 2017 Oral Answers to Questions
Department for International Development
12 interactions (1,803 words)
18 Mon 19th December 2016 European Council 2016
Cabinet Office
3 interactions (3,201 words)
19 Wed 14th December 2016 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
14 interactions (1,721 words)
20 Wed 30th November 2016 Oral Answers to Questions
Wales Office
13 interactions (1,502 words)
21 Wed 23rd November 2016 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
13 interactions (1,514 words)
22 Wed 16th November 2016 Oral Answers to Questions
Department for International Development
15 interactions (1,325 words)
23 Wed 2nd November 2016 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
13 interactions (1,621 words)
24 Wed 26th October 2016 Oral Answers to Questions
Northern Ireland Office
15 interactions (1,707 words)
25 Mon 24th October 2016 European Council
Cabinet Office
5 interactions (3,228 words)
26 Wed 19th October 2016 Oral Answers to Questions
Wales Office
13 interactions (1,931 words)
27 Wed 12th October 2016 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
15 interactions (1,718 words)
28 Wed 14th September 2016 Prime Minister
Cabinet Office
13 interactions (2,025 words)
29 Wed 7th September 2016 G20 Summit
Cabinet Office
3 interactions (3,157 words)
30 Wed 7th September 2016 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
15 interactions (1,889 words)
31 Wed 20th July 2016 Oral Answers to Questions
Northern Ireland Office
13 interactions (1,711 words)
32 Mon 18th July 2016 UK's Nuclear Deterrent
Cabinet Office
2 interactions (723 words)
33 Tue 14th July 2015 Calais
Home Office
3 interactions (366 words)
34 Tue 10th February 2015 Counter-terrorism and Security Bill
Home Office
3 interactions (487 words)
35 Mon 9th February 2015 Oral Answers to Questions
Home Office
2 interactions (156 words)
36 Mon 15th December 2014 Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill
Home Office
6 interactions (1,002 words)
37 Mon 3rd November 2014 Child Abuse Inquiry
Home Office
3 interactions (400 words)
38 Tue 15th July 2014 Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill
Home Office
3 interactions (577 words)
39 Thu 30th January 2014 Immigration Bill
Home Office
3 interactions (341 words)
40 Wed 29th January 2014 Syrian Refugees
Home Office
3 interactions (271 words)
41 Mon 4th November 2013 Mohammed Ahmed Mohamed
Home Office
3 interactions (266 words)
42 Tue 22nd October 2013 Immigration Bill
Home Office
2 interactions (65 words)
43 Mon 24th June 2013 Undercover Policing
Home Office
4 interactions (541 words)
44 Wed 24th April 2013 Abu Qatada
Home Office
3 interactions (324 words)
45 Mon 12th November 2012 Abu Qatada
Home Office
3 interactions (269 words)
46 Tue 16th October 2012 Extradition
Home Office
3 interactions (210 words)
47 Tue 19th June 2012 European Convention on Human Rights
Home Office
3 interactions (256 words)
48 Mon 11th June 2012 Family Migration
Home Office
3 interactions (384 words)
49 Mon 19th March 2012 Protection of Freedoms Bill
Home Office
3 interactions (505 words)
50 Mon 6th February 2012 Oral Answers to Questions
Home Office
3 interactions (221 words)
51 Mon 12th December 2011 Oral Answers to Questions
Home Office
3 interactions (256 words)
52 Mon 7th November 2011 UK Border Force
Home Office
3 interactions (205 words)
53 Tue 1st November 2011 Gangs and Youth Violence
Home Office
3 interactions (293 words)
54 Mon 18th July 2011 Metropolitan Police Service
Home Office
3 interactions (301 words)
55 Wed 26th January 2011 Counter-terrorism Review
Home Office
3 interactions (196 words)
56 Mon 13th December 2010 Public Order Policing
Home Office
3 interactions (277 words)
57 Wed 14th July 2010 Prevention and Suppression of Terrorism
Home Office
3 interactions (1,011 words)
58 Tue 13th July 2010 Counter-terrorism and Security Powers
Home Office
3 interactions (301 words)
59 Wed 30th October 2019 Grenfell Tower Inquiry
Cabinet Office
2 interactions (900 words)
60 Wed 24th July 2019 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
13 interactions (1,893 words)
61 Wed 17th July 2019 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
15 interactions (1,540 words)
62 Wed 10th July 2019 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
17 interactions (1,725 words)
63 Wed 3rd July 2019 G20 and Leadership of EU Institutions
Cabinet Office
3 interactions (3,243 words)
64 Wed 3rd July 2019 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
16 interactions (1,443 words)
65 Wed 26th June 2019 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
15 interactions (1,726 words)
66 Mon 24th June 2019 European Council
Cabinet Office
5 interactions (2,301 words)
67 Wed 19th June 2019 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
13 interactions (2,055 words)
68 Wed 12th June 2019 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
15 interactions (1,803 words)
69 Wed 22nd May 2019 Leaving the European Union
Cabinet Office
3 interactions (3,378 words)
70 Wed 22nd May 2019 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
15 interactions (1,648 words)
71 Wed 15th May 2019 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
17 interactions (1,660 words)
72 Wed 8th May 2019 Oral Answers to Questions
Scotland Office
13 interactions (1,781 words)
73 Wed 1st May 2019 Oral Answers to Questions
Department for International Development
15 interactions (1,886 words)
74 Thu 11th April 2019 European Council
Cabinet Office
3 interactions (2,510 words)
75 Wed 10th April 2019 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
13 interactions (1,539 words)
76 Wed 3rd April 2019 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
15 interactions (1,478 words)
77 Fri 29th March 2019 United Kingdom’s Withdrawal from the European Union
Attorney General
5 interactions (1,817 words)
78 Wed 27th March 2019 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
13 interactions (1,479 words)
79 Mon 25th March 2019 European Council
Cabinet Office
3 interactions (1,328 words)
80 Wed 20th March 2019 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
15 interactions (1,533 words)
81 Wed 13th March 2019 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
15 interactions (1,388 words)
82 Tue 12th March 2019 European Union (Withdrawal) Act
Cabinet Office
9 interactions (1,601 words)
83 Wed 6th March 2019 Oral Answers to Questions
Northern Ireland Office
13 interactions (2,023 words)
84 Wed 27th February 2019 Oral Answers to Questions
Wales Office
15 interactions (1,536 words)
85 Tue 26th February 2019 Leaving the European Union
Cabinet Office
5 interactions (2,422 words)
86 Wed 20th February 2019 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
17 interactions (1,971 words)
87 Wed 13th February 2019 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
15 interactions (1,935 words)
88 Tue 12th February 2019 Leaving the EU
Cabinet Office
3 interactions (2,047 words)
89 Wed 30th January 2019 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
21 interactions (1,859 words)
90 Tue 29th January 2019 European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018
Cabinet Office
9 interactions (1,467 words)
91 Wed 23rd January 2019 Oral Answers to Questions
Wales Office
15 interactions (1,463 words)
92 Mon 21st January 2019 Leaving the EU
Cabinet Office
5 interactions (2,070 words)
93 Wed 16th January 2019 No Confidence in Her Majesty’s Government
Cabinet Office
2 interactions (419 words)
94 Wed 16th January 2019 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
13 interactions (1,577 words)
95 Tue 15th January 2019 European Union (Withdrawal) Act
Attorney General
2 interactions (851 words)
96 Mon 14th January 2019 Leaving the EU
Cabinet Office
3 interactions (3,250 words)
97 Wed 9th January 2019 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
15 interactions (1,914 words)
98 Wed 19th December 2018 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
19 interactions (1,738 words)
99 Mon 17th December 2018 European Council
Cabinet Office
7 interactions (1,337 words)
100 Wed 12th December 2018 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
19 interactions (1,354 words)
101 Mon 10th December 2018 Exiting the European Union
Cabinet Office
3 interactions (867 words)
102 Wed 5th December 2018 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
19 interactions (1,407 words)
103 Tue 4th December 2018 European Union (Withdrawal) Act
Cabinet Office
2 interactions (490 words)
104 Mon 3rd December 2018 G20 Summit
Cabinet Office
5 interactions (2,688 words)
105 Wed 28th November 2018 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
15 interactions (1,778 words)
106 Mon 26th November 2018 Leaving the EU
Cabinet Office
5 interactions (3,230 words)
107 Thu 22nd November 2018 Progress on EU Negotiations
Cabinet Office
5 interactions (2,656 words)
108 Wed 21st November 2018 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
15 interactions (1,618 words)
109 Thu 15th November 2018 EU Exit Negotiations
Cabinet Office
3 interactions (3,345 words)
110 Wed 14th November 2018 70th Birthday of the Prince of Wales
Cabinet Office
2 interactions (2,099 words)
111 Wed 14th November 2018 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
19 interactions (1,463 words)
112 Wed 31st October 2018 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
17 interactions (1,544 words)
113 Wed 24th October 2018 Oral Answers to Questions
Wales Office
15 interactions (1,695 words)
114 Mon 22nd October 2018 October EU Council
Cabinet Office
5 interactions (1,480 words)
115 Wed 17th October 2018 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
17 interactions (1,362 words)
116 Mon 15th October 2018 EU Exit Negotiations
Cabinet Office
5 interactions (1,496 words)
117 Wed 10th October 2018 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
13 interactions (1,974 words)
118 Wed 12th September 2018 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
17 interactions (1,426 words)
119 Wed 5th September 2018 Salisbury Update
Cabinet Office
3 interactions (3,308 words)
120 Wed 5th September 2018 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
13 interactions (1,603 words)
121 Wed 18th July 2018 Oral Answers to Questions
Wales Office
21 interactions (1,561 words)
122 Mon 16th July 2018 NATO Summit
Cabinet Office
3 interactions (2,696 words)
123 Mon 9th July 2018 Leaving the EU
Cabinet Office
3 interactions (2,826 words)
124 Wed 4th July 2018 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
13 interactions (1,531 words)
125 Mon 2nd July 2018 June European Council
Cabinet Office
3 interactions (3,484 words)
126 Wed 27th June 2018 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
19 interactions (1,570 words)
127 Wed 20th June 2018 Oral Answers to Questions
Northern Ireland Office
13 interactions (2,059 words)
128 Wed 13th June 2018 Oral Answers to Questions
Wales Office
17 interactions (1,728 words)
129 Mon 11th June 2018 G7
Cabinet Office
3 interactions (2,338 words)
130 Wed 6th June 2018 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
15 interactions (1,378 words)
131 Wed 23rd May 2018 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
15 interactions (1,618 words)
132 Wed 16th May 2018 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
15 interactions (1,693 words)
133 Wed 9th May 2018 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
13 interactions (1,228 words)
134 Wed 2nd May 2018 Oral Answers to Questions
Wales Office
13 interactions (1,727 words)
135 Wed 25th April 2018 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
12 interactions (1,757 words)
136 Wed 18th April 2018 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
15 interactions (1,520 words)
137 Mon 16th April 2018 Syria
Cabinet Office
2 interactions (1,461 words)
138 Mon 16th April 2018 Syria
Cabinet Office
5 interactions (4,726 words)
139 Wed 28th March 2018 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
13 interactions (1,812 words)
140 Mon 26th March 2018 National Security and Russia
Cabinet Office
2 interactions (603 words)
141 Mon 26th March 2018 European Council
Cabinet Office
3 interactions (3,194 words)
142 Wed 21st March 2018 Oral Answers to Questions
Northern Ireland Office
17 interactions (1,650 words)
143 Wed 14th March 2018 Salisbury Incident
Cabinet Office
5 interactions (2,784 words)
144 Wed 14th March 2018 Oral Answers to Questions
Wales Office
15 interactions (1,695 words)
145 Mon 12th March 2018 Salisbury Incident
Cabinet Office
5 interactions (2,280 words)
146 Wed 7th March 2018 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
13 interactions (2,317 words)
147 Mon 5th March 2018 UK/EU Future Economic Partnership
Cabinet Office
5 interactions (2,998 words)
148 Wed 28th February 2018 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
13 interactions (1,811 words)
149 Wed 21st February 2018 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
15 interactions (1,132 words)
150 Wed 7th February 2018 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
13 interactions (1,486 words)
151 Wed 24th January 2018 Oral Answers to Questions
Scotland Office
13 interactions (1,605 words)
152 Wed 17th January 2018 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
15 interactions (1,715 words)
153 Wed 10th January 2018 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
19 interactions (1,995 words)
154 Wed 20th December 2017 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
13 interactions (1,550 words)
155 Mon 18th December 2017 European Council
Cabinet Office
3 interactions (2,684 words)
156 Wed 13th December 2017 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
13 interactions (1,771 words)
157 Mon 11th December 2017 Brexit Negotiations
Cabinet Office
3 interactions (3,458 words)
158 Wed 6th December 2017 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
15 interactions (1,762 words)
159 Wed 22nd November 2017 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
15 interactions (1,668 words)
160 Wed 15th November 2017 Oral Answers to Questions
Northern Ireland Office
19 interactions (2,222 words)
161 Wed 1st November 2017 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
15 interactions (1,889 words)
162 Wed 25th October 2017 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
21 interactions (1,785 words)
163 Mon 23rd October 2017 European Council
Cabinet Office
5 interactions (2,960 words)
164 Wed 18th October 2017 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
17 interactions (1,933 words)
165 Wed 11th October 2017 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
15 interactions (1,566 words)
166 Mon 9th October 2017 UK Plans for Leaving the EU
Cabinet Office
5 interactions (3,011 words)
167 Wed 13th September 2017 Oral Answers to Questions
Northern Ireland Office
17 interactions (1,901 words)
168 Wed 6th September 2017 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
13 interactions (1,773 words)
169 Wed 19th July 2017 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
19 interactions (1,685 words)
170 Mon 10th July 2017 G20
Cabinet Office
3 interactions (2,943 words)
171 Wed 5th July 2017 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
16 interactions (1,880 words)
172 Wed 28th June 2017 Oral Answers to Questions
Northern Ireland Office
15 interactions (2,138 words)
173 Mon 26th June 2017 European Council
Cabinet Office
3 interactions (3,302 words)
174 Thu 22nd June 2017 Grenfell Tower
Cabinet Office
3 interactions (4,322 words)
175 Wed 21st June 2017 Debate on the Address
Cabinet Office
2 interactions (717 words)
176 Tue 13th June 2017 Election of Speaker
Cabinet Office
2 interactions (2,004 words)

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn
Wednesday 26th April 2017

(3 years, 10 months ago)

Commons Chamber

Read Full debate Read Hansard Text
Cabinet Office
Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

My answer to that is a resounding no, I would not. I commend my hon. Friend, who has a proud record of defending our country. He raises an important point because, of course, the Leader of the Opposition has chosen just such a person. The plan to disband MI5, disarm our police and scrap our nuclear deterrent was endorsed by the right hon. Gentleman’s policy chief and even by his shadow Chancellor. At the weekend, we saw the right hon. Gentleman again refusing to say that he would strike against terrorism, refusing to commit to our nuclear deterrent and refusing to control our borders. Keeping our country safe is the first duty of a Prime Minister. The right hon. Gentleman is simply not up to the job.

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

This is the last Prime Minister’s Question Time of this Parliament, so I think it would be appropriate if we all paid tribute to those colleagues who have decided to leave the House. I thank them for their service to democracy in this country. I also thank you, Mr Speaker, for the way in which you have presided over this House and sought to reach out to the wider communities in this country.

When I became Leader of the Opposition 18 months ago—[Hon. Members: “More!”] If Conservative Members wait a moment, I will explain what I am about to say. When I became Leader of the Opposition, I said that I wanted people’s voices to be heard in Parliament, so instead of just speaking to hand-picked audiences who cannot ask questions, I hope the Prime Minister will not mind answering some questions from the public today. I start with Christopher, who wrote to me this week to say, “In the last five years, my husband has had only a 1% increase in his wages. The cost of living has risen each year. We now have at least 15% less buying power than then.” Where is Christopher and his husband’s share in the stronger economy?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

May I first join the right hon. Gentleman in commending those colleagues who are leaving the House for the service they have shown to their constituents and to Parliament over the years? I also say a huge thank you to the staff of the House of Commons and of Parliament who support us in the work that we do in this Chamber and elsewhere.

By the way, I note that the right hon. Gentleman did not take the opportunity to stand up and say how he would actually stand up for the defence of our country. Once again, he missed that opportunity. I note what he is saying about wages increasing. I see today that he is talking about paying for extra wage increases in the national health service. First of all, we should recognise that around half of staff working in the national health service, because of progression and basic pay increases, will actually see, on average, a pay increase of 4%.

What we know, and what I can say to Christopher, is that he will have a choice at the next election between the strong and stable leadership of the Conservatives, which will secure our economy for the future, and a Labour party that would crash our economy, which would mean less money for public services, with ordinary working families paying the price.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

Is not the truth that many people are being held back by this Government, who have slashed taxes for the rich, and held back or cut the pay of dedicated public servants?

Andy, a parent, is concerned about how his children are being held back. He asks why, “despite the fact they have worked consistently since leaving school, all three of my children, who are now in their mid-20s, cannot afford to move out of the family home.” Is this not a crisis that many people are facing all over the country? Do we not need a housing strategy that deals with it?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

First of all, let us look and see what happened under a Labour Government on housing. Under the last Labour Government, house building starts fell by 45%. Under the last Labour Government, house purchases in England fell by 40%. The number of social rented homes under a Labour Government fell by 420,000. Under the Conservatives, we have seen more than twice as much council housing being built than under the last Labour Government. That is the record of a Conservative Government delivering on housing and delivering for ordinary working families.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

The last Labour Government delivered a decent homes standard for every council home in the whole country, and it is something we are proud of—we are very proud indeed of that achievement. Under the Prime Minister’s Government, house building has fallen to the lowest level since the 1920s. More people homeless, more people on waiting lists, more people overcrowded, more people unable to pay the rent—that is the record of the Tory Government.

Our children are being held back by Conservative cuts. Laura, a young primary school teacher, wrote to me this week to say, “I’m seeing a decrease each year in available cash to provide a quality education to the children in my class and an increase in reliance upon our parent teachers association.” Is the Prime Minister still denying the fact that funding for each pupil is still being cut?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

What I would say to Laura is that we said we would protect school budgets, and we have. We have seen record levels of funding going into schools in this country. At the election on 8 June, people are going to have a very clear choice. They will have a choice between a Conservative Government that have delivered 1.8 million more good and outstanding school places for children across this country, and that believe in parents having choice with a range of schools providing the education that is right for every child and a good school place for every child, and a Labour party under the right hon. Gentleman. He believes in “one size fits all; take everybody down to the lowest common denominator; take it or leave it”; we believe in encouraging aspiration and helping people to get on in their lives.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

Labour is not slashing school budgets. Labour is not putting money into pet projects. We want every child—every child—to have a decent chance in a decent school. We do not want an education system that relies on begging letters from schools to maintain employment and books in the classroom.

Many people feel that the system is rigged against them. Maureen wrote to me this week—[Interruption.] I say to Conservative Members that if I was you, I would listen to what Maureen has to say—I really would—because she writes, with a heavy heart, “We have been treated disgustingly. Most of us women born in the 1950s will not be receiving our pension until we are 66, with no notification of this drastic change. We have worked for 45 years and have accrued more than enough to be paid our pension. People want what is rightfully theirs.” Maureen asks, “What can be done to help the WASPI women?”

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

What I would say on the issue that Maureen has raised is that the Government have taken steps to help these women. Extra funding has been made available and we have ensured that there is a limit to the period of time that is affected in relation to these changes. If the right hon. Gentleman wants to talk about pensions and pensioners looking to the future, then once again there will be a very clear choice at this election—a clear choice between a Labour party that in government saw an increase to the basic state pension of 75p in one year, and a Conservative Government whose changes to pensions mean that basic state pensioners are £1,250 better off. But you only get that with a strong economy, and what do we know about Labour? Only yesterday, we saw that we had finally emerged from Labour’s economic crash. What we now see is a Labour party that would do it again: crash the economy, more debt, more waste, higher taxes, fewer jobs. That does nothing for ordinary working families or for pensioners.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

Millions of WASPI women will have heard that answer, as they will have heard the other questions I have put that have not been answered today. I simply say this: Labour will guarantee the triple lock. Labour will treat pensioners with respect and we will not move the goalposts for people looking forward to retirement.

Sybil, who witnessed the Labour founding of the national health service, which made healthcare available for the many, not just the few, wrote to me this week, and she says, “I am 88 and have had a wonderful service from the national health service, but nowadays I am scared at the thought of going into hospital.” With more people waiting more than four hours in A&E, more people waiting on trolleys in corridors, and more delayed discharges thanks to the Tory cuts, is not Sybil right to be frightened about the future of our NHS so long as this Government remain in office?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

Let me just say to the right hon. Gentleman that our national health service is now treating more patients than ever before. We are seeing more people having operations; we are seeing more doctors, more nurses, more midwives, more GPs, and record levels of funding in our national health service. But that is only possible with a strong economy and only possible with a strong and stable Government. Of course, over the coming weeks we are all going to be out there campaigning across the country, as I will be, on our record on the national health service.

I noted this week that the shadow Home Secretary has been campaigning in her own personal way. She has directed her supporters—her followers—to a website called “I Like Corbyn, But…” which asks:

“how will he pay for all this?”

“But”. It also says:

“I heard he wants to increase taxes”.

“But”.

“I’ve heard he’s a terrorist sympathiser”.

“But”.

“his attitudes about defence worry me”.

“But”. They are right to be worried. Unable to defend our country; determined to raise tax on ordinary workers; no plan to manage our economy: even his own supporters know he is not fit to run this country.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

My question was about the national health service and Sybil’s concerns. The NHS has not got the money it needs; the Prime Minister knows that. She knows that waiting times and waiting lists are up; she knows there is a crisis in almost every A&E department. Maybe she could go to a hospital and allow the staff to ask her a few questions.

Strong leadership is about standing up for the many, not the few, but the Prime Minister and the Conservatives only look after the richest, not the rest. They are strong against the weak and weak against the strong. Far from building a strong economy, schools and our NHS are being cut, people cannot afford homes, and millions cannot make ends meet. That does not add up to a stronger economy for anyone. The election on 8 June is a choice between a Conservative Government for the few and a Labour Government who will stand up for all of our people.

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

If the right hon. Gentleman wants to talk about the NHS, perhaps he should talk about Labour’s custodianship of the NHS in Wales. There is somewhere that the NHS has been cut, and that is in Wales under the Labour party.

The right hon. Gentleman is right: in something over six weeks we will be back at these Dispatch Boxes. The only question is: where will we be standing? Who will be Prime Minister of this great country? He says that the choice is clear, and it is. Every vote for him is a vote for a chaotic Brexit; every vote for me is a vote to strengthen our hand in negotiating the best deal for Britain. Every vote for him is a vote to weaken our economy; every vote for me is a vote for a strong economy with the benefits felt by everyone across the country. Every vote for him is a vote for a coalition of chaos, a weak leader propped up by the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish nationalists; every vote for me is a vote for strong and stable leadership in the national interest, building a stronger and more secure future for this country.

Early Parliamentary General Election

Debate between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn
Wednesday 19th April 2017

(3 years, 10 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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Cabinet Office
Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

No, I am not asking the country to write a blank cheque. We have been very clear about what we intend in terms of the outcome of the negotiations. I set that out in my Lancaster House speech in January, it has been set out in the White Paper, and it was set out in the letter we submitted to the President of the European Council to trigger article 50.

The choice before the House today is clear. I have made my choice to do something that runs through the veins of my party more than any other. It is a choice to trust the people, so let us vote to do that today; let us lay out our plans for Brexit; let us put forth our plans for the future of this great country; let us put our fate in the hands of the people; and then let the people decide.

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

We welcome the opportunity of a general election because it gives the British people the chance to vote for a Labour Government who will put the interests of the majority first. The Prime Minister says she has only recently and reluctantly decided to go for a snap election. Just four weeks ago, her spokesperson said

“there isn’t going to be an early general election”.

How can any voter trust what the Prime Minister says?

Britain is being held back by the Prime Minister’s Government. She talks about a strong economy, but the truth is that most people are worse off than they were when the Conservatives came to power seven years ago. The election gives the British people the chance to change direction. This election is about her Government’s failure to rebuild the economy and living standards for the majority; it is about the crisis into which her Government have plunged our national health service; and it is about the cuts to our children’s schools, which will limit the chances of every child in Britain, 4 million of whom now live in poverty. It is a chance of an alternative to raise living standards. More and more people do not have security in their work or their housing.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn
Wednesday 19th April 2017

(3 years, 10 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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Cabinet Office
Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. There are three things that a country needs: a strong economy, strong defence, and strong, stable leadership. That is what our plans for Brexit and our plans for a stronger Britain will deliver. That is what the Conservative party will be offering at this election, and we will be out there fighting for every vote. The right hon. Member for Islington North (Jeremy Corbyn) would bankrupt our economy and weaken our defences and is simply not fit to lead.

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

I concur with the condolences that the Prime Minister just sent to the families of the three people who so sadly and needlessly died. It is important that we recognise that as a cross-party proposal today, and I thank the Prime Minister for it.

We welcome the general election, but this is a Prime Minister who promised that there would not be one—a Prime Minister who cannot be trusted. She says that it is about leadership, yet she refuses to defend her record in television debates. It is not hard to see why. The Prime Minister says that we have a stronger economy, yet she cannot explain why people’s wages are lower today than they were 10 years ago or why more households are in debt. Six million people are earning less than the living wage, child poverty is up, and pensioner poverty is up. Why are so many people getting poorer?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

I point out to the right hon. Gentleman that I have been answering his questions and debating these matters every Wednesday that Parliament has been sitting since I became Prime Minister. I will be taking out to the country in this campaign a proud record of a Conservative Government: a stronger economy, with the deficit nearly two thirds down, a tax cut for 30 million people, with 4 million people taken out of income tax altogether, record levels of employment, and £1,250 more a year for pensioners. That is a record we can proud of.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

If the Prime Minister is so proud of her record, why will she not debate it? Wages are falling and more children are in poverty. Page 28 of the Tories’ last manifesto said:

“We will work to eliminate child poverty”.

They only eliminated the child poverty target, not child poverty. In 2010, they promised to eradicate the deficit by 2015. In 2015, they promised to eradicate the deficit by 2020. Austerity has failed, so does the Prime Minister know by which year the deficit will now be eradicated?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

I know that it has taken the right hon. Gentleman a little time to get the hang of Prime Minister’s questions, but he stands up week in, week out and asks me questions and I respond to those questions. With a stronger—[Interruption.]

Break in Debate

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

We have a stronger economy, with the deficit two thirds down, but people will have a real choice at this election. They will have a choice between a Conservative Government who have shown that we can build a stronger economy and a Labour party with an economic policy that would bankrupt this country. What voters know is that under Labour it is ordinary working people who pay the price of the Labour party. They pay it with their taxes, they pay it with their jobs, and they pay it with their children’s futures.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

Only this year the new Chancellor pledged to eradicate the deficit by 2022. I admire Tory consistency: it is always five years in the future. Another Tory broken promise.

The Prime Minister leads a Government who have increased national debt by £700 billion, more than every Labour Government in history put together. Debt has risen every year they have been in office. We know their economic plan was long term. Does she want to tell us how far into the long term it will be before we get the debt falling?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

The right hon. Gentleman stands up and talks about debt. This is a Labour party that will be going into the election pledged to borrow an extra £500 billion. What does that mean for ordinary working people? Well, I will tell him what it means. We know what Labour’s plans would entail because we have been told by the former Labour shadow Chancellor. He said that if Labour were in power,

“you’d have to double income tax, double National Insurance, double council tax and you’d have to double VAT as well.”

That is Labour’s plan for the economy.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

All her Government have delivered is more debt and less funding for schools and hospitals. Schools funding is being cut for the first time in a generation. The Prime Minister is cutting £3 billion a year from school budgets by 2020. She says that the Government have created a stronger economy, so why are there tax giveaways to the richest corporations while our children’s schools are starved of the resources they need to educate our children for the future?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

The right hon. Gentleman talks about levels of funding for schools and the NHS. There are record levels of funding going into schools and record levels of funding going into the NHS, but let us just talk about schools. It is not just a question of funding; it is actually a question of the quality of education provided in schools. Some 1.8 million more children are in good or outstanding schools under this Conservative Government, which is 1.8 million more children with a better chance for their future. What would Labour give us? It would be the same old one-size-fits-all, local authority-run schools: “No choice, good or bad, trust your luck.” We do not trust to luck, and we will not trust the Labour party. We will provide a good school place for every child.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

Many parents taking their children back to school for the summer term will receive a letter begging for funds to buy books and fund the school. The Conservative manifesto promised

“the amount of money following your child into school will be protected.”

It is not. It is another Tory broken promise.

For the first time in its history, NHS funding per patient will fall this year. The NHS has been put into an all-year-round crisis by this Government. Why are more people waiting in pain, with millions of elderly people not getting the care and dignity they deserve?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

I am proud of our record on the NHS. We saw more doctors, more nurses, more midwives, more general practitioners and more people being treated in our national health service last year than ever before, with record levels of funding going into our national health service. We can only do that with a strong economy. What do we know we would get from the Labour party? Bankruptcy and chaos.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

That is a very good reason for why we should have a debate about it, because it is another Tory broken promise. A broken promise of the Tory manifesto, which said that they would continue to

“spend more on the NHS, in real terms”.

Say that to those waiting in A&E departments and to those who cannot leave hospital because social care is not available.

Is it not the truth that, over the last seven years, the Tories have broken every promise on living standards, the deficit, debt, the national health service and school funding? Why should anyone believe a word they say over the next seven weeks?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that I will be out campaigning and taking to voters the message of not only the record of this Conservative Government, but, crucially, of our plans to make Brexit a success and to build a stronger Britain for the future. Every vote for the Conservatives will make it harder for those who want to stop me getting the job done. Every vote for the Conservatives will make me stronger when I negotiate for Britain with the European Union. And every vote for the Conservatives will mean we can stick to our plan for a stronger Britain and take the right long-term decisions for a more secure future for this country.

Article 50

Debate between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn
Wednesday 29th March 2017

(3 years, 11 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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Cabinet Office
Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

Perhaps now, more than ever, the world needs the liberal, democratic values of Europe—values that the United Kingdom shares. That is why, although we are leaving the institutions of the European Union, we are not leaving Europe. We will remain a close friend and ally. We will be a committed partner. We will play our part to ensure that Europe is able to project its values and defend itself from security threats, and we will do all that we can to help the European Union to prosper and succeed.

In the letter that has been delivered to President Tusk today, copies of which I have placed in the Library of the House, I have been clear that the deep and special partnership that we seek is in the best interests of the United Kingdom and of the European Union, too. I have been clear that we will work constructively in a spirit of sincere co-operation to bring this partnership into being, and I have been clear that we should seek to agree the terms of this future partnership, alongside those of our withdrawal, within the next two years.

I am ambitious for Britain, and the objectives I have set out for these negotiations remain. We will deliver certainty wherever possible so that business, the public sector and everybody else has as much clarity as we can provide as we move through the process. That is why tomorrow we will publish a White Paper confirming our plans to convert the acquis into British law so that everyone will know where they stand, and it is why I have been clear that the Government will put the final deal agreed between the UK and the EU to a vote in both Houses of Parliament before it comes into force.

We will take control of our own laws and bring an end to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in Britain. Leaving the European Union will mean that our laws will be made in Westminster, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast, and those laws will be interpreted not by judges in Luxembourg, but in courts across this country.

We will strengthen the Union of the four nations that comprise our United Kingdom. We will negotiate as one United Kingdom, taking account of the specific interests of every nation and region of the UK. When it comes to the powers that we will take back from Europe, we will consult fully on which should reside in Westminster and which should be passed on to the devolved Administrations. But no decisions currently taken by the devolved Administrations will be removed from them. It is the expectation of the Government that the devolved Administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will see a significant increase in their decision-making power as a result of this process.

We want to maintain the common travel area with the Republic of Ireland. There should be no return to the borders of the past. We will control immigration so that we continue to attract the brightest and the best to work or study in Britain, but manage the process properly so that our immigration system serves the national interest. We will seek to guarantee the rights of EU citizens who are already living in Britain, and the rights of British nationals in other member states, as early as we can. This is set out very clearly in the letter as an early priority for the talks ahead.

We will ensure that workers’ rights are fully protected and maintained. Indeed, under my leadership, the Government will not only protect the rights of workers but build on them. We will pursue a bold and ambitious free trade agreement with the European Union that allows for the freest possible trade in goods and services between Britain and the EU’s member states, that gives British companies the maximum freedom to trade with and operate within European markets, and that lets European businesses do the same in Britain. European leaders have said many times that we cannot cherry-pick and remain members of the single market without accepting the four freedoms that are indivisible. We respect that position and, as accepting those freedoms is incompatible with the democratically expressed will of the British people, we will no longer be members of the single market.

We are going to make sure that we can strike trade agreements with countries from outside the European Union, too, because important though our trade with the EU is and will remain, it is clear that the UK needs to increase significantly its trade with the fastest growing export markets in the world. We hope to continue to collaborate with our European partners in the areas of science, education, research and technology so that the UK is one of the best places for science and innovation. We seek continued co-operation with our European partners in important areas such as crime, terrorism and foreign affairs. And it is our aim to deliver a smooth and orderly Brexit, reaching an agreement about our future partnership by the time the two-year article 50 process has concluded, and then moving into a phased process of implementation in which Britain, the EU institutions and member states prepare for the new arrangements that will exist between us.

We understand that there will be consequences for the UK of leaving the EU. We know that we will lose influence over the rules that affect the European economy. We know that UK companies that trade with the EU will have to align with rules agreed by institutions of which we are no longer a part, just as we do in other overseas markets—we accept that. However, we approach these talks constructively, respectfully and in a spirit of sincere co-operation, for it is in the interests of both the United Kingdom and the European Union that we should use this process to deliver our objectives in a fair and orderly manner. It is in the interests of both the United Kingdom and the European Union that there should be as little disruption as possible. And it is in the interests of both the United Kingdom and the European Union that Europe should remain strong, prosperous and capable of projecting its values in the world.

At a time when the growth of global trade is slowing and there are signs that protectionist instincts are on the rise in many parts of the world, Europe has a responsibility to stand up for free trade in the interests of all our citizens. With Europe’s security more fragile today than at any time since the end of the cold war, weakening our co-operation and failing to stand up for European values would be a costly mistake. Our vote to leave the EU was no rejection of the values that we share as fellow Europeans. As a European country, we will continue to play our part in promoting and supporting those values during the negotiations and once they are done.

We will continue to be reliable partners, willing allies and close friends. We want to continue to buy goods and services from the EU, and sell it ours. We want to trade with the EU as freely as possible, and work with one another to make sure we are all safer, more secure and more prosperous through continued friendship. Indeed, in an increasingly unstable world, we must continue to forge the closest possible security co-operation to keep our people safe. We face the same global threats from terrorism and extremism. That message was only reinforced by the abhorrent attack on Westminster bridge and this place last week, so there should be no reason why we should not agree a new deep and special partnership between the UK and the EU that works for us all.

I know that this is a day of celebration for some and disappointment for others. The referendum last June was divisive at times. Not everyone shared the same point of view or voted the same way. The arguments on both sides were passionate. But when I sit around the negotiating table in the months ahead, I will represent every person in the United Kingdom: young and old; rich and poor; city, town, country, and all the villages and hamlets in between; and, yes, those EU nationals who have made this country their home. It is my fierce determination to get the right deal for every single person in this country for, as we face the opportunities ahead of us on this momentous journey, our shared values, interests and ambitions can—and must—bring us together.

We all want to see a Britain that is stronger than it is today. We all want a country that is fairer so that everyone has the chance to succeed. We all want a nation that is safe and secure for our children and grandchildren. We all want to live in a truly global Britain that gets out and builds relationships with old friends and new allies around the world. These are the ambitions of this Government’s plan for Britain—ambitions that unite us, so that we are no longer defined by the vote we cast, but by our determination to make a success of the result.

We are one great Union of people and nations with a proud history and a bright future. Now that the decision to leave has been made and the process is under way, it is time to come together, for this great national moment needs a great national effort—an effort to shape a stronger future for Britain. So let us do so together. Let us come together and work together. Let us together choose to believe in Britain with optimism and hope, for if we do, we can make the most of the opportunities ahead. We can together make a success of this moment, and we can together build a stronger, fairer, better Britain—a Britain our children and grandchildren are proud to call home. I commend this statement to the House.

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

I would like to thank the Prime Minister for an advance copy of her statement.

Today, we embark on the country’s most important negotiations in modern times. The British people made the decision to leave the European Union and Labour respects that decision. The next steps along this journey are the most crucial. If the Prime Minister is to unite the country, as she says she aims to do, the Government need to listen, consult and represent the whole country, not just the hard-line Tory ideologues on her own Benches.

Britain is going to change as a result of leaving the European Union; the question is how. There are Conservatives who want to use Brexit to turn this country into a low-wage tax haven. Labour is determined to invest in a high-skill, high-tech, high-wage future, and to rebuild and transform Britain so that no one and no community is left behind. The direction the Prime Minister is threatening to take this country in is both reckless and damaging, and Labour will not give this Government a free hand to use Brexit to attack rights and protections and to cut services, or to create a tax dodger’s paradise.

Let me be clear: the Prime Minister says that no deal is better than a bad deal, but the reality is that no deal is a bad deal. Less than a year ago, the Treasury estimated that leaving the European Union on World Trade Organisation terms would lead to a 7.5% fall in our GDP and a £45 billion loss in tax receipts. Has the Treasury updated those figures or do they still stand? If they have been updated, can they be published? If not, what deal could be worse than those consequences of no deal? It would be a national failure of historic proportions if the Prime Minister came back from Brussels without having secured protection for jobs and living standards, so we will use every parliamentary opportunity to ensure the Government are held to account at every stage of the negotiations.

We all have an interest in ensuring the Prime Minister gets the best deal for this country. To safeguard jobs and living standards, we do need full access to the single market. The Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union seems to agree on this. He stated in this House on 24 January that the Government’s plan is:

“a comprehensive free trade agreement and a comprehensive customs agreement that will deliver the exact same benefits as we have”.—[Official Report, 24 January 2017; Vol. 620, c. 169.]

That was what was pledged, so will the Prime Minister confirm today that she intends to deliver a trade and customs agreement with “the exact same benefits”? The same goes for protecting workers’ rights and environmental standards, protecting Britain’s nations and regions, protecting Britain’s financial sector and services, and making sure there is no return to a hard border in Northern Ireland.

When does the Prime Minister expect to be able to guarantee the rights of all those EU nationals who live and work in this country, and make such a massive and welcome contribution to it, and of those British nationals who live in all parts of the European Union, including by guaranteeing that their UK pensions will not be frozen post-Brexit?

Brexit would be a huge task for any Government, yet so far this Government seem utterly complacent about the scale of the task ahead. Government Ministers cannot make up their minds about the real objective. The Foreign Secretary—he is in the Chamber today—said in October:

“Our policy is having our cake and eating it.”

How apposite from the Foreign Secretary. Today, on BBC Radio 4, the Chancellor said:

“we can’t have our cake and eat it”.

Maybe they should get together and talk about that.

At one level, those might seem like flippant exchanges from Ministers, but they do reflect serious differences about Britain’s negotiating aims. The Government must speak with a united voice. However, the Foreign Secretary is the same man who promised our national health service £350 million a week once we left the EU. Now he believes that leaving the EU without a deal would be “perfectly okay”. It would not be perfectly okay—it would damage our economy and people’s living standards. Will the Prime Minister confirm that she rejects such complacency?

Labour has set out our tests for the Government’s Brexit negotiations, and we will use all means possible to make sure we hold them to their word on full access to the single market, on protecting Britain from being dragged into a race to the bottom, and on ensuring that our future relationship with the European Union is strong and co-operative—a relationship in which we can work together to bring prosperity and peace to our continent. If the Prime Minister can deliver a deal that meets our tests, that will be fine—we will back her. More than ever, Britain needs a Government that will deliver for the whole country, not just the few, and that is the ultimate test of the Brexit deal that the Prime Minister must now secure.

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for saying that the Labour party respects the outcome of the referendum and the process that is now under way. He said that the next steps are the most crucial—the most important—and, of course, we now enter that formal process of negotiation.

It does seem, however, that the message that the right hon. Gentleman has sent today has not got through to all his Front Benchers. I understand that as the Cabinet met this morning to approve our course, his shadow International Trade Secretary tweeted a photo of me signing the A50 letter, claiming I was “signing away” our country’s future. I am afraid that that is what we see all too often from Labour: talking down Britain; desperate for the negotiations to fail; and out of touch with ordinary working people.

The right hon. Gentleman referred to the tests—I will come on to those—and asked me specifically about EU nationals. I expressly referred to that in the letter to President Tusk and made it clear that I would hope that we could deal with this issue of EU nationals here and UK nationals in other member states at as early a stage as possible in the negotiations. As I have said in this House before, I believe that there is good will on both sides to do that.

The right hon. Gentleman mentioned the tests that the Labour party has set out for the negotiations. I have been looking at those tests because, actually, there are principles that the Government have, time and time again, said we are determined to meet. He asks if the final deal will ensure a strong and collaborative future relationship with the EU. Yes, and in my letter to President Tusk, that is exactly what I set out our intentions to be. Will the deal deliver the same benefits we currently have as a member of the single market and the customs union? We have been clear that we want to get the best possible deal, and free and frictionless trade. Will the deal protect national security and our capacity to tackle cross-border crime? Yes. Will the deal deliver for all regions and nations of the UK? We have been very clear that we are taking all nations and regions into account, as I say in the letter to President Tusk. As I said during Prime Minister’s questions, we expect that, as powers are repatriated, the devolved Administrations will see a significant increase in their decision making.

The right hon. Gentleman’s fifth test is: will the deal defend rights and protections and prevent a race to the bottom? We have been very clear that workers’ rights will be protected—they are not up for negotiation under this Government. Perhaps he should listen to his own Mayor of London, who has said:

“to give credit to the government, I don’t think they want to weaken workers’ rights…there’s been some anxiety…I’ve seen no evidence from the conversations I’ve had with senior members of the government that that’s their aspiration or their intention or something they want to do.”

But the Labour party has set out a sixth test that I do not think the right hon. Gentleman mentioned specifically, and perhaps that is because of the confusion in the Labour party. The sixth test is, “Will the deal ensure fair management of migration?” What we see on that is a confused picture from the Labour party. The shadow Home Secretary says that freedom of movement is a worker’s right, and the right hon. Gentleman himself said:

“Labour is not wedded to freedom of movement for EU citizens as a point of principle, but I don’t want that to be misinterpreted, nor do we rule it out.”

Little wonder that nobody has any idea of the Labour party’s position on that issue.

As I said earlier, on today of all days we should be coming together. We should be accepting the ambition for our country for the future. We should not be talking down the negotiations as the right hon. Gentleman does. We should set our ambition, our optimism and our determination to get the best possible deal for everybody in the United Kingdom.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn
Wednesday 29th March 2017

(3 years, 11 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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Department for International Development
Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. I believe that schools should be free to be run as best suits them. We are putting autonomy and freedom in the hands of strong leaders and outstanding teachers so that they can deliver an excellent education. We want to get out of the way of outstanding education providers so that they can set up the types of schools that parents want. That is why we have set out our new plans to remove the ban on new grammar schools and restrictions on new faith schools. It is a complex area, but we expect to announce the detail of the next wave of free school applications following the publication of our schools White Paper.

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

I want to begin by paying tribute, as the Prime Minister did, to the emergency services across the country, and especially to all those who responded to the Westminster attack last Wednesday and those who turned out to help the victims of the New Ferry explosion last Saturday. Our thoughts remain with the injured and those who have lost loved ones, and we especially thank the police for their ongoing investigations. Will the Prime Minister assure us that the police will be given all the necessary support and resources to take them through this very difficult period of investigating what happened last Wednesday?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

I join the right hon. Gentleman in praising the work of our emergency services, who, as he has pointed out, have to deal with a wide range of incidents. Our focus in the House has most recently been on the attack that took place last Wednesday, but we should never forget that, day in and day out, our emergency services are working on our behalf and often putting themselves in danger as a result of the work that they do.

I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that I have, of course, been keeping in touch with both the security services and the Metropolitan police—as has my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary—about the current investigation of the attack last week, and about future security arrangements. I can also assure him that they have the resources that they need in order to carry out their vital work.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

Of course we all pay tribute to the police for the work that they do, but there are some problems. Between 2015 and 2018 there will be a real-terms cut of £330 million in central Government funding for police forces. Can the Prime Minister assure the House that police forces all over the country have the necessary resources with which to do the job?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

I remind the right hon. Gentleman that we have protected the police budget in the comprehensive spending review. I also remind him that the former shadow Home Secretary, his colleague the right hon. Member for Leigh (Andy Burnham), said during the 2015 Labour party conference that

“savings can be found. The Police say 5% to 10% over the Parliament is just about do-able.”

We did not accept that. We have actually protected the police budget. I have been speaking to police forces, as has my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, and they are very clear about the fact that they have the resources that they need for the work that they are doing.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

A survey undertaken recently by the Police Federation reveals that 55% of serving police officers say that their morale is low because of how their funding has been treated. Frontline policing is vital to tackling crime and terrorism, but there are 20,000 fewer police officers and 12,000 fewer officers on the frontline than there were in 2010. I ask the Prime Minister again: will she think again about the cuts in policing, and will she guarantee that policing on the frontline will be protected so that every community can be assured that it has the police officers it needs?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

As I said to the right hon. Gentleman, we have protected police budgets, including the precept that the police are able to raise locally. But let us just think about what has happened since 2010. Since then, crimes that are traditionally measured by the independent crime survey have fallen by a third, to a record low. That is due to the work of hard-working police officers up and down the country, and they have been backed by this Government. Yes, we have made them more accountable through directly elected police and crime commissioners, and yes, there has been reform of policing—including reform of the Police Federation, which was very necessary—but we have ensured that they have the resources to do their job, and we now see crime at a record low.

Break in Debate

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

I am grateful for my hon. Friend’s welcome for the extra money—the £2 billion that was announced by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor in the Budget—that is going into social care. That shows that we have recognised the pressures and demands on social care, but it is also important that we ensure that best practice is delivered across the whole country. It is not just about money, so we are also trying to find a long-term, sustainable solution that will help local authorities to learn from each other to raise standards across the whole system. We will bring forward proposals in a Green Paper later this year to put the state-funded system on a more secure and sustainable footing.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

As Home Secretary, the Prime Minister clearly did not protect police budgets. Last week, she told me four times:

“We have protected the schools budget.”—[Official Report, 22 March 2017; Vol. 623, c. 854-855.]

Does she still stand by that statement?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

We have protected schools’ budgets, and we are putting record funding into schools.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

Today, the Public Accounts Committee says of the Department for Education:

“The Department does not seem to understand the pressures that schools are already under.”

It goes on to say that

“Funding per pupil is reducing in real terms”,

and that school budgets will be cut by £3 billion—equivalent to 8%—by 2020. Is the Public Accounts Committee wrong?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

What we will see over the course of this Parliament is £230 billion going into our schools, but what matters is the quality of education in schools. An additional 1.8 million children are in good or outstanding schools, and this Government’s policy is to ensure that every child gets a good school place.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

The daily experience of many parents who have children in school is that they receive letters asking for money. One parent, Elizabeth, wrote to me to say that she has received a letter from her daughter’s school asking for a monthly donation to top up the reduced funds that it is receiving. This Government’s cuts to schools are betraying a generation of our children. If the Prime Minister is right, the parents are wrong, the teachers are wrong, the Institute for Fiscal Studies is wrong, the National Audit Office is wrong, and the Education Policy Institute is wrong. Now the Public Accounts Committee, which includes eight Conservative Members, is also wrong. Which organisation does back the Prime Minister’s view on education spending in our schools?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

As I have just said to the right hon. Gentleman, we said that we would protect school funding, and we have; there is a real-terms protection for the schools budget. We said that we would protect the money following children into schools, and we have; the schools budget reaches £42 billion, as pupil numbers rise, in 2019-20. But I also have to say to him that it is about the quality of education that children are receiving, with 1.8 million more children in good or outstanding schools than there were under the Labour Government.

Time and again, the right hon. Gentleman stands up at Prime Minister’s questions and asks questions that would lead to more spending. Let us look at what he has said recently: on 11 January, more spending; on 8 February, more spending; on 22 February, more spending; on 1 and 8 March, more spending; and on 15 and 22 March, more spending. Barely a PMQs goes by that he does not call for more public spending. When it comes to spending money that it does not have, Labour simply cannot help itself. It is the same old Labour: spend today and give somebody else the bill tomorrow. Well, we will not do that to the next generation.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn
Wednesday 22nd March 2017

(3 years, 11 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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Cabinet Office
Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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As I have said before, the referendum result was not just about membership of the EU; it was a vote to change the way that this country works, and who it works for, forever, to make Britain a country that works for everyone, not just the privileged few. That is why the plan for Britain is a plan to get the right deal for Britain abroad, but also to build a stronger, fairer Britain for ordinary working families here at home, like those in Telford. I am pleased that we have already provided £17 million of funding to The Marches local enterprise partnership to improve local infrastructure in Telford. This Government are putting those resources in, and our plan for Britain will deliver that stronger, fairer economy and a more united and more outward-looking country than ever before.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab)
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I start by echoing the words of the Prime Minister concerning Martin McGuinness, the former Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland. He died this week, and our thoughts go to his family, his wife Bernie and the wider community. Martin played an immeasurable role in bringing about peace in Northern Ireland, and it is that peace that we all want to see endure for all time for all people in Northern Ireland.

This Government are cutting the schools budget by 6.5% by 2020, and today we learn that the proposed national funding formula will leave 1,000 schools across England facing additional cuts of a further 7% beyond 2020. Can the Prime Minister explain to parents why cutting capital gains tax, cutting inheritance tax, cutting corporation tax and cutting the bank levy are all more important than our children’s future?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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This Government are committed to ensuring that all our children get the education that is right for them and that all our children have a good school place. That is what the Government’s plans for education will provide. That is building on a fine record of the past six and a half—nearly seven—years of Conservatives in government, when we have seen 1.8 million more children in good or outstanding schools. We have protected the schools budget. The national funding formula is under consultation, and obviously there will be a number of views. The consultation closes today and the Department for Education will respond to it in due course.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
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The manifesto on which the Prime Minister fought the last election promised:

“Under a future Conservative Government, the amount of money following your child into school will be protected.”

No wonder even the editor of the London Evening Standard is up in arms about this. The cut to school funding equates to the loss of two teachers across all primary schools and six teachers across all secondary schools. So is the Prime Minister advocating larger class sizes, a shorter school day, or unqualified teachers? Which is it?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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We have, as I said, protected the schools budget. We now see more teachers in our schools and more teachers with first-class degrees in our schools. As I say, we see 1.8 million more children in good or outstanding schools. That is a result of this Government’s policies of diversity in education: free schools, academies, comprehensives, faith schools, university schools, grammar schools. We believe in diversity in education and choice for parents; the right hon. Gentleman believes in a one-size-fits-all, take-it-or-leave-it model.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
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The Prime Minister was clearly elected on a pledge not to cut school funding, yet that is exactly what is happening. Maybe she could listen to headteachers in West Sussex who say they believe that savings will come from

“staffing reductions, further increased class sizes, withdrawal of counselling and pastoral services, modified school hours, reduction in books, IT and equipment.”

I have a heartfelt letter from a primary school teacher by the name of Eileen. Eileen is one of our many hard-working teachers who cares for her kids, and she wrote to me to say:

“Teachers are purchasing items such as pens, pencils, glue sticks and paper out of their own pockets. Fundraising events have quadrupled, as funds are so low that parents are having to make donations to purchase books! This is disgraceful.”

Does the Prime Minister agree with Eileen?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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We are seeing record levels of funding going into our schools. We have protected the schools budget; we have protected the pupil premium. But what matters for parents is the quality of education—

Break in Debate

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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What matters for all of us who are concerned about education in this country is that we ensure that the quality of education that is provided for our children enables them to get on in life and have a better future. That is what this Government are about. It is about ensuring that in this country you get on on the basis of merit, not privilege; it is about ensuring that every child—[Interruption]—every child across this country has the opportunity of a good school place. That is what we have been delivering for the past seven years, and it is what we will deliver into the future—and every single policy that has delivered better education for children has been opposed by the right hon. Gentleman.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

Maybe the Prime Minister could have a word with her friend the hon. Member for The Cotswolds (Geoffrey Clifton-Brown), who said this week:

“Under this new formula, all my large primaries and all of my secondaries will actually see a cash cut in their budgets.”

In the Budget, the Government found no more money for the schools budget, but they did find £320 million for the Prime Minister’s special grammar schools vanity project. There is no money for Eileen’s school, but £320 million for divisive grammar schools. What kind of priority is that?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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First of all, what we have done in relation to the funding formula is to address an issue that Labour ignored for all its time in government. Across this House there has generally been, for many years, an accepted view that the current formula for school funding is not fair. I was saying this—I was calling for a better funding formula—more than 15 years ago when I was the shadow Education Secretary. We have put forward a proposal, and we are consulting on it. The consultation closes today, and we will respond to that consultation.

The right hon. Gentleman talks about the sort of system we want in schools. Yes, we want diversity, and we want different sorts of schools. We have put money into new school places. But I say to him that his shadow Home Secretary sent her child to a private school; his shadow Attorney General sent her child to a private school; he sent his child to a grammar school; and he went to a grammar school himself. Typical Labour—take the advantage and pull up the ladder behind you.

Break in Debate

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
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I want a decent, fair opportunity for every child in every school. I want a staircase for all, not a ladder for the few. The Prime Minister has not been very good at convincing the former Secretary of State for Education, the right hon. Member for Loughborough (Nicky Morgan), who wrote last week:

“All the evidence is clear that grammar schools damage social mobility.”

What evidence has the Prime Minister got that the former Secretary of State is wrong in that?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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The evidence is that for the poorest children, the attainment gap in a selective school is virtually zero. That tells us the quality of the education that they are getting. What I want is a diverse education system where there are genuine opportunities for all to have the education that is right for them. That is why in the Budget, as well as dealing with the issue of new school places, we have put extra money into technical education for young people for whom technical education is right. The right hon. Gentleman says that he wants opportunities for all children, and he says that he wants good school places for all children. He should jolly well support the policies that we are putting forward.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
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It is not just the former Education Secretary; the Chair of the Education Committee also says that grammar schools

“do little to help social mobility”

and are an “unnecessary distraction”. The Prime Minister and her Government are betraying a generation of young people by cutting the funding for every child. Children will have fewer teachers, larger classes and fewer subjects to choose from, and all the Prime Minister can do is to focus on her grammar school vanity project, which can only ever benefit a few children. Is the Prime Minister content for the generation in our schools today to see their schools decline, their subject choices diminish and their life chances held back by decisions of her Government?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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Protected school funding, more teachers in our schools, more teachers with first-class degrees in our schools, more children in good or outstanding schools—it is not a vanity project to want every child in this country to have a good school place. That is how they will get on in life, and that is what this party will deliver. But this shows that there is a difference between the right hon. Gentleman and me. Earlier this week, he recorded a video calling for unity. He called for Labour to

“think of our people first. Think of our movement first. Think of the party first.”

That is the difference between him and me: Labour puts the party first; we put the country first.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn
Wednesday 15th March 2017

(3 years, 11 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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Northern Ireland Office
Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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As a number of my parliamentary colleagues have been pointing out in recent days, the trend towards greater self-employment does create a structural issue in the tax base on which we will have to act. We want to ensure that we maintain, as they have said, fairness in the tax system. We will await the report from Matthew Taylor on the future of employment; consider the Government’s overall approach to employment status and rights to tax and entitlements; and bring forward further proposals, but we will not bring forward increases to national insurance contributions later in this Parliament.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab)
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First, may I wish everyone in my constituency, in Ireland and all around the world a very happy St Patrick’s day on the 17th?

We have just heard that the Prime Minister is about to drop the national insurance hike announced only a week ago. It seems to me that the Government are in a bit of chaos here with a Budget that unravels in seven days, a Conservative manifesto with a pensive Prime Minister on the front page saying that there would be no increase, and a week ago an increase being announced. If they are to drop the increase, as they are indicating, the Prime Minister should thank the Federation of Small Businesses and all those who have pointed out both how unfair the increase would be and how big business evades an awful lot of national insurance through bogus self-employment.

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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I do not think the right hon. Gentleman listened to the answer I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Bexhill and Battle (Huw Merriman). I normally stand at this Dispatch Box and say I will not take any lectures from the right hon. Gentleman, but when it comes to lectures on chaos he would be the first person I turned to.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
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I think the Prime Minister should offer an apology for the chaos that her Government have caused during the past week and the stress they have caused to the 4.8 million self-employed people in this country. Will she offer that apology? Her hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Wales did so a week ago; it is time she joined him. This measure, if carried through, will create a black hole in the budget. What is she going to do to fill that black hole?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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If the right hon. Gentleman is so concerned about balancing the books, why is it Labour party policy to borrow half a trillion pounds and bankrupt Britain?

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
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Given that this Government propose to borrow more between now and 2020 than the entire borrowing of all Labour Governments put together, we do not need lectures from them on that.

I hope that in his statement later today the Chancellor will address the question of injustice to many people who are forced into bogus self-employment by unscrupulous companies, many of which force their workers to become self-employed and thereby avoid employer’s national insurance contributions. It is a grossly unfair system where those in self-employment pay some national insurance, but employers do not and benefit from it. That is a gross injustice that must be addressed.

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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The right hon. Gentleman obviously has not noticed that one of the first things I did when I became Prime Minister was commission Matthew Taylor of the RSA to conduct a review of the employment market and employment rights and status, precisely because we recognised that the employment market is changing. He talks about the self-employed, so let us look at what we have done for the self-employed. Our increase in the personal allowance means that they now keep more of their earnings. They will have access to both tax-free childcare and 30 hours of free childcare a week, just like employees, and now they have access to the new state pension, worth over £1,800 more a year. What we know is that the Labour party’s policies would bankrupt Britain and put firms out of business and people out of jobs.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
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We have a Government U-turn, no apology, and a Budget that falls most heavily on those with the least broad shoulders, with cuts to schools, cuts to social care and cuts to support for people with disabilities. That is the agenda of the right hon. Lady’s Government, and everybody knows it.

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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I do not think the right hon. Gentleman has got the hang of this. He is supposed to ask me a question when he stands up—[Interruption.]

Break in Debate

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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The right hon. Gentleman talks about schools. What have we done? We have protected the core schools budget and introduced the pupil premium. This Budget delivers money for more than 100 new schools, ensuring good school places for every child. This Budget delivers on skills for young people; we want them to be equipped for the jobs of the future. The Budget delivers £500 million for technical education. We also recognise the pressure on social care. This Budget delivers £2 billion more funding for social care—funding that would not be available with Labour’s economic policies.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
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It would be a very good idea if the Prime Minister listened to headteachers all over the country, who are desperately trying to work out how to balance the books in their schools, but are losing teachers, losing teaching assistants and losing support for their children because school budgets are being cut. She knows that. We all know that. Everybody out there knows that. They also know that, according to figures from the Institute for Fiscal Studies, average working families will be £1,400 worse off as a result of her Budget that was produced last week. What is she doing to help the worst off and poorest in our society, rather than continuing to cut local government and schools expenditure, and to underfund social care?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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I will tell the right hon. Gentleman what we have delivered for the low paid. We have frozen VAT and fuel duty, and every basic rate taxpayer has had a tax cut worth £1,000. We have taken more than 3 million people out of paying income tax altogether. That is what we have done for the low paid. On schools, 1.8 million more children are now in good or outstanding schools. I want a good school place for every child. We have done it with free schools and academies, and with our changes to education—all opposed by the Labour party. Now it wants to oppose our giving every child a good school place. What do we know about the Labour party’s policies? Well, the former shadow Chancellor, the hon. Member for Nottingham East (Chris Leslie), said that Labour’s policies would mean doubling national insurance, doubling VAT and doubling council tax. That would not help the low paid or ordinary working families.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
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The difference is that we want a good school and a good place for every child in every school in every community. Selective education—the reintroduction of grammar schools—does not achieve that. We want a staircase for all, not a ladder for the few, which is what Conservative policies actually are. The Prime Minister has also not addressed the unfairness of a Budget that cuts tax at the top end, continues to reduce corporation tax and encourages bogus self-employment. She has to address the issues of injustice and inequality in our society, and of a Government who are dedicated to widening the gap, not helping the hard-up or those who are working as self-employed, trying to make ends meet and not getting access to any benefits at the same time.

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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Inequality has gone down under this Government. The Budget shows that the top 1% of earners will actually contribute 27% in terms of the income that they are providing.

Let me address the issue of schools. The problem with what the right hon. Gentleman says is that the Labour party has opposed, and continues to oppose, every single education policy brought forward by this Government, delivering more good school places for children. The Labour party’s approach is that parents shall take what they are given, good or bad. We believe in listening to parents.

Let us look ahead to what the right hon. Gentleman’s policies would produce for this country: half a trillion pounds of borrowing—£500 billion more borrowing under the Labour party—more taxes, more spending and more borrowing. It would be a bankrupt Britain that would not give money for public services or help ordinary working families. It is the Conservative party that is helping ordinary working families. It is the Labour party that is failing to address the needs of the people of this country. We are delivering. He is just sitting there or going on protest marches.

European Council

Debate between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn
Tuesday 14th March 2017

(3 years, 11 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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Cabinet Office
Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister (Mrs Theresa May)
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With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a statement on last week’s European Council, and the next steps in preparing to trigger Article 50 and beginning the process of leaving the European Union.

The summit began by re-electing Donald Tusk as President of the European Council. I welcomed this because we have a close working relationship with President Tusk and recognise the strong contribution he has made in office. In the main business of the Council, we discussed the challenge of managing mass migration; the threats from organised crime and instability in the western Balkans; and the measures needed to boost Europe’s growth and competitiveness, which will remain important for us as we build a new relationship between the EU and a self-governing global Britain. In each case, we were able to show once again how Britain will continue to play a leading role in Europe long after we have left the European Union.

On migration, I welcomed the progress in implementing the action plan we agreed at the informal EU summit in Malta last month. This included Italy strengthening asylum processes and increasing returns, and Greece working to implement the EU-Turkey deal, where the UK is providing additional staff to support the interviewing of Iraqi, Afghan and Eritrean nationals.

At this Council, I argued that we must do more to dismantle the vile people-smuggling rings who profit from the migrants’ misery and who are subjecting many to unimaginable abuses. With co-ordinated and committed action, we can make a difference. Indeed, just last month an operation between our National Crime Agency and the Hellenic coastguard led to the arrest of 19 members of an organised immigration crime group in Greece. As I have argued before, we need a managed, controlled and truly global approach, and that is exactly what the Council agreed. We need to help to ensure that refugees claim asylum in the first safe country they reach, and help those countries to support the refugees so they do not have to make the perilous journey to Europe. We need a better overall approach to managing economic migration, one which recognises that all countries have the right to control their borders. Engaging our African partners in this global approach will be crucial, and this will be an important part of the discussions at the Somalia conference which the UK will be hosting in London in May.

Turning to the deteriorating situation in the western Balkans, I made clear my concerns about the risks it presents to the region and to our wider collective security. Organised criminals and terrorists are ready to exploit these vulnerabilities, and we are seeing increasingly brazen interference by Russia and others. In light of the alleged Montenegro coup plot, I called on the Council to do more to counter destabilising Russian disinformation campaigns and to raise the visibility of the western commitment to this region.

The UK will lead the way. The Foreign Secretary will be visiting Russia in the coming weeks, where I expect him to set out our concerns about reports of Russian interference in the affairs of the Government of Montenegro. We will provide strategic communications expertise to the EU institutions to counter disinformation campaigns in the region, and we will host the 2018 western Balkans summit. In the run-up to that summit, we will enhance our security co-operation with our western Balkans partners, including on serious and organised crime, anti-corruption and cyber-security.

More broadly, I also re-emphasised the importance that the UK places on NATO as the bedrock of our collective defence, and I urged other member states to start investing more, in line with NATO’s target, so that every country plays its full part in sharing the burden. For it is only by investing properly in our defence that we can ensure we are properly equipped to keep our people safe.

Turning to growth and competitiveness, I want us to build a new relationship with the EU, as I have said, that will give our companies the maximum freedom to trade with and operate in the European market, and allow European businesses to do the same here. So a successful and competitive European market in the future will remain in our national interest. At this Council, I called for further steps to complete the single market and the digital single market.

I also welcomed the completion of the free trade agreement between the EU and Canada and pressed for an agreement with Japan in the coming months. For these agreements—[Interruption.] Yes, just wait for it. These agreements will lay the foundation for our continuing trading relationships with these countries as we leave the EU.

At the same time, we will also seize the opportunity to forge our own new trade deals and to reach out beyond the borders of Europe to build relationships with old friends and new allies alike. This weekend, we announced a two-day conference with the largest ever Qatari trade delegation to visit the UK, building on the £5 billion of trade we already do with Qatar every year. We will also strengthen the unique and proud global relationships we have forged with the diverse and vibrant alliance of the Commonwealth, which we celebrated on Commonwealth day yesterday.

Finally, last night the Bill on article 50 successfully completed its passage through both Houses unchanged. It will now proceed to Royal Assent in the coming days, so we remain on track with the timetable I set out six months ago. I will return to this House before the end of this month to notify when I have formally triggered article 50 and begun the process through which the United Kingdom will leave the European Union. This will be a defining moment for our whole country, as we begin to forge a new relationship with Europe and a new role for ourselves in the world.

We will be a strong, self-governing global Britain with control once again over our borders and our laws. We will use this moment of opportunity to build a stronger economy and a fairer society, so that we secure both the right deal for Britain abroad and a better deal for ordinary working people at home.

The new relationship with the EU that we negotiate will work for the whole of the United Kingdom. That is why we have been working closely with the devolved Administrations, including the Scottish Government, listening to their proposals and recognising the many areas of common ground that we have, such as protecting workers’ rights and our security from crime and terrorism.

So, Mr Speaker, this is not a moment to play politics or create uncertainty and division. It is a moment to bring our country together, to honour the will of the British people and to shape for them a brighter future and a better Britain. I commend this statement to the House.

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

I thank the Prime Minister for an advance copy of the statement. The passing into law of the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill marks an historic step. The triggering of article 50 later this month is a process that will shape this country’s future. There is no doubt that if the wrong decisions are made, we will pay the price for decades to come.

Now, more than ever, Britain needs an inclusive Government who listen and act accordingly. However, all the signs are that we have a complacent Government—complacent with our economy; complacent with people’s rights; complacent about the future of this country. I urge the Prime Minister to listen to the collective wisdom of this Parliament, and to give the House a full opportunity to scrutinise the article 50 deal with a meaningful final vote. The people’s representatives deserve better than “take it or leave it”. If we are to protect jobs and living standards, and if we are to protect the future prosperity of the country, the Government must secure tariff-free access to the single European market.

The Prime Minister has already made the threat to our negotiating partners to turn Britain into a deregulated tax haven. Is that what she means by “global Britain”? When the Foreign Secretary says that no deal with the EU would be “perfectly OK”, it simply is not good enough. Far from taking back control, leaving Britain to World Trade Organisation rules would mean losing control, losing jobs, and, frankly, losing out. The Prime Minister says that no deal is better than a bad deal. Let me be clear: no deal is a bad deal. Such a complacent strategy would punish business, hit jobs, and devastate public services on which people rely.

The Prime Minister says that she is seeking to secure a future free trade deal with the EU, after initial negotiations have been completed. If that is the strategy, it is essential that the Government stop being complacent and focus on securing a transitional agreement with the EU at the earliest opportunity. That would at least give the British people and businesses some short-term clarity during this period.

The Prime Minister said that she wanted to provide certainty on the issue of EU nationals as soon as possible. Why, then, have the Government voted down every Labour attempt to bring certainty to EU nationals, who make such a massive contribution to our community and our society? These people are not bargaining chips; they are mothers, fathers, wives and husbands. They are valued members of our community. The Government could and should have acted months ago. I agree with the Prime Minister that now is not the time to create uncertainty or play politics. She should tell that to the EU migrants in Britain who have no idea what their future holds because of the decisions made by her Government.

Is the Prime Minister saying that she is content for refugees to remain in camps in Libya—is that a safe country?—or for Greece, Italy and Malta to shoulder the entire burden of refugees from north Africa and the middle east? While we welcome the conference on Somalia that she is proposing, we need to know what support Britain is offering to all those countries. Does the Prime Minister still believe that we have a collective responsibility on the issue of refugees?

The Prime Minister said that she had argued about tackling vile smuggling rings, and about people being subjected to unimaginable abuse. Does she not agree that her argument would be so much stronger if her Government had been prepared to accept some of the victims of that unimaginable abuse; for example, the children who should have been accepted through the Dubs amendment?

As we move towards the triggering of article 50, there is much uncertainty about Britain’s future. A responsible Government would set a positive tone with our negotiating partners, and would move to protect our economy, workers and citizens at the earliest opportunity. Instead, we have a reckless Government who are playing fast and loose with the British economy. We will fight for jobs and the economy, using every parliamentary mechanism that is available, and the Government should welcome that scrutiny.

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

The right hon. Gentleman mentioned a range of issues. He spoke again about the issue of EU nationals. As I have said in the House and as has been said by others from this Dispatch Box, we do want to ensure that the issue of the status of EU nationals who are living in the UK is dealt with at an early stage in the negotiations, but we also have a consideration for the UK nationals who are living in the EU. He said that the EU nationals living here are individuals who have contributed to our society. Indeed they are, but UK nationals living in EU member states are individuals who have contributed to their society and economy. I want to ensure that their status is also ensured. We hope and expect that this will be an issue that we can address at an early stage.

The right hon. Gentleman talked about the need to come forward and be very clear about the need for a transitional period. I refer him to the speech I gave in Lancaster House in January and to the White Paper that we published. The need for an implementation period so that we have a smooth and orderly Brexit process is one of the objectives that was set out in that speech and in that document.

The right hon. Gentleman talked about refugees from north Africa and the middle east. What we want to ensure is that people do not feel the need to make the often dangerous, life-threatening journey across the central Mediterranean. Many of these people—more than three quarters of the people who are doing this—are not refugees; they are economic migrants. We need to ensure that we are providing facilities and working with countries in Africa—which the EU and other countries are doing—to ensure that the circumstances are such that people do not try to make a life-threatening journey. We also need internationally to be able to make a better distinction between refugees and economic migrants, so that we can give better support to those who are refugees.

The right hon. Gentleman appeared to suggest that the UK Government are doing absolutely nothing to break the vile smuggling rings. In my statement, I quoted a recent example of the work of the National Crime Agency; I might add that it was a Conservative-led Government who set up the NCA and the Organised Immigration Crime Taskforce. The Government are dealing with these issues. He talks about abuses and the movement and trafficking of people, but it is this Government who brought in the Modern Slavery Act 2015. I am very proud that it is this Government who did so.

The right hon. Gentleman referred to global Britain and what it means. I will tell him what it means. It is about a strong, self-governing Britain, a Britain that is trading around the world with old friends and new allies alike, and a Britain that is proud to take its place on the world stage.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn
Wednesday 8th March 2017

(3 years, 11 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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Wales Office
Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

My hon. Friend raises a serious issue. It is one in which I have taken a particular personal interest, and I attach great importance to the issue. Tackling domestic violence and abuse is a key priority for the Government. What we have already done in government has the potential to transform the way in which we think about and tackle these terrible crimes when they take place. We have already committed to bringing forward new legislation, and I have confirmed today an additional £20 million to support organisations working to tackle domestic violence and abuse. This means that the total funding available for our strategy to end violence against women and girls will be over £100 million in this Parliament.

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

May I start by wishing all women a very happy International Women’s Day today? I am proud that the Labour party has more women MPs than all other parties in this House combined and a shadow Cabinet of which half the members are women.

A month ago, I raised the question of the leaked texts between the leader of Surrey County Council and Government officials about social care. The Prime Minister’s response was to accuse me of peddling “alternative facts”. Will she explain the difference between a sweetheart deal and a gentleman’s agreement?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

First, the right hon. Gentleman references women in this House, and I point out to him that, actually, the Conservative party has recently taken a further measure in relation to women in this House by replacing a Labour male MP with a female Conservative.

The right hon. Gentleman asks about the issue in relation to Surrey County Council. The substance of what he asks is whether there has been a particular deal with Surrey County Council that is not available to other councils, and the answer is no. As I have said before, the ability to raise a social care precept of 3% is available to every council. The ability to retain 100% of business rates will be available to a number of councils in April. Let us look at them: Liverpool, Manchester and London. What do we know about those councils? They are all under Labour control. So what he is actually asking me is why a Conservative council should have access to an arrangement that is predominantly currently available to Labour councils.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

My question was about the arrangement between the Government and Surrey County Council. A recording has now emerged showing that the leader of Surrey County Council, David Hodge, said that there was a “gentleman’s agreement” between him and the Government that meant that the council would not have to go ahead with a referendum. My question is: what deal was done with Surrey County Council? There is an acute social care crisis affecting every council, with £4.6 billion of cuts made to social care since 2010. Can the Prime Minister tell every other council in England what gentleman’s agreement is available for them?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

On today of all days, if the right hon. Gentleman could just be a little patient and wait half an hour for the Budget, he will find out what social care funding is available to all councils. If he is asking me whether there was a special deal for Surrey that was not available to other councils, the answer is no. If he is looking to uncover a conspiracy, I suggest he look behind him.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

If all the arrangements are so clear and above board, will the Prime Minister place in the Library of the House a record of all one-to-one meetings between the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and the Chancellor and any council leader or chair of social services anywhere in England? If there is no special deal, can she explain why Surrey is the only county council to be allowed into the business rates retention pilot when it has been denied to others?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

The business rates retention pilot will come into force for a number of councils this April, and that includes, as I have already said, Liverpool, Greater Manchester, Greater London and others. In 2019-20, it will be available to 100% of councils. Councils will be able to apply to be part of a further pilot in 2018-19, and that goes for all councils across the country.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

The text said that there was a memorandum of understanding, and the Prime Minister said that there was no deal. She is now unclear about that. Did she actually know what arrangement was made with Surrey County Council? She is not keen to answer questions about that.

There is another area of deep concern across the whole country. Can the Prime Minister tell us how many new school places will be needed by 2020?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

The right hon. Gentleman really should listen to the answers I give before he asks the next question. He said I did not answer the question about a special deal for Surrey; I think that I have now answered it three times, but I shall do it a fourth time: there was no special deal for Surrey that was not available to other councils.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

The Prime Minister was also asked just a moment ago about the number of new school places needed by 2020. Perhaps she could explain why we have a crisis in school places and class sizes are soaring, thanks to her Government. What is the answer on the number of new school places needed, Prime Minister?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

This Government have a policy that is about not only increasing the number of school places but doing more than that. I want to increase the number of good school places, so that every child has an opportunity to go to a good school. That is what the money we are putting into education is about. It includes money for new free schools, which will be faith schools, university schools, comprehensives, grammar schools and maths schools. There will be a diversity, because what I want is a good school place for every child and for parents to have a choice. What the right hon. Gentleman wants is for parents to take what they are given, good or bad.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

The National Audit Office tells us that a very large number of new school places are needed—420,000. Nothing the Prime Minister has said gets anywhere near to that. Instead, she proposes a flagship scheme to build the wrong schools in the wrong places, spending millions on vanity projects such as grammar schools and free schools, while at the same time per-pupil funding is falling in real terms. Is it not time that this colossal waste of money was addressed? It is doing nothing to help the vast majority of children and nothing to solve the crisis of school places and soaring class sizes. That is what every parent wants, not vanity projects from her Government.

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

It is no vanity project to want every child to have a good school place. The majority of free schools that have been opened have been in areas where there is a need for school places, and the majority have been opened in areas of disadvantage, where they are helping the very children we want to see have the opportunity to get on in life. I have to say to the right hon. Gentleman that this is about a fairer society. On this Budget day, we see that we are securing the economy; Labour wants to weaken it. We are working for a fairer society; Labour opposes every single reform. We are fighting for the best deal for Britain; Labour Members are fighting among themselves. That is Labour: weak, divided and unfit to govern this great country.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn
Wednesday 1st March 2017

(3 years, 12 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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Cabinet Office
Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

I thank my hon. Friend for his question. First, I wish to congratulate my hon. Friend, the new Member for Copeland, and look forward to welcoming her to this House very shortly. My hon. Friend the Member for North West Leicestershire (Andrew Bridgen) is absolutely right that last week’s historic result in Copeland was an endorsement of our plans to keep the economy strong and to ensure that places such as Copeland share in the economic success after years of Labour neglect. It was also an endorsement of our plans to unite communities where Labour seeks to sow division and of offering strong, competent leadership in the face of Labour’s chaos.

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

May I join the Prime Minister in wishing everyone in Wales, and all Welsh people around the world, a very happy St David’s day? May I also express the hope that, today, the workers at the Ford plant in Bridgend get the assurances that they need about their job security and their futures?

I echo the Prime Minister’s tribute to Gerald Kaufman, who served in this House since 1970 and was the longest serving Member. He started in political life as an adviser to Harold Wilson in the 1960s. He was an iconic, irascible figure in the Labour party and in British politics. He was a champion for peace and justice in the middle east and around the world. Yesterday at his funeral, Mr Speaker, the rabbi who conducted the service conveyed your message on behalf of the House to his family, which was very much appreciated. Afterwards, I spoke to his family and to his great nephews and great nieces and asked them how they would describe Gerald, and they said that he was an “awesome uncle”. We should remember Gerald as that, and convey our condolences to all his family.

Just after the last Budget, the then Work and Pensions Secretary resigned, accusing the Government of

“balancing the books on the backs of the poor and vulnerable.”

Last week, the Government sneaked out a decision to overrule a court decision to extend personal independence payments to people with severe mental health conditions. A Government who found £1 billion in inheritance tax cuts to benefit 26,000 families seem unable to find the money to support 160,000 people with debilitating mental health conditions. Will the Prime Minister change her mind?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

Let me be very clear about what is being proposed in relation to personal independence payments. This is not a policy change—[Interruption.] This is not a cut in the amount spent on disability benefits, and no one is going to see a reduction in their benefits from that previously awarded by the Department for Work and Pensions. What we are doing is restoring the original intention of the payment agreed by the coalition Government, and agreed by this Parliament after extensive consultation.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

Extensive consultation is an interesting idea, because the court made its decision last year, the Government did not consult the Social Security Advisory Committee and, at the last minute, sneaked out their decision.

The court ruled that the payments should be made because the people who were to benefit from them were suffering “overwhelming psychological distress”. Just a year ago, the then new Work and Pensions Secretary said:

“I can tell the House that we will not be going ahead with the changes to PIP that had been put forward.”—[Official Report, 21 March 2016; Vol. 607, c. 1268.]

The court has since made a ruling. The Prime Minister’s colleague, the hon. Member for South Cambridgeshire (Heidi Allen), said:

“In my view, the courts are there for a reason. If they have come up with this ruling, which says that the criteria should be extended, then I believe we have a duty to honour that.”

Is she not right?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

First, on the issue of these payments and those with mental health conditions, the personal independence payment is better for people with mental health conditions. The figures show that two thirds of people with mental health conditions who are claiming personal independence payments and in receipt of it are awarded the higher daily living rate allowance, compared with less than a quarter under the previous disability living allowance arrangements.

This is the second time that the right hon. Gentleman has suggested that somehow the change was sneaked out. It was in a written ministerial statement to Parliament. I might remind him that week after week he talks to me about the importance of Parliament; well, we accepted the importance of Parliament and made the statement to Parliament. He also referred to the Social Security Advisory Committee, and it can look at this matter. My right hon. Friend the Work and Pensions Secretary called the Chairman of the SSAC and spoke to him about the regulations on the day they were being introduced; he also called the Chairman of the Select Committee on Work and Pensions and spoke to him about the regulations that were being introduced; and he called both offices of the shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, but there was no answer and they did not come back to him for four days.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

Calling—[Interruption.] Calling the Chairs of two Committees and making a written statement to the House does not add up to scrutiny, and as I understand it no call was made to the office of my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham East and Saddleworth (Debbie Abrahams), the shadow Secretary of State.

The reality is that this is a shameful decision that will affect people with dementia, those suffering cognitive disorders due to a stroke, military veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, and those with schizophrenia. Will the Prime Minister look at the effects of her decision to override what an independent court has decided, and think again?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

The issues and conditions that the right hon. Gentleman raises are taken into account when decisions are made about personal independence payments. The court said that the regulations were unclear; that is why we are clarifying the regulations and ensuring that they respect and reflect the original intention that was agreed by this Parliament.

If the right hon. Gentleman wants to talk about the support being given to people with disabilities, I say to him that this Government are spending more than ever in support for people with disability and health conditions, and we are spending more than ever on people with mental health conditions. What we are doing with personal independence payments is ensuring that those who are most in need get most support.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

The Government have overridden an independent court decision, and they should think long and hard about that. The Prime Minister’s hon. Friend, the right hon. Member for North East Bedfordshire (Alistair Burt), said this week that the Government have to

“make it very clear that physical and mental health has the same priority”.

In 2002, the Prime Minister made a speech to the Conservative party conference. I remember it very well; I was watching it on television. She described her party as the “nasty party” and said:

“Some Tories have tried to make political capital by demonising minorities”.

This week, her policy chair suggested that people with debilitating conditions were those who were

“taking pills at home, who suffer from anxiety”

and were not “really disabled”. Is that not proof that the “nasty party” is still around?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

My right hon. Friend has rightly apologised for the comments that he made, and I hope that the whole House will accept his apology. The right hon. Gentleman asks me about parity between mental health conditions and physical conditions. It is this Conservative Government who introduced parity of esteem in dealing with mental health in the national health service. How many years were Labour in government and did nothing about it? Thirteen years!

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

It was a Labour amendment to the Health and Social Care Bill that resulted in parity of esteem being put on the face of the Bill. I am surprised that the right hon. Lady has forgotten that; she could have taken this opportunity to thank the Labour party for putting it forward. The Prime Minister made a speech earlier this year supporting parity of esteem for mental health, and I am glad she did so. However, 40% of NHS mental health trusts are having their budgets cut, and there are 6,600 fewer mental health nurses and 160,000 people with severe mental health conditions who are about to lose out on support. Can she not recognise that parity of esteem means funding it properly and not overriding court decisions that would benefit people suffering from very difficult conditions? We should reach out to them, not deny them the support they need.

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

As I say, we are spending more than ever on mental health—£11.4 billion a year. More people each week are now receiving treatment in relation to mental health than previously. Is there more for us to do on mental health? Yes, there is. I have said that in this Chamber in answer to questions that I have received—

Break in Debate

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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The shadow Foreign Secretary shouts, “Well, do it” from her normal sedentary position—[Interruption.] We are doing it. That is why we are putting record amounts of money into mental health. That is why we are seeing more people being provided with mental health treatment every week under this Government. There is one thing that I know: if we are going to be able to provide that extra support for people with disabilities and health conditions and provide treatment for people with mental health conditions, we need a strong economy that enables us to pay for it. And the one thing we know about Labour is that they would bankrupt Britain.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

That is rich, coming from a Government who, by 2020, will have borrowed more and increased the national debt by the total borrowing of all Labour Governments.

The mental health charity Rethink has said:

“The Government has spoken forcefully about the importance of parity esteem between physical and mental health, yet when presented with the chance to make this a reality...it has passed on the opportunity”.

As a society, we are judged by how we treat the most vulnerable. The respected mental health charity Mind has said:

“This misguided legislation must be reversed”.

Will the Prime Minister look again at the decision of the court and its consequences, withdraw this nasty decision, accept the court’s judgment and support those who are going through a very difficult time in their lives? That is how we will all be judged.

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

The way we are dealing with disability benefits is to ensure that payments are going to those who are most vulnerable. What we are doing in relation to personal independence payments is ensuring that the agreement of this Parliament is being put into practice. The right hon. Gentleman talks about funding and he talks about borrowing. I understand that today—[Interruption.]

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn
Wednesday 22nd February 2017

(4 years ago)

Commons Chamber

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Department for International Development
Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

I thank my hon. Friend for raising this. The question of schools funding, and the system we have for schools funding, is important. I think the current system is unfair. It is not transparent and it is out of date. That has been the general view for some time now. The problem is that it cannot support the aspiration of all our children to get a great education. We do, indeed, want children to be able to get the education that they deserve and that ensures that they can go as far as their talents and hard work take them. The Labour Government did nothing to address the funding system. We are looking at that funding system. It is a consultation, and I am sure that the comments and the issue my hon. Friend has raised will be noted by the Secretary of State for Education.

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

When hospitals are struggling to provide essential care, why is the Prime Minister’s Government cutting the number of beds in our national health service?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

Thanks to the medical advances, to the use of technology and to the quality of care, what we see on hospital stays is actually that the average length of time for staying in hospital has virtually halved since the year 2000. Let us look at Labour’s record on this issue. In the last six years of the last Labour Government, 25,000 hospital beds were cut. But we do not even need to go as far back as that. Let us just look at Labour’s policy before the last election, because before the last election, the right hon. Member for Leigh (Andy Burnham), the former Labour shadow Health Secretary, said the following:

“what I’d cut…are hospital beds”.

Labour policy: cut hospital beds.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

In 2010, there was the highest ever level of satisfaction with the national health service, delivered by a Labour Government. The British Medical Association—[Interruption.] It’s doctors. The British Medical Association tells us that 15,000 beds have been cut in the past six years, the equivalent of 24 hospitals, and as a result, we have longer waiting times at A&E, record delayed discharges and more people on waiting lists. The Prime Minister claims the NHS is getting the money it needs, so why is it that one in six A&E units in England are set for closure or downgrading?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

I will tell the right hon. Gentleman what is happening and what has happened since 2010 in A&E: we see 1,500 more emergency care doctors—that includes 600 more A&E consultants—and we have 2,400 more paramedics. We have more people being seen in accident and emergency every single week under this Government. He talks about what the NHS needs: what the NHS needs is more doctors—we are giving it more doctors; what it needs is more funding—we are giving it more funding. What it does not need is a bankrupt economy, which is exactly what Labour would give it.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I asked the Prime Minister why one in six A&E units are currently set for closure or downgrading; she did not answer. One of the problems—she well knows this—is the £4.6 billion cut to social care, which has a knock-on effect. Her friend the Tory chair of the Local Government Association, Lord Porter, has said that

“extra council tax income will not bring in anywhere near enough money to alleviate the growing pressure on social care”.

Two weeks ago, we found out about the sweetheart deal with Tory Surrey. When will the other 151 social services departments in England get the same as the Surrey deal?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

The right hon. Gentleman refers to the questions he asked me about Surrey County Council two weeks ago. Those claims were utterly destroyed the same afternoon, so rather than asking the same question, he should stand up and apologise.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

Far from my apologising, it is the Prime Minister who ought to be reading her correspondence and answering the letter from 62 council leaders representing social service authorities who want to know if they are going to get the same deal as Surrey. They are grappling with a crisis, which has left over 1 million people not getting the social care they need.

We opposed Tory cuts in the NHS which involved scrapping nurses’ bursaries, because we feared it would discourage people from entering training. The Prime Minister’s Government said that removing funding for nurses’ bursaries would create an extra 10,000 training places in this Parliament. Has this target been met?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

There are 10,000 more training places available for nurses in the NHS. The right hon. Gentleman talks about the amount of money being spent on the NHS. It is this Conservative Government who are putting the extra funding into the NHS. I remind him that we are spending £1.3 billion more on the NHS this year than Labour planned to spend if it had won the election.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

My questions were about social services funding to pay for social care—no answer. My questions were about the number of training places for nurses being brought in—no answer. In reality, 10,000 fewer places have been filled because there are fewer applications. A problem is building up for the future. In addition, the Royal College of Midwives estimates that there is a shortage of 3,500 midwives in England, and the Royal College of Nursing warns:

“The nursing workforce is in crisis and if fewer nurses graduate in 2020 it will exacerbate what is already an unsustainable situation”.

Will the Prime Minister at least commit herself to reinstating the nurses’ bursary?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

The right hon. Gentleman asked me a question about nursing training places, which I answered. If he does not like the answer he gets, he cannot just carry on asking the same question if I have answered it previously. He talks about all these issues in relation to what is happening in the NHS, so let us look at what is happening in the NHS: we have 1,800 more midwives in the NHS since 2010; we have more people being seen in accident and emergency since 2010; and we have more operations taking place every week in the NHS. Our NHS staff are working hard. They are providing quality care for patients up and down the country. What they do not need is a Labour party policy that leads to a bankrupt economy. Labour’s policy is to spend money on everything, which means bankrupting the economy and having no money to spend on anything. That does not help doctors and nurses, it does not help patients, it does not help the NHS, and it does not help ordinary working families up and down this country.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

Yes, let us look at the national health service and let us thank all those who work so hard in our national health service, but also recognise the pressures they are under. Today, a Marie Curie report finds that nurses are so overstretched they cannot provide the high-quality care needed for patients at the very end of their lives. The lack of care in the community prevents people from having the dignity of dying at home. There is a nursing shortage and something should be done about it, such as reinstating the nurses’ bursary.

The Prime Minister’s Government have put the NHS and social care in a state of emergency. Nine out of 10 NHS trusts are unsafe, 18,000 patients a week are waiting—[Interruption.] Mr Speaker, I repeat the figure: 18,000 patients a week are waiting on trolleys in hospital corridors and 1.2 million often very dependent—[Interruption.] It seems to me that some Members are not concerned about the fact that there are 1.2 million elderly people who are not getting the care they need. The legacy of her Government will blight our NHS for decades: fewer hospitals, fewer A&E departments, fewer nurses and fewer people getting the care they need. We need a Government who will put the NHS first and will invest in our NHS.

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

First, the right hon. Gentleman should consider correcting the record, because 54% of hospital trusts are considered good or outstanding—quite different from the figure he cited. Secondly, I will take no lessons on the NHS from the party—[Interruption.] Oh, the deputy leader of the Labour party says we should take lessons on the NHS, but I will not take any lessons from the party that presided over the failure that happened at Mid Staffs hospital. Labour says we should learn lessons. I will tell the House who should learn lessons: the Labour party, which still fails to recognise that if you are going to fund the NHS—we are putting money in, and there are more doctors, more operations and more nurses—you need a strong economy. We now know, however, that Labour has a different sort of phrase for its approach to these things. Remember when it used to talk about “boom and bust”? Now it is borrow and bankrupt. [Interruption.]

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn
Wednesday 8th February 2017

(4 years ago)

Commons Chamber

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Cabinet Office
Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

I am sure the whole House will want to join me in praising the bravery and commitment of all those who serve in our armed forces. I thank my hon. Friend for the work that he is doing on the Defence Committee, because, of course, he brings personal expertise to that work. Those who serve on the frontline deserve our support when they get home, and I can assure him of the Government’s commitment to that. All troops facing allegations receive legal aid from the Government, with the guarantee that it will not be claimed back. In relation to IHAT, which he specifically referred to, we are committed to reducing its case load to a small number of credible cases as quickly as possible. On the action that has been taken in relation to the individual he has referred to, I think it is absolutely appalling when people try to make a business out of chasing after our brave troops.

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

Nine out of 10 NHS trusts say their hospitals have been at unsafe levels of overcrowding. One in six accident and emergency units in England is set to be closed or downgraded. Could the Prime Minister please explain how closing A&E departments will tackle overcrowding and ever-growing waiting lists?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

First, I extend my thanks and, I am sure, those of the whole House to the hard-working staff in the NHS, who do a great job day in and day out treating patients. Yes, we recognise there are heavy pressures on the NHS. That is why, this year, we are funding the NHS at £1.3 billion more than the Labour party promised at the last election. The right hon. Gentleman refers specifically to accident and emergency. What is our response in accident and emergency? We see 600 more A&E consultants, 1,500 more A&E doctors and 2,000 more paramedics. It is not about standing up, making a soundbite and asking a question; it is about delivering results, and that is what this Conservative Government are doing.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

Congratulating A&E staff is one thing; paying them properly is another. I hope the Prime Minister managed to see the BBC report on the Royal Blackburn A&E department, which showed that people had to wait up to 13 hours and 52 minutes to be seen. A major cause of the pressure on A&Es is the £4.6 billion cut in the social care budget since 2010. Earlier this week, Liverpool’s very esteemed adult social care director, Samih Kalakeche, resigned, saying:

“Frankly I can’t see social services surviving after two years. That’s the absolute maximum... people are suffering, and we are really only seeing the tip of the iceberg.”

What advice do the Government have for the people of Liverpool in this situation?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

The right hon.—[Interruption.]

Break in Debate

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

The right hon. Gentleman referred at an early stage of his question to Blackburn. I am happy to say that compared to 2010 there are 129 more hospital doctors and 413 more nurses in Blackburn’s East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust. He then went on to talk about waiting times. Waiting times can be an issue. Where is it that you wait a week longer for pneumonia treatment, a week longer for heart disease treatment, seven weeks longer for cataract treatment, 11 weeks longer for hernia treatment, and 21 weeks longer for a hip operation? It is not in England—it is in Wales. Who is in power in Wales? Labour.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

My question was about the comments from Samih Kalakeche in Liverpool and why the people of Liverpool are having to suffer these great cuts. Liverpool has asked to meet the Government on four occasions.

The crisis is so bad that until yesterday David Hodge, the Conservative leader of Surrey County Council, planned to hold a referendum for a 15% increase in council tax. At the last minute, it was called off. Can the Prime Minister tell the House whether or not a special deal was done for Surrey?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

The decision as to whether or not to hold a referendum in Surrey is entirely a matter for the local authority in Surrey—Surrey County Council.

The right hon. Gentleman raised the issue of social care, which we have had exchanges on across this Dispatch Box before. As I have said before, we do need to find a long-term, sustainable solution for social care in this country. I recognise the short-term pressures. That is why we have enabled local authorities to put more money into social care. We have provided more money. Over the next two years, £900 million more will be available for social care. But we also need to look at ensuring that good practice is spread across the whole country. We can look at places such as Barnsley, North Tyneside, St Helens and Rutland. Towards the end of last year, there were virtually no delayed discharges attributable to social care in those councils. But we also need to look long term. That is why the Cabinet Office is driving a review, with the relevant Departments, to find a sustainable solution, which the Labour party ducked for far too long.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

My question was whether there had been a special deal done for Surrey. The leader said that they had had many conversations with the Government. We know they have, because I have been leaked copies of texts sent by the Tory leader, David Hodge, intended for somebody called “Nick” who works for Ministers in the Department for Communities and Local Government. One of the texts reads:

“I am advised that DCLG officials have been working on a solution and you will be contacting me to agree a memorandum of understanding.”

Will the Government now publish this memorandum of understanding, and while they are about it, will all councils be offered the same deal?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

What we have given all councils is the opportunity to raise a 3% precept on council tax, to go into social care. The right hon. Gentleman talks about understanding. What the Labour party fails to understand—[Interruption.]

Break in Debate

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

As I say, all councils have the opportunity to raise the 3% precept, to put that funding into the provision of social care. What the Labour party fails to understand is that this is not just a question of looking at money; it is a question of looking at spreading best practice and finding a sustainable solution. I have to say to the right hon. Gentleman that if we look at social care provision across the entire country, we will see that the last thing that social care providers need is another one of Labour’s bouncing cheques.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I wonder if this has anything to do with the fact that the Chancellor and the Health Secretary both represent Surrey constituencies.

There was a second text from the Surrey County Council leader to “Nick”. It says:

“The numbers you indicated are the numbers I understand are acceptable for me to accept and call off the R”.

I have been reading a bit of John le Carré and apparently “R” means “referendum”—it is very subtle, all this. He goes on to say in his text to “Nick”:

“If it is possible for that info to be sent to myself I can then revert back soonest, really want to kill this off”.

So, how much did the Government offer Surrey to “kill this off”, and is the same sweetheart deal on offer to every council facing the social care crisis created by this Government?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

I have made clear to the right hon. Gentleman what has been made available to every council, which is the ability to raise the precept. I have to say to him—[Interruption.]

Break in Debate

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

The right hon. Gentleman comes to the Dispatch Box making all sorts of claims. Yet again, what we get from Labour is alternative facts; what it really needs is an alternative leader.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

My question was, what deal was offered to Surrey that got it to call off a referendum, and will the same deal be offered to every other council going through a social care crisis?

Hospital wards are overcrowded, a million people are not getting the care they need, and family members, mostly women, are having to give up work to care for loved ones. Every day that the Prime Minister fails to act, this crisis gets worse. Will she finally come clean and provide local authorities with the funding they need to fund social care properly, so that our often elderly and vulnerable people can be treated with the support and dignity that they deserve in a civilised society?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

The deal that is on offer to all councils is the one that I have already set out. Let me be very clear with the right hon. Gentleman. As ever, he stands up and consistently asks for more spending, more money, more funding. What he always fails to recognise is that you can spend money on social care and the national health service only if you have a strong economy to deliver the wealth that you need. There is a fundamental difference between us. When I talk—[Interruption.]

Informal European Council

Debate between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn
Monday 6th February 2017

(4 years ago)

Commons Chamber

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

Before I turn to the European Council, I am sure the whole House will want to join me in sending our congratulations to Her Majesty the Queen as she marks her sapphire jubilee today. It is testimony to Her Majesty’s selfless devotion to the nation that she is marking becoming our first monarch to reign for sixty-five years not with any special celebration, but instead by getting on with the job to which she has dedicated her life. On behalf of the whole country, I am proud to offer Her Majesty our humble thanks for a lifetime of extraordinary service. Long may she continue to reign over us all.

Turning to last week’s informal European Council in Malta, Britain is leaving the European Union but we are not leaving Europe, and a global Britain that stands tall in the world will be a Britain that remains a good friend and ally to all our European partners. So at this summit we showed how Britain will continue to play a leading role in Europe long after we have left the EU, in particular through our contribution to the challenge of managing mass migration; through our special relationship with America; and through the new and equal partnership that we want to build between the EU and an independent, self-governing, global Britain. Let me take each point in turn.

First, on migration, the discussion focused on the route from Libya across the central Mediterranean. As I have argued, we need a comprehensive and co-ordinated approach, and that is exactly what the Council agreed. That includes working hard in support of an inclusive political settlement to stabilise Libya, which will help not only to tackle migration flows, but to counter terrorism. It means working to reduce the pull factors that encourage people to risk their lives and building the capacity of the Libyans to return migrants to their own shores, treat them with dignity and help them return home. It means looking beyond Libya and moving further upstream, including by urgently implementing the EU’s external investment plan to help create more opportunities in migrants’ home countries and by helping genuine refugees to claim asylum in the first safe country they reach. It also means better distinguishing between economic migrants and refugees, swiftly returning those who have no right to remain and thereby sending out a deterrence message to others thinking of embarking on perilous journeys. The Council agreed action in all those areas.

Britain is already playing a leading role in the region and at the summit I announced further steps, including additional support for the Libyan coastguard and more than £30 million of new aid for the most vulnerable refugees across Greece, the Balkans, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, Sudan and Libya. Britain is also setting up an £8 million special protection fund to keep men, women and children in the Mediterranean region safe from trafficking, sexual violence and labour exploitation as part of our commitment to tackle modern slavery. The Council agreed with my call that we should do everything possible to deter this horrific crime, including by introducing tough penalties for those who trade in human misery and by working together to secure the necessary evidence for prosecutions that can put these criminals behind bars, where they belong.

Turning to America, I opened a discussion on engaging the new Administration, and I was able to relay the conversation I had with President Trump at the White House about the important history of co-operation between the United States and the countries of Europe. In particular, I confirmed that the President had declared his 100% commitment to NATO as the cornerstone of our security in the west. I also made it clear, however, that every country needed to share the burden and play its full part, meeting the NATO target of spending 2% on defence. It is only by investing properly in our defence that we can ensure we are properly equipped to keep our people safe.

I was also able to relay my discussions with President Trump on the importance of maintaining the sanctions regime on Russia in response to its actions in Ukraine, and I very much welcome the strong words last week from the new US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, in confirming America’s continued support for these sanctions.

Of course, there are some areas where we disagree with the approach of the new Administration, and we should be clear about those disagreements and about the values that underpin our response to the global challenges we face. I also argued at the Council, however, that we should engage patiently and constructively with America as a friend and ally—an ally that has helped to guarantee the longest period of peace that Europe has ever known. For we should be clear that the alternative of division and confrontation would only embolden those who would do us harm, wherever they may be.

Finally turning to Brexit, European leaders welcomed the clarity of the objectives we set out for the negotiation ahead. They warmly welcomed our ambition to build a new partnership between Britain and the EU that is in the interests of both sides. They also welcomed the recognition that we in Britain want to see a strong and successful EU, because that is in our interests and the interests of the whole world.

On the issue of acquired rights, the general view was that we should reach an agreement that applied equally to the other 27 member states and the UK, which is why we think a unilateral decision from the UK is not the right way forward. As I have said before, however, EU citizens living in the UK make a vital contribution to our economy and our society, and without them we would be poorer and our public services weaker. We will therefore make securing a reciprocal agreement that will guarantee their status a priority as soon as the negotiations begin, and I want to see this agreed as soon as possible, because that is in everyone’s interests.

Our European partners now want to get on with the negotiations. So do I, and so does this House, which last week voted by a majority of 384 in support of the Government triggering article 50. There are, of course, further stages for the Bill in Committee and in the other place, and it is right that this process should be completed properly, but the message is clear to all: this House has spoken, and now is not the time to obstruct the democratically expressed wishes of the British people. It is time to get on with leaving the EU and building an independent, self-governing, global Britain. I commend this statement to the House.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab)
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I thank the Prime Minister for her statement and for advance sight of it, and I echo her sentiments towards Her Majesty. I wish her Majesty well at this auspicious time in her life and thank her for her service.

The Prime Minister has used this curiously named “informal” EU summit to press the EU’s NATO members to fulfil their defence expenditure requirements. The last Labour Government consistently spent over 2% on defence. The Tory Government’s cuts since 2010 have demoralised our armed forces, cut spending by 11% in the last Parliament and reduced the size of the Army from 82,000 to 77,000. As well as making these cuts, they have changed the way the 2% spending is calculated. Given that she is lecturing other countries, will she tell the House why her Government changed the accounting rules to include aspects of expenditure not previously included? The Defence Committee in 2015 noted that the Government were only meeting the 2% figure by including areas, such as pensions, not previously included. It went on to say that

“this ‘redefinition’ of defence expenditure undermines, to some extent, the credibility of the Government’s assertion that the 2% figure represents a…increase”.

To add to the disarray, this weekend, The Sunday Times uncovered a series of equipment failures and bungled procurement deals, including apparently ordering light tanks that are too big to fit in the aircraft that are supposed to be transporting them. This really does cast some doubt on the Government’s competence in this area, so perhaps it is not such a good idea to go lecturing other countries on defence spending and procurement.

Labour has long been concerned about poor planning and short-sightedness by the Ministry of Defence and long delays in delivering projects. The extent to which the MOD appears to have lost control of some of its biggest equipment projects is worrying, and it would be nice to know what action the Prime Minister is taking on this matter.

Earlier today, the Prime Minister had a meeting with the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. Did she make it clear to him that, as is often mentioned in this House and by the Prime Minister herself, there is continued opposition by the British Government to the illegal settlements being built in the Occupied Palestinian Territories?

Labour has been unequivocal about the fact that it is within this Government’s gift to guarantee the rights of EU citizens to remain in this country. There is no need to wait for negotiations to begin; the Government could do it now. This is not a question about Brexit; it is a question about human rights, democracy and decency towards people who have lived and worked in this country. Many families have had children born here, and I think we must guarantee their rights. Many of those people have been left in limbo, and are very deeply concerned and stressed. Did the Prime Minister discuss this issue with her European counterparts, and will she today provide those people with the clarity and assurances that they both need and, I believe, deserve?

We are clear that we accept the mandate of the British people to leave the European Union, but we will not accept this Government turning this country into a bargain basement tax haven on the shores of Europe.

Finally, we welcome the additional £30 million that the Government have committed to the refugee crisis across Europe. Last week at Prime Minister’s Question Time, the Prime Minister said that the UK had resettled 10,000 refugees from Syria. According to the House of Commons Library, we have resettled less than half that figure—4,414. There is an ongoing and grave human tragedy that has resulted in more than 5,000 people drowning in the Mediterranean last year and 254 already this year, and we are only at the beginning of February.

I believe that we should also note the phenomenal commitment of the Government and people of Greece to the huge number of refugees in their country, and the difficulties they are having in supporting them. What conversations did she have with her Greek counterpart on this important matter? I also say to the Prime Minister that, even post-Brexit, this is an issue that will affect every country in Europe. It is the biggest humanitarian crisis that we have ever faced in the world, and we will need to co-ordinate as a continent to address this issue with all the humanity and resources that our collective values determine should be deployed towards it.

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

The right hon. Gentleman opened his remarks by referring to what I think he called the “curiously named” informal Council. It is the convention that at every new presidency—there are two new presidencies each year—the presidency holds an informal Council in which people are able to talk about a number of issues looking ahead to the formalities of the Council. There we are; that is what happens; and that is what we were doing in Valletta.

The right hon. Gentleman referred to my meeting earlier today with Prime Minister Netanyahu, and I have to say that this was not a subject for discussion at the European Union Council last week. However, I have made the UK Government’s position on settlements clear, and I continued to do that today.

The right hon. Gentleman raised the issue of UK nationals. As he said, it is absolutely right that we value the contribution that EU citizens are making here in the United Kingdom—their contribution to our communities, our economy, our society, and, as I have said, to our public services—but I think it is also right that we ensure that the rights of UK citizens living in other European states are maintained. It is clear from the conversations that I have had with a number of European leaders about this issue that they think that it should be dealt with in the round as a matter of reciprocity, but, as was made plain by, for example, the conversations that I had with Prime Minister Rajoy of Spain, we are all very clear about the fact that we want to give reassurance to people as early as possible in the negotiations.

The right hon. Gentleman talked about the issue of refugees, and about people drowning in the Mediterranean. Of course the loss of life that we have seen has been terrible, as is the continuing loss of life that we are seeing despite the best efforts of the United Kingdom: the Royal Navy and Border Force have been there, acting with others to protect and rescue people. That is why it is so important that we stop people making that perilous journey in the first place and risking their lives, and that is why the work that we discussed at the EU Council in Valletta on Friday is so important.

The right hon. Gentleman asked about our relationship with Greece. We continue to support Greece: we have a number of experts providing support on the ground, giving the Greeks real help with the task of dealing with the refugees. I made a commitment that we would want to continue to co-operate with our European partners on this issue after leaving the European Union, because it is indeed not confined to the European Union; it affects us as a whole, throughout Europe.

The right hon. Gentleman made a number of comments about defence. Indeed, he devoted a fair amount of his response to the whole question of defence. At one point, he said that the fact that we were spending 2% on defence cast doubt on the competence of the UK Government in matters relating to it. I think this is the same right hon. Gentleman who said that he wanted to send out our nuclear submarines without any missiles on them. You couldn’t make it up.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn
Wednesday 1st February 2017

(4 years ago)

Commons Chamber

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Cabinet Office
Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

I thank my hon. Friend for his question. I can reassure him that this Government are absolutely committed to ensuring the best possible healthcare for patients right across the country. I recognise that concerns have been expressed locally about the North Devon district hospital. I understand that there are no specific proposals at the moment, but I know that the input of local communities will remain crucial throughout the process, and I can assure him that of course it is this party in government that is putting the extra funding into the NHS and showing how we value it.

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

I join the Prime Minister in offering condolences to all those who died in the horrific attack, fuelled by hate, in Quebec, and we should send our solidarity to everyone in Canada on this sad occasion.

May I also associate myself with the Prime Minister’s tribute to the former Member for West Lothian, and later Linlithgow, Tam Dalyell? A Labour MP and former Father of the House, he doggedly fought to expose official wrongdoing and cover-ups, from the miners strike to Iraq. I am sure the Prime Minister would agree that Tam’s scrutiny and contributions made this House a better place, and may I recommend to all Members his autobiography “The Importance of Being Awkward”? [Interruption.] And I am quite happy to offer my copy to the Secretary of State for Brexit to have a good read of it. I am sure that he has probably already read it.

At last week’s Prime Minister Question Time, the Prime Minister told the House:

“I am not afraid to speak frankly to a President of the United States”.—[Official Report, 25 January 2017; Vol. 620, c. 288.]

What happened?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

First, let me say that I was not aware of Tam Dalyell’s book “The Importance of Being Awkward”, but given the number of resignations that the right hon. Gentleman has had from his Front Bench, I suspect that some of his colleagues have indeed read it.

I am pleased to say to the right hon. Gentleman that when I visited the United States, I was able to build on the relationship that we have with our most important ally and get some very significant commitments from President Trump. Crucial among those was a 100% commitment to NATO—NATO which keeps us safe and keeps Europe safe too.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

Downing Street has not denied that the Prime Minister was told by the White House that the Executive order on travel to the US was imminent, so let us be clear: was the Prime Minister told about the ban during her visit, and did she try to persuade President Trump otherwise?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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On the policy that President Trump has introduced, this Government are clear that it is wrong. We would not do it. In six years as Home Secretary, I never introduced such a policy. We believe it is divisive and wrong. If the right hon. Gentleman is asking me whether I had advance notice of the ban on refugees, the answer is no. If he is asking me if I had advance notice that the Executive order could affect British citizens, the answer is no. If he is asking if I had advance notice of the travel restrictions, the answer is, we all did, because President Trump said in his election campaign that he was going to do this. The question is how to respond. The job of Government is not to chase the headlines; the job of Government is not to take to the streets in protest; the job of Government is to protect the interests of British citizens, and that is exactly what we did.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

On the day after the Executive order was made to ban refugees and visitors from seven predominantly Muslim countries, why did the Prime Minister three times refuse to condemn the ban?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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I have made it very clear that we believe that this policy is divisive and wrong, and that it is not a policy that we would introduce. I have also made it very clear when asked about this that this Government have a very different approach to these issues. On refugees, this Government have a proud record of the support that we have given to them, and long may it continue.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

The Prime Minister said:

“The United States is responsible for the United States’ policy on refugees.”

But surely it is the responsibility of all of us to defend the 1951 refugee convention, which commits this country, the United States and 142 other states to accept refugees without regard to their

“race, religion or country of origin.”

President Trump has breached that convention. Why did she not speak out?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

First, I have made absolutely clear what the Government’s view on this policy is. Secondly, as I have just said, this Government and this country have a proud record on how we welcome refugees. In recent years, we have introduced a very particular scheme to ensure that particularly vulnerable refugees in Syria can be brought to this country, and something like 10,000 Syrian refugees have come to this country since the conflict began. We are also the second biggest bilateral donor, helping and supporting refugees in the region. That is what we are doing. I have said that the US policy is wrong. We will take a different view, and we will continue to welcome refugees to this country.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I also wrote to the Prime Minister on this issue and received her reply this morning. I hold in my hand her piece of paper. She makes no mention of the refugee convention and does not condemn US action in that respect.

Last week, I asked the Prime Minister to assure the House that she would not offer up our national health service as a “bargaining chip” in any US trade deal. She gave no answer. She also refused to rule it out when asked in the US, so let me ask her a third time: will she rule out opening up our national health service to private US healthcare companies—yes or no?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

I could give a detailed answer to the right hon. Gentleman’s question, but a simple and straightforward reply is what is required: the NHS is not for sale and it never will be.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I hope that that includes not having US healthcare companies coming in to run any part of our national health service.

President Trump has torn up international agreements on refugees. He has threatened to dump international agreements on climate change. He has praised the use of torture. He has incited hatred against Muslims. He has directly attacked women’s rights. Just what more does he have to do before the Prime Minister will listen to the 1.8 million people who have already called for his state visit invitation to be withdrawn?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

The right hon. Gentleman’s foreign policy is to object to and insult the democratically elected Head of State of our most important ally. Let us see what he would have achieved in the last week. Would he have been able to protect British citizens from the impact of the Executive order? No. Would he have been able to lay the foundations of a trade deal? No. Would he have got a 100% commitment to NATO? No. That is what Labour has to offer this country—less protection for British citizens, less prosperity, less safety. He can lead a protest; I am leading a country.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn
Wednesday 25th January 2017

(4 years, 1 month ago)

Commons Chamber

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Cabinet Office
Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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My hon. Friend raises the question of parliamentary scrutiny. I have made clear, as have senior Ministers, that we will ensure that Parliament has every opportunity to carry out such scrutiny as we go through this process. I set out that bold plan for a global Britain last week. I recognise that there is an appetite in the House to see it set out in a White Paper—I have heard my hon. Friend’s question, and my right hon. Friend the Member for Broxtowe (Anna Soubry) asked a question in the same vein last week—and I can confirm that our plan will be set out in a White Paper published for the House.

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

I join the Prime Minister in expressing the condolences of, I am sure, the whole House to the family of the police officer who lost his life over the weekend in Northern Ireland.

The Prime Minister has wasted 80 days between the original judgment and the appeal. She has finally admitted today, after pressure from all sides, that there will be a White Paper. May we know when that White Paper will be available to us, and why it is taking so long for us to get it?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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The right hon. Gentleman asked for debates. I made very clear that there would always be debates in the House, and there have been and will continue to be. He asked for votes. There have been votes in the House; the House voted overwhelmingly for the Government to trigger article 50 before the end of March this year. He asked for a plan. As we heard from my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon South (Chris Philp), I have set out a clear plan for a bold future for Britain. He and others asked for a White Paper, and I have made clear that there will be a White Paper.

What I am also clear about is that the right hon. Gentleman always asks about process—about the means to an end. The Government and I are focusing on the outcomes. We are focusing on a truly global Britain, building a stronger future for this country, the right deal for Britain, and Britain out of the European Union.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

My question was not complicated. I simply asked when the White Paper would come out. Will it be published before or at the same time as the Bill that is apparently about to be published?

Last week I asked the Prime Minister repeatedly to clarify whether her Government were prepared to pay to secure tariff-free access to the single European market. She repeatedly refused to answer the question, so I will ask her again. Are her Government ruling out paying a fee for tariff-free access to the single market or the bespoke customs union to which she also referred in her speech?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

The right hon. Gentleman has mentioned the issue of timing. There are actually two separate issues. The House has voted overwhelmingly that article 50 should be triggered before the end of March 2017. Following the Supreme Court judgment, a Bill will be provided for the House, and there will be proper debates on it in the Chamber and in another place. There is then the separate question of the publication of the plan that I have set out, a bold vision for Britain for the future. I will do that in the White Paper. The right hon. Gentleman knows that one of our objectives is the best possible free trade with the European Union, and that is what we will be out there negotiating for.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

Some of this is very worrying for many Members, but, more important, it is worrying for many other people. For example, the chief executive of Nissan was given assurances by the Prime Minister’s Business Secretary about future trade arrangements with Europe, but now says that Nissan will

“have to re-evaluate the situation”

in relation to its investments in Britain.

The Prime Minister is threatening the EU that unless it gives in to her demands she will turn Britain into a bargain basement tax haven off the coast of Europe. Labour Members are very well aware of the consequences that that would have—the damage that it would do to jobs and living standards, and to our public services. Is the Prime Minister now going to rule out the bargain basement threat that she made in her speech at Lancaster House?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

I expect us to get a good deal for trading relationships with the European Union, but I am also clear that this Government will not sign up to a bad deal for the United Kingdom. As for the threats that the right hon. Gentleman claims might happen—he often uses those phrases and talks about workers’ rights—perhaps he should listen to his former colleague in this House, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, who today said,

“to give credit to the Government…I don’t think they want to weaken workers’ rights”,

and goes on to say,

“I’ve seen no evidence from the conversations I’ve had with senior members of the Government that that’s their aspiration or their intention or something they want to do. Which is good.”

As usual with Labour, the right hand is not talking to the far-left.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

The evidence of what the Tory party and this Government really think about workers’ rights was there for all to see yesterday: a private Member’s Bill under the ten-minute rule by a Tory MP to tear up parts of the International Labour Organisation convention, talking down the Bill of my hon. Friend the Member for Great Grimsby (Melanie Onn) to protect European workers’ rights that have been obtained in this country. That is the real agenda of the Tory party.

What the Prime Minister is doing is petulantly aiming a threat at our public services with her threats about a bargain basement Britain. Is her priority our struggling NHS, those denied social care, and children having their school funding cut, or is it once again further cuts in big business taxation to make the rich even better off?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

I simply remind the right hon. Gentleman that I have been very clear that this Government will protect workers’ rights; indeed, we have a review of modern employment law to ensure all employment legislation is keeping up with the modern labour market. One of the objectives I set out in my plan for our negotiating objectives was to protect workers’ rights.

The right hon. Gentleman talks about threats to public services. I will tell him what the threat to public services would be: a Labour Government borrowing £500 billion extra. That would destroy our economy and mean no funding for our public services.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

The threat to workers’ rights is there every day: 6 million people earning less than the living wage; and many people—nearly 1 million—on zero-hours contracts with no protection being offered by this Government. What they are doing is offering once again the bargain basement alternative.

Will the Prime Minister also take this opportunity today to congratulate the 100,000 people who marched in Britain last weekend to highlight women’s rights after President Trump’s inauguration, and to express their concerns about his misogyny? Many have concerns that in the Prime Minister’s forthcoming meeting with President Trump she will be prepared to offer up for sacrifice the opportunity for American companies to come in and take over parts of our NHS or our public services. Will she assure the House that in any trade deal none of those things will be offered up as a bargaining chip?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

I again point out to the right hon. Gentleman that it is this Government who have introduced the national living wage and this Government who have made changes to zero-hours contracts.

On the issue of my visit to the United States of America, I am pleased that I am able to meet President Trump so early in his Administration. That is a sign of the strength of the special relationship between the United Kingdom and the United States of America—a special relationship on which he and I intend to build. But I also say to the Leader of the Opposition that I am not afraid to speak frankly to a President of the United States; I am able to do that because we have that special relationship—a special relationship that the right hon. Gentleman would never have with the United States.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

We would never allow Britain to be sold off on the cheap. How confident is the Prime Minister of getting a good deal for “global Britain” from a President who says he wants to put America first, buy American and build a wall between his country and Mexico?

Article 50 was not about a court judgment against the Government. What it signified was the bad judgment of this Government: the bad judgment of prioritising corporate tax cuts over investment in national health and social care; the bad judgment of threatening European partners while offering a blank cheque to President Trump; and the bad judgment of wanting to turn Britain into a bargain basement tax haven. So will the Prime Minister offer some clarity and certainty and withdraw the threats to destroy the social structure of this country by turning us into the bargain basement she clearly threatens?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

We will be out around the world with the EU, America and other countries negotiating good free trade deals for this country that will bring prosperity to this country. The right hon. Gentleman wants to talk about Brexit, but I have to say to him that he is the leader of his party and he cannot even agree with his shadow Chancellor about Brexit. The shadow Chancellor cannot agree with the shadow Brexit Secretary, the shadow Brexit secretary disagrees with the shadow Home Secretary, and the shadow Home Secretary has to ring up the leader and tell him to change his mind. He talks about us standing up for Britain; they cannot speak for themselves and they will never speak for Britain.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn
Wednesday 18th January 2017

(4 years, 1 month ago)

Commons Chamber

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Cabinet Office
Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

My hon. Friend makes two important points. First, I am very pleased to join him in paying tribute to the dedication and hard work of all those who work in our national health service. Secondly, he is right to point out that if somebody misses an appointment, that is a cost to the NHS. There are a number of ways in which this is being dealt with. Some hospitals send out text messages that not only remind people of their appointment, but tell them how much it costs if they miss it.

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

Yesterday the Prime Minister snubbed Parliament and snubbed the Brexit Committee’s recommendation to bring forward a White Paper, while at the same time describing the referendum as

“a vote to restore…our parliamentary democracy”.

This is about our jobs, living standards and future prosperity; why will it not be scrutinised by this House?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

What I did yesterday was to set out a plan for a global Britain. I set out a plan that will put the divisions of last year behind us, and that shows a vision for a stronger, fairer, more united, more outward-looking, prosperous, tolerant, independent and truly global Britain. It was a vision that will shape a stronger future and build a better Britain.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

Restoring parliamentary democracy while sidelining Parliament—it is not so much the Iron Lady as the Irony Lady.

Yesterday the Prime Minister finally provided some detail. May I urge her to stop her threats of a bargain basement Brexit—a low-pay tax haven on the shores of Europe? It would not necessarily damage the EU, but it would certainly damage this country, businesses, jobs and public services. She demeans herself, her office and our country’s standing by making such threats.

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

What I set out yesterday was a plan for a global Britain, bringing prosperity to this country and jobs to people, and spreading economic growth across the country. Yesterday we learned a little more of the right hon. Gentleman’s thinking on this issue. He said:

“She has said, ‘leave the single market,’ but at the same time says she wants to have access to the single market. I’m not quite sure how that’s going to go down in Europe. I think we have to have a deal that ensures we have access to the market.”

I’ve got a plan; he doesn’t have a clue.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

The Prime Minister was the one who made the threat about slashing corporation tax. If we reduce corporation tax to the lowest common denominator, this country loses £120 billion in revenue. How, then, do we fund public services?

Last year the Prime Minister said that leaving the single market could make trade deals “considerably harder” and that

“while we could certainly negotiate our own trade agreements, there would be no guarantee that they would be on terms as good as those we enjoy now”,

but yesterday she offered us only vague guarantees. Does she now disagree with herself?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

The right hon. Gentleman might also have noticed that when I spoke in the remain campaign, I said that if we voted to leave the European Union, the sky would not fall in. Look at what has happened to our economic situation since we voted to leave the European Union.

The right hon. Gentleman talks about the future of the economy. I want us to be an outward-looking nation trading around the world, and bringing prosperity and jobs into the United Kingdom. The one thing that would be bad for the economy is the answers that the right hon. Gentleman has. He wants a cap on wages, no control on immigration and to borrow an extra £500 billion. That would not lead to prosperity; it would lead to no jobs, no wages and no skills.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

The Chancellor said after the referendum that to lose single market access would be “catastrophic”. A few days later, the Health Secretary said:

“The first part of the plan must be clarity that we will remain in the single market”.

The Prime Minister said something about “frictionless” access to the single market and a bespoke customs union deal. Could she give us a little bit of certainty and clarity about this? Has she ruled out paying any kind of fee to achieve access to what she describes as a “frictionless” market?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

Access to the single market was exactly what I was talking about yesterday in my speech. One of the key objectives is that we negotiate a free trade agreement with the European Union that gives us the widest possible access for trading with, and operating within, the European Union.

The right hon. Gentleman talks about frictionless access. Actually, this was a separate point about frictionless borders in relation to the customs issue—a very important issue for us regarding the relationship between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The Taoiseach and I, and all parties, are absolutely on a single page about this. We want to ensure that we have the best possible arrangement that does not lead to the borders of the past for Northern Ireland.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

The question was: will we have to pay for access to the market or not? The Prime Minister has not given an answer to that.

Yesterday the Prime Minister set out a wish list on immigration, referring to skills shortages and high-skill migration. Does she now disagree with the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, who told an employers’ conference, “Don’t worry. You can still have cheap EU labour after we leave the European Union”?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

The right hon. Gentleman talks about access. Yes, the whole point is that we will negotiate a free trade agreement with the European Union that is about the best possible access for British business to operate in European Union member states and for European businesses to operate here in the United Kingdom. It is about sitting down and negotiating the best possible deal for the United Kingdom. That is what I am committed to, and it is what the Government are going to deliver.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

My question was about how much we are going to have to pay to have access to the market—still no answer.

Yesterday the Prime Minister talked about the pressure put on public services by migration. May I just remind her—the hon. Member for Tewkesbury (Mr Robertson) referred to this earlier—that at the moment there are 55,000 EU citizens working in our national health service, helping to treat all the people of this country? There are 80,000 care workers helping our—mainly elderly—people and there are 5,000 teachers educating our children. The real pressure on public services comes from a Government who slashed billions from the social care budget, who are cutting the schools budget, and who are closing A&E departments, walk-in centres and Sure Start centres. Instead of threatening to turn Britain into an offshore tax haven, let us welcome those who contribute to our public services and fund those public services properly so that we have the fully functioning NHS that we all need and deserve.

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

I made it clear yesterday that we value those who have come to the United Kingdom and contribute to our economy and society. There will still be people coming to the United Kingdom from the European Union when we leave the EU. The crucial issue is that it is this Government who will be making decisions about our immigration system for people from the European Union. Yet again, I say to the right hon. Gentleman that there is indeed a difference between us—it is very simple. When I look at the issue of Brexit—or, indeed, at any other issue, such as the national health service or social care—I consider the issue, I set out my plan and I stick to it. It is called leadership; he should try it sometime.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn
Wednesday 11th January 2017

(4 years, 1 month ago)

Commons Chamber

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Department for International Development
Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab)
- Hansard - - Excerpts

Thank you, Mr Speaker. It is nice to get such a warm welcome, and may I wish all Members, as well as all members of staff in the House, a happy new year?

I hope the whole House will join me—I am sure it will—in paying tribute to 22-year-old Lance Corporal Scott Hetherington, who died in a non-combat incident in Iraq last Monday. I am sure the whole House will also join in sending its heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of seven-year-old Katie Rough, who tragically died in York earlier this week. I think it is right that we send condolences to her family.

Last week, 485 people in England spent more than 12 hours on trolleys in hospital corridors. The Red Cross described this as a “humanitarian crisis”. I called on the Prime Minister to come to Parliament on Monday, but she did not—she sent the Health Secretary. But does she agree with him that the best way to solve the crisis of the four-hour wait is to fiddle the figures, so that people are not seen to be waiting so long on trolleys in NHS hospitals?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

First, may I join the right hon. Gentleman in sending our condolences to the family of Lance Corporal Hetherington, who, as he said, died in a non-combat incident in Iraq? From everything I have seen and read about Lance Corporal Hetherington, he was a very fine young man. He delighted in being in the armed forces, and we are proud that such a fine young man was in our armed forces. I also join the right hon. Gentleman in expressing condolences to the family and friends of little Katie, who died so tragically.

The right hon. Gentleman talks about the pressures on the NHS, and we acknowledge that there are pressures on the national health service. There are always extra pressures on the NHS during the winter, but, of course, we have at the moment those added pressures of the ageing population and the growing complex needs of the population. He also refers to the British Red Cross’s term, “humanitarian crisis.” I have to say to him that I think we have all seen humanitarian crises around the world, and to use that description of a national health service that last year saw 2.5 million more people treated in accident and emergency than six years ago was irresponsible and overblown.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

Some 1.8 million people had to wait longer than four hours in A&E departments last year. The Prime Minister might not like what the Red Cross said, but on the same day the British Medical Association said that

“conditions in hospitals across the country are reaching a dangerous level.”

The Royal College of Nursing has said that NHS conditions are the worst ever. The Royal College of Physicians has told the Prime Minister that the NHS is

“under-funded, under-doctored and overstretched.”

If she will not listen to the Red Cross, who will she listen to?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

I have said to the right hon. Gentleman that I of course acknowledge that there are pressures on the national health service. The Government have put extra funding into the national health service. The fact is that we are seeing more people being treated in our NHS: 2,500 more people are treated within four hours every day in the national health service because of the Government putting in extra funding and because of the hard work of medical professionals in our national health service. It is not just a question of targets for the health service, although we continue to have a commitment to the four-hour target, as the Health Secretary has made clear. It is a question of making sure that people are provided with the appropriate care for them, and the best possible care for them in their circumstances.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

The right hon. Lady seems to be in some degree of denial about this. She will not listen to professional organisations that have spent their whole lifetimes doing their best for the NHS, but will she listen to Sian, who works for the NHS? She has a 22-month- old nephew. He went into hospital, but there was no bed. He was treated on two plastic chairs pushed together with a blanket. Sian says that

“one of the nurses told my sister that it’s always like this nowadays”.

She says to us all:

“Surely we should strive to do better than this.”

Do the Prime Minister and the Health Secretary think that is an acceptable way to treat a 22-month-old child in need of help?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

I accept that there have been a small number of incidents in which unacceptable practices have taken place. We do not want those things to happen, but what matters is how you deal with them, which is why it is so important that the NHS looks into the issues when unacceptable incidents have taken place and learns lessons from them. I come back to the point that I was making earlier: the right hon. Gentleman talks about the hard-working healthcare professionals, like Sian, in the national health service, and indeed we should be grateful for all those who are working in the NHS, but on the Tuesday after Christmas we saw the busiest day ever in the national health service, and over the few weeks around Christmas we saw the day on which more people were treated in accident and emergency within four hours than ever before. That is the reality of our national health service.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

We all thank NHS staff and we all praise NHS staff, but the Prime Minister’s Government are proposing, through sustainability and transformation, to cut one third of the beds in all our hospitals in the very near future. On Monday, she spoke about mental health and doing more to help people, particularly young people, with those conditions, which I welcome, except that last night the BBC revealed that, over five years, there had been an 89% increase in young people with mental health issues having to go to A&E departments. Does she not agree that the £1.25 billion committed to child and adolescent mental health in 2015 should have been ring-fenced rather than used as a resource to be raided to plug other holes in other budgets in the NHS?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

If we look at what is happening with mental health treatment in the national health service, we see 1,400 more people every day accessing mental health services. When I spoke about this issue on Monday, I said that there is of course more for us to do—this is not a problem that will be resolved overnight. I have set out ways in which we will see an improvement in the services in relation to mental health, but it is about the appropriate care for the individual. As I mentioned earlier, that is not just about accident and emergency. When I was in Aldershot on Monday, I spoke to service users with mental health problems who said that they did not want to go to A&E. The provision of alternative services has meant that the A&E locally has seen its numbers stabilising rather than going up. It is about the appropriate care for the individual. We want to see that good practice spread across the whole country.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

Nobody wants people with mental health conditions to go to A&E departments—the A&E departments do not want them to go there. Under this Government, there are 6,000 fewer nurses and 400 fewer doctors working in mental health. It is obvious that these people will go somewhere to try to get help when they are in a desperate situation. Our NHS is under huge pressure. Much of that is caused by cuts to social care, which the Royal College of Physicians says

“are pushing more people into our hospitals and trapping them there for longer.”

Will the Prime Minister do what my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester South (Jonathan Ashworth) has called for and bring forward now the extra £700 million allocated in 2019 and put it into social care, so that we do not have this problem of people staying too long in hospital when they should be cared for by a social care system?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

The right hon. Gentleman asked me those questions in the last PMQs before Christmas. [Interruption.] He may find it difficult to believe that somebody will say the same thing that they said a few weeks ago, but we have put extra money into social care. In the medium term, we are ensuring that best practice is spread across the country. He talks about delayed discharges. Some local authorities, which work with their health service locally, have virtually no delayed discharges. Some 50%—half of the delayed discharges—are in only 24 local authority areas. What does that tell us? It tells us that it is about not just funding, but best practice. If he comes back to me and talks to me about funding again, he should think on this: we can only fund social care and the NHS if we have a strong economy, and we will only have that with the Conservatives.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I am sorry to have to bring the Prime Minister back to the subject of social care, which I raised before Christmas. The reason I did so, and will continue to do so, is that she has not addressed the problem. The Government have cut £4.6 billion from the social care budget. The King’s Fund says that there is a social care funding gap of almost £2 billion this year.

Earlier this week, the Prime Minister said that she wanted to create a “shared society”. Well, we certainly have that: more people sharing hospital corridors on trolleys; more people sharing waiting areas in A&E departments; and more people sharing in the anxiety created by this Government. Our NHS is in crisis, but the Prime Minister is in denial. May I suggest to her that, on the economic question, she should cancel the corporate tax cuts, and spend the money where it is needed—on people in desperate need in social care and in our hospitals?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

The right hon. Gentleman talks about a crisis. I suggest he listen to the right hon. Member for Don Valley (Caroline Flint), a former Labour Health Minister, who said that, with Labour,

“It’s always about ‘crisis...the NHS is on its knees’… We’ve got to be a bit more grown up about this.”

And he talks to me about restoring the cuts in corporation tax. The Labour party has already spent that money eight times. The last thing the NHS needs is a cheque from Labour that bounces. The only way that we can ensure that we have funding for the national health service is with a strong economy. Yesterday, the right hon. Gentleman proved that he is not only incompetent, but that he would destroy our economy, and that would devastate our national health service.

European Council 2016

Debate between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn
Monday 19th December 2016

(4 years, 2 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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

With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a statement on last week’s European Council.

Both the UK and the rest of the EU are preparing for the negotiations that will begin when we trigger article 50 before the end of March next year, but the main focus of this Council was, rightly, on how we can work together to address some of the most pressing challenges that we face. These include responding to the migration crisis, strengthening Europe’s security and helping to alleviate the suffering in Syria. As I have said, for as long as the UK is a member of the EU we will continue to play our full part, and that is what this Council showed, with the UK making a significant contribution on each of those issues.

On migration, from the outset the UK has pushed for a comprehensive approach that focuses on the root causes of migration as the best way to reduce the number of people coming to Europe. I have called for more action in source and transit countries to disrupt the smuggling networks, to improve local capacity to control borders, and to support sustainable livelihoods, both for people living there and for refugees. I have also said that we must better distinguish between economic migrants and refugees, swiftly returning those who have no right to remain and thereby sending out a deterrence message to others thinking of embarking on perilous journeys.

The Council agreed to action in all these areas, and the UK remains fully committed to playing our part. We have already provided training to the Libyan coastguard. The Royal Navy is providing practical support in the Mediterranean and Aegean. We will also deploy 40 additional specialist staff to the Greek islands to accelerate the processing of claims, particularly from Iraqi, Afghan and Eritrean nationals, and to help to return those who have no right to stay. Ultimately, we need a long-term, sustainable approach, for that is the best way to retain the consent of our people to provide support and sanctuary to those most in need.

I turn to security and defence. Whether it is deterring Russian aggression, countering terrorism or fighting organised crime, the UK remains firmly committed to the security of our European neighbours. That is true now, and it will remain true once we have left the EU. At this Council we welcomed the commitment from all member states to take greater responsibility for their security, to invest more resources and to develop more capabilities. That is the right approach, and, as the Council made clear, it should be done in a way that complements rather than duplicates NATO.

A stronger EU and a stronger NATO can be mutually reinforcing, and that should be our aim. We must never lose sight of the fact that NATO will always be the bedrock of our collective defence in Europe, and we must never allow anything to undermine it. We also agreed at the Council to renew tier 3 economic sanctions on Russia for another six months, maintaining the pressure on Russia to implement the Minsk agreements in full.

I turn to the appalling situation in Syria. We have all seen the devastating pictures on our TV screens and heard heartbreaking stories of families struggling to get to safety. At this Council we heard directly from the mayor of eastern Aleppo, a brave and courageous man who has already witnessed his city brought to rubble, his neighbours murdered and children’s lives destroyed. He had one simple plea for us: to get those who have survived through years of conflict, torture and fear to safety. Together with our European partners, we must do all we can to help.

The Council was unequivocal in its condemnation of President Assad and his backers, Russia and Iran, who must bear the responsibility for the tragedy in Aleppo. They must now allow the UN to safely evacuate the innocent people of Aleppo—Syrians whom President Assad claims to represent. We have seen some progress in recent days, but a few busloads is not enough when there are thousands more who must be rescued, and we cannot have those buses being attacked as they have been.

On Thursday afternoon my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary summoned the Russian and Iranian Ambassadors to make it clear that we expect them to help. Over the weekend, the UK has been working with our international partners to secure agreement on a UN Security Council resolution that would send in UN officials to monitor the evacuation of civilians and provide unfettered humanitarian access. That has been agreed unanimously this afternoon, and we now need it to be implemented in full. President Assad may be congratulating his regime forces on their actions in Aleppo, but we are in no doubt. This is no victory; it is a tragedy, and one we will not forget. Last week’s Council reiterated that those responsible must be held to account.

Alongside our diplomatic efforts, the UK is going to provide a further £20 million of practical support for those who are most vulnerable. That includes £10 million for trusted humanitarian partners working on the front line in some of the hardest-to-reach places in Syria to help them to deliver food parcels and medical supplies to those most in need, and an additional £10 million to UNICEF to help it to provide life-saving aid supplies for Syrian refugees now massing at the Jordanian border. As the mayor of Aleppo has said, it is, sadly, too late to save all those who have been lost, but it is not too late to save those who remain. That is what we must now do.

I turn to Brexit. I updated the Council on the UK’s plans for leaving the European Union. I explained that two weeks ago this House voted by a considerable majority—almost six to one—to support the Government by delivering the referendum result and invoking article 50 before the end of March. The UK’s Supreme Court is expected to rule next month on whether the Government require parliamentary legislation in order to do this. I am clear that the Government will respect the verdict of our independent judiciary, but I am equally clear that whichever way the judgment goes, we will meet the timetable I have set out.

At the Council, I also reaffirmed my commitment to a smooth and orderly exit. In this spirit, I made it clear to the other EU leaders that it remains my objective that we give reassurance early on in the negotiations to EU citizens living in the UK and UK citizens living in EU countries that their right to stay where they have made their homes will be protected by our withdrawal. This is an issue that I would like to agree quickly, but that clearly requires the agreement of the rest of the EU.

Finally, I welcomed the subsequent short discussion between the 27 other leaders on their own plans for the UK’s withdrawal. It is right that the other leaders prepare for the negotiations, just as we are making our own preparations. That is in everyone’s best interests.

My aim is to cement the UK as a close partner of the EU once we have left. As I have said before, I want the deal we negotiate to reflect the kind of mature, co-operative relationship that close friends and allies enjoy: a deal that will give our companies the maximum freedom to trade with and operate in the European market and allow European businesses to do the same here, and a deal that will deliver the deepest possible co-operation to ensure our national security and the security of our allies, but a deal that will mean that when it comes to decisions about our national interest, such as how we control immigration, we can make these decisions for ourselves, and a deal that will mean our laws are once again made in Britain, not in Brussels. With a calm and measured approach, this Government will honour the will of the British people and secure the right deal that will make a success of Brexit for the UK, for the EU and for the world. I commend this statement to the House.

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

I thank the Prime Minister for the advance copy of her statement. As we approach the end of this year, I think we can all agree this has been a year of enormous change in this country and the rest of the world, but with that change comes a great deal of division. As we move swiftly towards the triggering of article 50, I want to appeal to the Prime Minister not only to work harder to heal those divisions in Britain, but to make sure that her new year’s resolutions include a commitment to build better relations with our European partners so that we get the best deal for the people of this country, not just a Brexit that benefits big business and bankers.

At the moment, it is clear that the Prime Minister and Britain are becoming increasingly isolated on the international stage. If we are to build a successful Britain after Brexit, it is more vital than ever that our relationship with our European partners remains strong, cordial and respectful. It is also clear from my own discussions with European leaders that they are becoming increasingly frustrated by her shambolic Government and the contradictory approach to Brexit negotiations. The mixed messages from her Front Bench only add to the confusion. This Government fail to speak for the whole country; instead, we hear a babble of voices speaking for themselves and their vested interests.

For instance, last week we were told by Britain’s permanent representative to the EU that a Brexit deal may take 10 years, contradicting what the Secretary of State for Brexit told a Select Committee that day, when he said a deal could be struck in 18 months. There is a bit of a difference there. We also heard from the Chancellor, who told us that Britain was looking for a transitional deal with the European Union, only for the Secretary of State for International Trade to warn against a transitional deal, saying any arrangements close to the status quo would go against the wishes of those who voted to leave. The people of Britain deserve better than this confusion at the heart of Government.

Confidence is being lost. The Office for Budget Responsibility made its own judgment on the Government’s Brexit plans in November, when it published new forecasts for 2017: growth was revised down, wages revised down and business investment revised down; the only thing the OBR raised was its forecast for inflation. The Government are risking even weaker growth than they have delivered so far and an exodus of financial services, and hitting manufacturing industry very hard.

I welcome the fact that the Government have now accepted Labour’s demands for a published Brexit plan, but it is still unclear how the plan will be presented and when we will receive it in Parliament. Can the Prime Minister today do what the Secretary of State for Brexit, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Secretary of State for International Trade and the permanent representative to the EU all failed to do last week and give this country some real answers? Can she tell us when the House will receive the Government’s plan for article 50 and how long we will be given to scrutinise that plan? Can she also tell us how long the Government envisage the whole process taking? Can she tell us whether the Government will be looking for an interim transitional deal with the European Union? These are basic questions that have still not been answered, nearly six months after Britain voted to leave the European Union.

There were also reports last week that the UK will be asked to pay a €50 billion bill to honour commitments to the EU budget until 2020. Can the Prime Minister tell this House if that is the case? Can she update us all on the Government’s contingency plans for those projects and programmes in the UK that are currently reliant on EU funding after 2020? There is much concern in many parts of the country about those programmes.

I welcome the Prime Minister’s desire to bring forward and give greater clarity on the issue of rights of EU citizens in the United Kingdom. However, if she is serious about this, why wait? Why will the Government not end the worry and uncertainty, as this House demanded in July, and give an unequivocal commitment to guarantee people’s rights before article 50 is triggered, as both the TUC and the British Chambers of Commerce called for this weekend? Not only is it the right thing to do; it would also send a clear signal to our colleagues and our European friends that Britain is committed to doing the right thing and committed to a friendly future relationship.

With that in mind, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the Austrian President, Alexander Van der Bellen, on his election. I am sure we all agree that his victory in the presidential elections represents a victory for respect and kindness over hate and division, and is a signal against the dangerous rise of the far right across Europe.

I am also glad that the European Union Council leaders discussed the other pressing global issues last week, notably the terrible situation in Syria. I therefore want to use this opportunity to renew the calls I made in a letter to the Prime Minister last week for an urgent and concerted effort from the Government to press for an end to the violence and for a United Nations-led ceasefire, along with the creation of UN-brokered humanitarian corridors and the issuance of effective advance warnings of attack to the civilian population, as well as urgent talks through the UN to achieve a negotiated political settlement. It is clear that the rules of war are being broken on all sides. Labour has long condemned attacks on civilian targets on all sides, including those by Russian and pro-Syrian Government forces in Aleppo, for which there can be no excuse.

I also know that Cyprus and reunification were raised at the Council meeting. Will the Prime Minister give us an update on what was said on this issue? Britain is after all a guarantor of Cypriot independence under the 1960 treaty.

There is a lot to do in 2017, with a lot of important decisions to be made. I make a plea to the Prime Minister to represent all sides, whether they voted to leave or remain, and to make the right decisions that benefit not just her party but everyone in this country.

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

On the issue of Cyprus, President Anastasiades updated us on the talks that had taken place. These are important talks. I think we all accept that we have perhaps the best opportunity for a settlement in Cyprus that we have seen for many, many years. The talks have been taking place under UN auspices between the two leaders. They have been encouraged and generated by the two leaders on the island, and it is important that we recognise the leadership they have shown on this issue. The right hon. Gentleman is right. There are three guarantors: Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom. We stand ready to play our part, as required and when it is appropriate for us to do so. There is a meeting coming up in January, and there is a possibility that it will be attended by others such as the United Kingdom. In the EU Council’s conclusions, it said that it stood ready to participate if that were part of helping the deal to come through.

On Syria, the right hon. Gentleman wrote to me asking for us to take action through the United Nations. We have consistently taken action through the UN. We have been working over the weekend to ensure that there was a UN Security Council resolution today that was accepted. As all Members will know, Russia has vetoed a number of previous Security Council resolutions, and the most recent one before today was vetoed by both Russia and China. It is very clear that we now have a resolution that has been accepted by Russia and China, and accepted unanimously by the Security Council. It provides for humanitarian access and for UN monitoring of people leaving Aleppo, which is important.

The right hon. Gentleman spent most of his comments on Brexit. He started off by talking about our wanting a deal that benefits the United Kingdom. Yes, I have been saying that ever since I first came into this role. We want to ensure that we get the best possible deal, but I have to say to him that we do not get the possible deal in negotiations by laying out everything we want in advance. That is the whole point of negotiations.

The right hon. Gentleman talked about isolation. The point is that the UK is going to leave the European Union. We are leaving the group that is the European Union. In due course, they will meet only as 27 members, because we will no longer be a member. It is clear from what happened at the EU Council that, as long as we are a member, we will continue to play our full part with the European Union.

The right hon. Gentleman talked about EU funds, and funds that are currently intended to continue beyond the date at which we would leave the European Union. The Chancellor of the Exchequer set out the position very clearly some weeks ago. Those funds will continue to be met provided they give value for money and meet the UK Government’s objectives.

The right hon. Gentleman spoke about the length of the process. As he knows, once we trigger article 50, the treaty allows for a process that can take up to two years. Of course, how long it takes within that period depends on the progress of the negotiations that take place. He then spoke about uncertainty and the need for investment in the UK. He gave the impression of a bleak economic picture, but I remind him that ours is the fastest-growing economy this year in the G7. Let us look at the companies that have announced new additional investment since the Brexit referendum: Honda, Jaguar Land Rover, Nissan, Aldi, Associated British Ports, CAF, Facebook, Google, GlaxoSmithKline, Sitel and Statoil. The list will continue because this is still a good place to invest and a good place to grow businesses.

The right hon. Gentleman then talked about confusion on the Front Bench. Well, he has obviously been looking at his own Front Bench. Let us take one very simple issue: immigration. The shadow Home Secretary suggests that freedom of movement should be maintained; the shadow Chancellor said that we should have a fair deal on freedom of movement; and the shadow Brexit Secretary says we should have immigration controls. They cannot even agree on one aspect of leaving the European Union. With the Leader of the Opposition’s negotiation technique, if he were in office, we would as sure as goodness be getting the worst possible deal we could get for the United Kingdom.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn
Wednesday 14th December 2016

(4 years, 2 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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Cabinet Office
Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

My hon. Friend is absolutely right that communities across this country have a bright future ahead of them, but we need to ensure that we create the conditions for that future. That is why we will be producing a modern industrial strategy that will show how we can encourage the strategic strengths of the United Kingdom and deal with our underlying weaknesses. It will enable companies to grow, invest in the UK and provide those jobs for the future, but we also need to make sure that that prosperity is spread across the whole of the United Kingdom and is prosperity for everyone.

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

May I start by wishing you, Mr Speaker, all Members of the House and everyone who works in the House a very happy Christmas and a prosperous new year?

Sadly, our late colleague Jo Cox will not be celebrating Christmas this year with her family. She was murdered and taken from us, so I hope the Prime Minister will join me—I am sure she will—in encouraging people to download the song, which many Members helped to create, as a tribute to Jo’s life and work and in everlasting memory of her.

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

The right hon. Gentleman is absolutely right to raise this issue. I am sure that everybody in this House would wish to send a very clear message: download this single for the Jo Cox Foundation. It is a very important cause. We all recognise that Jo Cox was a fine Member of this House and would have carried on contributing significantly to this House and to this country, had she not been brutally murdered. It is right that the Chancellor has waived VAT on the single. Everybody involved in it gave their services for free, and I am having a photograph with MP4 later this afternoon. Once again, let us encourage everybody to download the single.

Break in Debate

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I applaud the work of MP4, but for the benefit of air quality I am not a member of it! I thank the Prime Minister for her answer.

Social care is crucial. It provides support for people to live with dignity, yet Age UK research has found that 1.2 million older people are currently not receiving the care they need. Will the Prime Minister accept that there is a crisis in social care?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

I have consistently said in this House that we recognise the pressures on social care, so it might be helpful if I set out what the Government are doing and the position in relation to social care. As I say, we recognise those pressures. That is why the Government are putting more money into social care through the better care fund, and by the end of this Parliament it will be billions of pounds extra. That is why we have enabled the social care precept for local authorities. We recognise that there are immediate pressures on social care. That is why this will be addressed tomorrow by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government in the local government finance settlement. We also recognise that this is not just about money; it is about delivery. There is a difference in delivery across the country. We need to make sure that reform is taking place, so we see best practice in the integration of health and social care across the country. We also need to ensure that we have a longer-term solution to give people reassurance for the future that there is a sustainable system that will ensure that they receive the social care they need in old age. That is what the Government are working on. There is a short-term issue; there is medium-term need to make sure local authorities and the health service are delivering consistently; and there is a long-term solution that we need to find.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

The Care Quality Commission warned as recently as October that evidence suggests we have approached a tipping point. Instead of passing the buck on to local government, should not the Government take responsibility for the crisis themselves? Will the Prime Minister take this opportunity to inform the House exactly how much was cut from the social care budget in the last Parliament?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

We have been putting more money into social care and health. [Hon. Members: “How much?”] We have been putting more money in and, as I say, we recognise the pressures that exist. That is why we are looking at the short-term pressures on social care, but this cannot be looked at as simply being an issue of money in the short term. It is about delivery; it is about reform; it is about the social care system working with the health system. That is why this issue is being addressed not just by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, but by the Secretary of State for Health. If we are going to give people the reassurance they need in the longer term that their social care needs will be met, we need to make it clear that this is not just about looking for a short-term solution. It is about finding a way forward that can give us a sustainable system of social care for the future.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

The Prime Minister does not seem to be aware that £4.6 billion was cut from the social care budget in the last Parliament. Her talk about putting this on to local government ought to be taken for what it is—a con. Two per cent. of council tax is clearly a nonsense; 95% of councils used the social care precept, and it raised less than 3% of the money they planned to spend on adult social care. Billions seem to be available for tax give-aways to corporations—not mentioned in the autumn statement—and underfunding has left many elderly people isolated and in crisis because of the lack of Government funding for social care.

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

Many councils around the country have taken the benefit of the social care precept and as a result have actually seen more people being able to access social care and more needs being met. Sadly, there are some councils across the country—some Labour councils—that have not taken that opportunity and we see worse performance on social care. The right hon. Gentleman once again referred to money, so I remind him that the then shadow Chancellor said at the last election that if Labour was in government there would be “not a penny more” for local authorities. When recently asked about spending more money on social care and where the money would come from, Labour’s shadow Health Secretary said:

“Well, we’re going to have to come up with a plan for that”.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

This Government have cut social care and the Prime Minister well knows it, and she well knows the effects of that. She also well knows that raising council tax has different outcomes in different parts of the country. If you raise the council tax precept in Windsor and Maidenhead, you get quite a lot of money. If you raise the council tax precept in Liverpool or Newcastle, you get a lot less. Is the Prime Minister saying that frail, elderly, vulnerable people in our big cities are less valuable than those in wealthier parts of the country?

This is a crisis for many elderly people who are living in a difficult situation, but it is also a crisis for the national health service. People in hospital cannot be discharged because there is nowhere for them to go. I ask the Prime Minister again: the crisis affects individuals, families and the national health service, so why does she not do something really bold: cancel the corporation tax cut and put the money into social care instead?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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The right hon. Gentleman referred to Newcastle council in his list. I have to say that Newcastle City Council is one of the councils that saw virtually no delayed discharges in September, so elderly people were not being held up in hospital when they did not need or want to be. That shows that it is possible for councils to deliver on the ground. Councils such as Newcastle and Torbay are doing that, but councils such as Ealing are not using the social care precept and the result is different. The difference between the worst performing council in relation to delayed discharges and the best is twentyfold. That is not about the difference in funding; it is about the difference in delivery.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

Councils across the country work hard to try to cope with a 40% cut in their budgets, and the people paying the price are those who are stuck in hospital who should be allowed to go home and those who are not getting the care and support they need. The social care system is deep in crisis. The crisis was made in Downing Street by this Government. The former Chair of the Health Committee, Stephen Dorrell, says that the system is inadequately funded. The current Chair of the Health Committee, the hon. Member for Totnes (Dr Wollaston), said that

“this issue can’t be ducked any longer because of the impact it is having not just on vulnerable people, but also on the NHS.”

Why does the Prime Minister not listen to local government, the King’s Fund, the NHS Confederation and her own council leaders and recognise that this social care crisis forces people to give up work to care for loved ones because there is no system to do that? It makes people stay in hospital longer than they should and leads people into a horrible, isolated life when they should be cared for by all of us through a properly funded social care system. Get a grip and fund it properly, please.

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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The issue of social care has been ducked by Governments for too long. That is why this Government will provide a long-term sustainable system for social care that gives people reassurance. The right hon. Gentleman talks about Governments ducking social care, so let us look at the 13 years of Labour government. In 1997, they said in their manifesto that they would sort it. They had a royal commission in 1999, a Green Paper in 2005 and the Wanless report in 2006. They said they would sort it in the 2007 comprehensive spending review. In 2009, they had another Green Paper: 13 years and no action whatsoever.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn
Wednesday 30th November 2016

(4 years, 2 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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Wales Office
Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

I commend my hon. Friend on the hard work he has put in in relation to this project. I understand that there is to be a significant sum of funding from a developer and that my hon. Friend has been working with the developer and the county council on this issue. The local enterprise partnership has submitted a linked bid to Highways England that is being actively considered, and I understand that my hon. Friend is meeting my right hon. Friend the Minister of State for Transport this afternoon to discuss this in more detail.

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

May I join the Prime Minister in wishing everyone a very happy St Andrew’s day wherever they are celebrating it, all around the world?

Last week, the autumn statement revealed the abject failure of this Government’s economic strategy. Economic growth was revised down; wage growth was revised down; business investment was revised down; and borrowing and debt were revised up, yet again. Surely now the Prime Minister accepts that her predecessor’s long-term economic plan was actually a failure.

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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I will give the right hon. Gentleman some facts. The IMF says that this will be the fastest-growing advanced economy in the world this year. Unemployment is down. We have record numbers of people in employment and we have companies such as Nissan, Jaguar Land Rover, Honda, ARM, Google, Facebook and Apple investing in the UK, securing jobs here in the United Kingdom. That is what a good economic plan does.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

The Government did tell us that the deficit would be eradicated by 2015. That was then advanced to 2020, and now it has been advanced to whenever in the future. The right hon. Lady quotes the IFS, but she is being a little selective. It went on to say that the prospect for workers over the next six years was “dreadful”, creating

“the worst decade for living standards certainly since the last war and probably since the 1920s”.

Is it not fair to say that those who are just getting by are suffering all the pain for no gain?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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Given that the right hon. Gentleman cannot distinguish between the IMF and the IFS, it is probably a good job that he is sitting there and I am standing here. Let me tell him what we are doing for those people, and let us think about those people who do find life difficult, who are struggling to get by, who have a job but worry about their job security, who have a home but worry about paying the mortgage, and who are worried about their children’s education and whether their children will be able to buy a home. What measures have we taken? We have increased the national living wage—we introduced the national living wage. We are increasing personal tax allowance, taking more people out of paying tax altogether. We are increasing the number of affordable homes being built. But we can only do this if we have a strong economy, and it is our plan that delivers that strong economy.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
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Wages have stagnated; home ownership is falling; homelessness has doubled; and queues at food banks are rising every day. If the Prime Minister really believes the economy is doing well, why are her Government forcing through £2 billion of cuts to in-work support, cutting the incomes of working people and leaving many households over £2,000 a year worse off?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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The right hon. Gentleman starts his question by talking about home ownership. Let us be very clear what is happening in respect of housing. House building starts fell by 45% under Labour in 12 years. They have increased by over two thirds since the Conservatives were in government. Yes, we are making changes to the welfare system. He and I have a fundamental difference of opinion about the welfare system. I think what is important in the welfare system is that we remember those who are benefiting from it and we remember those who are paying for it. The universal credit system is there to ensure that work will always pay. I believe in a welfare system that does help people to get into work, that does encourage people into the workplace. He believes in a welfare system where people are able to live on benefits.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

The last Labour Government took 800,000 children out of poverty. Under the right hon. Lady’s Government, child poverty is rising and now covers 4 million children across this country. Our people are suffering because of the policies of her Government. People are paying the price for her failed economic experiment. The Government have even now abandoned the previous Chancellor’s pledge that their so-called national living wage would be paying at least £9 per hour by 2020. What is the new pledge on living wage?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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The pledge on living wage is set out in the autumn statement and is as it always has been. The right hon. Gentleman talks about poverty. Actually, we are seeing fewer families in absolute poverty and fewer families in relative poverty. I come back to the point I have been making in answer to his previous questions: it is only possible to do these things by having a strong economy. The one thing we know is that the policy that would not deliver a strong economy is Labour’s policy to increase borrowing by £500 billion. He talks about the impact on people in work. Let me remind him of what the former shadow Treasury Minister said: Labour’s policy to increase borrowing would lead to double the income tax, double council tax, double VAT and double national insurance. That will not help anybody who is in the workplace and just about managing.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I am not entirely sure where the Government’s credibility lies on borrowing, since they are borrowing even more, the deficit is increasing and people are suffering. When the Prime Minister talks about children in poverty in response to my question, I simply remind her 4 million children are living in poverty—children going hungry to school in this country because their parents do not have enough money to feed them properly. It is a disgrace and should be addressed.

In the autumn statement last week, the Chancellor spoke for over 50 minutes. During that time, he did not once mention the national health service or social care. Some 1.2 million people are lacking the care they need. Why was there not one single penny more for social care in the autumn statement?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

There is absolutely no doubt that the social care system is under pressure; we recognise that. If we just look at the fact that there are 1 million more people aged over 65 today than there were in 2010, we see the sort of pressures on the social care system. That is why the Government have already acted to put more money into the social care system: more money through the better care fund—£3.5 billion extra through the better care fund—and more money through the social care precept. But it is also important that local authorities and the NHS work together to ensure, for example, that people have the social care they need, so they are not ending up blocking beds in hospital. There is some very good practice up and down the country, and sadly there is some not so good practice. What we need to do is make sure everybody is giving the best possible service to people who need it.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

There is a tragic parallel going on between an underfunded NHS and an underfunded social care system all over the country, and the Prime Minister knows it. Indeed, she might care to listen to the Tory leader of Warwickshire Council, Izzi Seccombe, who says that her council has been “cut to the bone”, and who says on social care:

“right now we have a £1.3 billion gap which is not being funded.”

It is a real crisis in every social services department all over the country and, indeed, in almost every NHS hospital.

Next year, this Government are handing back £605 million in corporation tax cuts, rising to £1.6 billion the year after that and £7.5 billion over the next five years. So could the Prime Minister explain to the more than 1 million elderly people not getting the care they need, to the 4 million people on NHS waiting lists and to the millions of pensioners worried about losing the protection of the triple lock why there is not one penny extra for the NHS or social care? Just what is this Government’s real sense of priorities?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

The right hon. Gentleman talks about funding social care and funding the national health service: £3.8 billion extra is going into the national health service this year. Under Labour’s plans, we would have seen £1.3 billion less going into the national health service. Social care funding is going up under this Government. At the last election, the shadow Chancellor—lately of “Strictly” fame—said local authorities would get not a penny more. Conservatives are putting money into the NHS and social care—Labour would deny it.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn
Wednesday 23rd November 2016

(4 years, 3 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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Cabinet Office
Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

I thank my hon. Friend for raising that. I know that the issue of the north-west relief road in Shrewsbury has been of particular concern to him; it is a priority for him and it has received considerable local backing. I understand that the local Marches LEP has put in a bid for feasibility funding so that it can prepare a business case for the scheme. What I can say at the moment is that the announcement of the successful bids for feasibility funding is expected very shortly indeed.

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

The Government’s sustainability and transformation plans for the national health service hide £22 billion of cuts to our service, according to research by the British Medical Association. That risks

“starving services of resources and patients of vital care.”

That quote comes from Dr Mark Porter of the BMA. When he calls this process “a mess”, where is he wrong?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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The national health service is indeed looking for savings within the NHS which will be reinvested in the NHS, and I remind the right hon. Gentleman that it is this Government who are providing not just the £8 billion of extra funding that the NHS requested, but £10 billion of extra funding. Sustainability and transformation plans are being developed at local level in the interests of local people by local clinicians.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

It is very strange that the Prime Minister should say that, because the Select Committee on Health, chaired by her hon. Friend the Member for Totnes (Dr Wollaston), says that the figure is actually £4.5 billion, not £10 billion; there is quite a big difference there.

Part of the reason for the strain on our national health service is that more than 1 million people are not receiving the social care they need. As a result of that, there has been an increase in emergency admissions for older patients. Margaret wrote to me this week—[Interruption.] It is not funny. She described how her 89-year-old mother suffered two falls leading to hospital admissions due to the lack of nursing care, and went on to say,

“My mother is worth more than this.”

What action will the Prime Minister take to stop the neglect of older people, which ends up forcing them into A&E admissions when they should be cared for at home or in a care home?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

Of course social care is an area of concern, and it is a key issue for many people. That is why the Government have introduced the better care fund and the social care precept for local authorities, and why we are encouraging the health service and local authorities to work together to deal with precisely the social care and bed blocking issues that the right hon. Gentleman has raised.

We have introduced the better care fund and the social care precept, but let us just look at what the Labour Government did in their 13 years. They said that they would deal with social care in their 1997 manifesto. They introduced a royal commission in 1999, a Green Paper in 2005 and the Wanless review in 2006. They said they would sort it in the comprehensive spending review of 2007, and produced another Green Paper in 2009: 13 years, and they did nothing.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

As the Prime Minister well knows, health spending trebled under the last Labour Government and the levels of satisfaction with the health service were at their highest ever in 2010. This Government’s choice was to cut social care by £4.6 billion in the last Parliament, at the same time as they found the space, shall we say, to cut billions from corporate taxation bills. This is affecting patients leaving hospital as well. In the last four years, the number of patients unable to be transferred from hospital due to the lack of adequate social care has increased by one third. Will the Prime Minister ensure that her Government will guarantee all our elderly people the dignity they deserve?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

I recognise the importance of caring for elderly people and providing them with the dignity they deserve. The right hon. Gentleman says that this Government have done nothing on social care, but I repeat that we have introduced the social care precept, which is being made use of by my local authorities and by his local authority. We have also introduced the better care fund. He talks about support for elderly people, but let me remind him which Government it was who put in place the triple lock for pensioners. That has ensured the largest increase in pensions for elderly people.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

The precept is a drop in the ocean compared with what is necessary for social care. I shall give Members an example. I am sure the whole House will have been appalled by the revelations in the BBC’s “Panorama” programme this week. They showed older people being systematically mistreated. The Care Quality Commission’s assessment is that the care homes run by the Morleigh Group “require improvement”, and it has issued warning notices. The commission goes on to say that the owner

“has allowed the services to deteriorate even further. She has utterly neglected her duty of care to the residents of these homes.”

What action are the Government going to take to protect the residents of those homes?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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The right hon. Gentleman raises the issue of the quality of care that is provided in homes and the way in which elderly people are treated. I am sure everybody is appalled when we see examples of poor and terrible treatment being given to elderly and vulnerable people in care homes. What we do about it is ensure that the Care Quality Commission is able to step in and take action and that it has powers to ensure that nobody in the chain of responsibility is immune from legal accountability. We know that there is more that can be done, and that is why the CQC is looking into ways of improving its processes and increasing its efficiency. The Minister for community health and care, will be writing to the CQC shortly to see how we can improve what it does. It is the CQC that deals with these issues, and we have that in place. Is there more we can do? Yes, and we are doing it.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

The problem seems to be that that home was understaffed. We should not blame often underpaid and hard-pressed care workers; we should be ensuring that there are enough of them—properly paid— in all such homes. There was a serious problem of understaffing, and it was the last Labour Government who established the CQC. A warning notice is insufficient —we need stronger action than that.

Yesterday, the Government proposed that patients may have to show passports or other ID to access non-emergency healthcare. Have the Government considered the impact on elderly people? The last census showed us that 9.5 million people in this country do not have passports. Instead of distracting people with divisive, impractical policies, could the Prime Minister provide the NHS and social care with the money that it needs to care for the people who need the support?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

Over this Parliament, the Government will be spending half a trillion pounds on the national health service. The right hon. Gentleman asks about a process to ensure that people who are receiving NHS treatment are entitled to receive that NHS treatment. For many years, there has been concern about health tourism and about people turning up in the UK and accessing health services but not paying for them. We want to ensure not only that those who are entitled to use the services are indeed able to see them free at the point of delivery, but that we deal with health tourism and those who should be paying for the use of our health service.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

Simon Stevens told us two weeks ago that the next three years will be the toughest ever for NHS funding and that 2018 would see health spending per person cut for the first time ever in this country. The National Audit Office has reported that the cost of health tourism is over a hundred times less than the £22 billion of cuts that the NHS faces from this Government. The reality is that under this Government there are 6,000 fewer mental health nurses and a record 3.9 million people on NHS waiting lists. All of us who visit A&E departments know the stress that staff are under and that waiting times are getting longer and longer. One million people in this country are not receiving the social care that they need. Instead of looking for excuses and scapegoats, should not the Prime Minister be ensuring that health and social care is properly resourced and properly funded, to take away the stress and fear that people face in old age and the stress that is placed on our very hard-working NHS and social care staff?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

Billions of pounds extra into social care through the social care precept and the better care fund; half a trillion pounds being spent on the national health service; a record level of investment in mental health in the national health service—[Interruption.]

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn
Wednesday 16th November 2016

(4 years, 3 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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Department for International Development
Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

I absolutely agree with my hon. Friend. I am pleased to say that in the last year, employment in her constituency of Aldridge-Brownhills has gone up by 88,000. It is good to hear of companies that are providing new jobs. The employment figures show the strength of the fundamentals of our economy: the employment rate has never been higher and the unemployment rate is lower than it has been in more than a decade. I am sure that Members from all parts of the House will welcome yesterday’s news that Google will create another 3,000 jobs.

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

I concur with the remarks the Prime Minister made about the disaster in Croydon last week. We send our sympathies to all those who lost loved ones and express our solidarity with the emergency workers who went through such trauma in freeing people from the wreckage.

It appears from press reports that the Chagos islanders who were expelled from their homes over 40 years ago will suffer another injustice today with the denial of their right of return. Yesterday, the Foreign Secretary told European media that Brexit would “probably” mean leaving the customs union. Will the Prime Minister confirm whether that is the case?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

I think the right hon. Gentleman was trying to get two issues in there. On the issue of the Chagos islanders, there will be a written ministerial statement to the House later today, so everybody will be able to see the position the Government are taking.

On the whole issue of the customs union and the trading relationships we will have with the European Union and other parts of the world once we have left the European Union, we are preparing carefully for the formal negotiations, but—[Interruption.] We are preparing carefully for the formal negotiations. What we want to ensure is that we have the best possible trading deal with the European Union once we have left.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I asked the Prime Minister, actually, about the Foreign Secretary’s remarks about leaving the customs union. He is only a few places down from her. Mr Speaker, would it be in order for the Foreign Secretary to come forward and tell us what he actually said? I am sure we would all be better informed if he did.

Earlier this week, a leaked memo said that the Government are

“considerably short of having a plan for Brexit…No common strategy has emerged…in part because of the divisions within the Cabinet.”

If this memo is, as the Prime Minister’s press department says, written by ill-informed consultants, will she put the Government’s plan and common strategy for Brexit before Parliament?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

I have to say to the right hon. Gentleman that, yes, we do have a plan. Our plan is to deliver the best possible deal in trading with and operating within the European Union. Our plan is to deliver control of the movement of people from the European Union into the United Kingdom. Our plan is to go out there across the world and negotiate free trade agreements around the rest of the world. This Government are absolutely united in their determination to deliver on the will of the British people and to deliver Brexit. The right hon. Gentleman’s shadow Cabinet cannot even decide whether it supports Brexit.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

Well, the word does not seem to have travelled very far. I have to say, I sympathise with the Italian Government Minister who said this week, about the Prime Minister’s Government:

“Somebody needs to tell us something, and it needs to be something that makes sense.”

Is not the truth that the Government are making a total shambles of Brexit, and nobody understands what their strategy actually is?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

Of course those in the European Union whom we will be negotiating with will want us to set out at this stage every detail of our negotiating strategy. If we were to do that, it would be the best possible way of ensuring that we got the worst result for this country. That is why we will not do it.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

Talking of worst results, the Foreign Secretary has been very helpful this week, because he informed the world that “Brexit means Brexit”—we did not know that before—and that

“we are going to make a titanic success of it.”

Taking back control, if that is what Brexit is to mean—[Interruption.] The Prime Minister is getting advice from the Foreign Secretary now; can we all hear it? Taking back control clearly requires some extra administration. Deloitte has spoken, saying:

“One Department estimates it needs a 40% increase in staff to cope with its Brexit projects”,

and that overall expectations are of an increased headcount of between 10,000 and 30,000 civil servants. If that estimate is wrong, can the Prime Minister tell the House exactly how many extra civil servants will be required to conduct these negotiations? Her Ministers need to know—they are desperate for an answer from her.

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

I repeat for the right hon. Gentleman that we are doing the preparations necessary for the point at which we will start the complex formal negotiations with the European Union. I have set up a Department for Exiting the European Union, and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is doing an excellent job there in making those preparations.

I have to say to the right hon. Gentleman that from the confusion that he has on his Benches in relation to the issue of Brexit, it seems to be yet another example from Labour of how where they talk, we act. They posture, we deliver. We are getting on with the job, he is not up to the job.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

Well, Mr Speaker—[Interruption.] That was exciting, wasn’t it? Mr Speaker—[Interruption.]

Break in Debate

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I do not wish to promote any further division on their Benches, Mr Speaker.

These are the most complex set of negotiations ever undertaken by this country. The civil service has been cut down to its lowest level since the second world war. The Prime Minister’s main focus surely ought to be coming up with a serious plan. May I ask her to clarify something? If, when the Supreme Court meets at the beginning of December, it decides to uphold the decision of the High Court, will the Lord Chancellor this time defend our independent judiciary against any public attacks?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

As the right hon. Gentleman knows, there have been two cases in the UK courts on the prerogative power and its use. The Northern Ireland court found in favour of the Government; the High Court found against the Government. We are appealing to the Supreme Court. We have a good argument, and will put the case to the Supreme Court. I believe and this Government believe in the independence of our judiciary, and the judiciary will consider that decision and come to their judgment on the basis of the arguments put before them. But we also believe that our democracy is underpinned by the freedom of our press.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

My question was on defending the independence of the judiciary. We should all be doing that. We have an International Development Secretary who is opposed to overseas aid, a Health Secretary who is running down our national health service, a Chancellor with no fiscal strategy, a Lord Chancellor who seems to have difficulty defending the judiciary, a Brexit team with no plan for Brexit and, as has just been shown, a Prime Minister who is not prepared to answer questions on what the actual Brexit strategy is. We need a better answer than she has given us.

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

I will tell the right hon. Gentleman what we have got. We have an International Development Secretary delivering on this Government’s commitment to spend 0.7% of gross national income on international development, a Health Secretary delivering on £10 billion of extra funding for the health service and a Chancellor of the Exchequer making sure we have the stable economy that creates the wealth necessary to pay for our public services. And what we certainly have got is a Leader of the Opposition who is incapable of leading.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn
Wednesday 2nd November 2016

(4 years, 3 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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Cabinet Office
Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his question and for recognising the contribution that the Government have made in increasing investment in infrastructure, and the importance of that investment. We have consulted on proposals around a lower Thames crossing. There were more than 47,000 responses to that consultation. Those are now being considered, and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport will respond to that consultation in due course.

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

May I take this opportunity to welcome Neasa Constance McGinn? I hope that the evidently effective crash course in midwifery undertaken by my hon. Friend the Member for St Helens North (Conor McGinn) is not a sign to the Government that we believe in downgrading midwifery training.

Just a few months ago, on the steps of Downing Street, the Prime Minister promised to stand up for families who are “just managing” to get by. However, we now know that those were empty words, as this Government plan to cut work allowances for exactly those families who are just getting by. Is it not the case that her cuts to universal credit will leave millions worse off?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

First, may I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on the birth, I understand, of his granddaughter? [Interruption.] No? I am sorry. In that case, I am completely mystified. [Interruption.] In that case—[Interruption.] Wait for it. In that case, perhaps one should never trust a former Chief Whip. [Interruption.]

On the point that the right hon. Gentleman raised in relation to universal credit, the introduction of universal credit was an important reform that was brought about in our welfare system. It is a simpler system, so people can see much more easily where they stand in relation to benefits. Crucially, the point about universal credit is making sure that work always pays. As people work more, they earn more. It is right that we do not want to see people just being written off to a life on benefits and that we are encouraging people to get into the workplace.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

It is a bit unfair to blame a former Chief Whip for some little bit of confusion—very ungallant. Can we not just admire my hon. Friend the Member for St Helens North for his work? [Interruption.] It is extremely rude to point.

The Prime Minister’s predecessor abandoned those same cuts to working people through the tax credit system. Now the right hon. Lady as Prime Minister is enacting them through universal credit. The Centre for Social Justice says that these cuts will leave 3 million families £1,000 per year worse off. Why is the Prime Minister slipping the same cuts in through the back door?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

At least my former Chief Whip has a job. On the serious point that the right hon. Gentleman raises about universal credit, I repeat what I have just said. I think it is important that we look at why universal credit has been introduced. It was introduced because, with the benefits system under the Labour Government, we saw too many people finding that they were better off on benefits than they were in work. What is important is that we value work and we value getting people into work if they are able to work, but we want a system that is fair both to those who need the benefits and to those who pay for the benefits through their taxes. There are many families struggling to make ends meet who are paying for the benefits of others. I want a system that is fair to them as well.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

This week, an Oxford University study found that there is a direct link between rising levels of benefit sanctions and rising demand for food banks. A million people accessed a food bank last year to receive a food parcel; only 40,000 did so in 2010. I welcome the Government’s promise to review the work capability assessment for disabled people, but will the Prime Minister further commit to reviewing the whole punitive sanctions regime?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

It is absolutely right that in our welfare system, we have a system that makes sure that those people who receive benefits are those for whom it is right to receive benefits. That is why we have assessments in our welfare system. But it is also important in our welfare system that we ensure that those who are able to get into the workplace are making every effort to get into the workplace. That is why we have sanctions in our system. What the right hon. Gentleman wants is no assessments, no sanctions and unlimited welfare. That is not fair to those who are accessing the welfare system, and it is not fair to the taxpayers who pay for it.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

According to a Sheffield Hallam University study, one in five claimants who have been sanctioned became homeless as a result. Many of those included families with children.

Could I recommend that the Prime Minister support British cinema, and takes herself along to a cinema to see a Palme d’Or-winning film, “I, Daniel Blake”? While she is doing so, perhaps she could take the Work and Pensions Secretary with her, because he described the film as “monstrously unfair” and then went on to admit that he had never seen it, so he has obviously got a very fair sense of judgment on this. But I will tell the Prime Minister what is monstrously unfair: an ex-serviceman like David Clapson dying without food in his home due to the Government’s sanctions regime. It is time that we ended this institutionalised barbarity against often very vulnerable people.

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

I have to say to the right hon. Gentleman that, of course, it is important that, in our welfare system, we ensure that those who need the support that the state is giving them through the benefits system are able to access it. But it is also important in our system that those who are paying for it feel that the system is fair to them as well. That is right; that is why we need to have work capability assessments—it is why we need to have sanctions in our system. Now, the right hon. Gentleman has a view that there should be no assessments, no sanctions and unlimited welfare. I have to say to him that the Labour party is drifting away from the views of Labour voters; it is the Conservative party that understands working class people.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

The housing benefit bill has gone up by more than £4 billion because of high levels of rent and the necessity of supporting people with that. Is that a sensible use of public money? I think not.

In response to the March Budget, I asked the Chancellor to abandon the £30 cut for disabled people on employment and support allowance, who are unable to work, but who, with support, may be able to work in the future—they want to be able to get into work. What evidence does the Prime Minister have that imposing poverty on people with disabilities actually helps them into work?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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I am pleased to say that what we have seen under this Government is nearly half a million more disabled people actually in the workplace. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions has launched a Green Paper on work, which is starting to look at how we can continue to provide and increase support for those who are disabled who want to get into the workplace. But the right hon. Gentleman started his question by asking me about the increase in the money that is being spent on housing benefit. If he thinks that the amount of money being spent on housing benefit is so important, why did he oppose the changes we made to housing benefit to reduce the housing benefit bill?

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

As the Prime Minister well knows, my concern, and that of my party, is about the incredible amount of money being paid into the private rented sector in excessive rents, and that could be brought under control and handled much better.

Many people in this House will have been deeply moved by the article by my hon. Friend the Member for Swansea East (Carolyn Harris) about the tragic death of her son and having to take out a bank loan to cover the funeral costs. The Prime Minister may be aware that the Sunday Mirror, with the support of the Labour party, is calling for an end to council charges for the cost to parents of laying a child to rest. It would cost £10 million a year—a very small proportion of total Government expenditure—to ensure that every council could ensure that those going through the horror of laying a child to rest did not have a bill imposed on them by the local authority to put that child to rest. I hope the Prime Minister will be able to consider this and act accordingly.

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

I recognise the issue that the right hon. Gentleman has raised. There are, of course, facilities available through the social fund funeral expenses payment scheme for payments to be made available to people who qualify and meet the eligibility conditions. Of course it is difficult for anybody when they have to go through the tragedy of losing a child and then face consequences of the sort that the right hon. Gentleman mentions. We are making sure, of course, in relation to local authorities, that they now have the extra revenues available to them through business rates and other local revenues. It is up to councils to consider what they wish to do on this, but I say to the right hon. Gentleman that there are facilities available through those social fund funeral expenses to deal with the issue that he raises.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn
Wednesday 26th October 2016

(4 years, 4 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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Northern Ireland Office
Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

My hon. Friend speaks up well for the black country, and I am pleased to echo his comments about economic growth in the west midlands. Since 2010, we have seen the creation of over 220,000 more jobs and 55,000 more new businesses in the region. However, he is right to say that the devolution deal is important. It is the biggest devolution deal that is being done for the west midlands. A crucial part of it is the election of a directly elected mayor, and I think that, given both his local knowledge and his business experience, Andy Street will drive economic growth.

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

Let me start by welcoming the child refugees who have arrived in Britain in the last few days. They are obviously deeply traumatised young people, and we should welcome, love and support them in the best way that we possibly can.

Irrespective of party, when Members go through health problems we reach out the hand of support, solidarity and friendship to them. I pay tribute to the hon. Member for Grantham and Stamford (Nick Boles) for the message that he sent through social media this morning. It showed amazing humour and bravery. We wish him all the very best, and hope that he recovers fully.

There are now to be regular sessions of the Joint Ministerial Council to discuss Brexit, but it seems that the Prime Minister’s counterparts are already feeling the same sense of frustration as Members of the House of Commons. The First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones, has said that there is a “great deal of uncertainty”, but that it is clear that there must be “full and unfettered access” to the single market. Can the Prime Minister help the First Minister of Wales—and, indeed, the other devolved Administrations—by giving them some clarity?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

Let me first—in response to the right hon. Gentleman’s opening comments—commend the Home Office for working so carefully and in the best interests of the child refugees so that they have the support that they need when they come to the United Kingdom. Let me also join the right hon. Gentleman in commending my hon. Friend the Member for Grantham and Stamford (Nick Boles) for his willingness to be so open about his health problem. We wish him all the very best for the future, and for his place here in the House.

On the issue of clarity on the Government’s aims in relation to Brexit, I have been very clear and I will be clear again. There are those who talk about means and those who talk about ends; I am talking about ends. What we want to see is the best possible arrangement for trade with and operation within the single European market for businesses in goods and services here in the United Kingdom.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I thought for a moment the Prime Minister was going to say “Brexit means Brexit” again. [Interruption.] I am sure she will tell us one day what it actually means. The Mayor of London also added that this is causing “unnecessary uncertainty”.

It would also be very helpful if the Prime Minister provided some clarity over the Northern Ireland border. Will we continue membership of the customs union or are we going to see border checks introduced between Northern Ireland and the Republic?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

The Leader of the Opposition tries to poke fun at the phrase “Brexit means Brexit”, but the whole point is this: on Brexit, it is this Government who are listening to the voice of the British people. “Brexit means Brexit” means we are coming out of the European Union. What the right hon. Gentleman is trying to do is frustrate the will of the British people by saying that Brexit means something completely different.

In relation to the Northern Irish border, a considerable amount of work was already taking place with the Irish Government to look at the issues around the common travel area, and that work is continuing. We have been very clear, the Government of the Republic of Ireland have been very clear, and the Northern Ireland Executive have been very clear that none of us wants to see a return to the borders of the past, and I simply remind the right hon. Gentleman that the common travel area has been in place since 1923, which was well before either of us joined the European Union.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

On Monday the Prime Minister said that the customs union was “not a binary choice”. I cannot think that whether we have a border or do not have a border is anything other than a binary choice; there is no third way on that one. On Monday her friend the right hon. Member for Broxtowe (Anna Soubry) expressed concern about the automotive and aerospace industries, while the British Bankers Association said that its members’

“hands are quivering over the relocate button.”

Every day the Prime Minister dithers over this chaotic Brexit, employers delay investment and rumours circulate about relocation. This cannot carry on until March of next year; when is the Prime Minister going to come up with a plan?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

The fact that the right hon. Gentleman seems to confuse a customs union with a border when they are actually two different issues shows— [Interruption]— why it is important that it is this party that is in government and dealing with these issues and not his.

The right hon. Gentleman talks about the plan. I have been very clear that we want to trade freely—both trade with and operate within the single European market. I want this country to be a global leader in free trade; the Labour party is against free trade. I want to introduce control on free movement so that we have an end of free movement; the Labour party wants to continue with free movement. I want to deliver on the will of the British people; the right hon. Gentleman is trying to frustrate the will of the British people.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

There was no answer on the border, which was what the question was about. On Monday the Prime Minister told the House:

“We have a plan, which is not to set out at every stage of the negotiations the details of those negotiations”.—[Official Report, 24 October 2016; Vol. 616, c. 31.]

I have been thinking about this for a couple of days, and—[Interruption.] I think when we are searching for the real meaning and the importance of the Prime Minister’s statement, we should consult the great philosophers. [Interruption.] The only one I could come up with—[Interruption.]

Break in Debate

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

The only one I could come up with was Baldrick, who said that his “cunning plan” was to have no plan. Brexit was apparently about taking back control, but the devolved Governments do not know the plan, businesses do not know the plan and Parliament does not know the plan. When will the Prime Minister abandon this shambolic Tory Brexit and develop a plan that delivers for the whole country?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

I am interested that the right hon. Gentleman chose to support Baldrick. Of course, the actor who played Baldrick was a member of the Labour party, as I recall. I will tell the right hon. Gentleman what we are going to deliver. We are going to deliver on the vote of the British people. We are going to deliver the best possible deal for trade in goods and services, both with and operationally in the European Union. And we are going to deliver an end to free movement. That is what the British people want and that is what this Government are going to deliver for them.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

Three years ago, the United Kingdom backed Saudi Arabia for membership of the United Nations Human Rights Council. On 28 October, there will again be elections for the Human Rights Council. A UN panel has warned that Saudi Arabia’s bombing of Yemen has violated international law. Amnesty International has stated that

“executions are on the increase…women are widely discriminated against…torture is common…and human rights organisations are banned”.

Will the Government again be backing the Saudi dictatorship for membership of that committee?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

As the right hon. Gentleman knows, where there are legitimate human rights concerns in relation to Saudi Arabia, we raise them. In relation to the action in the Yemen, we have been clear that we want the incidents that have been referred to properly investigated, and if there are lessons to be learned from them, we want the Saudi Arabians to learn those lessons. I reiterate a point that I have made in this House before: our relationship with Saudi Arabia is an important one. It is particularly important in relation to the security of this country, to counter-terrorism and to foiling the activities of those who wish to do harm to our citizens here in the UK.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

Taher Qassim, a Yemeni man who lives in Liverpool, told me this week:

“Yemen is quickly becoming the forgotten crisis. If people aren’t being killed by bombs, it’s hunger that kills them. The UK needs to use its influence to help the people of Yemen”.

Bombs exported from Britain are being dropped on Yemeni children by Saudi pilots trained by Britain. If there are war crimes being committed, as the United Nations suggests, they must be investigated. Is it not about time that this Government suspended their arms sales to Saudi Arabia?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

The issues are being investigated, and we have taken action. The right hon. Gentleman is right to refer to the humanitarian crisis in the Yemen, and this country is one of those at the forefront of ensuring that humanitarian aid is provided. That is a record of action of which I believe this country and this Government can be proud around the world. There was a cessation of hostilities in the Yemen over the weekend. It lasted 72 hours. As I said in the House on Monday, I spoke to the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi at the weekend, and one of the issues we discussed was the importance of trying to find a political solution in Yemen and to see whether that cessation of hostilities could be continued. It has not been continued, but we are clear that the only solution that is going to work for the Yemen is to ensure that we have a political solution that will give stability to the Yemen.

European Council

Debate between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn
Monday 24th October 2016

(4 years, 4 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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

With permission, Mr Speaker, I will make a statement on my first European Council.

I went to the Council last week with a clear message for my 27 European counterparts. The UK is leaving the EU, but we are not leaving Europe, and we are not turning our backs on our friends and allies. For as long as we are members of the EU, we will continue to play a full and active role. After we leave, we will be a confident, outward-looking country, enthusiastic about trading freely with our European neighbours and co-operating on our shared security interests, including on law enforcement and counter-terrorism work. That is the right approach for Britain to take. It was in that spirit that we were able to make a significant contribution at this Council on ensuring a robust European stance in the face of Russian aggression, on addressing the root causes of mass migration, and on championing free trade around the world. Let me say a word about each.

Russia’s indiscriminate bombing of civilians in Aleppo and the atrocities that we have seen elsewhere in Syria are utterly horrific. It is vital that we keep up the pressure on Russia and the Syrian regime to stop the appalling actions and to create the space for a genuine political transition in Syria. It was the UK that put this issue on the agenda for the Council. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary made the case for a robust response at the Foreign Affairs Council last Monday, and I spoke personally to Chancellor Merkel and President Tusk ahead of the Council last week. The Council strongly condemned the attacks, called for an immediate cessation of hostilities, and demanded that those responsible for breaches of international humanitarian law and human rights be held accountable—but we need to go further, which is why we agreed that, if current atrocities continue, the EU will consider “all available options”. We also agreed that everything should be done to bring in humanitarian aid to the civilian population.

On Friday in Geneva, the UK secured an extraordinary session of the UN Human Rights Council to press for a ceasefire to enable humanitarian access to Aleppo. There are millions of innocent civilians trapped there and in other besieged locations across Syria in desperate need of food, shelter and healthcare. The UK is already the second largest bilateral humanitarian donor to this crisis. If we can secure the access needed to Aleppo and other besieged areas, we stand ready to accelerate over £23 million of aid for the UN to distribute on the ground to help the most vulnerable in the hardest-to-reach parts of Syria.

Turning to the migration crisis, the Home Secretary will be giving a statement on Calais shortly. At the European Council, I confirmed that the UK will continue to provide practical support to our European partners, including through our naval presence in the Aegean and the Mediterranean. As part of that effort, HMS Echo will take over from HMS Enterprise in the central Mediterranean early next year. However, I also reiterated the case that I made last month at the United Nations for a new global approach to migration based on three fundamental principles: first, ensuring that refugees claim asylum in the first safe country they reach; secondly, improving the way we distinguish between refugees and economic migrants; and thirdly, developing a better overall approach to managing economic migration, which recognises that all countries have the right to control their borders and that all countries must commit to accepting the return of their own nationals when they have no right to remain elsewhere. This new approach includes working more closely with both source and transit countries, and the Council agreed to do more to help those countries prevent illegal migration and to return migrants who have no right to stay in EU countries.

On trade, I am determined that as we leave the EU, Britain will be the most passionate, the most consistent and the most convincing advocate of free trade anywhere in the world, so as we look beyond our continent, we will seize the opportunities of Brexit to forge an ambitious and optimistic new role for Britain in the world. As part of this, I have been clear that the UK is already discussing our future trading relationships with third countries. As I made clear to the other member states last week, this will not undermine the EU’s trade agenda. In fact, it is not even in competition with it, and for as long as we remain a member of the EU, we will continue to back the EU’s free trade negotiations.

I share everyone's disappointment over the stalled talks between the EU and Canada, and we will, of course, do anything we can to try to help get those discussions back on track. I remind those who suggest that these difficulties have a bearing on our own future negotiations that we are not seeking to replicate any existing model that any other country has for its trade with the European Union. We will be developing our own British model—a new relationship for the UK with the EU—for when we are outside the EU, a deal that is ambitious and bold for Britain.

I updated the European Council on our position on Brexit. I have said that we will invoke article 50 no later than the end of March next year, and that as part of the withdrawal process, we will put before Parliament a great repeal Bill which will remove from the statute book once and for all the European Communities Act. The legislation that gives direct effect to all EU law in Britain will no longer apply from the date upon which we formally leave the European Union, and the authority of EU law in Britain will end.

The Government will give Parliament the opportunity to discuss our approach to leaving the European Union. In addition to regular updates from my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, my own statements following Council meetings, and the deliberations of the new Committee on Exiting the European Union, the Government will make time available for a series of general debates on the UK’s future relationship with the EU. These will take place before and after the Christmas recess, and I expect will include debate on the high-level principles that the Government will pursue in the negotiations.

Members on all sides will recognise that the Government must not show their hand in detail as we enter these negotiations, but it is important that Members have this opportunity to speak on the issues that matter to their constituents as we make our preparations to leave the EU. Although we have not yet formally started the Brexit negotiations, I made it clear at last week’s European Council that my aim is to cement Britain as a close partner of the EU once we have left. I want the deal we negotiate to reflect the kind of mature, co-operative relationship that close friends and allies enjoy; a deal that will give British companies the maximum freedom to trade with, and operate within, the European market, and allow European businesses to do the same here; a deal that will deliver the deepest possible co-operation to ensure our national security and the security of our allies; a deal that is in Britain’s interests and the interests of all our European partners. But it will also be a deal that means we are a fully independent, sovereign nation, able to do what sovereign nations do, which means we will, for example, be free to decide for ourselves how we control immigration. It will mean our laws are made not in Brussels but here in this Parliament, and that the judges interpreting those laws will sit not in Luxembourg but in courts right here in Britain.

The negotiations will take time. There will be difficult moments ahead, and as I have said before, it will require patience and some give and take. But I firmly believe that if we approach this in a constructive spirit, we can ensure a smooth departure. We can build a powerful new relationship that works both for the UK and for the countries of the EU, and we can secure the deal that is right for the British people, whose instruction it is our duty to deliver. I commend this statement to the House.

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

I thank the Prime Minister for the advance copy of the statement she has just given us.

Funnily enough, I, too, was in Brussels last Thursday, meeting socialist leaders and their counterparts. [Interruption.] I have to say I was given a little longer to speak than the five minutes the Prime Minister had at the dinner that evening, and I had it at a more reasonable time of the day.

Break in Debate

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

Indeed, I was listened to very carefully by all those around the table.

I made it clear to the other leaders that Britain should continue to be a full and active member of the European Union until negotiations on our exit are complete. I think the Prime Minister was trying to send the same message, but the manner in which she conveyed it was rather different, as she seemed not to be trying to build the consensus that is necessary or to shape a future relationship with the European Union that is beneficial to everybody. She had a very different approach.

The message that came to me loud and clear from European leaders last week was that the tone taken by this Tory Government since their Tory party conference earlier this month has damaged our global reputation and lost us a lot of good will, not just in Europe but around the world. Although the Prime Minister’s words may have appeased the hard-line voices behind her, the approach she and her party have taken has only spread anger and resentment all across Europe. I do not believe that we will get the best deal for this country by using threats, by hectoring or by lecturing the European Union. For these negotiations to succeed, the Government need to adopt a slightly more grown-up approach. For negotiations to succeed, Britain needs a plan. What is clear to everybody—European leaders, non-governmental organisations and business—is that, quite clearly, the Government do not have one.

Can the Prime Minister tell the House if any progress has been made since the Council meeting last week? Is she willing to tell us whether access to the single market is a red line for her Government or not? She has made it clear that she wants to end freedom of movement, but she has not been clear to business about what will be in its place, causing uncertainty for business and for the many EU nationals who reside in this country and make such a great contribution to our economy. Can she tell us if her Government are supporting moves by senior Conservatives to amend the great repeal Bill by adding a sunset clause, allowing Ministers to strip away EU laws on workers’ rights and environmental protection in the years that succeed the exit from the European Union? Can she also tell us how the Government plan to make up the shortfall in funding to the regions resulting from the loss of structural funding to vital capital programmes all over this country?

One week, the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union will say one thing; the next week, the Chancellor will say another. Meanwhile, the Prime Minister says very little, other than, “Brexit means Brexit” and “We will not provide a running commentary.” The rest of the world looks on and concludes that Britain has not got a clue. The truth is that this is not a soft Brexit, or even a hard Brexit; it is simply a chaotic Brexit.

With all that uncertainty and all those mixed messages, confidence in the economy falls day by day and the British people become more worried about their future. Two weeks ago, the Treasury said that leaving the single market would lead to a £66 billion loss to the economy. The trade deficit is widening and the value of the pound has already fallen by 18%, resulting in industries, including the auto industry, delaying vital investment decisions and the banking sector looking to relocate. That indecision and poor economic management is starting to hit our economy severely, weakening our hand as we walk into the most important negotiations for many generations.

We on the Labour Benches respect the referendum result and accept that Britain must leave the European Union. We also understand that this will be a monumental exercise, with the decisions made now affecting the lives of British people for years to come. The Prime Minister appeared to make some sort of concession about parliamentary scrutiny. In her reply, I would be grateful if she would explain the exact nature of the debates that will take place each side of the Christmas recess.

We as an Opposition will not just stand by and let this Government choose the terms of Brexit unopposed. It is our duty to scrutinise and to make sure that this Government have a Brexit plan for this country, not just for the Eurosceptics sitting behind the Prime Minister. We will continue to push for this Parliament to have a very full say in the matter, whatever happens in the debates around the time of the Christmas recess.

Today the French authorities begin the formal closure of the Calais camp, and I would like to take this opportunity to welcome those children who have already arrived in this country, as well as others who have family connections. The camp—I have seen it for myself—has become a hellish place where a few of the world’s most vulnerable people have come to try to survive and to call it their home. Yet it remains unclear what process and timetable the Government are working under to bring refugee children who are entitled, under international law and the Dubs II amendment, to refuge in the UK.

I reiterate the urgency in the letter that I sent last week to the Prime Minister, asking her to intervene personally on behalf of our country and to be open and accommodating to those children. I am grateful for the reply that I received an hour ago, but will the Prime Minister be more precise about the timetable for allowing children and others who have family connections to come to this country, and will she ensure that Britain does not evade its responsibility to help those who have suffered from the biggest global displacement since the end of world war two? The displacement is primarily caused by atrocities in Syria, and we utterly and totally condemn indiscriminate bombing. The only solution in Syria is a political one.

These issues are the ones that future generations will look back on when it comes to defining this political generation. If we continue to approach the challenges that we face in a divisive and aggressive manner, they will only grow larger. If, instead, we work together—in this House and with our European partners and the rest of the world—to help those desperate people all around the globe, we may quickly find that the large problems that we face today will appear smaller than we first thought.

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

The right hon. Gentleman said at the beginning of his response to my statement that he had been over in Brussels last Thursday, meeting various socialist leaders who listened to him. I suppose that, from his point of view, it is good to know that somebody is listening to him.

May I address the last two issues to which the right hon. Gentleman referred? As I said in my statement, and as he knows, my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary will make a statement on Calais and our response to the issue of unaccompanied minors, bringing children to the United Kingdom and the details involved. All I will say now is that we have been working very carefully, for a considerable time, with the French Government, not only to improve matters in relation to Calais, but to ensure that we abide by our requirements, under the Dublin regulations, to bring to the UK children —unaccompanied minors—who have family links here. That process has speeded up. We have put in extra resources from the Home Office and we have seen more children brought here.We have also adopted a scheme to bring 3,000 vulnerable children from the region—the middle east and north Africa—to the United Kingdom, working with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. We are putting in place the Dubs amendment —the Immigration Act 2016 proposals—which require us first to negotiate and discuss with local authorities their ability to receive children in the United Kingdom. The overriding aim of everyone in the House should be to ensure that it is in the best interests of the children who are being looked at and dealt with. It is no help for those children if we cannot properly provide for them when they come to the United Kingdom.

The right hon. Gentleman did not discuss the wider migration crisis, other than to make a reference in which he said it was mainly due to Syrian refugees. What we have seen in the migration crisis is large numbers of people moving, not from Syria but mainly from parts of Africa, which is why the United Kingdom has consistently argued for more work upstream to stop the numbers of people coming through and to ensure that people have opportunities in source and transit countries, rather than requiring to come here to the United Kingdom.

The right hon. Gentleman made a reference to the indiscriminate bombing in Aleppo. I assume that he was referring to Russian action as well as to Syrian regime action. It was important that the UK put that matter on the table for the agenda of the European Council, which made the agreements that it did.

Coming on to Brexit arrangements, the right hon. Gentleman referred to the tone since the Conservative party conference. I have to tell him that when I was in the European Council last week a number of European leaders commended the speech that I gave at the conference, including one or two socialist leaders who may have talked to him.

The right hon. Gentleman says that we do not have a plan. We have a plan, which is not to set out at every stage of the negotiations the details of those negotiations, because that would be the best way to ensure that we did not get the best deal for the UK. He talked about free movement, and I notice that at the weekend the shadow Foreign Secretary once again refused to say what the Labour party’s position on free movement was and whether it would bring an end to it.

The right hon. Gentleman talked about indecision. I have to say to the Leader of the Opposition that he could not decide whether we should be in or out of the European Union, and he could not decide when we should invoke article 50. The only thing we know about his position is that he would have unfettered immigration into this country—the very thing that the British people have told us they do not want. Unlike him, the Conservative party is listening to the British people.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn
Wednesday 19th October 2016

(4 years, 4 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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Wales Office
Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

Calm down, Mr Speaker.

On the serious issue about prisons, I welcome the fact that my hon. Friend applauds the policy we are following of closing out-of-date prisons and building new ones. I hear the lobbying he has made for Wellingborough, and I can assure him that Wellingborough is one of the sites that is being considered. The Secretary of State will look at the issue very carefully and make an announcement in due course.

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

I join the Prime Minister in commemorating the disaster at Aberfan all those years ago when 118 children along with many adults died. Many in that community are still living with that tragedy, and they will live with it for the rest of their days. As a young person growing up at that time, I remember it well, particularly the collections for the disaster fund. The BBC documentary presented by Huw Edwards was brilliant and poignant, and serves to remind us all of what the disaster was about.

One in four of us will suffer a mental health problem. Analysis by the King’s Fund suggests that 40% of our mental health trusts had their budgets cut last year, and six trusts have seen their budgets cut for three years in a row. Is the Prime Minister really confident that we are delivering parity of esteem for mental health?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

First, like the right hon. Gentleman and my hon. Friend the Member for Wellingborough (Mr Bone), I am of an age when I can remember seeing on television those terrible scenes of what happened in Aberfan. I did not see the whole of Huw Edwards’ documentary, but I thought the bits that I happened to see last night were very poignant, as the right hon. Gentleman said. Interestingly, what it showed again was the issue of those in power not being willing to step up to the plate initially and to accept what had actually happened, but the inquiry was very clear about where the responsibility lay.

It is right that we are introducing parity of esteem for mental health in our national health service. We have waited too long for this, and it is important that it is being done. We are actually investing more in mental health services—an estimated record £11.7 billion. In particular, we are increasing the overall number of children’s beds to the highest number for mental health problems, which I think is important. There is, of course, more for us to do in looking at mental health, but we have made an important start and, as I say, that funding will be there.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I received a letter from Colin, who has a family member with a chronic mental health condition. Many others, like him, have relatives going through a mental health crisis. He says that the

“NHS is so dramatically underfunded”

that too often it is left to the underfunded police forces to deal with the consequences of this crisis. Indeed, the chief constable of Devon and Cornwall has this month threatened legal action against the NHS because he is forced to hold people with mental conditions in police cells because there are not enough NHS beds. I simply ask the Prime Minister this: if the Government are truly committed to parity of esteem, why is this trust and so many others facing an acute financial crisis at the present time?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

May I first of all say to Colin that I think all of us in this House recognise the difficulties people have when coping with mental health problems? I commend those in this House who have been prepared to stand up and refer to their own mental health problems. I think that has sent a very important signal to people with mental health issues across the country.

The right hon. Gentleman raises the whole question of the interaction between the NHS and police forces. I am very proud of the fact that when I was Home Secretary I actually worked with the Department of Health to bring a change to the way in which police forces dealt with people in mental health crisis. That is why we see those triage pilots out on the streets and better NHS support being given to police forces, so that the number of people who have to be taken to a police cell as a place of safety has come down. Overall, I think it has more than halved, and in some areas it has come down by even more than that. This is a result of the action that this Government have taken.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

The reality is that no one with a mental health condition should ever be taken to a police cell. Such people should be supported in the proper way, and I commend the police and crime commissioners who have managed to end the practice in their areas. The reality is, however, that it is not just Devon and Cornwall suffering cuts; the Norfolk and Suffolk mental health trust has been cut in every one of the last three years.

I agree with the Prime Minister that it is a very good thing for Members to stand up and openly discuss mental health issues that they have experienced, because we need to end the stigma surrounding mental health conditions throughout the country. However, NHS trusts are in a financial crisis. According to NHS Providers, it seems to be the worst financial crisis in NHS history: 80% of acute hospitals are now in deficit. There was a time, in 2010, when the NHS was in surplus. What has happened?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

Let me remind the right hon. Gentleman what has happened in relation to NHS funding. We asked the NHS itself to come up with a five-year plan, and we asked the NHS itself to say what extra funding was needed to deliver on that. The NHS came up with its five-year plan, led by Simon Stevens as its chief executive. He said that £8 billion was needed. We are giving £10 billion of extra funding to the NHS. I might also remind the right hon. Gentleman that at the last election, it was not the Conservative party that was refusing to guarantee funding for the NHS; it was the Labour party.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

In six years, the NHS has gone from surplus to the worst crisis in its history. A total of £3 billion was wasted on a top-down reorganisation that no one wanted, and Simon Stevens made it very clear to the Select Committee yesterday that he did not believe that NHS England had enough money to get through the crisis that it is facing.

May I offer an analysis from the Care Quality Commission, which seems to have quite a good grasp of what is going on? It says that cuts in adult social care are

“translating to increased A&E attendances, emergency admissions and delays to people leaving hospital, which in turn is affecting the ability of a growing number of trusts to meet their performance and financial targets.”

Will the Prime Minister also address the reckless and counterproductive adult social care cuts that were made by her predecessor?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

The right hon. Gentleman quoted what had been said by Simon Stevens, the chief executive of NHS England. At the time of the autumn statement last November, he said that

“our case for the NHS has been heard and actively supported.”

The right hon. Gentleman also raised the question of social care, and the interaction between healthcare and social care. More than £5 billion extra was put into the better care fund in order to deal with precisely those issues, and local authorities are able to raise 2% of council tax to deal with the social care costs that they face. What is important, however, is for the health service and local authorities to work together to ensure that they deliver the best possible service to people who require that social care. I saw a very good example of that at Salford Royal on Monday, and I want to see more examples throughout the national health service, delivering for patients. We have put in the funding, which the right hon. Gentleman’s party would not have done, so that the NHS will receive better care for patients.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

We all want local government and the NHS to work closely together, but the problem is that local government funding has been cut, and 400,000 fewer people are receiving publicly funded social care as a result. The NHS is having difficulty coping with the crisis that it is in, and unfortunately there is bed-blocking. Acute patients cannot leave, because no social care is available for them somewhere down the line. The issue is a funding crisis in both the NHS and local government. Figures published by NHS trusts show that the total deficit is £2.45 billion, but the chief executive of NHS Providers says that the figure may be even bigger. The Government are disguising the extent of the crisis through temporary bailouts. [Interruption.] They are bailing out trusts in a crisis. That is, of course, a good thing, but why are the trusts in a crisis in the first place?

Next month, sustainability and transformation plans are going to be published. Many people across the country are quite alarmed by this because of the threat to accident and emergency departments. Will the Prime Minister deal with this issue now by quite simply saying there will be no downgrades and no closures of A&E departments in the statement coming out next month?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

I say to the right hon. Gentleman that over the course of this Parliament, the Government will be spending over half a trillion pounds on the national health service. That is a record level of investment in our national health service. There is a key difference between the way the right hon. Gentleman approaches this and how I approach it: Conservative Members believe that people at a local level should be able to make decisions about the national health service, and that decisions about the national health service should be led by clinicians—it should not be a top-down approach, which is typical of the Labour party.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

Wow! Well, top-down was what we got. It cost £3 billion for a reorganisation that nobody wanted at all.

I started by asking the Prime Minister about parity of esteem. All this Government have produced is parity of failure—failing mental health patients; failing elderly people who need social care; failing the 4 million on NHS waiting lists; failing the five times as many people who are waiting more than four hours at A&E departments—and another winter crisis is looming. The Society for Acute Medicine has it right when it says that this funding crisis and the local government funding crisis are leaving the NHS “on its knees”.

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

What has happened in the NHS over the past six years? More patients being treated, more calls to the ambulance service, more operations, more doctors, more nurses—that is what has been happening in the NHS. But let us just look at the right hon. Gentleman’s party’s approach to the national health service: a former shadow Health Secretary said that it would be “irresponsible” to put more money into the national health service; and a former leader of the Labour party wanted to “weaponise” the national health service. At every election the Labour party claims that the Conservatives will cut NHS spending; after every election we increase NHS spending. At every election Labour claims the Tories will privatise the NHS; after every election when we have been in government we have protected the NHS. There is only one party that has cut funding for the NHS: the Labour party in Wales.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn
Wednesday 12th October 2016

(4 years, 4 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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Cabinet Office
Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

May I say to my hon. Friend that the whole House is pleased to see him back in his position as his normal exuberant self? He raises a very serious issue. I join him in commending not only those doctors, nurses and other health service staff who treated him for his prostate cancer, but those doctors and nurses who, day in, day out, are ensuring that, as we see, cancer survival rates are at a record high.

The Government are putting more money into awareness of cancer problems. We will look at the training of nurses—50,000 nurses are in training—and continue to make sure that the specialisms are available to do the work that is necessary in the health service.

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

I, too, join the Prime Minister in wishing the hon. Member for Lichfield (Michael Fabricant) well and obviously hope the treatment he got is the same treatment that everybody else gets, because we want good treatment for everybody in our society. [Interruption.] It is not controversial—I am just wishing him well. Is that okay? I am sorry to start on such a controversial note, Mr Speaker. I do apologise.

At the Conservative party conference, the Prime Minister said she wants Britain to be

“a country where it doesn’t matter where you were born”,

but the Home Secretary’s flagship announcement was to name and shame companies that employ foreign workers. Could the Prime Minister explain why where someone was born clearly does matter to members of her Cabinet?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

First, may I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on winning the Labour leadership election? [Interruption.] I welcome him back to his place in this House as his normal self. The policy that he has just described was never the policy that the Home Secretary announced. There was no naming and shaming, no published list of foreign workers, no published data. What we are going to consult on is whether we should bring ourselves in line with countries such as the United States of America, which collect data in order to be able to ensure that they are getting the right skills training for workers in their economy.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I am most grateful to the over 300,000 people that voted for me to become the leader of my party, which is rather more than voted for the Prime Minister to become the leader of her party. She seems to be slightly unaware of what is going on: first, the Home Secretary briefed that companies would be named and shamed; the Education Secretary clarified that data would only be kept by Government; yesterday, No. 10 said the proposal was for consultation; and the Home Secretary clarified the whole matter by saying,

“it’s one of the tools we are going to use”.

This Government have no answers, just gimmicks and scapegoats.

Yesterday, we learned that pregnant women will be forced to hand over their passports at NHS hospitals. No ultrasound without photographic ID—heavily pregnant women sent home on icy roads to get a passport. Are these really the actions of

“a country where it doesn’t matter where you were born”?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

I have made absolutely clear the policy that the Home Secretary set out. The right hon. Gentleman raises issues around the health service. I think it is right that we should say that we ensure, when we are providing health services to people, that they are free at the point of delivery; that people are eligible to have those services; that where there are people who come to this country to use our health service, and who should be paying for it, the health service actually identifies them and makes sure that it gets the money from them. I would have thought that that would be an uncontroversial view. Of course, emergency care will be provided, when necessary, absolutely without those questions, but what is important is that we ensure that where people should be paying, because they do not have the right to access free care in the health service, they do so.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

Some of the Prime Minister’s colleagues on the leave side promised £350 million a week extra for the NHS. She does not seem to have answers to the big questions facing Britain. On Monday, the Secretary for Brexit, when questioned about the Government’s approach to single market access, replied:

“We…need hard data about the size of the problem in terms of both money and jobs”—[Official Report, 10 October 2016; Vol. 615, c. 50.]

It would have been much easier if he had simply asked his colleague, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, because he would have been able to tell him that the Treasury forecast is a £66 billion loss to the economy—7.5% of the GDP. Can the Prime Minister now confirm that access to the single market is a red line for the Government, or is it not?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

The right hon. Gentleman has asked me this question before. [Interruption.]. He says it is a simple question, and I will give him the simple answer: what we are going to do is deliver on the vote of the British people to leave the European Union; what we are going to do is be ambitious in our negotiations, to negotiate the best deal for the British people, and that will include the maximum possible access to the European market, for firms to trade with, and operate within, the European market. But I am also clear that the vote of the British people said that we should control the movement of people from the EU into the UK, and, unlike the right hon. Gentleman, we believe we should deliver on what the British people want.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

Someone once said that in leaving the single market

“we risk a loss of investors and businesses…and we risk going backwards when it comes to international trade.”

That person is now the Prime Minister, and that was before the referendum.

The Japanese Government wrote to the Prime Minister in September, worried about a shambolic Brexit. Many Japanese companies are major investors in Britain—such as Nissan in Sunderland, which has already halted its investment—and 140,000 people in Britain work for Japanese-owned companies. They have made it clear that those jobs and that investment depend on single market access. What reassurance can she give workers today, desperately worried about their future, their company and their jobs?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

First, I would say to the right hon. Gentleman that the biggest vote of confidence that we had in Britain after the referendum vote was the £24 billion investment from a Japanese company, SoftBank, in taking over Arm. Secondly, in relation to what we are doing in our negotiations, he does not seem to get what the future is going to be about. The UK will be leaving the European Union. We are not asking ourselves what bits of membership we want to retain. We are saying: what is the right relationship for the UK to have for the maximum benefit of our economy and of the citizens of this country?

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

The right hon. Member for Broxtowe (Anna Soubry) has said that

“there is a danger that this Government appear to be turning their back on the single market”.—[Official Report, 10 October 2016; Vol. 615, c. 46.]

Staying in the single market was, indeed, a commitment in the Conservative party manifesto. The reality is that, since the Brexit vote, the trade deficit is widening, growth forecasts have been downgraded, the value of the pound is down 16%, and an alliance of the British Chambers of Commerce, the Confederation of British Industry, the British Retail Consortium and the Trades Union Congress have all made representations to the Prime Minister demanding clarity. Is the Prime Minister really willing to risk a shambolic Tory Brexit just to appease the people behind her?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

What the Conservative party committed to in its manifesto was to give the British people a referendum on whether to stay in the European Union. We gave the British people that vote, and they have given their decision: we will be leaving the European Union. In doing that, we will negotiate the right deal for the UK, which means the right deal in terms of operating within and trading with the European market. That is what matters to companies here in the UK, and that is what we are going to be ambitious about delivering.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

The right hon. and learned Member for Rushcliffe (Mr Clarke) often has a mot juste to help us in these debates. He simply said—[Interruption.]

Break in Debate

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

In his own inimitable way, the right hon. and learned Gentleman said:

“The reason the pound keeps zooming south is that absolutely nobody has the faintest idea what exactly we’re going to put in place.”

Those of us on the Labour Benches do respect the decision of the British people to leave the European Union, but this is a Government that drew up no plans for Brexit; that now has no strategy for negotiating Brexit; and that offers no clarity, no transparency and no chance of scrutiny of the process for developing a strategy. The jobs and incomes of millions of our people are at stake. The pound is plummeting, business is worrying and the Government have no answers. The Prime Minister says she will not give a running commentary, but is it not time the Government stopped running away from the looming threat to jobs and businesses in this country and to the living standards of millions of people?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

Unlike the right hon. Gentleman, I am optimistic about the prospects of this country once we leave the European Union; I am optimistic about the trade deals that other countries are now actively coming to us to say they want to make with the United Kingdom; and I am optimistic about how we will be able to ensure that our economy grows outside the European Union. But I have to say to the right hon. Gentleman that Labour did not want a referendum on this issue—we, the Conservatives, gave the British people a referendum; and Labour did not like the result—we are listening to the British people and delivering on that result. [Interruption.] The shadow Foreign Secretary is shouting from a sedentary position. The shadow Foreign Secretary wants a second vote. I have to say to her that I would have thought Labour MPs would have learned this lesson: you can ask the same question again; you still get the answer you don’t want.

Prime Minister

Debate between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn
Wednesday 14th September 2016

(4 years, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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Cabinet Office
Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

I am very happy to join my hon. Friend in welcoming the very good employment figures that we have seen today. As he has said, unemployment in his constituency has halved since 2010. That is because we have had an economic plan and built a strong economy. He is absolutely right to say that as we look to provide opportunities for young people, we must ensure that we consider those for whom technical skills and a vocational education are the right route, because what we want is an education that is right for every child so that they can get as far as their talents will take them.

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

I am sure that the whole House will join me, my right hon. Friend the Member for Knowsley (Mr Howarth) and Jane Kennedy, the police and crime commissioner for Merseyside, in paying tribute to the police constable who was stabbed several times yesterday in the line of duty while trying to arrest a rape suspect in Huyton. We all wish him well and a speedy recovery. I also wish the former Prime Minister well on his departure from this House and in his future life. I hope that the by-election in Witney will concentrate on the issues of education and on his views on selection in education.

I want to congratulate the Prime Minister. She has brought about unity between Ofsted and the teaching unions. She has united former Education Secretaries on both sides of the House. She has truly brought about a new era of unity in education thinking. I wonder if it is possible for her this morning, within the quiet confines of this House, to name any education experts who back her proposals on new grammar schools and more selection.

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

First, may I join the right hon. Gentleman in paying tribute to the police constable who was stabbed in Knowsley? One of the events that I used to look forward to going to every year as Home Secretary was the Police Bravery Awards, because at that event we saw police officers who never knew, when they started their shift, what was going to happen to them. They run towards danger when other people would run away from it, and we owe them a great tribute and our gratitude.

I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman has raised the issue of education, because it enables me to point out that over the past six years we have seen 1.4 million more children in good or outstanding schools. That is because of the changes that this Government introduced: free schools and academies, head teachers being put in charge of schools, and more choice for parents. I note that the right hon. Gentleman has opposed all those changes. What I want to see is more good school places and a diversity of provision of education in this country so that we really see opportunity for all and young people going as far as their talents will take them.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I asked the Prime Minister whether she could name any experts who could help her with this policy. Sadly, she was not able to, so may I quote one expert at her? His name is John and he is a teacher. He wrote to me:

“The education system and teachers have made great strides forward to improve the quality and delivery of the curriculum. Why not fund all schools properly and let us do our job.”

The evidence of the effects of selection is this: in Kent, which has a grammar school system, 27% of pupils on free school meals get five good GCSEs compared with 45% in London. We are all for spreading good practice, but why does the Prime Minister want to expand a system that can only let children down?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

The right hon. Gentleman needs to stop casting his mind back to the 1950s. We will ensure that we are able to provide good school places for the 1.25 million children in schools that are failing or inadequate or that need improvement. Those children and their parents know that they are not getting the education that is right for them and the opportunities that they need.

Let us consider the impact of grammar schools. If we look at the attainment of disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged children, we see that the attainment gap in grammar schools is virtually zero, which it is not in other schools. It is an opportunity for young people to go where their talents will take them. The right hon. Gentleman believes in equality of outcome; I believe in equality of opportunity. He believes in levelling down; we believe in levelling up.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

Equality of opportunity is not segregating children at the age of 11. Let me quote the Institute for Fiscal Studies:

“those in selective areas who don’t get into grammar schools do worse than they would in a comprehensive system.”

The Secretary of State for Education suggested on Monday that new grammar schools may be required to set up feeder primary schools in poorer areas. Will the children in those feeder primaries get automatic places at grammar school or will they be subject to selection?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

We are setting up a more diverse education system that provides more opportunities. The right hon. Gentleman appears to be defending the situation we have at the moment, where there is selection in our school system, but it is selection by house price. We want to ensure that children have the ability to go where their talents take them. I gently remind the right hon. Gentleman that he went to a grammar school and I went to a grammar school, and it is what got us to where we are today—but my side might be rather happier about that than his.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

The two things that the Prime Minister and I have in common are that we can both remember the 1950s and can both remember going to a grammar school. My point is this: every child should have the best possible education. We do not need to and never should divide children at the age of 11—a life-changing division where the majority end up losing out.

I notice that the Prime Minister did not answer my question about feeder primary schools. The Secretary of State for Education said on Monday that the Government

“have not engaged much in the reform of grammars”—[Official Report, 12 September 2016; Vol. 614, c. 614.]

but that they would now start the process. Will the Prime Minister confirm whether existing grammars, such as those in Kent and Buckinghamshire, will now be instructed to widen their admissions policies?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

The right hon. Gentleman is right that what we are looking at and consulting on is a diversity of provision in education. We want to make sure that all grammar schools actually do the job that we believe is important—providing opportunities for a wide range of pupils—and there are many examples across the country of different ways in which that is done through selective education. He talks about a good education for every child, and that is exactly what our policy is about. There are 1.25 million children today who are in schools that are not good or outstanding. There are parents today who fear that their children are not getting the good education that enables them to get on in life. I believe in the education that is right for every child. It is the Labour party that has stifled opportunity and stifled ambition in this country. Members of the Labour party will take the advantages of a good education for themselves and pull up the ladder behind them for other people.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I am sorry that the Prime Minister was unable to help anyone in Kent or Buckinghamshire in the answer to my question—presumably, she will have to return to it. This is not about pulling up ladders; it is about providing a ladder for every child. Let me quote to her what a critic of grammar schools said:

“There is a kind of hopelessness about the demand to ‘bring back’ grammars, an assumption that this country will only ever be able to offer a decent education to a select few.”

He goes on to say:

“I want the Conservative Party to rise above that attitude”.

Those are not my words, but those of the former right hon. Member for Witney. Is he not correct that what we need is investment in all of our schools and a good school for every child, not this selection at the age of 11?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

What we need is a good school for every child, and that is precisely what we will be delivering with the policy that we have announced. With that policy, we will see: universities expanding their support for schools; more faith schools being set up; and independent schools increasing their support for schools in the state sector. A diversity of provision of education is what we need to ensure good school places for every child. That good school place is important so that young people can take opportunities and get into the workplace.

I notice that this is the right hon. Gentleman’s fifth question and he has not yet welcomed the employment figures today, which show more people in work than ever before; and wages rising above inflation. That is more people with a pay packet and more money in those pay packets. What would Labour offer? It would offer more taxation and misery for working families. It is only the Conservative party that knows you can build an economy that works for everyone only when everyone has an opportunity for work.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
- Hansard - - Excerpts

Of course I welcome anyone who has managed to get a job; I welcome those people who have managed to get jobs, and keep themselves and their families together. The problem is that there are now almost a million of them on zero-hours contracts who do not know what they are going to be paid from one week to the other.

In order to help the Prime Minister with the expertise on the reform of secondary schools, may I quote to her what Michael Wilshaw, the chief inspector of schools, has said? He said quite simply this:

“The notion that the poor stand to benefit from the return of grammar schools strikes me as quite palpable tosh and nonsense”.

Is not all this proof that the Conservative party’s Green Paper addresses none of the actual crises facing our schools system: a real-terms cut in the schools budget; half a million pupils in supersize schools; a crisis in teacher recruitment and retention; a rising number of unqualified teachers in classrooms; and vital teaching assistants losing their jobs? Is this not a Government heading backwards, to a failed segregation for the few and second-class schooling for the many? Can we not do better than this?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

The right hon. Gentleman has got some of his facts wrong—plain and simple. We have more teachers in our schools today than in 2010. We have more teachers joining the profession than leaving it. We have fewer pupils in supersize classes than there have been previously. I simply say this to him: he has opposed every measure that we have introduced to improve the quality of education in this country. He has opposed measures that increase parental choice, measures that increase the freedom of head teachers to run their schools, and the opportunity for people to set up free schools. Those are all changes that are leading to improvements in our education system, and we will build on them with our new policies.

I recognise that this may very well be the last time that the right hon. Gentleman has an opportunity to face me across the Dispatch Box—certainly if his MPs have anything to do with it. I accept that he and I do not agree on everything—well, we probably do not agree on anything—but I must say that he has made his mark. Let us think of some of the things he has introduced. He wants coal mines without mining them, submarines without sailing them, and he wants to be Labour leader without leading them. One thing we know is that whoever is Labour leader after the leadership election, it will be the country that loses.

G20 Summit

Debate between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn
Wednesday 7th September 2016

(4 years, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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Cabinet Office
Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard -

With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a statement on the G20 summit in China.

Before I turn to the G20, however, I would like to say something about the process of Brexit. On 23 June the British people were asked to vote on whether we should stay in the EU or leave. The majority decided to leave. Our task now is to deliver the will of the British people and negotiate the best possible deal for our country. I know many people are keen to see rapid progress and to understand what post-Brexit Britain will look like. We are getting on with that vital work, but we must also think through the issues in a sober and considered way.

As I have said, this is about getting the kind of deal that is ambitious and bold for Britain. It is not about the Norway model, the Swiss model or any other country’s model—it is about developing our own British model. So we will not take decisions until we are ready, we will not reveal our hand prematurely, and we will not provide a running commentary on every twist and turn of the negotiation. I say that because that is not the best way to conduct a strong and mature negotiation that will deliver the best deal for the people of this country. As the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union told the House on Monday, what we will do is maximise and seize the opportunities that Brexit presents. That is the approach I took to the G20 summit.

This was the first time that the world’s leading economies have come together since the UK’s decision to leave the EU, and it demonstrated the leading role that we continue to play in the world as a bold, ambitious and outward-looking nation. Building on our strength as a great trading nation, we were clear that we had to resist a retreat to protectionism, and we had conversations about how we could explore new bilateral trading arrangements with key partners around the world. We initiated important discussions on responding to rising anti-globalisation sentiment and ensuring that the world’s economies work for everyone, and we continued to play our part in working with our allies to confront the global challenges of terrorism and migration. Let me take each in turn.

Trading with partners all around the globe has been the foundation of our prosperity in the past, and it will underpin our prosperity in the future. So under my leadership, as we leave the EU, Britain will seek to become the global leader in free trade. At this summit we secured widespread agreement across the G20 to resist a retreat to protectionism, including a specific agreement to extend the roll-back of protectionist measures until at least the end of 2018.

The G20 also committed to ratify by the end of this year the World Trade Organisation agreement to reduce the costs and burdens of moving goods across borders, and it agreed to do more to encourage firms of all sizes, in particular small and medium-sized enterprises and female-led firms, to take full advantage of global supply chains. Britain also continued to press for an ambitious EU trade agenda, including implementing the EU-Canada deal and forging agreements with Japan and America, and we will continue to make these arguments for as long as we are members of the EU.

But as we leave the EU, we will also forge our own new trade deals, and I am pleased to say that just as the UK is keen to seize the opportunities that leaving the EU presents, so too are many of our international partners, who recognise the attractiveness of doing business with the UK. The leaders from India, Mexico, South Korea and Singapore said that they would welcome talks on removing the barriers to trade between our countries. The Australian Trade Minister visited the UK yesterday to take part in exploratory discussions on the shape of a UK-Australia trade deal. And in our bilateral at the end of the summit, President Xi also made it clear that China would welcome discussions on a bilateral trade arrangement with the UK.

As we do more to advance free trade around the world, so we must also do more to ensure that working people really benefit from the opportunities it creates. Across the world today, many feel these opportunities do not seem to come to them. They feel a lack of control over their lives. They have a job but no job security; they have a home but worry about paying the mortgage. They are just about managing, but life is hard, and it is not enough for Governments to take a hands-off approach. So at this summit I argued that we need to deliver an economy that works for everyone, with bold action at home and co-operation abroad. That is why, in Britain, we are developing a proper industrial strategy to improve productivity in every part of the country, so more people can share in our national prosperity through higher real wages and greater opportunities for young people.

To restore greater fairness, we will be consulting on new measures to tackle corporate irresponsibility. These will include cracking down on excessive corporate pay, poor corporate governance, short-termism and aggressive tax avoidance, and giving employees and customers representation on company boards. At the G20, this mission of ensuring the economy works for everyone was echoed by other leaders, and this is an agenda that Britain will continue to lead in the months and years ahead.

Together, we agreed to continue efforts to fight corruption—building on the London summit—and do more to stop aggressive tax avoidance, including stopping companies avoiding tax by shifting profits from one jurisdiction to another. We also agreed to work together to address the causes of excess global production in heavy industries, including in the steel market, and we will establish a new forum to discuss issues such as subsidies that contribute to market distortions. All these steps are important if we are to retain support for free trade and the open economies which are the bedrock of global growth.

Turning to global security, Britain remains at the heart of the fight against Daesh, and at this summit we discussed the need for robust plans to manage the threat of foreign fighters dispersing from Syria, Iraq and Libya. We called for the proper enforcement of the UN sanctions regime to limit the financing of all terrorist organisations and for more action to improve standards in aviation security, including through a UN Security Council resolution which the UK has been pursuing and which we hope will be adopted later this month. We also agreed the need to confront the ideology that underpins this terrorism. That means addressing both violent and non-violent extremism and working across borders to tackle radicalisation online.

Turning to the migration crisis, Britain will continue to meet our promises to the poorest in the world, including through humanitarian efforts to support refugees, and we will make further commitments at President Obama’s summit in New York later this month. But at the G20 I also argued that we cannot shy away from dealing with illegal migration, and I will be returning to this at the UN General Assembly. We need to improve the way we distinguish between refugees and economic migrants. This will enable our economies to benefit from controlled economic migration. In doing so, we will be able to get more help to refugees who need it, and retain popular support for doing so. This does not just protect our own people. By reducing the scope for the mass population movements we are seeing today, and at the same time investing to address the underlying drivers of mass migration at source, we can achieve better outcomes for the migrants themselves. As part of this new approach, we also need a much more concerted effort to address modern slavery. This sickening trade, often using the same criminal networks that facilitate illegal migration, is an affront to our humanity, and I want Britain to be leading a global effort to stamp it out.

When the British people voted to leave the European Union, they did not vote to leave Europe, to turn inwards, or to walk away from the G20 or any of our international partners around the world. That has never been the British way. We have always understood that our success as a sovereign nation is inextricably bound up in our trade and our co-operation with others. By building on existing partnerships, forging new relationships and shaping an ambitious global role, we will make a success of Brexit—for Britain and for all our partners—and we will continue to strengthen the prosperity and security of all our citizens for generations to come. I commend this statement to the House.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab)
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I thank the Prime Minister for her statement on the G20 statement and for giving me an advance copy of it.

I first went to China in 1998 to attend a United Nations conference on human rights—the same year in which the European convention on human rights was incorporated into UK law in our Human Rights Act. That legislation has protected the liberties of our people and held successive British Governments to account. That is why Labour Members share the concerns of so many at the Prime Minister’s Government’s plans to repeal the Human Rights Act.

On the issues of Brexit and the G20, the Prime Minister said that she was not going to reveal her hand on this subject. Nobody would blame her, because she has not revealed her hand, or indeed any of the Government’s many hands, on this particular thing; they are unclear about what they are trying to do. The G20 met in the wake of the vote to leave the European Union. We have to be clear: we accept the decision taken by the majority of our people. However, we cannot ignore the fact that the outcome has left this country divided, with increased levels of hate crimes, huge uncertainty about what comes next for our country, and an extraordinary lack of planning and preparation on how to navigate the post-referendum situation in relation to Europe.

That uncertainty and division have been made worse by Government Ministers’ political posturing and often very contradictory messages, which do not seem to add up to a considered position. Yesterday the Brexit Secretary said that staying in the single market was “improbable”; the Prime Minister’s spokesperson said that was not the case. It is one or the other; it cannot be both. So can the Prime Minister tell the House what the Government’s policy actually is?

The negotiations for Britain’s withdrawal from the EU must focus on expanding trade, jobs and investment, and on defending social, employment and environmental protections. Many colleagues raised during Prime Minister’s Question Time the uncertainty facing universities, for example. The question asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol West (Thangam Debbonaire) is a very important one. They need certainty about their relationship with European universities immediately—it cannot wait. Parliament and the public cannot be sidelined from this, the greatest constitutional change this country has embarked on for 20 years.

Corporate globalisation is a key issue that has to be addressed, and I am pleased that the G20 did address it—or apparently so. The G20 was formed in response to the global financial crisis of 2008: a devastating event that was triggered by reckless deregulation of the financial sector. It is a model of running the global economy that, as the Prime Minister acknowledges, has produced huge increases in inequality and failed in its own terms. I raised this issue with President Obama during his visit earlier this year. It is clear that rising levels of inequality in all our economies fuel insecurities and pit people and communities against each another.

It has been 40 years since the UK has had to engage in bilateral trade negotiations. The free trade dogma that the Prime Minister spoke of has often been pursued at the expense of the world’s most fragile economies, and has been realised with destructive consequences for our environment. We need a UK trade agenda that protects people and the environment. I urge the Prime Minister to stand with me against the use of Britain’s aid and trade policies to further the agenda of deregulation and privatisation in developing countries. We need a trade policy that values human rights and human dignity.

In particular, could the Prime Minister inform the House about her talks with the Chinese president in two crucial areas, the first of which I raised with him in my meeting last autumn? The UK steel industry continues to face deeply challenging times. A key reason for this is the scale of cheap, subsidised Chinese steel that is flooding European markets. What assurances did President Xi give that this practice will stop, and stop now, because of the damage it is doing to the steel industry in this country, and indeed in others? On the question of Hinkley, during the summer the Prime Minister announced that she was postponing the decision on the new nuclear reactor at Hinkley Point. Could she take this opportunity to explain to the House why she decided to postpone the decision, and also set out which aspects of the contract she is apparently re-examining?

The Prime Minister was involved in discussions at the G20 about global challenges to security. As the complex, brutal conflicts continue across the middle east, I agree that we need a concerted global response to these challenges. The human cost of the refugee crisis, including the thousands drowning in the sea each year, must be our No. 1 concern and our No. 1 humanitarian response. That is why I remain concerned that at the heart of this Government’s security strategy is apparently increased arms exports to the very part of the world that most immediately threatens our security. The British Government continue to sell arms to Saudi Arabia that are being used to commit crimes against humanity in Yemen, as has been clearly detailed by the UN and other independent agencies. Will the Prime Minister commit today to halting the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia that have been used to prosecute this war in Yemen, with the humanitarian devastation that has resulted from that?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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The right hon. Gentleman raised a number of issues. First, he referred to the question of hate crimes that have taken place in the United Kingdom. We have a proud history in the UK of welcoming people into this country, and there is no place in our society for hate crime. The Government have already published a new action plan to take action against hate crime. We are concerned about the levels of hate crime that we have seen. My right hon. Friends the Home Secretary and the Foreign Secretary met Polish Ministers earlier this week to discuss the particular concern about some terrible attacks that have taken place on Polish people here in the UK. We are very clear, and the police are very clear, that they will act robustly in relation to hate crime. Anybody who has been a victim of this or who has allegations of hate crime taking place should take those allegations to the police.

The right hon. Gentleman talked about what we will be doing in our negotiations with the European Union. I covered this in my statement, but just to reiterate: what we will be doing as we negotiate our leaving the European Union is negotiating a new relationship with the European Union. That will include control on the movement of people from the EU into the UK—I do not think he referred to that—but it will also be about getting the right deal for trade in goods and services that we want to see. It will be a new relationship. As I indicated in my statement, and indeed in Prime Minister’s questions, I will not be giving a running commentary, and the Government will not be giving a running commentary, on our negotiations. There is a very good reason for that. We want to get the best deal. We want to get the right deal for the United Kingdom, and if we were to give a constant running commentary and give away our negotiating hand, then that is not what we would achieve.

The right hon. Gentleman referred to the issue of steel. I raised the issue of over-production in the plenary session. That was important, because it was not just being raised with the Chinese Government but with all the leaders around the table. Crucially, the G20 has recognised the significant of this and recognised the steps that some Governments are taking, which are leading to some of the problems that we see. That is why the new forum has been introduced, which will be looking at these issues. The Chinese will be sitting on that forum, and they will be part of those discussions.

On Hinkley, I have said it before and I will say it again: the way I work is that I do not just take a decision without looking at the analysis. I am looking at the details and looking at the analysis, and a decision will be taken later this month.

On Saudi Arabia, I met the deputy crown prince at the G20, and I raised with him the concerns about the reports of what has happened in Yemen. I insisted that these should be properly investigated. The Leader of the Opposition referred to our relations with Saudi Arabia, and I think he implied that what happened in Saudi Arabia was a threat to the safety of people here in the UK. Actually, what matters is the strength of our relationship with Saudi Arabia. When it comes to counter-terrorism and dealing with terrorism, it is that relationship that has helped to keep people on the streets of Britain safe.

Finally, I hold the very clear view, as does the Conservative party, that if we are to see prosperity and growth in the economies around the world, the way to get there is through free trade. Free trade has underpinned the prosperity of this country. I will take no lessons from the right hon. Gentleman on action to help developing countries and those who are in poverty elsewhere in the world, because this Government have a fine record of humanitarian support, educating girls and others around the world and helping to give people access to the medical care, water and resources that they need. It is free trade that underpins our growth, and we will be the global leader in free trade. Free trade can also be the best anti-poverty policy for those countries. I will unashamedly go out there and give the message that we want a free trade country, and I am only sorry that the Labour party is turning its back on something that has led to the prosperity of the United Kingdom.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn
Wednesday 7th September 2016

(4 years, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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Cabinet Office
Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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My hon. Friend is absolutely right. The announcements by the Chancellor, to which I referred in answer to the first question, provided guarantees to the farming industry about the support available to it up to 2020. We need to recognise the significant role that the food and farming industry plays in the United Kingdom, and we will of course look to working with the sector—my right hon. Friend the Environment Secretary will be doing this—to see how to develop those industries with a view to the trade deals that will play their part as we look to the future.