All 56 Parliamentary debates on 20th Feb 2019

Wed 20th Feb 2019
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Horse Tethering
Commons Chamber
(Adjournment Debate)
Wed 20th Feb 2019
Wed 20th Feb 2019

House of Commons

Wednesday 20th February 2019

(3 years, 4 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Wednesday 20 February 2019
The House met at half-past Eleven o’clock

Prayers

Wednesday 20th February 2019

(3 years, 4 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Prayers mark the daily opening of Parliament. The occassion is used by MPs to reserve seats in the Commons Chamber with 'prayer cards'. Prayers are not televised on the official feed.

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

[Mr Speaker in the Chair]

Oral Answers to Questions

Wednesday 20th February 2019

(3 years, 4 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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The Secretary of State was asked—
Patrick Grady Portrait Patrick Grady (Glasgow North) (SNP)
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1. What recent discussions he has had with the Prime Minister on the effect on Scotland of the UK leaving the EU. It is good to see the Benches so busy for Scotland questions.

Alan Brown Portrait Alan Brown (Kilmarnock and Loudoun) (SNP)
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7. What recent discussions he has had with the Prime Minister on the effect on Scotland of the UK leaving the EU.

Peter Grant Portrait Peter Grant (Glenrothes) (SNP)
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8. What recent discussions he has had with the Prime Minister on the effect on Scotland of the UK leaving the EU.

David Mundell Portrait The Secretary of State for Scotland (David Mundell)
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I share the pleasure of the hon. Member for Glasgow North (Patrick Grady) at seeing so many Members present on the Opposition Benches below the gangway. I have regular meetings with my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and colleagues and have discussed the benefits of the withdrawal agreement and political deceleration for Scotland and the whole UK.

Patrick Grady Portrait Patrick Grady
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Does Secretary of State accept that no form of Brexit is better for Scotland than our current deal, which is membership? On that basis, will he take the opportunity now to rule out a no-deal, cliff-edge Brexit by extending article 50?

David Mundell Portrait David Mundell
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There is one sure and clear way to avoid a no-deal Brexit, and that is to vote for the Prime Minister’s deal; but on every occasion that SNP Members have had an opportunity to do so, they have declined. Indeed, they have sought to bring a no-deal Brexit closer to reality.

Alan Brown Portrait Alan Brown
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Instead of these weasel words and standard answer, will the Secretary of State answer the question? The Government agree that no deal would be a disaster. Does he agree with extending article 50 to rule out a no-deal scenario?

David Mundell Portrait David Mundell
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I agree that we should leave the EU with a deal. The SNP position is to contrive to bring about a no-deal Brexit, and the chaos and disruption that they know that would bring to Scotland.

Peter Grant Portrait Peter Grant
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It is just as well that the three-strikes-and-you’re-out rule does not apply here, or the Secretary of State would be one dodged question away from an early bath. On other occasions, the Secretary of State has been very keen to know what plan B was, so what has he told the Prime Minister his plan B is when—not if, but when—the Prime Minister’s rotten deal is rejected again? Is his plan B no deal or is it to extend article 50, and why is he so coy about telling us what it is?

David Mundell Portrait David Mundell
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First, I absolutely refute the hon. Gentleman’s description of the Prime Minister’s deal. The Prime Minister’s deal is a good deal. This House, by a majority, has set out changes it wants to that deal, and the Prime Minister is seeking that deal. But if SNP Members really do not want no deal, they should be backing a deal.

Paul Masterton Portrait Paul Masterton (East Renfrewshire) (Con)
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Can the Secretary of State confirm that, having spent months propping herself in front of every TV camera going, demanding a seat at the table, the First Minister of Scotland was extended an invitation to a series of key meetings by the Prime Minister, which she could not even be bothered to attend?

David Mundell Portrait David Mundell
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My hon. Friend is correct. For whatever reason, the First Minister has chosen not to attend the Cabinet Sub-Committee chaired by the Prime Minister on EU exit preparedness. What she has been prepared to do, however, is to go on television and say that she would not accept any deal; no matter what that deal contained, she would not accept a deal. To me, that is a most powerful advocate for a no-deal Brexit.

Colin Clark Portrait Colin Clark (Gordon) (Con)
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Her Majesty’s Government’s Agriculture Bill will give essential legal clarity for farm payments after 2020 and safeguard the UK frameworks as we leave the EU. Does the Secretary of State agree that that is in marked contrast to the SNP Scottish Government who, even at this late stage, have refused to be part of the Bill, leaving Scottish farmers in the dark and at risk?

David Mundell Portrait David Mundell
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My hon. Friend has become a powerful advocate for Scottish agriculture in this Parliament. He is correct. We have offered the Scottish Government the opportunity to join us in taking forward the UK Agriculture Bill and providing certainty for Scottish farmers. Instead, they prepare to play politics with Scottish farming and leave farmers with great uncertainty.

David Duguid Portrait David Duguid (Banff and Buchan) (Con)
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In line with the Prime Minister’s ongoing commitment to supporting the growth of the fisheries sector outside the common fisheries policy, may I ask my right hon. Friend what discussions he has had with the Prime Minister, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Treasury about future financial support for the sector, and how best to progress with that and invest in the industry in Scotland?

David Mundell Portrait David Mundell
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As my hon. Friend knows, both the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs have made very clear their support for the industry. Indeed, this afternoon I am meeting the Secretary of State, and that will be one issue on our agenda.

Ian Murray Portrait Ian Murray (Edinburgh South) (Lab)
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We have seen over the past few weeks the large number of businesses that have been warning about Brexit and the Government’s strategy on Brexit. I keep being told by the leave campaign, “Don’t worry; businesses will adapt.” Well, they are adapting. They are adapting by moving their holding companies and their brass plates to other European Union countries. What will the Secretary of State do in the Cabinet to try to sort this mess out before it is too late? While his party and the SNP fight over flags, some of us are going to have to fight for jobs in our constituencies.

David Mundell Portrait David Mundell
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I did anticipate that I would have a question from the hon. Gentleman, but I was not sure whether he would ask it from the Labour Benches. What he needs to do, if he is concerned about avoiding a no-deal Brexit and the disruption and chaos that that would bring to Scottish businesses, is back the Prime Minister’s deal.

Tommy Sheppard Portrait Tommy Sheppard (Edinburgh East) (SNP)
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Coming back to Brexit, the Secretary of State seems to be completely incapable of answering a simple question: given the choice between no deal and extending article 50 to avoid that scenario, would he choose the latter option? Leaving that to one side, the papers report that he and three colleagues went to see the Prime Minister on Monday this week to discuss this very matter. Did he request that the Prime Minister take no deal off the table, and what was her response?

David Mundell Portrait David Mundell
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I am very clear about the implications of no deal for Scotland and the United Kingdom, which is why I want the Prime Minister to achieve a deal. That is why any Member of the House who does not want a no-deal outcome should support a deal.

Tommy Sheppard Portrait Tommy Sheppard
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The right hon. Gentleman seems to be incapable of answering a simple question. If he did indeed tell the Prime Minister to take no deal off the table, let me commend him, because for once—a rare occasion—he is in tune with public opinion in Scotland. He has threatened in the past to resign over matters of detail. When it comes to a matter of principle—having a deal or not—is he prepared to stay in the Cabinet and implement a no-deal scenario?

David Mundell Portrait David Mundell
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The hon. Gentleman puts his finger on the key question. It is about having a deal or not. When that question has been asked, the SNP has always been in the not column, contriving to bring about a no-deal Brexit for Scotland. I am in the deal column. I voted for the deal in the meaningful vote, and I will do so again

Stephen Kerr Portrait Stephen Kerr (Stirling) (Con)
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Does my right hon. Friend agree that it is high time that Members in all parts of the House, in the words of the head of Make UK, set aside

“selfish political ideology ahead of the national interest and people’s livelihoods”,

and voted for an EU withdrawal agreement to prevent the catastrophic event of leaving the EU without a deal?

Lesley Laird Portrait Lesley Laird (Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath) (Lab)
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On the 12 October 2016, when questioned about the sweetheart deal that the UK Government struck with Nissan, the Secretary of State stood at the Dispatch Box and told the House that whatever support is put in place for businesses in the south of England

“will apply to businesses in Scotland.”—[Official Report, 12 October 2016; Vol. 615, c. 287.]

In the light of the news that Nissan was offered a financial package worth up to £80 million to ensure that it would not be adversely affected by Brexit, can he detail the financial support that he has made available to Scottish businesses to ensure that, like Nissan, they are not adversely affected by Brexit?

David Mundell Portrait David Mundell
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I am pleased to see the hon. Lady on the Labour Benches, as it has been reported that she would be willing to give up her seat to the SNP so that there could be a Labour minority Government propped up by the SNP. I stand by what I said previously: we stand ready to support businesses in Scotland. A huge amount of Government support has gone into supporting businesses in Scotland since the Brexit vote, and that will continue to be the case.

John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
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May I gently say to Members on both sides of the House that the style is altogether too languid? A lot of people want to get in: short questions, short answers, and let us move on. I call Lesley Laird.

Lesley Laird Portrait Lesley Laird
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Let me reassure the Secretary of State that I am going nowhere—I am Labour through and through. [Interruption.] He should not believe everything that he reads in the newspapers.

Recently, Nissan, Honda, Jaguar Land Rover, Airbus, Sony, Panasonic, the Federation of Small Businesses, the CBI and many others have said that the Government’s incompetence over Brexit already means that jobs are being lost. Everyone here knows that the Prime Minister’s deal is dead, so is the Secretary of State going to let this circus continue or is he going to pull his head out of the sand and take no deal off the table, because that is what business wants, it is what Parliament wants, and it is what the country wants.

David Mundell Portrait David Mundell
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What the country wants is to have this sorted. They want to leave the EU with a deal, and the hon. Lady and her colleagues should support the Prime Minister in her endeavour.

Drew Hendry Portrait Drew Hendry (Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey) (SNP)
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2. What assessment he has made of the potential effect of provisions in the immigration Bill on Scotland.

Stuart C McDonald Portrait Stuart C. McDonald (Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East) (SNP)
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5. What assessment he has made of the potential effect of provisions in the immigration Bill on Scotland.

David Mundell Portrait The Secretary of State for Scotland (David Mundell)
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The Immigration and Social Security Co-Ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill will help us deliver the new single, skills-based immigration system we want, one that maximises the benefits of immigration and demonstrates that Scotland and the UK are open for business.

Drew Hendry Portrait Drew Hendry
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I have heard the Secretary of State’s answer, but what faith can the people of Scotland have in the new immigration Bill or his Government when even after the issue was raised with the Prime Minister, with a promised intervention from the Home Secretary, the Home Secretary’s office told me yesterday that it has lost the file on Denis Omondi, the serving British soldier in 3 Scots whose young daughter has been denied a visa? Will the Scottish Secretary now get personally involved in this travesty?

David Mundell Portrait David Mundell
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I am disappointed to hear what the hon. Gentleman has said, and yes of course I will.

Stuart C McDonald Portrait Stuart C. McDonald
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Last week, the National Farmers Union Scotland told the Bill Committee that free movement works and should continue, that the Government’s seasonal workers pilot was not nearly enough and that post-Brexit immigration proposals do not make sense and are “very obstructive”. Given that the UK-wide system is not working for Scotland’s farmers, will the Secretary of State argue for different immigration rules to apply in Scotland?

David Mundell Portrait David Mundell
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I am glad that the hon. Gentleman references the seasonal workers scheme, which my hon. Friend the Member for Angus (Kirstene Hair) did so much to champion, but he is very selective in the evidence he cites. The clear view of businesses giving evidence to the Select Committee on Scottish Affairs is that they do not want a separate Scottish immigration system.

Douglas Ross Portrait Douglas Ross (Moray) (Con)
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Will the Secretary of State confirm that the CBI has said that a UK-wide immigration policy is the correct route, including for businesses in Moray and across Scotland?

David Mundell Portrait David Mundell
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My hon. Friend is right: that is the position of the CBI and of business organisations in Scotland, because they want workers to be able to move around the United Kingdom. There is no justification for a separate Scottish immigration system.

John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call Luke Graham.

John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
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A bout of shyness has afflicted the hon. Gentleman.

Derek Thomas Portrait Derek Thomas (St Ives) (Con)
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In both Scotland and Cornwall, many low-paid but skilled jobs are provided by immigrants to the UK. What assurance can the Secretary of State give that that will continue after Brexit?

John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
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The question is purely about Scotland.

David Mundell Portrait David Mundell
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In relation to Scotland, the immigration White Paper is a one-year consultation and businesses such as those referenced by my hon. Friend should take part in it and make the very point he has made.

Pete Wishart Portrait Pete Wishart (Perth and North Perthshire) (SNP)
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It certainly feels different up here on these Benches today, that’s for sure. What does the Secretary of State have to say to the young people of Scotland—[Interruption.]

John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
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Order. There is something wrong with the microphone. It is very unusual. I have never been unable previously to hear the hon. Gentleman, but what I would say is blurt it out with vim, man!

Pete Wishart Portrait Pete Wishart
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I am, Mr Speaker. What does the Secretary of State have to say to the young people of Scotland who, because of his Tory Brexit, will be denied the rights and opportunities to live, work and love across the continent of Europe?

David Mundell Portrait David Mundell
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The hon. Gentleman gives a solid reason why he and his colleagues should support the Prime Minister’s deal, which sets out those very issues. Instead, he would far rather have no deal and set about the chaos and disruption that he believes would further the cause of independence.

Kevin Foster Portrait Kevin Foster (Torbay) (Con)
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I must say that, although my hon. Friend the Member for Totnes (Dr Wollaston) no longer sits on the Conservative Benches, she remains my hon. Friend.

Does the Secretary of State agree that the immigration Bill must not include provision for Scotland to join the Schengen area? That would undermine the common travel area and potentially result in a border with England.

David Mundell Portrait David Mundell
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There are those in this House who would, of course, like Scotland to have a border with England, but that is not true of this Government, who will never do anything that would bring that about.

Christine Jardine Portrait Christine Jardine (Edinburgh West) (LD)
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Does the Secretary of State for Scotland agree with me that Scotland needs more immigrants and needs more workers? Will he therefore support lifting the ban on asylum seekers working when they come to this country?

David Mundell Portrait David Mundell
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Asylum seekers are a clear category and are dealt with under some very specific rules, but I do agree with the hon. Lady’s general proposition. That is why I encourage her and others to engage with the consultation set out in the immigration White Paper.

Paul Sweeney Portrait Mr Paul Sweeney (Glasgow North East) (Lab/Co-op)
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The immigration Bill and the immigration White Paper go hand in hand. The Bill ends freedom of movement and the White Paper sets out the proposed immigration criteria once free movement ends. But the Secretary of State surely should be championing the pressing demographic and skills needs of Scotland at the Cabinet table. My first job in the shipyards, after graduating, paid £24,000. Many of my colleagues from across the EU and further afield earn similar amounts, and they have brought great expertise to our industry. Indeed, given that the average salary in Scotland is about £23,000 and the average care worker in Scotland is paid £18,000, what is he going to do to ensure that this ridiculous, arbitrary salary cap is consigned to the bin, where it belongs?

David Mundell Portrait David Mundell
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The hon. Gentleman makes valid points, and I am sure they will all form part of the one-year consultation that is ongoing. I certainly will be advocating those sorts of points in that consultation.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan Portrait Anne-Marie Trevelyan (Berwick-upon-Tweed) (Con)
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3. What progress the Government have made on the borderlands growth deal.

Mel Stride Portrait The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mel Stride)
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Growth deals lie right at the heart of the UK Government’s support for Scotland, which is why we have committed £1.3 billion to support the existing seven city and region growth deals. We remain committed to the borderlands growth deal.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan Portrait Anne-Marie Trevelyan
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The borderlands deal is a wonderful opportunity to help economic growth across what we in the borders consider a completely invisible line and not a border at all for practical purposes and day-to-day living. Will the Minister assure me—it is lovely to have a Treasury Minister answering the question—that we will get full support from the Treasury to ensure that we have a really strong, well-built growth deal?

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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As a Treasury Minister, I can certainly reassure my hon. Friend that the Treasury remains firmly engaged with local partners in ensuring that we have the best possible deal for the borderlands, including her part of the UK.

Robert Halfon Portrait Robert Halfon (Harlow) (Con)
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4. What discussions he has had with the Scottish Government on the provision in Scotland of public transport servicing rural NHS hospitals.

David Mundell Portrait The Secretary of State for Scotland (David Mundell)
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Transport and healthcare policy both fall within the competence of the Scottish Government. Nevertheless, the UK Government remain open to discussing best practice with the devolved Administrations.

Robert Halfon Portrait Robert Halfon
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NHS car parking charges were scrapped in Scotland in 2008, saving patients, visitors and staff £35 million. Will my right hon. Friend work with the rest of the UK Government to scrap hospital car parking charges across the UK?

David Mundell Portrait David Mundell
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I am sure that my colleagues in the Cabinet with the relevant responsibilities will have heard my right hon. Friend’s plea. He has in the past been a very effective campaigner on such matters.

Theresa Villiers Portrait Theresa Villiers (Chipping Barnet) (Con)
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6. What steps he is taking to encourage foreign direct investment in Scotland.

Mel Stride Portrait The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mel Stride)
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The UK promotes UK FDI throughout the world. In 2017, 76,000 new jobs were created in the UK as a consequence. There are 141 FDI projects in Scotland, creating about 4,000 jobs in Scotland.

Theresa Villiers Portrait Theresa Villiers
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Does my right hon. Friend agree that one of the reasons behind record levels of foreign direct investment into Scotland is its place in the United Kingdom, the most successful political union in history?

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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I agree entirely with that. Scotland benefits enormously through being part of what is the world’s fifth largest economy and one of the most dynamic and successful economies in the world.

Stewart Malcolm McDonald Portrait Stewart Malcolm McDonald (Glasgow South) (SNP)
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Does the Financial Secretary agree with me that the First Minister has an important role to play in bringing foreign investment to Scotland and that any criticisms, including those from his own colleagues in Holyrood, border on the provincial to the ridiculous, unless of course they believe that the office of First Minister is a stay-at-home job?

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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The First Minister of course has a critical role in ensuring that investment is channelled towards Scotland, but I do not believe that promoting Scottish independence is a way of attracting investment.

Kirstene Hair Portrait Kirstene Hair (Angus) (Con)
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On the First Minister’s recent trip to Canada, it was reported that she did not mention Scotland’s proudest export, Scotch whisky, once. Does the Minister agree with me that the best way for the First Minister to secure more foreign direct investment into Scotland is to stop prancing around the world flogging independence, and do what she is supposed to be doing, which is to be back in the country she is supposed to be leading? She should be reducing taxes, bettering our public services and making Scotland a more lucrative place in which to do business?

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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My hon. Friend is entirely right. Increasing investment in Scotland is not about promoting Scottish independence; it is about promoting Scottish products and business. We froze duty on whisky at the last Budget —whisky itself represents about 20% of all the food and drink sales from the United Kingdom. We will stand behind that and other Scottish exports.

Bill Grant Portrait Bill Grant (Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock) (Con)
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9. What recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Defence on the welfare of Scottish veterans.

Chris Davies Portrait Chris Davies (Brecon and Radnorshire) (Con)
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11. What recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Defence on the welfare of Scottish veterans.

David Mundell Portrait The Secretary of State for Scotland (David Mundell)
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As members of the ministerial covenant and veterans board, the Secretary of State for Defence and I have worked closely together and with the devolved Administrations on the ambitious UK-wide veterans strategy, encompassing devolved areas, including housing, education and mental health, to address the needs of veterans in all parts of the UK, including Scotland.

Bill Grant Portrait Bill Grant
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My right hon. Friend will be aware that, sadly, some veterans may find themselves homeless. What engagement has he had with the Scottish Government and local authorities in Scotland to help resolve this matter?

David Mundell Portrait David Mundell
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My hon. Friend will be aware that housing is a devolved area and the responsibility of the Scottish Government. However, the UK Government support the veterans gateway, which, among other things, provides advice to veterans on housing and accommodation in Scotland and across the UK.

Chris Davies Portrait Chris Davies
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Does my right hon. Friend agree that the first ever UK-wide veterans strategy is a fantastic example of the significant collaboration that occurs every day between the UK and the Scottish Government?

David Mundell Portrait David Mundell
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Yes, indeed—I am very happy to confirm that. Although we see a lot of politicking in this Chamber and in Holyrood, the fact is that on a day-to-day basis the Scottish Government, the UK Government and indeed the Welsh Assembly Government can work productively together.

Angela Crawley Portrait Angela Crawley (Lanark and Hamilton East) (SNP)
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10. What recent discussions he has had with representatives of Santander on that bank’s proposed branch closures in Scotland.

Mel Stride Portrait The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mel Stride)
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Bank branch closures are commercial decisions; they are not for the Government. However, we do recognise the difficulties that they bring. That is why we are committed, among other measures, to banking facilities within a Post Office network—[Interruption.]

John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
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Order. A lot of noisy, private conversations are taking place. That is unsound on two counts. First, it is rather a discourtesy to a senior member of the Government and, although he seems modest about it and unperturbed, I am not. Secondly, it means that the House is deprived of the joy of listening to the Minister’s mellifluous tones. The Minister is welcome to continue, at a suitable pace, with his answer.

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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Thank you very much indeed, Mr Speaker. I was concluding by saying that we are fully committed to the 11,500 post offices up and down the United Kingdom, most of which provide banking services.

Angela Crawley Portrait Angela Crawley
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Santander will be closing 15 branches across Scotland, including in Lanark in my constituency. People and businesses across Clydesdale depend on this service, which cannot be delivered by post offices. Will the Secretary of State call a halt to these closures?

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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As I have already outlined, these are commercial decisions to be taken by Santander and other banks. We have supported the access to banking protocol, which sets out clear measures that banks must take when they do close branches, to ensure that local customers are supported.

Luke Graham Portrait Luke Graham (Ochil and South Perthshire) (Con)
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As my right hon. Friend said, some of these decisions are commercial ones, on which the Government cannot intervene. However, they can intervene more on the Post Office side. Will he meet me to discuss access to cash and the campaign that Which? is running, as well as how we can support the communities impacted by bank closures, such as Comrie and Alloa in my constituency?

John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
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I gently point out that the issue extends beyond the particular bank branches with which the hon. Member for Lanark and Hamilton East (Angela Crawley) is concerned. If, however, there is a sudden outbreak of unexpected shyness and reticence, the House will note that. It is a most unusual state of affairs: when previously there were significant numbers of Members bobbing up and down, with a view to taking part—

John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
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Ah! I call Mr David Linden.

David Linden Portrait David Linden (Glasgow East) (SNP)
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Will the Minister, since he has been so generous in agreeing to meet hon. Members, agree to meet me to discuss protecting the Santander branch in Parkhead and telling the bank to save our Santander?

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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I would be very happy to meet the hon. Gentleman.

John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
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We are grateful to the hon. Member for Glasgow East (David Linden) and to the Minister for his characteristically pithy reply. We are much obliged to him for it.

The Prime Minister was asked—
Stephen Doughty Portrait Stephen Doughty (Cardiff South and Penarth) (Lab/Co-op)
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Q1. If she will list her official engagements for Wednesday 20 February.

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister (Mrs Theresa May)
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First of all, I am sure the whole House will want to join me in paying tribute to our former colleague Paul Flynn. He was an outstanding parliamentarian and a tireless campaigner, and he championed his constituency of Newport West, and Wales, with energy and enthusiasm for over 30 years. Paul spent the vast majority of his career as a Back Bencher and wrote a helpful guide in his book “Commons Knowledge: How to be a Backbencher”, before being made shadow Leader of the House and shadow Secretary of State for Wales. But of course he will be remembered for one of the great parliamentary quotes. When he left Labour’s Front Bench in 2016, he said:

“Our glorious leader, in an act of pioneering diversity, courageously decided to give opportunities for geriatrics on the Front Bench and this was so successful that he decided to create opportunities for geriatrics on the Back Bench. I’m double blessed.”

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

Stephen Doughty Portrait Stephen Doughty
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May I add my tribute to the words of the Prime Minister for my former constituency neighbour, friend and Welsh Labour colleague Paul Flynn? He was a remarkable man. He will go down as one of the great parliamentarians of the past 40 years and was an inspiration to many of us. He once gave me a copy of that book when I was a teenager, so he must have seen something in me, Mr Speaker. I am rebellious, although maybe not quite as rebellious as him. He was a great man and he will be missed by all of us.

In the midst of political crisis, it is ever more important that we put our country first. With thousands of jobs at risk and our international reputation in question, will the Prime Minister now stop playing Russian roulette, rule out no deal, and put a deal back to the British people so they can have the final say?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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First of all, the hon. Gentleman knows there are two ways in which it is possible to ensure that we do not see no deal. One is to stay in the European Union, which is not what the referendum result said, and the other is to agree a deal. What I am working on at the moment is taking the view of this House of Commons about the concerns on the backstop in the deal and working with Brussels to resolve that issue, such that this House will be able to agree a deal.

Theresa Villiers Portrait Theresa Villiers (Chipping Barnet) (Con)
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Q2. This afternoon, the House will debate antisemitism. With that in mind, I quote from the statement of the right hon. Member for Enfield North (Joan Ryan), who explained Labour inactivity on this issue: “Given a choice between the support of antisemites and ridding Labour of Jew-hate, they have decided to side with antisemites.” In the light of that, will the Prime Minister join me in urging Labour to rid its party of this scourge once and for all?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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I think this is a very important issue that everybody in this House should take seriously. I never thought I would see the day when Jewish people in this country were concerned about their future in this country, and I never thought I would see the day when a once-proud Labour party was accused of institutional antisemitism by a former Member of that party. It is incumbent on all of us in this House to ensure that we act against antisemitism wherever and however it occurs. It is racism and we should act against it.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab)
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May I start, Mr Speaker, by joining what you said on Monday in paying tribute to my friend and yours, Paul Flynn? He served in this House for over 30 years as the Member for Newport West. He was courageous; he was warm; he was witty. As the Prime Minister pointed out, he served briefly on the shadow Front Bench. When he came to his first shadow Cabinet meeting, he welcomed my

“diversity project to promote octogenarians”

to the shadow Cabinet. His book on how to become an MP is absolutely a must-read. He was respected all across the House and I think we are all going to miss his contributions, his wit and his wisdom. Our deepest condolences to his wife Sam and all his family, and to his wider family across Newport and Wales. He was a truly wonderful man and a great and dear friend.

I also hope that the House will join me in paying tribute to Baroness Falkender, who died earlier this month, and send our condolences to her friends and family. When Marcia served with distinction as political secretary to Harold Wilson, she was subjected to a long campaign of misogynistic smear and innuendo. She suffered a great deal as a result, and we should remember the great work that she did as political secretary to Harold Wilson.

The Prime Minister just responded to a question on antisemitism. I simply say this: antisemitism has no place whatsoever in any of our political parties, in our life, in our society—[Interruption.]

John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
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Mr Ellis, be quiet now and for the rest of the session. You used to practise as a barrister. You did not make those sorts of harrumphing noises in the courts; or if you did, no wonder you no longer practise there.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
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As I was saying, antisemitism has no place whatsoever in our society or in any of our political parties, and my own political party takes the strongest action to deal with antisemitism wherever it rears its head.

Last week, an EU official said the UK Government were only “pretending to negotiate”, adding that there was

“nothing on the table from the British side,”,

so with just 37 days to go, can the Prime Minister be clear about what she will actually be proposing today when she travels to Brussels?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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Of course there are a number of meetings taking place in Brussels. My right hon. Friend the Brexit Secretary and the Attorney General were in Brussels earlier this week and had a constructive and positive meeting with officials in the European Commission on the issue of alternative arrangements and work on alternative arrangements. The issue that I am taking to Brussels is the one I have been speaking to EU leaders about over the last few days—that is, the concern that was expressed in this House about ensuring that we could not find ourselves in the current backstop indefinitely. There a number of ways, as I have identified on a number of occasions at this Dispatch Box, to deal with that. I have referenced the work on alternative arrangements. There are also the options of an end-date or a unilateral exit mechanism and legal work—what matters in all of this are legally binding changes that ensure that we address the concern that has been raised by this House. That is what I will be discussing with the European Commission and will continue to discuss with it and European Union leaders.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
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It sounds like it might be quite confusing for the European Union to understand exactly what the Prime Minister is turning up with, actually. She has had three groups of Back Benchers working on three proposals: first, to remove the backstop; secondly, to make the backstop time-limited; and thirdly, to give the UK the right to exit unilaterally. Which of these proposals is the Prime Minister negotiating for today: one, two or three?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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The right hon. Gentleman points out that, as I just said in my response to his question—he could have listened to that answer, but I am happy to repeat it—there are a number of ways in which it is possible to address the issue that has been raised by this House of Commons. Work is being undertaken on those various issues. On the alternative arrangements, for example, the Commission has raised questions, particularly about the extent to which derogation from European Union law would be necessary to put those in place, and there is concern about being able to achieve that if we are going to leave in time. Nevertheless, we have agreed that a workstream will go forward on those matters. We are also exploring the other issues, but the point is a very simple one. It is not just a question of saying to the European Union, “Actually, this is just the one thing.” It is a question of sitting down with the European Union and finding a solution that is going to deliver for the people of Northern Ireland and Ireland, that is going to ensure that we deal with the concern that has been raised here in this House of Commons and that is going to enable a deal to be brought back to this House of Commons that it can support so that we leave on 29 March with a deal.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
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Last week, a Foreign Office Minister said categorically:

“We are not leaving without a deal”,

but sadly he does not speak for the Government. The Prime Minister’s Business Minister says he is

“very conscious of the damage that not ruling out a hard Brexit is having on business and industry”.

People’s jobs and livelihoods are in the Prime Minister’s hands. Will she stop playing games with people’s jobs and make it very clear that no deal is absolutely ruled out?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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People’s jobs and futures are in the hands of every Member of this House. Once again, the right hon. Gentleman could have listened to an answer I gave earlier, to the hon. Member for Cardiff South and Penarth (Stephen Doughty). There are only two ways to take no deal off the table: one is to back a deal, the other is to revoke article 50 and stay in the EU. The right hon. Gentleman has refused to back a deal, so the obvious conclusion is that he must want to revoke article 50. He can stand up now and tell us what his policy is—is it to back the deal or to stay in the EU?

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
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I did write the Prime Minister a very nice letter setting out our views. I am sure she received it and read it and I hope she will think on it.

It appears that the right hon. Member for West Dorset (Sir Oliver Letwin) was right when he said last week that in the event that the Prime Minister’s deal does not succeed

“this Government…and this Prime Minister…would prefer to…head for the exit door without a deal”.—[Official Report, 14 February 2019; Vol. 654, c. 1108.]

He went on to say that it was “a terrifying fact”. Thousands of car workers in Derby, Sunderland, Birmingham and Swindon are facing redundancy. Does that matter to the Prime Minister?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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We have seen decisions taken by car manufacturers, and obviously Honda’s decision this week is deeply disappointing, but it has made it absolutely clear that this is not a Brexit-related decision, but a response to the change in the global car market. Of course jobs matter to the Government. If the right hon. Gentleman wants to talk about jobs, perhaps he would like to change the habit of a lifetime and stand up at that Dispatch Box and welcome the excellent job figures we have seen this week under this Government.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
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The Prime Minister does not seem very interested in listening to those companies and industry bodies that are saying they need a customs union. When she talks about jobs, will she also talk about those doing two or three jobs to make ends meet, those on zero-hours contracts, those so low paid they have to access food banks just to survive and those suffering from in-work poverty—on her watch, under her Government?

Last year, investment in the car industry halved. Brexit uncertainty is already costing investment, and where investment is cut today, jobs are cut tomorrow. That uncertainty would not end even if the Prime Minister’s rejected deal somehow got through, because it promises only the certainty of a “spectrum” of possible outcomes. Will she see sense and offer business and workers the certainty of a customs union that could protect jobs and industry in this country?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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What the right hon. Gentleman will also have heard from car manufacturers is their support for the deal the Government negotiated with the EU. If he wants to talk about jobs, I am very happy to talk about jobs, because what do we see in the latest figures? We see employment at a record high and unemployment at its lowest since the 1970s; we see that 96% of the increase in employment in the last year has come from full-time work; we see youth unemployment almost halved since 2010, and female employment is at a record high. [Interruption.] It is all very well shouting from the Front Bench, but let us look at Labour’s record in government. [Interruption.]

John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
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Order. Mr Lavery, calm yourself. You have applied to be a statesman, but there is an apprenticeship, and you have to undergo it, but it is not assisted by such sedentary ranting.

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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Let us look at Labour’s record in government on employment: unemployment rose by nearly half a million; female unemployment rose by 26%; youth unemployment rose by 44%; and the number of households where no one had ever worked nearly doubled. That is the record of a Labour Government under which working people pay the price of Labour.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn
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Child poverty halved under the Labour Government. We invested in Sure Start—in children’s centres—and a future for young people. The Prime Minister should get out a bit more and hear the anger of so many young people around this country at what they are suffering under her Government and on her watch.

The chair of the manufacturers’ organisation Make UK said yesterday:

“I am saddened by the way that some of our politicians have put selfish political ideology ahead of the national interest and people’s livelihoods and left us facing the catastrophic prospect of leaving the EU next month with no deal”.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, the Food and Drink Federation, the National Farmers Union and the CBI all want a disastrous no deal ruled out. Along with the TUC, many also support the UK being in a permanent customs union.

There is a little over a month to go and the Government have failed to put the country first. There is the crisis of jobs going and industries under threat, and the Prime Minister indulges in what her own Business Minister calls “fanciful nonsense”. When is she going to put the interests of the people of this country before the interests of the Conservative party?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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The right hon. Gentleman has consistently put his party political interest ahead of the national interest. We can take no deal off the table by agreeing a deal, yet at every stage he has acted to frustrate a deal. He has acted to make no deal more likely, but that is not surprising from this Labour party. What do we see from his Labour party? Hamas and Hezbollah are friends, and Israel and the United States are enemies; Hatton a hero, and Churchill a villain. Attlee and Bevan will be spinning in their graves. That is what the right hon. Gentleman has done to a once-proud Labour party. We will never let him do it to our country.

Charles Walker Portrait Mr Charles Walker (Broxbourne) (Con)
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My right hon. Friend will know from Shelter that many people in receipt of benefits are blocked from renting in the private sector. These people are often carers or have a disability. I know that No. 10 is working with Shelter to resolve this problem. Will the Prime Minister give all her officials her support to resolve this pressing issue?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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My hon. Friend is absolutely right to raise this issue. We are working with Shelter. I urge that work to go ahead to a fruitful conclusion. Stuart Carroll, one my local councillors, has raised this issue with me and has come in to work with No. 10. It is an important issue and we are working on it to find a satisfactory resolution soon.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (SNP)
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May I associate myself with the remarks of the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition on the sad death of Paul Flynn? He will be missed by many, and thoughts and prayers are with Sam and his family. He was a unique and truly gifted parliamentarian. It was a pleasure to serve on a Committee with him and it was a pleasure to have known him.

Westminster is broken. We are in the middle of a constitutional crisis and on the brink of a Brexit disaster, yet this place is at war with itself. The Tories and the Labour party are imploding. Scotland deserves better. We need a way out. Time is running out. Will this House get to vote on the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal next week, and if not, when?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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Obviously, we are in discussions with the European Union and will bring a vote back when it is possible to bring a deal back that deals with the issue that the House of Commons has raised. We have listened to the House of Commons. We are working on the views of the House with the European Union, and we will bring a vote back when it is the right time to do so.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford
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Quite simply, that is not good enough. Time is running out. Three and a half thousand jobs have been lost from Honda; the NFU says that a no-deal Brexit is the “stuff of nightmares”; and 100,000 jobs in Scotland are under threat. Prime Minister, you are bringing the UK economy to its knees. How many warnings, how many jobs and how many resignations will it take for the Prime Minister to stop this madness? If you do not act, Prime Minister, Scotland will.

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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I say to the right hon. Gentleman that we see debt down, the deficit down, jobs up, taxes down—oh, taxes down not in Scotland of course, where the SNP is putting taxes up. He says it is not good enough, but I will tell him what is not good enough: it is an SNP that wants to take Scotland out of the United Kingdom, knowing full well that being a member of the United Kingdom is worth £1,400 every year for each person in Scotland. He talks about damaging the economy; the only people who are going to damage the economy in Scotland are sitting on the SNP Benches.

Leo Docherty Portrait Leo Docherty (Aldershot) (Con)
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Q7. Will my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister join me in thanking the Home Secretary for making it very clear that those who join or support terrorist organisations abroad do not deserve British citizenship and that this Government are not a soft touch for terrorists?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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It is an important message for us to give that we are very clear that we will take action against those who are involved in terrorism. Obviously, each Home Secretary deals with the question of deprivation on a number of occasions; I dealt with deprivation cases myself, and there is a very clear set of criteria on which the Home Secretary considers that matter. But the overall point my hon. Friend makes is absolutely right: how important it is for this Government and this country to make it very clear that we will take action against those who are involved in terrorism.

Eleanor Smith Portrait Eleanor Smith (Wolverhampton South West) (Lab)
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Q3. Before going into my question, may I say a few words about our colleague Paul Flynn? I went to Bangladesh with him and his wife and it was absolutely lovely. He was a very nice person and surely will be missed. I give my condolences to his wife, Sam, and hopefully she will get in contact with me as soon as she can. Thank you.Right, Prime Minister: Heidi Prescott is a little girl who is my constituent, and she was born with a rare muscular wasting spinal disease called spinal muscular atrophy. She is 10 years old and her condition is worsening. Heidi is now losing the ability to walk and is spending most of her time in a wheelchair. There is a treatment that could help Heidi, slow down the deterioration and prolong her life; it is called Spinraza. It is not available in England but will be in Scotland in April 2019. Why can this treatment not be accessible to my constituent Heidi and other children in England with this disease?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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The hon. Lady has raised a particular case about Heidi, her constituent, and obviously I am sorry to hear that Heidi is in these circumstances. On the question of the drugs and treatments that are available, obviously we have a robust independent process through the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence reviews to look at new medicines that are possible, and this is the case with Spinraza. I am pleased that Biogen has, as I understand it, submitted a revised submission for the NICE appraisal committee to consider and a meeting has been arranged for 6 March when those recommendations will be considered.

David Amess Portrait Sir David Amess (Southend West) (Con)
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All parliamentarians should be horrified that any human being would spend the night sleeping on a pavement. In that regard, will my right hon. Friend take the opportunity, following the visit from the relevant Minister, the Under-Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, my hon. Friend the Member for South Derbyshire (Mrs Wheeler), to acknowledge that Southend-on-Sea Borough Council together with its associated bodies has reduced rough sleeping by 85%, and that that is another reason why Southend should become a city? And will the Government do all they can to address issues of alcohol abuse and mental health?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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First, well done to my hon. Friend for once again getting in his bid for Southend to be a city. He raises very important issues; we are addressing the issues of alcoholism and mental health, and of course these are often connected when people find themselves homeless or rough sleeping. I am happy to congratulate Southend council on the work it has done to reduce rough sleeping in its area. I am pleased to say that the rough sleeping initiative which the Government have introduced, where we are working with the local authorities with the highest levels of rough sleeping, has seen rough sleeping falling by 23% in those areas, so action is being taken and that is having an impact. Of course there is more to do, and we focus on those issues that underlie the problems that those who find themselves rough sleeping are experiencing.

Matthew Pennycook Portrait Matthew Pennycook (Greenwich and Woolwich) (Lab)
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Q4. Hundreds of leaseholders in my constituency, and many thousands more across the country, are still living in privately owned buildings covered in dangerous Grenfell-style cladding, and they have no idea whether they will have to pay the full cost of the remedial works and interim fire safety measures. I am sure that the Prime Minister will tell me that she expects building owners not to pass on those costs and that nothing is ruled out, but my constituents want to know when the Government will act to make private owners pay, rather than just continuing to ask them nicely.

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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I think that the hon. Gentleman has heard me respond to a similar issue before. We have repeatedly called on private building owners not to pass costs on to leaseholders, and as a result of our interventions, 216 owners have either started, completed or have commitments in place to remediate. Fifty are not co-operating, but we are maintaining pressure on them and we rule nothing out. We have established a taskforce to oversee the remediation of private sector buildings, and it is actively working to do just that.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan Portrait Anne-Marie Trevelyan (Berwick-upon-Tweed) (Con)
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Sometimes our public services fail to provide our military personnel, our veterans or their families with the support that they need, and they have nowhere to take their case for arbitration. Will the Prime Minister meet me to discuss my campaign to create an armed forces ombudsman, so that those who have served our country will know that they are valued?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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First, I thank my hon. Friend for the way in which she has worked to champion the armed forces covenant and the interests of the armed forces. Of course we should all recognise the sacrifice and dedication of our armed forces and the work that they do for us, day in and day out. I would be very happy to meet her to discuss her proposal.

Tonia Antoniazzi Portrait Tonia Antoniazzi (Gower) (Lab)
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Q5. Alongside the tributes paid to our late dear colleague Paul Flynn, I hope that the Prime Minister will join me in recognising his dogged determination in his fight for the legalisation of medicinal cannabis. Since November, however, the rescheduling of medicinal cannabis has not changed anything. Not a single new NHS prescription has been issued, and this is causing the families of children with epilepsy, in particular, unbearable suffering. It is evident that someone, somewhere, is blocking this. Did the Government mean to block this life-changing medicine for those children? If not, what will they do about it?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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Of course the Government have taken action in relation to the issue of medicinal cannabis, but the important thing is that decisions are taken on the basis of clinical evidence by those who are best able to take those decisions, rather than by Ministers. A process has been put in place to ensure that, where there are cases, those cases are looked at very carefully and that decisions are properly taken by the clinicians who are best placed to do so.

Philip Hollobone Portrait Mr Philip Hollobone (Kettering) (Con)
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The Home Secretary is to be congratulated on his swift and decisive action in removing British citizenship from Shamima Begum, but the fact remains that, of the 900 British nationals who have gone to support Daesh fighting against British armed forces in Iraq and Syria, only 40 have been prosecuted. With 400 of those individuals set to return to this country in the near future, will the Prime Minister revisit the provisions of the Treason Act to ensure that these appalling activities receive suitable and just punishment?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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Obviously, our priority is to ensure safety and security here in the UK. We also recognise that anyone who has travelled to Syria not only puts themselves in considerable danger but potentially poses a serious national security risk. Any British citizen who returns from taking part in the conflict must be in no doubt that they will be questioned, investigated and potentially prosecuted. It is right that we follow that process, but I am sure that my hon. Friend will accept that one of the issues in looking at prosecution is ensuring that there is evidence to enable a prosecution to take place. Decisions on how people are dealt with are taken on a case-by-case basis, to ensure that the most appropriate action is taken. We are ensuring that, in every decision, we put the protection and safety of the public first.

Tom Brake Portrait Tom Brake (Carshalton and Wallington) (LD)
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Q6. The Prime Minister is correct: history will judge us all, and those in positions of authority will be particularly harshly judged—people such as the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition—for dividing the country and their parties. Will the Prime Minister finally rule out no deal and stem the bloodletting in British jobs, dismiss the nonsensical notion of a jobs-first Brexit and extend article 50 to enable the people finally to vote, given that her sole justification for backing Brexit is the will of the people?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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If the right hon. Gentleman is so concerned about ensuring that we do not leave the European Union without a deal, he has a simple route through this, which is to back the deal that the Government bring back from the European Union.

Oliver Heald Portrait Sir Oliver Heald (North East Hertfordshire) (Con)
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Will the Prime Minister join me in paying tribute to my late old friend Steve Dymond, a haemophiliac who was infected by contaminated blood? He fought for over 20 years, showing great bravery and resilience, and was supported throughout by his wife Su. He was grateful when the Langstaff inquiry was set up, so does the Prime Minister agree that it is vital that all the NHS documents and medical notes that the inquiry may need are made available so that it can be fully comprehensive?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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I join my right hon. and learned Friend in paying tribute to Steve Dymond. The contaminated blood scandal was an appalling tragedy that should never have happened, and it is vital that the victims who have suffered so much and their families get the answers and justice they deserve, for which, as we all know, they have waited decades. I am assured by the Department of Health and Social Care that it has already sent thousands of documents to the inquiry and will send more when necessary, but we are committed to being open and transparent with the inquiry and have waived the usual legal privileges to assist the process. It is important that the inquiry is able to get to the truth.

Phil Wilson Portrait Phil Wilson (Sedgefield) (Lab)
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Q8. Prime Minister, Conservative Governments have taken £6 billion out of the north-east since 2010. Can we have it back, please?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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This is a Government who are ensuring that we are working across the whole country and that we are delivering an economy for everyone across the whole country. The hon. Gentleman talks about billions of pounds in relation to the north, but he may just want to reflect on the £13 billion being put into transport in the north of this country.

Maria Caulfield Portrait Maria Caulfield (Lewes) (Con)
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Will the Prime Minister join me welcoming Councillor Anne Meadows, who has today left the Labour party in Brighton and Hove City Council, crossing the floor to join the Conservatives, who are now the largest group on the council? Councillor Meadows left the Labour party because of the rise of antisemitism and bullying that she and her colleagues have experienced from Momentum activists—so much so that only seven of the 23 councillors will be standing again in May. Does the Prime Minister agree that antisemitism is rife throughout the whole Labour party?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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I agree with my hon. Friend. As she says, Anne Meadows, a long-serving Labour councillor on Brighton and Hove City Council, has today chosen to leave Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party and join the Conservatives, due to the bullying and antisemitism that she has received from Momentum and the hard left. That is the harsh reality that decent, moderate Labour councillors are having to face every day, due to Jeremy Corbyn’s failure to stand up to bullying and racism in his party. We welcome Councillor Meadows into the Conservative party with open arms, and I am sure that she will be an excellent Conservative councillor.

Rosie Duffield Portrait Rosie Duffield (Canterbury) (Lab)
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Q9. I have a constituent who was left doubly incontinent following a serious and violent sexual assault. She previously had a lifetime award for disability living allowance. However, recent personal independence payment assessments have concluded that she is not entitled to DLA or the mobility components of PIP, despite her extremely difficult condition, which dominates every aspect of her daily life. Will the Prime Minister please ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to look urgently at the Department’s failure to recognise the impact of this serious condition?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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The hon. Lady will recognise that I am not able to respond to the individual details of the case at the Dispatch Box, but I will ensure that the Department for Work and Pensions and the relevant Minister look at the case and respond to her.

David Tredinnick Portrait David Tredinnick (Bosworth) (Con)
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Improving mental healthcare has rightly become a priority for the Government, but are the Government doing anything to improve the mental health situation of hard-pressed NHS staff who deserve support?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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My hon. Friend raises an important point. Our dedicated NHS staff, day in and day out, are delivering an unwavering commitment in caring for us all, and obviously it is necessary that we ensure their mental health is looked after. We are setting up a dedicated mental health support service, which will offer NHS staff confidential advice and support 24 hours a day. It will be staffed by qualified professionals who have had training in situations that are unique to the NHS and will ensure that mental health referrals for NHS employees, from either a general practitioner or an occupational health clinician, are fast-tracked. It is right that mental and physical wellbeing is at the forefront of our health service, and it is right that we are taking this action to support our dedicated NHS staff.

Caroline Lucas Portrait Caroline Lucas (Brighton, Pavilion) (Green)
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Q10. The Local Government Association has identified a potential £1.6 billion deficit for special needs education, but the Government responded with a paltry £350 million. As a result, headteachers in my Brighton constituency are literally having sleepless nights. Vital reading programmes for children with special educational needs are being cut and crucial support staff are being lost. Instead of repeating her usual line on schools funding, will the Prime Minister agree to meet a delegation of headteachers from Brighton so she can hear direct from them about the real pain that is being caused?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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I am sure the hon. Lady will look forward to working well with the largest group on Brighton and Hove City Council, which is now the Conservative group. She raises the issue of education funding, and she refers to answers I have given in the past. We have been putting more funding into education, and we have been doing it in a number of ways. We have announced extra support, as she says, for children with complex special educational needs, and that is building on the £6 billion in place for it this year—the highest level on record. She says it is not enough, but it is the highest level on record. We are also putting money into new school places and better facilities for children with special educational needs.

Robert Goodwill Portrait Mr Robert Goodwill (Scarborough and Whitby) (Con)
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Communities across the country are installing defibrillators. The village of Brompton in my constituency has one in a former telephone box that is a stone’s throw away from the main road but is not directly visible from it. Does the Prime Minister think it is a good idea to have a nationally approved defibrillator road sign so that these lifesaving devices can be quickly accessed in the event of an emergency?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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I commend the action being taken in my right hon. Friend’s constituency, and I see the same action being taken in my constituency, with people ensuring that defibrillators are available. He raises a very interesting point, and I will ask the Department for Transport to look at it seriously.

David Linden Portrait David Linden (Glasgow East) (SNP)
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Q11. Recent research from the charity Bliss shows that two thirds of dads have to return to work while their premature or sick baby is still in a neonatal intensive care unit. Does the Prime Minister think that is unjust? Will she work with me to ensure a change in employment law so that dads and parents of premature babies, like me, get the support they need to support their family?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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This issue is close to the heart of many Members, and it is particularly close to the heart of the hon. Gentleman. I know that he met Ministers to discuss this issue last year. Officials in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy are undertaking a short, focused internal review of provision for parents of premature, sick and multiple babies to obtain an understanding of the barriers to participating in the labour market. They are working with organisations such as Bliss, the Smallest Things and the Twins and Multiple Births Association to better understand these issues, and they have held focus groups with a number of parents. They have offered to discuss their conclusions with those interested parties in due course, and I am sure that they will be happy to meet the hon. Gentleman to discuss this in taking it forward.

Shailesh Vara Portrait Mr Shailesh Vara (North West Cambridgeshire) (Con)
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The Prime Minister will be aware that the British Army has engaged in a recruitment campaign in Commonwealth countries. However, only after soldiers have signed up for minimum four-year contracts do they find out that they are not allowed to bring their children to this country. Given that these brave women and men are prepared to put their lives on the line for us and our country, I hope that she will agree that this needs to be looked into urgently. Will she therefore kindly agree to meet me and others concerned to see how this matter can be progressed?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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I am aware of the issue that my hon. Friend has raised. I am told by the Ministry of Defence that it does make sure that information is available to individuals about what their situation will be. This matter is not just of concern to the MOD; obviously, the issue of the immigration rules rests with the Home Office as well. I will certainly meet him to discuss this issue.

Alex Cunningham Portrait Alex Cunningham (Stockton North) (Lab)
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Q12. Some 70% of flights are taken by 15% of the population, yet the Tees Mayor has just spent up to £90 million of taxpayers’ money buying an airport when most people across the area cannot get a bus home after 6.30 pm. Could the Prime Minister help them out?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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I recognise the importance of buses to our communities. We have been spending £250 million every year to keep fares down and maintain an extensive network. The hon. Gentleman might like to know that since 2010 we have seen 10,000 new routes across the north and midlands, and live local bus services registered have increased by 15% in just the past two years.

Roger Gale Portrait Sir Roger Gale (North Thanet) (Con)
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Paul Flynn was, in his time, a valued member of the United Kingdom delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, and I know that colleagues on both sides of the House who serve on that body would like to join others in expressing our condolences to his family.

My armed forces constituents will be pleased to know that, with effect from the start of this year, ex-servicemen and women will receive ID cards. Will my right hon. Friend join me in expressing the hope that, in time, that card will become a passport to public recognition of some of the bravest and finest in our country?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the ex-forces community and we are working hard, as my hon. Friend has indicated, to ensure that they receive the support they deserve. As he says, any personnel who have left the military since December 2018 will automatically be given one of these new ID cards, which will allow them to maintain a tangible link to their career in the forces. As the Under-Secretary of State for Defence, my right hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth East (Mr Ellwood), who has responsibility for defence people and veterans, said:

“These new cards celebrate the great commitment and dedication of those who have served this country, and I hope they can provide a further link to ex-personnel and the incredible community around them.”

I hope that they will, as my hon. Friend says, be a sign of the incredible valour that those ex-servicemen and women have shown.

Angela Eagle Portrait Ms Angela Eagle (Wallasey) (Lab)
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In 2017, during the election, we learned what the Prime Minister’s definition of “strong and stable” was. As our automotive industry disintegrates before our eyes, as investment is put on hold and as growth slows, are we now learning what the Prime Minister’s definition of “smooth and orderly Brexit” is?

Theresa May Portrait The Prime Minister
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I say to the hon. Lady, as I say to every Member of this House, that there will come a further point, in this Chamber, when every Member will have a decision to take on whether we want to ensure that we deliver on the vote of the referendum—most Members stood on a manifesto to do that—by leaving the EU with a deal. That will be a decision for all Members of this House. I know where I stand: I believe we should be leaving with a deal. I hope that the hon. Lady agrees.

Petition

Wednesday 20th February 2019

(3 years, 4 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Kate Osamor Portrait Kate Osamor (Edmonton) (Lab/Co-op)
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I rise to present a petition on behalf of my constituents in Edmonton. The petition has over 200 signatures including from local businesses, the local community and our faith leaders.

The petition states:

The petition of residents of London,

Declares that on Tuesday 18th December Edmonton saw a young person lose his life to gun crime; further that in November there were gun and knife crime incidents in our area; further that according to the BBC around 132 lives have been lost in the capital over the last year; noting that this is too many lives lost with too many of them in Edmonton; and further that this has inevitably led our local community to feel unsafe, worried and concerned for our young people.

The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Home Secretary to urgently increase resources for both the Police and Youth Services to ensure that our young people and communities can live in a safe and positive environment.

And the petitioners remain, etc.

[P002426]

Leaving the EU: Economic Impact of Proposed Deal

Wednesday 20th February 2019

(3 years, 4 months ago)

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

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

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

12:44
Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (SNP)
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(Urgent Question): To ask the Prime Minister if she will make a statement on the economic impact of her Government’s proposed deal for the UK exiting the EU.

Mel Stride Portrait The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mel Stride)
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At the end of November, the Government published our analysis that assessed the economic impact of leaving the European Union. It not only included an analysis of the Government’s negotiating position, as set out in the July 2018 White Paper, but went further still and considered three other scenarios: a free trade agreement, a European economic area-type relationship, and a no-deal scenario.

Specifically, the analysis showed that the outcomes for the proposed future UK-EU relationship would deliver significantly higher economic output—about seven percentage points higher—than the no-deal scenario, which would result in lower economic activity in all sector groups of the economy compared with the White Paper scenario. That is why we should pass the deal, to avoid no deal and support jobs and the UK economy.

In publishing the work, the Government delivered on their commitment to provide an appropriate level of analysis to Parliament. In addition, the House has had plenty of opportunity to debate both the analysis and the deal that is on the table. As the Prime Minister has said, we will bring a revised deal back to the House for a second meaningful vote as soon as we possibly can.

In the meantime, it is right that that the Government are afforded the flexibility and space to continue our negotiations. That is because the agreement of the political declaration will be followed by negotiations on the legal text. The UK and the EU recognise that that means there could be a spectrum of different outcomes. We need to approach the negotiations with as much strength as possible. The focus must now be on the future, planning and prioritising that which matters.

Let me remind the House that we will have an implementation period, a new close relationship with the EU and, crucially, the ability to strike trade deals around the world. We are bringing back control over our money, borders and laws to mould a prosperous and ambitious new path for our country, and on our terms. No matter what approach we take, the UK economy will continue to be strong and grow into the future.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford
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With respect to the Minister, this was of course a question to the Prime Minister, and it is the Prime Minister who should be answering. This is a matter of the utmost importance, because this House is going to be asked to vote on the Prime Minister’s deal. The specific question I asked was about the economic analysis that the Government have done on their deal. It is quite clear from the Minister’s answer that the Government have done no analysis on this deal. On arguably the most important matter that this House has voted on since the second world war, we do not have an economic impact assessment from the Government. It is, once again, this Conservative Government treating this House and the United Kingdom with contempt. It is a disgrace that the Government have continued to duck and dive in respect of their responsibilities.

Economists are clear: the Prime Minister’s deal is set to hit GDP, the public finances and living standards. Analysis published by the London School of Economics estimates that

“the Brexit deal could reduce UK GDP per capita by between 1.9% and 5.5% in ten years’ time, compared to remaining in the EU.”

The National Institute of Economic and Social Research has warned that

“if the government’s proposed Brexit deal is implemented, then GDP in the longer term will be around 4 per cent lower than it would have been had the UK stayed in the EU.”

Bank of England analysis states the UK Government’s deal will raise unemployment by 4% and inflation by 2%. The Prime Minister is running feart of the truth, with her Government refusing to admit the damage that her deal will do.

The Government cannot claim that their November document covers their deal. Let us look at the facts. Page 17 of the Treasury analysis looks at the modelled average free trade agreement and states:

“As such, it does not seek to define or model a bespoke agreement.”

But the Prime Minister tells us she has a bespoke deal. The Treasury analysis continues:

“This scenario is not indicative of government policy, as it would not meet UK objectives including avoiding a hard border”

in Northern Ireland.

There we have it in black and white: the Treasury analysis conducted last year does not account for the Prime Minister’s deal. So, I say to the Government, where is the analysis? MPs continue to be expected to vote on the proposed deal without the Government explaining the economic consequences. That is the height of irresponsibility.

The deal would be a disaster for Scotland, taking us out of the EU single market and customs union. We know that up to 100,000 jobs in Scotland are under threat. The Government are sticking their head in the sand. Everyone knows this Government are bringing our economy to its knees. We cannot allow the Tories to drive us off the cliff edge.

No Government can be allowed to bring forward a vote on such a significant matter without an economic assessment. It must be published. Shame on the Prime Minister if she fails to protect our economy; shame on those on the Government Benches if they allow businesses to collapse and jobs to be lost; and shame on any MP, including the Leader of the Opposition, if they march through the Lobby to deliver a deal that secures economic catastrophe.

No Member should believe that there is a binary choice; there is not. This is not a choice of no deal or this deal. Both are bad. Both will plunge our economy into an unmitigated disaster.

John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
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Order. Before I ask the Minister to apply, I very generously did not interrupt the flow of the right hon. Gentleman’s eloquence—or, indeed, for that matter the eloquence of his flow. However, by way of a public information notice, may I say to the House—this is not directed particularly at the right hon. Gentleman, as I have seen this burgeoning phenomenon in recent times—that an urgent question is supposed to be that, not an urgent oration? With whatever rhetorical force and insistence it is delivered, it is supposed to be a question and I have noticed over recent times an increasing tendency on the part of Members who have secured such an opportunity, through the courtesy of the Chair, to launch into a lengthy preamble, sometimes constituting the entirety of their remarks.

For future reference, because in future I will have to cut people off if they abuse the parameters, however inadvertently, it is supposed to be a question; a sentence of preamble is one thing, but thereafter a Member should put a series of inquiries to the Minister on the Treasury Bench. We will leave it there for now. The right hon. Gentleman has made his point, but I know that he will not misbehave again.

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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I thank the right hon. Member for Ross, Skye and Lochaber (Ian Blackford) for his vociferous oration, but vociferous orations are no substitute for the facts. Let me remind him of some of the facts in respect of the points he made. He says that we have made no analysis of the impact of these arrangements on the United Kingdom economy, and that is simply not the case. The information we have come forward with is a robust analysis of the future outcomes of the four different scenarios that we consider in that analysis. He levels the charge that we are in some way treating the United Kingdom with contempt, and that is certainly not the case. The House has been very deeply preoccupied with matters of Brexit and the nature of how we might exit the European Union, and the Prime Minister has set out that there will be further debate this time next week to be followed, in the event that we do not pass a meaningful vote, with another amendable motion to be considered by the House.

The right hon. Gentleman also says that the deal, as he terms it, would have a negative impact on the UK economy. The analysis clearly shows that, under every single scenario it analyses, it is better to have this deal than no deal or any of the alternatives. Finally, he decried the fact that we had not put forward a bespoke deal for analysis within our analysis, and that illustrates his lack of understanding of what the future political declaration is all about, which is a range of possible outcomes. That is entirely what the analysis models.

Lord Clarke of Nottingham Portrait Mr Kenneth Clarke (Rushcliffe) (Con)
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It is perfectly obvious to all those involved in the negotiations, both the British negotiators and the EU negotiators, that if Britain were to leave the EU with no deal, it would be disastrous for the British economy in the medium to long term and extremely damaging to the economies of many EU countries, particularly those nearest the UK. Does the Minister accept that it is rather silly to think that it is useful in these negotiations to take up the simplistic view that we must pretend we are threatening to leave with no deal to improve our bargaining position? Will he reassure me that the negotiations are proceeding on the basis that both sides know that they do not want no deal and that they are therefore trying to limit the damaging consequences of risking that? What we should really pursue is retaining the benefits of the customs union and the single market and continued free trade with our largest customer in the world, as it will always be, as is being urged on us by every industrial leader in this country.

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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My right hon. and learned Friend is entirely right that no deal would be a very unsatisfactory outcome. Of course, what the House will appreciate is that the only way to avoid a no deal is to secure a deal. That is why the Prime Minister will shortly return to Brussels to have further discussions with the EU Commissioner, Jean-Claude Juncker, in pursuit of one.

Jonathan Reynolds Portrait Jonathan Reynolds (Stalybridge and Hyde) (Lab/Co-op)
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For more than two years, businesses and trade unions have called for clarity about the Government’s Brexit deal, and for two years there has been nothing but delay and a total lack of clarity. What has been clear from the wide range of independent analyses that we have received is that the Government’s Brexit deal is not good news for our economy. Even the Government’s own modelling said that the economy would be nearly 4% smaller if the Government’s deal was agreed, equivalent to £83 billion if it happened today. It is no surprise that the Prime Minister’s deal has struggled to command any widespread support, leading to the largest ever defeat in the House of Commons.

The climate of uncertainty created by the Government’s Brexit blundering, particularly their refusal to take no deal of the table, led first to businesses delaying investment decisions. Now, decisions are being taken, but as a result of the uncertainty and insecurity created by the Government, those decisions are to cut investment and jobs. The result, as the Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, told us this month, is that business investment in 2018 fell by 3.7% in year-on-year terms.

Let us go through some of those decisions. Jaguar Land Rover has cut 4,500 jobs, Ford cut 1,000 jobs in Bridgend and Honda’s Swindon closure, supposedly not related to Brexit, will mean that 3,500 will lose their employment. In financial services, HSBC has announced that it will move seven offices from London to Paris in 2019. Deutsche Bank has said that it is considering moving 75% of its balance sheet from London to Frankfurt.

This is not just about Brexit. It is about how the Government have failed to produce an economic plan that tackles our productivity crisis and increases investment for the long term. They are a Government putting our economy at risk through failed economic management and failing to secure a Brexit deal that would protect jobs and the economy.

May I ask the Financial Secretary first, what happened to the promise of frictionless trade? Secondly, where is the detail businesses need about the promised customs arrangements? Thirdly, can the Government tell us what mysterious technology will facilitate their proposed customs arrangements? Fourthly, why have the Government failed even to mention the issue of intellectual property protections in the future partnership agreement? Finally, will the Government confirm that there has been a dilution of protections from road hauliers and passenger transport operators since the earlier Chequers commitments?

It is the role of the Government’s Treasury team, above all others, to stand up to protect our economy. It is as though the Chancellor has simply gone missing. The Government have run out of time. We cannot wait any longer for the answers we need and the country cannot wait any longer for the answers it deserves.

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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The hon. Gentleman accuses Government Members of having a lack of clarity on the issues around Brexit. I find that slightly rich coming from the Labour Front Bench, given that the position of the Leader of the Opposition has flip-flopped as to whether to be in or out of the customs union, and whether or not to honour the pledge that he appeared to make at his party conference for a second referendum, which appears to have been parked now. It seems to me that the Opposition are trying to ride at least two horses on this issue, if not more, and we know what happens if you do that, Mr Speaker—it tends to get rather painful in the end, as we are perhaps seeing in more recent events.

The hon. Gentleman refers to the parliamentary defeat that the Government suffered more recently. He chose to overlook the fact that the House did unite around a particular way forward, and that is to seek changes to the backstop arrangements. That is now the main focus of the negotiations that are continuing in Brussels. He referred to various impacts of employers’ decisions and changes, and the impact on the economy and employment, which gives me a good opportunity to remind him of some facts. As a country, we have about the highest level of employment in our history; we have the lowest level of unemployment since the mid-1970s; and we have halved youth unemployment since 2010. Lest it be forgotten, every Labour Government in history have always left office with unemployment higher than it was when they entered office.

John Redwood Portrait John Redwood (Wokingham) (Con)
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Will the Treasury issue a codicil or a clarification of its economic forecasts, looking at what happens if we leave in March under the managed World Trade Organisation model, when we spend the £39 billion-plus of the withdrawal agreement on boosting public services and boosting our economy at home? We are bound to be better off—is that not true?

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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It is important to recognise that the modelling is on the basis of the status quo, so the model would not take into account factors of the kind that my right hon. Friend has raised, or indeed changes in productivity or trade flows and other factors. It will be for individual Members to assess the specific issues that he raised, in that context.

Hilary Benn Portrait Hilary Benn (Leeds Central) (Lab)
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Things have come to a pretty pass when here we are, 37 days from Brexit, and the House of Commons is actually discussing which of several options—all of them economically damaging—we should choose for the future of our country’s economy. Since it is the Government’s policy that they are planning for a no-deal Brexit, could the Minister explain to the House what possible justification there is for that? Given that their own economic assessment shows that it would have the most damaging impact on the British economy, how could such an act of economic self-harm ever be justified?

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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What the right hon. Gentleman overlooks is that whilst he is absolutely right that no deal, in essence, is something to be avoided, and indeed is not in the interests either of the United Kingdom or of the European Union, that is not the same thing as saying that we should be reckless and not make sure that we are prepared for it, should it happen. That is precisely what we are doing.

Michael Fallon Portrait Sir Michael Fallon (Sevenoaks) (Con)
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Will the Financial Secretary undertake to publish to the House, in good time for the meaningful vote, the decisions that he and his colleagues are currently taking on the tariffs that would apply in the event of no deal, including which industries would be protected, at what rate, and what the impact would be on prices?

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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Tariff policy in the event of no deal is clearly something that we are heavily engaged with. My right hon. Friend rightly identifies the aspects or elements of tariffs that relate to protecting domestic producers, and that of course will be a very important part of the considerations that we are undertaking at the moment. We will come to the House in due course with the details of those tariffs.

Vince Cable Portrait Sir Vince Cable (Twickenham) (LD)
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Brexit uncertainty is one of several factors contributing to the crisis in the car industry, which previous Governments—Conservative, Labour and coalition—did so much to promote. What assurances have the Government had from Toyota, BMW and Vauxhall that they are not going to follow the pattern of disinvestment that we are now seeing?

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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I think the right hon. Gentleman’s question would be most appropriately directed to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy as to the specifics of the companies that he listed. Honda, a company that has already been mentioned in this respect, has made it clear that its decision to leave the United Kingdom is not a consequence of Brexit; it is more to do with international changes around cars and the position of diesel, and of course the deal that Japan has struck on zero tariffs in a few years’ time for exports from Japan to the European Union.

Desmond Swayne Portrait Sir Desmond Swayne (New Forest West) (Con)
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What would be the economic impact of membership of a customs union where access to our market was conceded to a third party without any reciprocal arrangement of our access to theirs?

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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My right hon. Friend asks a specific, interesting question, which prompts many other questions on exactly the form of the model that he is postulating. The important thing, when it comes to access to our markets in future, is that we have a tariff policy that protects domestic producers in our economy where they require protection, and ensures that our trade remedy regime is robust, so that we can prevent the dumping of products into the UK market, and also is sufficiently liberalised such that the cost savings that would accrue from liberalised tariffs are there for the benefit both of consumers and those who use those products in their production processes within the UK market.

Helen Goodman Portrait Helen Goodman (Bishop Auckland) (Lab)
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I am sorry that the right hon. Member for Broxtowe (Anna Soubry) is not in her place to ask this question herself. Last week, she withdrew her amendment asking the Government to publish their papers on the impact of no deal. Will the Government still hold to their promise, even though she has defected from the Tory party?

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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The analysis that the hon. Lady refers to is contained in the cross-Government analysis that we are discussing as part of this urgent question.

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Jacob Rees-Mogg (North East Somerset) (Con)
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As the Treasury’s forecasts before the referendum were woefully inaccurate, and the Office for Budget Responsibility was set up specifically to stop politicised reports coming out, would it not be better to consult a newspaper horoscope than Treasury forecasts?

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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I hate to disappoint my hon. Friend, ingenious and amusing though his question is, but I should point out just one fallacy in the premise of his question: these are not forecasts.

Ian Paisley Portrait Ian Paisley (North Antrim) (DUP)
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In the search for a withdrawal agreement that we can all support, can the Minister now confirm that the draft proposals have been put forward to Europe that would make a legally binding textual change to the withdrawal agreement?

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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We have made it clear that our ambition is to strike an amended deal with the European Union, so that we put beyond doubt the issue of how permanent or otherwise the backstop arrangements might be. I am not in a position to comment on the specifics of the ongoing negotiations because I am not intimately involved with them.

Kirstene Hair Portrait Kirstene Hair (Angus) (Con)
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We know, of course, that the economic impact assessment on the Chequers deal showed that there would be no impact on growth in Scotland. However, does the Minister agree that nationalists have made it very clear that they will accept no deal that is put on the table, and—as I know, the Minister knows, my constituents know and businesses in Scotland know—this is all just to cause the ultimate chaos to pave the way for independence?

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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The analysis shows that in all the scenarios being considered, including no deal, a deal based on the 2018 White Paper will give a better result for our economy for every sector, for every region and for every country—including Scotland—of the United Kingdom.

Mark Francois Portrait Mr Mark Francois (Rayleigh and Wickford) (Con)
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As the Chairman of the Select Committee on Exiting the European Union said, today is D minus 37, so in some five weeks from today we will have honoured the wishes of 17.4 million UK citizens and left the European Union. Military veterans living in Cyprus will also be affected by some of these changes, not least because we recently signed a double taxation treaty with the Cypriot Government. The Minister personally intervened in that negotiation, to allow a five-year transition period for military veterans receiving state pensions to have longer to adjust. He played a blinder and honoured the covenant, and on their behalf I thank him today for everything he did to look after them.

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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I sincerely thank my right hon. Friend for his extremely kind words. As ever, he is too modest. It was not my effort alone that secured the result that we achieved for those very important veterans in Cyprus—he raised the issue, brought it to my attention in Committee, and worked hard with me to make sure that we achieved the right, just and desired outcome.

Stephen Doughty Portrait Stephen Doughty (Cardiff South and Penarth) (Lab/Co-op)
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Of course, the economic effects are already being felt. I have spoken to businesses in my constituency that have gone from profit to loss and others that have cut investment. This week I spoke to Cardiff University, which cited Brexit as a factor in the job losses that it has proposed. This is very serious, so does the Minister accept that we need to get serious? Ministers know that no deal would be a catastrophe. They know that every single Brexit would lead to a worse economic outcome for this country, so do they accept that the issue needs to go back to the people so that they can decide, based on the facts?

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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If I may summarise, the hon. Gentleman makes the point that uncertainty is not good for business. He is entirely right, and that is all the more reason why we should get behind the deal, and get it sorted. We would then have an implementation period in which nothing would change until the end of 2020. The businesses in the hon. Gentleman’s constituency to which he referred could then begin to increase employment and invest with confidence.

Stephen Crabb Portrait Stephen Crabb (Preseli Pembrokeshire) (Con)
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There are a great many voices in the international investor community that have made it clear that the underlying fundamentals of the British economy remain sound, but they warn that we are in a period in which investment decisions have been put on hold, and trade deals are in abeyance. Does my right hon. Friend agree that the single most important thing that we can do right now to unlock new investment in the economy is to pass the deal?

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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My right hon. Friend hits the nail firmly on the head. What we must do to move from uncertainty to a situation in which we can begin to concentrate on negotiating our future relationship with the European Union while everything remains stable and the same until the end of 2020 is to pass the deal as he suggests.

Jonathan Edwards Portrait Jonathan Edwards (Carmarthen East and Dinefwr) (PC)
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The fundamental problem with the British Government’s policy as it stands is that the deal offers certainty only for the duration of the transition period. Owing to the chaos in the Conservative party, is it not the case that all the deal does is move the cliff edge to the end of the transition phase?

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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No, not at all. The deal would, first, resolve the three critical issues on which the withdrawal agreement focuses: the Northern Ireland-Ireland border; the situation as it relates to EU and UK citizens; and the financial arrangements that we will enter into as we leave the European Union. Critically, it would give us time to put into effect the political declaration, which is the other part of what has been negotiated, until the end of 2020.

Kevin Hollinrake Portrait Kevin Hollinrake (Thirsk and Malton) (Con)
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With the Scottish economy growing at half the rate of the rest of the United Kingdom, can my right hon. Friend offer any advice on economic growth to the Government north of the border?

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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My advice, although I doubt very much that the Scottish National party will take much advice from me, is, first, get behind the deal and let us get certainty and increase investment; and secondly, accept the result of the 2014 referendum, stay with the United Kingdom and do not end up in a situation that creates a border between the country of Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom.

Meg Hillier Portrait Meg Hillier (Hackney South and Shoreditch) (Lab/Co-op)
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In response to the Chair of the Exiting the European Union Committee, the Minister said that it would be reckless of the Government not to plan for no deal. However, the detailed work of the Public Accounts Committee has clearly shown that the Government are not prepared for no deal and are woefully prepared for a deal. Would not the responsible thing be to delay any exit or extend the transition period and take stock, and make sure that the D-minus-37 uncertainty that is hanging over our country is resolved? It is too late just to pass the deal—uncertainty is now built in.

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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I do not accept that we are not adequately prepared or are not deeply preparing for the possibility of no deal. This work has been going on for many months, and in far greater depth than many people appreciate. In my area of ministerial responsibility, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs and borders, we have staffed up, and we have 4,500 more personnel ready for this work. There will be over 5,000 in place by 29 March. We have engaged with stakeholders across the piece by making sure that we have the most facilitated possible customs arrangements in place, particularly in respect of the short straits crossing—Dover and Calais—and so on. An immense amount of work has been carried out.

Kevin Foster Portrait Kevin Foster (Torbay) (Con)
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In considering the economic impact of the proposed deal, has the Minister reflected on the key drivers of economic performance and the policies that we decide domestically—on productivity, business structure and tax structure? We need only look at what the SNP is doing in Scotland to realise where we could go wrong.

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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I will not be drawn into the Scottish National party again, but I thank my hon. Friend for his question. He is absolutely right—fundamentally, the way in which we manage the economy is one of the most important things that we do as a Government, which is why we have record levels of employment and the lowest level of unemployment since 1975. It is why we have halved youth unemployment since 2010, reduced the debt and have reduced the deficit by 80%, and it is why the economy is moving in the right direction.

Debbie Abrahams Portrait Debbie Abrahams (Oldham East and Saddleworth) (Lab)
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As many of my hon. Friends have said, all credible economic analysis shows that a no-deal Brexit would be disastrous for the economy. The draft withdrawal agreement would be only slightly less disastrous for the economy. Given that the report published by the Resolution Foundation today predicts an increase in child poverty of 6% by 2023—that is equivalent to an additional 1 million children living in poverty since 2016—what are the Minister’s estimates of the additional effect on child poverty of no deal or the draft withdrawal agreement?

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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Absolute poverty is at a record low. The Government have an enviable record of helping those who require work to get into work, and I have outlined at length our success in that area. We have made sure that work pays with the benefit system and our roll-out of universal credit. Underpinning the hon. Lady’s question is a denial of the result of the 2016 referendum. The country made a decision to leave, and on that basis the decision has to be whether we have a sensible deal, as we have negotiated, or whether perhaps we end up with no deal, which I think the vast majority of Members in the House would not want to happen.

Stephen Kerr Portrait Stephen Kerr (Stirling) (Con)
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My right hon. Friend knows, and the people of Scotland know, that the SNP Government, by their refusal to contemplate any form of withdrawal agreement whatsoever, are deliberately dragging Scotland to a no-deal situation—a crisis of their making—which they would use as a platform to demand independence. What possible excuse, to the best of my right hon. Friend’s knowledge, does the First Minister of Scotland have for not attending the Prime Minister’s Brexit cabinets?

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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It is for the First Minister of Scotland to answer on the reasons why she attends functions and to deal with the points that my hon. Friend made. There is no doubt that this is a matter that affects the entire United Kingdom, including Scotland. I believe that the vast majority of us in the House wish to avoid a no-deal Brexit. The Scottish National party could play a pivotal role in helping us to do so by supporting the negotiated deal.

Marsha De Cordova Portrait Marsha De Cordova (Battersea) (Lab)
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It is no secret that the Government’s deal will hit people’s livelihoods and jobs, along with economic growth. All credible economic analysis says that a no-deal Brexit would have a devastating effect. With just 37 days to go, does the Minister agree that we need to get serious and that we need to consider extending article 50?

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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The hon. Lady urges us to get serious. We have been extremely serious in negotiating a deal with the European Union for a considerable amount of time, and we continue to engage in that endeavour. She is absolutely right to say that most of us in this House wish to avoid no deal, but the way to do that is by Opposition and Government Members uniting and making sure that we avoid no deal and have a good deal for our country.

Tom Brake Portrait Tom Brake (Carshalton and Wallington) (LD)
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We know that the Government have done no economic impact analysis of the proposed deal, but has the Minister done an economic analysis of the failure of the Secretary of State for International Trade to secure the 40 roll-over trade deals the he promised would be signed one minute after 11 o’clock on 29 March?

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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The right hon. Gentleman says that we have done no analysis of the deal, as he refers to it, but as he knows, the deal is actually the political declaration, which inherently will include a range of particular possible outcomes for that deal. That is modelled in the sensitivity analysis that we have brought forward to Parliament. [Interruption.]

John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
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Order. Mr Seely, sit down young man. It is very discourteous. The Father of the House comes in—[Interruption.] Order. Do not sit there looking at your phone, man. I am speaking to you. Show some respect and manners in the Chamber.

John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
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No, I do not need the hon. Gentleman to get up. Remain seated and behave with courtesy. What on earth has got into you?

Chris Elmore Portrait Chris Elmore (Ogmore) (Lab)
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As the Minister will know, 23% of all the European funding that comes to the UK goes to Wales. He said that discussions on the shared prosperity fund would start before Christmas; I wonder whether he has played any part in that. Leave campaigners said that Wales would not be a penny worse off if we left the European Union, so will the Minister set out how the fund will work and who will make decisions to ensure that the Welsh economy does not tank if we are to have this botched Brexit deal?

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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As the hon. Gentleman knows, we will set out those details in due course.

Chris Elmore Portrait Chris Elmore
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I am sorry, Mr Speaker.

John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
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It is not really a matter of order but very poor taste, and I expect somebody as culturally sophisticated as the hon. Gentleman to behave better than that.

Alison Thewliss Portrait Alison Thewliss (Glasgow Central) (SNP)
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The Scotch Whisky Association recently reported that the value of Scotch whisky exports to Mexico last year was £131.5 million—which is up 18.5% on 2017—and that Mexico is the fourth largest export market by volume for Scotch whisky. However, the Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, the hon. Member for Daventry (Chris Heaton-Harris) has confirmed by letter to the Procedure Committee that the Government

“do not…expect to replicate the existing Mexico spirits agreement in time for 29 March”.

What assessment has the Financial Secretary made of the impact that will have on geographic indicators for Scotch whisky and on the wider Scottish economy?

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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This Government totally understand and get the significant importance—not just to Scotland but to the entire United Kingdom—of Scotch whisky exports, which account for some 20% of all exports of food and drink from our country. That was also signalled in our recent Budget, which once again froze duty on Scotch whisky. The hon. Lady can rest assured that we will make sure that we do the right thing by Scotland’s most important export.

Stephen Timms Portrait Stephen Timms (East Ham) (Lab)
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The Department’s assessment is that any form of Brexit will leave us worse off than if we stayed in the European Union. Will the Minister simply confirm that that is his Department’s view?

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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The analysis, quite rightly, does not assess staying in the European Union, and there is an obvious reason for that, which is that in June 2016 the country took the decision—17.4 million people voted—to leave the European Union, and that is an outcome that this Government will respect.

Louise Haigh Portrait Louise Haigh (Sheffield, Heeley) (Lab)
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Will Operation Stack have to be replicated across all major ports in the event of no deal?

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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The hon. Lady can rest assured that an extensive amount of contingency planning has gone on, and will continue to go on, in terms of the arrangements that we may have to bring into force at our ports to make sure that goods keep flowing.

Alan Brown Portrait Alan Brown (Kilmarnock and Loudoun) (SNP)
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We have heard the usual nonsense of “SNP bad” from Conservative Members because we do not support this Government’s so-called deal. If the deal is so good, why are the UK Government not brave enough to take control and publish evidence on the financial impact? Has the Minister seen the Bank of England analysis that his deal will raise unemployment by 4% and inflation by 2%? If the UK Government do not agree with that analysis, why do they not disprove it by publishing their own evidence?

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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The hon. Gentleman says that we have not had the courage to produce an analysis of the deal, as he terms it, but we have done precisely that, as was required by this House, with a range of potential landing points for the deal set out in broad terms in the future political declaration. The Government have done just that.

Geraint Davies Portrait Geraint Davies (Swansea West) (Lab/Co-op)
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The Father of the House knows better than others that Margaret Thatcher was instrumental in creating the single market and in encouraging Japanese companies to come here to platform into it. Given that the EU now has a free trade agreement with Japan and the Government intend to Brexit, is not the loss of Japanese investment and associated jobs painfully predictable? Is it not now incumbent on the Government to give business and the people, including Honda workers and others, the final say on whether this botched deal is really what they want, or whether they want to stay in the EU to secure future jobs?

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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The hon. Gentleman overlooks the fact that the trade deal with Japan has been struck at a time when we are members of the EU. There will be an impact on car producers, and we see that as part of the reason why Honda has taken its decision. The most important thing is that we enter into an arrangement with the EU where we minimise the frictions at our borders, have a free trade agreement with the EU27 and make sure that trade continues to flow. The best way to do that is to support the deal we are negotiating with the European Union.

Jeff Smith Portrait Jeff Smith (Manchester, Withington) (Lab)
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The Government’s letter to Nissan promised that its ability to export to and from the EU would not be adversely affected by Brexit. How on earth can that possibly be reconciled with the Prime Minister’s red lines?

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has a clear commitment to entering into a future trading relationship with the European Union based on the political declaration, which has at its heart a free trade area—tariff-free trade—and to making sure that we have the customs facilitations in place to ensure that that trade flows as freely as possible.

Marion Fellows Portrait Marion Fellows (Motherwell and Wishaw) (SNP)
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In spite of Conservative Members shouting, “SNP bad,” the UK Treasury analysis does not cover the PM’s deal; it covers no deal, a free trade agreement, the European economic area without a customs union and the Prime Minister’s failed Chequers plan. Does that mean that the Prime Minister plans to ditch her plan for one of those or to proceed without knowing the consequences?

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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The analysis needs to model the future political declaration, upon which the negotiations will rest. Of course, that is a relatively broad document with a number of potential outcomes. The analysis has quite rightly taken a range of possible outcomes to make that assessment and most accurately reflect the range of outcomes of where the deal itself may land.

Deidre Brock Portrait Deidre Brock (Edinburgh North and Leith) (SNP)
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Unlike the EEA or single market model, the PM’s deal assumes that regulatory checks will be essential to the proper functioning of separate EU and UK markets. Does not the Minister agree that we need to understand the impact of such trade barriers now?

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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That is precisely what the analysis is setting out—a series of potential outcomes and the economic impacts thereof. Some Members are suggesting that we should analyse where we are at the moment, but that would not be appropriate given that we are leaving the European Union. At the same time, it has to be recognised that we have not yet fully concluded the new trading relationship with the European Union—the EU27—and therefore the analysis sets out a range of possible landing points for those negotiations.

Patrick Grady Portrait Patrick Grady (Glasgow North) (SNP)
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My sense is that the Minister is actually starting to admit that there is no analysis of the withdrawal agreement, so I just want to press him. The withdrawal agreement was laid before the House on 26 November, so on what specific date did the Government publish their specific economic analysis on that withdrawal agreement, and what title or Command Paper number should I ask for in the Vote Office or the Library to see the analysis?

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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The analysis, as demanded by the House, sets out the different possible outcomes, including modelling a range of options between those contained in the White Paper of June last year and an FTA, as well as a point somewhere between the two of them, to allow an informed look at the likely impact of the various outcomes implicit in the future declaration. The hon. Gentleman will know that that is, of necessity, the way in which this analysis has to be conducted, given that we have a period during which we will be negotiating a precise exit arrangement with the European Union.

Kirsty Blackman Portrait Kirsty Blackman (Aberdeen North) (SNP)
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This is Schrödinger’s analysis—even the Minister does not know whether or not it exists at this moment in time. Will he answer a simple question: does he believe that the UK would be better off if it were to leave the EU with the Prime Minister’s deal or if it were to stay in the EU?

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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I have been asked this question a couple of times, and the reality is that it is entirely hypothetical. To end up staying within the European Union would be to fly in the face of the result of the June 2016 referendum —the referendum had a higher turnout than any other electoral event in our country’s history—and this Government are going to respect the outcome of that referendum.

Drew Hendry Portrait Drew Hendry (Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey) (SNP)
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This urgent question was aimed at the Prime Minister, so I can only assume that the Minister is undergoing an audition as the future leader of the Conservative party. On that basis, if he were Prime Minister, would he take cognisance of the analysis published by the London School of Economics that shows a 5.5% hit on GDP due to the incumbent’s plan, or would he, like her, simply ignore it?

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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What we must do is to make sure that we conclude a good deal for our country; what we must do is to make sure that we avoid a no-deal scenario; and what we must do is to make sure that we respect the result of the June 2016 referendum. That is the mission of this country and of this Government. We are negotiating the final elements of that, and as, I hope, the Prime Minister comes back with changes to that deal in relation to the backstop, if we are to do the right thing and the best thing for the whole United Kingdom, we should support it.

Stewart Malcolm McDonald Portrait Stewart Malcolm McDonald (Glasgow South) (SNP)
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I am stunningly impressed by the Minister’s performance at the Dispatch Box. We can tell a big Downing Street lollipop is on its way when that intellectual heavyweight, the hon. Member for Bexhill and Battle (Huw Merriman), has nodded in agreement with everything the Minister has said for the last three quarters of an hour.

Let me ask the Minister this: the deal ends freedom of movement—one of the reasons why I will not support it—but where can I find the economic analysis of the impact of ending freedom of movement on Scotland and on the city of Glasgow? Following his answer to the Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, the hon. Member for Hackney South and Shoreditch (Meg Hillier), will the Minister also tell me, as well as the discussions he has had with HMRC, whether Revenue Scotland has been consulted?

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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On the impact of immigration, if the hon. Gentleman looks closely at the analysis, he will see that the various scenarios I have outlined during this urgent question are analysed both in terms of the current free movement arrangements and in terms of more restrictive arrangements that would be expected to follow on from the further negotiations we will have with the European Union.

May I just make one very important point on immigration? There will have been a multitude of reasons why 17.4 million people voted to leave the European Union in 2016. There is little doubt in my mind that immigration was one of them, and it is absolutely vital that this Government stick, as we will, to our commitment to ensure that we put an end to free movement and gain control of our borders.

Stewart Malcolm McDonald Portrait Stewart Malcolm McDonald
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There’s a big lollipop coming your way.

John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
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Order. The hon. Gentleman continues to chunter from a sedentary position about the merits or otherwise of lollipops, but when his appetite has been satisfied, and perhaps even if it has not been, we will move to the next urgent question.

Deprivation of Citizenship Status

Wednesday 20th February 2019

(3 years, 4 months ago)

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

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

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13:35
Ed Davey Portrait Sir Edward Davey (Kingston and Surbiton) (LD)
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(Urgent Question): To ask the Home Secretary to make a statement on his use of the power to deprive a person of citizenship status.

Sajid Javid Portrait The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Sajid Javid)
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To keep this country safe, we must be prepared to make tough decisions. As I told the House on Monday, there must be consequences for those who back terror. More than 900 people travelled from the UK to engage with the conflict in Syria and Iraq, At least 20% have been killed in the region. About 40% have returned. They have all been investigated, and I can reassure this House that the majority have been assessed to pose no or a low security risk.

Those who stayed include some of the most dangerous, including many who supported terrorism, not least those who chose to fight or to raise families in the so-called caliphate. They turned their back on this country to support a group that butchered and beheaded innocent civilians, including British citizens; tied the arms of homosexuals and threw them off the top of buildings; and raped countless young girls, boys and women.

I have been resolute that, where those people pose any threat to this country, I will do everything in my power to prevent their return. This includes stripping dangerous individuals of their British citizenship. This power is used only in extreme circumstances, where conducive to the public good. Since 2010, it has been used about 150 times for people linked to terrorism or serious crimes.

We of course follow international law. An individual can be deprived of British citizenship only where it will not leave that individual stateless, where they are a dual national or, in some limited circumstances, where they have the right to citizenship elsewhere.

It would not be right to comment on any individual case, but I can say that each one is carefully considered on its own merits, regardless of gender, age or family status. Children should not suffer, so if a parent does lose their British citizenship, that does not affect the rights of their child.

Deprivation is a powerful tool that can be used only to keep the most dangerous individuals out of this country, and we do not use it lightly. However, when someone turns their back on fundamental values and supports terror, they do not have an automatic right to return to the UK. We must put the safety and the security of our country first, and I will not hesitate to act to protect it.

Ed Davey Portrait Sir Edward Davey
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I thank the Home Secretary for his reply. On the legal grounds to remove citizenship because it would be

“conducive to the public good”,

can he set out the criteria he must use to make such judgments on the public good?

As the Home Secretary knows, the law prevents him from making someone who is British by birth stateless. In November, the Home Secretary lost a case before the Special Immigration Appeals Commission on a similar decision made by his predecessor to strip two terror suspects of their British citizenship. Then, as now, the Home Office contended that the two had Bangladeshi citizenship by descent, but the court ruled that that was not the case and that stripping them of British citizenship was therefore unlawful. Will the Home Secretary tell the House what changes have been made to the decision-making process since that case to give him confidence that he is acting lawfully now?

In removing British citizenship, the Home Secretary is essentially saying, “She’s somebody else’s problem,” but in the words of the former Conservative Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne:

“Which other country is supposed to look after her on our behalf?… Can you imagine the fury here if we took a French or Italian citizen who joined Islamic State?”

Surely a British citizen, born in Britain, is a British responsibility. The Home Secretary mentioned national security in his answer. Can he explain what evidence he used to conclude that this 19-year-old mother and her new-born baby would be a threat to national security? Will he confirm that the evidence required to prosecute Ms Begum for supporting terrorism is readily available from the media? Will he explain why he is so unwilling to bring her to justice?

Finally, will the right hon. Gentleman please tell the House what he expects to happen to Ms Begum’s new-born baby boy? This child is an innocent British citizen, and we have a clear responsibility to ensure his wellbeing. What steps is the Home Secretary taking to uphold that important responsibility?

Sajid Javid Portrait Sajid Javid
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I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his questions, which I want to go through. But let me say to him and the House that these decisions are never taken lightly, and I am not just speaking for myself.

The power has been in place for more than 100 years. It was set out properly in the British Nationality Act 1981, since when it has been used by successive Home Secretaries. Although I will not know every decision that every Home Secretary made in the past, I can be certain that none would have taken decisions on deprivation of British citizenship lightly. There are a number of things to weigh up: national security, moral issues and legal issues all need to be carefully taken into account. No decision of this type—as serious as this—can be taken lightly.

The right hon. Gentleman asked about the grounds for a citizenship decision. As I have said, I cannot talk about an individual case, although I am happy to try to answer his questions. Almost all these decisions, depending on how far back one goes, are made on what is called the “conducive test”: conducive to the public good. The test can apply to a number of issues—to the case prominent in the papers now, but also to many recent cases, including the ones that he mentioned, to do with terrorism and national security. In each of those cases, I would look at the evidence put in front of me: some of that would be secret intelligence and some would be more publicly available information. That would be used to determine the threat that the individual might pose to the country. Alongside that, officials from the Home Office, working with other partners and partner agencies, would put together a case, including a legal case, to look at a number of issues but of course absolutely to make sure that if we went ahead and took the decision to deprive someone of their British nationality, that person would not be left stateless.

In every decision that I am aware of—I cannot think that any of my predecessors would have taken a different decision—that has been applied, every single time. Our lawyers are expert in this field and would look carefully at judgments in previous cases—the right hon. Gentleman referred to those—if they have been challenged, to see whether there are lessons to be learned. Those would be taken into account. When a decision then has to be made, I have to be, in every case, absolutely confident that it is not only conducive to the public good, but legally proper and correct, and compliant with both international and any relevant domestic law.

The right hon. Gentleman may be interested to know that Lord Carlile, an individual whom he will know well, has already made a public comment—I can refer to public comment—about the case in the press at the moment and other such cases that he has been familiar with. He is worth listening to on how this practice has taken place in the past.

The right hon. Gentleman also asked about minors. Again, I cannot talk about any particular individual or case, but in the case of a minor, clearly even more care must absolutely be taken. It is absolutely paramount in all cases to take into account the welfare of minors. I cannot refer to any particular case, but that is also in domestic legislation: in any immigration decision, including about deprivation, the welfare of a child is taken into account where that is relevant.

Finally, I say gently to the right hon. Gentleman that he was a senior member of the previous Government. He was not only in the Cabinet: for almost three years, if I remember correctly, he was a member of the National Security Council. He would have discussed counter-terrorism issues in that council on countless occasions, and it would be hard to think that the issue of deprivation never came up. Not only was he a member of a Government who made decisions on deprivation, many on terrorism grounds, but he even voted for the Immigration Act 2014, which extended the powers of deprivation. Now he stands here pretending that he knows nothing of that and trying to play politics with such an important issue. He should reflect on that.

Lord Clarke of Nottingham Portrait Mr Kenneth Clarke (Rushcliffe) (Con)
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When I was Home Secretary, I did not deprive anyone of their citizenship, and although the power is necessary, it is being used with ever increasing frequency. Every patriotic British citizen has to accept that we have fellow citizens who are extremely unpleasant and have very unpleasant and dangerous ideas. We deal with them through the rule of law—international law and domestic law. Some people are mass murderers, but we have given up transportation or exile as a response to such cases.

As this woman is only one, but several hundred have already come back and hundreds of various western nationalities are now stranded in Syria, is it not right that we should begin at least from the position that we should accept back the people who are obviously British, by every ordinary test of the word, and that others have to accept back everybody who is obviously a national of their state? Somehow leaving these people to disperse through Syria seems to me quite a serious threat to future security. We can use the full force of the criminal law —we must—and the full resources of the intelligence services once these people have got back here. That is how my right hon. Friend is going to be able to protect the British public.

Sajid Javid Portrait Sajid Javid
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First, I should say that I always listen carefully to my right hon. and learned Friend, who is very distinguished in the House and served as a distinguished Home Secretary as well as in many other positions of responsibility. As usual, he has made an important point. All I would say is that each case should be looked at on a case-by-case basis. That is exactly what happens in the Home Office: I look at each case very carefully against what tools are available that will help protect our national security and citizens here at home and in regard to what can be done to help bring people to justice.

My right hon. and learned Friend is right to point out that many hundreds of people from the UK—more than 900, we believe—have gone in recent years to Iraq or Syria to join terrorist organisations. There are many more from other European countries and countries such as the US and Australia. We work closely with our allies. I hope he welcomes the fact that we are trying to work even more closely with them following the recent news that Daesh is being defeated in the region, in the expectation that more people may want to come back to the UK or other European countries. We must work with our allies and see how we can co-ordinate and have a more unified approach.