All 45 Parliamentary debates on 22nd Oct 2020

Thu 22nd Oct 2020
Thu 22nd Oct 2020
Thu 22nd Oct 2020
Thu 22nd Oct 2020
Thu 22nd Oct 2020
Thu 22nd Oct 2020
Overseas Operations (Service Personnel and Veterans) Bill (Ninth sitting)
Public Bill Committees

Committee stage: 9th sitting & Committee Debate: 9th sitting: House of Commons
Thu 22nd Oct 2020
Overseas Operations (Service Personnel and Veterans) Bill (Tenth sitting)
Public Bill Committees

Committee stage: 10th sitting & Committee Debate: 10th sitting: House of Commons
Thu 22nd Oct 2020
Thu 22nd Oct 2020
Royal Assent
Lords Chamber

Royal Assent & Royal Assent (Hansard) & Royal Assent (Hansard) & Royal Assent (Hansard) & Royal Assent: Royal Assent (Hansard) & Royal Assent (Hansard) & Royal Assent: Royal Assent (Hansard) & Royal Assent
Thu 22nd Oct 2020

House of Commons

Thursday 22nd October 2020

(3 years, 8 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text
Thursday 22 October 2020
The House met at half-past Nine o’clock

Prayers

Thursday 22nd October 2020

(3 years, 8 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text
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]
Virtual participation in proceedings commenced (Order, 4 June).
[NB: [V] denotes a Member participating virtually.]
Business before Questions
National Audit Office
The Vice-Chamberlain of the Household reported to the House, That Her Majesty had received its humble Address of 1 July, praying that she should appoint Dame Fiona Reynolds DBE to the office of Chair of the National Audit Office from 10 January 2021, and that she was graciously pleased to comply with the request.
Local Government Boundary Commission for England
The Vice-Chamberlain of the Household reported to the House, That Her Majesty had received its humble Address of 7 September, praying that she should reappoint Professor Colin Mellors OBE as Chair of the Local Government Boundary Commission for England, with effect from 1 January 2021 for the period ending on 31 December 2025, and that she was graciously pleased to comply with the request.
Electoral Commission
The Vice-Chamberlain of the Household reported to the House, That Her Majesty had received its humble address of 7 September praying that she should reappoint Alasdair Morgan as an Electoral Commissioner with effect from 1 October 2020 for the period ending on 30 September 2022, and that she was graciously pleased to comply with the request.

Petition

Thursday 22nd October 2020

(3 years, 8 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Watch Debate
Yvette Cooper Portrait Yvette Cooper (Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford) (Lab)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I rise to present a petition on behalf of residents of Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford calling for support for rugby league clubs during the covid crisis. The petition is signed by my constituents, and it also has the support of more than 1,300 people from across our area—many of them strong Castleford Tigers supporters but also supporters of other rugby league clubs—who have shown their support online.

The petition calls on the Government to recognise the importance of rugby league to our towns, the role that Castleford Tigers and other clubs play supporting our community, families and people young and old, and the pressure that rugby league is under, as supporters cannot return to grounds but bills still need to be paid. The petitioners therefore request

“that the House of Commons urge the Government to recognise the importance of”

rugby league to our towns and to ensure that our important rugby league clubs get the support they need so they can keep supporting our communities through the covid crisis.

Following is the full text of the petition:

[The petition of the residents of the constituency of Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford,

Declares that Castleford Tigers rugby league club is at the heart of the town of Castleford, and supports the whole community, but is now under pressure; further declares that the rugby league faces financial difficulty as COVID-19 restrictions mean that supporters cannot go to the Jungle or other grounds but clubs still have outgoing bills to pay; and further declares that it is vital that the Government provides proper support for the rugby league over the course of the pandemic.

The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urge the Government to recognise the importance of the rugby league to towns by ensuring that they get the support they need to survive the pandemic.

And the petitioners remain, etc.]

[P002617]

Business of the House

Thursday 22nd October 2020

(3 years, 8 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
00:04
Valerie Vaz Portrait Valerie Vaz (Walsall South) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Will the Leader of the House please give us the forthcoming business?

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait The Leader of the House of Commons (Mr Jacob Rees-Mogg)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The business for the week commencing 2 November will include:

Monday 2 November—General debate on covid-19.

Tuesday 3 November—Remaining stages of the Overseas Operations (Service Personnel and Veterans) Bill.

Wednesday 4 November—Consideration of Lords amendments to the Agriculture Bill, followed by consideration of Lords amendments to the Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill, followed by motion to approve the draft Blood Safety and Quality (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020, the draft Human Fertilisation and Embryology (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020, the draft Human Tissue (Quality and Safety for Human Application) (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020 and the draft Quality and Safety of Organs Intended for Transplantation (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020.

Thursday 5 November—Debate on a motion on coronavirus business interruption loan schemes, followed by general debate on the UK Government’s role in ensuring innovation and equitable access within the covid-19 response. The subjects for these debates were determined by the Backbench Business Committee.

Friday 6 November—Private Members’ Bills.

The provisional business for the week commencing 9 November will include:

Monday 9 November—Second Reading of the Financial Services Bill.

Valerie Vaz Portrait Valerie Vaz
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the Leader of the House for the business next week and for the motion extending proxy voting until 21 March. I do not know whether he has heard the outcome of the Public Health England visit, but I say again that the voting queues are not safe. On Monday, as we were walking round and round, it felt like something out of the book “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich”. We want remote voting because it is safest for Members and, most importantly, for staff, and it is quickest for staff behind the scenes.

The Leader of the House continually talks about democracy and “Erskine May”, but he is excluding Members from taking part in debate at this really difficult time, because some of them are in tier 3 areas that are in lockdown. Will he please reconsider remote voting? It is just for the pandemic, not for life. He will know that proxy votes do not count as a quorum for private Members’ Bills on Friday. We know that more than 25% of Members have proxy votes. I wonder whether he could consider, perhaps through the usual channels, a fairer way of enabling Members to take part via a proxy, so that those votes are not wasted.

Again, there is no update from the Foreign Secretary on Nazanin, Anousheh and Luke Symons, even though Iran is now in its third lockdown and other countries are having some success.

They came for our public money and wasted it. The Government have already spent £12 billion on Test and Trace, and yet they have accounted for only £4 billion, with the private sector consultants being paid £7,000 a day and everyone saying that this is a failed Test and Trace programme. The worst thing is that the Care Quality Commission has been told that its inspectors cannot have weekly testing when they go into care homes. That is one of the most important jobs that needs to be done at this time. Could we have a debate on the whole Test and Trace programme? Who is getting the money? Let it be laid bare. It is difficult to get answers from the Government. Even if we table written questions, the responses are taking a long time to come back. The Government need to be accountable for public money during this pandemic.

Then they came for the Labour Mayors. The Government are now dictatorially moving areas from one tier into another. The Mayor of Greater Manchester has brought everybody together. The Conservative leader of Bolton Council, the hon. Member for Bolton West (Chris Green), who has resigned as a Parliamentary Private Secretary, and the hon. Member for Altrincham and Sale West (Sir Graham Brady)—a really serious person who has been in the House for a long time and is chair of the 1922 committee—have all said that they want to do the best for their community in Greater Manchester. On Tuesday, in response to the hon. Member for Hazel Grove (Mr Wragg), the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care said:

“the cases were shooting up before we took action and then levelled off.”—[Official Report, 20 October 2020; Vol. 682, c. 1032.]

It would be nice to know what figures he is using. If cases are levelling off, why are the Government taking this action?

Let us look at the facts. Liverpool city region has received £44 million; that is £29 per person. Lancashire has received £42 million; that is £28 per person. After three months of restrictions, Greater Manchester was offered—by text—£22 million; that is £8 per head. Will the Government publish the funding formula behind those decisions? The shadow Chancellor, my hon. Friend the Member for Oxford East (Anneliese Dodds), has called it a “phantom” formula.

Then they came for the trade unions. The union learning fund is about to be abolished, at such an important time. It was established in 1988, in the time of Margaret Thatcher. It is one of the most successful learning, training and reskilling projects currently running in British industry. It is value for money. For every £1 invested, there is a return of £12.30, with £7.60 going to the worker taking part and £4.70 going to the employer. The Trades Union Congress said that it contributes £1.4 billion to the economy at a cost of £12 million. Can we have an urgent statement on that decision or a reversal of it?

Yesterday marked the 54th anniversary of the Aberfan disaster when 116 children and 28 adults lost their lives. There was a one-minute silence on Wednesday at 9.15. We must remember them.

Our thoughts are also with my hon. Friend the Member for Bolton South East (Yasmin Qureshi), who is in hospital after testing positive for covid-19. We wish her well, as we do my hon. Friend the Member for City of Chester (Christian Matheson), who is an assiduous attender in the Chamber, and all other Members who may not have said that they have got covid.

Yesterday, the deputy leader of the Labour party, despite grieving for her aunt, Anne Irwin, who died of coronavirus last week, came to the Chamber and said:

“I come here wanting the Government…to succeed, because lives literally depend on it.”—[Official Report, 21 October 2020; Vol. 682, c. 1081.]

We say that there is another way: Labour in Wales’s two-week circuit break and £300 million package, just as was done in New Zealand. The Prime Minister of New Zealand memorably said that the tooth fairy was an essential worker, and we congratulate Jacinda Ardern and Labour party on their historic landslide victory. As they in New Zealand, “Mihi.”

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I hope the right hon. Lady will provide a translation for the benefit of Hansard.

Valerie Vaz Portrait Valerie Vaz
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Congratulations.

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The right hon. Lady kindly translated not only for the benefit of Hansard but for me. I believe the Prime Minister has also congratulated the Prime Minister of New Zealand.

I absolutely align myself with the right hon. Lady’s remarks on the anniversary of Aberfan. I am sure it will be remembered. It was a great tragedy, and it was acted on, with most coal tips removed for safety reasons. I also very much join her in sending best wishes to the hon. Members for City of Chester (Christian Matheson) and for Bolton South East (Yasmin Qureshi). The hon. Lady is an assiduous campaigner, and the work she has done on Primodos is of fundamental importance. I supported her strongly from the Back Benches, and I hope that she will soon be back to resume her effective campaigning and holding Government to account.

On the union learning fund—£1.4 billion on £12 million? That sounds a little bit exaggerated. One can always find experts to come up with some figures if they are asked. With that sort of return, they ought to be in my former profession of investment management rather than in a union learning fund.

As regards the Manchester issue, the Government have provided £60 million of taxpayers’ money, not £22 million. In Lancashire, Liverpool and South Yorkshire, agreement was reached with the Mayors, whereas in Manchester we had this ridiculous fandango with the Mayor pretending he did not know when he had been told by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government hours earlier. It was as if he was trying to go on the stage. It was the most ridiculous prancing performance that one could imagine when he should have been seriously trying to help the people of Manchester, which is what Her Majesty’s Government were doing. I am afraid he was playing party politics of the cheapest and most disagreeable kind, whereas people such as the Mayor of the Liverpool city region, who was clear in his political opinions when he was in this House, were able to work with the Government and put aside party political differences. He has shown himself to be a model of how to behave.

As regards Test and Trace in care homes, 120,000 test kits are made available to care homes on a daily basis, so the Government are doing everything they can to ensure testing in care homes. Of course, it is expensive to set up a system from scratch—that is not something people should be surprised about—but the system is now testing up to 300,000 people a day from zero earlier in the year, because nobody knew that Test and Trace would be needed. One should recognise that significant achievements have been made. Of course, I accept that it is expensive.

I will, once again, take up the issue of Nazanin, Anousheh and Luke Symons with the Foreign Secretary. I do so every week on the right hon. Lady’s behalf. She is right to carry on raising it. The Government are doing what they can, but obviously there are limits to what the Government can do when dealing with foreign regimes that are undemocratic.

As regards remote voting—we have discussed this on a number of occasions—it is important that MPs are here. MPs have a right to be here. They are essential workers, and all the advice that the Government have given, whether it be in tier 1, 2 or 3, states that people who have essential work to do must carry on doing it. We are in that category. We expect people to teach schoolchildren, and we expect other people in other categories to go to work, so we should do the same. We have, as yet, received no formal response from PHE on Divisions, but they seem to me to be working well and efficiently. We are getting through them in about 15 minutes, which is in line with the time that a Division takes ordinarily. The system is one that I think you came up with, Mr Speaker, and it is working extremely well.

David Johnston Portrait David Johnston (Wantage) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

In recent months, a number of constituents have written to me about completing processes online, and how it is assumed that they have a mobile phone that can receive a code, a smartphone on which they can download an app or, indeed, a good enough internet connection that will hold through multiple stages of a process. Given that more and more processes are going that way, may we have a debate about how we can ensure that our constituents are not indirectly excluded from being able to perform everyday tasks?

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My hon. Friend raises a really important point, and I am sure that many Members across the House understand the challenges facing some of our constituents in today’s digital age, especially in the covid-19 era, which is replete with essential smartphone apps and fast-moving data. I assure him that the Government are driving forward access to the digital world, with £5 billion of spending to ensure that the whole UK benefits from world-class broadband infrastructure. Mobile coverage is improving, and 91% of the UK is covered by a 4G signal from at least one operator. Although 91% sounds quite good, I must confess that when I am at home in Somerset and I have no mobile signal, 91% is not good enough, so it needs to get better. As we become more digital, this becomes more pressing.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Let us head to the SNP spokesperson in Scotland.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

You need to switch yourself on, Tommy. Unmute yourself. If the Leader of the House had worked in a textile mill, he would be getting this.

Tommy Sheppard Portrait Tommy Sheppard
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Thank you, Mr Speaker.

We should, I suppose, be grateful for small mercies, so I welcome the Government’s intention to extend the limited virtual participation and proxy voting until Easter. At least that represents a recognition that normal service will not be resumed any time soon. It is a slightly more mature and considered approach than the histrionics of last week, when the Leader of the House likened MPs to essential service workers.

To be clear, this decision establishes a default position that, although it is better than nothing, hardly represents the optimum or enthusiastic use of technology to deliver democracy. Will the Leader of the House allow a debate at the earliest opportunity after the recess on how we can do it better, which includes switching the remote voting system back on and allowing full virtual participation? I know that he does not support either of those approaches, but he must accept that there is now a majority across the House, including many in his own party, who do so. Let us have an open debate on a Government motion that can be amended by others and, crucially, since individual MPs are affected in different ways, let us have a free vote on the matter.

This week will have brought home to many in northern England what it feels like to be Scottish. Devolved structures are created to allow the voice of people in particular areas to be heard, but if that voice differs from Westminster’s, it is ignored. Moreover, the representatives of the people are then attacked and vilified, just to be sure. I feel much empathy for the people in the great regions of England, but my principal concern is that the Government’s piecemeal approach in England has grave consequences for Scotland. The Barnett formula provides Scotland with a proportion of new public expenditure in England, but what happens when the extra spending is in only 10% or 20% of England? The Barnett formula was not designed for such a situation, and that is why I ask again for a debate on helping the Scottish Government to fight the covid emergency by removing the fiscal and policy constraints that the UK has placed on it.

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The hon. Gentleman’s initial silence spoke eloquently for why we do not need a difference in the technology that we use. It showed why it does not actually work and why we are keeping this House sitting primarily in a physical sense, certainly for legislation: so that there can be proper scrutiny. It may be that some people like silence from the hon. Gentleman—most of us enjoy his questions—but that is not how to scrutinise Her Majesty’s Government.

As regards the funding for Scotland, UK taxpayers have contributed £7.2 billion to help Scotland, protecting 779,500 jobs. [Interruption.] The hon. Member for Paisley and Renfrewshire North (Gavin Newlands) heckles me, saying “We are UK taxpayers.” Does that not prove how beneficial it is to have the United Kingdom? I am hoping that he will now become a Unionist and join our Benches, because it is the United Kingdom that has provided the £7.2 billion and is helping Scotland, England, Wales, Northern Ireland and all the regions of our great nation.

David Amess Portrait Sir David Amess (Southend West) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Will my right hon. Friend find time for a debate on the support given to fairground and showground operators? Their livelihoods have been devastated by the restrictions placed on them by the coronavirus pandemic, and also by the taxation on red diesel.

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am in so much sympathy with my hon. Friend. In normal summers I spend a lot of time at fairgrounds. That is one of the things about having six children; what else is there to do on a Saturday afternoon but try to find a fairground? This year I missed the opportunity to do that or to open the Clutton flower show, which has lots of amusements attached.

My hon. Friend is right to raise the issue. The Chancellor announced in the 2020 Budget that the Government will remove the entitlement to use red diesel from April 2022, except in agriculture, fish farming, rail and non-commercial heating. The policy is designed to ensure that the tax system incentivises users of diesel to improve the energy efficiency of their vehicles and machinery, invest in cleaner alternatives or use less fuel. That is the argument for it, but let us hope that fairgrounds flourish.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I call the Chair of the Backbench Business Committee.

Ian Mearns Portrait Ian Mearns (Gateshead) (Lab) [V]
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the Leader of the House for his statement and for guaranteeing time for Tuesday’s very timely and successful debate on Black History Month. Our Committee has been able to fill all the slots available to us in Westminster Hall for the majority of November, and we have two Backbench Business debates scheduled for Thursday 5 November: a debate on a substantive motion on the coronavirus business interruption loan scheme, and a general debate on the UK’s role in ensuring innovation and equitable access in the covid-19 response.

I am also the chair of the all-party parliamentary group for football supporters. Last week, England’s six richest Premier league clubs put forward a disgraceful proposal, Operation Big Picture, to restructure the league. It was laced with bribes to English Football League clubs, many of which are under extreme financial duress, to secure their agreement. Thankfully the proposal was rejected, but the hares are running. Can we have a statement from the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and a debate in Government time about the future of our national game, which is in the hearts of millions in our country?

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The Black History Month debate on Tuesday was indeed a very successful debate, brilliantly wound up by my hon. Friend the Minister for Equalities. I am delighted to hear that Westminster Hall is using its time efficiently, which is very important. It is a reason for getting Westminster Hall back up and running, and another reason why we are here physically: to ensure that the Government can be held to account, not just in the main Chamber.

As regards Operation Big Picture, I must confess that the detailed workings of the football leagues is beyond my remit and realm of knowledge; if the hon. Gentleman had asked about the County championship, I would have been better placed to answer. However, I think he should ask his own Committee for the debate, because it would be very well subscribed and of great interest to many Members.

Greg Knight Portrait Sir Greg Knight (East Yorkshire) (Con) [V]
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Is the Leader of the House aware that over the years we have had several debates about unfair practices by the operators of private car parks, culminating in the passing into law of my private Member’s Bill, the Parking (Code of Practice) Act 2019, which he supported? Now that the consultation period for the new code of practice has closed, can the Government avoid the need for further debates by acting quickly to bring the code into force and bring transparency, fairness and justice for motorists when parking?

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My right hon. Friend knows the level of sympathy I have for that cause, which he has championed so effectively. He, like the Conservative party, is a fantastic supporter of motorists generally. He is a model for how we should back motorists and ensure efficient, fair and well-priced parking, which is one of the essential cogs in our local communities, and much of our local economy depends on it. Rogue private parking firms—they are not always private, it has to be said—have made drivers’ lives a misery, with improper fines, harassment, intimidation and over-zealous enforcement. I am very glad that the consultation has started, and I look forward, as my right hon. Friend does, to the implementation of the parking code of conduct, restoring fairness and accountability, and barring rogue parking firms from accessing Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency data. I hope the rogue parking firms are listening, because it is getting that DVLA data that has allowed them to make such a nuisance of themselves.

Jeff Smith Portrait Jeff Smith (Manchester, Withington) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

No sector has been harder hit by the pandemic than live music, and research this week says that the UK’s live music sector faces the loss of 170,000 jobs, which is nearly two thirds of the workforce. The culture recovery fund helped to some extent, but we did not help the thousands and thousands of freelancers who make up a big part of the industry. Could we have an urgent statement on what more we can do to help our fantastic, viable—when we are through the pandemic—and world-leading music scene?

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The hon. Gentleman referenced the culture recovery fund, which is important, at a total of £1.57 billion. The Arts Council has spent £160 million of taxpayers’ money on an emergency package supporting more than 10,000 organisations and individuals. In addition, £3.36 million has already been allocated to 135 grassroots music venues. Action is being taken, but I completely understand the hon. Gentleman’s point that it is particularly difficult for freelancers in this area.

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

May we have a debate about how many Select Committees we have in Parliament and the use of cross-departmental Committees to scrutinise money spent over a variety of Departments?

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Select Committees are ultimately a matter for the House and they have the opportunity to set up cross-cutting Sub-Committees among themselves. For the examination of cross-departmental spending, the Public Accounts Committee plays the crucial, most important role, but other Select Committees can, as I say, collaborate if they wish.

Alistair Carmichael Portrait Mr Alistair Carmichael (Orkney and Shetland) (LD)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Yesterday, the Court of Appeal held that Home Office regulations used for the removal of people under immigration rules, which have been used in an estimated 40,000 cases, were unlawful. Why has the Home Secretary not come to the House to make a statement in relation to that judgment, or are the views of the judges at the Court of Appeal to be dismissed as those of a bunch of lefty lawyers?

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The Home Secretary has the greatest respect for our judicial processes, as do all members of Her Majesty’s Government. The Home Secretary will be here for oral questions on 9 November. The good news is that the Home Secretary has announced that legislation on this matter will be coming forward, which will no doubt increase the clarity over the immigration law.

Virginia Crosbie Portrait Virginia Crosbie (Ynys Môn) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Ahead of COP26 and during the lead-up to the UK hosting the presidency of the G7, does the Leader of the House agree that we have an opportunity and a responsibility to lead the world, and will he agree to a debate titled, “Keeping the lights on while reducing greenhouse gases”?

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My hon. Friend—or, rather, Ynys Môn—leads the world in this respect. The nuclear power plant in her constituency can keep the lights on and the radiators warm in this country for decades for come, and that is a way of providing green energy. The UK is committed to delivering an ambitious and inclusive COP26 in 2021, to reaching net zero emissions domestically by 2050, and to doubling our international climate finance commitment to £11.6 billion from 2021 to 2025—but I think the answer is that where Ynys Môn leads, the United Kingdom and then the world follow.

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

My constituent Ewan Cameron was involved in an accident and assaulted. He undertook successful private litigation because, basically, his insurance company did not want to know. It then rebuffed his complaints while withholding information from its own solicitors. The Financial Ombudsman Service found against Ewan, although the complaints handler did make some criticisms of the FOS. The regulator now refuses to engage with me, saying the matter is closed. So can I have a Government statement advising how the regulator is regulated and how I get clarity for Ewan over a saga that has spanned a few years now?

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Once again, I pay tribute to the hon. Gentleman for the way he highlights issues for his constituents and regularly does so at Business questions. Regulators are, ultimately, accountable to this House, either via the Treasury Committee or via a Treasury Minister. I will happily take this matter up with the Minister responsible immediately after Business questions. I think the Financial Secretary to the Treasury has responsibility for this area, but I will certainly take it up with whichever of the Ministers it is.

Felicity Buchan Portrait Felicity Buchan (Kensington) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My council, Kensington and Chelsea, is at the forefront of rolling out electric vehicle car charging. Does my right hon. Friend agree that we need to invest in our electric vehicle infrastructure, so we can phase out diesel and petrol cars more quickly than 2040?

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I quite like petrol engines, I must confess, with some old cars. However, the Government have consulted on bringing forward an end to the sale of new petrol and—

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I think that is a jolly good heckle, don’t you, Mr Speaker, though for the record, I deny that I model myself on Mr Toad. The policy on petrol and diesel cars will be beneficial, and a consultation is taking place on bringing it forward earlier. My hon. Friend is absolutely right: the key to making this happen will be changes in behaviour driven by the ease with which people are able to charge their cars, and that means having more charging points. There is £500 million over the next five years to support the roll-out of infrastructure for electric vehicles, so taxpayers’ money is being spent in this direction.

Andrew Gwynne Portrait Andrew Gwynne (Denton and Reddish) (Lab) [V]
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank both the Leader of the House and the shadow Leader of the House for their kind words over recent weeks about my tandem skydive for local charity. I would also like to express my gratitude to the brilliant tandem instructor at Black Knights, Lee Rhodes, for safely delivering me back to earth without the need for a Denton and Reddish by-election. I did the jump for Florence, a six-year-old girl with a very rare life-limiting genetic disorder called GM1. Can the Leader of the House help find time for either a statement or a debate on GM1 and other extremely rare genetic conditions to help raise awareness across the House?

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

It is very reassuring to see the hon. Gentleman, albeit virtually, all in one piece. I join him in congratulating Black Knights for ensuring that everything happened safely. How inspirational it is of him, as a local constituency MP, to be raising money for such an important cause, GM1. I suggest, initially, that this is very suitable for an Adjournment debate, which would of course receive a ministerial response.

Joy Morrissey Portrait Joy Morrissey (Beaconsfield) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Does the Leader of the House agree that at a time of national crisis it is essential that Parliament continues to conduct its business of holding Government to account and representing our constituents in this place whenever possible? Will he commit to doing all in his power to enable Members of Parliament to continue to come to this place in person to enable us to do our duty?

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I entirely agree with my hon. Friend. Free, unhindered attendance at Parliament is one of our most ancient rights, going back to 1340. There is no law and no local lockdown that may prohibit elected Members from attending Parliament. But let us understand what we do in this House. Let us not downgrade our role. We are an essential service. It is crucial that the Government are held to account when extraordinary powers are taken, powers that many of us never thought a Government would be taking in our lifetimes. These must be scrutinised and voted on. My hon. Friend is absolutely right to use the word “duty”, which you personify, Mr Speaker. You have done your duty every day and we should do our duty, too.

Clive Efford Portrait Clive Efford (Eltham) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The Government’s view of devolution is that they dictate and local government must obey. The Transport Secretary has written to the Mayor for London, setting out his plans to expand the congestion charge to the north and south circulars. That excludes any opportunity for my constituents to have a say, because he wants it to be imposed in October 2021. Can we have a debate on devolution so we can speak up for our constituents against this dictatorship from the centre?

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The hon. Gentleman overstates his case. He needs to remember that the finances of Transport for London were extremely difficult prior to the coronavirus. The Mayor was not running Transport for London well. He was failing voters in London and running a deficit. Do I want a widespread extension of congestion charging? Does the Prime Minister want that? No. The Prime Minister has said he does not wish to see that because we all know that congestion charging is a means of taxing the motorist. But Transport for London has to be paid for and the Mayor has singularly failed to do that.

Andy Carter Portrait Andy Carter (Warrington South) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Last week I received a letter signed by eight local primary school headteachers. They are concerned about the state of their local leisure centre in Appleton, which has not been able to reopen since covid. That means that children cannot do PE lessons, at a time when we need to ensure that they are outside and getting lots of exercise. Set against that, Warrington Council has borrowed £1.6 billion to invest in offices in Manchester, supermarkets in Salford and even an energy company—all that while facilities in my constituency are run down and cannot be used. Can we have a debate in Government time to consider how local councils have accessed the Public Works Loans Board to fund reckless commercial investments, rather than using loans to support public facilities such as Broomfields leisure centre in my constituency?

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My hon. Friend raises an important point about the use of borrowing by councils, particularly if they are not providing the services they are meant to provide. I hope that the good people of Warrington have been able to enjoy other leisure facilities in the meantime, possibly even private sector ones. The Government are clear: councils should not borrow more than they need in advance of their own requirements, purely to profit from the investment of the extra sums borrowed. Councils are not speculators and they should not behave as if they are.

Patricia Gibson Portrait Patricia Gibson (North Ayrshire and Arran) (SNP) [V]
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

A memo that was recently leaked to the Bloomberg news agency revealed the view of senior Tories that the majority of people in Scotland support independence. Will the Leader of the House make a statement to set out why he believes that support for Scottish independence is at record levels? Does he agree with the view in the memo that continuing to dismiss calls for an independence referendum in Scotland is counterproductive?

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Six years ago, in the year of our Lord 2014, a referendum was held in Scotland to decide on whether Scotland wished to remain part of the United Kingdom. The people of Scotland, in their wisdom, voted to remain in the United Kingdom and that is why they are benefiting from £7.2 billion of UK taxpayers’ money to help them through the coronavirus crisis. The benefits of the United Kingdom are enormous. But I would say this, as an Englishman. I think it is absolutely wonderful that we are a single country to which Scotland has contributed enormously over the centuries. We are all kith and kin. We should be so pleased that we are a single country and grateful for the contribution of Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.

Elliot Colburn Portrait Elliot Colburn (Carshalton and Wallington) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Carshalton and Wallington residents living in New Mill Quarter in Hackbridge recently woke up to find that they had no heating or hot water for the eighth or ninth time in a few short months, thanks to the failings of the local Lib Dem district energy network. The scheme has tied residents into a long contract with no option to switch suppliers, and despite the patchy services and high utility prices, they cannot do anything about it. Can we have a debate about decentralised energy networks and how we can protect consumers such as those living in Hackbridge?

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am grateful to my hon. Friend, who, every single week, manages to come up with another example of absolute incompetence by Lib Dem councils. Perhaps he should ask the Backbench Business Committee for a more general debate on why the Lib Dems cannot run anything and why it would be better voting Conservative.

John Spellar Portrait John Spellar (Warley) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Across the country, the hospitality, sports and leisure industries and their millions of workers are facing closures and restrictions, despite very little evidence being provided that they will have any significant impact on the pandemic—especially the 10 pm shutdown. May we have a specific debate, in which the Government can finally provide the basis for such draconian actions and we, the industry and the public can debate them and be clear whether the benefits really justify the costs of these measures? Frankly, they seem to be driven more by the need to be seen to be doing something than by any evidence.

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

It is always difficult, when a debate has already been provided, when one is then criticised for not providing quite specific enough a debate. In a broad debate, any range of subjects can be raised relating to the coronavirus crisis. There is a debate later today, and one on the Monday when we get back, when these points can be raised. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care has made regular statements to the House, where he can be questioned on these issues. Therefore, I think parliamentary time has been provided, while recognising the real difficulty that people in the leisure and hospitality sectors find themselves in. It is very tough for them, but the Chancellor is making a statement later, and I am sure that right hon. and hon. Members will want to listen to that with care.

Sara Britcliffe Portrait Sara Britcliffe (Hyndburn) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Town centres such as Accrington and Haslingden are struggling. We have some of the most amazing businesses, such as the Unscripted boutique, D. T. Law and the Lancashire Tea Room. Will the Leader of the House agree to a debate on high street and town centre regeneration so that we can discuss how we can support amazing businesses such as mine in Hyndburn and Haslingden?

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My hon. Friend is right to raise the issue of support for town centres. There is the £3.6 billion town centres fund, which is making really important efforts to help rejuvenate town centres. Town centres are important as community centres as much as for the economic activity they provide, but their economic activity is crucial. I cannot provide a specific time for a debate, but I think it is a good issue for a Backbench Business debate.

Emma Hardy Portrait Emma Hardy (Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am sure, Mr Speaker, that you do not need me to tell you that rugby league clubs are the lifeblood of cities such as Hull. Yesterday I spoke to the owner of Hull FC, who explained the serious short-term challenges the club faces. May we have a Government statement to scrutinise the evidence behind the decision to close all open-air stadiums and what support can be given to rugby league clubs if the ban remains until April 2021?

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

As I have said before in the House, the Government are keen to look at ways of allowing spectators to go back in safely and will consider proposals as they are made. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport will be here to answer oral questions shortly after we are back, on 5 November, and that will be a good opportunity to raise this with him.

Philip Hollobone Portrait Mr Philip Hollobone (Kettering) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

We all need a little light diversion in these grim times, so may we have a statement in support of the annual world puddle jumping championships, which take place at the much-loved Wicksteed Park in Kettering? This year, due to the pandemic, the championships are going virtual and children across the land are being encouraged to send in video footage of their jumps, which will be judged on the basis of height of jump, enthusiasm, distance of splash, and the amount of mud covering the participant. Is this not just the sort of tonic we need in these difficult days?

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

This is a brilliant idea, and who cannot recall the episode of “Peppa Pig” where Peppa decides to go and jump in a muddy puddle, that being her favourite activity? She is joined by her brother, George, by her father and her mother, and I have a feeling even the grandparents join in, and they all get covered in mud. I cannot promise my hon. Friend that that will be what the Rees-Mogg household are doing on world puddle jumping day, but certainly a number of my children will enjoy doing it very much, and he is to be commended for ensuring that world puddle jumping day has a wider audience.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

And we mustn’t forget the Vicar of Dibley.

Chris Bryant Portrait Chris Bryant (Rhondda) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I have “follow me, follow, down to the hollow” ringing through my head now.

May I ask, I am afraid, about the Select Committee on Standards? As the Leader of the House knows, the Standards Committee is meant to have a majority of lay members who are able to vote. We have a lot of very important businesses; we have already done 11 reports in this Parliament and we have a major review of the code of conduct going on. We need a full quota of lay members. I am really grateful to the Leader of the House for tabling the single motion, which is down on the remaining orders, that would allow for Melanie Carter and Michael Maguire to be added to the Committee. I know that Standing Orders say we have to have a one-hour debate. Can I do a deal with the Leader of the House? If I promise that I will not speak in that debate and he promises that he will just move the motion very quickly, we could have a very short debate, and maybe we could get that done very quickly so that the Standards Committee can get on with its job.

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

When Standing Orders provide for a one-hour debate, it is only right that that time is properly provided, should Members wish to use it, but the hon. Gentleman will be aware that there are concerns over the way the recruitment process was carried out. There is disquiet in certain quarters with regard to that, and that is why the motion has not at this stage been brought forward, though it is under discussion.

Ian Liddell-Grainger Portrait Mr Ian Liddell-Grainger (Bridgwater and West Somerset) (Con) [V]
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My right hon. Friend will recall the treaty of Wedmore in Somerset, by which, as he knows, the Vikings were finally kicked out of Wessex, and perhaps there are lessons there for us. Today, we have a counterfeit county council pretending to represent the whole of Somerset, and it wants to become yet another faceless unitary authority. It reminds me of the Viking army of Ivar the Boneless—all brawn and no legs. Thankfully, the Government have promised to look at every option, including the excellent ideas—and they are excellent—from Somerset district councils, which capture the true spirit of King Alfred. The districts want to bring our county together, not divide it still more, and I welcome the fact that the Secretary of State has invited all Somerset councils, including our two existing unitaries, to submit ideas. Can we please have a debate on these matters soon because this county council, this narrow-minded Ivar the Boneless, wants to destroy our history? King Alfred must prevail.

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Ivar the Boneless was given his marching orders actually from Nottingham by Alfred the Great with his brother Aethelred I—not to be confused with the unready one who comes a little bit later. My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Ivar the Boneless must be moved out of Wessex—he ended up disappearing from history, as it happens, and is thought to have died in either 872 or 873. I have so much sympathy with what my hon. Friend is saying. Somerset is a great, single, individual county. It always seemed to me to be rubbing the salt in the wound of the 1974 local government reforms when Somerset County Council put up signs saying “Welcome to Somerset” when people were just going into its administrative area and not entering the great county.

Kevin Brennan Portrait Kevin Brennan (Cardiff West) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Can we have a debate on the proposition that every child matters? I notice that this morning the hon. Member for Eastbourne (Caroline Ansell), who was a Parliamentary Private Secretary, has resigned from the Government over yesterday’s debate and vote, no doubt because the tone of some of the speeches seemed to undermine that proposition and just wanted to attack the footballer Marcus Rashford who, following what happened said:

“Put aside all the noise, the digs, the party politics and let’s focus on the reality. A significant number of children are going to bed tonight not only hungry but feeling like they do not matter because of comments that have been made today.”

Every child matters—can we not all agree on that proposition?

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Of course we can agree that every child matters. It is a fundamental view of all civilised people. It is not a party political issue. It is not a Government/Opposition matter. The debate yesterday was very clear: it is about how we look after people, not whether we look after people. I would point out that there are 100,000 fewer children in absolute poverty than there were in 2010. There are 780,000 fewer children growing up in a workless household. An additional £1 billion childcare fund giving parents the support and freedom that they need is being established, so the Government are taking great steps to support every child and ensure that every child has the best start in life.

Jacob Young Portrait Jacob Young (Redcar) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I represent many fantastic communities in Redcar and Cleveland, but in Redcar town itself we have a specific problem with car crime. Every day we see images on social media of young lads in the middle of the night shining torches in car windows to look for valuables, and all too often the windows get smashed. I have raised this issue with my local chief constable, Cleveland’s acting police and crime commissioner, the Secretary of State for the Home Office and, now, the Leader of the House. Can we have a debate in Government time on how we can best tackle this recent surge in car crime, and does my right hon. Friend agree that the police and the courts should consider using all the mechanisms at their disposal to root out the yobs who are terrorising my communities?

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My hon. Friend is absolutely right to raise this issue and to encourage the police to use all the powers they have to root out car crime, which is a particularly unpleasant form of crime. It must be very difficult for my hon. Friend’s constituents who are suffering in this way. The Government are recruiting 20,000 extra police officers, and several thousand have already been recruited. That will ensure a bigger police presence for communities across the country, including in Cleveland. My hon. Friend will be able to raise these questions further with the Home Secretary, but in this House there are many ways of raising issues to up the political pressure—Adjournment debates, Backbench Business debates, urgent questions—and I am sure that with your advice and wise counsel, Mr Speaker, my hon. Friend will find all the ways he can use to keep this issue at the front of public attention.

Lisa Cameron Portrait Dr Lisa Cameron (East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow) (SNP)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

National Mentoring Day is on 27 October, and the all-party parliamentary group on mentoring, which I chair, is, in conjunction with the Diana Award, absolutely delighted to have over 100 MPs from across this Chamber signed up to mentor a young person next week. I had hoped the Prime Minister might sign up, but I hope he will tune in this morning, and perhaps have a look at this again and lend his support. May we have a statement or debate on the importance of mentoring in building resilience in young people, alongside the long-awaited mental health of children strategy?

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I congratulate the hon. Lady on what she is doing on mentoring. It is a way of giving young people a real chance to get ahead in their lives and make their mark. I am delighted to hear that 100 MPs are supporting her initiative. I will ensure that a message goes after this to No. 10 Downing Street so that the Prime Minister is aware of her request, although I cannot promise what the answer will be. I would really thank her for what she is doing. It is so important and such an important initiative.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

We now go to Harrow airways and, with permission to land, Bob Blackman.

Bob Blackman Portrait Bob Blackman (Harrow East) (Con) [V]
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Thank you, ground control.

Harrow Council is currently considering three very controversial planning applications for building high-density, multi-storey flats on Stanmore, Canons Park and Rayners Lane station car parks. These have received thousands of objections from residents all over Harrow who are concerned about the loss of car parking and the imposition of these high-rise developments. Harrow Council planning committee is likely to consider the Canons Park station application in December and the Stanmore one in January, but for some strange reason, Rayners Lane is going to be delayed till June. Stanmore and Canons Park are both in Conservative-held wards, and the Labour-run council has decided to postpone the Rayners Lane application until after the mayoral elections next year. Could we have a debate in Government time on political interference in the planning process, which reeks of corruption?

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I think that is a bit too long a question.

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My hon. Friend raises a point that is deeply concerning and he raises a very serious charge. Politically motivated interference in matters such as planning is improper, and I will ensure that the Housing Secretary is made aware of this. It is, of course, a matter for Harrow Council, but once the internal process has been exhausted, it may be possible to involve the local government ombudsman. Local authorities have to abide by a code of conduct, and to make planning decisions for electoral gain is thoroughly improper.

Emma Lewell-Buck Portrait Mrs Emma Lewell-Buck (South Shields) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My constituent Mr Latimer has for nearly two decades campaigned to halt the flow of illegal sewage dumping on to Seaburn beach behind his home. A ruling eight years ago stated that the levels of sewage breached legal guidelines, and new evidence shows that to this day dumping levels continue to be breached. This Government and the Environment Agency are ignoring him, the Whitburn Neighbourhood Forum and my pleas to try to sort this out. Why is this, and when can we have an urgent debate on this matter?

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

This is a matter of great concern. It was raised last week by my hon. Friend the Member for Dover (Mrs Elphicke), who represents Dover and Deal. There are legal requirements on water companies to ensure that sewage is not dumped illegally. This must be taken up with Ofwat, and enforcement action must be taken if this is happening. I will ensure that the concerns the hon. Member for South Shields (Mrs Lewell-Buck) has raised are passed on. I cannot think of anything more disagreeable for her residents than to have to be suffering from this.

Shaun Bailey Portrait Shaun Bailey (West Bromwich West) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I can take the rough and tumble of this place as much as anyone, but some of the language we heard yesterday was abhorrent, particularly the use of the word “scum”. Now, I am sorry, but I got a phone call at half-11 last night from my mum saying that she had had people using that type of wording down the phone at her because she is my mother, and today my staff members have been called with that type of abhorrent abuse. It is absolutely not on. Can my right hon. Friend give us a debate in Government time on the standard of conduct we have in this Chamber, because the language we use impacts on people beyond us, and perhaps he will bring the hon. Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Angela Rayner) here to apologise not just to us, but to my mum, who has had to abhor that today?

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My hon. Friend is right to say this. His mother should be enormously proud of his being a Member of this House. There is no greater service one can give to one’s fellow Britons than by being a Member of Parliament. It is the highest honour that one can have and the greatest service that one can do. I am sure his mother was aware of that before I said it, but I hope he will ensure that she does know that is a high position that he holds and that it is one of honourability.

The Chairman of Ways and Means dealt with the issue yesterday in the way we would expect from the Chair and dealt with it extremely clearly, but I remind Members of “Erskine May” paragraph 21.21:

“Good temper and moderation are the characteristics of parliamentary language.”

Inevitably when discussing heated political matters, people state their case forcefully, but they must do so politely.

Feryal Clark Portrait Feryal Clark (Enfield North) (Lab) [V]
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The Government have used negotiations with Transport for London to impose longer operational hours, the congestion charge and the removal of freedom passes and under-18 passes for transport. Only this week, leaked Government plans have shown their intention to expand the congestion charge to the north and south circulars and to impose above-inflation fare rises. Instead of levelling unfounded and unfair criticism at the Mayor of London—criticism that has not been levelled at private firms that the Government have bailed out during the pandemic—can we have a debate in Government time on these leaked eye-watering proposals that are likely to impact 4 million Londoners, including my constituents in Enfield North?

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The Mayor of London has always done everything he possibly can to make life miserable for the motorist, and no doubt he wishes to continue to do so. He is no advocate of the motorist. The Conservative Government on the other hand are, with the largest road-building programme in decades and a real commitment to making motoring easier and helping people drive in the way that they wish to do. The fact that Transport for London has run out of money is because it was running out of money before the coronavirus, because it was badly managed by an incompetent Mayor.

Selaine Saxby Portrait Selaine Saxby (North Devon) (Con) [V]
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

While it is important that our workplace is covid-secure and that we lead by example in Parliament, can my right hon. Friend advise how we avoid overstepping into a territory of impractical, unhealthy working conditions that overstretch even Government guidance and instead have an effective, safe, yet sensible working environment for colleagues and staff across the House? What is the process for reversing the unpopular measures that have already been employed, as and when we eventually emerged from this pandemic?

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am grateful to my hon. Friend, because she gives me the opportunity to pay tribute to the House authorities, obviously to you, Mr Speaker, and to Marianne Cwynarski. Between you, you have done amazing work to ensure that the House’s proceedings are carried on in a covid-secure way and that the staff of the House and of Members are kept safe in the House of Commons while we have been following Public Health England’s guidelines. My hon. Friend is right to say that we provide an essential service and we must be here, and that the restrictions must be lifted as soon as they can be. They are all temporary. I look forward to this Chamber being full and bustling once again, but that will have to come when it is safe to do so. I look forward to not having to wear a face mask, but again that must be done when it is safe to do so. We must lead by example to the country at large, both in our dutifulness and in our adherence to the rules.

Alex Davies-Jones Portrait Alex Davies-Jones (Pontypridd) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

This Sunday, our clocks will go back one hour as part of daylight saving time. According to a recent Government report, 59% of the British population would rather remain on summer time, and I think we can all agree that the last thing our country needs is another hour of 2020. With that in mind, will the Leader of the House agree to a debate in Government time to discuss the practice of moving clocks backwards, so that we can follow the EU in scrapping this outdated and unnecessary practice?

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Until the hon. Lady said, “follow the EU”, I might have been tempted, but I am afraid that I always enjoy the extra hour in bed. It is such a luxury to find that one gets the clocks going back to Greenwich mean time and has that extra hour’s sleep. More importantly, people in Scotland in particular would have very late mornings if we did not change the clocks. This was debated in 2010 and 2011, and it has been considered recently. When it was last tried, it was then unwound in both the UK and Portugal, so I am not sure that the appetite for change—and certainly not the appetite to follow the EU—is all that great.

Andrew Jones Portrait Andrew Jones (Harrogate and Knaresborough) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

In constituencies such as mine, the closure of the events and conference industry has hit local B&Bs and guest houses hard. Harrogate and Knaresborough are popular places to visit, even when there is not a pandemic. The House will be aware of the parks and gardens and Mother Shipton’s cave, and I know that my right hon. Friend is familiar with Bettys. With international travel being more difficult, can we have a debate on how best to support our domestic tourism sector and all the excellent hospitality businesses that are part of it?

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am indeed familiar with Bettys, because when I went to speak for my hon. Friend, I was provided with a goody bag of delicious provisions at the end of the evening. I also note that Harrogate has been declared the best place in the country to work—I am sure that that is because it has such a fantastic Member of Parliament, and the broadband is merely incidental. The Government are trying to do what they can to help tourism. With our wider economic package, we have given one-off grants for eligible hospitality and leisure businesses, and VAT has been cut from 20% to 5% until the end of March. Tourism is obviously seasonal, and therefore the situation is being watched closely to ensure that the right policies continue to be implemented. He may want to raise further questions with the Chancellor—if you have been kind enough to put him on the call list, Mr Speaker—shortly after this.

Gavin Newlands Portrait Gavin Newlands (Paisley and Renfrewshire North) (SNP)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Last month, the leader of the Scottish Conservatives, the hon. Member for Moray (Douglas Ross), called for free school meals to be provided to every primary school pupil in the country, stating:

“I just want to make sure no-one falls through the cracks”.

Well, last night he failed to vote for free school meals, and his five Scottish colleagues voted against them. Can we have a debate in Government time on how many children in England will fall through the cracks as a result of his Government’s refusal to extend free school meals?

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

As I said earlier, the Government have done a great deal to alleviate poverty for children and have provided £380 million in food vouchers for families in need over the summer. Free school meals have only ever been intended to support pupils during term time. There has been an increase in universal credit of £1,000 a year, an increase in local housing allowance, £180 million in discretionary housing payments to councils, a £63 million local welfare assistance fund so that councils can help those in financial difficulties, and £16 million for food charities.

The Government take this issue really seriously and have made great steps to help people who are finding life difficult due to the consequences of the coronavirus. We must sometimes understand in this House that we seek the same end, but by different means. There is nobody in this House who does not want to alleviate food poverty, but there are different ways of doing it. We think it is best done through the normal functioning of the welfare system and by the additional measures that the Government have taken. That is an honest disagreement, but it is not a lack of concern.

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

Last Friday I visited the Grimsby seafood village—which, despite its name, is in my constituency—and met businesses that had established themselves or, indeed, expanded during the covid pandemic. We will need those sorts of businesses to develop and establish themselves in order to ensure that the economy recovers after we get through this crisis. Could we have a debate to discuss how we may support new businesses?

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

First, I congratulate Grimsby seafood village on doing so successfully in the current circumstances and my hon. Friend on being a promoter of it. The Government are taking unprecedented action to support jobs and livelihoods across the UK, with more than £200 billion of taxpayers’ money being spent, including £11 billion in business grants and £10 billion in business rate relief. The summer economic update contained £33 billion of support through the jobs retention bonus and the eat out to help out scheme. The Chancellor will be here momentarily, and I am sure the Cleethorpes champion will be asking for Cleethorpes to get its fair share.

Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

On 13 August 2020, some 60 parliamentarians from 28 countries around the world sent a letter to the Vietnamese President, calling for the immediate and unconditional release of imprisoned Vietnamese human rights activist, Nguyen Bac Truyen, who was abducted by Vietnamese police on 3 July 2017 in Ho Chi Minh City. Truyen’s ongoing imprisonment highlights the issues that many face in Vietnam in the exercise of their right to freedom of religion or belief. Will the Leader of the House agree to a statement or a debate on this very pressing issue?

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The hon. Gentleman is perhaps the House’s most tireless campaigner for freedom of religion and for protection of religious minorities against persecution, and he has a great deal of support for what he does. The UK is committed to defending freedom of religion or belief for all and promoting respect between different religious and non-religious communities. Promoting the right to freedom of religion or belief is one of the UK’s human rights policy priorities, as it should be. The UK remains deeply concerned about the severity and scale of violations and abuses of freedom of religion in many parts of the world, and this issue will be raised with the Vietnam authorities at all suitable opportunities.

While answering the hon. Gentleman, may I congratulate him? I believe that, this week, he has become a grandfather for the fifth time, though he does not look old enough to have possibly managed this.

Peter Bone Portrait Mr Peter Bone (Wellingborough) (Con) [V]
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

A number of Members across the House have been campaigning all their political lives to get this country free from the shackles of the European Union. Therefore, it is exceptionally good news that the European Union has recently changed its position on a comprehensive free trade agreement and that Mr Barnier is coming to London this afternoon to try to finalise that deal. Will the Leader of the House recommend to the Prime Minister that Parliament should be recalled next week for a statement and a debate if such a historic agreement is reached?

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am sure that my hon. Friend took the pleasure that I took that Monsieur Barnier decided that he might come to talk to us on Trafalgar Day, which seemed to have a certain historic resonance. I do not think that it would be right to recall the House next week for a statement, but the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and, indeed, the Prime Minister have regularly kept this House up to date with developments in the negotiations.

Robert Largan Portrait Robert Largan (High Peak) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Can we have a debate on how we can help our high streets and small businesses? I want to highlight Buxton’s future high streets fund bid, which has been shortlisted by the Government. I sincerely hope that it is successful. Buxton high street has had some difficult years, but there are lots of reasons for optimism, such as Buxton Crescent, which has just reopened after a £70 million heritage refurb into a five-star hotel and spa. That is just another of the brilliant reasons why everyone should come to visit Buxton, Britain’s best spa town, as soon as it is safe to do so.

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Buxton is a wonderful spa town. I might slightly quibble about “best” seeing as my constituency is so close to Bath, and I might upset my neighbours if I were to—[Interruption.] Ah, it is a city. We can agree then, although Harrogate might be upset. I had better not say which is the best in the country, but Buxton is certainly a very beautiful spa town. I am delighted to hear about the reopening of the Buxton Crescent after the £70 million refurbishment. As I said earlier, high streets are essential to our towns and our sense of community, and it is really important to use the £3.6 billion towns fund well. My hon. Friend is such a fantastic champion for his own area, and this is important because we want people to visit our great and historic towns and cities and spend money there and keep the economies going and thriving.

Chris Bryant Portrait Chris Bryant
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I am seriously worried about the Leader of the House’s answer about the Standards Committee, because we do need to be fully functioning. It is in the interests of the reputation of the House that we have all seven lay members appointed. It is nearly six months now since we went down to five lay members instead of seven. It is three months since the Commission, which you yourself chair, Mr Speaker, agreed the names that came forward through a process in which I was not involved at all. I note that the legislation says that the motion can be brought forward by any member of the Commission, but I wonder whether there is any means of you making sure that we are able to function fully as soon as possible.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

That is not a point of order for the Chair, but what I will say is that the Leader of the House has heard what has been said. I do not want to continue the debate from earlier, which, as an expert like yourself knows, I should not be doing. I do not want to make any further comment, so we shall leave it at that.

In order to allow the safe exit of hon. Members participating in this item of business and the safe arrival of those participating in the next, I am suspending the House for a few minutes.

11:39
Sitting suspended.

Covid-19: Economy Update

Thursday 22nd October 2020

(3 years, 8 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
11:43
Rishi Sunak Portrait The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Rishi Sunak)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Let me speak first to the people of Liverpool, Lancashire, South Yorkshire and Greater Manchester, and other areas moving into or already living under heightened health restrictions. I understand your frustration. People need to know that this is not forever; these are temporary restrictions to help control the spread of the virus. There are difficult days and weeks ahead, but we will get through this together. People are not on their own. We have an economic plan that will protect the jobs and livelihoods of the British people, wherever they live and whatever their situation. Just as we have throughout this crisis, we will listen and respond to people’s concerns as the situation demands.

I make no apology for responding to changing circumstances, so today we go further. The Prime Minister was right to outline a balanced approach to tackling coronavirus, taking the difficult decisions to save lives and keep the R rate down while doing everything in our power to protect the jobs and livelihoods of the British people. The evidence is clear: a regional, tiered approach is the right way to control the spread of the virus. My right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary to the Treasury yesterday set out for the House our economic support for businesses that are legally required to close. We are providing: billions of pounds of support for local authorities and a grant scheme for affected businesses, worth up to half a billion pounds every month. Of course, we also expanded the job support scheme, with the Government covering the cost of paying two thirds of people’s normal wages if their employer had been legally required to close. For areas in local alert level 3, we have made available over £1 billion of generous up-front grants, so that local authorities can support businesses, protect jobs and aid economic recovery in a fair and transparent way. That is our plan to support closed businesses.

But it is clear that even businesses that can stay open are facing profound economic uncertainty. This morning I met business and union representatives, including those from the hospitality industry, to discuss the new restrictions. Their message was clear. The impact of the health restrictions on their businesses is worse than they hoped. They recognise the importance of the tiered restrictions in controlling the spread of the virus, but a significant fall in consumer demand is causing profound economic harm to their industry. It is clear that they and other open but struggling businesses require further support, so I am taking three further steps today.

First, I am introducing a new grant scheme for businesses impacted by tier 2 restrictions, even if they are not legally closed. We will fund local authorities to provide businesses in their area with direct cash grants. It will be up to local authorities to decide how best to distribute the grants, giving them the necessary flexibility to respond to local economic circumstances, but I am providing enough funding to give every business premises in the hospitality, leisure and accommodation sectors a direct grant worth up to £2,100 for every month for which tier 2 restrictions apply. That is equivalent to 70% of the value of the grants available for closed businesses in tier 3. Crucially, I am pleased to confirm that these grants will be retrospective; businesses in any area that has been under enhanced restrictions can backdate their grants to August.

I have been listening to and engaging with colleagues around the House, including—but not only—my hon. Friends the Members for Heywood and Middleton (Chris Clarkson), for Hyndburn (Sara Britcliffe), for Penistone and Stocksbridge (Miriam Cates), for South Ribble (Katherine Fletcher), for Burnley (Antony Higginbotham), for Keighley (Robbie Moore), for Cheadle (Mary Robinson), for Leigh (James Grundy) and for Southport (Damien Moore), and I am pleased to confirm that the backdating of the new grants means that we are being more generous to the businesses and places that have been under higher restrictions for longer. Let no one say that this Government are not committed to supporting the people and businesses in every region and nation of the United Kingdom.

Secondly, to protect jobs we are making the job support scheme more generous for employers. If businesses are legally required to close, as we have already outlined, the Government will cover the full cost of employers paying two thirds of people’s salary where they cannot work for a week or more. For businesses that can open, it is now clear that the impact of restrictions on them is more significant than they had hoped, particularly for those in the hospitality sector. I am therefore making two changes to the short-time work scheme to make it easier for those businesses to keep staff on, rather than make them redundant: first, under the original scheme, employees had to work for 33% of their normal hours, whereas now we will ask them to work only 20% of those hours; and secondly, the employer contribution for the hours not worked will not be 33% as originally planned, or even 20% as it is in the October furlough scheme, but will reduce to 5%.

The scheme will apply to eligible businesses in all alert levels, so that businesses that are not closed, but which face higher restrictions in places such as Liverpool, Lancashire, South Yorkshire, and Greater Manchester, as well as the devolved nations, will be able to access greater support. These changes mean more employers can access the scheme and more jobs will be protected. We have made this one of the most generous versions of a short-time work scheme anywhere in the world. It is better for businesses, better for jobs and better for the economy.

Thirdly, as we increase the contribution we are making towards employees’ wages, I am increasing our contribution to the incomes of the self-employed as well. Today we are doubling the next round of self-employed income support from 20% to 40% of people’s incomes, increasing the maximum grant to £3,750. So far through this crisis, we have provided more than £13 billion of support to self-employed workers. Sole traders, small businesses and self-employed people are the dynamic entrepreneurial heart of our economy, and this Government are on their side.

In conclusion, a wage subsidy for closed businesses, a wage subsidy for open businesses, cash grants of over £2,000 a month for tier 2 businesses and up to £3,000 a month for closed businesses, support for local authorities, support for the self-employed, support for people’s jobs and incomes, all on top of over £200 billion of support since March. This is our plan—a plan for jobs, for businesses, for the regions, for the economy, for the country. A plan to support the British people. I commend this statement to the House.

11:51
Anneliese Dodds Portrait Anneliese Dodds (Oxford East) (Lab/Co-op)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

For months, we have urged the Chancellor to get ahead of the looming unemployment crisis and act to save jobs. Instead we have had a patchwork of poor ideas rushed out at the last minute: a bonus scheme that will pay £2.6 billion to businesses that do not need it; a job support scheme that simply was not going to work for the majority of businesses under pressure and that we said at the beginning did not do enough to incentivise employers to keep staff on; and an approach to support for areas entering tier 3 that has been nothing short of shambolic.

This has had real consequences. The deadline for large-scale redundancies came and went before the Chancellor announced the job support scheme, the deadline for small business redundancies passed before he realised that he needed to amend it, and many parts of our country have spent months under tier 2 restrictions without adequate support. How many jobs have been lost because of that inaction? Over a million have already gone. In the last quarter, we saw a record rise in redundancies. The Chancellor could have done much more if he had acted sooner.

Now we see yet another last-minute move. Let me ask the Chancellor. What has changed that means that this is the right thing to do now but it was not when parts of the north and midlands entered tier 2 many weeks ago? Does he agree with his own Mayor for the west midlands who said that

“this particular point was just one that was completely missed”.

Completely missed was the need for support for tier 2 areas. The Chancellor has only caught up and listened to the anxiety of workers and businesses when it looks like these restrictions will be affecting London and the west midlands. Will he apologise to those who have already lost their jobs and seen their businesses slip through their fingers in those areas that have not had that support until now?

The Chancellor referred to £1 billion of generous up-front grants for businesses and jobs provided in a “fair and transparent way”. There has not been a system of up-front grants for those in the north and midlands, and the process has not been fair and transparent for businesses and workers. To be honest, it is nothing short of insulting to describe what we have seen over the past few weeks as fair and transparent. The Government still have not published the formula that has been used for business support in tier 3 areas, and they still seem addicted to the approach where they say they are in negotiations with different areas but the reality is something completely different. When will he come clean about that support and the formula that is being used?

Will the Chancellor also make good on his Government’s claim that the JSS extension will be topped up to at least 80% for workers facing hardship? I know this is difficult for the Government. I see that the Prime Minister is sitting next to the Chancellor; he thought it would be topped up for everyone to 93%. I think that is what he said. Clearly the Government are not very sure on this, so maybe I can spell it out for them. That support does not amount to 80% for huge numbers of workers facing hardship—for example, those who have modest savings or who are excluded for other reasons, as so many are—and they have to wait five weeks anyway before they get that help. That could be fixed speedily by the Government, but they are refusing to do so. Does the Chancellor also recognise that those fixes for social security must apply to the self-employed, for whom an increase to just 40% of their previous income will not stave off hardship—and that is not to mention those who have been excluded throughout.

This is becoming like a long-running television show: the winter economy plan, series 3. But the twist is that it did not last the winter, it did not do enough to help the economy and it was not a plan. We have to get ahead of this crisis instead of always running to keep up. That is why Labour has called for a national circuit breaker to give us a chance to reset and to fix the broken test, trace and isolate system, but time is running out to implement that circuit breaker so that it includes half term and maximises the opportunity it brings. Will the Chancellor change course?

Rishi Sunak Portrait Rishi Sunak
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

This is the third time I have come to this House in several weeks to outline additional support for the economy, jobs and livelihoods. It is a sign of the seriousness of the economic situation we face, and I will never make any apology for acting fast as the moment demands and as the health situation evolves. But at the heart of this debate is a more fundamental difference on the right approach for protecting livelihoods and lives. We on this side of the House believe it is right to be honest about the hard choices we confront and about the fact that there is no easy cost-free answer. With every restriction comes difficulty, and that is why we are doing everything we can to strike that balance between saving lives and protecting livelihoods.

We have made progress, and that is why we are now able to operate a localised, tiered approach. That is why, even now, in the most affected areas we are striving to keep businesses open, and that is why the support I have announced today is as generous as it is, to give as many businesses and employers as possible the opportunity to keep working and keep trading. All this progress and all this hope are being put at risk by Labour Members’ repeated calls for a damaging, blunt, national lockdown. They will not say for how long, but they have already admitted that it would roll on with no clear end in sight. They will not say how many jobs would be lost through such a national lockdown. They claim that their approach—an indefinite series of national on-off lockdowns—would be better for the economy. I am afraid the facts simply do not support that conclusion.

The policies we have outlined today strike that balance. They support our approach—a localised, regional approach that is striving to get that balance between protecting jobs and protecting livelihoods. They will support people in every region and nation of this United Kingdom. They will protect people’s jobs. They will support their incomes and provide their families with security and with hope for the future.

Throughout this crisis, I have always stood ready to work with all hon. Members in every business group, industry group and trade union to work through solutions and deal with this crisis. While the situation evolves and the challenges change, my approach will not—to build consensus, to reach out to those with different views, to work past tribal political point scoring and to support our country through this moment of immense challenge so that we come out on the other side a stronger, more United Kingdom.

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride (Central Devon) (Con) [V]
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I welcome my right hon. Friend’s statement. Once again, he has listened to businesses. When it comes to lockdowns—I have to say that I agree with the remarks he has just made about circuit breakers—may I draw his attention to the minutes of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies meeting on 21 September, which state:

“Policy makers will need to consider analysis of economic impacts and the associated harms alongside this epidemiological assessment. This work is underway under the auspices of the Chief Economist.”?

Will my right hon. Friend update the House on the progress that has been made by the chief economist? Does my right hon. Friend agree that, to ensure a balanced public debate, the chief economist or a similar economic expert should join the epidemiologists for No. 10 covid press briefings?

Rishi Sunak Portrait Rishi Sunak
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My right hon. Friend is absolutely right. The Opposition referenced the SAGE minutes but seemed to forget about that part of them, which rightly struck a balance between protecting jobs and protecting lives. He can rest assured that the Government will always do that. I may spare the chief economist the pleasure of attending the press conferences, but my right hon. Friend is right to say that that analysis is taking place. I have presented some of it at the press conferences, and I am happy to talk more about it at the Dispatch Box.

Fundamentally, my right hon. Friend knows, as I do, that our economy faces enormous strain. Almost three quarters of a million people have already lost their jobs, and, sadly, more will. That is why a regional, targeted approach is the right one. It allows us both to protect lives and to protect livelihoods.

Alison Thewliss Portrait Alison Thewliss (Glasgow Central) (SNP) [V]
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

This is the third statement from the Chancellor in the space of a month, but that is not a sign of good management; it is a sign of panic and chaos from this Government. None of this should be coming as a surprise to them. It is telling that the Government have put out more under embargo today than they gave out to the Opposition spokespeople—a sign of real disrespect to the other parties in this House.

We in the Opposition have called for more certainty and a plan, because the evidence is that we are not coming out of this coronavirus crisis any time soon. The Chancellor has not listened or responded, so I ask again for three things. I ask him to listen and to act; to extend furlough and the self-employment income support scheme at the rates from earlier in the year to protect jobs and livelihoods; and to fill the gaps and help those who are excluded completely from his support schemes. He knows that that is a problem, and he is choosing to ignore it.

I ask the Chancellor to keep the £20 uplift to universal credit and extend it to legacy benefits, including for those who have disabilities. Two thirds of the minimum wage is not enough to live on, and not everybody is entitled to universal credit. Huge gaps remain: carers, asylum seekers, those with disabilities and those with no recourse to public funds have all been left behind by this Government, with a cold, long winter ahead.

Significant sectors such as culture and the arts, hospitality, food and drink wholesalers, tourism, transport and aviation, and many more are not going back to normal any time soon, and they deserve Government support. Will the Chancellor align his support scheme with the Scottish Government’s public health proposals and those of the other devolved institutions?

UK Government support for Scotland does not go far enough to mitigate the local lockdowns that we have faced. The UK Government must now provide clarity on the Barnett consequentials to help us to plan and protect businesses and our people. The Scottish Government need this now—today—not in three months’ time, not eventually and not at some point in the future. We need it now, and the Chancellor should give clarity on it today so that the Scottish Government can act.

The Chancellor’s scheme has been full of holes. Time and time again, he comes here in a knee-jerk reaction, full of panic, rather than planning ahead for a situation that we told him would arise. This is nowhere near “whatever it takes”. I ask him to go further today, and to work with all the Opposition parties and the devolved institutions to get this right.

Rishi Sunak Portrait Rishi Sunak
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

When we outlined the original job support scheme, it was actually very warmly welcomed not only by various business groups, including the CBI, the Federation of Small Businesses and the chambers of commerce, but by the trade unions, because everyone at that moment recognised that it was a significant and generous intervention to protect the jobs and livelihoods of the British people. But the situation has changed. The health restrictions are having an impact, particularly in the hospitality sector, which the hon. Member for Oxford East (Anneliese Dodds) mentioned. That is why we have taken the steps that we have today. We are providing the certainty that she asked for, as this scheme will last for at least six months through to next spring. There is certainty over that. The grants we have outlined today will work on a monthly basis for as long as businesses are either in tier 2 restrictions or are closed under tier 3. Businesses can plan on that basis.

With regard to the Barnett consequentials, the Government will always ensure that people will benefit from this support wherever they are living in the United Kingdom. That is why we have provided an up-front guarantee to devolved nations worth £14 billion, which will help them also to plan at what is, I understand, a difficult time for everyone.

Robert Largan Portrait Robert Largan (High Peak) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am really pleased that the Chancellor has listened and shown that this Government will always support the north. I am delighted that these tier 2 retrospective measures, such as the expansion of the job support scheme and the business grants, will make a massive difference to people living in Glossopdale in my constituency who have been under tier 2. On the business grants, may I urge the Chancellor to make certain that the money and the guidance on how that money can be used is made available to councils as soon as possible so that the businesses who need it can get it urgently and help to save jobs?

Rishi Sunak Portrait Rishi Sunak
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My hon. Friend has been right to champion the situation for his local businesses. I know that they will warmly welcome this. I can give him the assurance that we will work as quickly as possible to provide the guidance. As I said, the grant value will be calculated on the number of hospitality, leisure and accommodation business premises, scaled by their rateable value. Added to that will be a 5% discretionary top-up, and then the local authority can use its discretion to allocate the money as it sees fit for its local area.

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

It seems the Chancellor’s much-vaunted winter economic plan has not even lasted the autumn. His tinkering with the system demonstrates that he has been behind the curve all along, and it has sowed hardship and confusion. Why is the support he offered in March not being replicated as the virus comes back and we are suffering a second wave in October? Why is he trying to achieve local lockdowns on the cheap?

Rishi Sunak Portrait Rishi Sunak
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I would not consider that providing £200 billion of total support could ever be accused of doing anything on the cheap. That money has gone to support public services like the NHS, and people’s jobs, livelihoods and businesses. I commit to this House that we will continue to do everything that is required, and continue to adapt and evolve as the circumstances demand.

Bernard Jenkin Portrait Sir Bernard Jenkin (Harwich and North Essex) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank my right hon. Friend for bringing forward this package, for listening and for acting in the interests of the economy. Is it not essential that we align the interests of business and the economy with the interests of controlling the virus, rather than let those become polar opposites in argument with each other? Can we perhaps draw back from some of the partisanship that has soured relations over the past few days, because that does not do any good for public confidence in how we are all tackling this very difficult and wearing crisis?

Rishi Sunak Portrait Rishi Sunak
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Those are wise words from my hon. Friend. He is right to highlight the importance, in this House and elsewhere, of our adopting a constructive and collegiate approach to tackling what is clearly a national crisis, and one that we will get through. We will get through it by working together and emerging stronger on the other side.

Gerald Jones Portrait Gerald Jones (Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

From tomorrow, Wales will begin a 17-day firebreak lockdown to help to control the spread of the virus. During that period, there will be two support schemes from the Treasury as one ends and another one starts. The First Minister of Wales has asked the Chancellor to allow Welsh businesses to access the job support scheme a week early. He has refused, so a further request has been made to ease the rules on furlough for one week to allow people to get that support. We need to ensure that bureaucracy is reduced to allow Welsh businesses to protect jobs, so will the Chancellor be flexible, and what support, specifically, will he give to Welsh businesses?

Rishi Sunak Portrait Rishi Sunak
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

We have tried to reduce the bureaucracy by making sure that we do not have overlapping schemes at the same time. That would only increase complexity for businesses. We have endeavoured in all ways to provide support on a UK-wide basis, as I have said in conversations with the First Minister and others. We are doing this on a UK-wide basis in the knowledge that devolved nations are making individual decisions that ultimately the UK Government and UK taxpayer will be funding. That situation will work only if people can work in a constructive and aligned spirit, which is what I have said to all, and I very much hope that that can be continued in the coming months.

Andrew Mitchell Portrait Mr Andrew Mitchell (Sutton Coldfield) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I greatly welcome my right hon. Friend’s statement. The measures he has announced are significant and generous, delivered in a manner that is fast becoming this Chancellor’s hallmark. May I thank him for hearing the powerful arguments advanced by the west midlands Mayor, Andy Street, especially in respect of the hospitality industry, and for addressing the serious business jeopardy that did lie between tiers 2 and 3?

Rishi Sunak Portrait Rishi Sunak
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My right hon. Friend is right that the Mayor, Andy Street, has been vocal, and rightly so, in highlighting the particular impact of the tier 2 restrictions on the hospitality industry. That helped inform our decision to act today, with speed and scale, to provide support to those businesses, which will be warmly welcomed in his area.

Patrick Grady Portrait Patrick Grady (Glasgow North) (SNP)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I wonder if the Chancellor regrets ruling out of hand the SNP’s calls in the spring for a universal basic income. Will he calculate what impact a minimum income guarantee like that would have had for employers, employees and the self-employed alike, and what the overall cost would be, compared with the billions he is finding for all these myriad schemes? Will he calculate the long-term costs of millions more on universal credit and other social security benefits, with the consequences of that on the economy and society?

Rishi Sunak Portrait Rishi Sunak
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The Government do not agree with the universal basic income. It would not be right to provide money to millions of people who have absolutely no need of it; that would just detract our resources, which are targeted on those in most need, as has been our approach throughout the crisis.

With regard to universal credit and welfare, the Government believe that the best way to help people is to provide them with work and opportunity. That is why all our efforts are targeted on providing that support to protect as many jobs as possible while recognising that we cannot protect every single job. That is why we have also strengthened our safety net, with billions invested in universal credit and local housing allowance and, crucially, funding provided for new opportunities through training and apprenticeships to help people find fresh opportunity and a brighter future.

Scott Benton Portrait Scott Benton (Blackpool South) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Although I welcome the Chancellor’s statement, the imposition of tier 3 restrictions in Lancashire will inevitably mean that many of my constituents will be significantly worse off. While the additional funding for Lancashire, including the £42 million package, is welcome, there will still be far too many businesses who cannot access the Chancellor’s direct support. Hundreds of hotels in my constituency stand to lose thousands in lost bookings, but, because they have not been mandated to close, they will not be entitled to the additional support packages. Will he take steps to ensure that businesses such as small hotels, which are completely unviable under tier 3 restrictions, can access grants and the extended job support scheme?

Rishi Sunak Portrait Rishi Sunak
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am happy to tell my hon. Friend that the money provided to Lancashire, as it entered tier 3, for overall business support can be used precisely to help the businesses he rightly mentions that are being affected by the restrictions, even though they are open. That funding is there for the county council and other local authorities to do that. The enhanced generosity of the job support scheme I have announced will go a long way to helping those businesses as well, making it easy and affordable for them to get the wage support they need from the Government to protect as many jobs as possible.

Christine Jardine Portrait Christine Jardine (Edinburgh West) (LD)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

While I appreciate yet another partial U-turn from the Chancellor, what the country needs now more than anything is leadership, clarity and confidence that the Government are in control rather than this constant reaction and a patchwork with every hallmark of having been written on the back of a cigarette packet that we are getting from this Government. I plead with the Chancellor to consider going the whole way and keep the job retention scheme going after the end of October, let the devolved nations know what consequentials they will have—they need to plan as well—and give the country what he promised. He said he would do whatever it takes; this is not it.

Rishi Sunak Portrait Rishi Sunak
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The hon. Lady asks for an extension of the job retention scheme. It is worth drawing her attention to the fact that the employer contribution to the job retention scheme in October is 20%, whereas under the new, more generous, job support scheme it has been reduced to 5%. That is more generous and will protect more jobs and more people’s livelihoods.

Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I welcome the Chancellor’s commitment to helping the whole United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland; we much value the money that has come forward. May I speak for the distribution sector, which daily delivers perishable foods not only to care homes, the NHS and schools, but to pubs, cafés and restaurants that are closed in tier 2 and 3 locations? The costs for distribution remain the same for jobs, vehicles and businesses. What help can those in the distribution sector access as a result of the Chancellor’s announcement?

Rishi Sunak Portrait Rishi Sunak
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The hon. Gentleman makes an important point about the supply chains of those who serve the hospitality industry. I draw his attention to two things. The tier 2 grant programme that I announced today will contain a 5% discretionary top-up, which local authorities can use at their own discretion to support local businesses; they may choose to use some of it to address the needs that he outlines. Also, we have not targeted the enhanced generosity of the job support scheme purely at the hospitality industry, or indeed purely at businesses operating in tier 2 areas, because we recognise the complexity of the supply chains that he mentions. The very generous job support scheme will be available for all businesses in all parts of the country, regardless of sector, which I think will make an enormous difference to the businesses that he mentions.

Matt Vickers Portrait Matt Vickers (Stockton South) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

They say that good things come in small packages. Well, my right hon. Friend might be small, but he has delivered a huge package of job-saving, business-boosting support that will benefit the people of Stockton South and people right across the country. I thank the myth, the man, the legend who is my right hon. Friend for this life-saving support for businesses in my patch. Will he continue to review and react promptly to the ever-changing situation in his characteristically charismatic way?

Rishi Sunak Portrait Rishi Sunak
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am very grateful for my hon. Friend’s kind—I think—compliments; he knows that he is a large part of the reason why I am in this House, so he can take as much of the credit or blame for that as is required. I can give him the reassurance that he seeks. I have been delighted to visit his local businesses with him, and I know that he is an enormous champion for his local community, high streets and businesses. He works very hard on their behalf, and I know that the measures that we have announced today will make a difference to him and make sure that his community continues to be a thriving place.

Navendu Mishra Portrait Navendu Mishra (Stockport) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Alan Gent runs the Petersgate Tap in my constituency. He employs five members of staff and the impact of the pandemic was already choking his business. He is not currently paying business rates, but his private landlord has rejected his request for a rent holiday, and now that Stockport is in tier 3, he cannot stay open. The support currently offered is woefully inadequate. Will the Chancellor now commit to addressing the real hardship of those who work in Stockport’s pubs, bars and hospitality sector?

Rishi Sunak Portrait Rishi Sunak
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I have every sympathy with the hon. Gentleman’s constituent—I know what a difficult time it must be for him and his team and for those in similar industries—but actually I think that the support provided already will help him. The pub will be eligible for a business rate cash grant of up to £3,000 per month that he remains closed under tier 3 restrictions; across the UK, it will vary by place, but that should largely cover the vast majority of small and medium-sized pubs’ rental bills for that time. Of course, the five team members that the hon. Gentleman mentions could be put on the expanded job support scheme at essentially no cost to the employer. Those employees’ wages will be protected and covered by the Government.

Andrew Jones Portrait Andrew Jones (Harrogate and Knaresborough) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I congratulate my right hon. Friend on his statement and thank him for all he is doing. Harrogate and Knaresborough is at the medium level, tier 1, but areas surrounding it are in the higher tier 2 category. Businesses have noted that with concern and are worried about what might happen should the position change and our tier be increased. The enhanced package will therefore be welcomed; I welcome it strongly. Does my right hon. Friend agree that the reduction in employer costs will result in more jobs being saved?

Rishi Sunak Portrait Rishi Sunak
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

As ever, I thank my hon. Friend for his thoughtful comments. He is right. That is why we took the decision to make this a universal approach, with enhanced generosity, to deal with the situation he mentioned of businesses operating in proximity to other areas under restrictions—those supply chains. This is a universal, generous approach, designed, as he said, with a lower employer contribution, to make sure that we can protect and support as many jobs as possible.

Kerry McCarthy Portrait Kerry McCarthy (Bristol East) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Back in March, the Chancellor said that those in the exhibition sector with physical properties and business rates would be eligible for the cash grant, but when they approached their local councils they found out that that was not true and that, because they did not open their premises to the public, they were not eligible. Exhibition companies in my constituency have received minimal support and are really struggling, and it looks like conferences and mass events will not go ahead until a vaccine is in place. It might not offer a photo opportunity like being a waiter at Wagamama, but may I urge the Chancellor to meet exhibition companies, including those in my constituency, and hear how much they are suffering?

Rishi Sunak Portrait Rishi Sunak
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The hon. Lady might make disparaging comments about photo opportunities at Wagamama, but that was precisely because that sector employs 2 million people who are disproportionately lower paid, from ethnic minorities, younger and women. It is right that we focus our support on those in the hospitality sector, because they are particularly impacted by the restrictions.

The hon. Lady is right to highlight the plight of those in the events and exhibition industry. I am very sympathetic to that. Those businesses with business premises will receive business rates relief if they are in those categories. Indeed, the categories for the tier 2 grants that we have announced today will include hospitality, leisure and accommodation, under the Valuation Office Agency codes. Exhibition and events spaces are typically included in that, so they will be included in the calculation of the grant value provided to local authorities.

Andrew Griffith Portrait Andrew Griffith (Arundel and South Downs) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Business leaders I speak to, both in Arundel and South Downs and nationally, recognise that tailoring our response to the circumstances is a strength, not a weakness. They also know that there are no easy choices, but the worst of all worlds would be a blunt national circuit break, which would cost rather than save jobs.

Rishi Sunak Portrait Rishi Sunak
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My hon. Friend is absolutely right on his last point. We are lucky to benefit from the considerable business experience that he brings to this place. He is right that, in business as in public policy, it is right that we evolve and adapt to the circumstances. That is what we have done today, but it is right that we do it in a targeted, tiered way, not with the blunt national instrument that, as he rightly says, would unnecessarily cause hardship and cost jobs.

Alex Norris Portrait Alex Norris (Nottingham North) (Lab/Co-op)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I understand that at half-past 4 today a Government Minister will meet local leaders in Nottingham to put us into the third tier. We had to find that out through the media, because local Members of Parliament have not been invited, which is saddening. If measures need to be taken to protect the health and wellbeing of our community, we will of course support them, but they will have a profound impact on our local economy. If Nottingham moves into tier 3 this afternoon, what package of support will the Chancellor put in place to protect our jobs and businesses?

Rishi Sunak Portrait Rishi Sunak
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I know that it is a difficult time for the hon. Gentleman’s constituents, and he is right that they should engage constructively. I am glad that he and his local area are doing that. There will be a variety of support available. Closed businesses will receive grants of up to £3,000 a month, paid centrally. Obviously, similar to other areas, there will be a negotiation and a conversation with the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, which will result in an amount of support being provided for businesses. Of course, as the hon. Gentleman will know, there is also a formula to provide the local authority with support of up to £8 per head, and that money is used to enhance local compliance enforcement and contact tracing. I know that those conversations are ongoing and I very much hope that they will have a constructive outcome.

Stephen Metcalfe Portrait Stephen Metcalfe (South Basildon and East Thurrock) (Con) [V]
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I warmly welcome my right hon. Friend’s statement and thank him for supporting people and businesses across Essex. Already more than 15,000 people have benefited from the furlough scheme, and more than 5,000 from the self-employment income support scheme. These additional measures to support those who have been adversely affected by the recent introduction of tier 2 in Essex are welcome. Will he confirm that he will continue to do whatever it takes to support our country and our economy?

Rishi Sunak Portrait Rishi Sunak
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I can give my hon. Friend that assurance. He mentioned some numbers, and that is ultimately what it is about. We stand in this place and talk about many billions of pounds and policy, but often it is about the people and the jobs and livelihoods that we are trying to protect. I am delighted to hear that the 20,000 people he mentioned have benefited from the support that this Government have put in place, and I can give him and them the assurance that we will continue to do exactly that.

Ben Lake Portrait Ben Lake (Ceredigion) (PC)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

As Wales enters a firebreak lockdown tomorrow evening, there are concerns that there will be a week-long gap in support between the end of the furlough scheme and the introduction of the new wage support scheme. It would be good if the Chancellor could consider giving Welsh businesses early access to that scheme. May I ask him to clarify the eligibility criteria, in particular whether seasonal workers will be eligible for support?

Rishi Sunak Portrait Rishi Sunak
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

There will not be any gap in support, I am pleased to tell the hon. Gentleman, because, as he knows, the CJRS runs all the way to the end of this month and the job support scheme starts on 1 November. There will be complete coverage and no interruption. We provided Barnett funding on the grants from the moment I announced them, so that is also available to the Welsh Government. With regard to the specific treatment of seasonal workers and the computation of the reference earnings, that is set out in the guidance for the CJRS and that will remain consistent in the new job support scheme.

Richard Fuller Portrait Richard Fuller (North East Bedfordshire) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

In his statement on 8 July, my right hon. Friend said his measures would be always

“unencumbered by dogma”

and

“driven always by the simple desire to do what is right.”—[Official Report, 8 July 2020; Vol. 678, c. 937.]

He was right then and he is right today in announcing these measures. I noted the extension in support for the self-employed, which will now extend all the way through to April. Will my right hon. Friend assure me that he is also working with the Health Secretary to ensure that we are doing whatever we can to get self-employed people and everyone else into work and back to work without restrictions as quickly as possible?

Rishi Sunak Portrait Rishi Sunak
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. The self-employed are a part of the entrepreneurial side of our economy that will help to drive our recovery. It is right that they receive support and I am proud that the support we have put in place—over £13 billion benefiting almost 3 million people—is one of the most comprehensive and generous packages of support for the self-employed. Ultimately, however, his last point is the one we should focus on. The best way to help people is to allow them to get on and do the job they love doing, and allow them to trade.

Chris Bryant Portrait Chris Bryant (Rhondda) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am not going to quibble; I think all of this is good and I am delighted that it is being announced today. However, I just want to say to the Chancellor that some of the measures he has announced apply across the whole of the UK and some apply only in England. That provides a lot of confusion for a lot of ordinary people out in the country who do not watch what we are doing in here every day and do not follow every element of the minutiae. Will he clarify precisely how much of the money he is announcing today is really new money to be spent in England through local authorities on the new business grants in tier 2 areas? How much extra money—I do not want to know about the earlier £14 billion for the devolved nations—because of Barnett consequentials is now coming to Wales?

Rishi Sunak Portrait Rishi Sunak
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his comments. He is right and I can appreciate the confusion. We try to do things on a UK-wide level, but obviously not everything will be on that level. I cannot give him a precise figure, because these are demand-led schemes. What we have tried to do is provide upfront funding guarantees in advance of that demand being drawn down in England and the Barnett consequentials being delivered. We true those up on a regular basis—I am happy to write to him with further details—but we try to provide the funding to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland in advance of that demand actually occurring in England. I think that is a better and more generous approach for the devolved nations.

Laura Trott Portrait Laura Trott (Sevenoaks) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I welcome the Chancellor’s statement. Keeping a link to viable jobs is absolutely crucial, so does my right hon. Friend agree that it is better to keep businesses open and functioning where possible with support, rather than locking down nationally, multiple times?

Rishi Sunak Portrait Rishi Sunak
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. When I talk to both businesses and employees, they say that what they want is to be able to go to the jobs they love. They want to be able to do that. They want to be able to serve customers and they want to be able to welcome us all back to their restaurants, pubs, cafés and so on. She is right that we have to strike that balance. I think the approach that the Government have taken does that—it strikes that balance. The support we have put in place today will enable as many of those people to remain in their job working hard and hopefully have a fulfilling future to come.

Deidre Brock Portrait Deidre Brock (Edinburgh North and Leith) (SNP) [V]
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

It is good to see the Chancellor has found the magic money tree of Tory myth and given it another shake, but the money needs to go to the self-employed, the smallest businesses and the poorest households. He will have total control of VAT soon. Will he look at cutting tax on household essentials? Will he target the support for job retention schemes at the smallest businesses, so they can continue to employ people, rather than offsetting the wage bill of some supermarkets? Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose are not feeling the pinch the way that small enterprises are feeling it. Will he send the cash where it will do the most good?

Rishi Sunak Portrait Rishi Sunak
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The hon. Lady is right in saying that support should now be targeted at where it can make the most difference. That is why our approach has evolved through this crisis, and what was universal at the beginning and at the peak of the crisis has now evolved into a more targeted approach. To give one example, a difference between the job support scheme and the old furlough scheme is that now large businesses—precisely the kinds of businesses she mentioned—will not be able to access the job support scheme, especially with its new, more generous terms, unless that business is seeing revenue decline. That sensible change means that support is rightly targeted at smaller and medium-sized businesses that need our help at this difficult time, and not at the large businesses that are not seeing any change to their business model.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Let us head to Ludlow and Philip Dunne. There is no sound, so I call Naz Shah.

Naz Shah Portrait Naz Shah (Bradford West) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I do not need to tell the Chancellor about the way we are going, with the economy plunging further into a crisis. The biggest thing that businesses in my constituency tell me is that uncertainty is their biggest enemy. We have now been under extra restrictions for more than 150 days. If we go into tier 3, and given that the Chancellor does not want a planned circuit breaker, what support will he give to businesses in my constituency of Bradford West? Importantly, how long should they be prepared for uncertainty?

Rishi Sunak Portrait Rishi Sunak
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am pleased to tell the hon. Lady that the tier 2 grants that I announced today will be backdated, so that her businesses and local authority will receive funding that is backdated to when they entered tier 2 restrictions. I think those grants worth up to £2,000 over a month will be of enormous support to businesses in her constituency, at what I appreciate is a difficult time.

James Wild Portrait James Wild (North West Norfolk) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Although Norfolk remains in tier 1, the additional support for hospitality, tourism and other businesses is welcome. As well as the short-term measures in this plan for jobs, looking longer term, will my right hon. Friend bring forward proposals in the spending review for tourism zones, including one for Norfolk and Suffolk? Will he accelerate the roll-out of gigabit broadband for businesses in North West Norfolk, so that they benefit sooner from greater connectivity?

Rishi Sunak Portrait Rishi Sunak
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My hon. Friend regularly reminds us all about the importance of digital connectivity in rural areas such as his, and indeed mine, and he will know, as I do, that the Government are committed to bringing both gigabit-capable broadband and mobile phone networks to all the parts of our country that otherwise might not have as strong connectivity as they would like. I know he will join me in welcoming that, as it will make an enormous difference to the local economy in his and other rural areas.

Debbie Abrahams Portrait Debbie Abrahams (Oldham East and Saddleworth) (Lab) [V]
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Twenty-three OECD countries had job subsidy schemes in place for a major event such as a pandemic, but unfortunately, the UK was not one of them. The Government’s piecemeal approach to the pandemic is leading many of my constituents to ask why we were so poorly prepared for it in every single way. In Oldham East and Saddleworth, unemployment has nearly doubled since March. We know now that across the country nearly 300,000 people were not eligible for social security support. A third of those people were disabled and one in 10 were from the north-west. How many low-income workers covered by this new financial package will be excluded from social security support to top up their wages?

Rishi Sunak Portrait Rishi Sunak
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The hon. Lady is right to say that we did not have a wage support scheme when we entered this crisis, which is why I place on record my thanks to the fantastic team of officials at the Treasury and at HMRC for acting with unbelievable speed and decisiveness in helping me to create, design, and implement these schemes in record time, enabling us to help pay the wages and protect the jobs of more than 9 million people.

Luke Evans Portrait Dr Luke Evans (Bosworth) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Last night I had a meeting with the Hinckley business improvement district and met businesses that raised concerns about what would happen should they go into tier 2. At the time I told them that the Chancellor and the Treasury were listening, and I am pleased to welcome the support for businesses in tier 2, should my area move into that. In the spirit of listening, will the Chancellor consider providing a road map for businesses that are struggling the most, such as those running weddings, events and conferences and those in the travel industry, to try to provide some clarity and certainty going forward?

Rishi Sunak Portrait Rishi Sunak
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for raising this. He has raised with me the impact on businesses in his area of a potential move into tier 2, and I hope he will be reassured by the announcements today. Travel and events are interlinked. As he and I know, we must work to find a way to allow more travel to happen. The Transport Secretary has spoken to colleagues about that. He is actively engaged in working with industry and health professionals to see what more we can do to facilitate greater ease of travel, and therefore open up travel corridors and help our events industry.

Stephen Farry Portrait Stephen Farry (North Down) (Alliance) [V]
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

It is important that the public health and economic support measures move in harmony. Northern Ireland had to go into tighter restrictions on 16 October, ahead of other parts of the UK. The 20% employer contribution in the outgoing job retention scheme is a major challenge for employers to keep jobs. Given that the Chancellor has shown some flexibility today, will he reconsider the timescale of the new scheme and backdate the 5% employer contribution to 16 October?

Rishi Sunak Portrait Rishi Sunak
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Given that the grants are backdated, if that results in extra Barnett consequentials, of course that extra funding will flow to Northern Ireland, as it will to other devolved nations. With regard to the job support scheme, as I said, there will be no interruption of coverage between one scheme and the other. As the hon. Gentleman points out, the employer contribution will be significantly reduced on 1 November.

Dehenna Davison Portrait Dehenna Davison (Bishop Auckland) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am incredibly grateful to my right hon. Friend and the whole Treasury team for their work, and I would especially like to thank my hon. Friend the Member for East Surrey (Claire Coutinho) for her engagement on this matter. I am already receiving messages from my constituents to say that they are delighted with these schemes. Bishop Auckland landlords will be helped out by this. I just have one question: how quickly can we expect these grants to hit businesses? I know that County Durham did an exceptional job of getting them out last time, but if he could provide a timeline, I would be grateful.

Rishi Sunak Portrait Rishi Sunak
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I know that my hon. Friend is a proud champion of all her local pubs, judging by all her Instagram photos—I am very jealous. Having visited many of them with her during the campaign, I am glad that she is providing them with the support that they need at this difficult time. I know that these grants will make a difference. I can reassure her that we will work very quickly to get the guidance out. The funding will be available on a monthly basis; a month after the restrictions start, the funding will be there for those businesses.

Martyn Day Portrait Martyn Day (Linlithgow and East Falkirk) (SNP) [V]
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The Chancellor has announced the latest package of covid measures, and we clearly face a further protracted period of the crisis, with more and more areas going into local restrictions. Given the regional packages announced for England, will the Chancellor tell us exactly what the Barnett consequentials will be, as devolved nations need to plan properly for their own mitigation measures?

Rishi Sunak Portrait Rishi Sunak
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I refer the hon. Gentleman to my answer to the hon. Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant). We have taken the approach of providing up-front funding guarantees to devolved nations, worth £14 billion currently, and we will update and review those regularly. In all ways, dealing with these demand-led schemes is difficult, which is why we have taken this approach, which is generous and better at providing up-front funding to devolved nations.

Robert Neill Portrait Sir Robert Neill (Bromley and Chislehurst) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The Chancellor’s measures will be welcomed by the hospitality sector in London, although I hope he might have a word with the Health Secretary about the point of a 10 pm curfew if it is members of a family dining together. Will he look carefully at support for the events sector? As he knows, that sector supports not only private events but many large corporate events. We have a great number of those of the highest quality in London. There are thousands of jobs and millions of pounds of turnover involved here, but because these businesses do not serve food directly to the public from their production kitchens, they have not so far been able to benefit from the business rate relief scheme. Can we look at those loopholes that they have been falling through?

Rishi Sunak Portrait Rishi Sunak
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank my hon. Friend for his comments. Where the guidance is not clear on businesses that are legally required not to open but not legally closed and therefore do not benefit from some support, we are actively looking at that and ensuring that we can fix it. Events and exhibitions are one of the VOA categories that will be included in the hospitality and leisure calculation that we use for the tier 2 grants I have announced today. More generally, the best thing we can do is try to open up more travel and, as time progresses and we can do more testing, to get life back into that sector by allowing it to get on with what it wants to do, which is to put on a fantastic events.

Nick Smith Portrait Nick Smith (Blaenau Gwent) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

In March, the Government increased the basic allowances for both universal credit and working tax credit by £20 a week, but that uplift is only temporary; it will expire next April. Does the Chancellor accept that, after what we all expect to be a tough winter ahead, that will mean taking nearly £1,000 a year away from those families who really need it?

Rishi Sunak Portrait Rishi Sunak
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

We did put in place the temporary uplift of universal credit  but, as the hon. Gentleman says, it still has five or six months to run; it will be in place to support vulnerable families throughout the difficult winter period and is there all the way until next spring.

Gagan Mohindra Portrait Mr Gagan Mohindra (South West Hertfordshire) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I welcome the measures announced today. As the Chancellor will be aware, 15,400 people have benefited from the furlough scheme in South West Hertfordshire, and I applaud the sustainable and affordable approach he has adopted. Does he agree that the approach needs to remain pragmatic, with an evolution of policy, to give more certainty to our communities?

Rishi Sunak Portrait Rishi Sunak
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. In the face of something we have never seen before—we are all grappling with how to deal with it—it is right that we remain pragmatic and flexible; it is not right to be wedded to dogma and be unwilling to change when the facts change. We will always do that, as we grapple with the health crisis and the economic crisis. We will remain flexible and nimble, but always with the same values and principles underlying what we do, which is to try to protect as many people’s jobs and livelihoods as we can.

Kirsten Oswald Portrait Kirsten Oswald (East Renfrewshire) (SNP) [V]
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The UK Government wax lyrical about a flexible labour market as a strength of the UK economy, but the Chancellor’s support packages have excluded millions and so many will continue to be excluded from support. So will he again look at provisions for the millions who still fall through the holes in his schemes? If he will not do the right thing by these excluded groups, will he please release the resources to devolved Administrations to allow them to do so?

Rishi Sunak Portrait Rishi Sunak
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Our support for the self-employed remains among the most comprehensive and generous anywhere in the world, and is now approximating almost £13 billion for almost 3 million people. Barnett consequentials of more than £13 billion or £14 billion have been provided to the devolved nations and, if the Scottish Government choose to do something different with that, that is of course up to them.

Stephanie Peacock Portrait Stephanie Peacock (Barnsley East) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

In the past six months, the number of people forced to claim unemployment benefit in Barnsley has doubled. If the Chancellor is saying that livelihoods have to be balanced against lives, should the people of Barnsley expect unemployment to rise, the death rate to rise, or both?

Rishi Sunak Portrait Rishi Sunak
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

It is exactly because we need to adopt a balanced approach that we have taken the more regional and tiered approach that we have. We never pretended there are easy choices here—it would be wrong to say otherwise. We are balancing protecting the economy and protecting people’s jobs and livelihoods while suppressing the virus, in the least damaging way possible. There is no perfect answer. As I said, there are no easy choices. But we will always be honest about that and try to tread that careful path between those two things. What would be more damaging for people’s jobs and livelihoods is a blunt national lockdown, which would inflict unnecessary hardship and suffering on people where the virus is not particularly rampant.

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

Throughout this crisis, the Chancellor has shown himself to be adaptable, nimble, flexible, dextrous and agile—perhaps it is down to the Peloton bike or a yoga exercise. I do not know what it is down to, but those are critical skills, essential for success in any endeavour. I thank him from the bottom of my heart for the measures he has announced today, which will benefit my constituents, who have struggled so much to keep their livelihoods afloat. I am truly grateful to him. Does he agree that the sledgehammer blunt instrument of a circuit breaker or fire break—call it what you like, but that type of lockdown—would be devastating to our communities and our economy? Will he do everything he can to ensure that that does not happen?

Rishi Sunak Portrait Rishi Sunak
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My hon. Friend is absolutely right, and I thank her for her warm words. She knows, as someone who is a huge champion of small businesses in her area, repeatedly bringing their concerns to this Chamber, how damaging it would be to inflict unnecessary pain and suffering on those businesses and those people’s jobs and livelihoods. That is why the Prime Minister’s and this Government’s approach of a regional, tiered strategy is absolutely the right one.

Tony Lloyd Portrait Tony Lloyd (Rochdale) (Lab) [V]
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The Chancellor will recognise that, although the tier system is only a few weeks old, Greater Manchester has been de facto in tier 2 for three months, before moving into tier 3 this week. The Chancellor told the House, in reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford West (Naz Shah), that these grants will now be retrospective. Can he be absolutely clear: will the grants for Greater Manchester go back to the beginning of our period of de facto tier 2 and not simply to when the Government introduced the more formal, legalistic tier 2?

Rishi Sunak Portrait Rishi Sunak
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Yes, I can, and I hope I did, provide that reassurance. For all areas that have been suffering essentially de facto restrictions, as the hon. Gentleman said, we will backdate the grants through to the beginning of August as required, and that will benefit many local businesses in Greater Manchester. I am grateful for the representations I had on this matter from many colleagues around the House, including many of those I mentioned in my statement.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Let us head up to Yorkshire with Julian Sturdy.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

We will go up to Scotland for the next question, from Neil Gray.

Neil Gray Portrait Neil Gray (Airdrie and Shotts) (SNP) [V]
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

It has taken weeks for the Chancellor to tinker with his job support scheme to get it to a better place, as if he was surprised by the impact that the necessary public health restrictions would have; it really prompts the question why he did not just keep furlough. But the big question today is why he did not do anything about making the universal credit £20 per week lifeline permanent and extending it to legacy benefits, which would have disproportionately benefited disabled people at this difficult time.

Rishi Sunak Portrait Rishi Sunak
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Maybe the hon. Gentleman knew something that the TUC and every other business group did not when they warmly welcomed the introduction of the job support scheme, but I am grateful to have his thoughts. He might also want to have a word with his colleague the hon. Member for Edinburgh North and Leith (Deidre Brock), who said that it was wrong to give support to large businesses that were benefiting from this crisis. That is exactly why it would be wrong to extend the furlough scheme. The job support scheme is more targeted in its approach, makes sure that those types of businesses are not able to access support and, as I have mentioned, is more generous to employers than the October furlough scheme.

Huw Merriman Portrait Huw Merriman (Bexhill and Battle) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I warmly welcome the Chancellor’s statement and thank him and his colleagues, and indeed the Department, for everything they are doing. It would take the most churlish of people to claim that this is anything but flexible, nimble and massive support for business. I recognise that, in making the job support scheme more generous, the Chancellor is now providing support for businesses that are open, and that is absolutely welcome. What steps are being taken in respect of those businesses that are open and perhaps do not need as much support—or, indeed, there could be fraudulent claims—to protect the taxpayer?

Rishi Sunak Portrait Rishi Sunak
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My hon. Friend is absolutely right, and that is why we have evolved our approach. Whereas earlier in this crisis, when we were facing something that was happening with enormous speed and severity, we erred on the side of being more universal in our approach and acting quickly, obviously, as time has progressed, we can be more targeted—more effective—to root out misuse of these schemes and make sure that support is targeted where it is most needed. As I said, one example of that is all the various new eligibility criteria for the job support scheme, ensuring that large businesses that are not suffering a revenue decline will not be able to access the scheme. There are also conditions around redundancy notices and the ability of large companies to make capital distributions while using the scheme. All those are sensible changes that go to the heart of what my hon. Friend said: we should target our support on those who really need it.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Let us return to Yorkshire with Julian Sturdy. I think he has got his voice back.

Julian Sturdy Portrait Julian Sturdy [V]
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Thank you, Mr Speaker—take two. I thank my right hon. Friend for listening to the concerns that have been raised by York’s tourism and hospitality sector and announcing an extensive package of support for areas such as York that have been left in limbo under the tier 2 restrictions. However, does he agree that the best way to support York’s wider economy is to get us back to tier 1 as swiftly as possible? Can he assure me that the support announced today will not be used to justify prolonging additional restrictions for longer than is necessary?

Rishi Sunak Portrait Rishi Sunak
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My hon. Friend is absolutely right: the best way to help businesses and protect people’s jobs is to allow businesses to trade and allow the economy to function as normally as possible. The support we have put in place today will not be used as an excuse not to do that, and as the Prime Minister said, we will be reviewing all these restrictions on a 28-day basis. Of course, we all want to see our local areas get back to as much of normality as they can, as quickly as possible.

Emma Hardy Portrait Emma Hardy (Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

One hundred and nine coach companies have gone bust, with 7,100 people made redundant, which is one sixth of the entire coach industry. Coach companies tell me that one reason for that is that they fall between gaps in support, being classified as neither tourism nor essential travel. Please will the Chancellor look urgently into what specific support can be given to the coach industry? Will the relevant Minister meet me and representatives of the sector to discuss their concerns?

Rishi Sunak Portrait Rishi Sunak
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am happy to organise for a relevant Minister to meet the hon. Lady. I hope that those companies—she is right about the difficult time they are experiencing—will have been able to access, for example, the bounce back loans or the coronavirus business interruption loans to help them with cash flow, and ditto with the VAT deferral and time to pay. But I appreciate that it is a difficult time for them, and the best thing we can do is allow more economic activity so they can get their coaches full as quickly as possible.

Kevin Hollinrake Portrait Kevin Hollinrake (Thirsk and Malton) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I warmly welcome this package of support. Nevertheless, as the Chancellor has acknowledged, this will be a difficult winter for some businesses. When we move into what I hope will be a spring recovery, we will see the reintroduction of the full rates of VAT and business rates. Would my right hon. Friend consider phasing in the reintroduction of those at slightly lower levels to allow businesses to get back on their feet in these very important sectors?

Rishi Sunak Portrait Rishi Sunak
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

As ever, I am grateful for my hon. Friend’s advice and support. He is right: the business rates holiday we have put in place this year has provided over £10 billion of support to almost 1 million businesses. I know what a vital lifeline it is, so of course we keep all measures under review. Future fiscal policy is for Budgets, but I thank him for raising the point with me.

Richard Burgon Portrait Richard Burgon (Leeds East) (Lab) [V]
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

When I previously asked the Chancellor about furloughed workers having to survive on less than the minimum wage, his callous response was that they would be “able to work elsewhere”, yet minimum wage workers in very high virus areas whose workplaces have been forced to shut will now have to live off just two thirds of the minimum wage. That is just £5.81 per hour—the minimum wage level of 11 years ago. Will the Chancellor introduce a wage floor so no such worker has to live off less than the minimum wage?

Rishi Sunak Portrait Rishi Sunak
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

We have addressed this point before, but I am happy to repeat it. Very low-paid workers will benefit from the flexibility and responsiveness of universal credit, and that is where the universal credit taper works. The way it works is that it will replace the falls in income with a top-up in universal credit worth about 63p in the pound. For example, a single person in their late 20s, working in hospitality and renting privately in a flat in a northern city, will receive about 92% of their original income on an after tax and after benefits basis.

Gareth Davies Portrait Gareth Davies (Grantham and Stamford) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I too warmly welcome the Chancellor’s statement today. Does he agree with me that it is vital and absolutely right that we take this decisive action to support businesses and jobs today, but it is also important that we are mindful of the sustainability of public finances for tomorrow?

Rishi Sunak Portrait Rishi Sunak
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. He will have seen the figures from this week detailing the difficult situation of our public finances, with the scale of the borrowing and the scale of the increase in our debt this year. While right now our primary focus should be on supporting jobs and employment, given the restrictions in place, it is always right that we have one eye on the future. We must be careful not to mortgage our children’s futures, and that is why our interventions will be done in a way that is sustainable and affordable for the long term to ensure that we live within our means over time.

Andrew Gwynne Portrait Andrew Gwynne (Denton and Reddish) (Lab) [V]
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I was critical of the Chancellor on Tuesday, so I want to thank him for listening and acting on one of the key asks of all Greater Manchester MPs, of all the council leaders in our city region and, yes, of our Mayor, Andy Burnham, too. It was that our businesses and supply chains should be supported in tier 2, because we have had 12 weeks of these measures with no help and no support, and many really are struggling as we tip into a stricter tier 3. For some it will be too late, but I thank him for making this retrospective. How soon will these funds be released, because it is pressing, and what calculation has he made of the 12-week entitlement for Greater Manchester businesses?

Rishi Sunak Portrait Rishi Sunak
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his comments. I would tell him that we will work very quickly with the Valuation Office Agency to calculate the value of those grants; we are just working through that detail. I hope to be able to provide him and all Manchester MPs with the figures as soon as possible, and we will of course release that funding as quickly as we have calculated the values.

Saqib Bhatti Portrait Saqib Bhatti (Meriden) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

On behalf of my constituents, may I thank the Chancellor for this comprehensive economic package? Clearly, he is a Chancellor who listens and I thank him for that. Will he join me in commending Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, who has campaigned passionately for further support? He is not a showboater; he just gets on with the job and gets things done.

Rishi Sunak Portrait Rishi Sunak
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. I am always grateful to hear from Mayor Andy Street. Andy has rightly put on the agenda the situation for businesses, especially hospitality businesses, in tier 2 areas, which my hon. Friend represents, and wanted me to be aware of what was happening. I am glad that today’s set of measures will make a difference to both my hon. Friend and Andy’s wider set of businesses and, I know, to many other businesses across the country.

Bill Esterson Portrait Bill Esterson (Sefton Central) (Lab) [V]
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The Chancellor says that he will support only viable businesses. Kim runs a wedding photography business. She is self-employed and works from home and, like millions of people, she has not qualified for any of the measures that the Chancellor has announced. Weddings will need photographers again, and Kim already has 71 bookings for next year. Why is the Chancellor’s message to Kim, and millions like her, that he thinks her business is not viable?

Rishi Sunak Portrait Rishi Sunak
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

If the hon. Member wants to write to me with Kim’s particular circumstances, I would be happy to see what various things we have done that may be of benefit to her and her business.

Tom Hunt Portrait Tom Hunt (Ipswich) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I welcome this statement. It will ensure that the hospitality sector, even in those areas with much greater restrictions than my own, can hopefully keep going and come through this, as opposed to the approach of the Labour party, which would hammer the hospitality sector, even in areas such as mine, in Ipswich, where we currently have very low levels of covid. It will also give some reassurance to my constituents that, if the worst comes to the worst and cases increase, there is that additional support in place. One thing that these grants could be used on is winter heaters and gazebos, because we can still socialise outside in the winter months. I just wondered what the Chancellor’s thoughts were on that.

Rishi Sunak Portrait Rishi Sunak
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

That is an interesting idea. Obviously, for areas in tier 3, the local authorities are receiving funding to use at their discretion. It may well be that that is an idea they want to take up. Of course, for both open and closed businesses in tiers 2 or 3, I have announced a series of grants today and it will be up to those businesses to use them on whatever they want. Primarily, we assume that they will use them to cover the fixed costs of things such as rent, but, of course, it will be up to them what they use them for. None the less, my hon. Friend makes a good suggestion, which, together with our planning changes, means that those businesses can serve as many customers as possible, even though they face restrictions at the moment.

Felicity Buchan Portrait Felicity Buchan (Kensington) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I warmly welcome the additional support for tier 2 areas, such as my constituency in London. Does my right hon. Friend agree that we need to get London back into tier 1 as soon as possible as London is the engine of this country’s economy, accounting for 25% of all tax revenue?

Rishi Sunak Portrait Rishi Sunak
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My hon. Friend is a rightly proud champion of her businesses in central London. Obviously, what is happening not just to our capital city but to all our city centres is incredibly sad. We all want to see them springing back to life and vibrancy. Hopefully, the measures that we have announced today will provide some support and breathing space to help them get through a difficult period until they can get back on their feet and do exactly what we want them to do, which is return to where they were—bustling and welcoming us all back into their shops and restaurants.

Stella Creasy Portrait Stella Creasy (Walthamstow) (Lab/Co-op) [V]
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The Chancellor says that he has been talking to the people who are worried about their livelihoods and the businesses facing redundancy, so he will know that those redundancies are falling particularly heavily on mums. We know from the data produced by the Office for National Statistics last month that 79% of the increase in redundancies has come from women, and we know that it is mums who are losing their jobs, but his Department is sitting on £1.7 billion of unspent tax-free childcare funding. Will he use that money to ensure that our childcare sector can support every parent who wants to get back to work and to stop the tsunami of unemployment that we are about to face?

Rishi Sunak Portrait Rishi Sunak
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The hon. Lady is right to highlight the particular importance of good-quality childcare, which, as she said, enables mums to be able to protect their employment. I am happy to look at the specific suggestion that she mentioned, but I think that we have recently made—in the previous Budget and before—some changes to the operation of tax-free childcare, so that it is more available to more people. She is right that the take-up has not been what was forecast, which is why we put the changes in place to broaden the approach and broaden the eligibility for it, but I am happy to look at her specific suggestion.

Ben Spencer Portrait Dr Ben Spencer (Runnymede and Weybridge) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank my right hon. Friend for the provisions announced today, which I very much welcome. My constituency is partly in tier 1 and partly in tier 2, and I especially welcome the support for tier 2 areas, but also across the board into tier 1. Many constituents who work in the wedding and events sector, or across its supply chains, have contacted me with difficulties due to restrictions, uncertainty and a drop in trade. Can my right hon. Friend confirm that today’s announcement will also support the events sector and, crucially, those working across its supply chain?

Rishi Sunak Portrait Rishi Sunak
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

It is precisely because we took a generous and universal approach to eligibility for the job support scheme, with its new generosity, that supply chains of all affected industries will be able to benefit. There were some calls that it should only be targeted at those in tier 2 areas, or, for example, only those in hospitality. We have taken the decision to ensure that the new job support scheme, with its new generosity, is available to all employers and all employees wherever they are in the UK. I think that will be of benefit to the industries and businesses that my hon. Friend mentioned.

Clive Efford Portrait Clive Efford (Eltham) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

There is no change in this announcement for people who are self-employed. A constituent of mine has contacted me. Back in March, she was assessed as earning too much to qualify for any assistance. Her income has now been revised down, but there is no way for her to appeal that original decision. This is no way to treat self-employed people. Can the Chancellor go away and look at these people who have fallen through the net?

Rishi Sunak Portrait Rishi Sunak
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman missed that part of the statement; I apologise if it was not clear, but we have doubled the value of the self-employed grants that will be paid in the winter from 20% to 40%, mirroring the increase in the Government’s support for those who are in employment and ensuring parity between self-employed and employed. As I have said, that is generous and comprehensive. With regard to the income threshold, yes, the hon. Gentleman is right; we have decided to target support for the self-employed at those who earn less than £50,000. That is 95% of all those who are majority self-employed. The average income of those 5% who are not included is about £200,000.

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

I welcome the package announced by my right hon. Friend; he has quite rightly adapted the support that he is providing to the changing circumstances. May I look beyond the pandemic to the economic recovery, and urge continued support for my constituency in respect of the Greater Grimsby town deal? We also need broadband connectivity—and let me give a special mention in that regard for the village of Wold Newton. I know that he will be disappointed if I do not also mention free port status for Immingham and the Humber ports.

Rishi Sunak Portrait Rishi Sunak
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. It is important that we can look through this crisis to our economic recovery. I know that his area will play a starring role in helping to drive that recovery, whether that is through Grimsby or a free port in Immingham. I am pleased to say that we are making good progress on the free port process. I hope to announce the bidding process very soon, and look forward to receiving his local area’s application when the time is right.

Dave Doogan Portrait Dave Doogan (Angus) (SNP)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The nature of the Government’s interventions in this crisis are reactionary and there are significant gaps in the support. A principal casualty of those gaps are the 3 million excluded, who have had a devastating summer. The Chancellor has used the word “generous” over 20 times in this statement, so I urge him to advise me what support he will now give to the 3 million excluded. Will he do them the service not of telling us how he has supported other people, but of telling us what he will do for them?

Rishi Sunak Portrait Rishi Sunak
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The circumstances of everyone who is self-employed will be different. It may well be that they own a business premises, which will benefit from business rates relief or a cash grant. It may well be that they have used the bounce back loan scheme, as over a million small businesses have. It may be that they are benefiting from the enhanced welfare system and the improvements to universal credit and the local housing allowance. Or it may be that they are the self-employed people who today will benefit from a doubling of the grant that I have announced, which will be up to over £3,700 this Christmas. This remains one of the most comprehensive packages of support for those who are self-employed anywhere in the world.

Kieran Mullan Portrait Dr Kieran Mullan (Crewe and Nantwich) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

On behalf of the Hop Pole pub in Wistaston, Hickory’s Smokehouse in Shavington, Pillory House in Nantwich, Giovanni’s in Crewe and Eight Farmers in Leighton, all of whom have been telling about the difficulties that they have been facing, I thank the Chancellor for the support measures that he has announced today, which will have a huge impact on their ability to get through this troubling time. Will he confirm when the support will be available and whether it will be backdated for those of us who have been in tier 2 for some time?

Rishi Sunak Portrait Rishi Sunak
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

If we are ending on this note, my hon. Friend has made me exceptionally hungry to hear that roll-call of great-sounding restaurants, which I hope I have a chance to visit with him. I can gladly give him that reassurance. We will be backdating the tier 2 grant support to the time that those restrictions were put in place, and I hope that will be of benefit to all the restaurants that he mentioned and many more small businesses in his constituency.

Royal Assent

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I have to notify the House, in accordance with the Royal Assent Act 1967, that Her Majesty has signified her Royal Assent to the following Acts:

Sentencing Act 2020

Extradition (Provisional Arrest) Act 2020.

In order to allow the safe exit of hon. Members participating in this item of business and the safe arrival of those participating in the next, I suspend the House for a few minutes.

13:05
Sitting suspended.

Covid-19: Disparate Impact

Thursday 22nd October 2020

(3 years, 8 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
13:10
Kemi Badenoch Portrait The Minister for Equalities (Kemi Badenoch)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

With permission, Mr Deputy Speaker, I will make a statement. I came before the House on 4 June, just after Public Health England had published its report “Covid 19: review of disparities in risks and outcomes”, as the Prime Minister had asked me to lead the cross-Government work to address the findings of that review. I return today to update the House on the progress I have made and to announce publication of my first quarterly report to the Prime Minister.

My work to date has focused on the impact of covid-19 on ethnic minority people. There is a wider strand of work within Government that is considering other groups that may have been particularly impacted by covid, such as disabled people, and I will include updates on that wider work in future reports. My report summarises the significant measures that Government Departments and their agencies have to date put in place to mitigate the disproportionate impacts of covid-19.

I have spoken with Mr Speaker and many members of the House staff about how impressed I have been with the measures put in place by the parliamentary authorities to protect all of us who use the parliamentary estate. It is clear that a lot of good work is under way. For example, as we have reported in Parliament, more than 95% of frontline NHS workers from an ethnic minority background have had a risk assessment in the workplace to ensure good understanding of the necessary mitigating interventions in place. The NHS is working hard to restore services inclusively so that they are used by those in greatest need, with new monitoring of service use and outcomes among those from the most deprived neighbourhoods and from black and Asian groups. We issued revised guidance to employers in July and again in September, highlighting the findings of the PHE review and explaining how to make workplaces covid secure.

We also reached out to all parts of the community through our information campaign. From March to July, we spent an additional £4 million to reach ethnic minority people through tailored messaging, strategically chosen channels and trusted voices. We have published messaging in well over 600 publications, including those that have readerships with a high proportion of ethnic minority people. We have reached more than 5 million people through the ethnic minority influencer programme. We have translated key public health messages into numerous languages, which initiated a marked improvement in recognition of our crucial “Stay alert” campaign.

My report summarises how the NHS, Public Health England and others are implementing the recommendations from the summary of the rapid literature review and stakeholder engagement work led by Professor Kevin Fenton. The PHE review indicated that people from ethnic minority backgrounds were disproportionately impacted by covid-19. It told us what the disparities in risks and outcomes were, but not why they had arisen and therefore it did not make any recommendations. It is therefore imperative that we understand the key drivers of the disparities and the relationships between the different risk factors to ensure that our response is as effective as possible.

That response has involved collaboration across Government, the Office for National Statistics and with universities and researchers. It includes some of the six new research projects to improve our understanding of the links between covid-19 and ethnicity, which received £4.3 million in Government funding in July. The research projects will give us new information on a range of issues, including the impact of the virus on migrant and refugee groups and the prevalence of covid-19 among ethnic minority health workers. The projects will also help to develop targeted digital health messages in partnership with ethnic minority communities. They will also provide a new framework to ensure the representation of ethnic minorities in clinical trials that are testing new treatments and vaccines for covid-19.

We now know much more about the impact of the virus than we did in June. We know more in particular about why people from ethnic minority backgrounds are more likely to be infected and die from covid. The current evidence shows that it is a range of socioeconomic and geographical factors, such as occupational exposure, population density, household composition and pre-existing health conditions, that contribute to the higher infection and mortality rates for ethnic minority groups. However, according to the latest evidence, part of the excess risk remains unexplained for some groups and further analysis of the potential risk factors is planned for the coming months.

What has emerged is that interventions across the entire population are most likely to disproportionately benefit ethnic minorities and are least likely to attach damaging stigma. That is best captured through our experience of the national lockdown and the shielding programme.

As the chief medical officer has said, we must assess the impact of covid-19 based on all-cause mortality to incorporate its indirect impact. On that specific metric, early evidence suggests that there is no disproportionate impact across different ethnic groups. Indeed, the OpenSAFELY study of 17 million adults from 1 February to 3 August concluded that

“data from England and Scotland has shown that most ethnic minority groups have both better overall health and lower rates of all-cause mortality than white groups.”

The evidence base is growing fast and we will continue to work with academics and the SAGE ethnicity sub-group to improve our understanding of the relationship between covid-19 and ethnicity.

I am particularly keen to deepen our understanding of how comorbidities interact with occupational exposure. This is a major gap identified by several studies to date and may well account for the residual risk between different ethnic groups of poorer outcomes from covid-19. In general, we must move away from seeing covid-19 as something that affects discrete groups in society and towards helping individuals understand their own particular risk profile as the evidence base grows.

Looking forward, we know that a vaccine is likely to present a long-term protection against this deadly disease. The only way to check how well a coronavirus vaccine works is to carry out large-scale clinical trials involving a diverse group of thousands of people. That is why I am leading by example and participating in a trial at Guy’s and St. Thomas’ hospital. Just last week, I wrote to all colleagues urging them to encourage more of their ethnic minority constituents to sign up to the NHS vaccine registry as these groups are still under-represented in vaccine trials.

We have made good progress, but more needs to be done. In particular, we need to work with local communities to protect the most vulnerable. I am therefore announcing today a new community champions scheme that includes up to £25 million in funding to local authorities and the voluntary and community sector. This will help to improve the reach of official public health guidance and other messaging or communications about the virus into specific places and groups most at risk from covid-19. Our community champions funding will support those groups at greater risk of this disease to ensure that key public health advice is understood and safer behaviours are followed. This will help to rebuild trust, reduce transmission and ultimately play a part in helping to lower death rates in the targeted areas and beyond.

Councils have been working tirelessly to support and engage their communities through this crisis. They know how to this best. The funding for a targeted group of councils will enable them to do more of what they know works but also to go further by enhancing existing schemes. Learning from the community champions scheme will be shared with all councils and across all relevant Government Departments, enabling Government and local authorities to hear directly from individuals and communities on the impact of the crisis.

There are other measures we can take to protect those most at risk, particularly those from minority groups. So in my report to the Prime Minister I outlined a number of recommendations and next steps. These include mandating the recording of ethnicity data as part of the death certification process, as this is only way we will be able to establish a complete picture of the impact of the virus on ethnic minority groups; appointing two expert advisers on covid and ethnicity who will bring expertise from the fields of medicine, epidemiology and clinical research to the Government’s work going forward, ensuring that new evidence uncovered during this review relating to the extremely clinically vulnerable is incorporated into health policy; and supporting the development and deployment of a risk model to understand individual risk from research commissioned by the CMO. I also want us to capture the good work being done by local authorities and directors of public health so that we can learn the lessons of what works at a local level. Therefore, there will be a rapid light-touch review of local authority action to support ethnic minority communities.

The package of measures I have announced today are the first steps in my year-long review. They will give us a better insight into how the virus is impacting ethnic minority groups, how we can best protect those who may be most at risk and how we can address long-standing public health inequalities. I will report back to the House with a further update at the end of the next quarter.

13:19
Marsha De Cordova Portrait Marsha De Cordova (Battersea) (Lab) [V]
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the Minister for advance sight of her statement.

Coronavirus continues to expose deep-rooted structural inequalities in our society, and these drive the health inequalities. Today, the Minister has published her first quarterly report on progress into addressing covid health inequalities, but it is now well over four months since both Public Health England reviews were published. The country is now sadly well into a second wave of the virus, yet we are still lacking a forward-looking national strategy and action plan.

Just this week the Institute for Public Policy Research and the Runnymede Trust showed that well over 2,000 black and south Asian deaths could have been avoided during the first wave of the pandemic if those populations did not experience a higher risk of death from covid-19, and that 58,000 people would have died in the first wave if the white population experienced the same risk of death from covid as our black populations. The Government must be prepared to admit and act on the root causes of the hugely disproportionate impact that coronavirus has had on our black and ethnic minority communities.

I welcome the Government’s decision to make the recording of ethnicity as part of the death certificate process mandatory, but collecting data is only one part of what needs to be done. The Minister mentions that there will be further research, but we do not know when this research will report or how quickly the Government will act on its findings. It is also unclear how the Government can measure or demonstrate the effectiveness of their public health communications for diverse communities and ensure that such communications are inclusive and accessible. Given the scale and the urgency of this crisis, the Government have fallen short of doing what is needed.

This first quarterly report does not commit to much that is quantifiable or timed, so I ask the Minister these questions as a matter of urgency. She mentions that she will be looking into the clinical groups of people who are severely in need of support. When will that review take place, and when will those groups be added to the list of those who are shielding?

Where is the Government’s plan of action to address the long-term structural inequalities, such as the deep-rooted inequalities in housing and employment, including occupational discrimination? Where is the Government’s implementation plan, with milestones, for protecting our black, Asian and ethnic minorities during this pandemic? Which local authorities will receive some of that £25 million funding for the community champions programme, and how did the Government reach that amount? How will that funding be allocated to the local authorities and what will the criteria be?

Will the Minister now publish in full any or all of the equality impact assessments of the likely impact on our black, Asian and minority ethnic communities of the Government’s covid-19 responses? It is absolutely right that the NHS has carried out 90% of its occupational risk assessments, but why have the Government updated the guidance only for employers, rather than putting in place proper checks and balances to ensure that our workers are being protected? Finally, why has it taken so long for the Government to act on the disproportionate impact that covid-19 is having on our ethnic minority communities? The volume of evidence that we have seen has been coming forward to us for months. We are already in the second wave, and this is now beyond urgent.

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

It does not appear to me that the hon. Lady has actually read the statement that I sent to her. She asks about what the Government are doing. I have just given a statement about what the Government have been doing over four months.

I think we need to restate this: we did not wait until today to say what we were going to do. As soon as we discovered this disproportionate impact, actions were put in place. The hon. Lady talks about us not issuing revised guidance to employers, but we did that in July and, as I said in my statement, we did it again in September, highlighting the findings of the PHE review and explaining how to make workplaces covid-secure. We required passengers to wear a face covering in taxis and private hire vehicles, and we asked this to be done for hospitality staff, many of whom are from ethnic minority backgrounds. We provided £4.3 million in funding for six new projects. We provided a range of guidance to support those living in multi-generational households. We spent an additional £4 million on reaching ethnic minority people through tailored messaging, strategically chosen channels and trusted voic-es.

The hon. Lady talks about the NHS guidance and risk assessments as though that was the only thing we have done. We have been implementing new payments for people in low-income areas with high rates of covid-19 who need to self-isolate and cannot work from home. What we are not going to do—it is clear what the hon. Lady and her party are expecting—is to implement segregated policies for people from ethnic minority backgrounds. What we are doing is looking at risk groups, but tailoring support for the whole population.

The hon. Lady talks about the IPPR report, and my answer is that I do not recognise those figures. Its methodology was not transparent, and our statisticians in the Cabinet Office could not understand where it got the numbers from. I found the presentation scaremongering and alarming. It is really important to me that we let people have trust and faith in the Government, and that we let them know what we are doing. That is why I am standing here in Parliament giving this oral statement, rather than just making a report to the Prime Minister.

The hon. Lady talks about what the Government have done. I wrote a letter to every single Member of Parliament asking them to share with ethnic minorities and their communities how they can join the national vaccine register, and I have been taking vaccines myself. Opposition Members have not been doing so. Especially when it comes to the hon. Lady, knowing that she has a large ethnic minority population in her community, what has she done to tell them to join the national vaccine register? We have not seen anything to that effect on her social media. It would be good if Opposition Members showed us that they are looking to help people, rather than looking for reasons to bash the Government. We must not politicise covid-19.

Caroline Nokes Portrait Caroline Nokes (Romsey and Southampton North) (Con) [V]
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank my hon. Friend the Minister for advance sight of her statement, which arrived while I was at a conference with Dr Tony Sewell, the chair of the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities. His passion for ensuring that there is no stigma is equalled only by that of my hon. Friend. I welcome her commitment to mandatory recording of ethnicity data on death certificates, but could I ask her to give us a little more information about the commitment on new evidence relating to the clinically extremely vulnerable? Exactly how will that be incorporated into health policy, and by when?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank my right hon. Friend for that question. That is something that should happen right now. We want to make sure that things do not happen separately in Government, and I have been very keen to ensure that there is no silo working. A frequent problem is that different Departments do different things, and they often duplicate information and work, so we have been at great pains to make sure that that does not happen.

I share every single thing that I do with Ministers across Departments. We have a group of Ministers who look at equalities in the Department for Work and Pensions, the Department of Health and Social Care and the Department for Education, and we feed into that group everything that we learn. The findings from the race disparity unit and ONS research are fed in as those Ministers make policy, whether in health or otherwise. We do not want this to be a separate Government project that requires new oversight; we all have to work together, and that is how I plan to do it.

Anne McLaughlin Portrait Anne McLaughlin (Glasgow North East) (SNP)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the Minister for her statement. I am interested in everything that it contains, and I commend her for volunteering to be part of the vaccine programme.

I want to raise two issues—possibly three, if I have time. Minority ethnic women are particularly over-represented in frontline care roles, so they are at particular risk of job disruption, as highlighted in a report by Close the Gap. Why have the UK Government not matched the Scottish Government’s action of a 3.3% wage increase for all adult social care workers to ensure that at least the real living wage is paid across frontline care, covering all hours worked, including sleepovers?

The Minister said that help that is provided across the population disproportionately benefits black, Asian and minority ethnic people, but that does not apply to those who have no recourse to public funds. I know that she has spoken about this before, but most people who have no recourse to public funds are from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities. Will she support our calls to enable them to get support?

Finally, I note that the Minister said that she would include in future reports updates on other groups who are disproportionately impacted, and I want to make sure that older people are one of those groups. We know that people living in poverty are disproportionately impacted, and one way to lift older people out of poverty is to make sure that they know about pension credit, and to make it as easy as possible to apply for. The more voices across this House and across the Departments who commit to ensuring that older people know about the £2 billion-plus that is unclaimed every year in these islands, the better. I hope that she will commit to paying particular attention to that.

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the hon. Lady for her questions. She is absolutely right to mention older people, who are the most disproportionately impacted group. Someone who is over 70 or 80 is 80 times more likely to have the disease, whereas someone from an ethnic minority background is between 1.2 and 1.8 times more likely to have it. We must keep this in perspective, and we are looking at everybody who is impacted and vulnerable in whatever way.

The hon. Lady asks about money we are spending on adult health and social care. We are spending an unprecedented amount in the pandemic. We have targeted as much money as we possibly can to all the groups we believe need it. It may not be exactly what people asked for, but we are looking at decisions in the round to ensure that we are covering all groups.

David Davis Portrait Mr David Davis (Haltemprice and Howden) (Con) [V]
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I congratulate the Minister on a comprehensive report. She has clearly done a great job of identifying the numerous factors that exacerbate the problem and acting rapidly on them. However, of the first 26 doctors in the national health service to die of covid-19, 25 were from minority ethnic backgrounds. Those doctors will have been comparatively well paid, so poverty cannot be the full explanation.

Vitamin D deficiency is prevalent across virtually all the groups who suffer disproportionately from covid-19, from the elderly to the obese, diabetics and ethnic minority communities. Today’s review considers only two studies on vitamin D and does not consider a huge range of new evidence that has come out in the last couple of months that shows powerful links. Will the Minister commit as her colleagues at the Department of Health and Social Care have done and look at the latest evidence on this matter?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

It was the number of ethnic minority doctors who died right at the beginning of the pandemic that alerted us to this issue. We did look across a range of issues to see why that was the case. I remind my right hon. Friend about occupational exposure, which we believe is the biggest cause, and those doctors were the most exposed, probably doing the shifts right before we knew what was going on and catching the virus. We looked at vitamin D. The SAGE report from 23 September shows that it looked at vitamin D studies to see if it had had an effect and did not find any relationship.

We have found that there is a small residual risk, and I am looking at the interaction between comorbidities and occupational exposure, which we think provides the explanation. We had a second literature review and stakeholder engagement report where many people talked about their experiences of systemic racism—I asked the Race Disparity Unit specifically to look at that—but the findings were that systemic racism did not explain that. For example, when we take into account comorbidities, Bangladeshi women and white women have the same rates of mortality. Systemic racism also does not explain the differences between groups, such as black Africans and black Caribbeans. If it was systemic racism, we would expect the figures to match and they do not.

There is still quite a lot going on as we look at the socioeconomic and geographical factors, occupational exposure, population density, household composition and pre-existing health conditions. We will continue to do this work. Remember that this is the first report, not the last, and the review will be ongoing.

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

Having volunteered in recent months to become a community champion locally, I welcome the additional funding announced by the Minister and sincerely hope that our excellent scheme in Slough will be able to gain some of that funding. The report mentions a SAGE sub-group on ethnicity. What are its terms of reference, membership and programme of work?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The SAGE sub-group is looking at this issue. Not all of our research is original—much of what we have found out has come from that sub-group. Emran Mian has been leading from within that sub-group and is working with us. I am afraid that I do not have the sub-group’s terms of reference, but I will write to the hon. Member on that to provide more information. However, we are very supportive of the work of all community champions, and the work he is doing in Slough is very important. If it is possible, we will ensure that he can access the community champions fund. He will have to apply through the regular process, but we want to do as much as we can to support MPs across the House.[Official Report, 5 November 2020, Vol. 683, c. 6MC.]

Elliot Colburn Portrait Elliot Colburn (Carshalton and Wallington) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I join my hon. Friend the Minister in encouraging Carshalton and Wallington residents to follow her lead and volunteer for vaccine trials. I welcome her statement, including the appointment of independent experts and the mandatory reporting of ethnicity on death certificates. Does she agree that that gives us the opportunity to learn a lot more about the impact of covid on our black, Asian and minority ethnic constituents? Will she say a little more about how that data will be used to improve health outcomes for everyone in the country?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The reason I have asked that we mandate recording is that that was one of the gaps identified. We did not get a full picture of what was going on, and we need to have a full picture. As my hon. Friend rightly says, everything we are doing will help the whole population. We are not segregating people on the basis of this disease. Mandating ethnicity data will not just help ethnic minority populations; it will help everybody.

Tony Lloyd Portrait Tony Lloyd (Rochdale) (Lab) [V]
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am sure the Minister will be well aware of the research by the Financial Conduct Authority showing that while one in three of our fellow citizens has seen an income cut because of covid, that rises to 40% among black, Asian and minority ethnic communities. The impact is not just on individuals or even households: where there is a concentration of people from BAME backgrounds, it affects the much wider community. What research will the Minister engage in on the economic impact, because we know that economic collapse leads to lower mental and physical health and all the other social aspects that come with it?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

That would be outside the terms of reference of the review that I am leading over the year. However, as a Treasury Minister, I can tell the hon. Gentleman that we have distributional analysis that comes out with all this information and influences all the policies that we put out in terms of economic interventions for specific groups.