Oral Answers to Questions
Wednesday 17 July 2019

(1 month ago)


Commons Chamber
Department for International Development
Neil Gray Portrait Neil Gray (Scottish National Party - Airdrie and Shotts) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019

1. What support his Department provides to help developing countries manage the effects of climate change. [911986]

Alex Chalk Portrait Alex Chalk (Conservative - Cheltenham) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019

5. What steps his Department is taking to prioritise (a) tackling the effects of climate change and (b) protecting the environment in developing countries. [911991]

Rachel Maclean Portrait Rachel Maclean (Conservative - Redditch) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019

10. What steps his Department is taking to prioritise (a) tackling the effects of climate change and (b) protecting the environment in developing countries. [911996]

Rory Stewart (Conservative - Penrith and The Border) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 11:35 a.m.

The distinction traditionally made between development, environment and climate is a false distinction. Unless we tackle climate change, there will be 100 million more people living in poverty in the next 15 years. I returned this morning from New York, where I have been discussing with the Secretary-General of the United Nations our commitment to greening our development spending to ensure that everything that we spend is Paris-compliant, to double the amount the Department for International Development will spend on environment and climate, and to double the effort we are putting into this subject.

Neil Gray Portrait Neil Gray (Scottish National Party - Airdrie and Shotts) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 11:35 a.m.

I thank the International Development Secretary for his answer and appreciate his focus on the importance of tackling climate change, but does he accept that it needs to be in addition to traditional development support? To that end, will he examine the Scottish Government’s climate justice fund, which seeks to support those who have done the least to cause climate change but who are to be hit first and hardest by its effects?

Rory Stewart (Conservative - Penrith and The Border) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 11:36 a.m.

It is clearly true that many of the people who are suffering most are from some of the poorest countries in the world that emit very little carbon, which is why a great deal of our emphasis is on the question of resilience. I have just returned from Kenya, for example, where we are working with pastoralists whose grassland is being eliminated and with people in Lamu who are losing mangrove swamps. Such countries are not emitting carbon but are suffering from its effects.

Alex Chalk Portrait Alex Chalk (Conservative - Cheltenham) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 11:36 a.m.

On that precise issue, what is being done to improve resilience in water security, to ensure that that does not become a source of conflict, or indeed disease, in future?

Rory Stewart (Conservative - Penrith and The Border) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 11:36 a.m.

The question of water security is absolutely central. It poses the danger of conflict, for example in the Indus valley and along the headwaters of the rivers that flow into Egypt on the Nile. It is also an area where technology can help, however. We have become much better at preventing water waste. In many developing countries, 50% of the water is wasted; technology is part of the answer to this problem.

Rachel Maclean Portrait Rachel Maclean (Conservative - Redditch) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 11:37 a.m.

My right hon. Friend has made it clear that some of the poorest countries in the world will be the most affected by climate change. I hope to visit Bangladesh in September as part of a delegation; what will his Department be doing to help countries such as Bangladesh mitigate the effects of severe weather, including the monsoon season?

Rory Stewart (Conservative - Penrith and The Border) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019

The Department for International Development has partnered the Government of Bangladesh for many years, particularly because of the very severe impacts of flooding. We should pay tribute to the improvements in Bangladesh. In floods in the 1970s, more than 100,000 people could be killed in a single event; a similar event today would kill only a few hundreds. That is a huge tribute to Bangladesh’s improvement in resilience and also in emergency management.

Dr Rosena Allin-Khan (Labour - Tooting) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 11:37 a.m.

I have worked with flood victims in refugee camps around the world; the despair is palpable and tragic, and it is simply inhumane that these same people will be hit the hardest by further extreme weather conditions. This House declared a climate change emergency; will the Government today outline how they will financially support the world’s most vulnerable and plan for dealing with future tragedies?

Rory Stewart (Conservative - Penrith and The Border) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 11:38 a.m.

We will be doubling the overseas development fund, which will be spent particularly on climate resilience, and Britain will be co-hosting with Egypt the UN summit on climate resilience in September. That was the focus of my discussions with the UN Secretary-General yesterday, and indeed at the Abu Dhabi summit two weeks ago.

Mr Barry Sheerman Portrait Mr Barry Sheerman (Labour (Co-op) - Huddersfield) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 11:38 a.m.

Does the Secretary of State agree that if we are truly to tackle climate change we need to ensure that the money that we give—the vital money that we give—goes to the right place where it matters? Will he look at innovations such as digital currencies, especially blockchain, which enables the money to be tracked to make sure that it does not go into a dictator’s slush fund or to train Spice Girls in Nigeria?

Rory Stewart (Conservative - Penrith and The Border) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019

Blockchain technology has very interesting potential. I recently saw in World Food Programme distribution in camps in Jordan how blockchain is dropping the price by tens of millions of dollars a year. However, there are still some risks attached to such technology.

Patrick Grady Portrait Patrick Grady (Scottish National Party - Glasgow North) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 11:39 a.m.

The right hon. Gentleman is perhaps the most diligent and committed Secretary of State for International Development that I and my hon. Friend the Member for Dundee West (Chris Law), who is still in New York with the Select Committee, have had the opportunity to question at the Dispatch Box. What steps is the right hon. Gentleman taking to solidify and embed the new priority of climate change in his Department? Will he commission a Green Paper or a White Paper to keep the Department moving in that direction, irrespective of what happens under a new Prime Minister in the coming weeks?

Rory Stewart (Conservative - Penrith and The Border) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 11:39 a.m.

There are three things that we hope will embed the priority. First, this is a whole of Government approach. The Prime Minister announced at Osaka that we would be the first major international development agency to be fully Paris-compliant. Secondly, we have now announced from this Dispatch Box and inserted into our planning that we will double our spend on climate and the environment. The third thing is to ensure that we have the experts on the ground. In Kenya, for example, the focus is on environmental experts, and in Ethiopia it is on forestry experts. It will be funding, Government strategy and staffing that will make the difference.

Sir Oliver Heald Portrait Sir Oliver Heald (Conservative - North East Hertfordshire) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 11:39 a.m.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that agricultural practice and land use are key to mitigating the effects of climate change? Will he say something about the training programmes that DFID pays for and that are doing such good work in helping people to understand the way forward?

Rory Stewart (Conservative - Penrith and The Border) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 11:39 a.m.

DFID is doing an increasing amount of work on that issue. For example, its agricultural extension work is helping farmers to work out how to produce crops without depleting the soil or using excessive water. Perhaps the biggest challenge in agriculture is the relationship between pastoralists, particularly people herding cattle and oxen, and sedentary communities right the way across Africa, where climate change and agricultural practices are leading to conflict from Nigeria to South Sudan.

Dan Carden Portrait Dan Carden (Labour - Liverpool, Walton) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 11:39 a.m.

The UK is the largest contributor to the World Bank’s climate investment funds, yet civil society groups say that, compared with UN funds, those funds are undemocratic, opaque and dominated by donor countries. The Secretary of State has committed to doubling DFID’s climate spending, but does he think that the World Bank’s climate investment funds are fit for purpose?

Rory Stewart (Conservative - Penrith and The Border) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 11:39 a.m.

The shadow Secretary of State is absolutely right to say that there have been significant issues around some of the climate funds. We feel that a lot of progress is being made, and the most important thing is to find real investable projects on the ground. A lot of that relates to issues of governance.

Dan Carden Portrait Dan Carden (Labour - Liverpool, Walton) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 11:39 a.m.

I am grateful to the Secretary of State for that answer, but the truth is that the World Bank knows that it was supposed to phase out its climate investment funds once the United Nations green climate fund was up and running. Labour is clear: we believe in climate justice and we are committed to withdrawing the UK’s support for the World Bank’s climate investment funds and to redirecting climate finance to the UN green climate fund, in which developing countries get a real say. Will the Government now do the same?

Rory Stewart (Conservative - Penrith and The Border) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 11:39 a.m.

No, we will not. The reason is that there are issues of capacity in both the World Bank and the UN. The key point here is not the ideological choice of the channel through which we pass the money but the capacity to manage these projects responsibly.

Greg Hands Portrait Greg Hands (Conservative - Chelsea and Fulham) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019

2. What steps his Department is taking to help to achieve sustainable development goal 2.2 on ending all forms of malnutrition. [911987]

Harriett Baldwin Portrait Harriett Baldwin (Conservative - West Worcestershire) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 11:39 a.m.

The UK Government are working closely with the Government of Japan to ensure that next year’s summit secures meaningful and transformational commitments from Governments. We have invested £2.6 billion in this area since the last summit, and we are considering what offer the UK Government will make to next year’s summit.

Greg Hands Portrait Greg Hands (Conservative - Chelsea and Fulham) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 11:39 a.m.

Last year, I travelled with Results UK to Zambia, where 40% of under-fives are stunted. That has an astonishing lifelong impact on their social and economic development. Will the Minister go into a little more detail about next year’s summit and about how we will show our commitment to really tackling deficiencies in nutrition on a worldwide scale?

Harriett Baldwin Portrait Harriett Baldwin (Conservative - West Worcestershire) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 11:39 a.m.

My right hon. Friend is right to highlight this important issue. I am pleased to be able to tell him that, since his visit, the work we have been doing in Zambia specifically, which has reached more than 1 million people, has reduced the level of stunting to 35%, but clearly that still leaves a lot more to be done.

Peter Kyle Portrait Peter Kyle (Labour - Hove) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 11:39 a.m.

We will meet the malnutrition targets only through a strong partnership with the aid community—the voluntary community. Will the Minister update us on what progress she has made on reforms within that community, in the light of the exposés of the past 18 months?

Harriett Baldwin Portrait Harriett Baldwin (Conservative - West Worcestershire) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 11:39 a.m.

I think that the hon. Gentleman is referring to the safeguarding issues. He will be aware of the leadership that the UK has shown in this area and the rigorous way in which we have scrutinised all our suppliers. With regard to the most recent story in the media, we have confirmed that no DFID funding was involved.

Alex Norris Portrait Alex Norris (Labour (Co-op) - Nottingham North) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 11:44 a.m.

The new UN food security report says that global hunger has risen for the third year running, but when the UK should be setting an example by reporting on our own SDG process, the Government’s voluntary national review report to the UN was found by the International Development Committee yesterday to be “gravely flawed”—food banks ignored, inadequate stakeholder engagement, cherry-picked data. The Government were allowed to mark their own homework, but they could not even do that properly. What are Ministers doing to ensure that their colleagues in other Departments start taking the SDGs seriously?

Harriett Baldwin Portrait Harriett Baldwin (Conservative - West Worcestershire) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019

The UK was very proud to present its voluntary national review at the UN yesterday—[Hon. Members: “Hear, hear.”] It is a strong document and was warmly received. It clearly outlines where we have made enormous amounts of progress and where there is more progress to be made, including further cross-governmental working.

Clive Lewis Portrait Clive Lewis (Labour - Norwich South) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019

3. What recent assessment he has made of the humanitarian situation in Yemen. [911988]

Alison Thewliss Portrait Alison Thewliss (Scottish National Party - Glasgow Central) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019

4. What recent assessment his Department has made of the effect of restricted humanitarian space on the work of NGOs in Yemen. [911990]

Dr Andrew Murrison Portrait Dr Andrew Murrison (Conservative - South West Wiltshire) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 11:46 a.m.

Yemen remains the world’s largest humanitarian crisis, with 80% of the population requiring humanitarian assistance, which is not helped by the fact that the operating environment for humanitarian organisations is exceptionally difficult. We call on both parties to the conflict to comply with UN Security Council resolution 2451 by facilitating safe, rapid and unhindered humanitarian access.

Clive Lewis Portrait Clive Lewis (Labour - Norwich South) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 11:46 a.m.

Last month’s ruling by the Court of Appeal that the Government’s continued licensing of the exporting of military equipment to Saudi Arabia is unlawful offers real hope to the people of Yemen—despite the Government’s hypocrisy in calling for peace while selling arms to the Saudis to bomb and to kill, hampering the work of aid agencies on the ground. What representations will the Secretary of State make in Cabinet finally to end that shameful conduct?

Dr Andrew Murrison Portrait Dr Andrew Murrison (Conservative - South West Wiltshire) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 11:47 a.m.

The hon. Gentleman will know that our checks and balances on the export of arms are among the world’s finest—he must know that. He also knows that we apply the EU consolidated criteria rigorously. He will also, I hope, have noted the Divisional Court’s view that our process was “rigorous, robust, multi-layered” and that those advising Ministers were “keenly alive” to the possible violation of international humanitarian law. He will also know that the UK Government intend to appeal against the judgment.

Alison Thewliss Portrait Alison Thewliss (Scottish National Party - Glasgow Central) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 11:47 a.m.

Women and children have been disproportionately affected by the conflict, so what is the Minister doing to involve women in the process? Further, what work is he doing with organisations such as the Mothers of Abductees Association, which points out that 1,496 people in Yemen have been forcibly disappeared, which causes people huge concern about the whereabouts of their relatives?

Dr Andrew Murrison Portrait Dr Andrew Murrison (Conservative - South West Wiltshire) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 11:48 a.m.

The hon. Lady is absolutely right to be concerned about those who have disappeared. Along with multilateral organisations, the United Kingdom is at the forefront of mechanisms geared towards ensuring that we know where crimes are potentially being committed and, in the fullness of time, that we are able to follow up on that. I hope that she will approve of the level of support that this country is giving as the penholder and as a major financial contributor to the humanitarian situation in Yemen.

Bob Blackman Portrait Bob Blackman (Conservative - Harrow East) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 11:48 a.m.

What action is my right hon. Friend taking to ensure that humanitarian aid actually reaches the people who need it and is not being held back by the warring factions in Yemen?

Dr Andrew Murrison Portrait Dr Andrew Murrison (Conservative - South West Wiltshire) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019

My hon. Friend will probably be aware that we have had discussions on that with the World Food Programme, which is a major operator in the situation in Yemen. We support the intent of the World Food Programme, in particular its director David Beasley, to ensure that aid gets to where it is supposed to go, rather than into the pockets of Houthis and others. That process is in its early stages, but it looks like it is being successful and will restore the full effect of the World Food Programme to Sana’a and other areas as soon as possible.

John Bercow (Speaker - Buckingham) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019

The House wishes to hear the Minister’s mellifluous tones, so if he could face the House, that would be excellent.

Alex Cunningham Portrait Alex Cunningham (Labour - Stockton North) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019

6. What plans his Department has to help develop public services in developing countries. [911992]

Chris Elmore Portrait Chris Elmore (Labour - Ogmore) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019

11. What plans his Department has to help develop public services in developing countries. [911997]

Harriett Baldwin Portrait Harriett Baldwin (Conservative - West Worcestershire) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 11:49 a.m.

The UK is committed to supporting countries to achieve the global goals, including through the development of strong public services. We are working with low-income countries to raise and manage public revenues and to invest in education and health systems to provide essential public services for all.

Alex Cunningham Portrait Alex Cunningham (Labour - Stockton North) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 11:50 a.m.

I am grateful for that answer. Building strong public services is crucial to achieving the UN’s sustainable development goals, but countries in the global south are losing out on billions of pounds of revenue each year due to tax avoidance—money that could be spent on building up those services, which are needed by their citizens. What practical steps is the Minister taking to ensure that countries in the global south are supported to ensure that multinational corporations and others who should be paying taxes actually do so?

Harriett Baldwin Portrait Harriett Baldwin (Conservative - West Worcestershire) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 11:50 a.m.

I am very pleased to say that we have taken probably the most powerful practical step of all by setting up a specialist tax department—the hon. Gentleman rightly highlights the issue—within the Department for International Development. We are spending £47 million to help low-income countries increase their tax revenues, and every £1 we put in has raised revenues by £100.

Chris Elmore Portrait Chris Elmore (Labour - Ogmore) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 11:51 a.m.

Shockingly, 16 million girls aged 15 to 19 give birth each year in developing regions. Complications during pregnancy and childbirth are a leading cause of death in this age group globally. Therefore, what urgent steps is the Minister taking to ensure that developing countries have better reproductive healthcare services for girls and young women to improve their rights, chances and opportunities internationally?

Harriett Baldwin Portrait Harriett Baldwin (Conservative - West Worcestershire) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 11:51 a.m.

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right to raise this important issue, and we continue to work in countries where we can help with some of the sexual and reproductive health interventions he describes. In addition, he will be aware that the Girls’ Education Challenge is helping 1.5 million adolescent girls, who have often had children at a very young age, to stay in education and get the education that will help to improve their lifetime earnings.

Vicky Ford Portrait Vicky Ford (Conservative - Chelmsford) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 11:52 a.m.

Children’s health is also a key issue, and I thank the Department for International Development for its work to fight polio across the world. Will the Minister rise to the challenge set by members of the Chelmsford rotary club, and by rotary clubs across the UK, and confirm that this Government remain committed to ending polio forever?

Harriett Baldwin Portrait Harriett Baldwin (Conservative - West Worcestershire) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 11:52 a.m.

I always welcome the opportunity to thank rotary clubs not only here in the UK but around the world for their fundraising. We are nearly there. We have nearly eradicated polio from this planet, and we should thank every Rotarian for their contribution.

Michael Fabricant Portrait Michael Fabricant (Conservative - Lichfield) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 11:52 a.m.

Good public services need an effective civil service to supervise them. What discussions has the Minister had with the Cabinet Office and my noble Friend Lord Maude about the provision of an effective civil service in developing countries?

Harriett Baldwin Portrait Harriett Baldwin (Conservative - West Worcestershire) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 11:52 a.m.

My hon. Friend will be aware that the UK has long-standing partnerships with a range of developing countries. Indeed, it forms part of our work when we award Chevening scholarships, for example, through the Foreign and Commonwealth Office; scholars have to commit to going back and helping to deliver services in their country.

None - No longer a current MP -
17 Jul 2019

John Bercow (Speaker - Buckingham) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 11:53 a.m.

The hon. Member for East Londonderry (Mr Campbell) is such a happy and uncomplaining fellow that the temptation to call him is irresistible.

Mr Gregory Campbell (Democratic Unionist Party - East Londonderry) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 11:53 a.m.

Does the Minister accept that one of the best ways to support public services, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, is to support the non-governmental organisations that provide clean drinking water in many of the townships across that part of Africa?

Harriett Baldwin Portrait Harriett Baldwin (Conservative - West Worcestershire) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 11:53 a.m.

I am glad the hon. Gentleman got to ask his question because, of course, clean drinking water is crucial. We take it so much for granted, and I am pleased that, working with NGOs, DFID has supported over 51 million poor people in Africa and Asia to have access to drinking water supplies or toilets for the first time.

Richard Graham Portrait Richard Graham (Conservative - Gloucester) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019

Public services in all countries benefit from the quality of governance and, above all, from democracy, which is why the Westminster Foundation for Democracy is keen for a democracy fund to be established. Following the very useful meeting with the Minister, does she agree it is important that it is taken forward in time for the autumn spending review?

Harriett Baldwin Portrait Harriett Baldwin (Conservative - West Worcestershire) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 11:54 a.m.

I welcome my hon. Friend’s bid, and I can commit to him that these are exactly the sorts of issues that will be discussed in the future spending review.

Topical Questions

Stephen Doughty Portrait Stephen Doughty (Labour (Co-op) - Cardiff South and Penarth) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019

T1. If he will make a statement on his departmental responsibilities. [912001]

Rory Stewart (Conservative - Penrith and The Border) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 11:55 a.m.

The central challenge in international development going forward will be the quality, expertise and number of our permanent staff on the ground. As international development becomes more complex, with conflict and climate, as we have to work more closely with other Departments and, above all, in a world in which developing countries are looking not for money, but for expertise, over the next 15 years we will have to increase the expertise, the quality and, above all, the number of civil servants, moving away from short-term consultants to having British experts on the ground.

Stephen Doughty Portrait Stephen Doughty (Labour (Co-op) - Cardiff South and Penarth) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 11:55 a.m.

I am sure the Secretary of State will be aware that Birmingham this week joined Cardiff, Sheffield and Tower Hamlets in calling for the recognition of Somaliland. Does he agree that diaspora communities here in the UK play a crucial role, not only in Somaliland, but in many other contexts, in providing not only direct assistance, but the type of trading, business and expert links that can help development in so many countries?

Rory Stewart (Conservative - Penrith and The Border) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019

We are immensely fortunate in the UK with our diaspora communities because they provide both powerful advocacy, for example, with Somaliland on female genital mutilation, and expertise—linguistic, deep country expertise—to ensure that our programmes on the ground are of the requisite quality.

James Duddridge Portrait James Duddridge (Conservative - Rochford and Southend East) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019

T2. Mindful of recent Ebola outbreaks, what lessons have been learnt to help countries become more resistant to Ebola, particularly in the health sector? [912002]

Rory Stewart (Conservative - Penrith and The Border) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019

I am lucky enough to have just returned from the Congo, where I was looking at Ebola in Beni and Butembo. The situation of Ebola in the Congo is serious; we now have—[Interruption.]

John Bercow (Speaker - Buckingham) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 11:56 a.m.

Order. The Secretary of State is a cerebral and intellectual fellow, of prodigious brain power, and he deserves a more respectful audience than he is being accorded. Let us hear the words , digest them and learn from them.

Rory Stewart (Conservative - Penrith and The Border) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019

What needs to be heard is not my cerebral power, but the issue of Ebola in the Congo. The House needs to be serious about that. There is an Ebola outbreak now in the Congo, which has already crossed the border into Uganda. On Sunday, we had an outbreak in Goma, a city of 2 million people. If we do not get this under control, this Ebola outbreak, which is already the second biggest in history, will cause devastating problems for the region. We must invest much more in the World Health Organisation, in developing the public health services in the neighbouring countries. Above all, we must step up to the challenge and be serious as a nation about this deadly disease.

David Hanson Portrait David Hanson (Labour - Delyn) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019

T3. One in 10 of the world’s population still do not have access to clean, decent water supplies. I know the Government are trying hard to rectify that, but will the Secretary of State look at the article today by the chief executive of WaterAid calling for greater support in this area? [912003]

Rory Stewart (Conservative - Penrith and The Border) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 11:57 a.m.

The provision of water and sanitation is central. It is vital for health. It is also vital in schools, for ensuring that girls remain in school, and it is vital for tackling any kind of water-borne disease. So good investment in water, which DFID prioritises, needs to be one of the three fundamental pillars of development, along with education and health.

Henry Smith Portrait Henry Smith (Conservative - Crawley) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019

T4.   What assistance is being provided to the Turks and Caicos Islands, which are seeking to cope with Haitian migrants making a hazardous sea crossing and settling in that British overseas territory? [912004]

Dr Andrew Murrison Portrait Dr Andrew Murrison (Conservative - South West Wiltshire) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019

My hon. Friend is right to highlight this, and I am pleased to say that the conflict, stability and security fund has been used to help the Turks and Caicos repair its radar, so that it is able to detect boats that may be carrying people trying to access the islands. He may be aware that early in 2018 the Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessel Mounts Bay was also deployed in order to provide a deterrent to those who wish to make that perilous crossing. We will consider other ways of using the CSSF in this region in the future.

Paul Blomfield Portrait Paul Blomfield (Labour - Sheffield Central) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019

T6. July is set to be the hottest month ever recorded on Earth. Areas such as the Lake Chad basin, where more than 4.5 million people are already displaced, are the most vulnerable to these temperatures. The Secretary of State’s ambition to double spending in the long term is admirable, but what more does he think could be done now to support those countries that are in the frontline of the climate emergency? [912006]

Rory Stewart (Conservative - Penrith and The Border) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, noon

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right: the issue of climate is now driving conflict. In the Lake Chad basin there simply is not enough ground for people to feed their oxen or plant crops. We need to invest in climate-resilience projects, which means looking not only at the crops but at the reasons why there are now conflicts, from the Chad Basin and Nigeria right the way across east Africa, between people with oxen and people who are planting. In particular, Sahel is central to DFID’s new initiative. We are opening embassies in Mauritania, Niger and Chad, and much more of our investment is now going to go into the Sahel region.

Fiona Bruce Portrait Fiona Bruce (Conservative - Congleton) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019

T5.   The recommendations in the report by the Bishop of Truro that was launched this week—the Foreign Secretary requested the review of Foreign and Commonwealth Office support for persecuted Christians worldwide—will be implemented effectively only with cross-departmental engagement and support. Will DFID provide that support? [912005]

Harriett Baldwin Portrait Harriett Baldwin (Conservative - West Worcestershire) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, noon

I am pleased to add my voice of welcome for the report commissioned by the Foreign Secretary. My hon. Friend is absolutely right to highlight some of the important points made in the report. She will be aware that, in addition to freedom of religion and belief, the UK is, as we heard from the Secretary of State, helping communities with their adaptation to some of the other drivers of conflict highlighted in the excellent report.

Lilian Greenwood Portrait Lilian Greenwood (Labour - Nottingham South) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019

Q1. If she will list her official engagements for Wednesday 17 July. [912009]

Mrs Theresa May (Conservative - Maidenhead) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 12:02 p.m.

I am sure Members will want to congratulate all those who took part in what was a great weekend of sport. In particular, we congratulate Lewis Hamilton on his record sixth win in the British grand prix. On Monday, I was able to welcome England’s cricket team to Downing Street, following their brilliant performance in winning the cricket world cup. As I said to them, they are a team that reflects the very best of modern Britain and a team that plays like no other in the world.

I am sure the House will want to join me in wishing all the best to the home nations taking part in the netball world cup in Liverpool.

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

Lilian Greenwood Portrait Lilian Greenwood (Labour - Nottingham South) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 12:02 p.m.

I join the Prime Minister in offering our congratulations, particularly to the England team that won the cricket world cup. We were proud to host some of the games at Trent Bridge in Nottingham. I also extend our best wishes to the netball team.

Notts County, the world’s oldest professional football club, is facing the very real threat of extinction. Under chairman Alan Hardy, the club has reached a financial crisis and could be liquidated before the start of the coming season. Players and staff have not been paid in weeks, and the club is set to make its fourth appearance in the High Court later this month to face a winding-up petition. Will the Prime Minister and the whole House join me in calling on the Football Association, the Football League and the National League to investigate the current situation and help to secure the future of this truly historic club?

Mrs Theresa May (Conservative - Maidenhead) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019

I thank the hon. Lady for raising this issue. Football clubs up and down the country are obviously of great importance to their local communities. Overall, the financial state of football clubs is better now than at any time, but the Government are certainly not complacent. The hon. Lady referred to various football authorities; we will continue to hold the football authorities to account for ensuring that there is transparency around the ownership of clubs, that sufficient inquiries into the suitability of owners are made, and that financially clubs continue to live within their means. I am sure the whole House will join the hon. Lady in hoping that, as the world’s oldest professional football club, Notts County resolves its situation soon.

Sir Peter Bottomley Portrait Sir Peter Bottomley (Conservative - Worthing West) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019

Q3. I thank the Prime Minister and her chief of staff Gavin Barwell for all that they have done, with the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, on residential leasehold reform; there is now a prospect of ending unfairness and exploitation.In respect of another legacy, may I refer the Prime Minister to the book “Legacy” by Michael Gillard on the legacy of the Olympics? It is about Gillard’s investigation into the criminals involved. I am not suggesting that she reads it before next week, but those who do look at it will see how the Directorate of Professional Standards in the Met overturned the police officer who was investigating the criminals. When doing that, they should also look at “Behind The Blue Line” by Gurpal Virdi, which is about how he was investigated when the DPS did not interview the officers who were known to have been involved in the arrests of the complainant, and charged him with an offence with a weapon that was not available until eight years after the alleged offence. [912011]

Mrs Theresa May (Conservative - Maidenhead) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 12:04 p.m.

I recognise the way in which my hon. Friend has championed a number of cases—he has referenced one of them—over the years in this House. Indeed, I had a number of meetings with him when I was Home Secretary in relation to that case. It is important that our police are able to operate to the highest professional standards. They have operational independence as to who they investigate and how they conduct those investigations, but I am sure the whole House would want to say that we expect our police to conduct those investigations properly and fairly, and to ensure that, when a crime is committed, they are investigating that crime.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn (Labour - Islington North) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 12:06 p.m.

I agree with the Prime Minister’s congratulations to Lewis Hamilton on winning on Sunday and to the fantastic cricket team, which ended up winning the world cup. I also thank New Zealand—what a brilliant final it was, and what a great advertisement for the wonderful game of cricket.

“Time is running out” on climate change—that is what the Environment Secretary said yesterday. Why did the all-party Environmental Audit Committee accuse the Government of “coasting” on climate change?

Mrs Theresa May (Conservative - Maidenhead) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 12:07 p.m.

The Government have a fine record on climate change, including our recent legislation on net zero emissions, but there is an issue that needs to be addressed in this House. Before the right hon. Gentleman stands up and parades himself as the champion of climate change, the champion of the people or the defender of equality and fairness, he needs to apologise for his failure to deal with racism in the Labour party.

Just today, 60 distinguished members of the Labour party have written in the newspapers:

“The Labour party welcomes everyone*…(*except, it seems, Jews)…This is your legacy Mr Corbyn…You still haven’t opened your eyes…You still haven’t told the whole truth…You still haven’t accepted your responsibility…You have failed…the test of leadership.”

Apologise now.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn (Labour - Islington North) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019

rose—[Interruption.]

John Bercow (Speaker - Buckingham) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 12:07 p.m.

Order. The right hon. Gentleman will be heard. Attempts to shout him down are downmarket, low grade, regarded with contempt by the public and, above all, will not work. Be quiet.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn (Labour - Islington North) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019

This party was the first to introduce anti-racist legislation into law in Britain. This party totally opposes racism in any form whatsoever. Antisemitism has no place in our society, no place in any of our parties and no place in any of our dialogues. Neither does any other form of racism.

Some 60% of Tory party members think Islam is a threat to western civilisation. The Prime Minister has said that she will act on Islamophobia within her own party. I hope she does. I look forward to seeing that being dealt with, as we will deal with any racism that occurs within our own party as well.

Last week, the Committee on Climate Change published its annual report, which described the Government’s efforts on climate change not a bit like what the Prime Minister just said; it described them as being run like “Dad’s Army”. The Government’s target is to reduce carbon emissions by 57% by 2030. Can the Prime Minister tell us how much progress has been made on that?

Mrs Theresa May (Conservative - Maidenhead) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 12:08 p.m.

On the climate change issue, the chairman of that committee said:

“The UK is the first major economy to set a net-zero emissions target and intends to host the world’s leaders at next year’s landmark climate conference (COP26). These are historic steps forward and position the UK at the forefront of the global low-carbon transition.”

The right hon. Gentleman, I note, did not apologise in response to my first questions. We deal with Islamophobia in the Conservative party. Any allegations of Islamophobia are dealt with, unlike his way in the Labour party where he is failing to deal with antisemitism. He can stand up and say all he likes about the Labour party introducing anti-racism legislation. Just last week, Trevor Phillips, the former chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said the following:

“Labour today presents like a textbook case of institutional racism.”

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn (Labour - Islington North) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 12:10 p.m.

This party opposes racism in any form whatsoever in our society. And coming from a Prime Minister who encouraged the hostile environment, sent “go home” vans around London, and deported British citizens, which she has now had to compensate them for, I think that she might look to her own party and her own Government’s record as well.

The issue of climate change is obviously crucial, and we support the zero emissions target. The latest figures, however, released in April show that the Government are going to miss that target by 10%—the gap is widening. At the current rate, they will not meet their 2050 target until 2099, and, at that point, it will be too late for our planet and our children. Clean energy investment has fallen three years in a row. Why does the Prime Minister think that that is the case?

Mrs Theresa May (Conservative - Maidenhead) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 12:12 p.m.

Still no apology, I note, from the right hon. Gentleman.

We have outperformed in our first and second carbon budgets, and we are on track to meet the third. We have taken the historic step of legislating for net zero emissions by 2050. We have yet to see all the policies and proposals in our clean growth strategy coming into play and having an effect on our target. This is a party that is acting on climate change; this is a party that is delivering for the people of this country; this is a party that is dealing with the issues that matter to people day to day. The right hon. Gentleman needs to start dealing with the issues that matter to the members of his Labour party, as shown in the newspapers this morning.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn (Labour - Islington North) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 12:13 p.m.

It was a Labour Government who introduced the Climate Change Act 2008. It is the Labour party that is committed to dealing with the issues of climate change. Let me give the Prime Minister a few suggestions on why renewable investment is falling: her Government scrapped the feed-in tariff; they failed to invest in the Swansea tidal lagoon; and they slashed investment in onshore wind. If we are serious about tackling this climate emergency, we need to fully acknowledge the scale of the problem. Labour is committed to measuring total UK emissions—not just what we make here, but what we buy from abroad also—so that we have an accurate figure of what the emissions really are by consumption in this country. Will the Prime Minister match that commitment?

Mrs Theresa May (Conservative - Maidenhead) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019

The right hon. Gentleman knows that we measure our targets according to the international definitions of those targets, and that is exactly the right thing for us to do. He talks about renewables. Let us just look at the record on renewables: last year, renewables generated a record amount of electricity in this country—33%; and over the past year, we have generated record levels of solar and offshore wind energy. He talks about what the Labour Government did, but 99% of solar power deployed in the UK has been deployed under Conservative Governments.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn (Labour - Islington North) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 12:13 p.m.

I think that we are actually hiding the scale of the problem by passing the buck to other countries as well. If all emissions are counted, the figures would actually be 69% higher in this country.

Every year, air pollution kills 40,000 in this country. In 2017, the Conservative manifesto promised to take action against poor air quality in urban areas. What actions have been taken?

Mrs Theresa May (Conservative - Maidenhead) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 11:30 a.m.

Air pollution has reduced significantly since 2010 under the Conservatives in government. Our clean air strategy is the most ambitious air quality strategy in a generation, described by the World Health Organisation as

“an example for the rest of the world to follow.”

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn (Labour - Islington North) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 12:16 p.m.

Those are wonderful words, they truly are. The only problem is, air pollution levels breach legal limits in 37 of 43 areas of this country. Two thirds of our children are growing up in an area where pollution breaches legal limits. This crisis is literally suffocating our children and damaging their health. Once again, this Government are dodging their responsibility while Labour leads the way. For example, the Mayor of London is leading the way on better air quality in the capital city.

The Tories promised the greenest Government ever. They have failed on carbon emissions. They have failed on air pollution. They have failed on solar. The Prime Minister says that she wants action, but she supports fracking and has effectively banned onshore wind. The climate emergency simply cannot be left to the market. We all need to take responsibility to secure our common future. Labour led the call to declare a climate emergency and has pledged a green industrial revolution with new jobs. When will this Conservative Government face up to the situation, get a grip on this crisis and deal with it?

Mrs Theresa May (Conservative - Maidenhead) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019

We have already seen over 400,000 new jobs in the area of renewables and clean growth, and we expect to see up to 2 million more. I am not going to take any lectures from the Labour party on this issue, when the last Labour Government ignored advice that diesel fumes would damage our environment and incentivised diesel cars through the tax system.

The right hon. Gentleman talks about dodging responsibility. The person who has been dodging his responsibility during this PMQs is the right hon. Gentleman. The real disgrace is his handling of racism in the Labour part. Activists protesting, MPs leaving and staff resigning—what would his great heroes Attlee, Bevan and Benn think? Look what he has done to their party. We will never let him do it to our country.

Sir Oliver Heald Portrait Sir Oliver Heald (Conservative - North East Hertfordshire) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019

Q6. The Prime Minister has repeatedly made animal welfare a priority during her time in office. Britain leads the World Animal Protection animal protection index. I thank her and the Secretary of State for supporting Finn’s law—the Animal Welfare (Service Animals) Act 2019—and for bringing forward the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill, which is a key measure for a nation such as ours that loves animals. That legislation will increase the maximum sentence for animal cruelty to five years’ imprisonment. Will the Prime Minister do whatever more she can to secure its speedy passage? [912014]

Mrs Theresa May (Conservative - Maidenhead) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 12:19 p.m.

I know my right hon. and learned Friend has also been working on this issue for some time, and I thank him for highlighting the work that has been done. There is no place for animal cruelty in this country. When the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill, to which he alludes, is passed, those who mistreat or abuse animals, or are involved in animal fighting, will rightly face one of the toughest penalties available anywhere in the world. That will cement our place as a world leader on animal welfare. The new maximum penalty will soon also apply to those who attack our brave service animals such as Finn the police dog, through Finn’s law. I pay tribute to supporters, and to organisations such as Battersea Dogs and Cats Home and the RSPCA, for championing these changes. I wish the sentencing Bill a speedy passage through this House and the other place.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford (Scottish National Party - Ross, Skye and Lochaber) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019

This week the Prime Minister finally did the right thing. When Donald Trump told women that they should “go home”, she called it out as unacceptable. Let me clear that Donald Trump’s actions are textbook racism; they are repugnant and diplomatic politeness should never stop us saying so. Will the Prime Minister now, on reflection, also take the opportunity to call out and condemn the racism of the “Go Home” vans that she created in the coalition Government with the Liberal Democrats?

Mrs Theresa May (Conservative - Maidenhead) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, midnight

I said at the time that that was too blunt an instrument. There is an important issue, which is that the public expect us to have a fair immigration system that deals with those who are here illegally. That is what we need to do. The right hon. Gentleman referred to the comments made by President Trump. As he alluded to, I have strongly condemned those comments.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford (Scottish National Party - Ross, Skye and Lochaber) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 12:19 p.m.

When the Prime Minister implemented the hostile environment policy, her party stayed silent. When she delivered the racist “Go Home” vans, the Tories remained silent. When asylum seekers are deported to places where their lives are at risk, the Tories stay silent, and when faced with the racist columns written by the former Foreign Secretary, they stay silent. Is the hon. Member for Aberconwy (Guto Bebb) not correct when he warns that the Tories are

“appealing to the type of nationalism that has seen UKIP grow”?

While the Tory party shares more with the extremes of Donald Trump and Nigel Farage, is it any wonder that Scotland looks on in horror?

Mrs Theresa May (Conservative - Maidenhead) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019

The Conservative party is a party for the whole of the United Kingdom, and the only party in this House that is appealing to blatant nationalism is the party that wants to take Scotland out of the UK.

Daniel Kawczynski Portrait Daniel Kawczynski (Conservative - Shrewsbury and Atcham) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019

Q10.   In Shropshire, 300 doctors, surgeons and clinicians have been at the forefront of major reconfiguration and modernisation proposals for A&E provision in our county. We have secured £320 million for those vital changes, yet Labour-controlled Telford and Wrekin Council—an organisation bereft of any medical expertise—has repeatedly prevented them from taking place. Will the Prime Minister update the House on when this long-running saga will finally come to an end, so that my doctors and clinicians can get back to their day jobs? [912018]

Mrs Theresa May (Conservative - Maidenhead) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, midnight

I thank my hon. Friend for raising what is obviously a very important issue for him and his constituents. I recognise that there are concerns about the Future Fit programme and services in Shropshire. I understand that my right hon. Friend the Health Secretary has referred the programme to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel, and the Department of Health and Social Care will study that advice carefully before making a decision. We have the simple view that clinicians should take these decisions, because it is clinicians who know best the services that should be available for his constituents and others.

Steve McCabe Portrait Steve McCabe (Labour - Birmingham, Selly Oak) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019

Q2. I often disagree with the Prime Minister, but I respect the fact that many of her intentions are honest and decent. When she raised the hopes of millions of carers by promising them statutory leave entitlement, they were thrilled. So far, we have had reference to a committee. Is that a failed promise, or does the fact that it is a manifesto pledge mean she is assured that the honest and decent thing for her successor to do is deliver it? [912010]

Mrs Theresa May (Conservative - Maidenhead) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, midnight

The issue of carer’s leave is one on which we have been consulting. That is in the system, and I have every expectation that whoever succeeds me will take that forward.

Sir Roger Gale Portrait Sir Roger Gale (Conservative - North Thanet) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019

It has been remarked upon that my right hon. Friend is one of only three Prime Ministers upon whose watch a world cup has been brought home. She and her husband were fortunate enough to be present to watch that wonderful team effort. In the final week of her premiership, will she allow herself the luxury of considering that history is likely to treat her captaincy rather more kindly than it will treat those who have campaigned against her?

Mrs Theresa May (Conservative - Maidenhead) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, midnight

I thank my right hon. Friend for those comments and for the support he has shown me and the Government in our work. I was very pleased to be there for the whole world cup final on Sunday. It was nerve-racking and nail-biting, but our team brought it home, and many congratulations once again to them.

Mrs Sharon Hodgson Portrait Mrs Sharon Hodgson (Labour - Washington and Sunderland West) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019

Q4.   When the Prime Minister made her first speech in Downing Street, she said she would fight against the burning injustices of inequality. Three years on, nothing has changed. As schools wind down for the summer holidays, many children will be excited about the fun and the joy to come, but thousands of families whose children receive free school meals will be worried about how they are even going to feed their children, let alone take them on holiday. If she wants a meaningful, lasting legacy, will she extend the holiday activity funding to ensure that all children who receive a free school meal during term time are fed in the holidays? [912012]

Mrs Theresa May (Conservative - Maidenhead) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 12:25 p.m.

We had a successful £2 million programme in the summer of 2018, and this year we are more than quadrupling this funding. About 50,000 disadvantaged children in 11 local authority areas will be offered free meals and activities over the summer holidays. That is going to be funded by £9 million from the Department for Education. We had a good programme last year, and we are expanding that programme this year because we want to help children, wherever they are, receive the right support in school and out.

Mr Edward Vaizey Portrait Mr Edward Vaizey (Conservative - Wantage) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019

In the week when we celebrate the anniversary of man first walking on the moon, may I draw the Prime Minister’s attention to the amazing space cluster that exists at Harwell in my constituency, with amazing companies such as Open Cosmos and Oxford Space Systems? In the last week of her premiership, could she have a conversation with the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy? If we can accelerate the decommissioning of the land at Harwell, we can really accelerate the success of this cluster? I will personally invite her back to inaugurate Theresa May Way, when this is done.

John Bercow (Speaker - Buckingham) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 12:26 p.m.

I am sure the Prime Minister is just beyond excited.

Mrs Theresa May (Conservative - Maidenhead) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019

I was going to say, Mr Speaker, such temptation has been dangled before me, and I thank my right hon. Friend for it.

First, we are very pleased with the cluster in my right hon. Friend’s constituency and the important role that that plays in our economy, in our research and our science development. The Business Secretary is in the Chamber and has heard the points my right hon. Friend has made about accelerating this process, and I am sure that the Business Department will look carefully at his request.

Paula Sherriff (Labour - Dewsbury) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019

Q5. Passengers across the north of England are wondering which has been delayed the longest—the northern powerhouse, or their next train. Will the Prime Minister and her legendary Transport Secretary use their last few days in office to justify our endless waits for relic Pacer trains, while the “Northern Fail” franchise rewards incompetent bosses with £2 million pay packets, or will she finally agree with our plans to renationalise the railways and run them for the public good? [912013]

Mrs Theresa May (Conservative - Maidenhead) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 12:28 p.m.

The hon. Lady talks about the northern powerhouse. The northern powerhouse is there: we are operating, we are putting in development and we are putting in funding to the northern powerhouse, including record levels of funding for transport across the north of England. That is the commitment this Government have made. We are not just using words; we are actually putting the money in. We are seeing a difference, and we are making a difference.

Rachel Maclean Portrait Rachel Maclean (Conservative - Redditch) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 12:28 p.m.

Will the Prime Minister join me in congratulating Ian Jukes and our local community in Redditch for raising nearly £500,000 for the Rory the Robot appeal to fund the prostate surgery robot in Worcestershire? However, despite all the hard work by the Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, the specialist commissioners have not approved the business case yet. Will she use her legacy, in her last week, to help us sort this problem out?

Mrs Theresa May (Conservative - Maidenhead) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019

I thank my hon. Friend. I am very happy to congratulate Ian Jukes and all those who have been responsible for raising the money for—as I understand it—Rory the Robot. I am sitting two steps away from the International Development Secretary, but I gather the reference my hon. Friend has made is to medical equipment. Obviously, I will look carefully at the point she has raised about the business case.

Mr Virendra Sharma Portrait Mr Virendra Sharma (Labour - Ealing, Southall) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019

Q7. For the entirety of the Prime Minister’s term of office, the UK has held to its 0.7% international aid commitment. Is the Prime Minister proud of this record, and will she use her powers and influence to ensure that the next Government hold not just to the letter but to the spirit of this commitment? [912015]

Mrs Theresa May (Conservative - Maidenhead) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 12:30 p.m.

I thank the hon. Gentleman for raising this issue. I am indeed proud of the development aid the United Kingdom spends across the world and the role we play not just in helping some of the most vulnerable and poorest people around the world, but in dealing with issues as they arise, such as the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The 0.7% of gross national income target is now in legislation and there was a commitment in the Conservative election manifesto to maintain it, so I am sure it will continue and that it will continue to be an important sign of what the Conservative party believes we should be doing: helping some of the most vulnerable and poorest people around the world.

Robert Halfon Portrait Robert Halfon (Conservative - Harlow) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 12:30 p.m.

On Saturday, I met a group of residents in Harlow, many of them on Government Help to Buy schemes, who moved into homes built by Persimmon Homes that are shoddily built with severe damp and crumbling walls. In the eyes of my residents, Persimmon are crooks, cowboys and con artists. Will my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister hold the company to account, ensure that residents receive proper compensation, and urge the chief executive to come to Harlow to meet the families who have suffered so much? Persimmon Homes should not behave in this way.

Mrs Theresa May (Conservative - Maidenhead) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019

My right hon. Friend raises a very important issue. As we increase the housing supply, it is important that the quality of new build homes continues to improve. We set out in our housing White Paper an ambition and a target of a housing market that works for everyone. We expect developers to deliver good-quality housing. We have already announced our intention for a new homes ombudsman to protect the rights of homebuyers and to hold developers to account. We expect all developers to build their homes to a good quality standard. These are homes that people will be living in for many years. They deserve those standards.

John Spellar Portrait John Spellar (Labour - Warley) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019

Q8. All the major European industrial nations insist that ships for their navies are built in their own yards. As part of the Prime Minister’s legacy, may I urge her to be a good European and follow their example, and instruct the Ministry of Defence to build its new support vessels in British yards, securing British jobs and using British steel? [912016]

Mrs Theresa May (Conservative - Maidenhead) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 12:30 p.m.

As the right hon. Gentleman knows, this Government brought forward our shipbuilding strategy to ensure that we support and encourage shipbuilding around the United Kingdom. On the Royal Navy, I understand that the issue he raises relates to support ships. The MOD is looking at future provision and the building of those support ships. We maintain our position on building the ships of the Royal Navy.

George Freeman (Conservative - Mid Norfolk) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 12:30 p.m.

This weekend our sporting heroes, winners and losers, inspired a new generation. Science can also inspire. Sixty years ago, JFK electrified the world and united a divided and fearful nation with the inspiring Apollo moonshot programme, which also helped to defeat the Soviet Union and laid the foundations for US technology leadership. Will my right hon. Friend join me in saluting our pioneering scientist astronauts, Helen Sharman and Tim Peake, and agree with me that Brexit can and must be a moonshot moment for British science innovation to tackle global challenges?

Mrs Theresa May (Conservative - Maidenhead) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019

I thank my hon. Friend for raising this issue. I am very happy to congratulate and salute our pioneering UK astronauts, Helen Sharman and Tim Peake. One of the first receptions I held in No. 10 Downing Street when I became Prime Minister was for Tim Peake, and it was inspiring to see how what he had done in space had encouraged young people in particular to develop an interest in space and science. We are global leader in science and innovation, and that will continue once we leave the European Union. Leaving the EU will open up opportunities for UK science and innovation to tackle global challenges.

Chris Stephens Portrait Chris Stephens (Scottish National Party - Glasgow South West) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019

Q9. Tonight, campaigners will be meeting in Govan to discuss direct action against the Home Office contractor Serco, which intends to make 300 vulnerable asylum seekers homeless through its lock-change eviction programme. Many of those asylum seekers have outstanding claims and, as the Prime Minister will know, the Home Office can take 37 days to process section 4 support. Will she intervene, stop the evictions, prevent a homelessness crisis in Glasgow and respect live legal proceedings, so that the law can be clarified in this regard? [912017]

Mrs Theresa May (Conservative - Maidenhead) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 12:34 p.m.

We are committed to providing asylum accommodation that is safe and secure. We take the wellbeing of asylum seekers and the local communities in which they live very seriously. Asylum seekers who would otherwise be destitute are provided with free, fully furnished accommodation while their applications are considered. We cover utility costs and provide a cash allowance to cover other essential living needs, but once a person’s asylum claim is fully determined, their entitlement to that support will end. What I understand has been happening is that Serco has been providing accommodation at its own expense to over 300 people who are no longer eligible for such accommodation, either because they have been refused asylum or because they have been granted leave to remain and should move on to mainstream benefits and housing.

Jeremy Lefroy (Conservative - Stafford) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 12:34 p.m.

Last week, I had the honour of visiting the world’s best transformer factory in Stafford, run by General Electric. It was constructing the first of 72 transformers to go to Iraq, and it is only able to do that through the support of UK Export Finance. Will my right hon. Friend congratulate me—[Hon. Members: “ Hear, hear!”] The last thing she should do is that, but will she congratulate UK Export Finance on backing British business?

Mrs Theresa May (Conservative - Maidenhead) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 12:35 p.m.

I am very happy to congratulate my hon. Friend on all the work that he has done for his constituency and more widely. He is absolutely right: UK Export Finance is an essential part of the Government support that can be provided to exporters. I am very pleased that the Department for International Trade has changed the rules to enable UK Export Finance to provide support for some smaller exporters, which has encouraged them. UKEF provides a vital role in our economy and our exporting around the world, and I am happy to congratulate it on the work that it does.

John Bercow (Speaker - Buckingham) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 12:36 p.m.

I am always happy to congratulate the hon. Member for Stafford (Jeremy Lefroy), as others will, for one very good reason that the public should know: he invariably plays the ball rather than the man or the woman. He sticks to the arguments, and that is why he is respected not only by his constituents, but across the House.

Patrick Grady Portrait Patrick Grady (Scottish National Party - Glasgow North) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019

11. On 26 June, this House agreed an Scottish National party resolution regretting that the Prime Minister’s legacy will be the hostile environment. Yesterday, the all-party groups on Africa and Malawi published a report showing that structural failures in the visa system are continuing to perpetuate that hostile environment. How can her Government spend millions of pounds on a global marketing campaign saying that Britain is great when, for so many academics, artists and traders from Africa, Britain is closed? [912019]

Mrs Theresa May (Conservative - Maidenhead) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 12:34 p.m.

Entry clearance officers consider applications for visitor visas with the utmost rigour, because our visas are an important way of securing our border and an effective tool for us in reducing illegal immigration, tackling organised crime and protecting national security. The hon. Gentleman references visas for people coming from the countries of Africa. The percentage of African nationals who saw their application granted is up by 4% on what it was 10 years ago and is only slightly below the average rate of the past 10 years. Visa applications from African nationals are at their highest level since 2013.

Mr Nigel Evans Portrait Mr Nigel Evans (Conservative - Ribble Valley) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019

Three weeks ago, I was in New York for WorldPride—a celebration of equality and love, with 150,000 people marching down Fifth Avenue, cheered on by millions of people. Then we had Pride in London, and we will have lots of other Prides in towns and cities throughout the UK and Europe, but it is such a different story in so many other countries, where millions of people live in fear of prosecution and persecution. Commonwealth countries blame British legacy legislation. What message does the Prime Minister have for them to say that they can change their laws progressively and that everybody in their countries can live in equality, harmony and love?

Mrs Theresa May (Conservative - Maidenhead) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 12:34 p.m.

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. People will have seen a wonderful Pride parade here in London. I am only sorry that I was not able to be present at the Pride reception in No. 10 Downing Street, but I was pleased that people were hosted in No. 10 once again this year. He raises an important issue. It is one that I raised at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting last year, when I made it clear to countries in the Commonwealth that we want to see them introducing those progressive laws and changes in their legislation and, more than that, that we are willing to help them, provide support to them and show them the legislation that we have used, so that they can adopt it and people can indeed live in true equality.

Kirsty Blackman Portrait Kirsty Blackman (Scottish National Party - Aberdeen North) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019

12. The Prime Minister claims to care about people whose lives have been destroyed by modern slavery, and she claims that her work in this area will be part of her legacy. It is a legacy to be ashamed of, as BuzzFeed News has uncovered Home Office data showing that only 16 of 326 child victims of modern slavery had their discretionary leave visas approved in the 20 months to December 2018—refusing child trafficking victims safety. This cruel and callous hostile environment is the Prime Minister’s legacy. Will she apologise or hang her head in shame? [912021]

Mrs Theresa May (Conservative - Maidenhead) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 12:40 p.m.

We constantly look at how we can improve our response to modern slavery. I am very pleased that I had a meeting only a few days ago where I met many people involved in organisations that support victims of modern slavery; I met people involved in the prosecution of perpetrators of modern slavery; and I met parliamentarians who have been involved in the independent review of the Modern Slavery Act 2015. We are going to take on board most of the recommendations from that review. I make no apology for introducing the Modern Slavery Act. It was a Conservative Government who dealt with this issue, and we continue to deal with it. We took it seriously when other parties were not willing to do so.

Tom Pursglove Portrait Tom Pursglove (Conservative - Corby) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 12:41 p.m.

As a distinctly average cricketer who is fully aware of his limitations, I grew up dreaming of an England side lifting the cricket world cup in a Lord’s final in front of a home crowd. How does my right hon. Friend believe we can maximise the opportunity of Sunday’s incredible success to encourage the next generation to get involved and pick up a bat and ball?

Mrs Theresa May (Conservative - Maidenhead) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 12:41 p.m.

So many people around the country have been engaged by and taken inspiration from the England cricket team’s success. Crucially, a very significant number of children have also been introduced to the basics of cricket through the work on cricket in the streets. I want to cite a figure that I heard yesterday, but I do so with care: I think something like 1 million children have now seen cricket and been introduced to cricket as a result of the world cup tournament here in the UK. We must build on that for the future.

Neil Gray Portrait Neil Gray (Scottish National Party - Airdrie and Shotts) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019

13.   Yesterday in Parliament, a young man named Adam, who has learning difficulties, spoke at the launch of a report from the Disability Benefits Consortium entitled “Has welfare become unfair”. Adam told us about how, as a result of cuts to his benefit support, he has had to choose between paying to travel to his appointments and buying milk. What does the Prime Minister say to Adam, and how does she respond to the report, which says that disability benefits have been cut four times faster than others in the nine years for which she has been in government? [912022]

Mrs Theresa May (Conservative - Maidenhead) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 12:43 p.m.

The Secretary of State has heard the specific case that the hon. Gentleman raises. The support that we have given to disabled people and people with health conditions is at a record high, and spending on disability benefits will be higher in every year to 2023 than in 2010. We have also provided support for disabled people to get into the workplace, and we continue to do so. The number of disabled people in work has increased by almost 950,000 over the past five years.

Maggie Throup Portrait Maggie Throup (Conservative - Erewash) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 12:43 p.m.

This year, the school sports premium is worth about half a million pounds to primary schools across my constituency. It has been a key driver in helping more children to establish healthier lifestyles, which we hope they will continue into adulthood. Will my right hon. Friend join me in encouraging the Government to look closely at extending this funding beyond 2020 to help even more children to become healthier for life and to inspire some of those young people to become our world cup winners of the future?

Mrs Theresa May (Conservative - Maidenhead) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019

My hon. Friend has raised an important issue. We all recognise the importance of sport in schools, and the sport action plan has an aspiration for every child to get 60 minutes of sport and activity a day. That is why on Monday we published a cross-government school sport action plan, which will be taken forward. This is an issue that Conservatives in government have taken very seriously. We have put in the PE and sport premium, which will continue in the 2019-20 academic year. Future questions about spending will be for the spending review, but I think she can take it that Conservatives in government will continue their commitment to ensuring that young people in this country have a healthy lifestyle.

John McNally Portrait John McNally (Scottish National Party - Falkirk) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019

14. May I ask the Prime Minister about some day-to-day post-Brexit issues? Scotland’s seafood industry fears that transport delays, new tariffs and taxes will put it on an uneven playing field in relation to its European counterparts. Can the Prime Minister tell us how the UK Government will support and protect this high-value industry when it faces product loss, owing to delays that will certainly lead to soaring insurance premiums and thresholds? [912023]

Mrs Theresa May (Conservative - Maidenhead) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 12:45 p.m.

I can tell the hon. Gentleman that we take industry throughout the United Kingdom very seriously. He has referred to the issue of Brexit and leaving the European Union. A deal was negotiated that would have protected jobs and industry across the UK, but, sadly, he and others in the House chose not to support it. I continue to believe that the best way forward for industries in his constituency and throughout the UK is for us to leave the European Union, and to do so with a good deal.

Jack Brereton Portrait Jack Brereton (Conservative - Stoke-on-Trent South) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 12:45 p.m.

Figures published yesterday show that wages are rising faster than inflation, which means that there is more money in the pockets of hard-working people in Stoke-on-Trent. May I thank my right hon. Friend for the actions that her Government have been taking to help families with the cost of living—reducing taxes on income, increasing the national living wage and extending the fuel duty freeze?

Mrs Theresa May (Conservative - Maidenhead) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 12:46 p.m.

That is indeed good news. Yesterday’s employment figures were also good news, showing that more people are in work than ever before. I am pleased that we have been able to help working people with their finances. We have done that through the national living wage; we have done it by cutting taxes; and we have done it by freezing fuel duty. For the lowest paid, the national living wage and the cuts in taxes mean that they take home £4,500 more than they did under the last Labour Government.

Kerry McCarthy Portrait Kerry McCarthy (Labour - Bristol East) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 12:47 p.m.

At Prime Minister’s Questions on 26 June, I was pleased to hear the Prime Minister express sympathy for my 18-year-old constituent Jake Ogborne, who has spinal muscular atrophy. In May, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence posted a press release saying that the drug Spinraza would be made available to SMA patients—the clear implication was that it would be made available to them all—only for Jake to have his hopes cruelly dashed when he was told that he was just outside the hitherto unmentioned eligibility criteria. This is a young man whose future is at stake. The Prime Minister said on that occasion that she would follow up the case. May I ask her if she has yet managed to do so?

Mrs Theresa May (Conservative - Maidenhead) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 12:47 p.m.

I do not have a response to the specific case that the hon. Lady has raised again today, but I will ensure that she receives a response before I leave office.

Rachel Maclean Portrait Rachel Maclean (Conservative - Redditch) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019

On a point of order, Mr Speaker.

John Bercow (Speaker - Buckingham) - Original Hansard
17 Jul 2019

Points of order come after urgent questions, of which there are three.