There have been 25 exchanges between Baroness Morgan of Cotes and Cabinet Office
|Thu 23rd July 2020||Covid-19: Debt Collection (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (95 words)|
|Thu 21st May 2020||Northern Ireland Protocol (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (61 words)|
|Mon 18th May 2020||Covid-19: Restrictions (Lords Chamber)||3 interactions (85 words)|
|Wed 3rd July 2019||Oral Answers to Questions||3 interactions (138 words)|
|Wed 22nd May 2019||Leaving the European Union||3 interactions (142 words)|
|Wed 3rd April 2019||Oral Answers to Questions||3 interactions (109 words)|
|Wed 13th March 2019||Oral Answers to Questions||5 interactions (129 words)|
|Tue 12th March 2019||European Union (Withdrawal) Act||15 interactions (1,410 words)|
|Tue 26th February 2019||Leaving the European Union||3 interactions (135 words)|
|Tue 12th February 2019||Leaving the EU||3 interactions (143 words)|
|Tue 29th January 2019||European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018||3 interactions (91 words)|
|Wed 16th January 2019||Oral Answers to Questions||3 interactions (47 words)|
|Mon 17th December 2018||European Council||3 interactions (142 words)|
|Mon 26th November 2018||Leaving the EU||3 interactions (128 words)|
|Thu 15th November 2018||EU Exit Negotiations||3 interactions (128 words)|
|Mon 15th October 2018||EU Exit Negotiations||5 interactions (164 words)|
|Mon 9th July 2018||Leaving the EU||3 interactions (101 words)|
|Mon 2nd July 2018||June European Council||3 interactions (97 words)|
|Mon 16th April 2018||Syria||3 interactions (144 words)|
|Mon 26th March 2018||European Council||3 interactions (70 words)|
|Wed 14th March 2018||Salisbury Incident||3 interactions (117 words)|
|Mon 11th December 2017||Brexit Negotiations||3 interactions (108 words)|
|Wed 25th October 2017||Oral Answers to Questions||3 interactions (50 words)|
|Mon 23rd October 2017||European Council||3 interactions (109 words)|
|Wed 5th July 2017||Oral Answers to Questions||3 interactions (91 words)|
Yes, a consistent understanding of the problems of debt using such techniques is extremely important. The regulations on council tax were promulgated, I believe, back in 1992—now a sort of Neanderthal age, when I was in No. 10. The Local Government Minister has announced that MCHLG will update its guidance to councils on collection and enforcement of council tax.
My Lords, I am of course hearing what noble Lords are saying and I endorse the principles of the Centre for Social Justice report. I am very proud of having done public service in local government. Local councils are custodians of their whole community and community interests. They should be sympathetic and act proportionately towards anyone in genuine hardship. I will reflect on the points that my noble friend has made and pass them on to colleagues in the department.
My Lords, I do not agree that facilitating arrangements, which is what is stated in the protocol, necessarily translates into cement. We are looking for light-touch, easy arrangements. I can only repeat what I have said to the House I believe four times already this evening: the position of the UK Government is that it is not necessary for the implementation of our undertakings under the protocol.
I thank my noble friend and of course I pay tribute to her, as indeed I should have to the noble Lord, Lord Hain, for their contributions over the years to these matters. Yes, I can give my noble friend both those assurances. We hope for, expect and are proposing light administrative procedures of exactly the type she describes.
My Lords, the noble Lord makes an important point about mental health. The Government have stressed at all times that there needs to be a balance in these matters. However, the scientific advice is clear that the groups concerned are at the greatest danger of suffering severely from this virus. That has been the reason for the advice, which, as I said, is under continual review.
The right hon. Gentleman raises a very important issue, and I am sure the whole House will want to extend our sympathies to the families and friends of young people who suffer sudden cardiac death. He and the all-party parliamentary group on cardiac risk in the young have done very important work on this issue. I am assured by the Department of Health and Social Care that the independent UK National Screening Committee will carefully consider all the relevant evidence, and I know DHSC will study the committee’s findings when they are published in due course—it will look at the findings very carefully. This is an important issue, and we want to make sure we get it right.
I am sure we all want to send our deepest sympathies to Kirsty’s family and friends. We are determined to make sure that the UK is the safest place to be online, which involves tackling content that encourages suicide and self-harm. Working with the tech companies to get them to accept greater responsibility for the sort of material that is put out across their platforms has been a long-standing issue.
We have seen some tech companies take action to tackle the issue, and we want to ensure a more consistent response from companies to protect the safety and wellbeing of their users, especially those who are vulnerable. I know that the Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, my hon. Friend the Member for Thurrock (Jackie Doyle-Price), who has responsibility for suicide prevention, is aware of this aspect of online content. She is deeply concerned, and she will be writing to Amazon about it.
The right hon. Lady referenced what has happened to Greybull Capital’s company, British Steel. She will be aware, as others will, that a number of issues and a number of challenges face the steel industry—not just in the UK, but globally—and part of that, of course, is the overcapacity issue because supply is outstripping demand. Of course, much of the excess production is coming from China. That is why in the G20 two or three years ago we acted to bring China around the table to try to deal with that issue.
The right hon. Lady asks about the long term. The compromise solution on the customs that I put forward and referenced in my statement is designed to ensure that a future Government can take that issue in the direction that they wish to take it, and for the House to determine what those negotiating objectives should be. What matters to our manufacturing industry is the frictions that take place at the border and having the benefits of the customs union in no tariffs and no quotas. That is exactly what is already in the political declaration—the benefits of the customs union—and, as I say, we are committed to ensuring that trade is as frictionless as possible.
My right hon. Friend is right that, if the Bill is not passed, this House will be faced with a stark choice. That choice will be whether Members go for no deal, for revoking article 50 or for a second referendum, with the intention that many have, in asking for a second referendum, to stop Brexit. That will be the choice that will face this House.
People talk about the compromises that have been made so far. There are people who are telling me that I have compromised too much in the package that has been put forward and others who are telling me I have not compromised enough in the package. At some stage, the House has to come together, and we have to decide the distance that we will go together in order to deliver Brexit and to deliver on what people asked us to do.
As I said in response to the hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Afzal Khan), any allegations made in relation to the Conservative party are investigated carefully by the Conservative party and action is taken. This Government have been doing more to ensure that the police can deal with issues around hate crime. When I was Home Secretary, I required the police to ensure that they were properly recording incidents of hate crime, so that we could better identify Islamophobia. I am pleased to say that my right hon. Friends the Communities Secretary and the Home Secretary recently chaired a roundtable on anti-Muslim hate crime. It is being taken seriously by the Conservative party and by the Government.
I will look very carefully at my right hon. Friend’s suggestion in relation to the Special Olympics. I am very happy to join her—I am sure everybody across the whole House will—in congratulating our GB team on the significant haul of medals they brought back from the Special Olympics. May I also say how much we value Loughborough University and the work it does on sports-related matters?
We are out of time, but we must hear the question of the right hon. Member for Loughborough (Nicky Morgan).
The increasing prevalence of intimidation in public life can seriously damage our democracy, as we have already just discussed. The Government are taking a range of actions to tackle this problem, including a consultation on a new electoral offence of intimidating candidates and campaigners.
Yes, I do agree. The Government have therefore been working closely with the parliamentary security team, the police, administrators and others, because tackling this issue requires action from everyone. It also goes wider than just Members of Parliament. For example, we are helping candidates at the local elections this year to be safer with their home addresses.
Order. An eight-minute limit on Back-Bench speeches now applies, though I fear that it will soon have to be reduced—but we shall see.
Will the right hon. Lady give way?
If alternative arrangements for the backstop have not been found by December 2020, we will have a Hotel California Brexit where we will have checked out but not be leaving. There is a real danger that passing the withdrawal agreement tonight is just for short-term gain, with pain down the road. Does the right hon. Lady agree?
As Chair of the Treasury Committee, has my right hon. Friend seen any alternative proposals from Opposition parties that show a better economic result for the UK outside the European Union, whether in a customs union or the EEA, than the Prime Minister’s deal?
I pay great tribute to my right hon. Friend who, as somebody who voted remain, now wants to go forward constructively with a deal. As somebody who voted for leave and voted against the deal before, I am minded to weigh in behind this, because we have got to stop the uncertainty and the conspiracy of chaos that is, I am afraid, promulgated by those on the Opposition Benches below the Gangway who have just rerun and rerun the referendum Bill debate from four years ago and have only offered alternatives that are basically, “Computer says no”. The country is fed up with it, and we need at long last to weigh in behind something with which we can move forward.
My right hon. Friend is being incredibly generous in giving way. She makes a very powerful point about accountability to the democratic will of the people. If, in delivering on the democratic will of the people, we end up as rule-takers of rules over which we have no say, can she explain to the House in what way we are actually delivering on that will?
It is a pleasure to follow the right hon. Member for Loughborough (Nicky Morgan), although I have drawn a different conclusion about the choice we have to make this evening.
I am tempted to say, “Here we go again.” After the flurry of activity and effort—I pay tribute to Ministers who have been working hard over the past couple of months—some people may have had their minds changed by the documents produced last night, but it seems that many others have not.
The one thing I want to say on the documents is this: the withdrawal agreement remains in place, the backstop remains in place, there is no unilateral exit mechanism for the United Kingdom and there is no time limit. While it may be possible to suspend the backstop, in order to do that the United Kingdom has to persuade the arbitration panel that we have a case. If the arbitration panel is then to turn suspension into disapplication, we have to persuade it that the reason for the problem is that there is a lack of good faith on the part of the European Union.
It is pretty safe to say that the EU would say, “No, it’s not a lack of good faith; we just don’t think your alternative arrangements work. We think they would undermine the integrity of the single market and the customs union.” The moment it says that, that engages questions of the application of EU law, at which point the panel has to refer the matter to the Court of Justice of the European Union, whose judgment on these questions will be binding on everyone, including the United Kingdom.
Frankly, proving bad faith, in my view as a non-lawyer, is going to be pretty darn difficult, so we are left with paragraph 19 of the Attorney General’s letter to the Prime Minister today, which says that if we cannot reach agreement because of intractable differences,
“no internationally lawful means of exiting the Protocol’s arrangements”
If the deal is defeated tonight, tomorrow will be another day. I have little doubt that the House of Commons will vote against leaving the European Union with no deal—we can debate all those matters tomorrow. I still do not know how the Prime Minister is going to vote. Can I just offer her some advice? She used to say that no deal is better than a bad deal, but she now argues that her deal is in fact a good deal. Well, if it is in fact a good deal, it cannot be a bad deal, so, by definition, no deal is now worse than her deal. Therefore, if logic means anything, the Prime Minister ought to come through the Lobby with me and many others tomorrow to vote against no deal. No deal would be the worst possible outcome for the country.
If leaving with no deal is defeated, we will come on to the question of an extension, which will be the subject of Thursday’s debate. However, we have to use an extension for a purpose—that is very clear. For me, the purpose must be, first, to see whether it is possible for the House of Commons to reach agreement on an alternative way of leaving the European Union. Is there support for a customs union? Is there support for a Norway-style arrangement?
I have been very clear that I want the work we are currently doing to ensure that we get a deal that can command the support of this House. What I said in my statement is that if we lose another meaningful vote, we will then put a vote to the House on its view on leaving the European Union on 29 March with no deal. Were it the case that the House rejected the meaningful vote and voted for not leaving without a deal, then a motion would come before the House in relation to a short, limited extension of article 50. The right hon. Gentleman talks again—he has raised this previously in the House—about there being no majority for leaving with no deal. As I say, the House has to face up to the fact that if it does not want to leave with no deal then either it wants to stay in the European Union, which would betray the trust and the vote of the British people, or it has to accept and vote for a deal.
My right hon. Friend is absolutely right. First, in the talks with the European Union we are discussing delivering the changes required by this House regarding its concern about the potential indefinite nature of the backstop. There is the prospect—I believe we have it within our grasp—to get an agreement such that we can leave the European Union on 29 March with a deal. When those changes are brought back I hope, as my right hon. Friend says, that every Member of this House will recognise their responsibility to deliver on the vote of the referendum in 2016 to deliver Brexit, and to do it in the best way possible, which is with a deal.
I say to the right hon. Gentleman that the issue I have discussed with trade union leaders, the secretary general of the TUC and Members from across this House is the concern to ensure that there is no reduction in workers’ rights in the UK, a commitment that this Government have given and will continue to meet.
I thank my right hon. Friend for the work she has been doing on the issue of alternative arrangements. Obviously, I want to see a deal that can get through the House, supported by all Members from my party and by our confidence and supply partners, but it is in the interests of this Parliament and of taking legislation forward to see a strong vote from across the whole House on this issue. As she has said, the tone of the response by the Leader of the Opposition did not give much encouragement on that issue, but we will continue to talk with the Labour party Front-Bench team. As I said, the Brexit Secretary and other members of the ministerial team will be meeting the Leader of the Opposition’s team to take forward those discussions and to explore the issues that the Labour party wishes to raise.
I am grateful for the clarity with which the right hon. Gentleman has set out that position. We remain absolutely committed as a Government to ensuring that we have no hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, and that any proposals accepted and put forward by this House maintain our precious Union.
My right hon. Friend anticipates what I was going to say. We will be focusing on delivering specific changes that will address the concerns of the House, and I am looking at a range of ways to achieve that. As my right hon. Friend has just said, she and my hon. Friends the Members for Wycombe (Mr Baker), for North West Hampshire (Kit Malthouse), for North East Somerset (Mr Rees-Mogg) and others have worked to bring forward a serious proposal that we are engaging with sincerely and positively.
As I said earlier, the Government have made more money available to police forces. Nearly £1 billion extra will be available to them next year. But, of course, it is not just about the money that is available to police forces; it is about the power that the police have. That is why we have introduced the Offensive Weapons Bill, and why we continually take action to ensure that the police have the power that they need to keep us safe.
As I said last night, we will approach the discussions that we will have with Members on both sides of the House in a constructive spirit. As I said earlier, however, as we are looking at those discussions to find what will secure the support of the House, we must remember that what we are doing is finding a way to deliver Brexit, and to deliver on the vote of the British people.
First of all, the Government hold the power to seek an extension for article 50; and any extension of article 50 would have to be agreed with the European Union, but I have been clear that what I believe is the right course of action, having triggered article 50 and having undertaken the negotiations, is that we ensure that we leave the European Union on the timetable that we have already set out.
What I believe is right is that, having heard the concerns that have been expressed by Members of this House, the Government are taking those concerns to the European Union. Yes, we have further statements from the EU with legal status in the Council conclusions than we have had before, but we are seeking yet more and further assurances from the European Union. I think that is the right thing to do, then that can be debated properly by this House and the vote taken.
I should not have used that language in that speech. The point I was making is a simple one. Right from the very beginning, I have said that citizens’ rights is a key issue that I want to see addressed in the withdrawal agreement. That was one of the things we put at the top as one of our priorities, and we have delivered it for people in the withdrawal agreement.
Most people here in the United Kingdom want to see people coming to this country with skills and wanting to make a contribution—the hon. Lady’s husband has made a contribution as a GP here in this country—and they want people to be judged, as we will, on their skills and on their contribution to our economy, rather than simply on where they come from.
I say to my right hon. Friend—this was a point made very well by my right hon. Friend the Member for Rayleigh and Wickford (Mr Francois)—that this is a very important moment for this country. That is why when people come to debate this topic and to vote on it, I hope they will look, as she has said, at the analysis set before them and at the details of the deal, recall the need to deliver for the British people on the vote of Brexit and also recall the need for us to consider our constituents’ jobs and livelihoods for the future. Debates in this House are all about serious matters, but this is an historic moment for our country, and it is right that we approach it in the right way.
I say to the right hon. Gentleman that of course we do not comment in this House on individual criminal investigations that take place.
I can give my right hon. Friend the assurance that obviously we have the step of the European Union Council in finalising the deal, but a deal, when finalised, will indeed be brought to Parliament. As I suggested earlier, it will be for every Member of this House to determine their vote in the national interest.
Of course, what we have seen from the European Union is that a Canada-style deal is not available or on offer for the whole of the United Kingdom; it is only on offer for Great Britain, with Northern Ireland effectively carved out from the rest of the United Kingdom. The proposals that the Government have put forward following the discussions that the Cabinet had in July at Chequers are focused on a free trade deal with frictionless trade at its heart. A Canada-style deal does not deliver on frictionless trade and therefore does not deliver the absolute guarantee of no hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland or, indeed, frictionless trade at our other borders.
As I said earlier in response to a question, I am clear that we are working to get a good deal for the whole of the United Kingdom, but it is also right that we continue our preparations for no deal because we do not know what the outcome of those negotiations will be. I think it is right that we ensure that the deal we bring back is a good deal for the whole of the United Kingdom.
As the right hon. Gentleman has invited me to do, let me say that I am happy to say that I continue to reject the protocol proposal of the so-called backstop put forward by the European Commission earlier this year. The fact that it would have effectively carved Northern Ireland away from the rest of the UK and kept it in the customs union and most of the single market would have meant that border down the Irish sea—that is completely unacceptable to the Government of the UK.
I have had conversations with a number of European leaders in recent days, and the indication is that they do feel this is a proposal that can ensure that we move the negotiations on and move them on at pace. I will be seeing a number of European leaders over the next couple of days; we are hosting the western Balkans summit tomorrow and then there is the NATO summit. I believe this plan is good for the UK, and the EU will see that it will lead to a deep and special partnership that will be in both our interests.
As I just said, we are working to ensure that they can and will be in place.
The Home Office has been looking at this issue very carefully. We have changed the arrangements to ensure that a wider group of children will fall within the remit of our proposals for bringing refugee children into the United Kingdom. There are a number of ways in which we are ensuring that we accommodate, and offer shelter and security to, refugees from Syria, including refugee children. But as I said earlier, we must also recognise the many millions of people from Syria who have been displaced both within and from their country. It is right that we look to ensure that we can provide as much support as possible for them, and that is best done by supporting them in region.
I thank my right hon. Friend for her contribution and for her specific proposals. We will be looking very carefully at what further levers can be used. I am pleased that the European Union Foreign Affairs Council has today agreed that it is willing to look at what further measures could be taken, and I will certainly take on board and note the specific suggestions made by my right hon. Friend.
We have been very clear that as long as we are a member of the European Union, we will meet our obligations, but we should continue to be treated as a full member of the European Union. As the Business Secretary has said, the UK has a world-leading space sector that has contributed a significant amount of specialist expertise to the Galileo programme. We believe it is not just in the UK’s interests for us to continue to participate in that programme as we have done, but also in the interests of the European Union, because of the expertise the United Kingdom can provide.
I thank my right hon. Friend for that question. We are aware of the issue of the regulators’ stance and have been in discussion with certain regulators about how they can work with their European opposite numbers to ensure that there is a sound regulatory footing during the implementation period.
On transparency in relation to property ownership, I have discussed that with the Business Secretary. We have not been delaying. We need to ensure that we get it right when we introduce it—we have been discussing the timing for introducing it—because we want to ensure we have all the tools in our locker that we can use and that can help us in the endeavour we are engaged in.
That is a misinterpretation of what the Environment Secretary said at the weekend. I have been very clear that there will be no second referendum on this issue. This Parliament overwhelmingly voted to give the British people the decision on membership of the European Union. The British people voted, and we will now deliver on their vote.
My right hon. Friend is right. I hope people will look seriously and carefully at the negotiated agreement on citizens’ rights, which is important. We are in a negotiation, which takes hard work on both sides. It also takes determination, and this Government have shown the determination to get it right for the UK.
The principle that we want to base all these decisions on is that service changes should be based on clear evidence and led by local clinicians who best understand the local healthcare needs. I understand that Calderdale and Kirklees Councils have referred the proposed changes to my right hon. Friend the Health Secretary, and I know he will be considering the issues very carefully, and will be coming to a decision in due course.
It is important that we mark this centenary next year, and recognise the role that women have played in this House and in public life. I want young women and women to be able to see this House as a place they actively want to come to—that they want to contribute to their society and respond to the needs of constituents and make a real difference to people’s lives. That is what I am in it for, that is why I have encouraged more women to come into this House, and I am pleased to say that we have more women on our Benches than ever before.
Finally, all of us in this House should have due care and attention for the way in which we refer to other people and should show women in public life the respect they deserve.
The premise of the right hon. Gentleman’s question is false. He seems to be suggesting that the purpose of the Government’s negotiations is to, somehow, engineer a no-deal scenario; it is not. In terms of our future relationship with the European Union, we are working towards a deal and a good, deep and special partnership that covers both trade and security.
I can assure my right hon. Friend that the negotiations are continuing. As I have said, we want to ensure, as we are doing, that we work towards getting a good deal. The purpose of my Florence speech was to set out a vision for that deep and special partnership in the future, and it is that partnership that the Government are working towards.
Order. I understand that the House is excited about hearing the right hon. Member for Loughborough (Nicky Morgan).
First, let me commend my right hon. Friend on the work she has done in setting up the Loughborough Wellbeing Project, and I am happy to join her in paying tribute to the work of the eating disorders service in Leicester. As she says, it does incredibly important work, and we must do more to transform the mental health services that we provide for young people and mental health in general. That is why, as she says, we are putting more money into mental health, and our spending on mental health reached a record £11.6 billion last year. We do need to make sure that that funding gets through to frontline services. One example of that is the work we are doing to ensure that teachers and staff in schools are trained to better identify and better deal with mental health problems when they are present in children. I saw that when I visited Orchard School in Bristol last week, where excellent work is being done, really improving the quality of services for young people with mental health problems.