(3 months, 1 week ago)Read Full debate
My hon. Friend is absolutely right that the Labour party’s plans for spending and for crashing our economy would actually mean there is less money available for schools, less money for the police and less money for our hospitals.
This is an important debate because the Queen’s Speech sets the tone for the sort of country that we want to be post Brexit. I am pleased to see in the Queen’s Speech so many Bills that will take forward work that was proposed or started under the Government I had the privilege to lead. One very good example of that is the Domestic Abuse Bill. I shall not speak about it now, because I spoke on Second Reading, but it is an important piece of legislation that will help to improve people’s quality of life.
There are many other Bills in the Queen’s Speech that will also help to improve people’s quality of life and show that it is the Conservatives who listen to people but also recognise that it is not about headlines; governing is about delivering practical solutions to the problems that people face day to day. We can have the best head- lines, the greatest oratory and the most arresting phrases, but they are of no use if they do not practically deliver for people. That is what this Government are about.
Another Bill that will make a huge difference to people’s lives—my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary referred to it in her opening speech—is the serious violence Bill. There is no doubt that there is a problem that we have to address in relation to serious violence, particularly knife crime among young people. A lot of serious violence is, of course, linked to drugs. In February, we were able to set up a review, and Dame Carol Black took on the work of looking at the link between serious violence and drugs.
That review is important, but what is also important —it is reflected in the serious violence Bill—is a recognition that it is not a single Department’s issue. I believe Dame Cressida Dick, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, said that we cannot arrest ourselves out of this problem. It is for every Department to play its part, because if we look particularly at the issue of gangs and young people, we can see that, sadly, gang membership is giving young people an identity and a sense of purpose and belonging. We need to address those issues if we are to deal with that violence.
I am afraid my hon. Friend and I will absolutely disagree on this issue. I do not believe in the legalisation of drugs. I am happy to introduce him to my constituent, Elizabeth Burton-Phillips, who set up DrugFAM as a result of the tragedy that she and her family faced when one of her sons died as a result of drugs. I firmly believe that we should maintain a very strict rule and approach in relation to drugs.
The Government are putting into the serious violence Bill what is effectively the public health duty on which we consulted earlier this year, thereby saying that it is for all Departments to consider these issues. We have to deal with the causes of crime. As my right hon. friend the Prime Minister said from the Dispatch Box on Monday:
“This is a one-nation Government who insist on dealing not only with crime but the causes of crime”.—[Official Report, 14 October 2019; Vol. 666, c. 23.]
(1 year ago)Read Full debate
I repeat that we will approach the discussions in a constructive spirit. We want to hear from the House the detail of what it wants to see, such that we can secure the House’s support for a deal.
My hon. Friend puts his point very powerfully indeed. This Parliament voted to ask the British people, and to say to them, “It is your decision.” It was not to say, “Tell us what you think and we might decide afterwards whether we like it.” It was, “It is your decision, and we will act on that decision.”
(1 year, 1 month ago)Read Full debate
The position in terms of voting rights and various elements once we have left the European Union is of course going to change, but what has been clear from the agreements that we have negotiated is the capacity for the United Kingdom to continue to give technical support where that is appropriate in a whole range of matters. On a number of the issues that are dealt with by the European Union, in terms of the rules that it operates, of course these are not just European Union rules, but international standards on which the United Kingdom will continue, during the implementation period and beyond, to have its role. I said I would take a second intervention.
I absolutely agree that it is the duty, I believe, of this Parliament and it is the duty of us as politicians to deliver on the result of the vote that the British people gave in 2016 in the referendum. We gave them the choice, they voted to leave the EU and it is up to us to deliver that leaving of the European Union in the interests of our country.
(1 year, 4 months ago)Read Full debate
The hon. Lady raises an important issue and it is right that we are able to give that reassurance. On the hotel that the individuals stayed in, the situation is clear: the chief medical officer has also given a statement this morning about issues relating to public health and makes very clear in that statement the low risk that pertains there. Samples were taken from the hotel room as a precautionary measure; when that first happened, at the initial stage when that hotel room was identified, the contamination with Novichok was identified as being below the level to cause concern to public health; further samples were then taken and have come back negative. Following these tests, the experts deemed that the room was safe and posed no risk to the public. I believe the chief medical officer has indicated that anybody who stayed in the room between 4 March and 4 May would, had they been affected, have been affected by now, and there have been no reports of any health effect on anybody during that period. But reference has been made to this, and people may wish to get in touch with the investigatory team to be reassured on the matter.
The hon. Lady also mentioned other elements. The chief medical officer has made it clear that staff who operated, maintained and cleaned the transport systems are safe, and that there is no risk to members of the public who travelled alongside the individuals between 2 March and 4 March or those who used the transport system afterwards.
My hon. Friend has worked tirelessly on ensuring that we are all aware of the activities of the Russian state and the threat they pose. We have specifically identified these two individuals in relation to the GRU, but, as I have said and as my hon. Friend acknowledged, the GRU has had involvement elsewhere, and other parts of the Russian state have been involved in malign state activity elsewhere as well. As I said in my statement, it is almost certain that a decision of this sort will have been taken outside the GRU and at a senior level.
(1 year, 10 months ago)Read Full debate
The important issue is that we retain the capabilities. Those capabilities may be retained in a slightly different format and in a slightly different way, but we continue to have excellent CBRN capabilities across our whole national security structure.
I said that Russia was failing to honour its responsibilities as a permanent member of the UN Security Council. In particular, it has covered up for the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons in Syria, especially in its attempts to impede the joint investigative mechanism of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. This has allowed the Syrian regime to continue to perpetrate atrocities against the Syrian people. For the past month, in contravention of UN Security Council resolution 2401, Russian air power and military co-ordination have enabled the regime offensive in Eastern Ghouta, causing more appalling suffering and impeding the heroic efforts of the humanitarian relief agencies. Over the course of many years of civil war, hundreds of thousands of Syrians have died and many times that number have been displaced, yet Russia has repeatedly failed to use its influence over the Syrian regime to bring an end to this terrible suffering.
From the outset, the UK has been at the forefront of the European and transatlantic response to these actions. In response to the annexation of Crimea, we led the work with our EU and G7 partners in constructing the first sanctions regime against Russia. We have stepped up our military and economic support to Ukraine, including directly training almost 7,000 Ukrainian armed forces personnel. We are the second largest contributor of monitors to the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe special monitoring mission. We are driving reform of NATO to better deter and counter hostile Russian activity, and our commitment to collective defence and security through NATO remains as strong as ever. Indeed, our armed forces have a leading role in NATO’s enhanced forward presence, with British troops leading a multinational battlegroup in Estonia.
In the western Balkans, we stepped up our support to our newest ally, Montenegro, when it suffered an attempt by Russia to stage a coup. Our western Balkans summit in July will enhance our security co-operation with all our western Balkans partners, including on serious and organised crime, anti-corruption and cyber-security.
I know that my hon. Friend has particular knowledge and expertise on these matters. This is part of a pattern of increasingly aggressive Russian behaviour, which seeks to foment and sow discord in a number of countries around Europe. I believe that the western Balkans summit will be an important opportunity for this country, as part of the Berlin process, to enhance our security co-operation with our western Balkans partners.
(1 year, 10 months ago)Read Full debate
As I think I said earlier, I believe that the North Atlantic Council will be meeting tomorrow to discuss this issue, and I shall be talking to a number of allies within NATO about the co-ordination of the response. As I also said earlier, they have been waiting to hear the details of our response, which I brought first to Parliament.
I was not aware of the details of the work of the Senate Committee to which my hon. Friend has referred, but it is the case that this Government are not afraid to call out Russian actions in public when we see them taking place. I take his point about a more detailed and forensic look at the activities of the Russian state, and I will certainly consider it.