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European Council
Debate between Seema Malhotra and Mrs Theresa May
Thursday 11 April 2019

(9 months, 1 week ago)

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Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
Seema Malhotra Portrait Seema Malhotra (Feltham and Heston) (Lab/Co-op) - Parliament Live - Hansard
11 Apr 2019, 3:09 p.m.

The Prime Minister, three years after the referendum, is finally engaged in cross-party talks, but she may recall that as long ago as the week she took office, I wrote to her calling for cross-party working in the national interest and for her to urgently engage the country, through a national convention, on how we move forward. So with committed Brexiteers like Peter Oborne now expressing concern about where we have reached and the risks of Brexit for our economy and our Union, who does she plan to involve in the more formal forum she has described in order to engage the public in how we move forward and use the next six months wisely to bring our divided country together?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
11 Apr 2019, 3:10 p.m.

We do want to bring our divided country together. First of all, in order to do that, we need to have agreement across this House for a deal that can ensure that we can deliver Brexit and then move on to the second stage where we will indeed be having that commitment both in terms of the responsibilities and involvement of this House but also of businesses, trade unions and civil society.

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European Council
Debate between Seema Malhotra and Mrs Theresa May
Monday 25 March 2019

(9 months, 4 weeks ago)

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Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
25 Mar 2019, 4:35 p.m.

Over time, the Government have taken a number of actions to ensure that we can deal with introducing more control into our immigration system. One of the advantages of ending free movement is that we can put an entirely new immigration system in place that enables it to be skills-based rather than based on the country somebody comes from. But I also believe that for many people what underpinned their vote and decision to leave the EU was a desire to see free movement end and that is why it is absolutely right that the proposals the Government have put forward would indeed do that.

Seema Malhotra Portrait Seema Malhotra (Feltham and Heston) (Lab/Co-op) - Parliament Live - Hansard
25 Mar 2019, 4:36 p.m.

The fact that the Prime Minister had to ask EU leaders for an article 50 extension last week was a highly predictable outcome from an inflexible Prime Minister who has consistently sought to sideline Parliament and the country over the last two years. So further to the question from my right hon. Friend the Member for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford (Yvette Cooper), if through indicative votes this House votes, for example, in favour of a Norway-based deal or a customs union, will the Prime Minister shift her red lines in line with the will of this House, or will we come out of this process and her “constructive” engagement to find that nothing has changed?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
25 Mar 2019, 4:36 p.m.

In my statement, I set out the Government’s position in relation to the indicative votes and that remains the Government’s position.

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Engagements
Debate between Seema Malhotra and Mrs Theresa May
Wednesday 20 March 2019

(10 months ago)

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Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
20 Mar 2019, 12:30 p.m.

My hon. Friend has raised a particularly important issue, but if I may, I will pull him up on just one point. The unemployment rate across the UK is actually 3.9%. Employment in Scotland has risen by 239,000 since the 2010 election, and we saw in the spring statement that the economy is growing every year, borrowing is lower than expected and debt is falling, but I absolutely recognise my hon. Friend’s concerns. That is why we will continue to work as a UK Government to deliver more jobs, healthier finances and an economy that is fit for the future across the whole of the United Kingdom.

Seema Malhotra Portrait Seema Malhotra (Feltham and Heston) (Lab/Co-op) - Hansard

Q9. Hate crime is on the rise, and our democracy is increasingly based on fear, both in Parliament and in the country. Shocking Home Office figures show that hate crimes doubled from 2011 to more than 100,000 last year. The country looks to politicians to set a high standard, but last week the Prime Minister’s allies were texting fellow hon. Members saying:“I’m going to chloroform you and drag you through the lobbies” to vote for the Prime Minister’s deal. Does she find that behaviour acceptable, or will she be removing the Whip from the offending Member? [909907]

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
20 Mar 2019, 12:34 p.m.

The hon. Lady is absolutely right that politicians at all levels need to think very carefully about the terms in which we address others and in which we put our arguments. There are many Members across this House who have suffered significant verbal abuse and online abuse of various sorts. This is a matter that we should all be taking seriously, and I will be ensuring that, across this House, we work to ensure that people are not subject to the sort of abuse that, sadly, some Members have been subjected to from outside this House.

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No Confidence in Her Majesty’s Government
Debate between Seema Malhotra and Mrs Theresa May
Wednesday 16 January 2019

(1 year ago)

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Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
16 Jan 2019, 1:42 p.m.

I thank my right hon. Friend for his intervention. I note what he said and I am happy to carry on discussing with him the different views we have had on the European issue. It is absolutely clear that what the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition is trying to do is not going to help to resolve the issue of ensuring that we deliver on Brexit for the British people.

Seema Malhotra Portrait Seema Malhotra (Feltham and Heston) (Lab/Co-op) - Parliament Live - Hansard
16 Jan 2019, 1:43 p.m.

In 2017, the Prime Minister went to the country and asked for a mandate; she lost her majority. Last night, she asked the House to back her deal; she saw the biggest Government defeat in a vote in the history of this House. She said last night that she wanted to open up dialogue with the whole House, yet she has refused to open up that dialogue with Labour’s Front Benchers. Does she agree that it looks like a strategy more to divide and conquer than to bring this House and the country together and work out how we move forward?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
16 Jan 2019, 1:43 p.m.

I said last night that we would be having discussions across the House. There are many different opinions in the House on the issue of how to deliver Brexit; indeed, there are some views in the House on how not to deliver Brexit. I believe that we should deliver Brexit for the people. I made it clear that, should the Leader of the Opposition table a motion of no confidence, the first priority would be to debate that motion. I am confident that the Government will retain the confidence of the House. When that happens, I shall set out the further steps that we will take on discussions with Members from across the House.

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Engagements
Debate between Seema Malhotra and Mrs Theresa May
Wednesday 16 January 2019

(1 year ago)

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Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

I thank my hon. Friend. When I have visited Copeland, I have seen very clearly not only its population’s expertise and skills in the nuclear industry but the importance of that industry. The Moorside site will revert to the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, and we are considering options for its future. The site remains eligible for nuclear new build, and we are committed to seeing new nuclear as part of our future energy mix. It might be helpful if the relevant Minister from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy met her and that group to explore this issue further.

Seema Malhotra Portrait Seema Malhotra (Feltham and Heston) (Lab/Co-op) - Hansard

Q3. Last night in this House, after the biggest Government defeat in history, the Prime Minister said that the Government would approach meetings with parliamentarians “in a constructive spirit”, but it appears that holding cross-party talks means inviting people in to tell her why her deal is best or to see whether they have any ideas about how to get her deal through. Apparently now, No. 10’s resistance to a customs union with the European Union after Brexit was a principle, not a red line. Which is it? If she is genuinely seeking to work with Parliament and hear the will of the House, is she prepared to change any of her red lines and work to bring Parliament and the country together on how we move forward? [908593]

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
16 Jan 2019, 12:24 p.m.

As I said in the House last night, I will be talking to parliamentarians in my own party, in the DUP and in other parties across this House, looking to see what can secure the support of this House, but I say to the hon. Lady, as I have said to her right hon. and hon. Friends, that what this House must always have in mind is the importance of delivering on the vote of the people to leave the European Union.

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European Council
Debate between Seema Malhotra and Mrs Theresa May
Monday 17 December 2018

(1 year, 1 month ago)

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Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
17 Dec 2018, 5:12 p.m.

Yes, I am very happy to give that confirmation to my hon. Friend. He is right to raise this issue. It was an issue in the early stages of the negotiations, when many Members of this House raised the question of citizens’ rights. Now we hear a lot about the backstop, but people omit to mention that the crucial issue of citizens’ rights is reflected in the protections and guarantees in the withdrawal agreement.

Seema Malhotra Portrait Seema Malhotra (Feltham and Heston) (Lab/Co-op) - Parliament Live - Hansard
17 Dec 2018, 5:12 p.m.

The Prime Minister continues to put on the pretence that somehow when the people voted, they gave permission only for her deal or no deal. She knows that when we leave the European Union, if we leave with no deal we will lose access to 40-plus international trade agreements covering trade with 70 countries, to EU criminal databases and to the EU single market, with which more than 70% of the UK’s exporting businesses trade. Indeed, there could be a delay of two to three years in new medicines reaching patients in the UK. She knows that there are other legal and political options, so is it not time for her to give herself a much better Christmas by having a vote in the House this week on her deal and then allowing Parliament to start to work together on how we move forward?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
17 Dec 2018, 5:13 p.m.

It was the vote that took place in 2016 that determined that we should leave the European Union. I believe that we should leave the European Union with a good deal, and this is a good deal. I believe that the alternatives that have been put forward in some cases do not deliver on the referendum and in other cases make the use of a backstop even more likely.

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Exiting the European Union
Debate between Seema Malhotra and Mrs Theresa May
Monday 10 December 2018

(1 year, 1 month ago)

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Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
10 Dec 2018, 4:51 p.m.

I do not believe that the scenario my right hon. Friend sets out is the correct one. The date of 21 January has been set in legislation—the vote on that took place last week—and we are conscious of the requirement that that places on the Government. It is right, however, that we recognise the concerns expressed in the House and attempt to find a way through them and to resolve them.

Seema Malhotra Portrait Seema Malhotra (Feltham and Heston) (Lab/Co-op) - Parliament Live - Hansard
10 Dec 2018, 4:51 p.m.

Could the Prime Minister confirm reports that more than £100,000 has been shelled out by the Government on Facebook ads in the last week promoting a deal that even she is not now happy with? Is this not now an even bigger farce, as, with uncertainty around UK business access to EU trade arrangements and many other issues, she seeks to sideline Parliament once again and make social media companies richer, while the country pays the price?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
10 Dec 2018, 4:52 p.m.

No. We have recognised that a specific aspect of the deal is raising concerns here in this House, and we will seek reassurances on that specific aspect of the deal, but I continue to believe that overall this deal is the right deal for the United Kingdom.

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Leaving the EU
Debate between Seema Malhotra and Mrs Theresa May
Monday 26 November 2018

(1 year, 1 month ago)

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Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
26 Nov 2018, 4:59 p.m.

I thank my right hon. Friend for his comments in relation to what I have been doing. I recognise that that concern has been raised, but there are a number of reasons why I believe that it is met by the arrangements in the withdrawal agreement. It is very clear in the withdrawal agreement that, if the backstop is implemented—and it does not have to be implemented—it is only temporary. It is clear from the point of view of the European Union that the legal base of the withdrawal agreement is article 50, and that that cannot be used to set up a permanent arrangement. Finally, if the backstop is exercised, we have the ability to ensure that it is superseded by the future relationship, and the intent to develop that future relationship in time for the backstop not to be used is clear throughout the document.

Seema Malhotra Portrait Seema Malhotra (Feltham and Heston) (Lab/Co-op) - Parliament Live - Hansard
26 Nov 2018, 4:59 p.m.

Seventy-eight per cent. of our businesses that export do so to the EU and are able to trade goods and services seamlessly. For the £200 a person that we pay the EU, UK citizens have the right to live, work, study, travel and holiday free of fees and red tape. Some might even describe that as a good deal. But is it not true that the Prime Minister’s deal and political declaration do little more than take away the biscuit while leaving the nation the crumbs? Is it not her duty to at least tell the British people how much we are set to lose in every region and nation? Why will she not do that?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

If the hon. Lady is asking me whether the Government are going to produce economic analysis, I can tell her that we are.

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Leaving the EU
Debate between Seema Malhotra and Mrs Theresa May
Monday 09 July 2018

(1 year, 6 months ago)

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Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
9 Jul 2018, 3:19 p.m.

I am very happy to answer my right hon. Friend’s question. In a customs union, it would be necessary to be part of the common commercial policy, which would not enable us to sign trade deals with other countries around the world. In the arrangement that we have put forward, we will be free to sign trade deals around the rest of the world.

Seema Malhotra Portrait Seema Malhotra (Feltham and Heston) (Lab/Co-op) - Hansard
9 Jul 2018, 3:19 p.m.

The Government’s proposals effectively seem to seek to reproduce parts of the backstop proposal for the whole of the UK, but with a Swiss-style dispute settlement system. What will the Prime Minister’s proposals mean for the mutual recognition of health professionals’ qualifications so that they can operate cross-border?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

That is one of the areas in which we will be entering negotiations with the European Union. We want to ensure that we see recognition in a number of areas in relation to professionals and professional services but, of course, that is something that we have to agree with the European Union.

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Oral Answers to Questions
Debate between Seema Malhotra and Mrs Theresa May
Wednesday 04 July 2018

(1 year, 6 months ago)

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Commons Chamber
Department for International Development
The Prime Minister - Hansard

I thank my right hon. Friend for her warm words about the On Course Foundation, which is doing excellent work, as she says. It is really important that we ensure that those of our armed forces who are injured and who are veterans are given the support that they need. She has highlighted a particular area in which that is happening. Armed Forces Day on Saturday gave me the opportunity to announce that, next year, we are going to have the first national games for wounded, injured and sick veterans and personnel of our armed forces. That has been inspired by the Invictus games, but these games will focus on those in our British armed forces. As she mentioned the police and fire services, I will ensure that the relevant Home Office Minister will meet her.

Seema Malhotra Portrait Seema Malhotra (Feltham and Heston) (Lab/Co-op) - Parliament Live - Hansard
4 Jul 2018, 12:47 p.m.

This morning, I spoke to Afghan Sikh community leaders in my constituency following the horrific terrorist attack in the Afghan city of Jalalabad on Sunday, which was a deliberate attack with devastating consequences. The 19 killed included the trustees of the gurdwara and the only Sikh candidate in the forthcoming elections, Mr Avtar Singh Khalsa. The gurdwara had been a safe haven for many persecuted families and they were on their way to visit the President. At the moment, the Afghan Sikhs in west London are meeting in prayer and remembrance for those killed, many of whom they knew. Will the Prime Minister update the House on what she is doing to ensure the safety of minorities in Afghanistan, and will she meet the Afghan diaspora to discuss their concerns?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
4 Jul 2018, 12:48 p.m.

The hon. Lady raises a very serious issue. The terrorist attack that she refers to was indeed appalling. As she said, too many victims lost their lives as a result of that attack that took place in Afghanistan. It is important that we ensure that we are providing support, as we do through our contribution in Afghanistan. That is a contribution to security in the Kabul area specifically from our forces, but it is also about working with others to ensure that the Afghan security forces are able to provide security and safety for all communities living in Afghanistan. Tremendous achievements have been made in Afghanistan today, compared with the situation before these efforts, but sadly, as the hon. Lady highlights, too many terrorist attacks are still taking place in Afghanistan. We will continue to work with our allies and the Afghan Government to prevent these in future, and to ensure that people can go about their daily lives in safety and security and with confidence.

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Syria
Debate between Seema Malhotra and Mrs Theresa May
Monday 16 April 2018

(1 year, 9 months ago)

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Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
16 Apr 2018, 6:49 p.m.

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Russia has the ability within the Security Council, and also in its relationship with the Syrian regime, to stop the use of chemical weapons, but it has not done so.

Seema Malhotra Portrait Seema Malhotra (Feltham and Heston) (Lab/Co-op) - Parliament Live - Hansard
16 Apr 2018, 6:49 p.m.

This is a matter of concern across the country, and I want to thank my constituents who have written to me about this issue to reflect their real and urgent concern that we will not see an end to the Syrian conflict without a diplomatic and political solution for the long term. I am concerned that this does not seem to be happening with the same urgency as military action in a humanitarian emergency. Can the Prime Minister confirm that there will be redoubling of diplomatic efforts and other non-military muscle, that any further military action will be subject to a debate and vote in this House, and that there has been no discussion of any extension of the role of our armed forces as a result of this decision that has not yet been brought to the House?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
16 Apr 2018, 6:49 p.m.

As I have said, I recognise that, in relation to the wider Syrian conflict, we need to ensure that we press ahead with every effort possible to bring that conflict to an end, but this is not just about the position that the United Kingdom has taken. There are other parties that need to be willing to come to the table and to develop that political solution for the future of Syria, not least the Syrian regime and its backers.

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UK/EU Future Economic Partnership
Debate between Seema Malhotra and Mrs Theresa May
Monday 05 March 2018

(1 year, 10 months ago)

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Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Hansard
5 Mar 2018, 4:45 p.m.

My hon. Friend has raised an important point that nobody else has referenced: this agreement needs to endure. The worst thing would be if we came to an agreement that in a few years was beginning to unravel. It is important that the agreement be an arrangement and partnership with the EU that will, as she says, stand the test of time.

Seema Malhotra Portrait Seema Malhotra (Feltham and Heston) (Lab/Co-op) - Parliament Live - Hansard
5 Mar 2018, 4:45 p.m.

The Prime Minister accepted in her Mansion House speech last week that the UK would not be able to trade on the same terms with the EU post Brexit. Under her Government’s calculations, how much of a hit will her Brexit be to the UK economy?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
5 Mar 2018, 4:46 p.m.

The idea that we can benefit only from carrying on working in exactly the same way is wrong. We will have a different partnership and relationship with the EU. Yes, there are some hard choices for us to make and some areas where access will not be the same as in the past, but that does not mean that the country’s economy cannot go from strength to strength as a result of getting the right relationship with the EU and trading around the rest of the world.

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Brexit Negotiations
Debate between Seema Malhotra and Mrs Theresa May
Monday 11 December 2017

(2 years, 1 month ago)

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Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Hansard
11 Dec 2017, 2:30 p.m.

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. We recognise the importance of Dover as a border port and, indeed, that of other ports around the United Kingdom. The future customs relationship will be a key part of negotiating the trade deal. We have said that we want to be as tariff-free and frictionless as possible, and that is what we will be working to.

Seema Malhotra Portrait Seema Malhotra (Feltham and Heston) (Lab/Co-op) - Parliament Live - Hansard
11 Dec 2017, 4:44 p.m.

The issue of regulatory divergence is an ongoing matter of concern for many sectors of our economy. When the Prime Minister read the summary outcomes of the Brexit sectoral analyses, did she happen to read about the impact of Brexit on chemicals? The Chemical Industries Association has today written to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to ask the Government

“to do all it can to remain within or as close as possible”

to the EU’s rule book for the sector, the exports of which are worth £50 billion a year. What reassurance will the Prime Minister give to the association?

The Prime Minister - Hansard

We have been very clear that we were looking at a variety of areas in which the question will be asked as to whether we wish to retain the same arrangements, or arrangements that achieve the same outcomes but are not necessarily the same arrangements, or if we wish to diverge completely. We recognise the importance of the pharmaceutical industry to the United Kingdom—it is a key industry in the industrial strategy, which my right hon. Friend the Business Secretary published only a couple of weeks ago—but these will be matters for negotiation in the second phase.

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UK Plans for Leaving the EU
Debate between Seema Malhotra and Mrs Theresa May
Monday 09 October 2017

(2 years, 3 months ago)

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Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Hansard
9 Oct 2017, 5:32 p.m.

My hon. Friend is of course right that the trading relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union is very important to the EU, as well as important to the UK. What I did in my Florence speech was set out a vision—a proposal—for the future relationship between the UK and the EU, based on our current relationship, showing how we can develop that relationship in a way that is in the interests of both sides. This has switched the dial in our negotiations, and obviously we look forward to being able to enter negotiations on those aspects in more detail.

Seema Malhotra Portrait Seema Malhotra (Feltham and Heston) (Lab/Co-op) - Hansard
9 Oct 2017, 5:33 p.m.

The Prime Minister said in her statement that she proposes “a unique and ambitious economic partnership” with the EU. If she is confident that the new unique and ambitious economic partnership that she envisages will be better for the UK economy than our current quite ambitious economic partnership and membership of the single market and customs union, then, further to the question from my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff South and Penarth (Stephen Doughty), why will she not today, alongside her White Papers, finally publish the list of the sectors of the economy for which she has undertaken impact assessments and their results, so that the public can have the information about the impact of Brexit on the economy?

The Prime Minister - Hansard
9 Oct 2017, 5:33 p.m.

The full list of sectors will be published shortly.

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Oral Answers to Questions
Debate between Seema Malhotra and Mrs Theresa May
Wednesday 05 July 2017

(2 years, 6 months ago)

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Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Hansard
5 Jul 2017, 11:30 a.m.

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. It is very important that decisions relating to services provided by the NHS are taken on a clinical basis by those who understand the needs and requirements of people in different areas. That is why we set up NHS England, which has a plan for developing services in the NHS over a five-year period. It is important that politicians allow clinicians and others in the NHS to make the decisions they need to.

Seema Malhotra Portrait Seema Malhotra (Feltham and Heston) (Lab/Co-op) - Hansard
5 Jul 2017, 11:30 a.m.

I know that the House will be thinking of my constituents Connie Yates, Chris Gard and Charlie at this incredibly difficult time. It is clear that if Charlie remains in the UK no further treatment is available and life support will be switched off. There are differing views about the chances of the nucleoside bypass therapy, which other children—albeit with less severe forms of Charlie’s conditions—have benefited from. I understand that the chances of improvement for Charlie are low, but the doctors would be able to say within three months whether Charlie was responding and whether that change was clinically beneficial. If there is any room for discretion in the court rulings for Great Ormond Street to allow Charlie to leave and to transfer his care to doctors at Columbia University, and if he is sufficiently stable to receive treatment, would the Prime Minister do all she can to bring the appropriate people together to try to make this happen?

The Prime Minister - Hansard
5 Jul 2017, 11:30 a.m.

The hon. Lady is right to raise the concerns of her constituents in this matter. I am sure that the thoughts of all Members of the House are with the family and Charlie at this exceptionally difficult time. It is an unimaginable position for anybody to be in, and I fully understand and appreciate that any parent in these circumstances would want to do everything possible and explore every option for their seriously ill child. I also know that no doctor ever wants to be placed in the terrible position of having to make such heartbreaking decisions. The hon. Lady referred to the fact that we have that court process. I am confident that Great Ormond Street hospital has considered, and always will consider, any offers or new information that have come forward along with the wellbeing of a desperately ill child.

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Debate on the Address
Debate between Seema Malhotra and Mrs Theresa May
Wednesday 21 June 2017

(2 years, 7 months ago)

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Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Hansard
21 Jun 2017, 3:38 p.m.

The right hon. Gentleman refers to control orders. What was happening with the control orders, which were introduced by a previous Labour Government, was that they were increasingly being knocked down in the courts. We introduced terrorism prevention and investigation measures, and we have subsequently enhanced those measures. Through the Investigatory Powers Act 2016, which we introduced when I was Home Secretary, we have also ensured that our police and our intelligence and security agencies have the powers that they need. What we have seen is an increase in the tempo of attack planning. We have seen the terrible terrorist attacks that have taken place, and we should remember that over the same period, five other plots have been foiled by our police and security services. That shows the increasing scale and tempo, and it is in that context that we need to look to ensure that our security services and our police have the powers that they need in the future. I look forward to the right hon. Gentleman joining us and ensuring that we give those powers to our agencies.

Seema Malhotra Portrait Seema Malhotra (Feltham and Heston) (Lab/Co-op) - Hansard

The Prime Minister will be aware that concerns have been raised across the country about the cuts in policing that were made in the last Parliament and the impact that they have had on the connection between the police and our communities. Will she now confirm that she will seek to reverse those cuts to ensure that we have such a connection when there are greater demands on police time and we need much more reassurance about the return of that connection with our communities?

The Prime Minister - Hansard
21 Jun 2017, 3:39 p.m.

As I am sure the hon. Lady is aware, we have protected counter-terrorism policing. We are providing funding for an uplift in armed policing, but we are also protecting police budgets, which of course is a different approach from the view that was put forward by the former shadow Home Secretary—he is now the Mayor of Manchester—who said that the police could take 10% cuts in their budget. We did not listen to that; we protected them.

I would also like to say a few words about the disaster at Grenfell Tower. The whole country was heartbroken by the horrific loss of life and the utter devastation that we have seen. I am sure that the whole House will join me in sending our deepest condolences to the friends and families of all those who lost loved ones. Today, we also think of those who survived but lost everything. One lady I met ran from the fire wearing no more than a T-shirt and a pair of knickers. She had lost absolutely everything.

Let me be absolutely clear. The support on the ground for families in the initial hours was not good enough. People were left without belongings, without a roof over their heads, and without even basic information about what had happened, what they should do and where they could seek help. That was a failure of the state—local and national—to help people when they needed it most. As Prime Minister, I apologise for that failure and, as Prime Minister, I have taken responsibility for doing what we can to put things right. That is why each family whose home was destroyed is receiving a down payment from the emergency fund so that they can buy food, clothes and other essentials, and all those who have lost their homes will be rehoused within three weeks.

There will also be an independent public inquiry, chaired by a judge, to get to the truth about what happened and who was responsible, and to provide justice for the victims and their families who suffered so terribly. All those with an interest, including survivors and victims’ families, will be consulted about the terms of reference, and those affected will have their legal costs paid. Because it is clear that the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea has not been able to cope with the scale of the tragedy, we will also develop a new strategy for resilience in major disasters, which could include a new civil disaster response taskforce that can help at times of emergency. We must learn some of the lessons of this and previous disasters when bereaved families have not had the support they need.