Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Alok Sharma and Lindsay Hoyle
Wednesday 20th July 2022

(1 year, 10 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma
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My hon. Friend is entirely right. What we have seen over the last couple of days here is what many millions of people across the world experience on a regular basis. That is why it is so important to ensure that the commitments that have been garnered internationally are delivered on, but of course we also need to ensure that we do that ourselves.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the shadow President of COP26, Ed Miliband.

Edward Miliband Portrait Edward Miliband (Doncaster North) (Lab)
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In the last two days, we have seen that the climate emergency is here and now, with wildfires raging across our country, tracks and runways melting, schools closing and the government under-prepared, and yet some people aspiring to the highest office in the land have suggested that tackling the climate crisis is a luxury that can be delayed—an indulgence, a niche project. Such people would put the safety of our citizens at risk. They are deeply irresponsible and they are economically illiterate. Does the President of COP26 agree that, given the demonstrable threat that we so obviously face, there is no place in serious political parties for such dangerous folly?

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Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma
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I am not really in a position to repudiate anybody else’s proposals—[Interruption.] I say to the right hon. Gentleman that we have a clear plan for expanding offshore wind. There is another 32 GW—[Interruption.] I will come on to that. Another 32 GW is effectively in the pipeline. In solving the energy security strategy, we need to keep everything on the table. There is already 14 GW of onshore installed across the country, and where communities are positively welcoming of onshore in return for reduced bills, that is an issue that we should keep on the table.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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We now come to the Scottish National party spokesperson, Deidre Brock.

Deidre Brock Portrait Deidre Brock (Edinburgh North and Leith) (SNP)
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The recent Climate Change Committee’s progress report concludes that the UK Government’s net zero strategy contains warm words but little tangible progress, and that it will not be fully credible until the Government develop contingency plans such as encouraging reduced consumer demand for high carbon activities. It also recommends carrying out a net zero tax review to see how that might best support the transition by correcting the distortions that often penalise low-carbon technologies. Do the Government intend to take action on these specific recommendations, and what will the President do to ensure that the next Prime Minister and Chancellor urgently act on all the Committee’s recommendations?

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Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma
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In this role, as my right hon. Friend knows, I am trying to corral international action. He raises an important point, and I will make sure it is raised with the appropriate Department.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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We now come to the shadow Minister, Kerry McCarthy.

Kerry McCarthy Portrait Kerry McCarthy (Bristol East) (Lab)
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Last month the Climate Change Committee issued a scathing annual progress report warning of “major policy failures” and “scant evidence of delivery” on net zero. This week, as we have heard, the Government had to be dragged to court to be told their climate plans are so woefully inadequate that they are unlawful and must be revised.

What kind of leadership does it set if the country holding the COP presidency cannot get its own house in order? I know the COP President will say that the Conservative party’s leadership candidates have paid lip service to net zero, but does he really have any confidence that things will get better?

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Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma
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In the words of Gloria Gaynor, “I will survive”. The point that the hon. Gentleman raises is that tackling the climate emergency is an issue for all of us—for Governments, civil society and individuals—and we all need to play our part.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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Before we come to Prime Minister’s questions, I would like to point out that a British Sign Language interpretation of proceedings is available to watch on parliamentlive.tv.

I would also like to welcome Lord Mackay, who is retiring today. He served many distinguished years as Lord Chancellor.

Before I call Kim Leadbeater to ask the first question, it is only fitting to note that this is likely to be the final time that the right hon. Member for Uxbridge and South Ruislip (Boris Johnson) addresses the House as Prime Minister. I wish him and his family all the best for the future. We have been through many dark times in this House, and none more so than through the pandemic. That will always be remembered because of what this House did and because of the way that you conducted those duties during those dark times, Prime Minister.

I understand that Members will have differing views about the Prime Minister’s performance and legacy, and those views will be sincerely and passionately held, but I remind Members that our constituents and others around the world watch these proceedings. Let us conduct them in a respectful manner, focusing on issues and policies rather than personalities. I take this opportunity to remind Members of the words of Erskine May that

“good temper and moderation are the characteristics of the parliamentary debate.”

I expect to see that reflected today in the proceedings.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Alok Sharma and Lindsay Hoyle
Wednesday 15th June 2022

(1 year, 11 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma
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My hon. Friend makes the same point that this is about a managed transition. We want to ensure that we decarbonise the electricity system by 2035. Hon. Members will know that the energy security strategy is all about transitioning to a clean energy future with a big push on renewables, nuclear and hydrogen.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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We now come to the shadow COP26 President.

Edward Miliband Portrait Edward Miliband (Doncaster North) (Lab)
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It has been reported that the COP26 President is in the running to become the executive secretary of climate at the UN. I wish him well, because he would do an excellent job in that post. Part of the reason he won respect at COP26 was for his commitment to phase out fossil fuel subsidies, yet here at home the Chancellor has created a massive loophole in the windfall tax to give away at least £4 billion of public money in new incentives for new oil and gas projects. Can the COP26 President tell us whether he was consulted on that plan? How much does he estimate that it will drive up emissions? Is it not totally at odds with the agreement on fossil fuels that he worked so hard to secure in Glasgow?

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Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma
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In fact, there are many businesses, both large and small, that are committing to cut emissions, because they have understood that it is good for their bottom line and actually gives them a competitive advantage with clients and customers. I refer my hon. Friend to the UK business climate hub, which is championed by the Government and climate groups. Over 3,000 UK small and medium-sized enterprises have already signed up. I am sure that, if small businesses in Bracknell look at the website, they will understand the positive impact of making a climate commitment.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the SNP spokesperson.

Deidre Brock Portrait Deidre Brock (Edinburgh North and Leith) (SNP)
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The COP26 President will be aware of concerns raised about aspects of biomass, so how does he intend to ensure that carbon emissions from this sector and businesses such as wood-burning power stations are reflected in the reformed UK emissions trading system? How does he think the COP commitment to protect the world’s forests aligns with existing UK Government policies for burning imported wood and the considerable UK Government subsidies given to this industry?

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Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma
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We are working very closely on the issue. We want to ensure that there is a new framework for biodiversity. My hon. Friend is absolutely right that COP26 had a big focus on reversing deforestation and supporting biodiversity; we are continuing to press forward on that issue.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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Before we start Prime Minister’s questions, I remind Members of the service at St Margaret’s at 1 o’clock today to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the end of the Falklands war. I hope that as many hon. Members as possible will be able to attend.

I would also like to point out that the British Sign Language interpretation of proceedings on PMQs is available on parliamentlive.tv. [Interruption] Not that sign language!

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Alok Sharma and Lindsay Hoyle
Wednesday 20th April 2022

(2 years, 1 month ago)

Commons Chamber
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Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma
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Of course, we want an expansion of renewables across the country, but I point my hon. Friend to the energy security strategy, which sets out our plan to ensure more rooftop solar, not just on commercial buildings but on public sector property.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the shadow Minister, Dr Alan Whitehead.

Alan Whitehead Portrait Dr Alan Whitehead (Southampton, Test) (Lab)
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The COP26 President acknowledges the tremendous contribution that solar has made and can make to the achievement of our net zero goals. I am sure that he also acknowledges that it is now one of the renewables that is cheapest and most quickly installed, so why are the Government ignoring its future development, having devastated the industry a few years back by precipitously withdrawing all support for development, and doing nothing to ease the penal planning restrictions on both domestic and ground-mounted solar installations? He says merely that he expects installations to increase fivefold by 2035, but without providing any support to allow that expectation to become a reality. Is it not time that the Government took seriously the contribution that solar can make to net zero targets?

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Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma
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My right hon. Friend raises an important point. The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and his Ministers are, of course, working on that. Again, at an international level, we are looking to start an agriculture breakthrough, so that we have a global focus on this issue.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the SNP spokesperson, Deidre Brock.

Deidre Brock Portrait Deidre Brock (Edinburgh North and Leith) (SNP)
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Facebook promoted ads containing outright climate falsehoods and scepticism during COP26, and it is reported that fossil fuel companies and lobbying groups spent an estimated $574,000 on Facebook ads during the summit, resulting in more than 22 million impressions. Many of these ads were directly aimed at undermining efforts to achieve climate progress. Does the COP26 President agree that the best way such businesses can help in the fight against climate change is to put the planet before their profits and come down hard on the climate naysayers? What action has he been taking to address that?

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Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma
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The hon. Gentleman has eloquently raised a number of domestic policy issues and I know that the Energy Minister would be happy to write to him on all of them.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the shadow COP26 President.

Edward Miliband Portrait Edward Miliband (Doncaster North) (Lab)
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The recent climate assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was deeply worrying, saying that current global policies will lead to warming of more than 3°, but it also offered hope in the dramatic fall in the price of renewables, which means they are now the right choice for cheap energy and to tackle the climate crisis. Given that onshore wind is the cheapest, cleanest, quickest form of power to deliver and is also supported by a large majority of the public in the UK, will the COP26 President explain why the Government persist—including in their recent strategy—with planning policies that in effect block onshore wind in England?

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Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma
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As I have said, we want to see a managed transition. That is not going to happen overnight. My right hon. Friend will also know that we have set out in our domestic energy security strategy that future licensing rounds will have to be compatible with the climate compatibility checkpoint, which will be set out shortly.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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Before we come to Prime Minister’s questions, I would like to point out that a British Sign Language interpretation of proceedings is available to watch on parliamentlive.tv.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Alok Sharma and Lindsay Hoyle
Wednesday 2nd March 2022

(2 years, 2 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma
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As the hon. Lady will know, we had a big focus on nature at COP26 and we had a commitment from over 140 countries representing over 90% of forests around the world to ensure that they are protected. We will of course continue to work on this issue with partners around the world.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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Before we come to PMQs, I wish to remind Members of what I said last week. I want concise, focused questions so that we can get through the list, and I want much less barracking and heckling of Members. That behaviour is discourteous and does nothing to enhance the representation of our House, or its ability to scrutinise the Prime Minister. I expect Members to reference one another in a courteous and orderly fashion.

Finally, I want to welcome to our Gallery the Ukrainian ambassador—[Applause.] Your Excellency, we generally do not allow applause in this Chamber, but on this occasion the House quite rightly wants to demonstrate our respect and support for your country and its people in the most difficult of times.

Before we start, I would like to point out that the British Sign Language interpretation of proceedings is available to watch on parliamentlive.tv.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Alok Sharma and Lindsay Hoyle
Wednesday 19th January 2022

(2 years, 4 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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Order. Topicals are meant to be short and quick. You cannot have a full statement—other people have got to get in.

Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma
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The hon. Gentleman is definitely making my job harder by the amount of hot air he is emitting—I wonder whether he will offset those emissions. Let me be clear that we have a commitment to have a managed transition in our energy mix, and that is what we are doing.

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Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma
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I am not going to take any lectures from the hon. Gentleman. He knows very well that the Government are working very closely with the sector. He knows that we have put in place a price cap, and he knows that, when it comes to jobs, this Government are investing, and we want to see 2 million green jobs created over the coming decades.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call Fleur Anderson—[Interruption.]

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Alok Sharma and Lindsay Hoyle
Wednesday 1st December 2021

(2 years, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma
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My hon. Friend raises a very important point. The 90% of forests that are covered by the pledge are also being backed by £14 billion of public and private funding, so there will be a mechanism for checks and balances. In addition, we agreed the transparency framework at COP26, so we will be able to see whether countries are meeting the commitments that they have made.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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Before we come to Prime Minister’s questions, I would like to point out that a British Sign Language interpretation of proceedings is available to watch on parliamentlive.tv.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Alok Sharma and Lindsay Hoyle
Wednesday 20th October 2021

(2 years, 7 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma
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I would like every country to step forward with a net zero target. When we started, it was 30% of the world economy; it is now 80%. Of course, we also need those nationally determined contributions to come forward before COP.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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Before we come to questions to the Prime Minister, I point out that the British Sign Language interpretation of proceedings is available to watch on parliamentlive.tv.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Alok Sharma and Lindsay Hoyle
Wednesday 14th July 2021

(2 years, 10 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma
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Obviously we want to ensure that we have a physical event and that those who apply have an opportunity to try to get accredited. As I said, for parliamentarians in this and the other place, we will be opening a registration process shortly.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the shadow COP26 President.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Alok Sharma and Lindsay Hoyle
Wednesday 24th February 2021

(3 years, 3 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma
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I had always thought that climate action was an area that we could collectively coalesce around without the need for political name calling and fighting, but, unfortunately, that does not seem to be possible for the hon. Gentleman. I just point him to the record of this Government and say that, over the past 30 years across a range of Governments, the UK has managed to grow our economy by 75% and yet cut emissions by 43%. Green growth is possible, and that is what we are pursuing.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the shadow President, Ed Miliband.

Edward Miliband Portrait Edward Miliband (Doncaster North) (Lab)
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I have never been called that before.

I warmly welcome the President of COP26 to his full- time role. It is in all our interests that he should succeed, and we want to do everything that we can to help. The central judgment of COP26’s success is whether it keeps alive the Paris target of limiting global warming to 1.5°. To make that happen, the UN says that we need to more than halve global greenhouse gas emissions from 52 gigatonnes today to 25 gigatonnes by 2030. Will he assure us that he recognises the scale of this challenge and the need for maximum ambition, and tell the House how close to that target he thinks we can get at COP26?

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Alok Sharma and Lindsay Hoyle
Tuesday 15th December 2020

(3 years, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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It was a major achievement, and it shows the family of rugby league.

Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma
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I congratulate the hon. Lady’s constituent, Kevin Sinfield. We have a good settlement in the spending review for R&D: we are committed to reaching £22 billion a year by 2024-25.

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Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma
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I know it is a very difficult time for very many families, and that they will feel that particularly acutely as we get to Christmas. I would just say that across the country we have protected 9 million jobs—households up and down our country, who have been supported by the measures that the Government have put forward; and that that will extend until the end of March, as well as the other support that has been provided.

Given that we have now come to the end of questions, Mr Speaker, I thank you and your staff for all the support that you have provided to all Members in a very challenging year. I thank all Members—including the right hon. Member for Doncaster North (Edward Miliband)—for all their support, and I hope that they will have an opportunity to get some rest over the festive period.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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May I just say thank you to the Secretary of State for completing the list? In order to allow the safe exit of hon. Members participating in this item of business and the safe arrival of those participating in the next, I am suspending the House for three minutes.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Alok Sharma and Lindsay Hoyle
Tuesday 10th November 2020

(3 years, 6 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma
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The hon. Lady raises an important point. Of course we want good jobs to be created and preserved, and I agree with her. I believe she is arguing that we need a greater level of productivity in the country, and that is precisely what we are working on as part of our strategies.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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In order to allow the safe exit of hon. Members participating in this item of business and the safe arrival of those participating in the next, I suspend the House for three minutes.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Alok Sharma and Lindsay Hoyle
Tuesday 21st July 2020

(3 years, 10 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma
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My hon. Friend is absolutely right. We need to get out there supporting our pubs and restaurants. The Eat Out to Help Out scheme operating during August is another great incentive to support participating restaurants, cafés, pubs and other food establishments. Al fresco dining midweek in balmy August weather should be a must for all of us.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the Chair of the Select Committee, Darren Jones.

Darren Jones Portrait Darren Jones (Bristol North West) (Lab)
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Hospitality workers who, in normal times, rely on tips as a significant part of their income have been especially hit, not just because their workplaces have been shut but because furlough payments have not recognised tip-based income. The Government have committed to bringing forward legislation to ensure that hospitality staff can keep their tips; indeed, it was a Conservative party manifesto commitment. When will that legislation be brought to the House?

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Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma
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I already have one week of holiday plans and not in her constituency, sadly, but we all need to get out there to visit pubs and restaurants and cafés, which are the heart of our communities. From what I have seen, they are very much adhering to the covid-secure guidance, and that is how we will all enjoy summer safely.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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Well, if you would add the Speaker, he’ll come along.

Chris Elmore Portrait Chris Elmore  (Ogmore) (Lab)
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Last year, it was announced that the Ford engine plant was to be closed in September of this year. Ineos was brought in, with both UK Government and Welsh Government funding, but it has now suspended its development at the plant. BA has announced potential job losses at three sites across south Wales, and GE has put staff under a statutory notice period at its plant in Nantgarw. What support is the Secretary of State going to start putting into the south Wales economy so that we can save, protect and create new highly-skilled and well-paid jobs?

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Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma
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Like my hon. Friend, I am a firm believer in the Union—in one United Kingdom. The proposals we set out in the UK Internal Market White Paper are all about supporting jobs, protecting businesses and livelihoods, and encouraging investment across the whole UK. I hope that all colleagues across the House will write in support of that as part of the consultation.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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In order to allow the safe exit of hon. Members participating in this item of business and the safe arrival of those participating in the next, I am suspending the House for three minutes.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Alok Sharma and Lindsay Hoyle
Tuesday 16th June 2020

(3 years, 11 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma
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Of course, my hon. Friend will know that we are providing direct support to the vaccines being developed at Oxford University and Imperial College London. He may also be aware that the Imperial vaccine is now set to enter clinical human trials. We are also leading international efforts to support vaccine discovery and deployment.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the Chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, Darren Jones.

Darren Jones Portrait Darren Jones (Bristol North West) (Lab)
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UK-EU research collaboration contributes £2 billion to British research and development and accounts for at least 5,000 researchers in British universities, as well as its contributions to covid research and vaccination research. Will the Secretary of State make a commitment that, irrespective of the free trade agreement negotiations with the EU, the UK will seek third country full associate membership of Horizon Europe to keep that money coming into British R&D?

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Alok Sharma and Lindsay Hoyle
Monday 4th May 2020

(4 years ago)

Commons Chamber
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Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma
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We are all aligned in our wish to make sure that these loans are getting out to businesses, and I believe that is starting to happen. On interest rates, of course, I have had those discussions on a very granular basis with banks, and they have recognised, on the CBIL scheme, where we are providing an 80% guarantee, that there is a requirement to reflect that in the interest rate. Furthermore, as the hon. Gentleman will know, the interest rate on the bounce-back loans, which have just been announced, is set at 2.5%, and of course the Government have taken care of the first year of interest.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I welcome Ed Miliband back to the Front Bench.

Edward Miliband Portrait Edward Miliband (Doncaster North) (Lab)
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Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.

I can tell the Secretary of State that we are committed to working constructively with the Government on all issues, and we welcome the recent changes to the loans system. I have two specific questions about his draft guidelines on workplace safety. We share the desire for a return to work as soon as it is safe, but he will know that firms with more than five employees are obliged by law to carry out risk assessments on safety. First, does he plan to ensure the publication of these risk assessments to give confidence to workers? Secondly, on enforcement of safe working, the Health and Safety Executive is operating on substantially reduced resources. What will he do to ensure that the guidelines are enforced so that all workers can feel safe?