Independent Public Advocate

Edward Timpson Excerpts
Wednesday 1st March 2023

(1 year, 2 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Dominic Raab Portrait Dominic Raab
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I pay tribute to the hon. Gentleman for all his efforts. I am afraid I do not accept the characterisation; calling it a signposting service is quite wrong. By the way, the signposting is important, but that is the start, not the end of the role of the IPA. It will be set up as a statutory advocate for all those who have been affected, whether individual victims or on behalf of the community as a whole. As of its own status, it will be impossible to ignore.

On the specific functions beyond those I set out in my statement, I am very happy to keep engaging, but I think that Members need to think about the practicalities, for example with data compulsion, and how we make sure that they can be reconciled. I hope that we will be able to continue working together to make sure that victims and the bereaved, particularly of pre-existing tragedies, such as Hillsborough, but also those in the future feel they are better equipped to get the answers and accountability that they need.

Edward Timpson Portrait Edward Timpson (Eddisbury) (Con)
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I join other Members in welcoming today’s statement and the important step that it takes, as well as recognising that the legislative process to follow will provide opportunities to strengthen the role and ensure that it delivers what we set out all the way back in 2017, not least trying to ensure that we can safeguard the independence of the IPA from Government. Can I ask my right hon. Friend how “survivors” will be defined? Will it simply be those who have had a life-changing injury, or will it also include those who may have been physically or mentally changed by their experience of a disaster they have been involved with and their need to have support and advice through that inquiry process?

Dominic Raab Portrait Dominic Raab
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We will work very closely with my hon. and learned Friend and colleagues on the definition. It is important to get that right. It will be an independent advocate once it is established, with the full force of expression and advocacy to get the answers that are required. As I have said before, I am happy to work with colleagues to make sure that we get the right balance and, in particular, to get the IPA to be as effective as possible, whether in relation to an inquiry, statutory or otherwise, or indeed when an inquiry is not established.

Oral Answers to Questions

Edward Timpson Excerpts
Thursday 2nd February 2023

(1 year, 3 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Edward Timpson Portrait Edward Timpson (Eddisbury) (Con)
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13. What steps his Department is taking to support the operation of public services during industrial action.

Oliver Dowden Portrait The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Oliver Dowden)
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All Departments are responsible for their own business continuity plans and have well-established contingency arrangements. The Cabinet Office’s Cobra unit has supported Departments to develop those arrangements to minimise the impact on public services. Yesterday, for example, more than 600 military personnel undertook action to support a smooth flow at the border. I pay tribute to the work that they and others did.

Oliver Dowden Portrait Oliver Dowden
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As a Member of Parliament whose constituency borders London, I share my hon. Friend’s deep frustration with the conduct of the Mayor and with the ULEZ, which is a tax on hard-working commuters and citizens in London. My hon. Friend rightly raises a point about minimum service levels, which are at the root of the Government’s legislation—the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill, which passed through this House in the face of opposition from the Labour party—to protect standards of service and safety on our transport network.

Edward Timpson Portrait Edward Timpson
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Ambulance response times, particularly in rural areas such as Eddisbury, are one of those issues on which I seem to have been campaigning since I first came to Parliament. Like others, I am perplexed by the contrarian and regressive turn that has been taken in the policy area by unions representing ambulance workers, which are refusing to agree to minimum service and safety levels during industrial action. Does my right hon. Friend agree that they should embrace those common- sense measures? Perhaps the public would then be more sympathetic in the subsequent collective bargaining.

Oliver Dowden Portrait Oliver Dowden
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As ever, I agree with my hon. and learned Friend. The public expect a minimum safety level in core public services such as ambulance provision, as exists in comparable European countries. This is a sensible, straightforward measure to ensure patient safety at a time of most desperate need, which is why the Government are bringing it forward—again, in the teeth of opposition from the Labour party.

--- Later in debate ---
Oliver Dowden Portrait Oliver Dowden
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My right hon. Friend the Minister for the Cabinet Office continues to engage with the unions in constructive discussions about precisely those points, with a particular view to the forthcoming financial year. I also pay tribute to the overwhelming majority of civil servants who did not strike yesterday—only 12% participated —to ensure that essential public services continued uninterrupted.

Edward Timpson Portrait Edward Timpson (Eddisbury) (Con)
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T2. One clear lesson from our covid response has been to understand the severe and disproportionate consequences of closing our schools and the impact that that has had on our children’s education and development. What assessment has my right hon. Friend made of that so far, and does he agree that we should look at making schools part of our essential national infrastructure, so that we ensure that that does not happen again in future?

Oliver Dowden Portrait Oliver Dowden
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I am deeply saddened, as my hon. and learned Friend is, by any interruption to our children’s education, particularly when they have suffered so much during covid. I pay tribute to the headteachers and others who ensured that about 90% of schools were open in one capacity or another so that our children continued to have an education—indeed, 70% of teachers did not participate in the strike. I hope that we continue to keep schools open on a voluntary basis, but if we cannot, we reserve the right, under the legislation passing through Parliament, to deem education an essential service that requires minimum service levels.

Draft Civil Contingencies Act 2004 (Amendment of List of Responders) Order 2023

Edward Timpson Excerpts
Wednesday 25th January 2023

(1 year, 4 months ago)

General Committees
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Edward Timpson Portrait Edward Timpson (Eddisbury) (Con)
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It is a pleasure to be able to speak about this important draft statutory instrument. I welcome the extension of the list of responders under the Civil Contingencies Act.

In reading the explanatory notes, which is always a pleasure on these occasions, I noticed that the expansion of the list, to include the Coal Authority as one of named responders, would have no practical effect in Northern Ireland, so that part of the United Kingdom will not be covered. Will my hon. Friend the Minister clarify whether that leaves any potential gaps in the ability of that area of civil contingency to be met in that part of the United Kingdom?

Oral Answers to Questions

Edward Timpson Excerpts
Wednesday 25th January 2023

(1 year, 4 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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The difference between the right hon. and learned Gentleman and me is that I stand by my values and my principles, even when it is difficult. When I disagreed fundamentally with the previous Prime Minister, my right hon. Friend the Member for Uxbridge and South Ruislip (Boris Johnson), I resigned from the Government, but for four long years, he sat next to the right hon. Member for Islington North (Jeremy Corbyn) when antisemitism ran rife and his predecessor sided with our opponents. That is what is weak: he has no principles, just petty politics.

Edward Timpson Portrait Edward Timpson (Eddisbury) (Con)
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Q4. For our most vulnerable children, school is often their principal place of safety as well as education, but as reported in my review of school exclusions for the Government in 2019, the unacceptable and illegal use of off-rolling is still shutting a worrying number of children out of the classroom, out of learning and out of the protection they need from gangs, violence and domestic abuse. The Department for Education has done some impressive and excellent work to address this terrible practice, but what more can my right hon. Friend do to ensure that we permanently exclude off-rolling from our schools?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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My hon. and learned Friend raises an important issue. The Government are clear that off-rolling is unlawful and unacceptable in any form, and the Department for Education continues to work with Ofsted to tackle it. Where Ofsted finds it, it will always be addressed in the inspection report and it could also lead to a school’s leadership being judged inadequate.

Oral Answers to Questions

Edward Timpson Excerpts
Wednesday 18th January 2023

(1 year, 4 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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No, of course we are not. This is simply about protecting UK-wide legislation and ensuring the safety of women and children; it is not about the devolution settlement. I urge the hon. Gentleman and his party to consider engaging with the UK Government on the Bill, as we did before the legislation passed, so that we can find a constructive way forward in the interests of the people of Scotland and the United Kingdom.

Edward Timpson Portrait Edward Timpson (Eddisbury) (Con)
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Q10. The care, education and support that children receive in their earliest years has the biggest impact on their future life outcomes; that is why the affordability, accessibility and quality of childcare is so important for families in Eddisbury and right across the country. Yet, despite significant investment by the UK Government since 2010, for too many families the childcare system remains inflexible, complex and expensive. Will my right hon. Friend restate to this House his commitment to addressing this essential and pressing issue so that every child can have the best start in life?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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I know that this is a topic my hon. Friend knows very well from his background. He is right that it is essential to access quality childcare, which is why we provide every eligible three and four-year-old with at least 15 hours a week of free childcare and are considering new plans to improve the cost, choice and affordability of childcare, whether through consulting on ratios or supporting more people to become childminders.

Oral Answers to Questions

Edward Timpson Excerpts
Wednesday 15th June 2022

(1 year, 11 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
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The hon. Lady has asked that question repeatedly. Let me remind her that this is a Government who get on and deliver on our promises to the people—in particular, on getting Brexit done. I read the other day that she wants to go back into the single market and the customs union. If going back into the EU is the real policy of the Labour party, why will the Leader of the Opposition not admit it?

Edward Timpson Portrait Edward Timpson (Eddisbury) (Con)
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Q11. When our family adopted my two brothers in the 1980s, support for adopters, whether that be financial, therapeutic or professional, was minimal. By the time I became a family law barrister in the late 1990s, it really was not much better. Efforts since, particularly the adoption support fund from 2015 onwards, have improved the situation, but, as ever, there is much more that we can do. To that end, will my right hon. Friend look at making self-employed adopters eligible for statutory adoption pay so that they can also have a better and fairer start to family life?

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
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My hon. Friend is a great champion of adopters and all those who help to give children a loving and stable home. He is quite right, we have so far focused on supporting employed parents, but local authorities have the power to provide discretionary payments equivalent to maternity allowance for self-employed adopters as well.

Oral Answers to Questions

Edward Timpson Excerpts
Tuesday 24th May 2022

(2 years ago)

Commons Chamber
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Kit Malthouse Portrait Kit Malthouse
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It is not the case that community sentences can be completed using those hours, but I am sure the hon. Gentleman will understand that, during the pandemic, with the restrictions placed upon us, we had to find a way to allow offenders to complete their sentence in a satisfactory way. We have systems in place to make sure the jobs are done rigorously to time and, as I have said, we will be winding down that project.

Edward Timpson Portrait Edward Timpson (Eddisbury) (Con)
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17. What steps his Department is taking to reform the family justice system.

Tom Pursglove Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice (Tom Pursglove)
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We are committed to reforming family law to reduce conflict and protect children and victims of domestic abuse. We are reducing demand in the private family courts. In 2021, we invested £3.3 million in the mediation voucher scheme, and over 8,000 vouchers have been issued to separating couples. In February, we launched pilots to test the less adversarial way of hearing private family law cases, and we aim to reduce the retraumatisation of domestic abuse survivors.

Edward Timpson Portrait Edward Timpson
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I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his answer. Our family courts, of course, remain under significant pressure. It is welcome that there is additional funding for the likes of the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service and that the prioritisation protocols are being used for the time being. During my time as chair of CAFCASS, we established that about one in four cases going into private law children’s courts could have been avoided had pre-proceedings work been done. Is the Department also looking at that?

Tom Pursglove Portrait Tom Pursglove
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There are domestic abuse or safeguarding concerns in half of private family cases; those cases, of course, need to be heard in court. But when it comes to cases that do not involve those concerns, the Government will support parents to resolve their issues earlier and outside court. We are considering making mediation compulsory for those cases.

As a former distinguished Children’s Minister, and given his former role at CAFCASS and his professional experience, my hon. Friend brings an awful lot of experience to these matters. Let us have a meeting to discuss his ideas in more detail.

Debate on the Address

Edward Timpson Excerpts
Tuesday 10th May 2022

(2 years ago)

Commons Chamber
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Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford
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I will come on to those points in a moment. Let me say respectfully, particularly to the hon. Members for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine (Andrew Bowie) and for Banff and Buchan (David Duguid) that I think they know that a referendum will come.

Let me take the Speaker’s warnings about behaviour in this House and how we should all reflect on it and how we interact with each other. That applies across the House—I say that to my friend the hon. Member for Edinburgh South (Ian Murray) on the Labour Front Bench, too. When we have that referendum, it is incumbent on us all to engage constructively.

Let us examine, and by all means pull apart, the arguments for and against Scottish independence, but let us treat the electorate with respect. Let us trust the electorate who have given the Scottish Government a mandate to have that referendum. [Hon. Members: “2014!”] I hear what Members say about 2014. The whole point is that the electorate are given a choice in an election to elect a Government—and a Government with a mandate for an independence referendum. Let us not forget that, in 2014, we were explicitly told that if we stayed in the United Kingdom our rights as European citizens would be respected. What did this House do to Scotland? This House took Scotland out of the European Union against its will, and it is perfectly right that, under those circumstances, the people of Scotland have the right to revisit whether they wish to become independent.

Edward Timpson Portrait Edward Timpson (Eddisbury) (Con)
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Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford
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I will make some progress.

The most glaring omission in this Queen’s Speech is the complete lack of any immediate action to help people faced with the biggest inflationary crisis in 50 years. Democracy spoke last Thursday, but it is pretty evident that the Government have not listened and, certainly, given what we have seen today, that the Prime Minister has not learned. People turned out last week to punish the Prime Minister for the scandal of partygate. Let us not forget that the public know that this is the only Prime Minister who has been found to have broken his own laws in office and yet he still sits here as Prime Minister. That should shame this House as it shames us.

The electorate also turned out to punish a Prime Minister and a Chancellor who have been so consumed by the crisis of partygate that they have failed to lift a finger to fight the Tory-made cost of living crisis. As the Bank of England confirmed last week, the occupants of No.10 and No.11 Downing Street have now led us to the brink of recession. As my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow Central (Alison Thewliss) has said, the very first line of the Queen’s Speech should have been a commitment to bring forward an emergency budget. Where is it? Where is the emergency budget that we need? We need an emergency budget to tackle now the rising cost of energy, fuel and food.

Living with Covid-19

Edward Timpson Excerpts
Monday 21st February 2022

(2 years, 3 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
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On that, the hon. Member should wait, as I said to the right hon. Member for Kingston and Surbiton (Ed Davey). On the clinically extremely vulnerable, I think it is very important to remember that we will continue—as we have done throughout the pandemic—to look after them with all the therapeutics that we can offer, and with vaccines where that is appropriate. As the House knows, the shielding programme ended in September. What people need to recognise with the CEV—the clinically extremely vulnerable—is that we should treat them with caution, just as anybody with any respiratory disease should treat the clinically extremely vulnerable with caution, respect them and act with responsibility.

Edward Timpson Portrait Edward Timpson (Eddisbury) (Con)
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I fully endorse the Prime Minister’s statement, which is a significant step forward. However, while we want to get more confidence back into the country, people will also want consistency, so that they can plan ahead. To that end, will he look at what we do with schools, and education more generally? In particular, will he look at making them an essential part of our national infrastructure, so that on future occasions when we consider restrictions across the country, schools, nurseries, colleges and universities are at the very back of the queue, and we make sure that what happened during this pandemic—the lost learning—does not happen again?

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
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My hon. Friend makes an excellent point, and that is why we are ensuring that schools are as covid-secure as possible. We are sending out 350,000 CO2 monitors and 9,000 air cleaning units; those are among the steps that we are taking to protect schools. It is very important that we should get the message over to everybody that schools are safe—one of the many things that the Leader of the Opposition got wrong.

Covid-19 Update

Edward Timpson Excerpts
Wednesday 19th January 2022

(2 years, 4 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
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The collaboration across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland has been exemplary. I have enjoyed working with our partners and will continue to do so.

Edward Timpson Portrait Edward Timpson (Eddisbury) (Con)
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I refer hon. Members to my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests.

I thank the Prime Minister for his statement today, particularly the decision to remove face masks from schools. I know many staff, pupils and parents will be extremely pleased that that is now happening.

I know the Prime Minister will share my concern and that of the Children’s Commissioner, Dame Rachel de Souza, that during the pandemic we have seen many thousands of children become off the radar of schools—off school rolls. Particularly for the most vulnerable children, this causes serious problems through their exposure to crime and exploitation. Will the Prime Minister look again at some of the recommendations in my review of school exclusion in order to try to address this, so that we can track every pupil who is of school age? We should, as a basic principle, know that every child is in school, where they are in school and what their future is to be.

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
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My hon. Friend is an expert in this, and he is spot-on in what he says. I do not want to see excluded kids being locked in a cycle of ever-growing deprivation. He is absolutely right: the best place for kids is in school. That is why we worked so hard to keep schools open and to insist that they were safe.