Debates between Eleanor Laing and Chris Bryant during the 2019 Parliament

Wed 19th Jul 2023
Wed 19th Jul 2023
Fri 23rd Sep 2022
Wed 20th Jul 2022
Mon 24th May 2021
Daniel Morgan: Independent Panel Report
Commons Chamber
(Urgent Question)
Ways and Means resolution & Programme motion
Wed 19th May 2021
Mon 28th Sep 2020
Thu 10th Sep 2020
Wed 3rd Jun 2020
Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill
Commons Chamber

2nd reading & 2nd reading & 2nd reading: House of Commons & 2nd reading
Mon 23rd Mar 2020
Coronavirus Bill
Commons Chamber

Committee stage:Committee: 1st sitting & 3rd reading & 3rd reading: House of Commons & Committee: 1st sitting & Committee: 1st sitting: House of Commons & Committee stage & 3rd reading
Mon 23rd Mar 2020

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Eleanor Laing and Chris Bryant
Wednesday 21st February 2024

(2 months, 4 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Chris Bryant Portrait Sir Chris Bryant (Rhondda) (Lab)
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Some 4.8 million people live in rural 5G notspots; rural areas are seven times more likely to have broadband speeds worse than those at base camp at Everest; one in five poorer homes have no internet to the home at all; and cardiac arrest phones and medical monitors still rely on analogue telephony. [Interruption.] Why are this Government such an abject failure?

Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Eleanor Laing)
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Order. The House could not hear Sir Chris Bryant—[Interruption.] I will have no suggestion that that was deliberate. People may need to speak, but can they do so in a quiet voice and allow Sir Chris to re-ask his question?

Chris Bryant Portrait Sir Chris Bryant
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Let us just stick with the punchline, shall we? Why are this Government such an abject failure?

Points of Order

Debate between Eleanor Laing and Chris Bryant
Wednesday 19th July 2023

(10 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Chris Bryant Portrait Sir Chris Bryant (Rhondda) (Lab)
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On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. It would have been out of order for me to have asked a question during the statement, because I am afraid I was upstairs with some youngsters from my constituency at the beginning, but would it be in order for me to join the general approbation of the Secretary of State for Defence? I note that Elton John has said several times that he has done his last performance, but now that the Secretary of State for Defence is a gay hero, we will all be buying him some LGBT jackets, shirts and rainbow flags.

May I make a serious point about the right hon. Gentleman? He has been one of the very few people in this House who has been clear-sighted about Russia from the beginning—from the very outset. I feel sometimes that if the whole House had listened to him a bit more on Russia, Ukraine might have been in a better place than it is today.

If it is not too obsequious, may I add my obsequies to those of everybody else and praise the Secretary of State. Is that in order?

Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Eleanor Laing)
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The Chamber will appreciate that it is not in order at all, but I have exercised some leniency, as we come to the end of this long sitting period and approach summer, to allow the hon. Gentleman to make his remarks, because I know that he makes them with sincerity. I think that most of us would agree with him. It is not at all in order for me to say from the Chair that I agree with anything, but the Secretary of State knows that he leaves with the very good wishes of the whole of the House of Commons.

Sanctions

Debate between Eleanor Laing and Chris Bryant
Wednesday 19th July 2023

(10 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Chris Bryant Portrait Sir Chris Bryant
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I would just like to put on the record how much we respect and admire the team of roughly 150 people who work in the sanctions group. It is not easy work—it is tough to get it right—and they are magnificent. Is that in order?

Illegal Migration

Debate between Eleanor Laing and Chris Bryant
Monday 5th June 2023

(11 months, 2 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Eleanor Laing)
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Ordinarily, points of order are taken only after all statements and urgent questions are finished. However, I will take a point of order from the shadow Home Secretary if it relates specifically to the statement that has just been delivered.

Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker
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Let us remember that this is not a continuation of a debate; it is a point of order to the Chair, and it is not a matter for the Chair. The way in which facts are presented here in the Chamber is entirely—[Interruption.] Who is shouting at me? The way in which facts are presented in the Chamber is entirely a matter for the Minister, or any other Member who is presenting the facts. If the Home Secretary wishes to say anything further to the point of order—[Interruption.] She does not. [Interruption.] No, that is enough. This is not a matter for the Chair and we cannot continue the debate. It is a matter of debate and interpretation of statistics. I am grateful to the right hon. Member for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford (Yvette Cooper) for drawing her concerns to the attention of the House, the Chair and, indeed, the Home Secretary.

Chris Bryant Portrait Sir Chris Bryant
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Further to that point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I think this is a matter for the Chair. Will you confirm that the ministerial code states that a Minister must always present the facts as they believe them to be true? However, sometimes, inadvertently, Ministers make mistakes, and there is a proper process for correcting the record. It may be that the Home Secretary, when she gets back to her office, will realise that the Home Office statistics are not quite as she has presented them to the House. If so, there are means of correcting the record, and you can confirm that to her.

Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker
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That is a point of order for the Chair, and I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for it. There are indeed means of correction, and I think all Ministers in the House are well aware of that. Indeed, it is open to any Member to correct the record if they consider that a mistake has been made.

Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker
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I take a point of order from the hon. Gentleman and he wants to argue with me! It is not a matter of argument; anyone can correct the record. However, what he said is absolutely correct: when a Minister is delivering complicated statistics provided by a Department, and it transpires that there is a mistake—I have no idea whether on this occasion there is such a discrepancy—there is a procedure for correcting that.

List of Ministers’ Interests and Ministerial Code

Debate between Eleanor Laing and Chris Bryant
Monday 24th April 2023

(1 year ago)

Commons Chamber
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Urgent Questions are proposed each morning by backbench MPs, and up to two may be selected each day by the Speaker. Chosen Urgent Questions are announced 30 minutes before Parliament sits each day.

Each Urgent Question requires a Government Minister to give a response on the debate topic.

This information is provided by Parallel Parliament and does not comprise part of the offical record

Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Eleanor Laing)
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Order. I warned Members earlier to be careful about what they say on this sensitive subject. There are certain matters which are sub judice or quasi-sub judice.

Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker
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My honourable helper here tells me that they are under investigation. When I said quasi-sub judice, that is what I meant, but I suppose I should not have said it all in Latin. I will say it in English: under investigation. I would be grateful if the hon. Member for Slough (Mr Dhesi) would be general in his question.

--- Later in debate ---
Chris Bryant Portrait Sir Chris Bryant
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On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I am grateful for what you said earlier. It is important for the Standards Committee and the commissioner to be able to do their work that we do not refer—preferably anywhere but certainly not in the Chamber—to ongoing investigations by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards.

Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker
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The hon. Gentleman is right, and I am pleased that he has made that point of order. It requires no answer from me other than to agree. Members ought to act honourably when they speak in the House—and everywhere—and not try to get as close as possible to saying something that they should not say. They ought to have a higher standard than that in the drafting of their questions, speeches and responses.

Autumn Statement

Debate between Eleanor Laing and Chris Bryant
Thursday 17th November 2022

(1 year, 6 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Eleanor Laing)
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Goodness! Here is a surprise. I call Chris Bryant.

Chris Bryant Portrait Chris Bryant (Rhondda) (Lab)
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That was a bit of a surprise, Madam Deputy Speaker. I do not think that you carried the House there.

This is really grim. The public finances are in a really difficult situation, and even more importantly the OBR figures show that disposable income for households will fall after what the Chancellor has done today by 7% over the next two years. Will he confirm that that is the biggest fall in our history? That means families not being able to afford things, and that is, in the end, at the doorstep of No. 10, is it not?

Ban on Fracking for Shale Gas Bill

Debate between Eleanor Laing and Chris Bryant
Wednesday 19th October 2022

(1 year, 7 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Chris Bryant Portrait Chris Bryant (Rhondda) (Lab)
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On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I urge you to launch an investigation into the scenes outside the entrance to the No Lobby earlier. As you know, Members are expected to be able to vote without fear or favour and the behaviour code, which is agreed by the whole House, says that there shall never be bullying or harassment of Members. I saw Members being physically manhandled into another Lobby and being bullied. If we want to stand up against bullying in this House of our staff, we have to stop bullying in this Chamber as well, don’t we? [Interruption.]

Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker
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Order. We are talking about behaviour. We will have a little bit of good behaviour for a moment on both sides of the House.

The hon. Gentleman raises an important matter about behaviour. He knows better than anyone else that we have an extremely good system for investigating allegations of bullying, intimidation or bad behaviour. If the hon. Gentleman cares to bring evidence and facts to me, I will make sure that the matter is properly investigated. Of course, we must have decorous behaviour at all times, so we will now proceed quietly and politely.

Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 31(2)), That the proposed words be there added.

Question agreed to.

Main Question, as amended, put and agreed to.

Resolved,

That this House calls on the Government to consult to ensure there is a robust system of local consent, and clear advice on seismic limits and safety, before any hydraulic fracturing for shale gas may take place; and believes that such consultation must consider how the views of regional mayors, local authorities and parishes should be reflected as well as the immediate concerns of those most directly affected.

The Growth Plan

Debate between Eleanor Laing and Chris Bryant
Friday 23rd September 2022

(1 year, 7 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Chris Bryant Portrait Chris Bryant (Rhondda) (Lab)
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It must, surely, be the definition of chutzpah to come to the House of Commons and complain about high taxation and low growth, when the right hon. Gentleman voted for 15 increases in taxation and was the Business Secretary who took the UK into recession. It must, surely, be the definition of chutzpah to come to the House of Commons and say that he believes in sound money when he has just put £72.4 billion on the never-never credit card for the country.

Let me explain to the right hon. Gentleman why people in the Rhondda might think that he has got this wrong. We do not have any bankers begging for additional bonuses in the Rhondda. We do not have anybody, I would guess, earning more than £150,000 in the Rhondda, but we do have a lot of families whose energy bills have doubled this year, even after what he has done, and who will be going into energy poverty. They are seeing food prices go up by 15% and petrol prices locally go up even more. That is why we think he is a disgrace.

Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Eleanor Laing)
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Order. We need a question. If there is no question, the Chancellor of the Exchequer cannot answer.

Pensions (Extension of Automatic Enrolment)

Debate between Eleanor Laing and Chris Bryant
1st reading
Wednesday 20th July 2022

(1 year, 10 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Pensions (Extension of Automatic Enrolment) Bill 2022-23 View all Pensions (Extension of Automatic Enrolment) Bill 2022-23 Debates Read Hansard Text

A Ten Minute Rule Bill is a First Reading of a Private Members Bill, but with the sponsor permitted to make a ten minute speech outlining the reasons for the proposed legislation.

There is little chance of the Bill proceeding further unless there is unanimous consent for the Bill or the Government elects to support the Bill directly.

For more information see: Ten Minute Bills

This information is provided by Parallel Parliament and does not comprise part of the offical record

Chris Bryant Portrait Chris Bryant (Rhondda) (Lab)
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On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. You will realise that there was a point of order a little while ago from the hon. Member for Heywood and Middleton (Chris Clarkson), who said that he had notified me in advance of the point of order, in which he named me, as you know. In actual fact, he sent me an email at 2.20 pm, in which he said, “I wanted to make you aware that I intend to name you in the Chamber today,”, but he did not say when, when he perfectly well knew he was going to do it in about five minutes’ time. I replied, “When, and in what context? I don’t think that is a proper notification.” He replied, “The consequences of intemperate language in the Chamber.” It is perfectly fair for him to raise a point of order, but he did not give me proper notice; I think you would agree, Madam Deputy Speaker, that that is not proper notice. If he had given me proper notice, I would have made sure that I was in the Chamber to answer it for the convenience of the House.

Secondly, the hon. Member said that I had referred to his sexuality in the debate on Monday. I would never, ever do so; and as Hansard records, I did not do so. That is simply untrue. I very much hope that the hon. Member will withdraw that allegation. I certainly do think that there are problems relating to the way in which the Government have created a hostile environment for LGBT people in this country. [Interruption.] I am simply citing the former Government Equalities Minister, the hon. Member for Finchley and Golders Green (Mike Freer), who said so himself when he resigned. That was the only point that I was making.

I, of course, wholly abhor and hate the idea that anybody, as a result of anything I might say either in this Chamber or anywhere else, might have death threats addressed towards them. I have had plenty myself and have had the police at my house this week, so I wholly deplore that idea. If there is any sense in which the hon. Member for Heywood and Middleton has felt antagonised and that that has been brought on by anything I have said, I apologise, but I would say that I did not say what he said I did; I simply quoted the former Conservative Government Equalities Minister, who, when he resigned, said that he was doing so because the Government were creating a hostile environment for LGBT people in this country.

Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Eleanor Laing)
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I thank the hon. Gentleman for his point of order. I have to separate out from what he said that which is a point of order for the Chair and that which is an expression of political opinion. He is entitled to his political opinion and I, of course, would make no comment on it whatsoever. If the hon. Member for Heywood and Middleton (Chris Clarkson) has not properly given notice to the hon. Gentleman that he intended to mention him here in the Chamber, then that is quite simply wrong. I cannot, from the information that is available to me now, ascertain whether due notice was given or not, but I will discuss the matter with Mr Speaker and consider the evidence.

The hon. Gentleman also makes reference to what was said here in the Chamber on Monday evening. I was still in the Chamber at the moment of the exchange, having just left the Chair, and it would be an understatement to say that tempers were running high on all sides that evening. As I mentioned a few moments ago, good temper and moderation ought to be the characteristics of parliamentary debate. I am not satisfied that either good temper or moderation were present at that point in the debate on Monday evening, and I sincerely hope that, however strongly Members feel about a particular issue that they are addressing, we can approach most matters in a calm fashion that will allow us to debate the facts rather than the emotions—although I am not negating the place of emotions in some debates.

I hope that the hon. Gentleman will leave it with me to look further into this matter.

Points of Order

Debate between Eleanor Laing and Chris Bryant
Monday 23rd May 2022

(1 year, 12 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Eleanor Laing)
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I thank the hon. Gentleman for his point of order, but it does not sound to me like a point of order for the Chair; it is more akin to a continuation of the debate at Question Time. The Secretary of State thinks one thing and the hon. Gentleman thinks another, which he is perfectly entitled to do. He is also perfectly entitled to present different evidence and different figures from those presented by the Secretary of State. It is not, of course, for me to adjudicate, I am very glad to say. The hon. Gentleman will know that there are various ways in which he can bring the matter back to the House. I am sure that the Table Office will advise him if he should need—[Interruption.] There appears to be someone heckling me, which is not a great idea. I can see that this is a matter of debate, which will undoubtedly continue. What I was trying to say is that the hon. Gentleman will find various ways in which he can bring the matter to the House again.

Chris Bryant Portrait Chris Bryant (Rhondda) (Lab)
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On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Can you help me get an answer out of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy? I first wrote on behalf of my constituent Mr Brian Price of Treorchy on 25 November 2020. He has had a terrible experience with the Government’s green deal scheme, which has left him out of pocket to the tune of more than £30,000. The Secretary of State replied to me on 14 December, stating he had instructed officials to look into the matter. We followed up on 15 December 2020, and we had a reply on 6 January 2021 seeking further information, which was provided to the Secretary of State.

I will not bore you—even though I see you are yawning, Madam Deputy Speaker—or the House with the ins and outs of this, but things have got considerably worse. I have been chasing a reply since 16 September last year, with letters on 1 November, 22 November and 17 December 2021, and on 21 January and 25 February 2022. On 21 March, I tabled a parliamentary question asking when I would get a reply. The Department replied —guess what?—that it had lost the correspondence. We sent it again on 30 March, and chased it again on 20 April. It is now 23 May, which is 544 days since I first wrote to the Department about this, and my poor constituent is pulling his hair out. Can you please, Madam Deputy Speaker, sort this out and get an answer for me?

Points of Order

Debate between Eleanor Laing and Chris Bryant
Tuesday 1st March 2022

(2 years, 2 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Eleanor Laing)
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I thank the hon. Gentleman for his question. What I can do is repeat yet again what Mr Speaker has said so often from this Chair, which is that when Members submit questions, they ought to be answered on time. There is simply no excuse for them not to be answered. I repeat most emphatically what Mr Speaker has said many times before, as indeed have all his predecessors and mine, which is that it is simply not acceptable that Departments, which have hundreds and hundreds of civil servants to do that job, do not answer the questions of Members of Parliament.

Chris Bryant Portrait Chris Bryant (Rhondda) (Lab)
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On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I am grateful that the Home Secretary has stayed in her place. This is not to have a go at her but to make a suggestion. Parliamentary privilege is there for an important reason, which is that we can speak without fear or favour. Often, it is there so that we can speak without fear.

I note that the European Union has been able to sanction some oligarchs faster than we have, not because of any lack of will in the UK but because it uses a particular mechanism called non-legislative acts that attracts a degree of privilege. For example, when it says that Alisher Usmanov has been sanctioned, and puts a little paragraph about why, it does not have to fear what may then happen in the courts. In the UK, however, Ministers understandably want to ensure that everything is watertight and that things are done properly, but they are also nervous that the way we do it means that they might be open to legal challenge, which would obviously be disastrous and very expensive.

I wonder whether there is a means of using parliamentary privilege to help the Government to do that more swiftly. If necessary, I would be happy to sit in permanent session in Westminster Hall with Ministers sending names and we will read them out, or they could be submitted as answers to a permanent daily parliamentary written question to a Minister to ask, “Who are you sanctioning today?”. Can the Clerk of the House and Mr Speaker have a conversation with Ministers in the Home Office and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office as quickly as possible to see whether there is a way for Parliament to help the Government do it more swiftly?

Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker
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I genuinely thank the hon. Gentleman for his point of order, which may even genuinely be a point of order for the Chair, because it is about the operation of parliamentary privilege and concerns matters that take place in the Chamber. The hon. Gentleman has set out his thesis clearly and I observe that the Home Secretary has paid careful attention to what he has said.

Countering Russian Aggression and Tackling Illicit Finance

Debate between Eleanor Laing and Chris Bryant
Wednesday 23rd February 2022

(2 years, 2 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Chris Bryant Portrait Chris Bryant
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On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Are you able to help me? I may have inadvertently misled the House earlier today when I said in a point of order that the Prime Minister was intending to correct the record of what he had said yesterday regarding whether Roman Abramovich had or had not been sanctioned—the Prime Minister said yesterday that he had, but I think he now admits that he has not. I was told by one of the Prime Minister’s Parliamentary Private Secretaries yesterday afternoon that he was going to write to me, and that there would be an apology. I gather that a version of the Prime Minister’s apology was submitted a while ago for a clarification, as is standard practice for Ministers, but I understand that has now been withdrawn. So the Prime Minister was going to correct the record, but now he is correcting correcting the record by not correcting the record. Can you confirm that that is the case, Madam Deputy Speaker?

Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Eleanor Laing)
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I thank the hon. Gentleman for his point of order but, to be perfectly honest, I am having difficulty in grasping what his actual question is. He has asked me to confirm something, but I would have to be absolutely certain what it was that I was confirming before I could say that I was confirming it. This is a very serious matter and I want to make sure that we get the facts correct. I am told that a written ministerial statement has now been published and is available online. It might be that that contains the information for which the hon. Gentleman is searching. I am quite sure that if the record requires to be corrected, the Prime Minister will have it corrected.

Chris Bryant Portrait Chris Bryant
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Further to that point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I just wonder whether that is the correct procedure for a Minister. Normally we have a specific procedure in the House for correcting the record, which is only available to Ministers, so it would seem very odd to have sent forward a correction of the record through the standard process and now suddenly to divert down a completely different route, namely a written ministerial statement. My understanding was that written ministerial statements were normally announced in advance, rather than being suddenly sprung on the House.

Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker
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I understand the point that the hon. Gentleman is making, and there does seem to be some confusion. My understanding is that the written ministerial statement, which the hon. Gentleman is suggesting has been withdrawn, has not been withdrawn, and that it stands. Does that help the hon. Gentleman?

Chris Bryant Portrait Chris Bryant
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Further to that point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. No, I am sorry, but it does not. As I understand it, earlier this afternoon, during this debate, the Prime Minister submitted a correction to the record, as is standard practice for a Minister who has misled the House inadvertently—in those circumstances, Ministers correct the record. As far as I know, this is the first time the Prime Minister has chosen to do so—hurrah.

What I understand you now to be saying, Madam Deputy Speaker, is that instead of correcting the record—which is the standard, proper process for a Minister—the Prime Minister has decided to table a written ministerial statement. As I understand it, written ministerial statements are only meant to be tabled when they have been announced in advance on the Order Paper, and, as far as I am aware, that is not available.

Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker
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Now I understand the point that the hon. Gentleman is making. I have to say that I think it is better that I tell the truth to the House, because I am not aware of exactly what this situation is, but I will immediately, by the methods available to me, find out precisely what the situation is, because—I note that those on the Government Front Bench are agreeing with me—it is very important that the information available to the House, to the Chamber and more widely is correct and accurate. I have a great appreciation of the point made by the hon. Gentleman. I want to make sure that the information I give to the House is accurate, and as I do not have it at my fingertips, I will find it and announce it as soon as I possibly can.

Now, where were we? I call Alison Thewliss.

Business of the House

Debate between Eleanor Laing and Chris Bryant
Thursday 2nd December 2021

(2 years, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Eleanor Laing)
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And the prize for patience and perseverance—

Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker
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I am not telling you what the prize is. The prize goes to Angus Brendan MacNeil.

--- Later in debate ---
Chris Bryant Portrait Chris Bryant
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

No! Division!

Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Eleanor Laing)
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There seems to be some dissent on that matter.

Points of Order

Debate between Eleanor Laing and Chris Bryant
Thursday 2nd December 2021

(2 years, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker
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The hon. Gentleman has made his point, although it is not a point of order and I am not going to continue this. There is a difference of opinion here—that is what this Chamber is for—but the period during which we were discussing these things, in business questions, is now over.

Chris Bryant Portrait Chris Bryant (Rhondda) (Lab)
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On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker.

Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker
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If it is a different point of order.

Chris Bryant Portrait Chris Bryant
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This is a very different point of order. Madam Deputy Speaker, you know that the Government now publish their list of written ministerial statements on the Order Paper. For instance, today it reads:

“Secretary of State for Health and Social Care…Health update”.

The title “Health update” is about as useless as a chocolate teapot, because nobody has any idea what that is about. I mean, I know exactly what this ministerial statement is about—it is about acquired brain injury, and the fact that the Government are going to set up a strategy and a panel to examine the issue—but would it not be a bit more helpful if, when the Government say that they are going to make a statement, they make it a bit clearer what the statement will be about, so that we can find it if we want to?

Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker
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The hon. Gentleman makes a good point and I cannot help but agree with him, while also saying that it is a matter not for the Chair, but for the Government. The hon. Gentleman has made his point and the Government have heard it. Let us hope that it will be acted upon.

Business of the House

Debate between Eleanor Laing and Chris Bryant
Monday 29th November 2021

(2 years, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Chris Bryant Portrait Chris Bryant (Rhondda) (Lab)
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The thing is that during covid we have started to develop really bad habits. As I understand it, the measures have not yet been laid—they are not available for any of us to see and will not be available until later today. They will start to apply at 4 o’clock tomorrow morning and we will then legislate for that retrospectively tomorrow afternoon. This is not the right way to do legislation. Every single statutory instrument Committee in which I have been involved in recent months has been on retrospective legislation that has already come into force. This is not the way the House should progress, surely to God.

Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Bill (Instruction)

Debate between Eleanor Laing and Chris Bryant
Monday 13th September 2021

(2 years, 8 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Chris Bryant Portrait Chris Bryant
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I am sorry not for the tone but for the content of what the Minister said, not least because she is the only person who can grant additional time for debate. I cannot do it. I note that she has not provided any—

Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Eleanor Laing)
- Hansard - -

Order. I am going to pause the hon. Gentleman for a moment. Once again, because of the screen that is in the way, I could not see the hon. Member for Lancaster and Fleetwood (Cat Smith) on the Opposition Front Bench. If she wishes to comment on these matters, it is better that she does so before the hon. Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant) concludes.

Daniel Morgan: Independent Panel Report

Debate between Eleanor Laing and Chris Bryant
Ways and Means resolution & Programme motion
Monday 24th May 2021

(2 years, 12 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Finance Act 2021 View all Finance Act 2021 Debates Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts Amendment Paper: Consideration of Bill Amendments as at 24 May 2021 - large print - (24 May 2021)

Urgent Questions are proposed each morning by backbench MPs, and up to two may be selected each day by the Speaker. Chosen Urgent Questions are announced 30 minutes before Parliament sits each day.

Each Urgent Question requires a Government Minister to give a response on the debate topic.

This information is provided by Parallel Parliament and does not comprise part of the offical record

Chris Bryant Portrait Chris Bryant
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On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I know that I should not comment on what has just happened, because that would be to keep the debate going—I have got a genuine point of order coming—but I would briefly point out that national security can be used to cover anything, even a mention of the Metropolitan police.

My serious point of order—I hope the Minister listens to it—is that there are, I think, at least eight named day written parliamentary questions on the Order Paper for answer tomorrow. The Home Office has been particularly bad at replying on the named day to named day parliamentary questions of late, and it would be enormously helpful to re-establishing trust if the Minister could ensure that they are all answered tomorrow. I do not know whether you have any means, Madam Deputy Speaker, of relaying that information to the Minister.

Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Eleanor Laing)
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The hon. Gentleman is, of course, very clever in his making of a real point of order and seeking to continue the argument that has just taken place during his urgent question. I will ignore the part of his point of order that was not a point of order, and answer him quite simply by saying that I have relayed the points that he has made to the Minister by means of raising my eyebrows, and the Minister, by means of nodding her head in a most ladylike and professional fashion, has shown me that she has heard the point of order.

The serious part of the hon. Gentleman’s point of order is that when questions are submitted for a named day, the Department to which they are submitted ought to pay attention to that and not merely to ignore it. Mr Speaker has said many times over these last few months that many questions are taking too long to be answered. I have every confidence that the hon. Gentleman’s questions will be answered on the correct day and that, if they are not, he will raise the matter again, and whoever is in the Chair will look upon the matter with great seriousness.

I now very briefly suspend the House, this time for only two minutes, in order that arrangements can be made for the next item of business.

Points of Order

Debate between Eleanor Laing and Chris Bryant
Wednesday 19th May 2021

(3 years ago)

Commons Chamber
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Chris Bryant Portrait Chris Bryant (Rhondda) (Lab)
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On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. You will recall that in 2013, the former Prime Minister set up an independent panel to investigate the failed investigations by the Metropolitan police of the horrific murder of Daniel Morgan. That independent panel was meant to be completely independent of Government. It produced its report last week. The terms of reference make it very clear that the only role that the Home Secretary has is in arranging publication of the report to Parliament. The panel thought that that would happen the next sitting day, which should have been this past Monday. For some unknown reason, the Home Office has decided to delay it. There is no guarantee when the report will be published at all.

Is there any means of our making sure that the Government publish the report and that, when it is published—I have not seen it, but it might raise very serious issues for policing and of corruption in this country—the Home Secretary comes to the House in person and makes an oral statement on the back of it?

Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Eleanor Laing)
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I thank the hon. Gentleman for having given me notice of his point of order. I can answer his main question simply by saying that I have not received any notice from the Home Office that it intends to make a statement about this matter. That does not mean that Ministers will not possibly decide to come to the Chamber next week to address the matter.

The hon. Gentleman knows that Ministers’ appearances in the Chamber are not a matter for the Chair, but he also knows that there are many ways in which he can seek to require that a Minister comes to the Chamber, and I am sure that he will pursue those lines of inquiry. I also note that those on the Treasury Bench will have taken note of what he has said and what I have said, and that those matters will be conveyed to the appropriate Ministers.

A Plan for the NHS and Social Care

Debate between Eleanor Laing and Chris Bryant
Wednesday 19th May 2021

(3 years ago)

Commons Chamber
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Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Eleanor Laing)
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I inform the House that Mr Speaker has selected the amendment in the name of the Leader of the Opposition, which will be moved at the start of the debate, and amendments (j) and (g), which will be moved at the end.

Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker
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No. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that his amendment was not selected.

Exiting the European Union

Debate between Eleanor Laing and Chris Bryant
Tuesday 24th November 2020

(3 years, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Chris Bryant Portrait Chris Bryant
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My hon. Friend mentioned Christmas and the former vicar in me sort of bubbled up, and I remembered all those terrible years when I had to sing “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” 77 times before we even got to Christmas eve; lots of vicars will not be upset if they do not have to sing it quite that often.

Let me turn to the serious point. As I understand it, the delay in getting any kind of deal with the European Union almost certainly means that the European Parliament may have to sit on 28 December. Is it not perfectly possible, given that we do not even know the Christmas recess dates for this House yet, that we too may have to sit on 28 or 29 December? There is nothing in this measure that makes it clear what would need to change, whether a deal is sorted or is not.

Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Eleanor Laing)
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Order, just before the shadow Minister responds to the intervention, she said herself that she will now be turning to the substance of the matter before us. As much as it is always interesting to consider the history and choir practice of the hon. Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant)—

Chris Bryant Portrait Chris Bryant
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Not all of it.

Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker
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Oh, no. I did not say “all of it”—not by any manner of means.

Chris Bryant Portrait Chris Bryant
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You don’t know the half of it.

Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker
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I think that is just as well. That which refers to his singing specifically of “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” is interesting, but not relevant. I am quite sure that the shadow Minister will come to the relevant points before us.

Virtual Participation in Debate

Debate between Eleanor Laing and Chris Bryant
Tuesday 24th November 2020

(3 years, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker
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I understand that the right hon. Lady is, as always, behaving honourably and that she is giving a background to the matter in hand, which she is addressing, but I am making it clear to the House that we are discussing the matter that is before us now, not the matters that might have been before us, had they been moved. There will be other opportunities to address those matters—

Chris Bryant Portrait Chris Bryant
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Will there?

Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker
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Order. No hon. Member will interrupt when I am speaking. It is perfectly reasonable for the right hon. Lady to give background to the remarks she is making, but I know that she will now address the matter that is before us, not the matters that are not.

Chris Bryant Portrait Chris Bryant
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On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Is it, however, in order for the Leader of the House to tell a Select Committee of this House in the morning that he has made sure that we will be able to debate two matters this evening, and then not even to provide a change of business motion before the House or even to have the courtesy to notify those who might be involved in later debates? Is that really the way this House now proceeds?

Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker
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That is not a matter for the Chair, because it is in order for the Leader of the House to arrange matters today as he thinks fit. If it were not in order, I could not have allowed the things to happen that have been occurring this afternoon. It is all in order. The hon. Gentleman’s opinion on that is another matter, and I am sure that he will have the opportunity to express his opinion if I have the opportunity to call him. While I am making this clear, I note that there is no speaking list for this debate, so I will call people who were here at the beginning of the debate. For people who have come in after five o’clock I have allowed some leeway, because the debate started without a great deal of notice, and I appreciate that the right hon. Member for Walsall South (Valerie Vaz) had to hurry to get to the Dispatch Box on time. So those who were here in the Chamber before five o’clock will have an opportunity to be called to speak if there is time. Those who have come in after five o’clock, I deem not to have been here at the beginning of the debate.

Chris Bryant Portrait Chris Bryant
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Further to that point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker.

As I understand it, that means that you would not be calling me. I am the only person who is able to move the amendment—

--- Later in debate ---
Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker
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Yes, I am very happy to clarify that. As ever, the hon. Gentleman has made his point very well.

Chris Bryant Portrait Chris Bryant
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On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Could you not confirm that, as the hon. Gentleman just said that there is the perfect and the good on offer, if he votes for the amendment he gets the perfect and he does not discard the good at all?

Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker
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That was not a point of order.

Covid-19: Winter Plan

Debate between Eleanor Laing and Chris Bryant
Monday 23rd November 2020

(3 years, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Eleanor Laing)
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May I make a plea to all Members to be as brief as the right hon. Member for New Forest West (Sir Desmond Swayne)? After two hours, we are not even halfway through the number of people who are hoping to ask a question. I remind people that they are not making speeches; they are asking questions—brief questions—and they should not read them. I am quite sure that I can rely on the hon. Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant).

Chris Bryant Portrait Chris Bryant (Rhondda) (Lab)
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You always say that before you call me, Madam Deputy Speaker. [Laughter.] I see you have united the House in that plea.

May I make a plea to the Prime Minister? I have asked him about this before this year. We had terrible flooding in the Rhondda. It led to a landslide from a coal tip, which could all too easily have landed on top of people’s houses, God forbid, as it has elsewhere in Wales in the past. We need £100 million. So far, the Prime Minister has promised one Member of this House to passport the money, in February. He promised me in June that this was going to be sorted. We still have seen only £2 million of the £100 million we need. Please, please, please, just say now we are going to get that money on Wednesday.

Points of Order

Debate between Eleanor Laing and Chris Bryant
Monday 23rd November 2020

(3 years, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Eleanor Laing)
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The hon. Gentleman’s point is not a point of order for the Chair, because the Chair does not have responsibility for what Ministers say or write—or do not say or write —but I nevertheless understand his purpose in raising his point of order in the Chamber at this moment. I can say to him, as Mr Speaker has said on many occasions, that Ministers ought to reply to questions and letters from Members of Parliament in a timely fashion, and the saga that he has just described is not acceptable. Although I cannot deal with this from the Chair as a point before the Chamber now, I can say that I hope the matter has been noted by those on the Treasury Bench and hopefully also by the Leader of the House’s office, and that the hon. Gentleman will receive his answer soon.

Chris Bryant Portrait Chris Bryant (Rhondda) (Lab)
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On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. You were not in the Chair last week when I made the longest point of order that had ever been made in the history of points of order—for which I apologise—but at the time I suggested that the Government had tabled their motion on virtual participation in debates and who should be allowed to take part in them at the very last moment and without notifying the Opposition. The Leader of the House has written to me to clarify that he had, in fact, been in touch with the shadow Leader of the House, so that channel had been open and I want to correct the record. I should have been much more precise in saying that the Government Whips Office had not notified the Opposition Whips Office, so I apologise to the House. I just wonder, Madam Deputy Speaker, whether the process that I have used for correcting the record would also be available to the Leader of the House, because he said last week that the reason he was tabling his motion in the way that he did was that the Government rule was that people should to go to work if they could—that is, physically—whereas this afternoon the Prime Minister has made it absolutely clear that even if we are in tier 1, the rule is that we should work from home if we can.

Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker
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The hon. Gentleman has now made the second longest point of order—

Chris Bryant Portrait Chris Bryant
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I am going for a record.

Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker
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Oh, I am quite sure he will make the third longest ere long. I appreciate the point that he is making. It is quite in order, as he has realised that something he said in this Chamber was factually incorrect, that he should come to the Chamber and correct it, and I am grateful to him for doing so. As to whether the Leader of the House will consider that he is in a similar position, that is a matter for him and not for me.

We will now suspend the House for three minutes in order to allow the safe exit of hon. Members and the entrance of hon. Members for the next item of business.

Committee on Standards

Debate between Eleanor Laing and Chris Bryant
Tuesday 10th November 2020

(3 years, 6 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Eleanor Laing)
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Order. I would encourage the hon. Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant) to conclude his remarks soon because three other people wish to speak, and it would simply be unfair, in a debate in which we are discussing fairness, if not everyone had a chance so to do.

Chris Bryant Portrait Chris Bryant
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Am I not allowed to give way then? Okay, I give way.

Covid-19 Economic Support Package

Debate between Eleanor Laing and Chris Bryant
Wednesday 14th October 2020

(3 years, 7 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Eleanor Laing Portrait Dame Eleanor Laing
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First, I must say to the hon. Lady that she heard my answer to the hon. Member for Hyndburn (Sara Britcliffe). This is a matter for debate, not a point of order for the Chair. I have to say to the hon. Member for Bradford West (Naz Shah) that as she was criticising a Member—whoever that Member might be—she ought to have informed the hon. Member that she was intending to do so. Once again, it is a point of debate and it is not for me to adjudicate on the accuracy of statistics, but she has drawn her important point to the attention of the House and, indeed, to those on the Treasury Bench.

Chris Bryant Portrait Chris Bryant
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Further to that point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I hear what you say, but my understanding was that you did not have to notify Ministers. Ministers are, as it were, fair game, because they are accountable to the whole House. That has never been the rule that has operated previously and, of course, there is a specific reason for that, because Ministers have an opportunity to correct the record. The Prime Minister, if he wanted to, could correct the record, but as you say, he might spend all day every day correcting the record.

Eleanor Laing Portrait Dame Eleanor Laing
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And I might spend all day every day adjudicating between one side of the House and the other, and that is not what I am here for, but I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for the point that he has made. I am very anxious not to eat into the time on the important motion in the name of the Leader of the Opposition, which we are about to debate.

Point of Order

Debate between Eleanor Laing and Chris Bryant
Wednesday 30th September 2020

(3 years, 7 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Chris Bryant Portrait Chris Bryant (Rhondda) (Lab)
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On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Government is by consent in this country, and especially so when civil liberties have to be impinged upon, whether for good reasons or any other. I think that the vast majority of Members of this House think that 90 minutes to discuss the continuation of enormous changes to the way we do our business in this country is absolutely ludicrous and does no favours to the reputation of this House. I fully understand that Standing Order No. 16 says that a motion brought forward under an Act can only get 90 minutes; however, it has been the custom of the Government on many other occasions to table a motion to allow the House more time, so that we can debate things properly. There are 62 Members of the House who want to take part in the 90-minute debate; clearly, not half of them will have the opportunity to speak—[Interruption.] No, I am not taking time away from that debate, because it has not started yet.

What I am asking, Madam Deputy Speaker, is whether you can confirm that the Government, had they wanted to, could have allowed more time, so that more people could express their opinion on behalf of their constituents about the things that they do support and the things that they do not; and, furthermore, that the Government could have, had they wanted to, allowed an amendable motion, so that the views of the elected Members of Parliament, speaking on behalf of their constituents, could be heard fully.

Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Eleanor Laing)
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On the first point that the hon. Gentleman makes, I can confirm that, not surprisingly, he is correct in his interpretation of Standing Order No. 16. It is normal that a motion under an Act has 90 minutes for debate on the Floor of the House. That is normal, but as Mr Speaker made clear in his statement to the House earlier, he very much regrets that many people who have applied to be called to speak in the debate this afternoon will not be called.

I can answer the hon. Gentleman’s question quite directly. He asks whether the Government could have tabled a motion that allowed for a longer debate. The simple answer is yes, the Government could have tabled a motion that would have allowed for a longer debate. Mr Speaker said quite clearly earlier that he would welcome other opportunities for the House to consider these important matters through amendable motions, distinct from the narrow statutory purpose of today’s motion. Today’s motion is very narrow and Mr Speaker’s interpretation of it is absolutely clear.

Not every Member was in the Chamber earlier when Mr Speaker made a statement in which he set out clearly his concerns. The hon. Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant) has echoed those concerns, which I feel are indeed echoed from every part of this House and every party here in the Chamber. Mr Speaker’s statement has been circulated to all Members, so anyone who did not hear what he said just before Prime Minister’s questions will have a written version of it. I thank the hon. Gentleman for raising such an important point of order.

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 shall now suspend the House for three minutes.

Covid-19

Debate between Eleanor Laing and Chris Bryant
Monday 28th September 2020

(3 years, 7 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Chris Bryant Portrait Chris Bryant (Rhondda) (Lab)
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Goodness—thank you very much, Madam Deputy Speaker. What a delight it is to be called to speak so suddenly.

Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker
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Order. I should explain, lest there be confusion, that it is of course unusual for the Chair to call two people from the same side of the House consecutively—I hope the hon. Gentleman is getting his breath back—but the hon. Member for Derbyshire Dales (Miss Dines), who would have spoken from the Government Benches, has withdrawn from the debate, so I am obliged, under the current strange rules, to go directly to the hon. Gentleman—whether I want to or not.

Chris Bryant Portrait Chris Bryant
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Well, there was a bit of a sting in the tail there, Madam Deputy Speaker; I will take that up with you later. Incidentally, I can perfectly well disagree with the hon. Member for Glasgow North (Patrick Grady): even though he is theoretically on the same side of the House, he is on a different side from me in respect of many other arguments.

Government in this country can only ever be by consent, and when the Government start to lose consent in a pandemic or at a moment of national crisis, there is a real problem for the nation. As much as the Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, the hon. Member for Bury St Edmunds (Jo Churchill), knows that I am I am very fond her and deeply respectful of what she brings to bear in this House, I none the less worry that the Government are presently losing the consent of the British people.

My inbox is full of people who now subscribe to all sorts of mad conspiracy theories. They elevate wild scientists they have discovered somewhere on the web to be the great international experts in the field. They point to things that the Government have done in respect of which there are anomalies; sometimes they are inevitable anomalies, but none the less they pick holes in all that. It feels to me that, slowly but surely, people are beginning to lose confidence in the Government’s handling of this situation. I want to make sure that as a nation we work together—there is no party political advantage to be gained on either side—but we need the Government to do better.

There have been too many mixed messages. It is terribly difficult for an individual member of the public, whose job is not to follow every latest announcement from government—whether it is from their local authority, the Westminster Government, or the Government in Cardiff Bay or in Edinburgh—to understand which specific rules apply to them. Every Member present will have had hundreds of emails and requests, asking “What am I meant to do in this set of circumstances?” I do not know about others, but I often scratch my head as to what the precise answer is. It is therefore difficult for ordinary members of the public. The broadcasters have often not helped: they announce things as if they are for the whole UK and they turn out actually to be for part of England. We need to do much better at this.

The Government’s exaggerated boasting has not helped. I would ban the words “world-beating”. It is not a competition with other countries; it is a competition with the virus. Honestly, I would just bin all that. This is not about trying to win some popularity contest, either; it is just about trying to do the right thing.

I know this is a painful thing to say, but the Dominic Cummings moment did immeasurable damage to the Government’s ability to deliver their own strategy. I know that most hon. Members on the Government Benches think that as well, because they say so in private, and in many cases they have had more emails about that than Opposition Members have. If it feels as if there is one rule for one set of people and another for everybody else, it undermines confidence in the Government.

The test and trace system barely works at the moment. The Government said four weeks ago that it would be sorted in two weeks but it still is not sorted, and I do not think it will be sorted until the end of October.

On the financial problems for pubs, it is not that we are killing pubs, it is just that we have kneecapped them. I can see no logical reason why we would want to chuck everybody out of a pub at 10 o’clock, at the same time, in all the pubs in the whole of the town. It is illogical. We have not done that in Wales; we have done it differently, allowing for drinking-up time and things like that, which is a perfectly sensible, long-standing tradition in Britain. That is what we should have done more widely.

There is no money for the 3 million freelancers, musicians and so many others. We have not sorted out the problem of people going on holidays who were being told by holiday companies, “No, this isn’t really the law; it’s just guidance,” so they will not offer compensation.

The Government must do far more in Parliament. As I said way back, earlier this year, legislation that sits on the statute books for two years that we have to take up and down, yes or no, with no amendment allowed, is no way to govern by consent.

Points of Order

Debate between Eleanor Laing and Chris Bryant
Thursday 10th September 2020

(3 years, 8 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Chris Bryant Portrait Chris Bryant (Rhondda) (Lab)
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On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. The Government announced the business for the next fortnight earlier today. As you know, the Committee on Standards, which I chair, has seven lay members and seven Members of this House sitting on it. We have been missing two members, because appointments were meant to have been made by now. I do not know why the House Commission delayed that for a considerable period of time, but they have now gone through the Commission. It would seem that we still have no sign of the motion before the House for another two weeks, which makes it really difficult for the Committee on Standards to do its job properly. We have important issues to debate and to deal with. I just wonder whether you, Madam Deputy Speaker, could kick some shins somewhere in Government to make sure we get that motion, so that these people can be appointed. They are desperate to start the work and it all seems a bit unfair on them.

Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker
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I thank the hon. Gentleman for his point of order. I cannot promise to kick shins; I always find that the use of the stiletto heel works better, but I do not intend to do that either. I do appreciate the point that the hon. Gentleman has made and he is right to make it in the Chamber. I will make sure that Mr Speaker is aware of his very reasonable concerns, and I am quite sure that those on the Treasury Bench will let the Leader of the House know of them. [Interruption.] I got a nod from the Whip, the hon. Member for Corby (Tom Pursglove). It is vital that a Committee such as the Standards Committee is able to carry out its work properly, and the House ought to facilitate that.

I will now suspend the House for three minutes to allow people to leave safely and carefully.

Points of Order

Debate between Eleanor Laing and Chris Bryant
Wednesday 17th June 2020

(3 years, 11 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker
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I thank the hon. Gentleman for his point of order. We are not going to have a prolonged argument about it; the signature is the identity. If the hon. Gentleman is suggesting that some sort of personation has occurred or some sort of fraudulent action has occurred, I hope he will come to see Mr Speaker about it privately, because it would be a very serious allegation. That not being the case, I am certainly satisfied that hon. Members are honourable and there is no suggestion that anyone has attempted to vote who does not have the authority to do so, on that subject or on any other subject.

Chris Bryant Portrait Chris Bryant (Rhondda) (Lab)
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On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. This is on a completely different matter. You will know that yesterday the Prime Minister announced that he intends to merge the Foreign Office and the Department for International Development. He said in the House that he was intending that there would still be proper scrutiny of both elements of that work by the House. I gather that yesterday the Foreign Secretary and the International Development Secretary wrote to the Chair of the International Development Committee to tell her that her Committee would be abolished. Can you confirm that that is actually a matter for the House? It is a matter for our Standing Orders whether that Committee exists. For that matter, the allocation of Chairs between the various Select Committees of the House is a matter that has to be arranged between the usual channels.

Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Eleanor Laing)
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Yes, the hon. Gentleman, as usual in these matters, is absolutely correct. The House will be well aware that when changes are made to Select Committees—the chairmanship, the membership, the name, or any changes made to a Select Committee—they appear on the Order Paper and the matter comes before the House. There is the potential for a vote to take place upon it, so, yes, I can confirm that these matters will be dealt with in the proper manner.

Virtual participation in proceedings concluded (Order, 4 June).

UK-EU Negotiations

Debate between Eleanor Laing and Chris Bryant
Tuesday 16th June 2020

(3 years, 11 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Chris Bryant Portrait Chris Bryant
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You are not winning here.

Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill

Debate between Eleanor Laing and Chris Bryant
Chris Bryant Portrait Chris Bryant (Rhondda) (Lab)
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On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker.

Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Eleanor Laing)
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I will take the hon. Gentleman’s point of order after the Minister has finished, unless it is immediately urgent to his speech.

Chris Bryant Portrait Chris Bryant
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Well, it is timely.

Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker
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I am guessing that it could well be timely, but the Minister has a very limited time in which to speak, and he should finish his speech first. Then I will take the hon. Gentleman’s point of order.

Paul Scully Portrait Paul Scully
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Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker.

The corporate restructuring package in particular will be of immediate help to companies in financial distress, which need further regulatory tools to help them recover. This Bill provides that. It will enable UK companies undergoing a rescue or restructuring process to continue trading, giving them breathing space that could help them avoid insolvency. I want to reassure right hon. and hon. Members that the temporary changes to insolvency law that are necessary to help businesses get through this unprecedented period will consider very carefully any case for further extensions to these powers, and they will be subject to the full scrutiny of the House.

The temporary prohibition on creditors filing statutory demands and winding-up petitions for covid-19-related debts will support the Government’s programme to help companies survive the covid-19 emergency. It will temporarily remove the threat of statutory demands and winding-up petitions being issued against otherwise viable companies by creditors not following the Government’s advice to show forbearance at this time.

Furthermore, temporarily removing the threat of personal liability for wrongful trading from directors who tried to keep their companies afloat throughout this emergency will encourage directors to continue to use their best efforts to trade during this uncertain time. The governance measures will provide temporary flexibilities on meetings and filings at a time when businesses are coping with reduced resources and restrictions due to social distancing measures.

Let me quickly address a couple of points made by the right hon. Member for Doncaster North. First, he is completely correct to say that, although there will be a temporary suspension of wrongful trading liability, directors will still have legal duties under wider company law. Those duties will remain in place, as will measures under insolvency law to penalise directors who abuse their position. I understand the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman and the hon. Member for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey that the temporary insolvency measures should be extended to 30 September 2020. At present, all the temporary insolvency measures will automatically sunset a month after Royal Assent. I can reassure them, though, that the Bill contains provisions enabling those temporary measures to be extended by statutory instrument where appropriate. The Government have every intention of making use of those provisions if the protections are needed beyond their present expiry date. It is a truly fluid situation and we do not want provisions to be in place for longer than is necessary.

The temporary measures all have significant impacts on the normal working of the business community, and the case for extending the measures will need to be considered against those impacts. Any extension should rightly be scrutinised by Parliament, but the Government will not hesitate to extend if that is required.

The right hon. Member for Doncaster North also raised a fair point on the need for employees to be protected in regard to restructuring plans. That point was also raised by my hon. Friend the Member for North East Bedfordshire (Richard Fuller). The aim of these measures is to restore the viability of struggling companies, thereby boosting the economy, saving jobs and protecting long-term investment. Yes, employees could find themselves as creditors in a restructuring plan, but in those circumstances, they will benefit from the same protections that are in place for other creditors and members. This will include the provision that they must be no worse off through the plan than they would otherwise be in the next most likely plan, and it will, of course, take into account their entitlement under employment legislation.

Importantly, a court can refuse to sanction a plan if it is not fair and it is equitable to do so. When making this assessment, one would expect the court to be mindful of the interests of employees in any pension schemes affected by that plan. If a restructuring plan is not agreed, it is worth remembering that the company might enter an insolvency proceeding, which would almost certainly produce a worse outcome overall for all involved. The company might stop trading altogether, which would put all employees at risk of losing their jobs. The Government are in the business of protecting jobs.

The right hon. Member for Doncaster North also raised concerns about CBILS and CLBILS, as well as the bounce-back loans. The Government have listened to helpful feedback on the business interruption loan schemes in recent weeks. That feedback has also shown that the smallest SMEs, some of which have perhaps not used finance in the past, are struggling to get their finance applications approved as quickly as they need, as we heard earlier. That is why the bounce-back loan schemes, which are fast for lenders to process and for businesses to access, have been launched.

On 27 April, the Chancellor announced the new bounce-back loan scheme, which will ensure that the smallest businesses can access up to £50,000 of loans in a matter of days. The scheme went live on 4 May. Businesses can complete a short, simple online application in up to a few hours. Under the scheme, there is no need for lenders to ask for complicated cash-flow forecasts or ask difficult questions about the future, which means those applications can be submitted and processed rapidly. Almost 700,000 have been have already been approved.

I thank my hon. Friends the Members for Wimbledon (Stephen Hammond), for Rugby and for Huntingdon (Mr Djanogly) and the hon. Members for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey, for Bristol North West (Darren Jones), for Aberavon (Stephen Kinnock) and for North Antrim (Ian Paisley) for their contributions. I should say to my hon. Friend the Member for Wimbledon that the Charity Commission has confirmed that it will look favourably on charities that have been unable to hold their AGMs in the normal way, but asks that they write down their decisions to prove that they have done due diligence in holding a virtual AGM or delaying their AGM.

I applaud the passion of my hon. Friend the Member for North East Bedfordshire in standing up for businesses being able to come out of the recovery, as we motor through, changing gears. We will not go back immediately to how things were in January; we have to work with business and listen to business. I am grateful to all other Members who have spoken today.

These new measures complement the Government’s existing far-reaching economic support package for businesses and workers through this emergency. Today’s debate on these measures reinforces the importance of responding to the concerns of UK businesses and providing them with much-needed support during this difficult time. We are in the midst of a global emergency, in which otherwise economically viable businesses are facing the risk of insolvency because of covid-19. We must protect them as best we can. It is imperative that we act now to support our businesses and do what we can to ensure that they survive, preserve jobs and support future growth. Clearly, our first priority is to protect lives, but restoring livelihoods, protecting businesses and getting the economy motoring is also essential. That is why it is imperative that we act now. The measures in the Bill will provide businesses with the flexibility and breathing space they need to continue trading during this difficult time and support the nation’s economic recovery.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read a Second time.

Chris Bryant Portrait Chris Bryant
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On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I apologise to the Minister; it was not my intention to be rude to him by interrupting him earlier.

We have gone past seven o’clock, as you will have noticed, Madam Deputy Speaker, which means that the motion in the name of the Leader of the House that pertains to virtual participation in proceedings during the pandemic will—I think this is the Government’s intention—be a “nod or nothing” measure. There can be no debate, and if it is opposed, it therefore falls. I have tabled an amendment and I have no intention of withdrawing it. I would want to contest the motion, and I understand that the amendment would be selected by the Speaker if it were to proceed. It is my understanding that it cannot now proceed. Nobody needs to object; it simply cannot now proceed because it is opposed business. Is that your understanding as well?

Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Eleanor Laing)
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I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his point of order. He will understand that I did not want to hear it during the Minister’s winding-up speech because it would have taken time away from the Minister, which would not have been fair, as many people had asked questions that required answers from the Minister.

The hon. Gentleman refers to motion No. 4, on virtual participation in proceedings during the pandemic. He has just publicly made me aware that he intends to press his amendment and will not withdraw it. That means that the motion is effectively contested. As it is a contested motion, I will not be able to put the main Question, so the simple answer to the hon. Gentleman’s point is that he is correct in his analysis of the situation. In case other people are confused, I will make this point again when we come to motion No. 4.

Proceedings during the Pandemic

Debate between Eleanor Laing and Chris Bryant
Tuesday 2nd June 2020

(3 years, 11 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Chris Bryant Portrait Chris Bryant
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The Leader of the House has a very high Stuart understanding of what Parliament is here to do, which is, it seems to me, to do the Government’s bidding and legislate in the way that they want. But even the Stuarts, when King Charles II returned, in the Cavalier Parliament—of which the Leader of the House would have no doubt been a proud Member—insisted in the Treason and Seditious Practices Act that no MP should ever be denied

“their just ancient freedom and privilege in debating any matters or business which shall be propounded or debated”.

Even the Stuarts thought that there should not be anything put in our way in terms of participating. Why will he not just allow us to have remote voting until the summer recess?

Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Eleanor Laing)
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Order. Just before the Lord President answers the intervention, I am also concerned about the rights of as many Members as possible to participate this afternoon. Several Members have intervened more than once. Let us have a bit of restraint.

Coronavirus Bill

Debate between Eleanor Laing and Chris Bryant
Committee stage & 3rd reading & 3rd reading: House of Commons & Committee: 1st sitting & Committee: 1st sitting: House of Commons
Monday 23rd March 2020

(4 years, 1 month ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Coronavirus Act 2020 View all Coronavirus Act 2020 Debates Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts Amendment Paper: Committee of the whole House Amendments as at 23 March 2020 - (23 Mar 2020)
Eleanor Laing Portrait The Chairman
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With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Clauses 2 to 7 stand part.

Amendment 74, in clause 8, page 2, line 29, leave out “loss of”.

Amendment 75, page 2, line 34, leave out subsection (3).

Amendment 76, page 3, leave out from “care” in line 27 to the end of line 31.

Clauses 8 to 10 stand part.

Government amendment 20.

Clauses 11 to 30 stand part.

Government amendments 21 and 22.

Clauses 31 to 36 stand part.

Government amendment 40.

Clause 37 stand part.

Amendment 78, in clause 38, page 25, line 43, at end insert—

“(8) Section 153(9) is repealed.”

This amendment would abolish the lower earnings limit (currently £118pw) below which a worker is not entitled to statutory sick pay.

Clause 38 stand part.

Amendment 77, in clause 39, page 26, line 12, at end insert

“and, in particular such regulations shall deem ‘a day of incapacity’ in this part of the Act to include—

“(i) a day of self-isolation in accordance with the aforesaid guidance or published document of the aforesaid bodies;

(ii) a day reasonably necessitated to care for a person needing such care who—

(a) is suffering from severe respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 or other communicable disease; or

(b) is self-isolating in accordance with the aforesaid guidance or published document of the aforesaid bodies; or

(c) is unable sufficiently to care for themselves and who is unable to attend an establishment or a carer who would otherwise provide care but is unable to do so by reason that the establishment or the carer is acting in accordance with the aforesaid guidance or published document of the aforesaid bodies or is unable to provide that care because others are acting in accordance with the aforesaid guidance or published document of the aforesaid bodies;

(d) qualifies for time off pursuant to s.57A Employment Rights Act 1996 (time off for dependants).”

Clause 39 stand part.

Government amendment 41.

Clauses 40 to 51 stand part.

Government amendment 79.

Clauses 52 to 57 stand part.

Government amendment 26.

Clauses 58 and 59 stand part.

Government amendments 27 to 29.

Clauses 60 to 62 stand part.

Government amendment 30.

Clause 63 stand part.

Government amendments 31 and 32.

Clauses 64 to 73 stand part.

Government amendments 33 and 23.

Clause 74 stand part.

Amendment 1, in clause 75, page 45, line 25, leave out subsection (1) and insert—

“(1) This Act expires at the end of the period of 6 months beginning with the date on which it is passed (subject to subsection (1A)).

(1A) The Secretary of State may by regulations provide for this Act (or specified provisions) to continue to have effect for an additional period not exceeding 6 months.

(1B) Regulations under subsection (1A)—

(a) shall be made by statutory instrument, and

(b) may not be made unless a draft has been laid before and approved by resolution of each House of Parliament.

(1C) If this Act (or specified provisions) would expire on a day on which either House of Parliament is not expected to be sitting—

(a) Her Majesty may by Order in Council make provision of a kind that could be made by regulations under subsection (1A); and

(b) an Order in Council may not be made unless the Secretary of State has consulted—

(i) such members of the House of Commons Liaison Committee (or any Select Committee replacing that Committee) as are available, or

(ii) at a time when there is no such Committee, any available Chairs of the Committees previously represented on that Committee.”

Amendment 2, page 45, line 25, after “expires”, insert

“in accordance with subsection (1A) or”.

This is a paving amendment for amendment 4 which provides for the Bill’s emergency powers to be renewed at 6 month intervals.

Amendment 6, page 45, line 25, leave out “2 years” and insert “12 months”.

This amendment would “sunset” the provisions of the Bill after one year rather than after two years.

Amendment 3, page 45, line 26, after “subject” insert “in either case”.

This is a paving amendment for amendment 4 which provides for the Bill’s emergency powers to be renewed at 6 month intervals.

Amendment 7, page 45, line 26, leave out “and section 76”.

This amendment is linked to amendment 8 to leave out Clause 76.

Amendment 4, page 45, line 26, at end insert—

“(1A) No more than 14 sitting days before the end of the periods of 6, 12 and 18 months beginning with the day on which this Act is passed each House of Parliament shall consider, on a motion moved by a minister of the Crown, whether it wishes this Act to continue to have effect after the expiry of that period; and this Act shall expire at the end of that period unless, no less than 7 sitting days before the end of that period, each House of Parliament has resolved that it wishes this Act to continue to have effect.”

This amendment provides for the Bill’s emergency powers to be renewed at 6 month intervals.

Government amendments 34, 24 and 47.

Clauses 75 to 78 stand part.

Government amendment 37.

Clauses 79 to 82 stand part.

Government amendment 18.

Clauses 83 and 84 stand part.

Government amendments 44, 48, 80, 25, 48 to 50, 38, 39, 81, 35, 36, 42, 45, 72, 43 and 73.

Clauses 85 to 87 stand part.

Government new clause 15—Emergency arrangements concerning medical practitioners: Wales.

Government new clause 16—Disapplication of limit under section 8 of the Industrial Development Act 1982.

Government new clause 17—Elections and referendums due to be held in England in period after 15 March 2020.

Government new clause 18—Elections due to be held in Wales in period after 15 March 2020.

Government new clause 19—Six-monthly parliamentary review.

Government new clause 20—Local authority meetings.

Government new clause 21—Extension of BID arrangements: England.

Government new clause 22—Extension of BID arrangements: Northern Ireland.

Government new clause 23—Extension of time limits for retention of fingerprints and DNA profiles.

Government new clause 24—Residential tenancies: protection from eviction.

Government new clause 25—HMRC functions.

Government new clause 26—Up-rating of working tax credit etc

Government new clause 30—Business tenancies in England and Wales: protection from forfeiture etc.

Government new clause 31—Business tenancies in Northern Ireland: protection from forfeiture etc.

New clause 1—Postponement of General Synod elections

‘(1) Her Majesty may by Order in Council, at the joint request of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, postpone to the date specified in the Order the date on which the Convocations of Canterbury and York stand dissolved for the purposes of the Church of England Convocations Act 1966.

(2) Section 1 of that Act is, accordingly, to be read subject to provision made by an Order under this section.

(3) If either of the Archbishops is unable to exercise the power to join in making a request under subsection (1), or if the see of either of the Archbishops is vacant, the power may be exercised by the senior bishop of the province, with seniority for that purpose being determined in accordance with section 10(4) of the Bishops (Retirement) Measure 1986.

(4) An Order under this section may make consequential, supplementary, incidental, transitional or saving provision.’

The new clause would enable elections to the General Synod of the Church of England that are due to take place this summer to be postponed.

New clause 2—Parliamentary consideration of status of specified provisions of this Act

‘(1) The specified provisions for the purposes of this section are—

(a) sections 17 to 20 (on registration of births and still-births etc),

(b) sections 23 to 27 (on food supply),

(c) sections 28 to 30 (on inquests),

(d) section 48 (on powers to direct suspension of port operations),

(e) section 49 (powers relating to potentially infectious persons),

(f) section 50 (powers relating to events, gatherings and premises), and

(g) section 56 (on powers in relation to bodies).

(2) A Minister of the Crown must make arrangements for—

(a) a motion to the effect that the House of Commons has approved the status report in respect of the provisions of this Act mentioned in each of the paragraphs in subsection (1), to be moved in that House by a Minister of the Crown within the period of 14 Commons sitting days beginning with the day after the end of the first reporting period, and

(b) a motion for the House of Lords to take note of each status report to be moved in that House by a Minister of the Crown within the period of 14 Lords sitting days beginning with the day after the end of the first reporting period.

(3) If the House of Commons decides not to approve a status report in respect of any of the sections mentioned in one or more paragraphs of subsection (1), then the sections in respect of which a status report has not been approved shall cease to have effect at the end of 7 days beginning with the day on which the House of Commons made that decision.

(4) The “status report” is the report required to be prepared by the Secretary of State under section 83 in respect of each 2 month reporting period, as modified by this section.

(5) In this section—

“Commons sitting day” means a day on which the House of Commons is sitting (and a day is only a day on which the House of Commons is sitting if the House begins to sit on that day);

“Lords sitting day” means a day on which the House of Lords is sitting (and a day is only a day on which the House of Lords is sitting if the House begins to sit on that day);

“reporting period” has the same meaning as in section 83.’

This new clause provides for debates to be held promptly on amendable motions on the status reports laid every 2 months in relation to provisions of the Bill impinging most directly on civil liberties, with the possibility of the House of Commons terminating the exercise of powers under those provisions.

New clause 3—Parliamentary scrutiny: status report on specified matters

‘(1) If when a status report to which section [Parliamentary consideration of status of specified provisions of this Act] applies is made under section 83 Parliament stands prorogued to a day after the end of the period of 5 days beginning with the date on which the status report is laid before Parliament, Her Majesty shall by proclamation under the Meeting of Parliament Act 1797 (c. 127) require Parliament to meet on a specified day within that period.

(2) If when a status report to which section [Parliamentary consideration of status of specified provisions of this Act] applies is made under section 83 the House of Commons stands adjourned to a day after the end of the period of 5 days beginning with the date on which the regulations are made, the Speaker of the House of Commons shall arrange for the House to meet on a day during that period.

(3) If when a status report to which section [Parliamentary consideration of status of specified provisions of this Act] applies is made under section 83 the House of Lords stands adjourned to a day after the end of the period of 5 days beginning with the date on which the regulations are made, the Speaker of the House of Lords shall arrange for the House to meet on a day during that period.

(4) In subsections (2) and (3) a reference to the Speaker of the House of Commons or the Speaker of the House of Lords includes a reference to a person authorised by Standing Orders of the House of Commons or of the House of Lords to act in place of the Speaker of the House of Commons or the Speaker of the House of Lords in respect of the recall of the House during adjournment.’

This new clause provides for Parliament to be recalled from adjournment or prorogation to debate status reports which must be made every 2 months under Clause 83 of the Bill.

New clause 4—Duty to support basic means of living

‘The Prime Minister must make, and lay before Parliament, arrangements to ensure that everyone in the United Kingdom has access to the basic means of living including food, water, fuel, clothing, income and housing, employing all available statutory and prerogative powers.’

This new clause sets an overarching responsibility for the Government to use all its powers to ensure that everyone in the United Kingdom has access to the basic means of living throughout the present coronavirus emergency.

New clause 5—Guidance on identification, support and assistance for victims of slavery or human trafficking during the coronavirus emergency

‘(1) The Secretary of State must issue guidance to such public authorities and other persons as the Secretary of State considers appropriate about continuing the process for identifying persons in the United Kingdom who may be a victim of slavery or human trafficking during the coronavirus emergency.

(2) The Secretary of State must issue guidance to such public authorities and other persons in England and Wales as the Secretary of State considers appropriate about continuing arrangements for providing assistance and support to persons during the coronavirus emergency where there—

(a) are reasonable grounds to believe the person may be a victim of slavery or human trafficking; and

(b) is a conclusive determination that the person is a victim of slavery or human trafficking.

(3) The guidance in subsection (2) must include—

(a) whether a victim who is on immigration bail must remain at an address where another occupant is experiencing the coronavirus disease;

(b) on-going provision of a support worker to victims and the ability of the victim to receive financial support, where either a support worker or a victim has the coronavirus disease or has had to self-isolate;

(c) provision of accommodation for victims who may need to leave current accommodation because of concerns about the coronavirus disease; and

(d) provision of accommodation for victims who have the coronavirus disease.

(4) The Secretary of State must liaise with the Northern Ireland Executive and Scottish Ministers about how the guidance issued under subsection (2) may have relevance for the support and assistance of victims in those jurisdictions.

(5) For the purposes of subsection (2)—

(a) there are reasonable grounds to believe that a person is a victim of slavery or human trafficking if a competent authority has determined for the purposes of Article 10 of the Trafficking Convention (identification of victims) that there are such grounds;

(b) there is a conclusive determination that a person is or is not a victim of slavery or human trafficking when, on completion of the identification process required by Article 10 of the Trafficking Convention, a competent authority concludes that the person is or is not such a victim.

(c) “competent authority” means a person who is a competent authority of the United Kingdom for the purposes of the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings.’

This new clause requires the Government to set out its plans for continuing to identify and support victims of modern slavery during the coronavirus emergency.

New clause 6—Powers relating to transport for isolated and island communities

‘(1) The Secretary of State, or relevant Minister in the devolved Administrations, may issue a direction to such ferry, bus and rail operators as the Secretary of State or relevant Minister thinks fit to—

(a) work together to produce a plan for the continuing provision of a resilient transport service to isolated and island communities; and

(b) implement the plan to a timescale specified by the Secretary of State or relevant Minister.

(2) The plan in subsection (1)(a) must cover—

(a) the provision of food, medicines and other essential goods; and

(b) the provision of passenger transportation to enable people to travel for essential purposes, including medical purposes.

(3) The direction in subsection (1) supersedes all existing legislation, including but not limited to the Competition Act 1998, that would otherwise prevent operators from working together in the ways set out in subsections (1) and (2).

(4) The direction in subsection (1) must be given in writing to the ferry, bus and rail operators concerned.

(5) In this section “isolated communities” means:

(a) islands that are part of the United Kingdom but are not connected to the mainland by a bridge or tunnel, or

(b) communities with a population density of less than 100 people per kilometre.’

New clause 7—Immigration and Asylum

‘Schedule ( ) contains temporary changes to immigration and asylum laws and procedures for the purposes of preventing, protecting against, controlling or providing a public health response to the incidence or spread of infection or contamination.’

This new clause is linked to NS1.

New clause 8—Provision of education to pupils no longer attending school

‘(1) A school or provider of 16 to 18 education that closes because of the coronavirus outbreak, whether because of a temporary closure direction issued under Schedule 15 or otherwise, has a duty to ensure that its pupils continue to receive educational provision.

(2) The educational provision in subsection (1) may include—

(a) lessons set by a teacher, such as via videoconferencing or the setting of assignments, or

(b) teaching resources, including but not limited to textbooks or software.

(3) The Secretary of State must, as soon as is reasonably practicable, indemnify the school or provider of 16 to 18 education for all reasonable purchases of teaching resources for pupils and staff that the head of the school or provider of 16 to 18 education considers necessary for it to fulfil the duty in subsection (1).

(4) In this section, “provider of 16 to 18 education” means

(a) a 16 to 19 Academy, within the meaning of section 1B of the Academies Act 2010;

(b) an institution within the further education sector, within the meaning of section 91(3) of the Further and Higher Education Act 1992;

(c) a provider of post-16 education or training—

(i) to which Chapter 3 of Part 8 of the Education and Inspections Act 2006 applies, and

(ii) in respect of which funding is provided by, or under, arrangements made by the Secretary of State, a local authority or a combined authority established under section 103 of the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009,

but does not include an employer who is a provider by reason only of the employer providing such education or training to its employees.’

New clause 9—Social security

‘(1) The Secretary of State must, by regulations —

(a) increase the value of the benefits specified in subsection (2) so that, for the tax year beginning on 6 April 2020—

(i) an individual not in work will be awarded at least £150 per week, and

(ii) a couple who are both not in work will be awarded at least £260 a week.

(b) disapply the minimum income floor of universal credit for the tax year beginning on 6 April 2020;

(c) provide that, for the tax year beginning on 6 April 2020—

(i) households newly claiming universal credit receive an advance of their first payment by default, and

(ii) households in sub-paragraph (i) are not required to repay any part of this advance for a period of at least six months beginning with the date on which they received the advance; and

(d) make provision to ensure that claimants of universal credit, jobseeker’s allowance and Employment and Support Allowance are not subject to sanctions in the tax year beginning on 6 April 2020.

(2) The benefits to be increased under subsection (1)(a) are—

(a) the standard allowances of universal credit,

(b) jobseeker’s allowance, and

(c) employment and support allowance.

(3) A statutory instrument containing regulations under this section is subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament.’

New clause 10—Expiry

‘(1) Except so far as otherwise provided under this section, the provisions of this Act expire at the end of the period of 3 months beginning with the day on which this Act is passed.

(2) The Secretary of State may by regulations provide that any provisions of this Act do not expire at the time when it would otherwise expire under subsection (1) but is to continue in force after that time for a period not exceeding 3 months.

(3) The power under subsection (2) may not be used to continue any of the provisions of this Act in force any later than a period of 2 years beginning with the day on which this Act is passed.

(4) A statutory instrument containing regulations under subsection (2) may not be made unless a draft of the instrument has been laid before Parliament and approved by a resolution of each House.’

The new clause would set an expiry date on the provisions of the Act at the end of a period of 3 months beginning on the day when the Act is passed unless they are continued in force by means of affirmative regulations. Provisions could continue in force for no longer than 3 months at a time, up to a period of 2 years from when the Act was initially passed.

New clause 11—Statutory sick pay: rate of payment

‘The Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992 is amended as follows:

“In section 157, subsection (1), leave out “£94.25” and insert “£220”.”’

This new clause would increase the weekly rate of Statutory Sick Pay from £94.25 to £220.

New clause 12—European Union: extension of implementation period etc

‘(1) Section 33 of the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020 is repealed.

(2) It shall be an objective of the Government to secure a decision by the UK-EU Joint Committee to extend the transition period for up to 1 or 2 years as per Article 132 of the Withdrawal Agreement.

(3) It shall be an objective of the Government to secure an agreement within the framework of the future relationship of the UK and EU to maintain continued and full membership of the EU Early Warning System.

(4) A Minister of the Crown shall lay before each House of Parliament a progress report on the objective in subsection (1) and subsection (2) within 2 months of this Act being passed, and subsequently at intervals of no more than 2 months.’

This new clause would require the Government to (i) repeal Section 33 of the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020, (ii) seek an extension of the negotiation period for the UK-EU future relationship, and (iii) seek to maintain continued and full membership of the EU Early Warning System, in order to respond effectively to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

New clause 13—Statutory self-employment pay

‘(1) The Secretary of State must, by regulations, introduce a scheme of Statutory Self-Employment Pay.

(2) The scheme must make provision for payments to be made out of public funds to individuals who are

(a) self-employed, or

(b) freelancers.

(3) The payments to be made in subsection (2) are to be set so that the net monthly earnings of an individual specified in subsection (2) do not fall below—

(i) 80 per cent of their monthly net earnings, averaged over the last three years, or

(ii) £2,917

whichever is lower.

(4) No payment to be made under subsection (2) shall exceed £2,917 per month.

(5) A statutory instrument containing regulations under this section is subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament.’

The purpose of this amendment is to make the Government ‘top up’ self-employed workers’ earnings to the lower of 80% of their net monthly earnings averaged over three years, or £2,917 a month.

New clause 14—Social care provisions

‘(1) Within 10 days of the date on which this Act is passed the Secretary of State must lay before Parliament a comprehensive report outlining how the Government will guarantee provisions for social care while this Act is in force.

(2) The reports must make reference to but are not limited to—

(a) an outline of the funding available to social care providers, and

(b) any other provisions in place or to be introduced to ensure that social care standards are maintained to as high a level as possible.

(3) The Secretary of State must lay before Parliament an updated proposal in the same terms every three months from the date on which this Act is passed.’

This new clause requires the Secretary of State to publish a comprehensive proposal outlining how the Government will guarantee provisions for social care while this Act is in force.

New clause 27—Universal access to healthcare—

‘(1) Section 39 of the Immigration Act 2014 is omitted.

(2) A reference in the NHS charging provisions to persons not ordinarily resident in Great Britain shall not include a reference to a person who is physically present in Great Britain.

(3) A reference in the NHS charging provisions to persons not ordinarily resident in Northern Ireland shall not include a reference to a person who is physically present in Northern Ireland.

(4) The “NHS charging provisions” are—

(a) section 175 of the National Health Service Act 2006 (charges in respect of persons not ordinarily resident in Great Britain),

(b) section 124 of the National Health Service (Wales) Act 2006 (charges in respect of persons not ordinarily resident in Great Britain),

(c) section 98 of the National Health Service (Scotland) Act 1978 (charges in respect of persons not ordinarily resident in Great Britain),

(d) article 42 of the Health and Personal Social Services (Northern Ireland) Order 1972 (S.I. 1972/1265 (N.I. 14)) (provision of services to persons not ordinarily resident in Northern Ireland).

(5) The Secretary of State shall cease all data sharing between the Home Office and NHS Digital, any NHS Trust, or any other part of the National Health Service where it takes place in connection with—

(a) NHS charging,

(b) the compliant environment, or

(c) any other immigration function.

(6) The Secretary of State shall take appropriate steps to communicate the effect of this section to people who, but for the provisions of this section, would have been considered under the NHS charging provisions to be persons not ordinarily resident in Great Britain or in Northern Ireland.

(7) In taking the steps in subsection (5) the Secretary of State shall have regard to the following—

(a) the public interest in and public health benefits of all persons physically present in the United Kingdom feeling safe in presenting to medical officials if they fall ill, and

(b) the particular needs and vulnerability of the groups in question.’

This new clause is intended to safeguard public health by ensuring every person in the United Kingdom is able to access NHS care without incurring a financial penalty or immigration sanction.

New clause 28—Power to cap prices—

‘(1) An appropriate authority may declare a state of disruption to the food supply chain.

(2) A state of disruption may not last longer than 180 days from the date of the declaration.

(3) During a declared state of disruption it is prohibited to charge a price that exceeds an amount equal to or in excess of 10 per cent of the average price at which the same or similar consumer goods or services were obtainable during the seven days prior to the declared state of disruption.

(4) The provisions of this section shall not apply if the increase in price is substantially attributable to additional costs that arose within the food supply chain in connection with the sale of consumer goods and services.

(5) The appropriate authority may direct trading standards officers to investigate apparent breaches of this section.

(6) If the appropriate authority is satisfied, on the balance of probabilities, that a person has, without reasonable excuse, failed to comply with this section, the appropriate authority may impose a financial penalty on that person in accordance with Schedule 14.’

New clause 29—Monitoring body: effect of Schedule 11 to this Act—

‘(1) The Secretary of State shall, within seven days of the date on which this Act is passed, appoint by order a body (‘the relevant body) to monitor the effect of Schedule 11 to this Act.

(2) The relevant body must—

(a) advise central government about the effect of Schedule 11 to this Act;

(b) recommend to central government the amendment, suspension or repeal of Schedule 11 to this Act.

(3) The relevant body must publish a report in respect of subparagraphs (1) and (2) at least once every 8 weeks during any period in which Schedule 11 is operation.

(4) In this section “central government” means Her Majesty‘s Government.’

The purpose of this new clause is to ensure that the impact of Schedule 11 is subject to appropriate monitoring and review by an appropriate body such as the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

New clause 32—Statutory sick pay: extension of entitlement—

‘The Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992 has effect as if in section 163 (Interpretation of Part XI and supplementary provisions) after subsection (1) there were inserted—

“(1A) Regulations shall provide that in relation to those specified in section 151(4A)—

(a) the expression ‘employee’ shall for the purposes of Part XI of this Act mean a human person who—

(i) seeks to be engaged by another to provide labour,

(ii) is engaged by another to provide labour, or

(iii) where the employment has ceased was engaged by another to provide labour, and is not, in the provision of that labour, genuinely operating a business on his or her own account.

(b) An ‘employer’ in relation to an employee is—

(i) any person or entity who engages or engaged the employee, and

(ii) any person or entity who substantially determines terms on which the employee is engaged at any material time.

(c) ‘contract of service shall mean any contract by which the employee is engaged by another to provide labour and ‘employed’ ‘employment’ mean engaged as an ‘employee’.

(d) For the purposes of the regulations, an agency worker shall be treated as an employee of both the employment agency or employment business which arranged for him to provide labour to another and the end user of his labour; and ‘employment agency ‘ and employment business’ shall have the meanings set out in section 13 of the Employment Agencies Act 1973.

(e) It shall be for the person who is claimed to be the employer and contests that claim to show in any legal proceedings that he or she is not the employer.’

New clause 33—Statutory sick pay: self-employed people

‘A person who is self-employed and genuinely operating a business on his or her account and who suffers losses directly attributable to the coronavirus outbreak shall be entitled to reimbursement of those losses by the Secretary of State under regulations which the Secretary of State must lay before Parliament for approval.’

New clause 34—Statutory sick pay uprating

‘The Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992 has effect as if in section 157 (rates of payment) after subsection (2) there were inserted—

“(2A) The Secretary of State shall by Order substitute the following rate of statutory sick pay for all those to whom the regulations under section 151(4A) may apply: 90 per cent of a week’s pay calculated in accordance with the provisions of sections 220 to 229 Employment Rights Act 1996, save that the maximum provided for in section 227(1) shall be for the purposes of section 2A of the Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992 the sum of £577 per week and the minimum shall be the rate of the Real Living Wage multiplied by the worker’s working hours which number of hours shall be calculated in accordance with sections 220 to 229 Employment Rights Act 1996.

(2B) An employer who is entitled to reimbursement from the Secretary of State in respect of statutory sick pay or any payment under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme or any other grant or loan from the Secretary of State in relation to coronavirus must—

(a) not dismiss any employee for a reason which includes redundancy related to the coronavirus outbreak of 2020 and any such dismissal shall be regarded for the purposes of Part X of the Employment Rights Act 1996 as an unfair dismissal,

(b) pay, in accordance with subsection 2A or in accordance with the scheme of the Job Retention Scheme if more beneficial to the employee, an employee who would otherwise be at risk of redundancy or is put on fewer hours work than normal for a reason related to the coronavirus outbreak of 2020,

(c) at the discretion of the Secretary of State, cease to be entitled to any further reimbursement from the Secretary of State in respect of statutory sick pay or any payment under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme or any other grant or loan from the Secretary of State in relation to coronavirus, and may be required to pay back some or all of any such sum received if the employer has failed to pay, in accordance with subsection 2A, an employee who would otherwise be at risk of redundancy or has dismissed an employee for a reason which includes redundancy related to the coronavirus outbreak of 2020.”’

This amendment uprates statutory sick pay to the level of 90 per cent of the worker’s normal earnings and makes provision for maximum and minimum rates.

New clause 35—Provision of personal protective equipment—

‘Without prejudice to the duties of employers pursuant to sections 2,3 and 4 of the Health and Safety etc Act 1974 and pursuant to the regulations made thereunder and their duties in common law, the Secretary of State has a duty to ensure the provision of suitable and adequate personal protective equipment to all health, care and emergency service workers who are exposed to the risk of contracting coronavirus in the normal course of their work.’

This amendment would impose a duty on the Secretary of State to ensure the provision of personal protective equipment as part of their ministerial role.

Schedules 1 to 6.

Amendment 64, in schedule 7, page 90, line 9, leave out

“is impractical or would involve undesirable delay”

and replace with “would involve unreasonable delay”.

The purpose of this amendment is to restrict the use of single practitioner recommendations to situations where this would cause unreasonable delay in the recommendation being made. This will protect patients in a way that a broader power to use single practitioner recommendations where obtaining two recommendations was said to be ‘impractical’ or involve ‘undesirable delay’ would not.

Amendment 65, in page 90, line 31, at end insert—

“(10) A single recommendation may not be made by a practitioner employed by a private sector body, if it is being contemplated that the patient may be detained in a hospital run by the relevant private sector body.”

The purpose of this amendment is to ensure that patients cannot be detained solely on the recommendation of a doctor employed by a private hospital where it is envisaged that they will or may be detained at that hospital.

Government amendments 15 and 16.

Schedules 7 to 10.

Amendment 57, in schedule 11, page 111, line 19, at end insert—

“(3) In this Part of this Schedule, the phrase “does not have to comply with any duties” means that a local authority does not have to comply with the relevant duty only if it would not be reasonably practicable to do so.”

The purpose of this amendment, along with amendments 58 and 59, is to require local authorities to discharge their Care Act duties and in particular meet needs for care and support which would currently be ‘eligible’ needs where it is reasonably practicable for them to do so. This will provide a measure of protection to disabled people while permitting local authorities to take account of all relevant circumstances in the commissioning and delivery of adult social care.

Amendment 14, in schedule 11, page 112, line 33, at end, insert—

“(d) the local authority has the necessary resources to meet those needs or can make funding available in advance or arrears to meet those needs.”

This amendment would make the duty on a local authority to meet an adult’s needs for care and support conditional upon the local authority having available resources or the ability to access additional resources to fulfil that duty.

Amendment 59, page 113, line 8, after “Convention rights” insert

“or the local authority considers, on the information available to it, that it is likely the adult’s needs would have met the eligibility criteria previously established by the Care and Support (Eligibility Criteria) Regulations 2014 and that it would be reasonably practicable to meet those needs”.

See explanatory statement for Amendment 57.

Amendment 58, page 113, line 30, after “Convention rights” insert

“or the local authority considers, on the information available to it, that it is likely the adult’s needs would have met the eligibility criteria previously established by the Care and Support (Eligibility Criteria) Regulations 2014 and that it would be reasonably practicable to meet those needs”.

See explanatory statement for Amendment 57.

Amendment 60, page 117, line 18, at end insert—

“(3) In this Part of this Schedule, the phrase “does not have to comply with any duties” means that a local authority does not have to comply with the relevant duty only if it would not be reasonably practicable to do so.”

This amendment and Amendments 61 to 63 have the same objectives in relation to the Welsh legislation as the amendments 57 to 59 above have in relation to the Care Act in England.

Amendment 62, page 119, leave out lines 2 to 4 and insert—

“(3) Condition 2 is that the local authority considers, on the information available to it, that it is likely the carer’s needs would have met the eligibility criteria previously in force and it is reasonably practicable to meet those needs.”, and”

See explanatory statement for Amendment 60.

Amendment 63, page 119, leave out lines 7 to 10 and insert—

“(3) Amod 2 yw bod yr awdurdod yn ystyried, o’r wybodaeth sydd ar gael ar y pryd, ei fod yn debygol bod anghenion y gofalwr eisoes wedi cyrraedd meini prawf cymhwysedd mewn rheolaeth, a’i fod yn rhesymol y gellid cyflawni’r anghenion ymarferol hynny.”

See explanatory statement for Amendment 60.

Amendment 61, page 119, line 40, at end insert

“and replaced with “the local authority considers, on the information available to it, that it is likely the adult’s needs would have met the eligibility criteria previously in force and it is reasonably practicable to meet those needs”.”

See explanatory statement for Amendment 60.

Schedules 11 to 13.

Amendment 53, in schedule 14, page 136, line 2, after “chains” insert

“and power to cap prices”.

Amendment 54, page 136, line 5, after “section 26” insert “or [Power to cap prices]”.

Schedules 14 and 15.

Amendment 71, in schedule 16, page 165, line 20, at end insert—

“(1A) Before making any notice in accordance with subparagraph (1), the Secretary of State shall consult with such persons as appear to him to be appropriate, unless they consider that in the particular circumstances it is not reasonably practicable to undertake any such consultation. The Secretary of State shall in particular consider whether they can discharge their duty in sub-section (a) by consultations with representative bodies for pupils, students, parents, teachers, other professionals and local authorities, as they consider appropriate.”

This amendment is linked to amendment 68.

Amendment 68, page 167, line 26, leave out ‘used reasonable endeavours’ and insert ‘taken all practicable steps’.

This amendment and amendments 69 and 70 are intended to be to the modifications to section 19 Education Act 1996, sections 508A-508F Education Act 1996 and section 42 of the Children and Families Act 2014 plus the new sub-paragraph on consultation added in after para 5(1) of schedule 16.

Amendment 69, page 167, line 36, leave out ‘used reasonable endeavours’ and insert ‘taken all practicable steps’.

This amendment is linked to amendment 68.

Amendment 70, page 170, line 33, leave out ‘used reasonable endeavours’ and insert ‘taken all practicable steps’.

This amendment is linked to amendment 68.

Schedules 16 and 17.

Government amendment 19.

Schedules 18 and 19.

Government amendments 9 to 13.

Schedule 20.

Government amendments 55 and 56.

Schedules 21 and 22.

Government amendment 82.

Schedules 23 and 24.

Government amendment 5.

Schedules 25 to 26.

Government amendment 51.

Amendment 66, in schedule 27, page 317, line 6, at end insert—

“5A In respect of sub-paragraphs 5 (a), (b) and (c), where a deceased is to be cremated and it goes against their religious belief, the designated authority must consult the next of kin or designated Power of Attorney or the relevant local faith institution in so far as reasonably possible, to find a suitable alternative before proceeding with the cremation.”

This amendment and linked Amendment 67 would require a local authority to consult the next of kin, designated Power of Attorney or local faith institutions (such as a church, mosque or synagogue) for support in order to respect an individual’s wishes.

Amendment 67, page 317, line 8, at beginning insert

“Having had due regard to paragraph 5A of this Part,”.

Government amendment 52.

Schedule 27.

Government new schedule 2—Emergency arrangements concerning medical practitioners: Wales.

Government new schedule 3—Residential tenancies: protection from eviction.

New schedule 1—Measures in relation to immigration and asylum—

Part 1

rules in relation to no recourse to public funds

20 The Secretary of State must consult the Chief Medical Officer or any of the Deputy Chief Medical Officers of the Department of Health and Social Care on the impact of no recourse to public funds rules on preventing, protecting against, controlling or providing a public health response to the incidence or spread of infection or contamination.

21 The Secretary of State must, by regulation, make such amendments to no recourse to public funds rules as considered necessary in light of the consultation referred to in paragraph 1.

22 In this schedule, “no recourse to public funds rules” includes any provision prohibiting access to public funds or other forms of publicly financed support by those who require leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom, including, but not limited to, section 115 of the Immigration Act 1999.

Part 2

immigration detention

23 The Secretary of State must consult the Chief Medical Officer or any of the Deputy Chief Medical Officers of the Department of Health and Social Care on the impact of immigration detention on preventing, protecting against, controlling or providing a public health response to the incidence or spread of infection or contamination.

24 (1) Within seven days of the date on which this Act is passed, the Secretary of State must review the list of countries to which imminent removal of immigration detainees is possible.

(2) In light of that review, the Secretary of State must make arrangements to end the detention of any individual who cannot be removed imminently, consistent with preventing, protecting against, controlling and providing a public health response to the incidence or spread of infection or contamination.

Part 3

asylum processes

25 (1) The Secretary of State must consult the Chief Medical Officer or any of the Deputy Chief Medical Officers of the Department of Health and Social Care on the impact of asylum processes on preventing, protecting against, controlling or providing a public health response to the incidence or spread of infection or contamination.

(2) The matters to be consulted on under sub-paragraph (1) include, but are not restricted to—

(a) requirements for individuals to report or attend interviews as part of the asylum process;

(b) the nature and extent of asylum accommodation and rules in relation to eviction from asylum accommodation;

(c) the nature and extent of financial support for asylum seekers;

(d) the nature and extent of financial support for local authorities in asylum dispersal areas.

Part 4

extension of leave to remain

26 7. The Secretary of State must make provision, by statement of changes to the immigration rules, to allow for leave to remain for individuals whose previous leave expires during the period in which this Act is in force, or whose leave expired in the 14 days prior to the date on which this Act is passed.

This new schedule contains temporary changes to immigration and asylum laws and procedures for the purposes of preventing, protecting against, controlling or providing a public health response to the incidence or spread of infection or contamination.

Chris Bryant Portrait Chris Bryant (Rhondda) (Lab)
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I rise merely to refer to the issue of the timing and the length of the Bill. As Members will know, the Minister said in the previous debate that the Government were tabling a new clause that would allow the Bill to be on the statute book for two years but with an opportunity after six months to vote on whether the temporary measures in it should remain. I urge the Minister to look carefully at that new clause, because I think it is defective. New clause 19 states clearly:

“‘relevant temporary provision’” means any provision of this Act—

(a) which is not listed in section (2) (provisions not subject to expiry)”

I cannot find that section anywhere, so I do not think that the new clause works in law. I may be completely wrong—I may have missed something—and if so, I hope the Minister can enlighten me. I do not think there is any conspiracy here; it may just be that something has been missed.

Like the right hon. Member for Haltemprice and Howden (Mr Davis), my anxiety from the start has been that two years is a long time to have such draconian measures on the statute book and that to have them on the statute book without a moment when the House, rather than Ministers, can decide to switch individual measures on or off is quite problematic. The Government have already used the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984 to table statutory instruments to close pubs, restaurants, casino, spas, gyms and so on. That secondary legislation still has to go through the House under the 1984 Act, and the Commons and the Lords have to vote in favour of it within 28 days of it being tabled.

Likewise, if the Government had gone down the route of the Civil Contingencies Act 2004, they would have needed to come back to Parliament every 30 days for each of the individual powers that they presented under that Act, and if the House chose not to allow those powers to remain, the Government would not be able to continue using them. In addition, the 2004 Act makes it clear that if Parliament is adjourned for more than four days, or even if it is prorogued, the Speaker and the monarch have to summon Parliament.

A& E Departments: Staffing

Debate between Eleanor Laing and Chris Bryant
Monday 23rd March 2020

(4 years, 1 month ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Chris Bryant Portrait Chris Bryant
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That is an extremely good point. I wonder whether Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and all the other supermarkets—once they have managed to recruit more delivery staff—should think about making deliveries specifically to hospitals and other care points, so that there is specific provision for key workers. That could make a significant difference.

What is essential to running a good accident and emergency department is, first, good, strong leadership. That means consultants who are well trained, and not just relying on locums who are on a part-time contract. It requires really strong teamwork. There is just as much value in a calm receptionist or a meticulous cleaner as a well-trained doctor, consultant or a nurse. We need resources and training to make an A&E flourish. We need people with an extraordinary set of skills, including the ability to make swift and yet very important, time-critical decisions. We need a wide range of disciplines that feed into the whole of the rest of the hospital. Those people have to be able to deal with strong emotions, from rage and anger to grief, anguish, upset, fear and love, all mingled in a very difficult situation. Unfortunately, they have to be able to deal with the particularly strange combination of adrenaline and alcohol, which sometimes makes an accident and emergency department—especially on a Friday or Saturday night—a very difficult place to be.

The truth of the matter is that we have a great number of shortages in our A&Es across the country. In terms of consultants, we are somewhere between 1,200 and 1,500 consultants short across the whole of the UK. There is a particular shortage at my local hospital, the Royal Glamorgan, which is why it has had to rely substantially on locums for the last year. That is not a sustainable model for the future, which is why I am determined to make sure that the local health board campaigns to recruit more consultants for local hospitals. Other countries have a much higher number of A&E consultants per 1,000 people than we do in the UK. We are aiming to get to one for every 7,000 people, and in most other countries it is one to every 4,000. We still have not reached one to every 7,000, so that is a problem. I would urge any doctor who is thinking of training now, or any young person who is thinking of going into medicine, to please think about being an A&E doctor. You will see over the next few months that we love our A&E doctors almost more than anybody else in the whole of the NHS.

Beds are another real issue. We have one of the lowest numbers of critical care beds in Europe, fewer than Spain and France, half of those in Italy, and only a fifth of what they have per 1,000 head of population in Germany. That puts us, as we will discover over the next few days, in a really difficult position. Some areas of the country will face even bigger challenges than others. The most rural parts of the country, where there is an older population and where there are significant health problems—in particular, in the south-west and in the semi-rural areas of the south Wales valleys—will face a particular difficulty, because they already have 83% to 90% occupancy of all their intensive care unit beds, and that is before anybody else comes in through the door.

Lots of hospitals have done an amazing job over the past fortnight, trying to turn other wards into intensive care units that can be used specifically for coronavirus patients, and recruiting additional staff who have previously retired to come back into the service. Hospitals are doing a phenomenal job in all of that, but the truth is that across the whole of Wales we have only 153 intensive care unit beds, and 90% occupancy. That will pose a phenomenal difficulty for my constituency, where we have a large number of people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a large number of people with diabetes and many with the conditions that make them the most vulnerable—and an ageing population at that. The whole nation will have to think very hard about how, in the long term, that situation is sustainable, even if we do manage to struggle through the next few months. In a sense, in our NHS at the moment, intensive care needs intensive care.

On coronavirus specifically, I praise every single doctor, nurse, cleaner, decorator and builder who has been involved in the process of reshaping intensive care units and emergency departments. The turnaround has been remarkable. Sometimes they have had to devote hours to training to use PPE, and then they have discovered that the equipment is not easy to use, and they have used all the equipment that they had on training in how to put it on and take it off. They have been working at pace, and undoubtedly they have been working many, many more hours than they are contracted to do, and I think we would all want to say thank you to them for that.

I also want to praise all the staff who work in accident and emergency departments, because I know from talking to doctors over the past few days that they know they will have to make some very, very difficult and horrible decisions—decisions that none of us in this House would ever want to make. They know already—they have protocols that were put in place in 2009 when we were looking at the H1N1 strand—that they will have to make decisions about who they can provide ventilator beds for and who they cannot provide ventilators beds for. That will obviously be horrible for the families and the individuals concerned, but just think of the emotional stress and strain for each of the doctors and nurses who at some point over the next few months are going to have to say, on occasion, “I’m sorry, there is no bed for you, because you are not a priority.” That will hurt because that is not what anybody was ever trained to do when they became a doctor or a nurse. The trauma—the emotional trauma—of that for many people will be phenomenally difficult.

My heart is just full of praise for all those doctors, all those nurses, all the cleaners and all the other parts of the A&E teams. Madam Deputy Speaker, I know you know that I do not like clapping in the Chamber, and I am sure you do not like it either, but I think there are very exceptional moments when this House would like to thank people who do a phenomenal job on behalf of all of us, so if you could close your ears for a moment, I am going to applaud the A&E staff up and down the land. [Applause.]

Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Eleanor Laing)
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Just for clarification, clapping is not the norm in this Chamber. The reason why it is banned is that if it became the norm and was done many times every day, it would be meaningless once we were in an exceptional situation. This is an exceptional situation, and the hon. Gentleman is right—the whole Chamber and, indeed, our whole Parliament is right—to pay tribute, in a way that will be noticed, to the many people who work in our wonderful health service.