Debates between Eleanor Laing and Jim Shannon during the 2019 Parliament

Mon 15th Apr 2024
Mon 11th Mar 2024
UK Armed Forces
Commons Chamber
(Urgent Question)
Thu 1st Feb 2024
Thu 15th Jun 2023
Tue 13th Jun 2023
Tue 6th Dec 2022
Wed 9th Nov 2022
Mon 17th Oct 2022
Wed 30th Mar 2022
Health and Care Bill
Commons Chamber

Consideration of Lords amendments & Consideration of Lords amendments
Mon 15th Nov 2021
Mon 25th Oct 2021
Tue 29th Jun 2021
Tue 27th Apr 2021
Tue 23rd Mar 2021
Wed 20th Jan 2021
National Security and Investment Bill
Commons Chamber

Report stage & 3rd reading & 3rd reading: House of Commons & Report stage & Report stage: House of Commons & Report stage & 3rd reading
Thu 17th Dec 2020
Tue 15th Dec 2020
Wed 18th Nov 2020
Towns Fund
Commons Chamber
(Urgent Question)
Mon 9th Nov 2020
Financial Services Bill
Commons Chamber

2nd reading & 2nd reading & 2nd reading: House of Commons & Programme motion & Programme motion: House of Commons & Ways and Means resolution & Ways and Means resolution: House of Commons & 2nd reading & Ways and Means resolution & Programme motion
Tue 21st Jul 2020
Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Bill
Commons Chamber

Report stage & 3rd reading & 3rd reading: House of Commons & Report stage & Report stage: House of Commons & Report stage & 3rd reading
Mon 15th Jun 2020
Tue 9th Jun 2020
Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Bill
Commons Chamber

2nd reading & 2nd reading & 2nd reading: House of Commons & 2nd reading
Tue 11th Feb 2020
Media Diversity
Commons Chamber
(Adjournment Debate)

Women’s State Pension Age: Ombudsman Report

Debate between Eleanor Laing and Jim Shannon
Thursday 16th May 2024

(3 days, 21 hours ago)

Commons Chamber
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Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon
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I thank the hon. Lady for that intervention. The occupational pension is another factor; it is incorporated in the plan that these people have made for their future. It is wonderful how you make a plan for the future and then the Government scupper it on you! All of a sudden, these ladies have found themselves in difficult circumstances, so I believe it is necessary to have a compensation scheme in place to help all of those ladies.

I will conclude with one more comment, ever mindful of the time limit that we all indicated we would keep to. I understand the magnitude of such a scheme, but we were able to get support quickly to households across the UK for cost of living and energy payments—something that I commend the Government on. That can be done on many occasions; we just need the commitment to make it happen. I know that the Government have the ability and the capacity to roll out all these schemes, so along with almost every other colleague in this House today, I sincerely ask that we prioritise finding a compensation formula and rolling it out. These women, our constituents—brave, courageous women—deserve no less, and we must ensure that we give them no less.

Security in the Western Balkans

Debate between Eleanor Laing and Jim Shannon
Thursday 2nd May 2024

(2 weeks, 3 days ago)

Commons Chamber
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Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP)
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Thank you so much for calling me so early, Madam Deputy Speaker. I really appreciate that. I was rather caught off balance, to be truthful.

Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker
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I checked with Mr Speaker that it was constitutionally all right for me to do that. We were both rather surprised to find this situation.

Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon
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Madam Deputy Speaker, you, Mr Speaker and I very much believe in the constitution, so we are on the same page. Thank you so much.

I commend the hon. Member for Rutland and Melton (Alicia Kearns) for leading the debate with such a detailed and helpful contribution. I also commend her for her leadership as Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, and for her stance in this Chamber on these issues in relation to not just the Balkans, but everywhere. She knows I am impressed by her contribution and what she does.

The current security situation in the western Balkans has prompted considerable international concern. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, with its history of engagement and long-standing partnerships in the region, has also raised its voice to the challenges that threaten the development of the western Balkans into a more stable and resilient region. With that in mind, it is really important to be here to discuss how we can provide further support and do more. There are more elegant speakers than I in the Chamber. I look forward to everyone’s contributions.

The situation is particularly worrying due to Russian interference that continues to destabilise and polarise the region. The hon. Lady referred to that in her introduction. Russia considers the western Balkans as an important region in which to exercise its foreign policy by inciting instability and division, ultimately aiming to assert its place as a great power in the region. Media and disinformation are some of Russia’s great tools in accomplishing that, and it uses them in Ukraine and all over the world. It is not the only one doing it.

Russia continues to interfere in the politics of Montenegro, often through Serbia; some nationalist Serbs in Montenegro are using media, specifically social networks, to promote Russia and pro-Serbian irridentist political rhetoric. The gravity of the situation is clear. I am concerned that any Russian involvement in the western Balkans serves only to undermine democracy, escalate tensions and destabilise the region. Indeed, in the axis of evil, Russia is right there leading at the top of the pyramid, along with others across the world.

I am very much looking forward to the contributions of the shadow Ministers and, in particular—if I can say so, Madam Deputy Speaker—my good friend the Minister, who always encapsulates our thoughts and concerns in a way that encourages us. I look forward to what he will say.

I think it was the hon. Member for Rutland and Melton who, in November 2022, instigated the last debate on the western Balkans. I spoke in that debate—I think that was the last time we debated this issue—and I reaffirm my position that Putin’s regime is the greatest threat to prosperity and peace in the Balkans. I condemn any Russian interference in the region. I ask our Government, our Minister and others to join me and others in this House in doing so. It is clear that Russia is a danger to peace not only in the Balkans, but in the world, and in Europe in particular. Is it any wonder that many other countries—Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland, Germany and all those within the Russian axis some time ago—all fear their very survival from Russia’s intent?

The Russia-Ukraine crisis poses an additional concern to security and stability in the western Balkans. While Russia’s invasion of Ukraine prompted some Balkan Governments to distance themselves from Moscow, Serbia has shown its commitment to its strong ties with Russia by refusing to support the EU sanctions regime amidst the ongoing conflict. Again, the influence of the axis of evil is clear. It relies on Russia for gas and oil, and on Russia’s support for its denial of Kosovo’s independence. However, Serbia’s support for the UN resolution denouncing Russian aggression against Ukraine and its refusal to recognise Russian annexation of Ukrainian territory suggests that Russia is gradually losing its stronghold on the country. Only time will tell, but it would be very helpful, Minister, to have the thoughts of the Government and the Department on that. Do they see a gradual moving away by Serbia from Russian influence? Some indications show that, but whether they are strong enough and deep enough only time will tell.

Cass Review

Debate between Eleanor Laing and Jim Shannon
Monday 15th April 2024

(1 month ago)

Commons Chamber
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Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Eleanor Laing)
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I do not want to say that the Secretary of State could ever be wrong, but on her last judgment I have to say that the show is never over until the hon. Member for Strangford (Jim Shannon) has spoken.

Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP)
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You are most kind, Madam Deputy Speaker. I know that I have now caught the Secretary of State’s eye.

May I thank the Secretary of State for her fortitude and determination, and Dr Cass for all her endeavours? Both ladies—honourable ladies, I believe—have been incredibly impressive and capable. We should be taking on board Dr Cass’s report in Northern Ireland. Indeed, I will make it my business to ensure that the Minister in Northern Ireland takes this in, so I shall be sending him a copy of the report. What help and support is available for all those patients who have been in the Tavistock since its inception? Importantly, what steps can be taken by the Government to stop this malpractice and to stop the movement of the vulnerable—some have called this tantamount to abuse—into privately funded abuse? How quickly can that protection be put in place?

Investigatory Powers (Amendment)Bill [Lords]

Debate between Eleanor Laing and Jim Shannon
Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Eleanor Laing)
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Before I call the hon. Member for Strangford (Jim Shannon), I am sure that the whole House will want to join me in wishing him a very happy birthday.

UK Armed Forces

Debate between Eleanor Laing and Jim Shannon
Monday 11th March 2024

(2 months, 1 week 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
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Finally, I call Jim Shannon.

Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP)
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I thank the Minister for his answers to the questions posed to him. There can be no doubt that the Government must do more to increase defence spending, given that a large portion of our defence budget has rightly been spent on assisting Ukraine. However, we must ensure that other issues are not left behind. Unfortunately, there was no mention in last week’s Budget of an additional funding increase for our armed forces. Will the Minister increase our defence budget, so that we can ensure that our actions speak louder than words, and so that promises are kept, and our armed forces can keep us safe?

National HIV Testing Week

Debate between Eleanor Laing and Jim Shannon
Thursday 8th February 2024

(3 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber
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Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP)
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It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Hammersmith (Andy Slaughter). I thank him for his contribution and his knowledge of his constituency. I also thank the hon. Member for Warrington North (Charlotte Nichols). She led a debate yesterday on mindfulness, which I attended, and she led this debate on HIV testing exceptionally well.

I am the Democratic Unionist party’s health spokesperson, so it is a pleasure for me to be here to make a contribution. I always like speak in such debates if possible. Once or twice I have missed them, but I am very pleased to be here today. We celebrate the fact that HIV is now a disease that people can live with, and can enjoy a better life with. That is something to celebrate.

National HIV Testing Week lasts from 5 to 11 February, and special recognition is deserved for reaching a decade since it started. We should look at what has been done in the last 10 years—how we have progressed and done better, and how people have a better quality of life today. It is important to mark this week in Parliament, as testing is the only way for people to know if they have HIV. The Father of the House said that he would go and get a test, even though he does not need one. He said that people should recognise that testing is important. The latest figures show that rate of HIV diagnosis is falling, but people of a heterosexual orientation are getting more HIV diagnoses, so there is a lot of work still to do. Testing is free, quick and easy, so it is imperative that people of all ages are aware of the services available to them and take advantage of them to prevent passing it on to others.

I would point the Minister, for whom I have great respect—I understand her deep interest in this subject and very much look forward to her response today—to the issue of PrEP, which the hon. Member for Hammersmith referred to. In Northern Ireland, we have had a very successful campaign on that for some time, which seeks to raise awareness, reduce sexual diseases and then, by its very nature, give people longer lives.

Some 69,000 HIV tests were carried out in Northern Ireland in 2020; from those, there were 52 new diagnoses, bringing the total number of people diagnosed with the disease in Northern Ireland to 1,123. With a population the size of ours, we might say that those figures are not bad—I do not think they are. It illustrates that testing and the use of PrEP, among other policies in Northern Ireland, have enabled us to reduce diagnoses and keep them at a manageable figure. That is a decline of 49% from 2015, which is a massive success story. There has been a declining trend in the annual number of diagnoses in people born in the UK. There is no doubt that we are doing our best to encourage people to partake in testing.

It is important to recognise how far we have come since the ’70s and ’80s, when there was a huge stigma around HIV diagnosis, testing and treatment. As I have said, I am my party’s health spokesperson, so I try never to miss these debates. It is amazing to see how far we have advanced since then, both socially and medically, and it is important to say how wonderful our NHS is, being capable of transforming what was once a much-feared virus into something that is now easily treated. That does not mean we become nonchalant in relation to it; it means we have to recognise what we have done, and then recognise what our policy will be for the next period, because people are now able to live long, healthy lives through treatment.

I look to the Minister for a commitment that we will dedicate more resources to educating young people on HIV and other viruses that can be passed on through infected bodily fluids. Many young people will not remember, or even be aware of, the years when HIV was a massive concern to so many. It is crucial that we keep on raising that awareness today, and that young people are encouraged to test, if necessary, and to have those conversations with family and friends, to ensure they do not have the disease and that they are safe, well and healthy.

Where we can do that most effectively is in schools and universities, which have a role to play in ensuring that young people feel comfortable and have a safe place where they can speak to someone privately. The Father of the House was absolutely right: these subjects are sometimes difficult to deal with, and those conversations may need to be private. Many universities already have sexual health clinics, which are fantastic services to offer young people.

So many organisations do incredibly hard work to provide support for other nations with a high prevalence of HIV. In National HIV Testing Week, I want to make a plea to the Minister. Ards Elim church in Newtownards, in my constituency, operates aid and missions out of the church and is incredibly active with missionaries in Africa, especially in Swaziland and Zimbabwe. Every year, a group of young people come to our constituency, every one of whom is HIV-positive—their parents had it, and they have it—but they are living their life today because of the new medications that we have. I feel greatly encouraged when I see them and when I hear them singing in their heavenly voices. It reminds me that we in this great United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland have done magnificent work out in Swaziland, Zimbabwe and across Africa. I know it is not the Minister’s responsibility, but could she perhaps give a hint or write a letter to myself and others on what can be done to continue the work on HIV in Swaziland and Zimbabwe? It is of great interest to my constituents who attend that church.

At one stage, 40% of the population of Swaziland were HIV-positive, but today, after receiving medications and doing testing campaigns, the rate there is manageable. If that is not a success story, I would like to know what is. As many will know, there is a high prevalence of HIV in certain parts of Africa, and the ministry is keen to secure help for young children and parents who are suffering. There is so much ambition to help others, as it has been proven that catching cases early through frequent testing hinders the spread and lessens the impact of HIV on an individual. Across the UK, we are successful with our figures. Can the Minister provide some clarity on whether we are able to help other countries in desperate need as well?

This week is another opportunity to encourage people to take advantage of services offered to combat HIV. There is fantastic potential to protect people from HIV and to prevent severe illness and even death. When I think of the royal family, I often think of Princess Diana and the work she did when she was alive. She reached out and was one of those great motivators who tried to make sure that people across the world knew that HIV should not and would not be a death sentence.

To conclude, I thank the local health trusts in Northern Ireland, and indeed across the whole United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, for providing these worthwhile facilities. I call on the Government and the Minister to ensure that we continue to provide sufficient testing services to all across the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, as testing has proven instrumental in saving lives. Why would we not celebrate an occasion like this, when across this great United Kingdom, many more people are alive today because of what we have done?

Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Eleanor Laing)
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I call the SNP spokesperson.

Afghan Relocations: Special Forces

Debate between Eleanor Laing and Jim Shannon
Thursday 1st February 2024

(3 months, 2 weeks 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

Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP)
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I think happy birthday is in order, Madam Deputy Speaker. If you are like me, you do not count the years, you just make the years count.

I thank the Minister for his very positive answers. I ask this question simply because I met a gentleman in Pakistan about 12 months ago on this issue. He worked for the British Army alongside those in the special forces, so it is wonderful news that special forces in Afghanistan will have their applications reviewed. I wholly welcome that but want yet again to highlight the need to do the right thing by others as well as those who put their lives on the line in Afghanistan as part of the rebuilding effort and who have found themselves hiding away, out of sight—in Pakistan, for example—because they are not yet safe. I ask the Minister for consideration to be given to reviews of applications for interpreters and those who provided sustained assistance to our forces and who live life in darkness and in fear.

Sir David Amess Summer Adjournment

Debate between Eleanor Laing and Jim Shannon
Thursday 20th July 2023

(10 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP)
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May I apologise to you, Madam Deputy Speaker, to the Chair of the Backbench Business Committee, the hon. Member for Gateshead (Ian Mearns), and to all Members? I have not missed a Sir David Amess Adjournment debate in 13 years. I am sorry, but I am going to have to miss this one because I have an event to go to back home. It is the 50th anniversary of the women who served in the Ulster Defence Regiment; I am one of their guests, and I wish to be there to support them. I wish the hon. Member for Gateshead, you, Madam Deputy Speaker, Mr Speaker, all the Deputy Speakers and every Member here—friends all—a very good recess. May the Lord bless you for the summer that comes ahead and all you do.

Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Eleanor Laing)
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Before I hand back to the Chairman of the Backbench Business Committee, I hardly need point out that the hon. Member for Strangford (Jim Shannon), in his inimitable way, has not missed the debate. He has managed to put in his tuppence-worth, as ever, in a way that is procedurally acceptable, because the hon. Member for Gateshead (Ian Mearns) gave way to him, which is perfectly proper. The whole House appreciates his good wishes.

Migration and Economic Development Partnership

Debate between Eleanor Laing and Jim Shannon
Thursday 29th June 2023

(10 months, 3 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker
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It does not mean that we are at the end of the statement. It just means that, in the circumstances, I am being kind to the hon. Member for Strangford.

Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon
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I am sure the Secretary of State was saying, “Great, it is all over.” I jest, but it is not fair to do so, because it is a very serious matter.

Although I agree with the Secretary of State that there must be an end to boatloads of young refugees circumnavigating the system in place, the Court has determined that the risk of refoulement from Rwanda to other countries means that the Government’s policy cannot be carried out legally. Will the Secretary of State outline how she believes the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland can stop the influx while fulfilling our human rights obligations, which is not just a legal matter, but a moral one.

Migration

Debate between Eleanor Laing and Jim Shannon
Thursday 15th June 2023

(11 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber
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Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP)
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What a pleasure it is to follow the Father of the House, the hon. Member for Worthing West (Sir Peter Bottomley). His contribution is always very wise—he is not called the Father of the House for nothing—and we thank him for that. I also thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker, for allowing me to sow into this important debate.

I love to be part of a nation that embraces others. The fact that many of our hospitals could not currently function without international staff is testament to the mutually beneficial role that legal migrants play in all areas of the fabric of this wonderful society in which we are so blessed to live.

I will mention four points to begin with and then focus specifically on migration and the fishing sector. First, nearly 40% of those who crossed the channel in 2022 came from just five countries—Afghanistan, Iran, Syria, Eritrea and Sudan—that are all in the top 12 of the Open Doors world watchlist, which details the countries that are the worst offenders for the persecution of Christians. That tells me that we open the doors for people who are fleeing due to persecution.

Secondly, yesterday an amendment was tabled in the other place to the Illegal Migration Bill that would make provision for an asylum pathway for individuals persecuted for their religion or belief. I ask the Minister and the Government to support the establishment of such a pathway.

Thirdly, pathway 3 of the Afghan citizens resettlement scheme promised a pathway to 20,000 Afghans from vulnerable backgrounds, including at-risk religious minorities. The Government have promised to resettle more than 5,000 in the first year and up to 20,000 over the next five years. Currently, the pathway is open only to British Council and GardaWorld contractors and Chevening alumni. Again I ask whether that scheme will be opened to the groups identified as being at greatest risk.

Fourthly, I am mindful of something that has already been spoken about—those who have been in the system of hotels for almost two years. I have two companies in my constituency that are willing and able to give jobs to those people right now. If people have been accepted under the asylum system, why not give them the opportunity to work and fill some of the gaps that we have in our area?

I want to focus the rest of my speech on fishing and the visa system. I have been discussing this with Harry Wick from the Northern Ireland Fish Producers Organisation, with whom I have been working closely to find a solution to the question of fishing and migrant workers, and he has asked me to stress something that must underpin this discussion: it is important not to conflate those entering the UK illegally with the safe and legal migrant workers that UK industry depends on.

The media tends to shift attention from those who applied correctly and bring skills to add to our workforce in many different forms to images of illegal immigrants, which is an entirely different debate. As I have said, there are jobs in the UK that need to be filled by highly qualified workers, including in hospitals, and that is accepted. What is not so well understood is that there are roles lying empty that simply are not filled, but which do not require significant training or specific expertise. Those jobs are no less valuable to our society because of that.

The hon. Member for Glasgow North (Patrick Grady) referred to the farming sector. I encourage hon. Members to speak to a farmer who has crops dying in his fields because he cannot get the manual workers to come in. Low-skilled workers are an essential component of the workforce, and we cannot focus only on those with a degree education when other labour is just as essential. I know the Minister appreciates the point I am trying to make.

I am aware that lower-skilled labour is in short supply. The Home Office encourages industry not to look abroad but to look inwards to our own UK citizens, but they do not always fill the gap, whereas higher-skilled roles are filled by migrant workers through the points-based system. Given industry reports that labour supply is the biggest barrier to growth and that the UK labour market cannot fill our existing vacancies in either sphere, we need to understand our position in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in relation to migration in a more specific way.

The very clear question for the Minister is this: does he not agree that it would be in the best interests of UK workers to backfill those lower-skilled vacancies with appropriately sourced and legal migrant workers, while promoting an education system that allows children to pursue a vocational focus that suits their personality, character and what they are able to do, rather than an academic one?

I once read a quote—it might be a bit spurious—that went like this: “If we tell a fish that it is stupid for being unable to climb a tree, we prevent the fish from understanding the depth of its capacity.” It is all about capacity. Those who want to be on the fishing boats have the capacity to understand how fishing works. Instead of berating those who struggle with algebra, we must have a system that allows them to see that perhaps their love of the outdoors is exactly what the local farmer is looking for.

The gap in labour need cannot be filled internally, and the system of outsourcing, particularly in fishing, is too onerous. The language of the sea is understood by all those who work it, and the language barrier on a boat is easily overcome by that common sea speak. Once again, I ask the Home Office to hear my plea. I spoke to the Minister before the debate to reiterate our request from the Westminster Hall debate two weeks ago.

I believe that this might be achieved by developing the existing seasonal workers scheme into something that can better support our fishing and farming communities, upon whom we rely three times a day, every single day, for our sustenance. That could also mean showing flexibility on the language requirement for skilled worker visas. The Minister knows my feelings on that. He has been very amicable in our meetings, and I genuinely appreciate it, as he knows. I am always trying to find solutions. For me, this is about solutions to the system, and I have given the Minister my thoughts about them.

I believe in change, but we need to move forward in a positive fashion to encourage migration for those who want to come here, work here, raise their families here and be a part of the wonderfully diverse British community —this great United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Eleanor Laing)
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Before I call the right hon. Member for Witham (Priti Patel), I am so pleased to have the opportunity to congratulate her on becoming a dame.

Mortgage Market

Debate between Eleanor Laing and Jim Shannon
Tuesday 13th June 2023

(11 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber
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Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker
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No, you are not. That question is finished. There is a danger that the House might not be able to hear the question from the hon. Member for Strangford (Jim Shannon).

Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP)
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There is no danger of that when you are in the Chair, Madam Deputy Speaker.

I thank the Minister for his answers to some very difficult questions. It has been said that 1.5 million households, including some of my Strangford constituents, are set to come off fixed mortgage deals this year and face a sharp rise in their monthly repayments—up to 1.56 percentage points from Tuesday. Has the Minister made an assessment of the impact on those who are considering buying their first house in the next year or so, and will he assure the House that discussions are taking place with local banks on what we can do to support people through the process of buying their first homes amid shocking price increases?

List of Ministers’ Interests and Ministerial Code

Debate between Eleanor Laing and Jim Shannon
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
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The last word, as ever, goes to Jim Shannon.

Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP)
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Thank you Madam Deputy Speaker. I thank the Minister for his clarification and the answers that he is trying to deliver. Will he further outline whether clear guidance will be issued on what constitutes a conflict of interest and how far that extends, to ensure that this House does not continue to consider these matters with the current greyness?

Afghanistan: Independent Inquiry

Debate between Eleanor Laing and Jim Shannon
Thursday 15th December 2022

(1 year, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Eleanor Laing)
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And finally—as I have already said twice this morning—Jim Shannon.

Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP)
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I do not mind being last in any debate; I am just very pleased to be given the opportunity to ask a question. The Minister, I think, has genuinely tried to answer the questions sensitively. With that in mind, will he outline the steps that are in place to offer support to any personnel under investigation, as similar proceedings that I and other Members in the Chamber are aware of in Northern Ireland have seen many innocent soldiers turning to addiction as a result of trauma and stress—I am aware of those cases personally. Will he confirm that innocent until proven guilty remains the standard for any investigation?

Responding to MPs’ Queries: DWP Performance

Debate between Eleanor Laing and Jim Shannon
Tuesday 6th December 2022

(1 year, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon
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I commend the hon. Gentleman for securing the debate. Although it is sometimes frustrating when our queries are not answered, we must appreciate all the highly skilled workers working in Government Departments and external agencies. Does he agree that to deal with delays in correspondence, we must ensure that those employed within Departments are able to deal with all issues presented to them, with the knowledge and ability to prevent delays and get queries answered?

Sri Lanka

Debate between Eleanor Laing and Jim Shannon
Wednesday 9th November 2022

(1 year, 6 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon
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Yes, I agree. Hopefully, when the Minister responds, he will give us some encouragement on the hon. Lady’s request, which others have made, in relation to foreign aid and the Magnitsky sanctions.

It is critical, in the current climate of escalating human rights abuses in places such as Afghanistan, China and Russia, that we do not ignore the plight of Christians and other religious, belief or ethnic minorities in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka is a diverse country where there are complex divisions between ethnic and religious communities. Freedom of religion or belief is guaranteed by the constitution, but despite that protection, the abuse of that fundamental right is widespread and has only increased in recent years. Christians, Muslims, Hindus and other religious minorities suffer abusive Government regulations that disproportionately affect their communities, and they endure discrimination that is unnoticed and ignored by authorities, with perpetrators escaping with impunity. The law of the land, and the Government of the land, let that happen. Tensions remain unresolved in the wake of the civil war, and recent terror attacks and the covid-19 pandemic have worsened the situation. I recall that not so many years ago Sri Lanka was a holiday destination where people wanted to go, but after everything that has been happening, that is no longer the case.

In the past couple of months, the changes to sections 291A and 291B of the penal code, alongside the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act and the misuse of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) Act, have been used to target members of religious minorities. I ask the Minister what discussions have taken place with the Sri Lankan Government to ensure that those laws are not used to the detriment of religious minority communities, which is what is happening. If they are being used abusively, vindictively and maliciously, we need to do something to change that.

Last month, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom reported that the Sri Lankan authorities were using these laws to unfairly target minorities and critics of the Government. The former UN special rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief has noted that, far from protecting religious communities, blasphemy allegations have

“ironically become a repressive tool used for curtailing freedom of thought or opinion, conscience, and religion or belief.”

It is always worrying whenever legislation is used in an oppressive, vindictive, violent and malicious way, which is quite clearly what is happening. False allegations of blasphemy or terrorism have resulted in sentences of 20 years for those who criticise the Government.

Freedom of religion or belief is important not just because it protects the rights of the most vulnerable in society, but because it is a right that fosters respect among others, reduces corruption, encourages broader freedoms, develops the economy and multiplies international trust in a country. It is clear to me as chair of the APPG for international freedom of religion or belief that we must speak up for those with a Christian belief, for those with another belief and for those with no belief. That is what I believe in my heart, because I believe that our God is a God of love. I seek parity and equality for all those who express a religion or belief.

According to the Pew Research Centre, eight of the 10 most corrupt countries have high or very high governmental restrictions on religious liberties. Religious freedom contributes to better economic and business outcomes. Advances in religious freedom are in the self-interest of businesses, Governments and societies. The fact that the Sri Lankan Government take such a lax view of human rights and religious liberties is incredibly worrying.

When we look at the economic situation in Sri Lanka and its trade with the UK, it is vital that we focus on human rights. At Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office questions yesterday, I asked the Minister of State, the right hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Anne-Marie Trevelyan), whether she and the Government will uphold human rights and religious freedoms in their deals with Sri Lanka. She replied in a very positive fashion, which I hope might be a taste of a future in which human rights, justice and accountability are key to everything we do on trade. I encourage the Government to build on the Minister’s answer yesterday and ensure that progress includes the fundamental right to freedom of religion or belief for all.

I thank the hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington again for securing the debate, and I thank all hon. Members who have contributed in a very positive way. It is unfortunately not a debate that has much heart-warming content, but this place gives us a chance to be a voice for the voiceless and speak up for those who have nobody to speak for them.

Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Eleanor Laing)
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I call the Scottish National party spokesman, Chris Law.

National Security

Debate between Eleanor Laing and Jim Shannon
Tuesday 1st 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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And now, in his traditional place, Jim Shannon.

Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. A taskforce for all the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland has to be excellent news, and I welcome it.

The Northern Ireland protocol is stirring up tensions in Northern Ireland. What steps will the Minister and the Government take to deal with the people who chant in support of the IRA—the same IRA, the same fifth columnists, who want to destroy our United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and who carried out the indiscriminate murder campaign of pure evil with which they devastated Northern Ireland during the troubles—and what steps have been taken to ensure support for the Police Service of Northern Ireland at all times to combat the very real threat of terrorism from republicans or, indeed, from any mindset in Northern Ireland?

Tom Tugendhat Portrait Tom Tugendhat
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his second question today; I hope I will be privileged to take many more. He can be assured that all security policy will include the whole of the United Kingdom, and that I will be absolutely committed to working with the PSNI and numerous other police forces.

Economic Update

Debate between Eleanor Laing and Jim Shannon
Monday 17th October 2022

(1 year, 7 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Eleanor Laing)
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I call Jim Shannon. [Interruption.]

Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP)
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Sorry, Madam Deputy Speaker, you threw me off there. I was looking round to see who it was. Thank you very much for calling me. Can I say how very pleased I am to see the Chancellor in his place? I wish him well, and I think this House wishes him well in the job he has to do.

Northern Ireland is a global leader in areas such as cyber-security and advanced manufacturing, and it is also the top location in the UK outside London for foreign direct investment. However, the rate of economic inactivity in Northern Ireland is higher than anywhere in Great Britain, which costs the economy some £16 billion annually. Can I ask the Chancellor if he can give any indication as to whether Northern Ireland will receive a fair proportion of the levelling-up funding under round 2, rather than in the first phase, when the 3% share target was missed?

Tributes to Her Late Majesty the Queen

Debate between Eleanor Laing and Jim Shannon
Saturday 10th September 2022

(1 year, 8 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker
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I just want to make it clear that, just because the hon. Gentleman is on his feet, it does not mean we have come to the end of the sitting. [Laughter.] This is unusual, and I would not like the Chamber to empty unnecessarily.

Women’s Health Strategy for England

Debate between Eleanor Laing and Jim Shannon
Wednesday 20th July 2022

(1 year, 10 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP)
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Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. I have the strongest legs in the Chamber.

I very much welcome the Secretary of State’s announcement of additional moneys for women’s health training. He referred to one-stop clinics. I coincidentally spoke to a medical student who graduated in Cardiff today, who feels that more is needed for the specialty of women’s health, and specifically the menopause, which the hon. Member for Swansea East (Carolyn Harris) mentioned. What training will be extended to GPs, in the context of one-stop clinics, to ensure that each surgery has a trained GP available to advise and to help?

Steve Barclay Portrait Steve Barclay
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

One of the key issues highlighted in the response to the call for evidence was how areas such as the menopause were being dealt with by the NHS. That is why we have a menopause taskforce looking at specific recommendations, one of which concerns the training of clinicians.

Long Covid: Impact on the Workforce

Debate between Eleanor Laing and Jim Shannon
Thursday 31st March 2022

(2 years, 1 month ago)

Commons Chamber
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Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon
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My wife says I am special. I thank the hon. Lady for being most complimentary.

I did not have any symptoms, but I isolated as instructed, because I follow the rules—that is the way to do it. Although I was fortunate and blessed to be asymptomatic and not ill with covid, that is not the case for the many people who did not come through covid unscathed. We have all mentioned that 1.5 million people, 2.4% of the population of this great nation of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, have self-reported ongoing covid symptoms that have persisted for more than four weeks, as of 31 January 2022. Forty-five per cent of them, 685,000 people, first had or suspect they first had covid-19 at least one year previously.

I think of the wall outside St Thomas’s Hospital, where some ladies from Manchester, Liverpool and elsewhere met us two or three months ago. I was walking to the hotel one night, many months ago, and passed the wall. It is a wonderful memorial to those who have passed on, and it is good that those ladies and others organised the wall to give people an outlet for their feelings.

Two years after the first lockdown, the long-term effects of covid are becoming clear. We need to put protection in place for employees with this long-term illness that doctors cannot pinpoint. These people struggle daily to live with it, but they are not protected by the Disability Discrimination Act 1995.

This Government should urgently produce guidelines for employers in both the private sector and the public sector on managing the impact of long covid among their workforce. We should also launch a compensation scheme, as the hon. Member for Oxford West and Abingdon mentioned, for all frontline key workers living with long covid. I agree with the APPG that the scheme should mirror the armed forces compensation scheme, which we discussed on Monday night, recognising the relapsing nature of long covid and going beyond the existing pay scheme.

Long covid is a debilitating illness. There is a gentlemen I have known ever since he came to Ards. He is the pastor of a church in my constituency, and he almost lost his life to covid. He is 6 feet 4 inches, and this big, strapping man was brought to his knees. He walked up the hill to Stormont in the “Voice for the Voiceless” protest, and I thought he would have to lie down. Long covid has hit him incredibly hard. He has one day of good and then three days of bad. He has headaches, stomach upsets, blood clots, reduced lung function and chronic fatigue. His church is happy to allow him to rest as he needs. Had he worked for another employer—I will not mention them—he would not have that protection. We must improve the current care pathways for long covid, with a view to ensuring the healthcare system is capable of meeting current and future demand.

In a Westminster Hall debate, I mentioned a constituent who had brain fog. The shadow Minister, the hon. Member for Denton and Reddish (Andrew Gwynne), has lived that. It is important to say that one of our friends and colleagues in this House has lived with long covid and has found it incredibly difficult, as have others, to deal with. You are not far from our thoughts—

Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Sorry, Madam Deputy Speaker. I am probably getting carried away in the emotion of the occasion.

Has the Minister’s Department been able to collect the data on those with long covid? I want to see flexibility for those who are in full-time employment and employment guidelines, to which the hon. Member for Putney referred. I think all hon. Members present want to see them.

Perhaps the Minister can confirm whether the lessons have been learned from covid-19. As the hon. Member for North East Fife said, other diseases will come along and we must be prepared. What we learn from this disease will make us smarter for the next one. I put on record, because it is important when we are talking about these things, how well the Government reacted with the compensation schemes for businesses and the covid-19 vaccine. Those are the positives that gave us heart when we were down in the dumps.

Roughly 4% of the UK’s workforce has had long covid and 82 million work days were lost due to long covid absence in NHS England between March 2020 and September 2021. The real figure may be higher as it was not classified as a reason for absence at the start of the pandemic. It is clear that the effect on business is real, which is why we are having this debate, and that there must be structures in place to deal with it.

Again, I thank the hon. Member for Oxford West and Abingdon and all hon. Members for their contributions. I look forward to the contributions from the hon. Member for Motherwell and Wishaw (Marion Fellows) and the hon. Member for Denton and Reddish. The Minister is a friend to us all and I look forward to hearing what he says.

Health and Care Bill

Debate between Eleanor Laing and Jim Shannon
Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Eleanor Laing)
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I am surprised that the hon. Member for Strangford (Jim Shannon) does not wish to speak. [Interruption.] Oh, he does. I hope he will be brief, so that the Minister will have time to answer the debate.

Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon
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I certainly will make my points quickly. My first is on the organ transplant amendment, to which the Minister referred. I fully support the measure and have been asking for it for a number of years in the House, so I am pleased to see it moved tonight. Secondly, I am not sure whether the right hon. Member for Chingford and Woodford Green (Sir Iain Duncan Smith) is going to push his amendment to a vote—[Interruption.] He is not, but if he did, he would have my support and probably that of my party, too.

Thirdly, I am pleased to lend my support to Lords amendment 29. It would create a national independent view of how many health, social care and public health staff are needed to keep pace with projected patient demand over the next five, 10 and 20 years. I wholeheartedly agree with Macmillan Cancer Support that the Bill will fail to address the biggest challenge facing the NHS and social care right now: staffing shortages and pressures. The Government need to take Lords amendment 29 seriously. The hon. Member for Ellesmere Port and Neston (Justin Madders) referred to it, too. We recognise that we need to address staff shortages as soon as possible. I have referred to Macmillan and their request for an additional 3,371 cancer nurse specialists to help address that issue.

I will conclude with this point. I understand that the Government may come back with all the justifications as to why this is not the right amendment—the Minister is a real good man; we all know that, and he responds well to all our requests—but I am content that it would begin to address the issue that our NHS workforce is disintegrating. One of my constituents is in a prestigious medical school here on the mainland. She went to do her rotation with a GP as part of the work she does. He told her, “Do any job but this.” I thought that was disappointing. He said, “It will consume your life. You will work long hospital shifts and you will not have a personal life.” This is a seasoned GP who simply cannot cope, so we must do something, and this amendment is a way forward. I therefore will support it whenever it comes to a vote.

Business of the House

Debate between Eleanor Laing and Jim Shannon
Monday 21st February 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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What a surprise! I call Jim Shannon.

Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the Government for bringing forward this statutory instrument tomorrow, and assure them that my party fully supports their intentions regarding sanctions. Will tomorrow’s debate also cover the sanctions that will be carried out by other European countries, NATO and the USA?

Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker
- Hansard - -

Order. I do not think that it is quite in order for the hon. Gentleman to ask now what will be in the debate tomorrow. This statement is only about the fact that the debate is tomorrow, but I am sure that the Leader of the House will give part of an answer to him.

Covid-19: Purchasing Effort

Debate between Eleanor Laing and Jim Shannon
Thursday 3rd February 2022

(2 years, 3 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Eleanor Laing)
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And finally, I call Jim Shannon.

Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

It is always a pleasure to ask a question in this House, at whatever time, Madam Deputy Speaker. May I thank the Minister and the Government for their endeavours during the pandemic? I do not think that anybody in this House does not recognise that, without the Government’s initiatives, these things would not have happened.

I understand the pressure that the Department of Health and Social Care was under at the outset of the pandemic to ensure that staff were not taking their lives in their own hands when they entered hospital. But Minister, reports of £8.7 billion losses are astounding. Will there be a full investigation into the scale of loss and the reasons for the loss? I understand the problems at that time—I really do—but think of the good that that money could have done to address waiting lists and new cancer drugs. Minister, what has happened grieves me in my heart, and I suspect it grieves you in your heart—

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

Order. Please will the hon. Gentleman not call the Minister “you”? It is my ambition that he will one day get this right—please, please.

Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

It grieves me in my heart, and I suspect that it grieves the Minister in his heart as well.

Draft Online Safety Bill Report

Debate between Eleanor Laing and Jim Shannon
Thursday 13th January 2022

(2 years, 4 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP)
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I commend the hon. Gentleman for bringing this forward. We have a colleague in Northern Ireland, Diane Dodds MLA, who has had unbelievably vile abuse towards her and her family. Does the hon. Gentleman agree that there is a huge loophole and gap in this Bill—namely, that the anonymity clause remains that allows comments such as those to my colleague and friend Diane Dodds, which were despicable in the extreme? There will be no redress and no one held accountable through this Bill. The veil of anonymity must be lifted and people made to face the consequences of what they are brave enough to type but not to say.

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

Order. The hon. Gentleman is not trying to make a speech, is he? No, he is not.

Adult Social Care

Debate between Eleanor Laing and Jim Shannon
Wednesday 1st December 2021

(2 years, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP)
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I thank the Minister for her statement, and for the progress that she is clearly trying to achieve.

Workforce availability for care homes is vital. Today a representative of a care home bordering my constituency rang to say that a quarter of its staff are off work owing to close covid contacts, although they are now treble-jabbed, and it has no more staff and a lack of agency staff to employ. What can be done through this strategy, Minister, to ensure that the recruitment and retention of care workers are improved?

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

Order. I cannot believe that the hon. Gentleman said “Minister” again. I thought that he was beginning to get it, and that he would not make me unhappy any more!

Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon
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I should have said “the hon. Lady”.

Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker
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I thank the hon. Gentleman very much for that. I can say “Minister”; it is the hon. Gentleman who cannot. Minister!

Business of the House

Debate between Eleanor Laing and Jim Shannon
Thursday 18th November 2021

(2 years, 6 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Eleanor Laing)
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Before I call the hon. Member for Strangford (Jim Shannon), and while the hon. Member for Gateshead (Ian Mearns), the Chair of the Backbench Business Committee, is still in the Chamber, I draw the attention of the House to the fact that, in my capacity as Chairman of Ways and Means, overseeing matters in Westminster Hall, I have just been informed that the Backbench Business Committee has been unable to fill the slot available for Backbench Business debates on Tuesday 30 November. Yet I have sat here listening to people asking for debates and the Lord President rightly referring them to the hon. Member for Gateshead.

I feel it necessary to make this point—I hope it is heard more widely—that it would appear that Members are coming to the Chamber to ask the Leader of the House for a slot for a debate, but they are not at the same time applying to the hon. Member for Gateshead for a debate through the Backbench Business Committee. The Lord President has acknowledged the need for debates over the past 40 minutes; the Chairman of the Backbench Business Committee is sitting here noting all these requests for debates, and yet those Members have not applied to his Committee for slots. Something is wrong here. I feel it necessary to make that point; it would be a pity to lose the opportunity to do so, since I have just been informed of this slot on 30 November. The hon. Gentleman tells me, “Applications by tomorrow,” so if you want your debate, do not ask the Leader of the House—apply to the hon. Member for Gateshead.

Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I have already had discussions with the Chair of the Backbench Business Committee and asked him about a debate, and I hope to submit that tomorrow.

Will the Leader of the House agree to arrange a statement on a total boycott of the winter Olympics in China in protest over human rights abuses against the Uyghur Muslims and other ethnic and religious belief minorities? This follows a call to the International Olympic Committee to move the 2022 winter Olympic games out of China. Such a statement would show a united front following a similar announcement from the United States of America on Tuesday stating that it will not send a diplomatic delegation to the 2022 winter Olympic games. A statement would be very helpful.

Covid-19 Update

Debate between Eleanor Laing and Jim Shannon
Monday 15th November 2021

(2 years, 6 months ago)

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

And finally, I call Jim Shannon.

Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the Secretary of State for his clear commitment to protecting all citizens in the United Kingdom where the control is. I am a type 2 diabetic. This Saturday, between 2 pm and 3 pm, through my local surgery, I will receive my covid booster, as will other priority cases as well. Can the Secretary of State outline what discussions have taken place to ensure that, before over-40s are able to access their booster jabs, the vulnerable groups of all ages, including diabetics, can access theirs in a timely manner throughout the UK? Decisions taken in this House set the marker for other regions to follow, including Northern Ireland.

Income Tax (Charge)

Debate between Eleanor Laing and Jim Shannon
Thursday 28th October 2021

(2 years, 6 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Minister, my hon. Friend the Member for North Antrim (Ian Paisley) and I hope to have a meeting with you shortly on hydrogen and how it can be used to advance this great United Kingdom. Can you confirm exactly how it will benefit every part of Great Britain and Northern Ireland?

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

Order. I remind the hon. Gentleman that he cannot address the Minister as “Minister”; he has to address him as “the right hon. Gentleman” or say “would the Minister?”, because when he says “Minister” that is second person, vocative case. He cannot say “Minister.” Other Members might know that the hon. Member for Strangford (Jim Shannon) and I have been having this conversation now for several years and it is my ambition that he will get it right, and one day he will.

Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme

Debate between Eleanor Laing and Jim Shannon
Monday 25th October 2021

(2 years, 6 months 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

Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the Minister for all she does. In Northern Ireland, it will be the Northern Ireland Assembly that looks after the allocation of Afghan refugees. At the very beginning of the process, the managing directors of two companies in my constituency, Willowbrook Foods and Mash Direct, each offered 20 places in their workforce to Afghanis; they also offered housing and accommodation. Minister, can I ask: after all this time, what is happening?

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

Order. Please will the hon. Gentleman not say “Minister, can I ask—”? Please will he say, “Can the hon. Lady—”, in the third person, not the second?

Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Can the hon. Lady respond to me and my constituents, who wish to offer those people not only places in the two factories, but accommodation? The offer is there today.

NHS Integrated Care System Boundaries

Debate between Eleanor Laing and Jim Shannon
Tuesday 29th June 2021

(2 years, 10 months ago)

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

I normally thank the Minister politely at this point in the day, but I really do thank the Minister for what he has just said on this particular occasion.

Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Earlier, you announced the excellent, historic victory of England over Germany. How can I record my congratulations to the English team on behalf of all the people of Northern Ireland, not just in my constituency of Strangford but across from Newry to Londonderry and from Portrush to Enniskillen, where the Union flags are flying? I have one flying at the end of my farm lane. It could be that those flags are flying in celebration of the forthcoming 12 July celebrations, but I believe that they are flying to support England, so how can we send our support from Northern Ireland and wish England well for the quarter finals and for this competition? Our team, England, are playing in the quarter finals, and that has got to be good news.

UK Military Personnel Serving Overseas: Vaccination

Debate between Eleanor Laing and Jim Shannon
Wednesday 23rd June 2021

(2 years, 11 months 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)
- Hansard - -

Oh, I am so sorry! How could I possibly miss out the hon. Member for Strangford (Jim Shannon)? I would never wish to do so.

Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. I saw you looking around, and I wondered whether you would look for me in my usual spot.

We have so much to thank our service personnel for, and they put a lot on the line to serve, in terms of their family life. Those families back home have grave concerns about their service personnel who are serving overseas, and those who are serving overseas have concerns about their families back home. What has been done to assure the members of those families, both at home and away, that they will be safe and sound and will see each other again?

James Heappey Portrait James Heappey
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

The hon. Gentleman was probably waiting for you to start the Adjournment debate before he intervened, Madam Deputy Speaker, as is his normal fashion. He raises an important point; as someone who served overseas on operations, I knew I was okay until I was not, but for those who are left behind—the families of our serving personnel—there is a daily worry about their safety and the threats they are facing. Indeed, many colleagues in the House have written to me on behalf of parents and loved ones of people deploying to seek reassurance about the vaccination programme, and we have made sure that that has been given to them, so that families understand that their loved ones will be vaccinated while in theatre. The families of our armed forces are as vital a part of the armed forces community as those who serve, and the hon. Gentleman has given me an opportunity, in Armed Forces Week, to remark on their steadfastness and the important role they play in maintaining the fighting power of our armed forces.

Aviation, Travel and Tourism Industries

Debate between Eleanor Laing and Jim Shannon
Thursday 10th June 2021

(2 years, 11 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I spoke to the Minister beforehand. The holiday and travel sector, in particular, has great uncertainty. What help can be given to businesses such as Laser Travel in my constituency that offer a tailored, top-to-bottom service? Existing furlough, self-employed support for international travel businesses for a further six months, retained business rates relief and a further tailored recovery grants regime for travel agents, tour operators—

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

Order. The hon. Gentleman cannot make a speech at this point. Not everyone will get to speak in this debate who wants to do so, and interventions simply cannot be that long.

Alcohol Products: Labelling

Debate between Eleanor Laing and Jim Shannon
Tuesday 27th April 2021

(3 years ago)

Commons Chamber
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Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the Minister for outlining very clearly a strategy to address the issues that the hon. Gentleman is referring to. Minister, I know that it is not technically your responsibility, but I think perhaps—

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

No, please, the hon. Gentleman cannot disappoint me like this. He cannot say “you” to the Minister.

Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Apologies, Madam Deputy Speaker. One massive issue has been the promotion of drink at cheap prices so that people can get drunk cheaper. Would the Minister be sympathetic to discussing this issue with the industry—the Portman Group has been referred to—to try to address it?

Point of Order

Debate between Eleanor Laing and Jim Shannon
Tuesday 23rd March 2021

(3 years, 1 month ago)

Commons Chamber
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Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP)
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On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. According to the House papers today, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has issued a written statement on the Abortion (Northern Ireland) Regulations 2021. I wish to make a point of order about the Government’s intention to pursue the issue of the procurement of abortion services in Northern Ireland. I am led to believe and understand that there has been a 200,000% increase in abortions. Do you believe, Madam Deputy Speaker, that it is the role of the House to intervene in a devolved matter such as health, as the topic of abortion was debated only last week by the Northern Ireland Assembly in the correct forum? Do you further share my concern, Madam Deputy Speaker, that the connotations of the actions by the Secretary of State reverberate throughout every devolved nation represented in the House? I believe that the House must send a clear message that devolution means devolution, even if it does not suit the agenda of some in this House.

Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Eleanor Laing)
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I thank the hon. Gentleman for giving me notice of his point of order. I have not seen any statement, which I do not think has been published yet, and nor have I seen the instrument in question, so I can make no comment on the detail of those matters. However, I recognise the point that the hon. Gentleman is making about the desirability of open and thorough debate on important matters such as the one that he has raised. I am sure that Ministers will have heard—I am looking for nods—what he has said, and the Government will take seriously the points that he has made, particularly about the process of devolution and the way in which it relates to matters that are debated in the House. I thank him.

Education Route Map: Covid-19

Debate between Eleanor Laing and Jim Shannon
Thursday 25th February 2021

(3 years, 2 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon
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I spoke to the Minister before coming to the House. In the past, before covid-19, we had things called summer schools. We have not had summer schools for the past year. Does the hon. Gentleman feel that one way of getting beyond this, whenever the schools go back, is to also have summer schools, and for that to happen we need the funding—

Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Eleanor Laing)
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Order. I hope that we can now proceed. These are rather difficult circumstances.

National Security and Investment Bill

Debate between Eleanor Laing and Jim Shannon
Report stage & 3rd reading & 3rd reading: House of Commons & Report stage: House of Commons
Wednesday 20th January 2021

(3 years, 4 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate National Security and Investment Bill 2019-21 View all National Security and Investment Bill 2019-21 Debates Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts Amendment Paper: Consideration of Bill Amendments as at 20 January 2021 - (large version) - (20 Jan 2021)
Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Eleanor Laing)
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Order. We cannot have Members sitting here in the Chamber—under the cover of masks, so I cannot see their mouths moving—making comments about things that people are saying virtually. It just does not work and, quite frankly, it is not fair. We really must watch the level of behaviour while we are trying to balance this difficult situation in the Chamber.

Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP) [V]
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Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker, for allowing me the opportunity to speak this afternoon. I have followed with great interest every stage of the Bill. I do so with a somewhat vested interest. That is not that I have investment portfolios or similar, because I do not, but because I am fully aware of the potential that exists within Northern Ireland for foreign investment from the positive advantage we now have.

As the previous speaker, the hon. Member for Arundel and South Downs (Andrew Griffith), said, Brexit has given us some opportunities for investment for the future. I see potential for that, as he does, and hopefully as others do, too. Northern Ireland has become the cyber capital of Europe, with our low business rates, superfast broadband in urban areas, wonderful global connectivity—before the pandemic, at least—and a highly skilled local workforce. It is little wonder that more people have decided to make Northern Ireland the home of their global business, and the opportunity is there for much more.

For that reason, I have followed the Bill closely to ensure that it protects our nation as a priority, and I am firmly behind the Government in that aim. I support the objectives that others have set out, and that the Secretary of State will set out at the end of today’s debate. I also want to ensure that the Bill is not overly prohibitive to companies that see opportunity to invest in my constituency of Strangford and in the Ards council area, but have concerns about the mechanism through which the Secretary of State can put a hold on investment for certain reasons.

I share the concerns of my colleagues that more detail is needed on what constitutes a reason for the Secretary of State to become involved. It is my desire that, rather than a substantive statement by the Secretary of State coming after the passing of the Bill, one should be appended to it. I seek some clarification on this matter. That would enable investors and those businesses seeking investment to know the parameters within which they are working.

I must be clear: I do not wish to water down the aims of the Bill—that is not my intention whatsoever. However, I share the concern of some Members that Chinese companies are under an obligation to share information with the Chinese Government. I remain concerned about overly onerous legislative commitments for small investments and small firms, but I must accept the evidence of the loopholes that foreign investment companies have made their way through by purchasing intellectual property rights and the like. I see how our system has been abused thus far, and I stand with Government on the need for an overhaul, which is the purpose of this legislation. However, I believe that we need the detail to have the strong and all-encompassing legislation required to keep our nation safe. I again implore Ministers to consider this. The safety of the nation has been spoken about by many Members, and it is certainly a priority for me and my party.

Covid-19 Update

Debate between Eleanor Laing and Jim Shannon
Thursday 17th December 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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I thank the Secretary of State for his kind words. The whole House, and certainly the whole of Mr Speaker’s team, thank the Secretary of State, his Ministers and the shadow Ministers, who have worked so hard to keep us informed all the way through this dreadful pandemic.

Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker
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It is alright. I have not forgotten that we have a late entry. The final question—I call Jim Shannon.

Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon
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May I take this opportunity to wish you, Madam Deputy Speaker, and your family a very merry Christmas and happy new year? Thank you for all you do in this House. I congratulate the Secretary of State and all his team on their energy and dedication in what has been an extremely difficult year. It has given us encouragement whenever he has come to the House.

Students, families and workers from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will be travelling by boat, train, car and plane to meet their families from all tiers and very strict conditions. What discussions has the Secretary of State had with the devolved Administrations, in particular Northern Ireland, to ensure that travel can continue to happen within the regulations that we must all adhere to?

Matt Hancock Portrait Matt Hancock
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I thank the hon. Gentleman very much for his kind words. He said that people have been encouraged every time I have come to the Dispatch Box. Given some of the things I have had to announce, I am sure that is not quite true, but it has been my duty to come and answer questions as much as possible. I have probably answered more questions from the hon. Gentleman than from anyone, and I am very happy to answer this last one for this year.

I spoke to Robin Swann, the Health Minister for Northern Ireland, this morning as part of a call with all four of us across the devolved Administrations. We are determined to ensure that people can travel across the whole of the UK as much as is safely possible, but, again, we urge caution and personal responsibility. People can take advantage of this change in the regulations over Christmas to see loved ones—sometimes loved ones they have not been able to see all year—but we urge them to do that with the appropriate concern for the risk of spreading the disease, and to make sure, therefore, that everybody has a merry Christmas and a happy new year. We will return here, no doubt, in 2021 with the hope of that vaccine coming fast into view so that we can get to the point where I do not have to return every week to discuss restrictions and, instead, we can all get our freedom back.

National Trust: 125th Anniversary

Debate between Eleanor Laing and Jim Shannon
Tuesday 15th December 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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Order. I have to point out to the hon. Gentleman that I have allowed a lot of interventions. The Father of the House arrived one minute late for the debate, so I have given him the benefit of the doubt. The hon. Member for North Antrim (Ian Paisley) was here at the beginning of the debate. The right hon. Member for South Holland and The Deepings (Sir John Hayes) arrived a minute and a half late. The hon. Gentleman came in 10 minutes after the beginning of the debate, so I do not really think he should be intervening, unless it is really serious for his constituency. I think he should do the decent thing and not intervene, when he came in 10 minutes after the beginning.

Towns Fund

Debate between Eleanor Laing and Jim Shannon
Wednesday 18th November 2020

(3 years, 6 months 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

Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP)
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I thank the Secretary of State for his responses so far. Secretary of State, it is my understanding that local enterprise partnerships—

Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Eleanor Laing)
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Order. The hon. Gentleman does not say “Secretary of State” to the Secretary of State. The hon. Gentleman has to say, “Madam Deputy Speaker, does the Secretary of State…” I am sure eventually I will achieve my ambition of having the hon. Member for Strangford use the third person and not the second person. He does not address the Secretary of State directly.

Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon
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Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. It is my understanding that local enterprise partnerships and investment promotion agencies across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland were invited to submit nominations for the second round of the high potential opportunities scheme by 17 April 2020. I would be anxious to know the success of Northern Ireland applications for the towns fund.

Smokefree England: Covid-19 and PHE Abolition

Debate between Eleanor Laing and Jim Shannon
Thursday 12th November 2020

(3 years, 6 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP)
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For the second time today, it is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Winchester (Steve Brine), given the knowledge he has of all the subjects we have covered in this debate and the last one. I thank him for his contribution when he was Minister, too. It is always good to see him in his place.

I congratulate the hon. Member for City of Durham (Mary Kelly Foy) on what I think may be the first debate she has led in the Chamber. If it is, I say to her, “Well done and congratulations.” We look forward to many more contributions from her in this place. I was glad to add my name to the request to the Backbench Business Committee for this debate, and to work alongside the hon. Lady to highlight some of these issues.

I believe that freeing smokers from the tyranny caused by their addiction, and the damage it causes to their health and wellbeing, is an issue not just of health but of human rights. I am my party’s spokesperson for health and human rights, and this debate covers both those issues.

This issue is close to my heart, as I know it is for speakers on both sides of the House. Public health policies, which are the responsibility of the devolved nations, have a key role to play in tackling smoking, but so do the Government in Westminster and this debate. I am pleased to see the Minister in his place. He and I have been good friends for a long time, and I look forward to his response because I know it will be positive.

I want to refer quickly, if I may, to the Northern Ireland Department of Health tobacco control strategy, which was implemented in 2012. It was clear that the Northern Ireland Assembly was trying to direct its action at children and young people, disadvantaged people, and pregnant women and their partners who smoked. A review of that strategy undertaken earlier this year found that Northern Ireland has met its target of ensuring that a minimum of 5% of the smoking population accesses smoking cessation services annually, but there is still a group of people who continue to smoke. I am conscious that people have freedom of choice, but we hope that they take note when we present them with the health issues.

That target was achieved, but we are not hitting our targets at population level. There was a target to reduce the smoking rate among manual groups from 31% to 20% by 2020. That rate still lingers around 27%, so that target has not been met. There was also a target to reduce smoking during pregnancy from 15% in 2010 to 9% by 2020. To date, however, that rate has barely declined, so we have hit problems in Northern Ireland. At the time of speaking, the rate is 14%, so we have reduced it by only one percentage point. Let us be very clear: smoking when pregnant puts babies at risk of avoidable harm, including stillbirth, premature birth and birth defects.

We seem to have done better on the target for 11 to 16-year-olds. I am really quite encouraged by that. There has been a reduction from 8% in 2010 to 4%. The target was 3%, so we are one percentage point shy of it, but what we have done there has been quite dramatic. Children who live with smokers are almost three times more likely to take up smoking than children from non-smoking households, which creates a generational cycle of inequality, with smoking locked into disadvantaged communities.

Will the Minister make contact—he probably has—with the Northern Ireland Assembly, and particularly the Health Minister, Robin Swann, to see what has happened there? I feel that we can feed off each other regionally in Administrations, to our advantage. If something is being done right in England, we want to know about it in Northern Ireland, and the same applies in Scotland and Wales.

The disadvantaged communities worst affected by smoking have also been hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic. Smoking is a leading risk factor for all sorts of things, such as cardiovascular disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which have been identified by Public Health England as being associated with worse outcomes from coronavirus. When households stop spending money on tobacco, it can lift them out of poverty, and it increases the disposable income available to spend in local communities rather than lining the pockets of the transnational tobacco firms.

Those inequalities are a problem not just for Northern Ireland but in every part of the United Kingdom. The answer is more action at population level through Government interventions that support people, particularly in disadvantaged communities. I believe that the time is right for the Department of Health and Social Care to publish a new tobacco control plan that addresses UK-wide issues as well as those relating just to England—I believe that we should be doing this across the four regions—and provides solutions to the threats posed by Brexit as well as delivering on the opportunities.

Smoking on screen is an issue close to my heart; we have to find some way of addressing it. Smoking is rarely portrayed in an unattractive manner, or associated with negative consequences. Guidelines on smoking have been established by the communications regulator, Ofcom, but they are often not rigorously applied. The UK Government and Ofcom have committed to working with the British Board of Film Classification to ensure a consistent approach across the piece. On the tobacco control plan, I said in 2018:

“A clear causal link has been established between smoking initiation among young people and smoking on screen in the entertainment media. The impact is down to the amount of smoking that young people see, not whether it is glamorised or not.”

Young people may feel, sometimes unconsciously, that smoking is normal, and that we should all be doing it. However, its depiction is linked to greater risk of smoking uptake. In that earlier debate, I asked:

“Will the Minister ask his colleagues who are responsible for the regulation of film and TV in the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to work with the Department of Health and Social Care, and press Ofcom and the British Board of Film Classification to ensure that their codes effectively tackle the portrayal of smoking in films and television programmes that are likely to be seen by children?”—[Official Report, 19 July 2018; Vol. 645, c. 685.]

At the time, the Minister briefed that Ofcom and the BBFC were dealing with the issue; quite clearly, Minister, that has not happened to the extent that we would like.

Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Eleanor Laing)
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Order. The hon. Gentleman promised me that he would no longer address the Minister, but would take to addressing the Chair, in the way one is supposed to in this place. He speaks in this Chamber more than any other Member, and he knows that he must not address the Minister. I cannot understand why he persists in doing it.

Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon
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Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. I will certainly endeavour to get that right.

In 2018, there was an explosion of new video on demand services, such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, which are particularly popular among young people. Ofcom’s on demand programme service rules, governing video on demand services such as Netflix, have no rules at all on smoking. The use of video on demand continues to grow, so this problem will only get worse. Is the Minister prepared to look at that issue and address it?

The licensing of tobacco retailers is another issue that I spoke about in 2018 that bears raising again. In Northern Ireland, since 6 April 2016, retailers have been obliged to register with the tobacco register of Northern Ireland; the deadline for doing so was 1 July 2016. It built on similar schemes in Scotland and Wales. In 2018, we implemented a track-and-trace scheme that required every retailer to have an economic operator identifier code. That system was required by the EU tobacco products directive, but the Government have confirmed that it will continue after we leave the EU. Can the Minister confirm that all nations in the UK will continue to implement a retail register scheme? Will he ensure that officials at Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs talk to their opposite numbers in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales about their experience of the retail register scheme, and the lessons to be learned about it from the devolved Administrations?

Are the tobacco control regulations on e-cigarettes delivering on the twin goals of helping smokers to quit and protecting children from taking up smoking—objectives supported by all parties and all nations of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland?

There is a concerning loophole in our regulations: while it is illegal for e-cigarettes to be sold to children under 18, according to advice from trading standards, it is not illegal to give them out as free samples to anyone of any age. Could the Minister give us direction on that? How can we ensure that things are done correctly? I hope the Minister is aware of the article in The Observer in October that highlighted that a supplier working on behalf of British American Tobacco was caught handing out samples from BAT’s popular e-cigarette brand to a 17-year-old without carrying out any kind of age check. That contravenes the spirit, if not the letter, of the regulations. Given the importance of balancing the needs of smokers against any impact on young people, it is vital that a review of these regulations is undertaken. Will the Minister set a timeline for just that?

Financial Services Bill

Debate between Eleanor Laing and Jim Shannon
2nd reading & 2nd reading: House of Commons & Programme motion & Programme motion: House of Commons & Ways and Means resolution & Ways and Means resolution: House of Commons
Monday 9th November 2020

(3 years, 6 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP)
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You almost caught me unawares, Madam Deputy Speaker—I thought that the hon. Member for Grantham and Stamford (Gareth Davies) would be about.

I broadly support what is in the Bill, but I have a couple of requests, as others have had. I want to make three specific points on the LIBOR transition, debt respite and the inadequate FCA regulatory framework for SME lending. I say, first, that it is a pleasure to see the Minister in his place. He is always very responsive to us all on the questions we ask him, and he always keeps a smile on his face—it is always something you do extremely well, even though the questions that we may put to you are hard and perhaps not always put in the way that they should be.

LIBOR, the London interbank offered rate, is an interest rate benchmark used to indicate banks’ costs of funding their activities: for example, the cost of obtaining money for a loan they will make. It has been used and continues to be used as a reference in hundreds of trillions of pounds-worth of financial contracts, so this is a very important issue. The former FCA chief executive officer and now Bank of England Governor, Andrew Bailey, said that after 2021 the FCA will no longer persuade or compel banks to submit the underlying data that goes to calculating LIBOR, causing concern that it could cease to exist. Minister, it is a really big issue for us all, and certainly one that people have contacted me about. There have been many loans in the past and that are still in force where banks have used LIBOR.

I understand that the existing powers on benchmarks granted to the FCA, passed under EU law and to form part of UK law from 2021, are seen as insufficient to ensure a smooth transition away from the use of LIBOR, so again, Minister, perhaps you can give me an answer on that. I welcome, among other things, clauses 8 to 19, which appear to grant the FCA greater powers to compel the continued publication of the benchmarks, to prohibit the use of benchmarks and to oversee the orderly wind-down of benchmarks. I hope that the new FCA chief executive officer will now deploy these powers at the earliest opportunity. Again, Minister, perhaps we will be able to get some indication of a timescale for that, if possible, to assure us on where we are.

I welcome the fact that the Government have made a commitment to Gibraltar. Others have referred to it and others will—it is certainly one of the issues that I am concerned about. This gives peace of mind to that sector and we thank you for that.

Can I, Minister, perhaps underline another issue—

Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Eleanor Laing)
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Order. The hon. Gentleman cannot say, “Can I, Minister—”. How many millions of times have I said this to the hon. Member for Strangford (Jim Shannon)—only usually, I do not, because there is no time and there is a lot going on? Here I have my opportunity: he has heard my request to him a hundred times to please address the Chair. He cannot say, “Minister, will you do this?” And even worse, when he is addressing the Prime Minister, he must not say, “Prime Minister, will you do this?” He has to say, “Will the Prime Minister do this?” and “Will the Minister do this?”—in the third person, not the second person, please.

Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I stand corrected, Madam Deputy Speaker, and I will use my best endeavours to do that. Sometimes I get carried away in the emotion of the debate—it is a very emotional debate, of course—and I find that maybe I do not use the correct words.

Will the Minister look at the issue of money laundering in Northern Ireland? I make that comment because in all the countries across the globe, and particularly in this United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, money laundering is one of the issues that concerns me greatly. We have had many cases of money laundering over the last while, and we have many cases in Northern Ireland where paramilitary groups are involved in clear money laundering activities, which are against the law. With the Bill coming forward, will the Minister be able to give an assurance on money laundering, particularly in Northern Ireland? What discussions have taken place with the regional Assembly and the Minister in the Northern Ireland Assembly with responsibility for policing and justice, and what has been the feedback from that? I think that if we are going to do this well, we have to ensure that contact is made with the regional devolved Administration and that there are discussions outside that, particularly with the Republic of Ireland. Many illegal things are taking place in respect of transport across the border in all places, but we must tackle the ability of paramilitary groups to actively use the border with this purpose in mind.

Secondly, on the debt respite scheme, will the Minister confirm that clause 32 will amend the Financial Guidance and Claims Act 2018 to empower the Government to make regulations that compel creditors to accept amended repayment terms; provide for a charging mechanism through which creditors will contribute to the costs of running the scheme and repayment plans; and include debts owed to a Government Department at any level, including the devolved Administrations, in the statutory debt repayment plan? Again, I make a plea for the Northern Ireland Assembly: what will be the position in relation to any debts that are due? When do the Government expect to bring forward the relevant regulations? What discussions have taken place with the devolved Administrations on the statutory debt repayment plan?

The Treasury will be aware that the Business Banking Resolution Service has to be part of an effective solution under this process. The Democratic Unionist party remains concerned that we are not on track to do that. While the income from financial services is notable, so is the responsibility not only to shareholders but to the Government. We must ensure that that obligation is understood completely by enforcing the BBRS within legislation.

Thirdly and lastly, I refer to the bank lending regulatory framework. I finish with this because I believe it is the most important point. I know that the Minister is fully aware of it from discussions with the DUP and others who have contacted him. I have been in contact with him regularly about this issue since he first spoke about it at the Dispatch Box in January 2019. Of course, I have also been in touch with the Chancellor over the past month. The Minister must agree that it is crucial for SMEs to have the opportunity to export their products and services to the global economy, and the support to do so. I believe that our financial services industry, and banks in particular, must be regulated by the FCA in a much more legally effective way under this Government. Minister, it is very important that we have the bite, so to speak. It is all very well having words, but we need the strength of legislation to govern the banks’ small business lending post-Brexit.

The Government must get this right. I know that they can and I know that there is a will to do so. It is important that the future legal and regulatory framework allows our SMEs to have confidence in the 21st century global economy. I believe we have an opportunity to get it right this time, and it is time to do just that.

Madam Deputy Speaker, I hope that is to your satisfaction. Thank you very much.

Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Bill

Debate between Eleanor Laing and Jim Shannon
Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the Secretary of State very much for intervening. I do recall John Birch, Steven Smart, Michael Adams and Lance Corporal Bradley. I often think of the families of those who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and of those who were injured. We owe so much to those families. Every MP in this House has a responsibility to keep their constituents safe, as others have said, which we all adhere to and I thank them for that. Today, our Minister, the hon. Member for Croydon South (Chris Philp), who, I have to say, I am very impressed by—I mean that honestly—and also the Secretary of State have come in here and ensured that the protection of all the people of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland has been cemented in legislation, and I thank them for that. We welcome the Government’s commitment and we thank all in the Committee for their work and the Clerks for their administration to deliver the Bill. Madam Deputy Speaker, thank you.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed.

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

We now come to Lords amendments to the Business and Planning Bill. I am going slowly here to allow a natural changeover of personnel at a 2 metre distance. I am grateful to hon. Members for their co-operation.

Caravan Industry: Hull and East Riding

Debate between Eleanor Laing and Jim Shannon
Monday 15th June 2020

(3 years, 11 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP)
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The hon. Lady has highlighted the importance of the caravan manufacturing industry, but it also depends on the people buying them and the caravan season. In Northern Ireland, we have announced that the caravan sector will reopen on 26 June. Would she love to see that happen for the caravan sector in England, so that the tourism sector can progress from that?

Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Eleanor Laing)
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Order. The hon. Gentleman has made his point well, but I must point out that this is a very narrow debate, and we will stick to the rules. We are talking about the caravan industry in Hull and East Riding.

Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Bill

Debate between Eleanor Laing and Jim Shannon
2nd reading & 2nd reading: House of Commons
Tuesday 9th June 2020

(3 years, 11 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Bill 2019-21 View all Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Bill 2019-21 Debates Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon
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Minister, those who are involved in terrorism may have—

Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Eleanor Laing)
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Order. The hon. Gentleman disappoints me. We had all this yesterday. The hon. Gentleman cannot address the Minister as “Minister”; he has to address him in the third person. It is my ambition that the hon. Member for Strangford will get that right.

Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon
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Madam Deputy Speaker, I endeavour to follow your instructions and I will do my best.

I seek assurance that those who are involved in terrorist activity, be it providing safe houses, physical assistance, cars or weapons, and who play a smaller role will also feel the brunt of the sentencing for their minor role in a bigger terrorist atrocity.

Media Diversity

Debate between Eleanor Laing and Jim Shannon
Tuesday 11th February 2020

(4 years, 3 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon
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Did the Minister’s son vote for the hon. Lady?

Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Eleanor Laing)
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Order. I think that is an inadmissible question.

Education and Local Government

Debate between Eleanor Laing and Jim Shannon
Tuesday 14th January 2020

(4 years, 4 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon
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As the right hon. Gentleman is looking forward to the future, does he welcome the starting again of the Northern Ireland Assembly and accountability being back in the process there? That has enabled new schools to be announced today, two of them in my constituency, which is again an example—

Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Eleanor Laing)
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Order. That is a long intervention; did nobody listen to what was said about the maiden speeches?