There have been 19 exchanges between Greg Hands and Cabinet Office
|Wed 8th January 2020||Oral Answers to Questions||4 interactions (111 words)|
|Tue 8th October 2019||Preparations for Leaving the EU||3 interactions (88 words)|
|Wed 25th September 2019||Prime Minister's Update||3 interactions (74 words)|
|Tue 3rd September 2019||G7 Summit||3 interactions (74 words)|
|Thu 25th July 2019||Priorities for Government||3 interactions (27 words)|
|Wed 17th July 2019||Oral Answers to Questions||5 interactions (80 words)|
|Wed 10th April 2019||Voter ID Pilots||3 interactions (106 words)|
|Wed 13th March 2019||Oral Answers to Questions||3 interactions (53 words)|
|Wed 6th February 2019||Oral Answers to Questions||7 interactions (125 words)|
|Mon 21st January 2019||Leaving the EU||3 interactions (170 words)|
|Mon 14th January 2019||Leaving the EU||3 interactions (123 words)|
|Wed 19th December 2018||Oral Answers to Questions||3 interactions (20 words)|
|Mon 17th December 2018||European Council||3 interactions (108 words)|
|Mon 10th December 2018||Exiting the European Union||3 interactions (61 words)|
|Thu 22nd November 2018||Progress on EU Negotiations||3 interactions (48 words)|
|Wed 31st October 2018||Oral Answers to Questions||5 interactions (87 words)|
|Mon 22nd October 2018||October EU Council||3 interactions (95 words)|
|Mon 15th October 2018||EU Exit Negotiations||3 interactions (102 words)|
|Wed 27th June 2018||Oral Answers to Questions||3 interactions (48 words)|
I welcome you to your new role, Mr Speaker, and give you my very best wishes for 2020.
The UK Government continue to work closely with the Scottish Government to implement the fiscal framework agreed in February 2016. I pay tribute to my right hon. Friend the Member for Chelsea and Fulham (Greg Hands), who played his part in that agreement. A review of the arrangements is due in 2021.
My right hon. Friend is absolutely right: the Scottish Parliament is the most powerful devolved Parliament in the world, and with those tax powers it is much more accountable than was previously the case. However, I regret its decision to make Scotland the most highly taxed part of the United Kingdom.
Mr Speaker, I am mindful of what you have said about the surrender Act—[Interruption.] I do appreciate that tensions on this matter are high, but I want to be very clear with the hon. Lady. There is only one way to end those tensions in this country, and that is to get Brexit done. If she really thinks that staying on in the EU month after month after 31 October will make those tensions, that acrimony and that storm on Twitter abate, she has got another think coming. Let us get this thing done.
I really thank my right hon. Friend, because he has played a huge role in developing the whole concept of alternative arrangements, and yes, that played a large part in our conversation on Monday with the Taoiseach. I think it would be over-optimistic to say that that alone can solve the problem. There remain difficult issues about customs, as I am sure he understands, and we really must make progress on that issue.
I am grateful to the right hon. Lady, but I do not comment on leaks. As I say, I saw the story on the front of the Telegraph this morning. It seemed to me wholly implausible, but—I can happily answer her question on that—I have not seen fit to ring any journalist today on any matter, because as you can imagine, I have been working flat out to get out of the EU on 31 October.
I thank my right hon. Friend for the fantastic work that he has done with many colleagues to prepare for the alternative arrangements that really do hold out the prospect of a solution to the problem of the Northern Irish border—[Interruption.] If the hon. Gentleman would care to study the report, he might elucidate himself on that matter. There are a number of proposals that have been made, and indeed, many others, that hold out real hope of progress, but those are not the only areas in which we are making progress. There are several areas in which we are now discussing how the UK can retire whole and perfect from the EU while retaining the integrity of the market in Ireland. That is a hard thing to achieve, but it can be done.
I ask the hon. Lady to look at my political record and at what we have achieved. Look at what I have done, as a one-nation Conservative, to lift up and help with policies that are uniformly delivering better outcomes for the poorest and neediest in society. That is what I stand for, that is what I believe in, and that is what the whole Government will deliver.
I do. They are, if I may say, a withering retort to the gloomsters on the Opposition Benches who say there is no solution and who begin the prospect of negotiations by saying that defeat is inevitable. That is not true. As my right hon. Friend has identified, the facilitations and the remedies do exist. What it takes now is the political will to get there.
No, we will not. The reason is that there are issues of capacity in both the World Bank and the UN. The key point here is not the ideological choice of the channel through which we pass the money but the capacity to manage these projects responsibly.
The UK Government are working closely with the Government of Japan to ensure that next year’s summit secures meaningful and transformational commitments from Governments. We have invested £2.6 billion in this area since the last summit, and we are considering what offer the UK Government will make to next year’s summit.
My right hon. Friend is right to highlight this important issue. I am pleased to be able to tell him that, since his visit, the work we have been doing in Zambia specifically, which has reached more than 1 million people, has reduced the level of stunting to 35%, but clearly that still leaves a lot more to be done.
I thoroughly welcome those comments. The hon. Lady is absolutely correct. This is simply a matter of common sense. It is a quite reasonable and proportionate thing to ask people to do that is in line with what we do elsewhere in the UK and throughout everyday life.
I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for raising that point. The Government continue to support that Bill and think it is the right thing to do.
Prompt payment is important to all businesses, particularly small businesses. That is why we have set a target for 90% of undisputed invoices from small and medium-sized enterprises to be paid within five days. We are making good progress, and six Departments are already exceeding that target. I know that there has been an issue in respect of the Cabinet Office, but I can give the hon. Gentleman the latest figures, from December, which show that 95% of invoices are now meeting the 30-day target and that 82% are meeting the five-day target.
I know that my right hon. Friend has a great deal of experience in this area, and he is absolutely right to highlight the importance of the GPA. I am pleased that we have made progress and reached agreement in principle for the United Kingdom to join the GPA, and I am confident that we will have that in place shortly.
Break in Debate
The hon. Gentleman has been a completely open and honourable champion of the second referendum, and I respect that fact. He knows the Government’s concerns that that would lead to an erosion of public trust in our political process, and that it would not actually settle the question because there would then be demands from whoever lost a second referendum to proceed to a third. I have to say to the hon. Gentleman that he needs to persuade his own Front Benchers, because I find that opposition to a second referendum is quite deep in both major parties in the House.
My right hon. Friend, perfectly properly, made reference to the 2017 Conservative manifesto, but I could also refer him to many, many statements made from this Dispatch Box and elsewhere by our right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to the same effect. I would say to him that, for the complex negotiations that would be needed to establish the detail of the future economic partnership between ourselves and the European Union, we need to have the implementation or transitional period that is specified in the withdrawal agreement. That is what businesses of all sizes in all sectors are asking us in this House to do, and that is why the House should come together and support a deal.
If the right hon. Gentleman had heard the speech that I made last week in the no-confidence debate, he would know that I made it absolutely clear that I do not believe that a general election is in the national interest at this time.
I know—given his previous ministerial position and his interests—that my right hon. Friend has considered this issue with great care. However, it is not simply a question of the tariffs that we set for items going across our border. Questions of the WTO requirements in relation to customs declarations at the border, and other issues which are referred to in the political declaration, such as issues relating to data, are also relevant to this matter.
The political declaration sets out the instructions to the negotiators for the next stage in relation not just to the trade arrangements but to the security arrangements and some issues underpinning all of those, such as the questions of data exchange. Those are the instructions according to which the negotiators for the next stage will be working in order to change it into a legal text. It is not possible for the EU to agree a legally binding text of the trade agreement with a country that is a member of the EU; it has to wait until we are a third country and outside the EU.
I know that a number of Members were concerned about the phraseology in the political declaration around the future relationship in relation to customs and about building on the protocol and the assumption that therefore what was in the protocol would effectively have to be taken forward into that future relationship. In fact, the letters we have received today from the EU make it clear that that is not the case. My right hon. Friend asks why I believe this is a good deal. I believe it is a good deal because, as I have said previously, it delivers on the vote of the referendum—control of money, borders and laws; out of the common fisheries policy and common agricultural policy; the ability to have an independent trade policy—and enables us to do so in a way that protects jobs and security and gives certainty to businesses.
I shall be happy to meet the hon. Lady and her colleagues. I know that the independent Office for National Statistics, whose decisions these are, has written to the APPG in some detail, and I know that the ONS will also listen carefully to the hon. Lady’s question and endeavour to answer it.
I have always been clear throughout this that these have been tough negotiations, but we have held our side and achieved a deal that delivers on the vote of the British people, and delivers it in a way that protects jobs and security and, I believe, protects our prosperity for the future.
Yes, I am very happy to say to my right hon. Friend that we have indeed been stepping up the action that has been taken. Since I said that, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs has taken action in writing to over 140,000 businesses, and the Department of Health and Social Care has written to pharmaceutical companies, for example, on the potential impact of no deal on medicines and devices.
In response to the hon. Lady’s final question, I refer her to the answer I have given to other right hon. and hon. Members. There is much else I could say about the other details in her question, but I will simply make this point. This deal does not make the European Court of Justice the final arbiter on any dispute.
Yes. We will have the opportunity to conclude free trade agreements with countries around the rest of the world. As I hope my right hon. Friend sees, this aspect has been inserted in the full political declaration to make absolutely clear that we will have an independent trade policy.
I appreciate that this is a long-standing issue and a matter of concern. What I will say is that we have just introduced measures for transparency. It is important that we have some data as we move forward. Then, as with many other things, there is no reason why there cannot be a review. When that review takes place, there will be consultation with the Northern Ireland parties and the Electoral Commission.
I have been deeply moved by the personal stories of pain and suffering endured by the families of the victims and survivors of the troubles. That is why we have consulted on how we best move forward and address the legacy of Northern Ireland’s past. I wanted everyone to have the opportunity to be heard, and over 17,000 responses have been received. It is right that we take the time to consider those responses carefully. We will set out how we intend to move forward in due course.
My right hon. Friend is a doughty campaigner for the family of Airey Neave, some of whom live in his constituency. We have spoken about the issue, and he will know that this matter is dealt with by the Home Office, as are all terrorist atrocities in Great Britain. I will work with him to get that closure.
Obviously, my right hon. Friend, as a former Trade Minister—a position he held with distinction—understands these issues and their intricacies. Of course, in a customs union, trade policy—with all the issues like trade remedies and trade sanctions—will be a matter for the European Union and not the UK. I believe that we should be making those decisions for ourselves here in the UK.
First, I commend my right hon. Friend for the work he did on our trade policy when he was a trade Minister. I absolutely want to see that we are able to put those new trade arrangements into place at the end of the implementation period. I want to see that future relationship coming into play at that point, which of course would be 1 January 2021.
A number of decisions are being made to ensure that we have the defence estate that is right for our future capabilities and requirements. I will ensure that the hon. and learned Lady’s point about not yet receiving a reply from the Secretary of State is brought to the attention of the Ministry of Defence.
I thank my right hon. Friend for the service that he has given to the Government over the past seven years, most recently in an important role on the very topic that he has just raised—as Minister of State at the Department for International Trade—and also in his time as Minister for London. He conducted all these jobs with great ability and distinction, and I thank him for all the work that he has done.
My right hon. Friend is right that we want to ensure that we can negotiate independent trade deals around the rest of the world. We will be leaving the single market and the customs union so that we can do exactly that—have an independent trade policy and negotiate our own trade deals with the rest of the world.