Debates between Lindsay Hoyle and Rishi Sunak during the 2019 Parliament

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Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Lindsay Hoyle and Rishi Sunak
Wednesday 22nd May 2024

(5 days, 1 hour ago)

Commons Chamber
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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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We are investing in better healthcare right across our country, and I am delighted to see that Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust was recently allocated over £6 million to upgrade A&E and will benefit from a new specialist emergency care hospital in Sutton as part of the programme.

As my hon. Friend says, that is possible only because of the difficult decisions we have taken to bring inflation back to normal and grow the economy. Today’s figures show that the plan is working, and I am sure the whole House, perhaps including the Leader of the Opposition, will welcome the news that inflation is now back to normal.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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We now come to the Leader of the Opposition.

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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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My hon. Friend gives a superb and passionate economic diagnosis. He is right: inflation is now back to normal, and, indeed, lower than that of France, Germany and the United States. Inflation is at its lowest level in years, our economy is growing faster and wages are rising, which is why we need to stick to the plan that is working. He is right to point out the risks of what the Labour party proposes: 70 new laws —70 new laws! Labour has caved in to its union paymasters, and what does that mean? It means that it will cost jobs and damage our economic recovery.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the SNP leader.

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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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It is always nice to see the changed Labour party in action. When it comes to the ICC, this is a deeply unhelpful development, which of course is still subject to a final decision. There is no moral equivalence between a democratically elected Government exercising their lawful right to self-defence and the actions of a terrorist group, and the actions of the ICC do absolutely nothing to get a pause in the fighting, or to get the hostages out or aid in.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call Craig Mackinlay.

Infected Blood Inquiry Report

Debate between Lindsay Hoyle and Rishi Sunak
Monday 20th May 2024

(1 week ago)

Commons Chamber
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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister (Rishi Sunak)
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Mr Speaker, Sir Brian Langstaff has today published the final report of the infected blood inquiry. This is a day of shame for the British state. Today’s report shows a decades-long moral failure at the heart of our national life. From the national health service to the civil service, to Ministers in successive Governments, at every level the people and institutions in which we place our trust failed in the most harrowing and devastating way. They failed the victims and their families, and they failed this country.

Sir Brian finds a “catalogue” of systemic, collective, and individual failures, each on its own serious, and taken together amounting to “a calamity”. The result of this inquiry should shake our nation to its core. This should have been avoided. It was known that these treatments were contaminated. Warnings were ignored, repeatedly. Time and again, people in positions of power and trust had the chance to stop the transmission of those infections. Time and again, they failed to do so.

Sir Brian finds “an attitude of denial” towards the risks of treatment. Worse, to our eternal shame, and in a way that is hard even to comprehend, they allowed victims to become “objects for research”. Many, including children at Lord Mayor Treloar College, were part of trials, conducted without their or their parents’ knowledge or consent. Those with haemophilia or bleeding disorders were infected with HIV, hepatitis C and hepatitis B through NHS treatment, through blood clotting products such as factor 8, including those who had been misdiagnosed and did not even require treatment. Many were infected through whole blood transfusions. Others were infected through their partners and loved ones, often after diagnoses had been deliberately withheld for months or even years, meaning that these infections should easily have been prevented.

I find it almost impossible to comprehend how it must have felt to be told that you had been infected, through no fault of your own, with HIV, hepatitis B or hepatitis C; or to face the grief of losing a child; or to be a young child and lose your mum or dad. Many of those infected went on to develop horrific conditions, including cirrhosis, liver cancer, pneumonia, TB and AIDS, and to endure debilitating treatments, such as interferon, for these illnesses —illnesses the NHS had given them.

Many were treated disdainfully by healthcare professionals, who made appalling assumptions about the origin of their infections. Worse still, they were made to think that they were imagining it. They were made to feel stupid. They felt abandoned by the NHS that had infected them. Those who acquired HIV endured social rejection, vilification and abuse at a time when society understood so little about the emerging epidemic of AIDS. With illness came the indignity of financial hardship, including for carers, those widowed and other bereaved family members.

Throughout it all, victims and their loved ones have had to fight for justice, fight to be heard, fight to be believed and fight to uncover the full truth. Some had their medical records withheld or even destroyed. The inquiry finds that some Government papers were destroyed in

“a deliberate attempt to make the truth more difficult to reveal.”

Sir Brian explicitly asks the question: “Was there a cover-up?” Let me directly quote his answer for the House: “there has been”. He continues:

“Not in the sense of a handful of people plotting in an orchestrated conspiracy to mislead, but in a way that was more subtle, more pervasive and more chilling in its implications. To save face and to save expense, there has been a hiding of much of the truth.”

More than 3,000 people died without that truth. They died without an apology. They died without knowing how and why this was allowed to happen. And they died without seeing anyone held to account.

Today, I want to speak directly to the victims and their families, some of whom are with us in the Gallery. I want to make a wholehearted and unequivocal apology for this terrible injustice. First, I want to apologise for the failure in blood policy and blood products, and the devastating—and so often fatal—impact that had on so many lives, including the impact of treatments that were known or proved to be contaminated; the failure to respond to the risk of imported concentrates; the failure to prioritise self-sufficiency in blood; the failure to introduce screening services sooner; and the mismanagement of the response to the emergence of AIDS and hepatitis viruses among infected blood victims.

Secondly, I want to apologise for the repeated failure of the state and our medical professionals to recognise the harm caused. That includes the failure of previous payments schemes, the inadequate levels of funding made available, and the failure to recognise hepatitis B victims.

Thirdly, I want to apologise for the institutional refusal to face up to these failings—and worse, the denial and even the attempt to cover them up—the dismissing of reports and campaigners’ detailed representations; the loss and destruction of key documents, including ministerial advice and medical records; and the appalling length of time it took to secure the public inquiry that has delivered the full truth today.

There is layer upon layer of hurt, endured across decades. This is an apology from the state to every single person impacted by this scandal. It did not have to be this way. It should never have been this way. On behalf of this and every Government stretching back to the 1970s, I am truly sorry.

Today is a day for the victims and their families to hear the full truth acknowledged by all and, in the full presence of that truth, to remember the many, many lost loved ones. But justice also demands action and accountability, so I make two solemn promises. First, we will pay comprehensive compensation to those infected and those affected by this scandal, accepting the principles recommended by the inquiry, which builds on the work of Sir Robert Francis. Whatever it costs to deliver the scheme, we will pay it. My right hon. Friend the Minister for the Cabinet Office will set out the details tomorrow.

Secondly, it is not enough to say sorry, pay long-overdue compensation and then attempt to move on. There can be no moving on from a report that is so devastating in its criticisms. Of course, in some areas medical practice has long since evolved, and no one is questioning that every day our NHS provides amazing and lifesaving care to the British people. But Sir Brian and his team have made wide-ranging recommendations. We will study them in detail before returning to the House with a full response. We must fundamentally rebalance the system so that we finally address the pattern, so familiar from other inquiries such as Hillsborough, where innocent victims have to fight for decades just to be believed.

The whole House will join me in thanking Sir Brian and his team, especially for keeping the infected blood community at the heart of their work. We would not be here today without those who tirelessly fought for justice for so many years. I include journalists and parliamentarians in both Houses, especially the right hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull North (Dame Diana Johnson), but most of all, the victims and their families. Many of them have dedicated their lives to leading charities and campaign groups, pouring their own money into decades of running helplines, archiving, researching and pursuing legal cases, often in the face of appalling prejudice. It is impossible to capture the full pain and injustice that they have faced. Their sorrow has been unimaginable. They have watched loved ones die, cared for them as they suffered excruciating treatments, or provided their palliative care. Many families were broken up by the strain. Hundreds of thousands of lives have been knocked off course; dreams and

potential unfulfilled.

But today, their voices have finally been heard. The full truth stands for all to see. We will work together across Government, our health services and civil society to ensure that nothing like this can ever happen in our country again. I commend this statement to the House.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the Leader of the Opposition.

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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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I thank the right hon. and learned Gentleman for the collegiate tone in which he has responded to today’s report, and for his sincerity. He is right that it is irrefutably clear that an unconscionable injustice has been done—the result of a consistent and systemic failure by the state time and again, decade after decade. That is why I apologise wholeheartedly and unequivocally to every single person impacted by the scandal. The anger and sorrow felt across this House is the right response. It is right that we now act on behalf of the victims, their loved ones and the whole community, who expect us to put right this historic wrong.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the Father of the House.

Peter Bottomley Portrait Sir Peter Bottomley (Worthing West) (Con)
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The thousands of people at Central Hall thanked Sir Brian Langstaff, and he thanked them. As has been said, we should acknowledge the right hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull North (Dame Diana Johnson) and her leadership of the all-party group.

Permanent secretaries and Cabinet Secretaries need to say to everyone throughout their chain, “Are we doing something that is right? Are we doing something that is necessary? Are we doing something that will work?” Does my right hon. Friend agree that if those questions had been asked more effectively, the number of tragedies would have been not five for every MP—and five times again for everyone injured or affected—but greatly reduced, and that we would have learned the truth earlier?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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Let me start by thanking my hon. Friend for his dedicated work co-chairing the all-party parliamentary group on haemophilia and contaminated blood, alongside the right hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull North (Dame Diana Johnson). I assure him that Sir Brian’s report is highly detailed and sets out a number of recommendations, and that we will respond to it in full as quickly as possible.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the SNP leader.

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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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I thank the right hon. Lady for her statement, and for her care and unwavering dedication to delivering justice. She knows better than anyone in the House the devastation that this scandal has inflicted on the community, and the strength they have shown in their fight for the truth. Sir Brian’s report sets out a decades-long failure and makes it clear that this is a moment of national shame. No one could fail to be moved by the stories within it, by the utterly shameful treatment of victims and their loved ones, by the callousness and cruelty that they suffered, and by their outstanding bravery, resilience and refusal to yield to a lifetime of prejudice and trauma. They have fought for the truth to be out, and they were right. Above all, today is a day for their voices to be heard.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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That completes this short statement. There will be a full statement tomorrow, when all the details of compensation will be brought to the House and all Members will be able to get in.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Lindsay Hoyle and Rishi Sunak
Wednesday 15th May 2024

(1 week, 5 days ago)

Commons Chamber
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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Unlike both the Liberal Democrats and Labour, who believe in top-down targets that would decimate the green belt, we believe in local people having a say over their local communities. That is why we are ensuring that we make best use of brownfield land and that we conserve and enhance our precious countryside for generations to come.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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We now come to the Leader of the Opposition.

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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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I thank my hon. Friend for rightly championing the views of his constituents on this important topic. Network operators must follow legal obligations when deploying their networks and Ofcom can, in fact, investigate reports of failure to follow those obligations. I know that the Minister for Data and Digital Infrastructure, my hon. Friend the Member for Hornchurch and Upminster (Julia Lopez), met representatives of the sector and Ofcom recently to raise concerns about reports of poor pole siting and asked operators to share infrastructure, and I will ask her specifically to give my hon. Friend a more detailed update.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the leader of the Scottish National party.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Lindsay Hoyle and Rishi Sunak
Wednesday 8th May 2024

(2 weeks, 5 days ago)

Commons Chamber
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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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My hon. Friend is a fantastic champion for her local area, and can I also thank her daughter for her service in the armed forces? My hon. Friend is right: I am not surprised that Labour Members do not back our plans to stop the boats and I am not surprised they do not back our plans to get people into work and reform welfare, but I do think that they should do the right thing when it comes to the security of our nation, and that is to back our plans to increase defence spending and give our brave armed forces personnel the resources they need to keep us safe.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the Leader of the Opposition.

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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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My right hon. Friend is right that these crossings are incredibly dangerous and risk people’s lives. Just weeks ago, a seven-year-old girl died attempting a crossing. That is why, as a matter of basic compassion, we must do everything we can to break the cycle of the criminal gangs.

That is why we need a deterrent. That is what the National Crime Agency says, and that is how we dealt with illegal migrants from Albania. It is only by removing people who should not be here that we remove the reason for them to come in the first place. That is how we will control our borders. It is clear that it is only the Conservative party that has a plan not only to stop the boats but to stop the tragic loss of life in the channel, too.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the Scottish National party leader.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Lindsay Hoyle and Rishi Sunak
Wednesday 1st May 2024

(3 weeks, 5 days ago)

Commons Chamber
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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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I start by paying tribute to my hon. Friend’s husband and all our veterans for their service to our country. In the most uncertain times since the cold war, it is right that we build our security, protecting our values, our interests and indeed our nation. That is why this Government have taken the step to increase defence spending to 2.5% of GDP, making us the biggest spender in Europe under NATO. When the Labour leader stands up, I hope he stops dithering, does the right thing and confirms that he will back our plan to increase defence spending.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the Leader of the Opposition.

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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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We addressed that a few weeks ago, and I am happy to address it again. I know that economics is not the right hon. and learned Gentleman’s strong point, but he would do well to listen to his shadow Education Secretary, the hon. Member for Houghton and Sunderland South (Bridget Phillipson), who just this morning said, “No, that’s not how it works.” Indeed, the Institute for Fiscal Studies has also said that the link between national insurance and public services funding is “illusory”—just like Labour’s economic plans. However, it is crystal clear that there is one party that will deliver tax cuts for working Britain, and it is the Conservative party. [Interruption.]

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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Order. Whoever is banging the furniture will have to pay for it if they damage it. Can we have less of that? We are not in the sixth form now.

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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Our plan is working. Legal migration, the latest figures show, is down by 24% and student dependants down by 80%. We all know Labour’s big idea: it is to scrap the Rwanda plan even when it is operational. However, as one senior Labour adviser said to Andrew Marr just yesterday:

“'We can’t just come in, tear it up, and have nothing to put in its place”.

I am sorry to break it to Labour Members, but that is exactly their policy. While we are getting on and stopping the boats, all Labour would do is stop the planes.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the SNP leader.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Lindsay Hoyle and Rishi Sunak
Wednesday 17th April 2024

(1 month, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber
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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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We know how vital bus services are for communities right across the country. That is why we are providing Devon with £17 million to deliver better bus services, and we introduced the £2 fare bus cap. I know that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport recently visited my hon. Friend and saw the benefits of reopening Barnstaple bus station, and it is clear that the local Liberal Democrats should just get on and do it.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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We now come to the Leader of the Opposition.

Keir Starmer Portrait Keir Starmer (Holborn and St Pancras) (Lab)
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I, too, welcome the postmasters in the Gallery, in their quest for justice.

This week we marked 35 years since the disaster at Hillsborough, and the enduring courage and determination of the families must be marked by the passing of a Hillsborough law.

We also lost Lord Richard Rosser, a lifelong member of the Labour party. He will be greatly missed, and our thoughts are with his wife Sheena and his family and friends.

I am privileged to be the proud owner of a copy of the former Prime Minister’s new book. It is a rare unsigned copy; it is the only unsigned copy. It is quite the read. She claims that the Tory party’s disastrous kamikaze Budget, which triggered chaos for millions, was the “happiest moment” of her premiership. Has the Prime Minister met anyone with a mortgage who agrees?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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All I would say is that the right hon. and learned Gentleman ought to spend a bit less time reading that book, and a bit more time reading the Deputy Leader’s tax advice. [Interruption.]

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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Order. I want to get through Prime Minister’s questions.

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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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I thank my hon. Friend for his tireless campaigning on behalf of the residents of Carlton. Our long-term plan for towns means that 75 towns across the country including Carlton will benefit from £20 million each to invest in their local area. Crucially, as he has said, it will be in the hands of local people to decide on their priorities for the place where they live. Whether it is regenerating local high streets, investing in parks and green spaces or tackling antisocial behaviour, we are levelling up across the country and he deserves enormous praise for his role in securing that investment.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the Scottish National party leader.

Iran-Israel Update

Debate between Lindsay Hoyle and Rishi Sunak
Monday 15th April 2024

(1 month, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber
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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister (Rishi Sunak)
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Mr Speaker, before I start, I would like to express my deepest sympathy, and I am sure that of the whole House, on the death of your father. He was a true giant of not just this House, but the other place, too.

I also want to express my solidarity with our Australian friends after the horrific and senseless attacks in Sydney in recent days. Our thoughts are with all those affected.

On Saturday evening, Iran sought to plunge the middle east into a new crisis. It launched a barrage of missiles and attack drones over Iraq and Jordan, and towards Israel. The scale of the attack, and the fact that it was targeted directly at Israel, are without precedent. It was a reckless and dangerous escalation. If it had succeeded, the fallout for regional security and the toll on Israeli citizens would have been catastrophic, but it did not succeed.

In support of Israel’s own defensive action, the United Kingdom joined a US-led international effort, along with France and partners in the region, that intercepted almost all of the missiles, saving lives in Israel and its neighbours. We sent additional RAF Typhoons to the region as part of our existing operations against Daesh in Iraq and Syria, and I can confirm that our forces destroyed a number of Iranian drones. We also provided important intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance support for our partners. Our pilots put themselves in harm’s way to protect the innocent and preserve peace and stability. I spoke to the RAF earlier today; they are the best of the best, and I know that the whole House will join me in expressing our gratitude.

With this attack, Iran has once again shown its true colours. It is intent on sowing chaos in its own backyard—on further destabilising the middle east. Our aim is to support stability and security because that is right for the region, and because although the middle east is thousands of miles away, it has a direct effect on our security and prosperity at home, so we are working urgently with our allies to de-escalate the situation and prevent further bloodshed. We want to see calmer heads prevail, and we are directing all our diplomatic efforts to that end.

Yesterday I spoke to my fellow G7 leaders. We are united in our condemnation of this attack. We discussed further potential diplomatic measures, which we will be working together to co-ordinate in the coming days. I will also shortly speak to Prime Minister Netanyahu to express our solidarity with Israel in the face of this attack, and to discuss how we can prevent further escalation. All sides must show restraint.

Our actions reflect our wider strategy in the middle east, which I have set out in the House previously. I believe there are three vital steps to put the region on to a better path. First, we must uphold regional security against hostile actors, including in the Red sea, and we must ensure Israel’s security. That is non-negotiable and a fundamental condition for peace in the region. In the face of the threats that we saw this weekend, Israel has our full support.

Secondly, we must invest more deeply in the two-state solution. That is what we have been doing over the past six months, including working closely with the Palestinian Authority, so that when the time comes, they can provide more effective governance for Gaza and the west bank. It is significant that other regional partners actually helped to prevent a much worse attack over the weekend. It reminds us how important the attempts to normalise relations between Israel and its neighbours really are, and they hold out precious hope for the region.

Thirdly, the conflict in Gaza must end. Hamas, who are backed by Iran, started this war. They wanted not just to kill and murder, but to destabilise the whole region. This weekend, they rejected the latest hostage deal, which offered a road to a ceasefire. It is Israel’s right, and indeed its duty, to defeat the threat from Hamas terrorists and defend its security. I want to be clear: nothing that has happened over the past 48 hours affects our position on Gaza. The appalling toll on civilians continues to grow—the hunger, the desperation and the loss of life on an awful scale. The whole country wants to see an end to the bloodshed, and to see more humanitarian support going in. The recent increase in aid flows is positive, but it is still not enough. We need to see new crossings open for longer to get in vital supplies.

I want to take this opportunity, Mr Speaker, to pay tribute to the three British aid workers who were killed in Gaza: John Chapman, James Kirby and James Henderson. They were heroes. The children of Gaza whom they were risking their lives to feed need a humanitarian pause immediately, leading to a long-term sustainable ceasefire. That is the fastest way to get hostages out and aid in, and to stop the fighting. Israelis and Palestinians alike deserve to live in peace, dignity and security, and so do people across the entire region.

In conclusion, Saturday’s attack was the act not of a people, but of a despotic regime, and it is emblematic of the dangers that we face today. The links between such regimes are growing. Tel Aviv was not the only target of Iranian drones on Saturday; Putin was also launching them at Kyiv and Kharkiv. And who was the sole voice speaking up for Iran yesterday, seeking to justify its actions? Russia.

The threats to stability are growing, not just in the middle east but everywhere, and we are meeting those threats, time after time, with British forces at the forefront. It is why our pilots were in action this weekend. It is why they have been policing the skies above Iraq and Syria for a decade. It is why our sailors are defending freedom of navigation in the Red sea against the reckless attacks of the Iran-backed Houthi militia. It is why our soldiers are on the ground in Kosovo, Estonia, Poland and elsewhere, and it is why we have led the way in backing Ukraine, and we will continue to back it for as long as it takes. When adversaries such as Russia or Iran threaten peace and prosperity, we will always stand in their way, ready to defend our values and our interests, shoulder to shoulder with our friends and our allies. I commend this statement to the House.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the Leader of the Opposition.

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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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I thank the right hon. and learned Gentleman for his support of the Government’s actions. With regard to what might happen going forward, ultimately, Israel has a right to self-defence, as any state does. The G7 leaders spoke yesterday and unequivocally condemned Iran’s attack, and expressed full solidarity and support for Israel and its people. But as the Foreign Secretary said this morning, this is a time to be

“smart as well as tough”.

Israel has incredibly successfully repelled the Iranian attack, and Iran is even more isolated on the world stage. As others have said, we urge Israel to take the win at this point. We want to avoid further escalation and bloodshed—the right hon. and learned Gentleman is right that that would be deeply destabilising for the region and would risk more lives—and all our diplomatic efforts at this point will be geared towards that goal, in partnership with our allies.

As I have said previously, the behaviour of the Iranian regime, including the actions of IRGC, poses a significant threat to the safety and security of the UK and our allies. Yesterday at the G7, we agreed to work together on further measures to counter the Iranian regime and its proxies. It was agreed that we should co-ordinate those actions, and that work is now under way. Obviously, at the appropriate time, I or Ministers will update the House. As the right hon. and learned Gentleman will know, we have already sanctioned over 400 Iranian individuals, including the IRGC in its entirety. We put in place at the end of last year a new sanctions regime that gives us more extensive powers to designate sanctions, and of course, the National Security Act 2023 created new offences for espionage and foreign interference, and means that our security services have the powers that they need to deter, disrupt and detect threats of a more modern nature from states such as Iran.

Lastly, with regard to diplomacy for Israel and the region, we are absolutely committed to a two-state solution. We have been working very hard and using all our efforts to bring that about, particularly over the past few months, by building up the capability of the Palestinian Authority, as I have said, so that they have the necessary technical and administrative capability when the moment comes for them to provide effective governance in the west bank and Gaza. It is absolutely my view, and that of the Government, that Israelis and Palestinians should have the opportunity to live side by side in peace, with security, dignity and opportunity, and I am proud of the role that the United Kingdom is playing.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee.

Alicia Kearns Portrait Alicia Kearns (Rutland and Melton) (Con)
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My condolences, Mr Speaker, on the loss of your father.

This remains a dangerous moment, yet over the weekend we saw a demonstration of unity and purpose. We saw the depth of will for normalisation and for a secure future for all peoples of the middle east. Restraint is vital if we want to build on the momentum to get hostages home to their families and to get improvements to continuing aid, but to better protect our people, will my right hon. Friend commit to launching with our allies a new consensus on Iran and a new effort—with combined diplomatic, military and wider expert areas—to limit the extent of the atrocities of Iran? We need to end the compartmentalisation of threats when we deal with Iran; we must deal with it as one, whether on its nuclear ambitious, the arming of the militia, femicide or transnational repression. Only with a new consensus will we see that progress, so will he please commit to leading that internationally?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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I can give my hon. Friend that commitment. That was exactly the subject of our discussions among the G7 leaders yesterday. She mentions nuclear. Iran’s nuclear programme has never been more advanced than it is today; it threatens international peace and security. There is absolutely no justification, at a civilian level, for the enrichment that we are seeing and which the International Atomic Energy Agency has reported in Iran. I want to reassure her that we are considering next steps on the nuclear file with our international partners, and we are committed to using all diplomatic tools available to ensure that Iran never develops a nuclear weapon, including using the snapback mechanism if necessary.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the SNP spokesperson.

Mhairi Black Portrait Mhairi Black (Paisley and Renfrewshire South) (SNP)
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I echo the Prime Minister in passing on our thoughts not only to you, Mr Speaker, but to the families of the aid workers who have been killed in Gaza.

I condemn the acts of violence by the Iranian regime. They are no more than a cynical attempt to exploit the suffering, pain and turmoil being experienced by people in Palestine right now. While we rightly condemn the violent acts of Iran, so too must we condemn the violent acts of Israel. From listening to the interviews that he has been giving, the Foreign Secretary is correct in his attempt to uphold the principle of proportionality, but if firing 100 missiles in retaliation for an isolated attack on an embassy is—correctly—considered disproportionate, so too must be Israel’s 192-day bombardment of Gaza.

We know that the agenda in Tehran is to bring about as much instability as possible. We all have a responsibility to ensure that that does not happen. There is not going to be a military solution to the conflict in the middle east. There must be a political and diplomatic solution, so what is required now is the same as what was required six months ago: we need de-escalation, and for the causes of conflict in the region to be reviewed. The biggest continuing cause of conflict is the siege of Gaza; hence the need for a ceasefire. Can the Prime Minister outline what he is doing to ensure that the ceasefire mandated by the UN Security Council becomes a reality?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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First, it is important not to try to draw any equivalence between Israel’s absolute right—indeed, duty—to provide security for its citizens in the face of an appalling terrorist atrocity and what happened over the weekend. Those things are not remotely the same. More broadly, though, as I have said repeatedly from this Dispatch Box, we urge Israel to abide by international humanitarian law. We have been very clear that too many civilians have been killed, and we are deeply concerned about the impact on the civilian population in Gaza; our diplomatic efforts are geared towards alleviating that suffering. I will continue to raise those points with Prime Minister Netanyahu when I speak to him, but, as I have said, drawing an equivalence between those two things is absolutely not the right thing to do.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the Chair of the Defence Committee.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Lindsay Hoyle and Rishi Sunak
Wednesday 20th March 2024

(2 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber
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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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Today’s figures show that our plan is working. Inflation has fallen to 3.4% from its peak of over 11%, down by almost 70%—the steepest fall since the 1980s, and now at the lowest level since September 2021—and people’s pay packets are going further, with real wages growing for eight months in a row and taxes being cut by £900 for the average worker. That is why we need to stick to the plan to deliver a brighter future for our country.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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We now come to the Leader of the Opposition.

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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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It is crystal clear that not only does the Labour party not have a plan to fix this issue, but the truth is it does not actually care about fixing this issue. The right hon. and learned Gentleman talks about gangs. When we gave the police new powers to crack down on the people-smuggling gangs, he spent months campaigning and voting against it. But thanks to our new laws, 900 criminals have been arrested and 450 have been convicted, serving over 370 years behind bars. If it was up to him, those criminals would still be out on our streets. The truth is that, if he was not the Labour leader, he would still want to be their lawyer. [Hon. Members: “More!]

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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Order.

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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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May I start by thanking my hon. Friend for her excellent work campaigning on this issue? She is right: employers should offer their staff understanding, support, and flexibility while they are undergoing fertility treatment. The best way to improve the experience of those undergoing treatment, both women and their partners, is through voluntary approaches. That is why I join my hon. Friend in encouraging all companies to sign up to the fertility workplace pledge.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the SNP leader.

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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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I addressed this last week, and the Minister for Women and Equalities addressed it just half an hour ago.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the Father of the House.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Lindsay Hoyle and Rishi Sunak
Wednesday 13th March 2024

(2 months, 2 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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My right hon. Friend is right that our incredible NHS staff deserve our utmost thanks for their service. I am pleased that many NHS organisations, as he knows, have their own schemes in place to do that. We also recognise outstanding NHS staff through our honours system, and MPs are able to acknowledge their work through the NHS parliamentary awards. Nominations remain open and I encourage colleagues to avail themselves of that scheme. I will make sure that my right hon. Friend gets to meet the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, to discuss his specific proposals further.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the Leader of the Opposition.

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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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I am glad that the right hon. and learned Gentleman has brought up the Budget; it is about time that he spoke about his plans, because what have we heard from the shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury—[Interruption.]

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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Order. I call the Prime Minister.

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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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My hon. Friend is absolutely right that we stepped in with a £150 million financial lifeline to ensure the survival of premiership rugby league clubs during the pandemic. I am told that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport is working with Sport England, as the agent, to talk to borrowers with concerns about their loan agreements—any that have concerns should contact Sport England in the normal way. I can also proudly tell him that we are talking to the Rugby Football Union and the premiership league to secure the future not just of rugby union, but of his local Gloucester rugby.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the leader of the SNP.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Lindsay Hoyle and Rishi Sunak
Wednesday 6th March 2024

(2 months, 3 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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As I set out at the NFU conference just a couple of weeks ago, we will always back British farmers for continuing to produce fantastic food. We are accelerating that plan, with the largest package of grants ever. Indeed, one of the new schemes opens just today, supporting farmers with up to £125,000 towards the purchase of new equipment and technology. Our schemes in England are all about more choice, not less. Unlike Labour in Wales, we will never introduce top-down, arbitrary targets that damage farm incomes, damage our food security and take farmers back to square one.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the Leader of the Opposition.

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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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My hon. Friend is right to highlight the challenge that high energy bills have posed not just to his constituents in Romford but to constituents across the country. That is why we stepped in with a significant package of support that paid around half of a typical household energy bill when prices were at their highest.

I know my hon. Friend will join me in welcoming the fact that the energy price cap is set to fall by almost £250 in April, which will bring relief to many families, but we must hold companies to account. That is why we introduced the energy profits levy on the windfall profits caused by an unexpected increase in energy prices. We are going further to cut people’s costs by cutting their taxes and putting more money into their family bank accounts.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the Scottish National party leader.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Lindsay Hoyle and Rishi Sunak
Wednesday 28th February 2024

(2 months, 4 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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Our dentistry recovery plan will make dental services faster, simpler and fairer for patients, including in Clacton, and will fund around 2.5 million more appointments. The matter that my hon. Friend raises, as he will know, is a local matter, so the integrated care board will determine whether it wishes to support the pilot proposal in Clacton, but I know that the Minister for Public Health, my right hon. Friend the Member for South Northamptonshire (Dame Andrea Leadsom) has written to my hon. Friend about the proposal, and I hope that her letter addresses his concerns.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the Leader of the Opposition.

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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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I join my hon. Friend in thanking people up and down the country, including the people of Bracknell, for welcoming Ukrainian families into their homes and communities. During my visit to Ukraine in January I announced a major new package of support, including £2.5 billion of military assistance. Last week, we announced 50 new sanctions that target individuals and businesses that are sustaining Putin’s illegal war machine. Our support to Ukraine will never waver.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the Scottish National party leader.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Lindsay Hoyle and Rishi Sunak
Wednesday 21st February 2024

(3 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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This was a horrific attack, and my thoughts are with the victims and their family. Obviously, I cannot comment on a live investigation, but speaking more broadly, clearly I do not think that it is right for dangerous foreign criminals to be able to stay in our country. That is why our Nationality and Borders Act 2022 made it clear that anyone who is convicted of a crime and gets a sentence of 12 months or more will not be granted asylum in the United Kingdom. That is the common-sense position, which I believe is supported by the majority of the British public, but one that the Labour party voted against time and time again.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the Leader of the Opposition.

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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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My hon. Friend is right to raise the concerns of his constituents. I assure him that we want asylum accommodation to have as little impact as possible on the local community. I understand that the Home Office has put a number of measures in place, including a specialist security provider working on site 24/7 and CCTV, and it is working with the local police as well. However, I know my hon. Friend agrees with me that the only way to stop this problem fully and ensure that local communities are not seeing the housing of illegal migrants—whether that is on large sites or in hotels—is to have a plan to stop the boats. That is what this party and this Government do, and it is Labour that is blocking us at every step of the way.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the SNP leader.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Lindsay Hoyle and Rishi Sunak
Wednesday 7th February 2024

(3 months, 2 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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We are publishing the dentistry recovery plan today, and my right hon. Friend the Health Secretary will be making a statement shortly. Over 1 million more people saw an NHS dentist last year than the year before, but we know that there is more to do. That is why the recovery plan will make sure that NHS dental care is faster, simpler and fairer for patients and staff.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the Leader of the Opposition.

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Keir Starmer Portrait Keir Starmer
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I think the role of the Prime Minister is to ensure that every single citizen in this country feels safe and respected, and it is a shame that the Prime Minister does not share that view. I welcome the fact that he has finally admitted that he has failed on NHS waiting lists. I also welcome the fact that he has finally acknowledged the crisis in NHS dentistry. He is calling it a “recovery plan”, after 14 years of Tory Government. What exactly does he think NHS dentistry is recovering from?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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As ever—[Interruption.]

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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Order. I am certainly not having that from the Opposition Front Bench either. Please, I want to hear this. I am hoping that election fever is not coming tomorrow, so let us not behave as though it is.

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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As ever, the right hon. and learned Gentleman conveniently forgets the impact of a pandemic on NHS dentistry; it was specifically because of the close proximity nature of dental provision that it was unable to operate as normal throughout the pandemic—that was a recommendation of the medical and clinical experts. That is why, inevitably, there is a backlog in dental care, with the impact that this has. But that is why, as my right hon. Friend the Health Secretary will outline later today for the House, we are putting in more funding to provide more NHS provision across the country, on top of plans that will see the number of dental training places increase by 40%. Our plans mean that there will be 2.5 million more NHS appointments, which is, in fact, three times more than the Labour party is proposing.

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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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My hon. Friend is right to highlight our record of providing support to the country when it needed it, whether it is the NHS, vaccines, furlough during covid or, most recently, help with people’s energy bills. We are only able to afford that because of the strong management of our economy. That is why we must stick with the plan and not risk going back to square one with the Labour party, which, as we know, has absolutely no plan and will cost everyone in this country with its £28 billion of tax rises.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the leader of the Scottish National party.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Lindsay Hoyle and Rishi Sunak
Wednesday 24th January 2024

(4 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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My—[Interruption.]

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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Order. I want to hear the answer.

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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My hon. Friend raises an important matter to the people of Eastleigh, which I was pleased to discuss with him on my recent visit to his area, and I know that the contents of the report are deeply concerning. It is disappointing to see this Lib Dem-run council rack up debt with absolutely no plan for how to fund it. The council has been issued with a best value notice, and I know that he is talking to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, which will be monitoring this situation closely.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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We now come to the Leader of the Opposition.

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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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Let us see what the Labour party is offering the country. We all know that he does not have many ideas for our country—[Interruption.]

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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Order. I am going to hear the Prime Minister.

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

One thing that we do know—[Interruption.]

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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Order. Members do not want to push it, do they? No.

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

We do know that the right hon. and learned Gentleman is committed to his 2030 decarbonisation promise, which the Opposition say will cost £28 billion. I was reading about it this week. He says that he has changed the party, but one of his team called that promise “an albatross” hanging around their neck—that might have been the shadow Chancellor. But he said they are doubling down on it, and all this is ahead of a crunch meeting this week, we are told, for the Opposition to work out how they will pay for that. I can save them some time, because we all know the answer: higher taxes for the British people.

Keir Starmer Portrait Keir Starmer
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There is only one party that crashed the economy, and they are sitting right there. [Interruption.]

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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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I pay tribute to my hon. Friend for his work on this issue. As I am sure he will appreciate, establishing a new bespoke institution is a significant endeavour, but I know that he has discussed it with the Foreign Secretary, who will look at the proposals in more detail. In the meantime, as he knows, our Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act 2023 has a raft of new measures to crack down on dirty money, and we will shortly publish our second anti-corruption strategy. We will set out ambitious plans for combating corruption both here at home and internationally.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the SNP leader.

Tributes to Sir Tony Lloyd

Debate between Lindsay Hoyle and Rishi Sunak
Tuesday 23rd January 2024

(4 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister (Rishi Sunak)
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Last week, the whole House was deeply saddened by the loss of one of our longest-serving and most respected Members, Sir Tony Lloyd. I offer my sincere condolences and those of the whole Government to his wife, Judith, their children and grandchildren, and all of his friends and family.

Tony and I of course came from different political traditions, but I deeply respected him as a man of great integrity, compassion and humour, a gentle, but fierce advocate for his constituents and his values, and a dedicated parliamentarian. He loved this House, he said, for the “shenanigans of the place”, and it has said everything about his pragmatic and warm approach to politics that we have heard and will hear so many heartfelt tributes to him from all sides of this House.

For Tony, politics was always about people. That began, of course, with his constituents in Rochdale and his home city of Manchester. Born in Stretford, within cheering distance of his beloved Old Trafford, he spent 36 years as a Member of Parliament and served as a police and crime commissioner, truly living up to his nickname, Mr Manchester.

Tony gave an interview while recovering from covid that gives us the full measure of the man. All of Tony’s humanity is there—his empathy, his values. He talked of watching a young nurse gently feeding an old man opposite, reflecting, in his words,

“that there is more to life than the next parcel from Amazon. It’s what binds us as a human family really. That enormous decency.”

Tony was an enormously decent man, who gave his life to public service. From local government to crime, Northern Ireland and, perhaps most enduringly, foreign affairs, he was a principled and tireless public servant who made a real difference to the lives of people here and around the world.

Mr Speaker, as you said, in his penultimate contribution in this House, Tony said that

“change can happen, and…we must fight for the change that we want to see”.—[Official Report, 7 December 2023; Vol. 742, c. 184WH.]

From the beginning of his career right to the end, Tony Lloyd lived those words. He was a great family man, a great man of Manchester and a great man of the House of Commons. He will be missed, but he and the change he fought for and achieved will never be forgotten. [Hon. Members: “Hear, hear.”]

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the SNP spokesperson.

Action Against Houthi Maritime Attacks

Debate between Lindsay Hoyle and Rishi Sunak
Tuesday 23rd January 2024

(4 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister (Rishi Sunak)
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Overnight, at my order, the Royal Air Force engaged in a second wave of strikes against Houthi military targets in Yemen. We did so because we continue to see, for instance in intelligence, an ongoing and imminent threat from the Houthis to UK commercial and military vessels and to those of our partners in the Red sea and the wider region.

I told the House last week that we would not hesitate to respond if the acts continued, in order to protect innocent lives and preserve the freedom of navigation, and that is what we have done. We acted alongside the United States, with support from Australia, Bahrain, Canada and the Netherlands. We acted on the same basis as on 11 January—fully in line with international law, in self-defence and in response to a persistent threat—and, and as with the first wave, the strikes were limited to carefully selected targets, with maximum care taken to protect civilian lives.

Attempting to counter every Houthi attack after it has been launched is simply not sustainable. We have already shot down dozens of missiles and drones targeted at civilian vessels and at the Royal Navy, and the Houthis have conducted at least 12 further attacks on shipping since 11 January, including just last night, shortly before our strikes were conducted. So we acted to further degrade their ability to mount such attacks.

Last week I gave the House our initial assessment of the first wave of strikes. Since then, we have seen further evidence that they were successful in degrading the Houthis’ military capability. Last night we hit two military sites just north of Sana’a, each containing multiple specific targets which the Houthis used to support their attacks on shipping.

I want to be very clear: we are not seeking a confrontation. We urge the Houthis, and those who enable them, to stop these illegal and unacceptable attacks. But if necessary, the United Kingdom will not hesitate to respond again in self-defence. We cannot stand by and allow these attacks to go unchallenged. Inaction is also a choice. With that in mind, and given the persistent nature of the threat, it was important to update the House again today. I listened carefully to right hon. and hon. Members last week, and we will give the House a chance for a full debate on our broader approach in the Red sea tomorrow.

We took extensive steps to address this threat to international security before taking military action. We launched Operation Prosperity Guardian in December with over 20 other countries. The international community issued repeated statements on 1 December, 19 December, 3 January and 12 January condemning the attacks and urging the Houthis to desist. On 10 January, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution demanding that they stop the attacks. I think it is important to note that the internationally recognised Government of Yemen have also condemned the Houthis for their actions, accusing them of

“creating a conflict for propaganda”

serving only their own selfish ends.

As we saw in the House last week, Members are rightly keen to hear how this situation can be brought to an end. The answer must include the vital right to self-defence when we are attacked, but that is only one part of our wider response, which I want to say more about today. First, we are increasing our diplomatic engagement, because we recognise the deep concerns about, and the complexities of, the current situation. I spoke to President Biden about these issues last night. The Foreign Secretary will be in the region in the coming days, and he met his Iranian counterpart last week. He made it clear that they must cease supplying the Houthis with weapons and intelligence and use their influence to stop Houthi attacks.

Secondly, we must end the illegal flow of arms to the Houthi militia. We have intercepted weapons shipments in the region before, including components of the very missiles used by the Houthis today. This brings home the importance of maritime security in the region, and it includes working closely with our allies and partners to disrupt and deter the supply of weapons and components.

Thirdly, we will use the most effective means at our disposal to cut off the Houthis’ financial resources, where they are used to fund these attacks. We are working closely with the US on this and plan to announce new sanctions measures in the coming days.

Fourthly, we need to keep helping the people of Yemen, who have suffered so terribly as a result of the country’s civil war. We will continue to deliver humanitarian aid and to support a negotiated peace in that conflict, not just because it is the right thing to do but because we need to show the people of Yemen that we have no quarrel with them—as the Yemeni Government understand. This is our strategy and we will keep all other tools under close review as well.

I repeat that there is no link between our actions of self-defence in the Red sea and the situation in Israel and Gaza. Those who make that link do the Houthis’ work for them, and I want to be clear that those here at home who glorify the Houthis’ attacks are glorifying terrorism, plain and simple. They will be met with a zero-tolerance approach. All of that said, I would like to address the situation in Israel and Gaza directly because it remains at the forefront of Members’ minds. President Biden and I discussed this again yesterday and he shares my deep concerns about the situation and the terrible suffering and loss of civilian lives, so together we are working to establish a new aid route through the port of Ashdod.

The UK wants to see an end to the fighting in Gaza as soon as possible. We are calling for an immediate humanitarian pause to get aid in and hostages out, as a vital step towards building a sustainable, permanent ceasefire without a return to destruction, fighting and loss of life. To achieve that, Hamas must agree to the release of all hostages. They can no longer be in charge of Gaza. The threat from Hamas terror and rocket attacks must end, and an agreement must be in place for the Palestinian Authority to return to Gaza to provide governance, services and security. That pathway to peace should unite the whole House. I believe we are also united in support of a two-state solution.

Through all the complexity of the current situation, our principles hold firm: resolute in the face of threats, compassionate in support of those in need, and determined in maintaining stability, security and the rule of law. That is what our allies and partners have come to expect from the United Kingdom, and that is what we stand for.

I commend this statement to the House.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the Leader of the Opposition.

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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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I thank the Leader of the Opposition for his statement and his support—I am grateful to him for that. He raises all the right questions about the action today, which I am happy to answer.

First, the right hon. and learned Gentleman asked about the effectiveness of strikes in deterring and precisely degrading capability. I am pleased to tell him that further evidence, after the initial statement I made last week, has demonstrated to us that the strikes last week were effective in degrading capability and all the intended targets were destroyed. I am also pleased to say that our initial evidence from last night’s strikes is also that all intended targets were destroyed, which demonstrates to us that, working with our allies, who have the same view, the strikes are working to degrade capability, even though, as the right hon. and learned Gentleman said, there may be a difference between reducing and eliminating. We are confident that what we are doing is working to degrade capability. The targets are specifically selected on the basis of intelligence; they are military sites that impact the security and safety of seafarers and shipping. To that end, I am confident that, as I said, the strikes are being carried out in a way that is effective in achieving their aim.

I thank the right hon. and learned Gentleman for acknowledging that the strikes sit within a wider strategy in the region to bring about an end to what we are seeing. The Foreign Secretary will be in the region this week, engaging extensively with our partners and allies on all the topics that the right hon. and learned Gentleman raised, and particularly ensuring that we can continue to make progress on a sustainable peace in Yemen. No doubt the Foreign Secretary will talk to our Saudi partners about that and, crucially, broaden the coalition of support for the action we have taken.

As I pointed to in my statement, multiple statements have been made by a wide coalition of countries from around the world in support of action. The right hon. and learned Gentleman can rest assured that we are continuing to expand that coalition of support, because the security of navigation and shipping impacts all countries, wherever they might be, not just in the Red sea. All of us have seen the consequences of the war in Ukraine on energy bills across the European continent and beyond, so I think people are very alive to the interconnectedness of the global economy and the importance of protecting freedom of navigation everywhere.

On the legal advice, my understanding was that we had published or were imminently about to publish a summary of the legal advice—I can happily give the right hon. and learned Gentleman that confirmation. I can also confirm to him that the basis for action remains the same as it was last time, but an update to that effect has been published or will shortly be published by the Attorney General.

Lastly, I will touch on the right hon. and learned Gentleman’s broader point. He is right to highlight the malign influence of Iran in the region. Obviously, we do not comment on ongoing decisions or processes relating to the proscription of organisations, but he can rest assured that we are alive to the risk and working closely with our allies, particularly the United States and our European allies, to jointly work out the most effective way of countering that influence. As I have said, the Foreign Secretary spoke to his counterpart last week, and we will continue to use all measures at our disposal to protect ourselves. We passed the National Security Act 2023 here in the UK and have already sanctioned the IRGC in its entirety.

More generally, on the specific action we have taken, I again thank the right hon. and learned Gentleman for his support. We have taken limited, proportionate and, I believe, necessary action in self-defence. We will always reserve the right to do that to protect innocent lives and freedom of navigation. Our desired outcome, of course, is for the Houthis to desist and to de-escalate the situation. What they are doing is unacceptable and illegal, and the onus should be on them to stop it. But we will use all levers at our disposal, including diplomacy and sanctions, to achieve that objective.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the Chair of the Defence Committee.

Jeremy Quin Portrait Sir Jeremy Quin (Horsham) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I welcome what my right hon. Friend says about diplomatic and humanitarian efforts, and indeed cutting off the supply of arms. I particularly welcome what he says about the effectiveness of the strikes that have already taken place. However, does he agree that in order to protect civilian shipping, this may need to be a prolonged and persistent targeted campaign alongside our allies?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank my right hon. Friend for his question. I want to be absolutely clear that no decision has been taken to embark on a sustained campaign of the nature that he mentioned—these were limited strikes, specifically in response to threats that we perceived—but we do reserve the right to take action in self-defence, as I have said. Crucially, the military action is just one part of a broader strategy, including diplomacy, sanctions and other things; we will use all levers to bring about an end to the disruption and the illegality that the Houthis are causing.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the leader of the Scottish National party.

Stephen Flynn Portrait Stephen Flynn (Aberdeen South) (SNP)
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Freedom of navigation is not a choice: it is a necessity, not least because of the impact there could be on all the people we are very fortunate to represent. As such, as a point of principle it is fair for the Government to use proportionate and robust action to defend that right to freedom of navigation. However, all of us in this Chamber need to be mindful of the opponent that we face in this regard. The Houthis have been under almost constant bombardment from Saudi Arabia for the best part of eight years; they did not get that message, so why are we so confident that they will get our message this time around?

That, of course, leads to the wider question: what is the ultimate strategy going forward, in relation not just to the Houthis but to the wider region? Over the past week, we have seen missile strikes in Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Pakistan, Syria and, of course, Yemen. In the meantime, we continue to see the complete destruction of Gaza and, of course, Hamas continue to obtain hostages. We need to understand the Government’s strategy to calm waters not just in the Red sea but right across the region. Surely that must begin with a ceasefire in Gaza.

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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As difficult as the situation is, to do nothing would also be a choice. I believe that would be the wrong choice because it would be tantamount to ceding control of a global, economically vital shipping route to a dangerous militant group that is backed by Iran, and it would put innocent lives at risk. The hon. Gentleman is right that the military action should sit within a broader strategy, which hopefully he can tell from my statement we are engaged in on all fronts.

On the hon. Gentleman’s point about Israel and Gaza, as I have made clear, no one wants to see this conflict go on for a moment longer than necessary. An immediate pause is necessary to get aid in and hostages out—that is what we have been calling for. The best outcome will be moving from that pause to a sustainable ceasefire, but, as I was clear about in my statement, a number of things need to happen for that to be possible, including the release of all the hostages by Hamas, Hamas no longer being in charge in Gaza and an agreement for the Palestinian Authority to return to Gaza to provide governance. That is a conversation we have been having, and we will continue to push for that, because I believe that will be the best outcome and it is one that is widely supported by, I would imagine, everyone in this House.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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Just to help the House, some people were late, and we are only going to run this for an hour, so please try to help each other by being as quick as you can. I call the Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee.

Alicia Kearns Portrait Alicia Kearns (Rutland and Melton) (Con)
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I welcome the airstrikes, which were conducted solely to re-establish freedom of maritime movement. However, there are a number of Iranian proxies and allied groups operating across the middle east, and the hand of Iran is clear in their activities. Iran is the fundamental threat to UK security and to stability in the region. What is the strategic approach and intent to comprehensively reduce the threat that we face from all the proxies and allies, so that we do not end up playing whack-a-mole? Have we seen any opportunism from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula or Daesh, who are also on the ground in Iran? Finally, as the Prime Minister touched on Gaza-Israel, please may I reiterate my request for the UK to launch a contact group for Palestine, so that we can launch track 2 negotiations to get some progress towards stability and a two-state solution?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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The behaviour of the Iranian regime, including the actions of the IRGC, poses a significant threat to the safety and security of the United Kingdom and our allies, particularly given Iran’s direct threats against people here in the UK, as well as its destabilising influence in the region. We are alive to the threat, which is why we have already sanctioned more than 400 Iranian individuals, including the IRGC in its entirety. The National Security Act 2023 provides new measures for our police and security services to counter the hostile influence that we see.

The Foreign Secretary spoke to his Iranian counterpart last week, and we will continue that diplomacy this week. As I pointed out in my statement, we have previously interdicted the supply of Iranian missiles being smuggled to the Houthis, last year and the year before. We need to ensure that we work with our allies to do that, because the flow of those weapons to the Houthis is critical to their ability to carry out these attacks. Working with our allies, we should try to do everything we can to stop that.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the leader of the Liberal Democrat party.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Lindsay Hoyle and Rishi Sunak
Wednesday 17th January 2024

(4 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber
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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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I send my warmest wishes to my hon. Friend and his father and family. I recognise that a dementia diagnosis can bring worry, both for the person who is diagnosed and for their wider family. He is absolutely right about the timely diagnosis of dementia; it is vital to ensure that those affected can access the care and support they need. NHS England is carrying out a pilot to ensure that we can improve dementia diagnosis in care homes, and our major conditions strategy includes a focus on dementia. Crucially, as he says, we are now doubling the funding for dementia research so that we can help everyone, including his father.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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We now come to the Leader of the Opposition.

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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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It is the same thing again and again. Here we are, talking about what we are doing, and I am happy to go over it. What are we doing? We have increased the number of illegal immigration enforcement raids by 70%, leading to thousands of arrests, using powers that the right hon. and learned Gentleman sought to block in this House. We have closed down thousands of bank accounts of illegal workers—again, using powers that he sought to block—[Interruption.]

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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Order. Mr Ashworth, do you want that early cup of tea or will you be silent?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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As I said, we have worked through a record number of cases and returned a record number of people back to where they came from. All that is a plan that is working, and we can see that it is working because the number of people coming to this country is down by over a third. Again, it is a bit rich to hear the right hon. and learned Gentleman pretending here that he cares about how we actually stop the boats when he has been crystal clear in saying that even if the plan to reduce the numbers is working, he would still scrap it. That is because he has no values, no conviction and no plan. It is back to square one.

None Portrait Hon. Members
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More!

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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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I have absolute conviction that the plan we have put in place will work, because I believe it is important that we grip this problem. The right hon. and learned Gentleman spends a lot of his time in this House talking about his time as a lawyer, and I would urge him to listen to lawyers, because Lord Wolfson has said that our Bill severely limits the grounds for removal. Four eminent King’s counsels have said that it is undoubtedly the most robust piece of immigration legislation this Parliament has seen, and—[Interruption.]

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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Order. I want to hear what the Prime Minister has to say, because it matters to my constituents; those who feel that it does not matter to theirs should please leave.

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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As I said, Mr Speaker, four eminent KCs have said that this is undoubtedly the most robust legislation this Parliament has seen, and a former Supreme Court justice has been clear that the Bill would work. But I know that the right hon. and learned Gentleman has always been more interested in what leftie lawyers have to say. I even have in my hands the textbook that he authored for them—it is called “European Human Rights Law” by Keir Starmer, so—[Interruption.]

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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Prime Minister, when I stand up, please sit down. Can I just say that we do not use props in this House? If you need reminding, I will certainly ensure that I do so.

Keir Starmer Portrait Keir Starmer
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It is such utterly pathetic nonsense. The Prime Minister has been brutally exposed by his own MPs yet again. He has one party chair who says that she hopes the Lords will rip his Rwanda deal to pieces, and two more who had to quit because they do not think it will work—all of them appointed by him, all now in open revolt against his policy, each other, and reality. Is it any wonder that they all think this gimmick is doomed to failure when the Prime Minister himself does not believe in it?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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It is rich to hear from the right hon. and learned Gentleman about belief in something. It will be news to him that it is actually the case that you can believe in something and stick to that position on this side of the House. [Interruption.]

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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Can I just say to Members on the Government side that this is very important? It is an important day. People want to know what is going on, so I want my constituents, just like yours, to hear what the Prime Minister has to say.

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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Just this week we had another example of the right hon. and learned Gentleman doing one thing and saying another. This week he backed the Home Secretary in banning the terrorist group Hizb ut-Tahrir, despite him personally using the European Court of Human Rights to try to stop them being banned. You do not have to take my word for it; the extremists’ own press release said, and I quote, “the Hizb ut-Tahrir legal team, led by Keir Starmer”. I know that he does not like talking about them because they have been a client, but when I see a group chanting “jihad” on our streets, I ban them; he invoices them. [Interruption.]

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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There are eight questions that I think some Members might want to hear answered. I tell you what: some who wanted questions have already gone off the list.

Defending the UK and Allies

Debate between Lindsay Hoyle and Rishi Sunak
Monday 15th January 2024

(4 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber
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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister (Rishi Sunak)
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I would like to update the House on the action that we took on Thursday night against Houthi military targets in Yemen.

Since 19 November, Iran-backed Houthis have launched over 25 illegal and unacceptable attacks on commercial shipping in the Red sea, and on 9 January they mounted a direct attack against British and American warships. They fired on our ships and our sailors—it was the biggest attack on the Royal Navy for decades—and so we acted. We did so in self-defence, consistent with the UN charter, and to uphold freedom of navigation, as Britain has always done.

Alongside the United States, with support from Australia, Bahrain, Canada and the Netherlands, we ordered the RAF to strike two Houthi military facilities in Yemen. I want to be clear that these were limited strikes. They were carefully targeted at launch sites for drones and ballistic missiles to degrade the Houthis’ capacity to make further attacks on international shipping. I can tell the House today that our initial assessment is that all 13 planned targets were destroyed. At the drone and cruise missile base in Bani, nine buildings were successfully hit. A further three buildings were hit at Abbs airfield, along with a cruise missile launcher caught in the open. We have seen no evidence thus far of civilian casualties, which we took great care to avoid. I know the whole House will join me in paying tribute to the incredible bravery and professionalism of all our servicemen and women.

The need to maximise the security and effectiveness of the operation meant that it was not possible to bring this matter to the House in advance, but we took care to brief Members—including of course you, Mr Speaker, and the Leader of the Opposition—before the strikes took place, and I have come to the House at the earliest possible opportunity. I do not take decisions on the use of force lightly. That is why I stress that this action was taken in self-defence. It was limited, not escalatory. It was a necessary and proportionate response to a direct threat to UK vessels, and therefore to the UK itself.

Let me be absolutely clear why the Royal Navy is in the Red sea. It is there as part of Operation Prosperity Guardian, protecting freedom of navigation as a fundamental tenet of international law. The Houthis’ attacks on international shipping have put innocent lives at risk. They have held one crew hostage for almost two months, and they are causing growing economic disruption. Global commerce cannot operate under such conditions. Containers and tankers are having to take a 5,000-mile detour around the Cape of Good Hope. That pushes up prices and imperils the passage of goods, foods and medicines that the British people and others rely on.

We have attempted to resolve this through diplomacy. After numerous international calls for the attacks to stop, a coalition of countries gave the Houthis a clear and unambiguous warning two weeks ago. Last week, the UN Security Council passed a resolution condemning the attacks and highlighting the right of nations to defend their vessels and preserve freedom of navigation, yet the Houthis continued on their reckless path.

We should not fall for the Houthis’ malign narrative that this is about Israel and Gaza—they target ships from around the world. We continue to work towards a sustainable ceasefire in Gaza and to get more aid to civilians. We also continue to support a negotiated settlement in Yemen’s civil war, but I want to be very clear that this action is completely unrelated to those issues. It is a direct response to the Houthis’ attacks on international shipping. We should also recognise the risks of inaction. It would weaken international security and the rule of law, further damage freedom of navigation and the global economy, and send a dangerous message that British vessels and British interests are fair game.

There is another point here, which is often overlooked. The Houthis’ attacks risk worsening the dire humanitarian situation in Yemen itself. The UK helps to feed around 100,000 Yemenis every month, with aid arriving via the very sea routes that the Houthis have in their sights. The threats to shipping must cease. Illegally detained vessels and crews must be released, and we remain prepared to back our words with actions.

But dealing with that threat does not detract from our other international commitments; rather, it strengthens our determination to uphold fundamental UN principles. If our adversaries think they can distract us from helping Ukraine by threatening international security elsewhere, they could not be more wrong. On Friday, I travelled to Kyiv to meet President Zelensky and address the Ukrainian Parliament. I took a message from this House to the Rada that we will stand with Ukraine today, tomorrow and for as long as it takes. If Putin wins in Ukraine, he will not stop there, and other malign actors will be emboldened. That is why Ukraine’s security is our security. That is why the UK will stay the course, and it is why I am confident that our partners share our resolve.

Far from our resolve faltering, our military support to Ukraine will increase this year. We will provide the biggest single package of defence aid to Ukraine since the war began, worth £2.5 billion. That will include more air defence equipment, more anti-tank weapons, more long-range missiles, thousands more rounds of ammunition and artillery shells, training for thousands more Ukrainian servicemen and women, and the single largest package of advanced drones given to Ukraine by any nation. All of that is on top of what we have already provided to support Ukraine.

In total, since the war began, the United Kingdom will have provided almost £12 billion of aid to Ukraine. We were the first to train Ukrainian troops, the first in Europe to provide lethal weapons, the first to commit main battle tanks, the first to provide long-range missiles, and now we are the first to keep the promise made at last year’s NATO summit, alongside 30 other countries, to provide new bilateral security commitments. Ukraine’s rightful place is in NATO, and NATO will be stronger with Ukraine in it, but these commitments will help bridge the gap until that day comes.

Under the new agreement that we signed with President Zelensky, we are building Ukraine’s military capabilities; and if Russia ever invades Ukraine again, we will provide swift and sustained assistance, including modern equipment across land, air and sea. Together with our allies, the UK will be there from the first moment until the last. For all of this, I bring a message of thanks from President Zelensky to the British people. Today, I hope that the House will join me in sending a message back to the Ukrainian people: that we stand together as one in support of these firm commitments. [Hon. Members: “Hear, hear.”]

We are building a new partnership with Ukraine, designed to last 100 years or more. Yes, it is about defence and security, but it is also about trade, investment, culture and more. There could be no more powerful sign of our unique bond than Ukraine’s decision to adopt English as the language of business and diplomacy. So, through the British Council, we are going to fund English language training for the Ukrainian people.

In dangerous times, we are investing in defence, hardening our critical infrastructure and building our alliances. We are resolute in our principles: international security; the rule of law; and freedom to determine your own future. An attack on those principles is an attack on everything that we believe in and on which our lives and livelihoods depend. As the home of parliamentary democracy and a leader in collective security, it is our responsibility to defend those principles and to defend our people. That is who we are. That is what Britain does and will always do. I commend this statement to the House.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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We come to the Leader of the Opposition.

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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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I am happy to reassure my right hon. Friend that our intention is to increase defence spending from where it currently is up to 2.5% when circumstances allow. It is worth reminding the House that we have consistently over the past decade been the second largest spender on defence in NATO—larger than 20 other countries combined. Our plans will continue to provide that leadership.

Within that, there is a very strong equipment plan, underpinned by the £24 billion extra that the Ministry of Defence received in its most recent settlement, which for the Royal Navy includes Type 26, Type 31 and Type 32 frigates. With regard to the specific vessels my right hon. Friend talks about, the Defence Secretary has asked the First Sea Lord to plan how the Royal Marines’ excellent work can be taken forward, so that they have the capabilities they need to continue their work and the ability to be deployed globally. When that process concludes, the Defence Secretary will of course update the House.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the SNP leader.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Lindsay Hoyle and Rishi Sunak
Wednesday 10th January 2024

(4 months, 2 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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This is one of the greatest miscarriages of justice in our nation’s history. People who worked hard to serve their communities had their lives and reputations destroyed, through absolutely no fault of their own. The victims must get justice and compensation. Sir Wyn Williams’ inquiry is undertaking crucial work to expose what went wrong, and we have paid almost £150 million in compensation, to more than 2,500 victims. But today I can announce that we will introduce new primary legislation to make sure that those convicted as a result of the Horizon scandal are swiftly exonerated and compensated. We will also introduce a new up-front payment of £75,000 for the vital GLO—group litigation order—group of postmasters. May I also thank my hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Kevin Hollinrake) for all his hard work on this issue? He will set out more details to the House shortly. We will make sure that the truth comes to light, we right the wrongs of the past and the victims get the justice they deserve.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the Leader of the Opposition.

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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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Well, let us just go through his checklist. He talked about the backlog: 112,000 decisions made last year, a higher number than in any year in these past two decades. He talked about hotels: the first 50 are being closed and there are more to come. He talked about the numbers: they were down by over a third last year, which is the first time that has happened. And then he talked about smashing the gangs. If he does care about smashing the gangs, why does he not own up to the fact that when it came to the Nationality and Borders Act 2022, he blocked, delayed and voted against the powers in that Act? That Act has allowed us to arrest hundreds and hundreds of people connected with that illegal trade, who have been sentenced to hundreds of years in prison. He opposed that because he chooses the criminal gangs over the British people every time. [Hon. Members: “More!]

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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Order. I don’t think we are having more.

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Chris Clarkson Portrait Chris Clarkson
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Q7. They just know that it is going to be fantastic, Mr Speaker. A happy new year to you anyway. It is almost spring, when a young man’s fancy turns to tax. In Scotland, the nationalists have decided to increase taxes on hard-working people. In Wales, businesses are being clobbered by a 5% increase on rates. Does my right hon. Friend agree that there is only one party in this Chamber that can be trusted to cut taxes for hard-working people across the country, and that is the Conservative party?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Just this weekend, we are cutting taxes for an average person in work by £450. In Wales, where Labour is in charge, the Welsh Government are raising them, with businesses there now seeing double the rate of business rates this year. It is the same in Scotland under the SNP. It is the new high-tax capital of the United Kingdom because of the SNP’s tax-hiking decisions. Mr Speaker, while we have a plan to cut your taxes, Labour and the SNP are going to raise them.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the leader of the SNP.

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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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I thank the hon. Lady for her decades of service in the NHS, and commend all the work of our fantastic hard-working nurses in the NHS. I am pleased that we have delivered early on our manifesto pledge to have 50,000 more nurses in the NHS, together with record numbers of doctors, elective surgical hubs and community diagnostic centres, all of which means that we are now treating more people in the NHS than we have ever done before. One thing that is hampering progress on tackling the waiting lists is obviously industrial action, so I hope that the hon. Lady will join the million NHS workers, including nurses, midwives, therapists, paramedics, consultants and specialty doctors, all of whom have reached a fair and reasonable pay settlement with the Government, and urge the junior doctors to do the same.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call Andrew Percy.

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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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I am very sorry to hear about the hon. Lady’s constituent and her tragic loss. I would be very happy to meet her at the earliest opportunity.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call Dame Jackie Doyle-Price—congratulations.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Lindsay Hoyle and Rishi Sunak
Wednesday 13th December 2023

(5 months, 2 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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As my hon. Friend knows, the OBR has brought greater transparency and independence to the forecasting on which Government policy is based, but he is right. It is required to produce an assessment of the accuracy of its fiscal and economic forecasts at least once a year but, crucially, as he acknowledged, thanks to our management of the economy and the fact that we have halved inflation and controlled borrowing, we have now delivered the largest tax cuts in a generation, and they will benefit families up and down the country from January.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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We now come to the Leader of the Opposition.

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Keir Starmer Portrait Keir Starmer
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Apparently, the Prime Minister is holding a Christmas party next week. How is the invite list looking?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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I thank the right hon. and learned Gentleman for all the comments, but he should hear what they have to say about him. [Interruption.]

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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Order. Do you want to be the first one? It is Christmas, and I am going to hear this. My constituents are going to have a Christmas like everyone else, and they want to know whether their Christmas is going to be affected, so I want less of it from all sides.

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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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I am happy to tell my hon. Friend that the Chancellor has already authorised more than £2 billion of investment to support our transition to zero-emission vehicles, and that we are well on track to reach our target of 300,000 charge points by 2030. I can also tell him that we will consult on amending the national planning policy framework to ensure that it prioritises the roll-out of charge points, on top the funding of almost £400 million to support local authorities to spread them out so that all our families have access to them when they need it.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the Scottish National party leader.

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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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What matters to me is delivering for the British people, and that is exactly what we are doing.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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For the final question, I call Theresa Villiers.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Lindsay Hoyle and Rishi Sunak
Wednesday 29th November 2023

(6 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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I thank my hon. Friend for raising such an important issue. My thoughts and the thoughts of the whole House will be with Abigail.

As I have said before, we support Israel’s right to defend itself, to go after Hamas and to free hostages, to deter further incursions and to strengthen its security for the long term. We welcome the extension to the agreement to pause fighting, increase humanitarian aid and release further hostages. Negotiations are ongoing and highly sensitive, but this has been a welcome first positive step. We will continue to hold Iran to account for any further escalation from these groups, as well as continuing to work with partners to disrupt and deter Iran’s destabilising activities in the middle east.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the Leader of the Opposition.

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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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Order.

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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At the beginning of the year, we said that we would halve inflation and this Government have delivered, easing the burden of the cost of living for families everywhere. We know about the right hon. and learned Gentleman’s plans—all the way through that, what did he do? He backed inflationary pay rises and talked about welfare—no controls for welfare—and about borrowing £28 billion a year that would just make the situation worse. He mentioned tax: just this past week, we have delivered the biggest tax cuts since the 1980s for millions of people and businesses, and increased pensions and benefits. And this week, we secured £30 billion of new investment for this country. So he can keep trying to talk—

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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Order. Can I just say to the shadow Foreign Secretary—[Interruption.] Order. Just a little bit quieter, please. I want to hear.

Rehman Chishti Portrait Rehman Chishti (Gillingham and Rainham) (Con)
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Q5. The Government have rightly responded to the shocking and unacceptable rise in antisemitism, and we saw extra funding in the autumn statement. I note that 44% of religiously aggravated offences last year were against the Muslim community, yet in the autumn statement there was no funding to deal with Islamophobia. The Government’s independent adviser on Islamophobia role has been left vacant for over one year. As the Prime Minister knows, we discussed these matters over a year ago, yet no action has taken place. Prime Minister, enough is enough with regards to tackling anti-Muslim hatred. Will the Government now finally take action?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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We will not tolerate anti-Muslim hatred in any form, and expect it to be dealt with wherever it occurs. I actually recently met Tell MAMA, a service that provides support to victims of anti-Muslim hatred, which we have in fact supported with over £6 million of funding since its inception. We are in regular dialogue with it. We have also doubled the funding for protective security measures through the protective security for mosques scheme, and we will continue to do everything we can to keep our Muslim community safe.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the SNP leader.

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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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Order. I think he has got the question.

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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As the hon. Lady knows, there is an ongoing inquiry into covid. It is right that that is followed and I look forward to providing my own evidence. If she had taken the time to read the evidence submitted to the inquiry, she would have seen that the person she mentioned, the chief scientific adviser, confirmed that he did not hear me say that—and that is because I did not.

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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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No child should grow up in poverty. That is why I am pleased that, because of the measures we have taken, 1.7 million fewer people are living in poverty today than in 2010. I would also say to the hon. Lady that it is crystal clear that children growing up in workless households are four or five times more likely to be in poverty. That is what the facts say; that is why our efforts are on getting people into work and ensuring that work pays. The actions in the autumn statement to raise the national living wage to record levels and provide a significant tax cut will do an extraordinary amount to continue lifting children out of poverty.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call Jeremy Wright.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Lindsay Hoyle and Rishi Sunak
Wednesday 22nd November 2023

(6 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber
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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

My hon. Friend is right. I am proud that since 2010 we have created 5.5 million apprenticeships. That is the difference between us. We now know that the Labour party wants to halve the number of apprenticeships if it is in office. Meanwhile, we want to make an apprentice Education Secretary. My hon. Friend is right. Labour’s plans to borrow £28 billion a year would just push up inflation, interest rates and taxes, undermining all the progress we have made on the economy. It is only the Conservatives who will give people the opportunity to build wealthier, more secure lives for them and their families.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the Leader of the Opposition.

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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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I thank my hon. Friend for his excellent campaigning on behalf of his constituents. I agree with him that housing must meet the needs of local communities. Our affordable homes programme is delivering hundreds of thousands of homes across the country. Crucially, on this side of the House we believe that local communities must be consulted, in contrast to Labour’s plan for top-down housing targets, concreting over the green belt and destroying our precious countryside.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the SNP leader.

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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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I thank my hon. Friend for her continuing dedication as my special envoy on this vital issue. Red Wednesday is an important moment to demonstrate our solidarity with Christians and all those persecuted around the world for their religion or belief. Marking this event annually was just one of the recommendations in the Bishop of Truro’s report. I am pleased that today we will light up Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office buildings in the UK in red in support. I am also pleased to say that we have taken forward all 22 recommendations in a way that we believe is making a real change for those persecuted for their religion or belief.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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That completes Prime Minister’s questions.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Lindsay Hoyle and Rishi Sunak
Wednesday 15th November 2023

(6 months, 2 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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I thank my hon. Friend for his question. I know he has championed this issue, and that it matters to his constituents. As I said, the judgment confirms that the principle of removing asylum seekers to a safe third country is lawful. The Government have already been working in advance on a new treaty with Rwanda, which we will finalise in the light of today’s judgment to address the challenges that were raised. I say again that if it becomes clear that our domestic legal frameworks or international conventions are still frustrating plans at that point, I am prepared to change our laws and revisit those international relationships. The British people expect us to do whatever it takes to stop the boats, and that is precisely what this Government will deliver.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the Leader of the Opposition.

Keir Starmer Portrait Keir Starmer (Holborn and St Pancras) (Lab)
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The Prime Minister obviously thinks so little of his own MPs that he has had to peel David Cameron away from his seven-year exile in a shepherd’s hut and make him Foreign Secretary. A few months ago, the Intelligence and Security Committee said that the now Foreign Secretary’s role in a Chinese investment fund may have been—these are its words—

“engineered by the Chinese state”.

I hardly need to remind the Prime Minister of the threat posed by the Chinese Communist party or the intimidation of Members of this House. When will he instruct the Foreign Secretary to give full public disclosure of his work for Chinese interests?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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As I said, I am delighted that the former Prime Minister has rejoined the Government as Foreign Secretary. As an individual with unrivalled experience, he will help Britain to navigate an uncertain world in challenging times. Of course, like every other Minister, he will go through the normal process with the independent adviser. The Government’s position on China is clear: China represents an epoch-defining challenge. That is why we have taken strong and robust steps to protect ourselves against the risk that it poses. We will take no lessons from the Labour party on protecting our national security. It has taken almost £700,000 from an alleged Chinese agent. [Interruption.]

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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Order. Those on the Front Bench just need to calm down.

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Keir Starmer Portrait Keir Starmer
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For 13 years, our security has been undermined by this Tory Government, and now we have the most ridiculous, pathetic spectacle of all: the Prime Minister’s Rwanda scheme, cooked up with his national security threat former Home Secretary, has blown up. He was told over and over again that this would happen, that it would not work and that it was just the latest Tory gimmick, but he bet everything on it and now he is totally exposed. The central pillar of his Government has crumbled beneath him. Does he want to apologise to the country for wasting £140 million of taxpayers’ cash and wasting his entire time in office?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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Obviously the right hon. and learned Gentleman did not hear what I said about our approach to Rwanda. When it comes to stopping the boats, Rwanda is one part of our plan, which has already delivered a reduction in the number of small boats this year by a third. He talks about apologising and he talks about the right hon. Member for Islington North not being a Labour MP now. Yes, he was not a Labour MP when he declined 15 different times to say that Hamas are a terrorist organisation this week, which is shameful, but he was a Labour MP—indeed, the right hon. and learned Gentleman served with him. He told the country that the right hon. Member for Islington North would make “a great Prime Minister”. At that point, the right hon. Member for Islington North described Hamas as friends. Does he want to apologise for that now? [Interruption.]

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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Order. Are we serious? [Hon. Members: “Yes.”] Oh, I would not challenge. I have to say that our constituents are watching this. They are very concerned about the affairs of today and the votes later. A lot of Members wish to speak. Those who do not want that to happen, please, go outside and have a conversation there. If you want to bawl and shout, do it elsewhere, but it will not be happening in here today.

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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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I thank my hon. Friend for his question and for his consistent campaigning on this issue. I recall his last question at Prime Minister’s questions on this very topic. I reassure him that we are committed to fair treatment for people affected by the changes, while protecting taxpayers appropriately. Wherever property has been acquired for HS2, property owners have been fully compensated, and any outstanding cases will be settled. We are developing a programme to sell the surplus land on HS2 phase 2, ensuring that it delivers value for money and does not disrupt local property markets. I will ensure that the Rail Minister meets him swiftly so that he can speak on behalf of his constituents.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the leader of the Scottish National party.

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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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First, I pay tribute to my hon. Friend for his work as vice-chair of the all-party parliamentary group on retail crime. He is absolutely right about the importance of this issue. I worked in my mum’s shop—her pharmacy—growing up, and I understand exactly what he is talking about when small businesses are the victims of crime. Our expectation and our agreement with police forces—we did this earlier this year—is that all shoplifting should be followed up where there is evidence such as CCTV footage and that any violent or abusive behaviour towards shopworkers, particularly those who provide a valuable service to the public, is never acceptable. That is why we introduced a statutory aggravating factor for assaults on workers who provide a service to the public. I commend my hon. Friend for everything he is doing on this issue.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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Final question. I call Sir William Cash.

Debate on the Address

Debate between Lindsay Hoyle and Rishi Sunak
Tuesday 7th November 2023

(6 months, 3 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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Order. Members have the right to intervene. If the Prime Minister wishes to give way, that is up to the Prime Minister. If he wishes not to do so, that is also fine.

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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We can compare and contrast—

Chris Bryant Portrait Sir Chris Bryant
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Will the Prime Minister give way? [Interruption.]

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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Order. The Prime Minister is not giving way.

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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We can compare and contrast the proposed new legislation with the Opposition’s energy policy, and there is one word for it: naive. That is not my word, but that of their own union paymasters. I will happily give way.

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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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Order. The Prime Minister gave way to the hon. Lady. She should at least do him the courtesy of hearing the answer.

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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That is the simple choice: a Government on the side of hard-working people or an Opposition and the hon. Lady on the side of the eco-zealots.

If we want truly to change our country, we need a stronger society. That is why this King’s Speech introduces a landmark Bill to create the first smoke-free generation. It will prevent deaths, improve people’s lives and free the NHS to support others. It is the most significant public health intervention by any Government for generations—historic change from a historic King’s Speech.

But that is not all that the Government are doing for the NHS. We have invested record sums, created 50 million more primary private care appointments and brought more beds and more ambulances. Through the NHS’s first ever long-term workforce plan, we will recruit more doctors, nurses and dentists than ever before. That is what the NHS needs, not the damaging strike action that Labour refuses to condemn, even though it is adding tens of thousands of people to waiting lists every single day. The Opposition also opposed our plans to provide a minimum safety level during the strikes. Do they and the Leader of the Opposition think that vulnerable patients do not deserve life-saving healthcare, or are they just too weak to stand up to the unions? Either way, the conclusion is clear: you simply cannot trust Labour with the NHS.

Let me turn to the most important part of a stronger society: education. Of all that we have achieved since 2010, this is what I am most proud of. Under the Labour party, only two thirds of schools were rated “good” or “outstanding”; now it is about 90%. They took us down the international league tables; we are now soaring up them. They devalued apprenticeships; we are investing in them. They backed rip-off degrees, and we are ending them. We are also introducing the new advanced British standard, so that everyone will study maths and English to 18, learn a broader range of subjects, with more hours in the classroom, and we will finally break down the barriers between academic and technical education. More teachers, higher standards and more apprenticeships: on the Government side of the House, a stronger society is an opportunity society, and this Conservative Government are delivering.

We can only build that stronger society with stronger communities, and that is what this King’s Speech does. We are reforming the housing market to empower leaseholders and to give renters more security; establishing a new independent football regulator to give fans a greater voice in their clubs; and delivering our promise to level up with record investment in local areas. We are building a million more homes, all the while protecting the green belt—unlike the charter for sprawl that we see from the Labour party.

That brings me to transport. Every single penny that would have been spent on High Speed 2—a repeatedly delayed, expensive project that failed to meet people’s real needs—is now being invested in the north, in the midlands and right across the country, with £36 billion of investment in projects that people really need and actually want. Network North is without question the most ambitious scheme for northern transport that any Government have developed, ever. Yet first the Leader of the Opposition was against it, then he was for it, and now he is not really sure. One thing is for sure: you simply cannot trust a word he says.

None of those important changes will mean anything if people do not feel safe in their communities. The facts are clear: it is this Government that is on the side of law and order. This King’s Speech introduces legislation to better support victims, as well as new measures to combat the scourge of antisocial behaviour, all building on a proud record of tackling crime—20,000 more police officers on the streets, more police on the streets than ever before. [Interruption.] We have heard a lot about 13 years, but since 2010: crime halved; violent crime halved; burglary also halved; antisocial behaviour down by 70%; tougher sentences for rapists and sex offenders, which is something the Labour party voted against; and, for the worst offenders, life finally means life—all while the Leader of the Opposition and those on the Opposition Front Bench campaigned to stop the deportation of dangerous foreign criminals.

We are just days away from Remembrance Sunday, so let me close by paying tribute to our armed forces. At this moment, over 7,000 servicemen and women are deployed overseas. From the frozen waste of the High North to the streets of Kosovo, they are the best of us. We owe to all our veterans a lifelong debt of gratitude. I am proud of our work, led in Cabinet by my right hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Moor View, to make this the best country in the world to be a veteran. That is what you get with this Government. We are on the side of Britain’s armed forces. We are investing record amounts in defence, we are an unwavering ally to the Ukrainian people and we are proud to be one of the largest contributors to NATO. But in contrast, Mr Speaker, what do you get with the Opposition? They tried to install—[Interruption.] They never like being reminded about it, but Labour Members tried to install as Prime Minister a man who wanted to abolish the armed forces, withdraw from NATO and back the UK’s enemies over its allies. Labour cannot be trusted with our nation’s security.

This King’s Speech builds on the strong foundation of an economy well on its way to recovery. It rejects big Government and instead backs people and businesses to thrive. It strengthens society, with historic measures to support the nation’s health and education. It secures our streets and borders, with tougher sentences for criminals and powers for police. Above all, this King’s Speech delivers change—change in our economy, change in our society, change in our communities. It takes long-term decisions for a brighter future, and I commend it to the House.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Lindsay Hoyle and Rishi Sunak
Wednesday 25th October 2023

(7 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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I agree with my hon. Friend that the public should be confident that murderers and rapists will be kept behind bars for as long as is necessary to keep the public safe. That is why we are reforming the parole system. Our Victims and Prisoners Bill will mean that minimising risk and protecting the public are the sole considerations in Parole Board decisions. It will also give the Justice Secretary the power to step in on behalf of the public and take a second look at decisions to release the most serious offenders, including murderers and rapists. Last week, we announced that we will be introducing longer sentences for dangerous criminals. For the most heinous crimes, life will mean life.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the Leader of the Opposition.

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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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We have taken significant action to help renters like Annalisa and others. We have capped holding deposits at one week. We have protected tenants from rip-off tenancy fees, delivered almost half a million affordable homes for rent, halved the percentage of substandard homes in the private rented sector, and strengthened local authority enforcement powers, because the Government are delivering for renters. We are also trying to ensure that the new generation can buy their own home, so perhaps the Leader of the Opposition can explain to Annalisa and millions of others why when we brought forward plans to unlock 100,000 new homes, he stood in the way of that? [Interruption.]

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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Order. Just to say, it is Prime Minister’s questions, not Opposition’s questions. [Interruption.] I am sorry, Prime Minister; it is Prime Minister’s questions. I do not need you nodding against my decision.

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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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These prepared lines really are not working for him any more. The right hon. and learned Gentleman literally asked me a question about the support we are providing for mortgage holders; I gave him the answer to that question and then he read from his script that I had not answered the question. We are providing significant help for all these people.

The right hon. and learned Gentleman has moved on to housing targets. Here is the record: 2.5 million additional homes; housing starts double what we inherited from the Labour party; housing supply up 10%; on track to deliver a million new homes; and a record number of first-time buyers. He brought up his candidates in Tamworth and Mid Beds as we opened this session, and he is now saying he wants to build homes; well, both of those candidates say that they want to block new homes in their constituencies.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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Simon Hoare.

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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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As we saw with the right hon. and learned Gentleman’s recent decisions on building new houses, politicians like him always take the easy way out, whereas we are getting on with making the right long-term decisions to change this country for the better—on net zero, on High Speed 2, on a smoke-free generation, on education and on energy security. Contrast that with his leadership: too cautious to say anything and hoping that nobody notices. Let me tell him: come that general election, the British people will.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call Simon Hoare.

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Simon Hoare Portrait Simon Hoare
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And of all them are true, Mr Speaker.

Like me, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has the honour and privilege of representing a rural constituency. I am sure that he, like I, occasionally feels a certain degree of frustration that although progress has been made in this area, the rubric of funding formulae for things such as the Environment Agency, local government, the police and education still fails to adequately reflect the difficulties and challenges of delivering public services in rural areas. Will my right hon. Friend the Chancellor and the wider Government use the opportunities of the autumn statement and the forthcoming Budget to explore those issues further and make the delivery of services better for the Prime Minister’s constituents and mine?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank my hon. Friend for raising that important issue on behalf of his and my constituents. It is vital that we have the same high-quality services in rural areas as in our towns and cities. I am pleased to tell him that we are providing £95 million through the rural services delivery grant to help rural councils achieve exactly that. We are currently reviewing the police funding formula. I remember working with him to ensure that the national funding formula for schools takes account of the different characteristics of schools and their pupils. We will continue to keep all those things under review. I agree with him entirely: our rural communities must be given the same funding and public services as everyone else in our country.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the SNP deputy leader.

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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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I am very sorry to hear about the experiences of those suffering with MS that the hon. Lady mentions, and I will ensure that the Work and Pensions Secretary looks at their concerns and writes to her.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the Father of the House.

Israel and Gaza

Debate between Lindsay Hoyle and Rishi Sunak
Monday 23rd October 2023

(7 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber
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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister (Rishi Sunak)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Mr Speaker, last week I visited the middle east, bringing a message of solidarity with the region against terror and against the further spread of conflict. I met with the leaders of Israel, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority to co-ordinate our response to the crisis before us, but also to renew the better vision of the future that Hamas are trying to destroy.

I travelled first to Israel. It is a nation in mourning, but it is also a nation under attack. The violence against Israel did not end on 7 October. Hundreds of rockets are launched at its towns and cities every day, and Hamas still hold around 200 hostages, including British citizens. In Jerusalem, I met some of the relatives, who are suffering unbearable torment. Their pain will stay with me for the rest of my days. I am doing everything in my power, and working with all our partners, to get their loved ones home. In my meetings with Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Herzog, I told them once again that we stand resolutely with Israel in defending itself against terror, and I stressed again the need to act in line with international humanitarian law and take every possible step to avoid harming civilians. It was a message delivered by a close friend and ally. I say it again: we stand with Israel.

I recognise that the Palestinian people are suffering terribly. Over 4,000 Palestinians have been killed in this conflict. They are also the victims of Hamas, who embed themselves in the civilian population. Too many lives have already been lost, and the humanitarian crisis is growing. I went to the region to address these issues directly. In Riyadh, and then Cairo, I met individually with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman from Saudi Arabia; the Amir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani; President Sisi in Egypt; and President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority. These were further to my meetings with the King of Jordan last week and calls with other leaders, and my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary’s extensive travel in the region.

There are three abiding messages from all these conversations. First, we must continue working together to get more humanitarian support into Gaza. The whole House will welcome the limited opening of the Rafah crossing. It is important progress and testament to the power of diplomacy, but it is not enough. We need a constant stream of aid pouring in, bringing the water, food, medicine and fuel that is so desperately needed, so we will keep up the diplomatic pressure. We have already committed £10 million of extra support to help civilians in Gaza, and I can announce today that we are going further. We are providing an additional £20 million of humanitarian aid to civilians in Gaza, more than doubling our previous support to the Palestinian people. There are major logistical and political challenges to delivering this aid, which I discussed with President Sisi. My right hon. Friend the Development Minister is leading an effort to ensure the maximum amount of aid is pre-positioned, with UK support ready to deliver. We are also working intensively to ensure that British nationals trapped in Gaza are able to leave through the Rafah crossing when it properly reopens.

Secondly, this is not a time for hyperbole and simplistic solutions. It is a time for quiet and dogged diplomacy that recognises the hard realities on the ground and delivers help now, and we have an important role to play. In all my meetings, people were clear that they value Britain’s engagement. The UK’s voice matters. We have deep ties across the region—ties of defence, trade and investment, but also of history. President Abbas pointed to that history—not the British mandate in Palestine or the Balfour declaration, but the UK’s efforts over decades to support the two-state solution.

Thirdly, growing attacks by Hezbollah on Israel’s northern border, rising tensions on the west bank, and missiles and drones launched from Yemen show that some are seeking escalation, so we need to invest more deeply in regional stability and in the two-state solution. Last night, I spoke to the leaders of the United States, Germany, France, Italy and Canada. We are all determined to prevent escalation. That is why I am deploying RAF and Royal Navy assets, monitoring threats to regional security and supporting humanitarian efforts. Our support for a two-state solution is highly valued across the region, but it cannot just be a clichéd talking point to roll out at times like this. The truth is that, in recent years, energy has moved into other avenues such as the Abraham accords and normalisation talks with Saudi Arabia. We support those steps absolutely and believe that they can bolster wider efforts, but we must never lose sight of how essential the two-state solution is. We will work with our international partners to bring renewed energy and creativity to that effort. It will rely on establishing more effective governance for Palestinian territories in Gaza and the west bank. It will also mean challenging actions that undercut legitimate aspirations for Palestinian statehood.

Mr Speaker, Hamas care more about their paymasters in Iran than the children they hide behind. So let me be clear: there is no scenario where Hamas can be allowed to control Gaza or any part of the Palestinian territories. Hamas is a threat not only to Israel, but to many others across the region. All the leaders I met agree that this is a watershed moment. It is time to set the region on a better path.

I also want to say a word about the tone of the debate. When things are so delicate, we all have a responsibility to take additional care in the language we use, and to operate on the basis of facts alone. The reaction to the horrific explosion at the Al-Ahli Arab Hospital was a case in point. As I indicated last week, we have taken care to look at all the evidence currently available, and I can now share our assessment with the House. On the basis of the deep knowledge and analysis of our intelligence and weapons experts, the British Government judge that the explosion was likely caused by a missile, or part of one, that was launched from within Gaza towards Israel. The misreporting of that incident had a negative effect in the region, including on a vital US diplomatic effort, and on tensions here at home. We need to learn the lessons and ensure that in future there is no rush to judgment.

We have seen hate on our streets again this weekend. We all stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people—that is the message I brought to President Abbas—but we will never tolerate antisemitism in our country. Calls for jihad on our streets are a threat not only to the Jewish community but to our democratic values, and we expect the police to take all necessary action to tackle extremism head on.

This a moment for great care and caution, but also for moral clarity. Hope and humanity must win out against the scourge of terrorism and aggression. The 7 October attack was driven by hatred, but it was also driven by Hamas’s fear that a new equilibrium might be emerging in the middle east, one that would leave old divisions behind and offer hope of a better, more secure, more prosperous way forward. It is the same motivation that drives Putin’s war in Ukraine—the fear of Ukraine’s emergence as a modern, thriving democracy, and the desire to pull it back into some imperialist fantasy of the past. Putin will fail, and so will Hamas. We must keep alive that vision of a better future, against those who seek to destroy it. Together with our partners, that is what we will do, and I commend this statement to the House.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the Leader of the Opposition.

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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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I can tell my right hon. Friend from all my conversations across the region with Arab leaders that there is absolutely no love or affection for Hamas. Indeed, it is the opposite, as the Palestinian President said with me when he condemned in no uncertain terms the terrorist atrocities that they have perpetrated. All leaders see Hamas as a destabilising influence in the region and want to work with us and others to prevent the situation from escalating and to limit Hamas’s ability to carry out attacks like this in the future.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
- Hansard - -

I call the leader of the SNP.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Lindsay Hoyle and Rishi Sunak
Wednesday 18th October 2023

(7 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber
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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I completely agree with my right hon. Friend, who has himself done so much over the years to fight antisemitism. The increase in the number of such incidents that we have seen over the past week is utterly sickening, and this Government will do whatever it takes to keep our Jewish community safe. We have provided an additional £3 million to support the Community Security Trust, we are working with the police to ensure that hate crime and the glorification of terror are met by the full force of the law, and under our existing immigration rules we have the power to cancel a person’s presence in the UK if it is not conducive to the public good. We will not tolerate this hatred—not in this country, not in this century.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
- Hansard - -

I call the Leader of the Opposition.

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