Debates between Mel Stride and Lindsay Hoyle during the 2019 Parliament

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Mel Stride and Lindsay Hoyle
Monday 13th May 2024

(1 week, 6 days ago)

Commons Chamber
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Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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I have made it clear from the Dispatch Box that there will be no undue delay in coming to conclusions on this matter.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the SNP spokesperson.

David Linden Portrait David Linden (Glasgow East) (SNP)
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In evidence to the Work and Pensions Committee on Tuesday, the ombudsman essentially said that the reason it decided to lay the report before Parliament was that it could not trust the Government to deal with it. I ask the Secretary of State a simple question: does he have confidence in the ombudsman, and does he accept its report?

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Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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As we have set out, there is a clear and detailed back to work plan, which is working for the reasons that I have given. If the hon. Lady has examples of specific employers under the distress that she outlined, the Minister for Employment will be happy to look at what we may be able to do as a Department in her constituency.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the shadow Minister.

Alison McGovern Portrait Alison McGovern (Wirral South) (Lab)
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The Prime Minister said this morning, and the Secretary of State just repeated it, that the Government introduced universal credit to help people into work. That is not a real account of the situation. The truth is that not only do we have record sickness-related inactivity, but young people are faring the worst. I know what Ministers will say—the questionable allegation that Labour Governments leave office with unemployment higher has already been trotted out. Actually, Full Fact found that that is particularly true of post-war Conservative Governments. So will the Minister acknowledge what is going on today: for the first time ever, we have 3 million inactive 16 to 24-year-olds? That’s true, isn’t it?

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Mel Stride and Lindsay Hoyle
Monday 18th March 2024

(2 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber
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Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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The hon. Gentleman specifically raises long covid, which is one of many health pressures in our society and post covid in many other countries that were also affected by the virus. We have a number of approaches, including universal support, which places people in employment and gives them critical support for up to 12 months. We also have WorkWell, and we are looking at occupational health and what tax incentives we might put in place to encourage employers to do more on that front. We are doing a great deal.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the shadow Minister.

Alison McGovern Portrait Alison McGovern (Wirral South) (Lab)
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Arguably, the biggest barrier to growth in the UK and to turning around the Prime Minister’s recession is the supply of labour. Following the Chancellor’s “Back to work Budget” in the autumn and all the measures unveiled since then, some of which the Secretary of State has just reeled off, did the Office for Budget Responsibility upgrade or downgrade its forecast on employment growth in the Budget 12 days ago?

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Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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May I welcome the hon. Lady to her place? In answer to her question, I will simply point out that there was much speculation before the spring Budget about whether the housing support fund was going to be extended. In my opinion, the Chancellor took exactly the right approach, and the fund has now been extended for a further six months.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the SNP spokesperson.

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Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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I will of course look closely at the report that my right hon. Friend refers to; indeed, I reached out to him recently to invite him to the Department to discuss that and other matters. With regard to long-term sickness and disability, we are working on an array of interventions, including occupational health support within businesses; WorkWell, bringing together medical interventions with work coaches; universal support to help people into work, and to stay in work with that support; and fundamental reform of the work capability assessment, such that the OBR says that 371,000 fewer people will go on to those benefits going forward.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the shadow Secretary of State.

Liz Kendall Portrait Liz Kendall (Leicester West) (Lab)
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In the Budget, the Chancellor said that he wants to end national insurance contributions because the

“double taxation of work is unfair.”—[Official Report, 6 March 2024; Vol. 746, c. 851.]

People’s NICs records help to determine their entitlement to the state pension, so if national insurance is scrapped how will they know what pension they will get?

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Mel Stride and Lindsay Hoyle
Monday 5th February 2024

(3 months, 3 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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May I first recognise the fantastic work my hon. Friend does on financial resilience? The Government have, through very difficult times, come forward with £104 billion of cost of living payments between 2022 and 2025. I would point my hon. Friend to one particular scheme: the help to save scheme encourages low-income households to save and we have recently extended that by 18 months, until April 2025.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call James Sunderland. Not here. I call the Chair of the Select Committee.

Stephen Timms Portrait Sir Stephen Timms (East Ham) (Lab)
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I agree with the Secretary of State about the cross-party success of auto-enrolment, which has doubled the proportion of eligible employees saving for retirement, but we know that the current regular auto-enrolment contribution of 8% of earnings is not enough to deliver the standard of living in retirement that most people hope for. Does the Secretary of State recognise that that minimum level of contribution will need to be increased?

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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The contribution rates of the employer and employee are a very important matter, and we keep both under review.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call Jim Shannon. Always here.

Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP)
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Thank you, Mr Speaker.

When I was 16, my mother took me to Danske bank—or Northern bank as it was then—and opened an account for me. When I was 18, my mother phoned up the pension man in Ballywalter and told him I needed a pension. My mother has been a big guide in my life. What would the Secretary of State say to encourage the young people of today to take their mother’s advice on opening bank and pension accounts and planning for the future?

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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I think the response to that is, always take your mother’s advice. I always did—and look where it got me. At the age of 16, I would have thought the hon. Gentleman would have been saving into a piggy bank, putting his little pennies in a porcelain pig. I direct him to the gov.uk website, where there is a plethora of information for young people and those of all ages about saving and what the Government are doing to assist.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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The good news is that Mrs Shannon is still giving him advice. I call the shadow Minister.

Gill Furniss Portrait Gill Furniss (Sheffield, Brightside and Hillsborough) (Lab)
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One of the simplest ways to get people saving for the future is by ensuring that they are enrolled in a pension scheme, but all too many are currently excluded from auto-enrolment, particularly women, who are twice as likely to miss out. The Government have known about this problem for years. They first proposed widening the criteria in 2017. Last year, thanks to a private Member’s Bill, the Minister was given the power to do just that, but still we have seen no update on when this will be implemented. Can the Secretary of State shed light on when these vital changes will take place?

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Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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As the hon. Gentleman will know, we keep all benefits under review. I point him to various things that we have done to ensure that we look after those lower-income families, including increasing the national living wage by about 10% in both of the last two years; the increase in the local housing allowance to the 30th percentile announced at the last fiscal event, which will be worth about £800 a year for about 1.6 million people; and, of course, the tax cuts that the Chancellor was able to bring forward, which for an average earner are worth £450 a year.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the SNP spokesperson.

David Linden Portrait David Linden (Glasgow East) (SNP)
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Rather than deal with the known policy failures within the benefits system, the Government seem to be more focused on penalising people through, for example, the two-child cap. Last week, the Labour party joined the Conservatives in prioritising lifting the cap on bankers’ bonuses rather than the two-child cap on working women. Does the Secretary of State take comfort in the fact that his cruel legacy will be protected by the Labour party?

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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I am not going to get involved in the crossfire between the Scottish National party and the Labour party, other than to say—[Interruption.]

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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Order. I do not need a continuing argument and disagreement. I am sure that when the questions come to an end, you can speak outside.

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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Thank you, Mr Speaker. The two-child cap is there for good reason: so that families in those circumstances are taking the same kind of decisions that others—the taxpayers funding benefits—have to take.

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Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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I thank my hon. Friend for highlighting all the good work that has gone on in his constituency. I believe he opened a jobcentre only as recently as 30 January in his constituency. He is a doughty campaigner for and supporter of employment in his patch. He asks whether I will visit his constituency. I would certainly like to consider that, but my hon. Friend the Employment Minister might also visit, because she just said she was particularly keen to do so.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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There we are.

Antony Higginbotham Portrait Antony Higginbotham
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Burnley and Padiham has so much going for it—with the rest of Lancashire, our area is the manufacturing powerhouse of the United Kingdom—but still has stubborn levels of economic inactivity among people who could be contributing to economic growth and having financial security, which we all want them to have. What more can we do to help those people? In particular, can my right hon. Friend do more to join up with other Departments so that areas such as Burnley, which might have structural problems, get more intensive support?

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Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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I thank my hon. Friend for her question, because autism is an issue of great importance to the House and to her personally. I know about the work that she is doing with Ryan Gibbs, Becca Pierce and Shelly Rankin Jones. She will know that the Buckland review was instigated in April 2023 and will conclude relatively shortly, with a report being published online. I look forward to visiting her disability jobs fair in Holyhead at the end of this week.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the shadow Secretary of State.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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Order. I remind Front Benchers that this is topical questions, which are meant to be short and punchy, and they should stick to the rules. Do we understand each other?

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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The hon. Lady refers to the latest weighted numbers just released by the Office for National Statistics, which show that unemployment as a percentage is lower than originally forecast. She cannot get away from the fact that there are 330,000 fewer people in economic inactivity since the peak. As a result of our work capability assessment reforms, the Office for Budget Responsibility has scored us as having 371,000 fewer people on long-term sickness benefits than would otherwise have been the case.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Mel Stride and Lindsay Hoyle
Monday 18th December 2023

(5 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber
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Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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My hon. Friend is being too modest in laying all the progress at the door of the Select Committee, because it was she in particular who pushed for those reforms to childcare within universal credit, and I believe that she was quite rightly name-checked by the Chancellor in his Budget statement. We of course have the back to work plan, the extension of restart, the doubling of universal support, the greatest-ever increase in the national living wage and the reductions in employee national insurance, all of which are there to drive further employment.

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

David Linden Portrait David Linden (Glasgow East) (SNP)
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During the recent covid inquiry, the former Health Secretary, the right hon. Member for West Suffolk (Matt Hancock), said that statutory sick pay was “far too low” and that if he had a magic wand, he would fix it. Given that the Secretary of State has the magic wand, as the Minister responsible for this, when is he going to fix it?

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Mel Stride and Lindsay Hoyle
Monday 13th November 2023

(6 months, 2 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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I cannot comment on the specific case that the hon. Gentleman has put forward, other than to say that what he has described is of concern to me and I will want us to look into that extremely carefully. I will be happy to make sure that he has the appropriate time with the appropriate Minister—I think the Minister for Employment—to look into those matters.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the shadow Minister.

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Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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I completely agree with the hon. Gentleman that one child in destitution is one too many. One person in poverty is one too many. One person who is unemployed and badly wants a job to support their family is one too many. The question we have to ask is how best to go about improving those situations. I say it is through encouraging people into work and through those cost of living transfer payments for those targeted through universal credit, which his party originally opposed, so that we can help those who are most vulnerable and most in need.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the SNP spokesperson.

David Linden Portrait David Linden (Glasgow East) (SNP)
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The cost of living crisis is plunging many families into destitution. We know from the JRF that 1.8 million households and 1 million children were plunged into destitution last year. Will Secretary of State use the upcoming autumn statement to bring forward the mortgage interest tax relief and action to tackle soaring food prices, and to reintroduce that £400 energy bill rebate? Otherwise, more and more children will fall into destitution. He has the power—will he respond at the autumn statement?

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Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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I thank my hon. Friend for his typically astute question and for his advice in this area over a number of months. We have gone out to consultation on the work capability assessment. We have not come to our conclusions on how to move forward, but right at the centre of that will be a strong belief that if people can work, with our support and encouragement, that is the best of all outcomes.

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

David Linden Portrait David Linden (Glasgow East) (SNP)
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The freeze on local housing allowance is having a devastating impact on housing providers. Scotland’s Housing Minister wrote to the Secretary of State on 25 May to make that point and to make the case for restoring it to the 30th percentile. Why has he not replied? Will the Government use the autumn statement to raise it back to the 30th percentile?

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Mel Stride and Lindsay Hoyle
Monday 4th September 2023

(8 months, 3 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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My hon. Friend will be pleased to know that since 2010, youth unemployment has fallen by over 40%, which is the mirror image of what happened under the last Labour Government when it rose by over 40%. On his specific question, I point him towards the youth offer, which we have recently announced we will be expanding to even more young people.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the shadow Minister.

Alison McGovern Portrait Alison McGovern (Wirral South) (Lab)
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I thought the Secretary of State understood that, while unemployment is at a historic low, economic activity is the big challenge before us, particularly when it comes to regional economic inactivity and the huge, near 10-point gap across the regions. The east midlands, London, the north-east, the north-west and the west midlands all have higher inactivity rates than the south-east. The Tories have had 13 years to close that gap, so can I ask the Secretary of State: is his plan really to make levelling up a reality by leaving it to Labour?

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Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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I would be very happy for either myself or the relevant Minister to meet my hon. Friend or my right hon. Friend the Member for Witham (Priti Patel).

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the shadow Minister.

Karen Buck Portrait Ms Karen Buck (Westminster North) (Lab)
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We all want to see both unemployment and economic inactivity as low as possible, but the Office for National Statistics, quoted approvingly by the Minister a few minutes ago, reports that this spring’s quarter showed a large fall in the number of people moving from economic inactivity into employment, and that the net movement from employment to economic inactivity was the largest since the covid autumn of 2020. Given that this is the Department’s priority, what assessment has he made of why this is going wrong?

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Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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I thank my hon. Friend for his question. I very much welcome the Court of Appeal’s decision in July, meaning that the national disability strategy is lawful. The Government are now able to continue with the important work of implementing that long-term strategy, and I can confirm that my hon. Friend the Minister for Disabled People will shortly come forward with further details of some of the individual commitments we will be making around that strategy.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I welcome the shadow Secretary of State to her position.

Liz Kendall Portrait Liz Kendall (Leicester West) (Lab)
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Thank you, Mr Speaker, and I thank the Secretary of State for his kind words. However, whatever he says about economic inactivity, it remains a serious problem in this country, with the UK lagging behind all other G7 countries in terms of workforce participation since the pandemic. Indeed, last month, the number of people off work due to long-term sickness hit an all-time high. What is this Government’s response? The Chancellor tells the over-50s to get off the golf course, and the DWP Secretary tells them to literally get on their bike. Is not the truth that this Government’s failure to cut waiting lists, sort social care and have a proper plan for reforming our jobcentres is harming individuals and our economy as a whole?

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Mel Stride and Lindsay Hoyle
Monday 19th June 2023

(11 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber
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Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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My hon. Friend the Minister for Employment recently visited the hon. Gentleman’s constituency to look into those matters and reported back very favourably. I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for raising that important point.

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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While my hon. Friend the Member for East Worthing and Shoreham (Tim Loughton) and I have represented Worthing and district, we have survived the equivalent of eight coalmines closing in the town. Flexibility matters.

Let us remember, looking back at the youth opportunities programme and the employer assistance scheme, that it is enterprise that makes the biggest difference. Will my right hon. Friend emphasise that? In tribute to Lord Young of Graffham, let us make sure that we combine individual enterprise and public enterprise with private partnerships.

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Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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It is not appropriate to dismiss completely the significant downside of covid—we spent £400 billion supporting the economy during that—the significant impact through energy price spikes of the war or the deleterious impact of the last Labour Government, to whom the hon. Lady refers. The simple fact is that since 2009-10, there are 1.7 million fewer people in absolute poverty after housing costs, and 400,000 fewer children and 400,000 fewer pensioners in that position.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the SNP spokesperson.

David Linden Portrait David Linden (Glasgow East) (SNP)
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The reality is that after 13 long, cold years of Conservative rule, people have never worked harder, but never felt poorer. We know that 2.6 million people on fixed-rate mortgages are about to see their fixed rate expire, which will see their mortgage rates go up. Has the Secretary of State made any assessment as to how many staff in his Department will struggle to make ends meet when their mortgages skyrocket under this Conservative Government?

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Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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The hon. Gentleman refers to a smorgasbord of different policy areas across several Departments, including housing, skills and matters in the purview of the Department for Education, as well as my Department. However, I have heard what he says, and I will take it away and consider.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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We come to the shadow Minister.

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Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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I agree with my hon. Friend that a universal basic income is not the way to proceed, and it is certainly not something that the Government are considering. Our approach is to ensure that work always pays, and to incentivise work. A universal basic income would create perverse incentives, would come at huge cost, and would not be targeted at those who need the help the most.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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Order. May I remind the Secretary of State that these are topical questions? Questions and answers are meant to be short and punchy. We are getting carried away. Let us see how it works now: I call the shadow Secretary of State.

Jonathan Ashworth Portrait Jonathan Ashworth (Leicester South) (Lab/Co-op)
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I listened to the “Chopper’s Politics” podcast recently. The Secretary of State was the guest, and revealed that he was saying to his friends in their 50s who were not working:

“Why don’t you just go and serve in the local restaurant or do something in the pub?”

Well, a very prominent 59-year-old has just taken early retirement. Will the Secretary of State be voting to sanction him, or is he advising him to just go away and work in the pub?

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Mel Stride and Lindsay Hoyle
Monday 6th March 2023

(1 year, 2 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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I very much welcome the hon. Gentleman’s question and the non-partisan way in which he presented it. He is absolutely right; there must be no let-up in this matter. Two thirds of those we believe are eligible for pension credit receive it, but that means that one third do not. We cannot identify them precisely in advance, which is why communication is so important. We will write to 11,000 pensioners soon to tell them about the uprating and to stress the point about pension credit. From today, we are launching television advertisements to further that message.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the shadow Minister.

Matt Rodda Portrait Matt Rodda (Reading East) (Lab)
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The Government seem to be trying to pat themselves on the back after years of failure on pension credit. As we just heard, hundreds of thousands of pensioners are still missing out on a vital top-up benefit that is needed to get them through the cost of living crisis. Why has the Government’s response been so ineffective, and what on earth will the Government do about their dismal failure to help pensioners during their hour of need?

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Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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I am afraid that I am just going to have to repeat what I have said, which is that the right hon. Gentleman will have to be patient. I am confident that we will have some things to say about the matters he has raised, but he will just have to wait another couple of weeks before he learns what we are doing.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the SNP spokesperson.

David Linden Portrait David Linden (Glasgow East) (SNP)
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Post pandemic, and under this uncaring Conservative Government, we have seen sanctions skyrocket, pushing many people into destitution. Can the Secretary of State come to the Dispatch Box and outline how plunging people into poverty helps deal with economic inactivity? Is it not the case that the only activity it stimulates is at local food banks?

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Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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My hon. Friend raises a significant and important point. There are areas, particularly around the Work and Health programme, where we have done exactly that. We are engaged in discussions, contingent upon or subsequent to the White Paper that the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities published on levelling up, and in particular with areas such as the west midlands and Greater Manchester, to make sure that we leverage the knowledge, know-how, expertise and all the resources they have at the local level to continue to bring people back into work.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the shadow Minister.

Alison McGovern Portrait Alison McGovern (Wirral South) (Lab)
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It is always a joy at Question Time to hear Labour MPs supporting Labour policy, but even more so to hear Conservative MPs supporting Labour’s policy of localising our efforts to get people back to work. On that, may I ask the Secretary of State something? I have been listening to what he has said, and I know that he will not pre-empt the details of the inactivity review, but can he just confirm that one of its objectives will be to rebalance our economy, particularly in this connection between health and labour supply?

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Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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I thank my hon. Friend for raising this issue. He is right that almost £3 million from the household support fund will go to his constituency, on top of the £7.4 million that his local authority will receive in total. We monitor very closely how the money is administered to ensure that it has the maximum effect, by liaising closely with the local authorities concerned.

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

David Linden Portrait David Linden (Glasgow East) (SNP)
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Does the Secretary of State understand and agree that expediting the rise in the state pension age is less about life expectancy, which, according to the Office for National Statistics is very much arrested, and more about a cost-cutting measure for the Treasury? Can he tell the House what representations he has made to the Chancellor about that in advance of next week’s Budget? Or is it just the UK Government’s policy that people should work until they drop?

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Mel Stride and Lindsay Hoyle
Monday 23rd January 2023

(1 year, 4 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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My right hon. Friend has great experience in these matters, and he too is entirely right. It is essential for the Department to do whatever it can at the early stages to support those with mental health issues who are already in work, particularly those who are in danger of falling out of work, so that we do not end up seeing more and more people experiencing longer-term absence from employment.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the shadow Minister.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Mel Stride and Lindsay Hoyle
Monday 5th December 2022

(1 year, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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The hon. Gentleman rightly raises inflation, which we are all having to contend with at the moment. That is why my right hon. Friend the Chancellor came before the House at the time of the autumn statement and set out a clear plan as to how to bring inflation down. The Office for Budget Responsibility forecasts that it will be half its current level in a year’s time. A large amount of support has been put forward, with the £650 cost of living payment this year to those low-income households that he describes, covering some 8 million people up and down the country.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the shadow Minister.

Karen Buck Portrait Ms Karen Buck (Westminster North) (Lab)
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May I also warmly welcome my hon. Friend the Member for City of Chester (Samantha Dixon) to her place?

Fifty-nine per cent. of private renters on universal credit—844,000 households—have rents above the maximum level that local housing allowance will cover. That means that they have to make up the difference, which, as we have heard, is often substantial, either by reducing spending on other necessities such as food and heating, or by getting into arrears, risking homelessness. With homelessness already rising, local authorities predicting how much more they will have to spend and the Government only today announcing an extra £50 million having to be spent on the homelessness prevention grant, does the Secretary of State accept that what the Government are saving through the freeze on housing allowance is merely popping up in additional spending elsewhere and that it is time to get a grip?

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Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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The vouchers that are administered by the energy companies come under the remit of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, rather than the DWP. None the less, that is a concern right across Government. We have been liaising with BEIS, and I am satisfied that the Secretary of State there is totally aware of the situation and has been in close contact with the companies to see that things improve. My understanding is that very much a minority of the payments are affected, but for everybody who is affected, that is clearly a serious matter.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the shadow Minister.

Alison McGovern Portrait Alison McGovern (Wirral South) (Lab)
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I am glad that the Secretary of State has expressed concern for my hon. Friends’ constituents. He is keen to explain just how much money the Government are spending, but let us look at what the results of 12 years of Conservative Government mean for the money in people’s pockets, especially those on low incomes. We have double-digit inflation and 2.5 million working-age adults out of work, and more than 2 million emergency food parcels were handed out in this country last year. Could that be the reason that the public in Chester looked at the Government’s record and gave the Tories their worst result in that seat since 1832?

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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I am rather surprised that the hon. Lady raises unemployment, in particular. Under Labour, we saw unemployment rise by nearly half a million; female unemployment go up by a quarter; youth unemployment rise by 44%; the number of households with no one working in them double; and 1.4 million people spending most of their last decade on out-of-work benefits. That is not a record to be proud of.

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

Amy Callaghan Portrait Amy Callaghan (East Dunbartonshire) (SNP)
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A recent report for the Aberlour children’s charity found that the DWP deducts an average of £80 a month from Scottish families on universal credit to cover debts such as advance payments caused by the five-week wait. Does the Secretary of State think that it is acceptable that 56% of our constituents claiming universal credit have been left with such tiny sums of money that they have been forced to go without food or to eat just one meal a day? Will he consider replacing the advance payment loans with a non-repayable grant?

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Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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My hon. Friend is absolutely right. The talented and hard-working people at Kings Norton jobcentre do an extraordinary job, and I know he has personally done a great deal to encourage them. This is why overall unemployment is as low as it is. I will certainly consider his request for a ministerial visit.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the shadow Secretary of State.

Jonathan Ashworth Portrait Jonathan Ashworth (Leicester South) (Lab/Co-op)
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The Secretary of State will know that employment is lower than before the pandemic, that 2.5 million people are out of work for reasons of sickness—a record high—and that half a million young people are not in education, employment or training. There is a £1 billion underspend on Restart and other schemes, so why not use that money to help the economically inactive get back to work?

State Pension Triple Lock

Debate between Mel Stride and Lindsay Hoyle
Tuesday 8th November 2022

(1 year, 6 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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Right. So in future please sit down.

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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Thank you, Mr Speaker. The points raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Gloucester (Richard Graham) are well made. This Government have done a huge amount over many years to do what we can.

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Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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The hon. Lady shakes her head, but economically there are really three choices: we can either raise taxes, cut spending or borrow more money. The Labour way, we know, is to borrow, borrow, borrow. Unfortunately, we all know where that leads. [Interruption.] The shadow Secretary of State needs to calm down. He is getting a bit excited. What we need—

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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Order. Mr Ashworth, you need to calm down. [Interruption.] No, no. I will make the decision on who needs to be calm, and it is you who is going to be calm.

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Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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I will not.

I respect the fact that the right hon. Member for Leicester South brought forward the motion and, to the extent that it underlines the absolute importance of standing up for our pensioners, I welcome it. Government Members will always be there to support pensioners. We always have been in the past, we are now and we always will be.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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We come to the SNP spokesperson.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Mel Stride and Lindsay Hoyle
Monday 31st October 2022

(1 year, 6 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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Welcome, Secretary of State.

Mel Stride Portrait The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mel Stride)
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Thank you, Mr Speaker. I also associate myself with your remarks regarding Paul Pelosi and the Speaker in the United States. Our thoughts are with them both.

It is a huge honour to stand here as the new Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. In so doing, I pay tribute to all those who have preceded me, in particular my right hon. Friend the Member for Norwich North (Chloe Smith), who was an outstanding Secretary of State and also an outstanding Minister of State for disabled people.

The cold weather payment’s design ensures that support reaches those most vulnerable. The energy price guarantee is supporting millions of households with energy costs from now until April 2023. This is on top of the cost of living support worth more than £37 billion for around 8 million households on means-tested benefits.

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Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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We already have a local skills improvement plan, but I would be delighted to listen to the hon. Lady’s thoughts; we are always happy to share best practice, and to learn from her experience and that of the devolved Administration in Scotland.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the shadow Minister, Alison McGovern.

Economic Update

Debate between Mel Stride and Lindsay Hoyle
Monday 17th October 2022

(1 year, 7 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the Chair of the Treasury Committee.

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride (Central Devon) (Con)
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I welcome my right hon. Friend’s statement. It was both frank and bold, and it appears—in the very short term, at least—to have steadied the markets. One point that he raised at the Dispatch Box—although it was absent from his statement earlier today—was his renewed commitment to our financial institutions, and in particular the Bank of England and the Office for Budget Responsibility. He has also brought forward the economic advisory council, a number of whose members have appeared before the Treasury Committee; I think that he has chosen well. Will he reassure the House that the economic advisory council will not in any way conflict with the Bank of England, the Office for Budget Responsibility, the Financial Conduct Authority, the Prudential Regulation Authority or any of our institutions and that it will be there to complement and not work against any of them?

Economic Situation

Debate between Mel Stride and Lindsay Hoyle
Wednesday 12th October 2022

(1 year, 7 months ago)

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

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

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

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the Chair of the Treasury Committee, Mel Stride.

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride (Central Devon) (Con)
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My right hon. Friend the Chancellor was quite right to bring forward the date for the medium-term fiscal plan and the Office for Budget Responsibility forecast. He now has, of course, a huge challenge in landing those plans in order to reassure the markets. He has to get the fiscal rules right and come forward with spending restraint and revenue raisers that are politically deliverable. Given the huge challenges, there are many—myself included—who believe it is quite possible that he will simply have to come forward with a further rowing back on the tax announcements he made on 23 September. Can my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary confirm that that possibility is still on the table?

The Growth Plan

Debate between Mel Stride and Lindsay Hoyle
Friday 23rd September 2022

(1 year, 8 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the Chair of the Treasury Committee, Mel Stride.

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride (Central Devon) (Con)
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I welcome much in this statement. There is a great deal that will help millions of families and businesses up and down the country. There is, however, a vast void at the centre of the announcements that have been made this morning: the lack of an independent OBR forecast. At a time when the markets are getting twitchy about Government bonds and the currency is under pressure, now is the time for transparency and making it very clear that whatever tax cuts or otherwise there may be, they are done in a fiscally responsible manner.

I have to say to my right hon. Friend that he should have come forward with an OBR forecast. The Treasury Committee knows, because of our correspondence with Richard Hughes, the head of the OBR, that it was standing ready to come forward with such a forecast. We further know, because of that correspondence, that there is a baseline forecast that the Chancellor has at the moment and that would have been on his desk when he first arrived in office. May I gently and respectfully ask him to release that forecast to provide transparency to the House and calmness to the markets, and to do that without further delay?

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Mel Stride and Lindsay Hoyle
Tuesday 17th May 2022

(2 years ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the Chair of the Treasury Committee.

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride (Central Devon) (Con)
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Naturally, there has been criticism of the Bank of England, given the level of inflation and its inflation target, but among that criticism there have been reports that some in government, including perhaps one member of the Cabinet, have been suggesting that the independence of the Bank of England should be removed. Does my right hon. Friend agree that it is essential that our central bank is independent in order to maintain the credibility and integrity of our monetary policy? Will he give a categorical assurance to the House that there are no plans of any kind to restrain the independence of our central bank?

Financial Statement

Debate between Mel Stride and Lindsay Hoyle
Wednesday 23rd March 2022

(2 years, 2 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the Chair of the Treasury Committee, Mel Stride.

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride (Central Devon) (Con)
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I broadly welcome my right hon. Friend’s statement. Of course, the devil will always be in the detail and we look forward to seeing him at the Treasury Committee next week, along with the OBR and various economists, including from the IFS, which he mentioned.

I welcome the cut to fuel duty. That will help motorists and consumers and be important for businesses. The VAT reduction relating to energy efficiency and solar is very important in the context of the sanctions on Russia and energy self-sufficiency, where we can achieve it. The hardship fund will be a very targeted measure, which is important, and small businesses will be delighted to have heard about the increase in the employment allowance to £5,000, which was a key ask of the Federation of Small Businesses.

Along with many others in the House, I would have liked the NI increases for next year to have been scrapped in their entirety. However, the threshold increase that my right hon. Friend announced today has been very significant—far more significant than I imagined it would be.

This is the big question that my right hon. Friend will be asked: in the context of the fiscal targets, which I think we all agree that we need to meet, has he used enough of the headroom now as opposed to having that as a hedge against future uncertainties, to which he alluded and which are very real, in terms of inflation, interest rates and the effect on the cost of Government borrowing? Will he say a bit more about the fiscal headroom—he will have had the advantage of seeing the OBR figures, which I have not—and his assessment of that, particularly around the deficit target?

On growth, my right hon. Friend pointed out the OBR downgrades, which are not surprising in a high inflationary environment, and the dampening effect that they will have on consumer demand. I was very pleased that he referred to his Mais lecture, because it will be essential for us to focus on innovation, people and driving up capital investment.

My right hon. Friend referred, I think, to a consultation on how to improve capital investment, on which we lag behind our G7 competitors. Will he tell us more about the timeline for that consultation and when he expects to be able to provide important certainty for businesses in that respect?

Cultural Objects (Protection from Seizure) Bill

Debate between Mel Stride and Lindsay Hoyle
Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride (Central Devon) (Con)
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I beg to move amendment 1, page 1, line 6, at end insert

“in relation to an object that is in—

(a) the United Kingdom for the purpose of public display in a temporary exhibition at a museum or gallery in England or Scotland, or

(b) England or Scotland for any of the purposes listed in subsection (7)(b) to (e).”

This amendment provides for the extension of the maximum protection period to apply only in relation to objects that are in the United Kingdom for the purpose of an exhibition in England or Scotland, or otherwise in England or Scotland for certain purposes.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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With this it will be convenient to discuss amendments 2 to 6.

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
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Perhaps I should begin with a brief declaration of interest, Mr Speaker, in that as a hobby, I am a qualified Blue Badge guide—qualified to guide in such wonderful places as the British Museum, Westminster Abbey and others. I pay tribute to all those Blue Badge guides who work so hard to promote our country and our culture.

Amendment 1 provides for the extension of the maximum protection period to apply in relation only to objects that are in the United Kingdom for the purpose of an exhibition in England or Scotland or otherwise in England or Scotland for certain purposes. That follows a decision by the Department for Communities in Northern Ireland not to prioritise the legislative consent motion in the Northern Ireland Assembly, which would have allowed the powers to apply to Northern Ireland. Similarly, and following discussions between the UK and Welsh Governments, it has not been possible to reach agreement on how the power to extend the current 12-month period of protection will apply across the two nations. The Welsh Government have therefore declined to table a legislative consent motion for the Bill as it stands.

Amendment 1 and the other amendments, which are consequential on it, will ensure that the Bill addresses that situation while introducing the Bill’s important measures for application in England and Scotland.

Amendment 1 agreed to.

Amendments made: 2, page 1, line 14, leave out paragraph (b).

This amendment is consequential on Amendment 1.

Amendment 3, page 1, line 26, leave out paragraph (d).

This amendment is consequential on Amendment 1.

Amendment 4, page 2, line 10, leave out “two or more” and insert “both”.

This amendment is consequential on Amendment 1.

Amendment 5, page 2, line 21, at end insert—

“(4E) In relation to an object the maximum protection period for which is the period mentioned in subsection (4D)(c), references to the United Kingdom in subsections (4)(a), (5) and (8) are to be read as references to England or Scotland.”

This amendment is consequential on Amendment 1.

Amendment 6, page 2, line 23, at end insert—

“(4) In section 137 (interpretation), in subsection (10)—

(a) For “‘United Kingdom’” substitute “A reference to the United Kingdom or any part of the United Kingdom”;

(b) after “adjacent to the United Kingdom” insert “or that part of the United Kingdom”.(Mel Stride.)

This amendment is consequential on Amendment 1.

Third Reading

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Mel Stride and Lindsay Hoyle
Tuesday 7th December 2021

(2 years, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the Chair of the Treasury Committee.

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride (Central Devon) (Con)
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I am sure that my right hon. and learned Friend and HMRC are working very hard to ensure that the changes to the import processes coming in on 1 January run smoothly and do not result in lots of additional friction at the border. However, the Federation of Small Businesses has estimated that just one in four smaller companies is actually prepared for the changes that are about to happen. Is she aware of that particular issue? If she is, what action is she taking in the short time that remains?

Lockdown: Economic Support

Debate between Mel Stride and Lindsay Hoyle
Tuesday 3rd November 2020

(3 years, 6 months ago)

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

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

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

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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Let us enter Central Devon with the Chair of the Select Committee on the Treasury, Mel Stride.

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride (Central Devon) (Con) [V]
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I broadly welcome the new measures that the Government have brought forward to support jobs and, in particular, the increase in support for the self-employed from 40% to 80% under the self-employment income support scheme arrangements. However, as my right hon. Friend will know, the Treasury Committee produced a report earlier this year in which we identified more than a million individuals—the self-employed in particular—who were missing out on support. Will he update the House on whether, under the new measures, any of those identified in the report will receive support where they were not before? If the answer is no, why is that the case?

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Mel Stride and Lindsay Hoyle
Tuesday 7th July 2020

(3 years, 10 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the Chairman of the Select Committee, Mel Stride.

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride (Central Devon) (Con) [V]
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Guidance has recently appeared on Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs website that suggests that those who take covid-19 tests, as provided by their employer, will have to treat the cost of those tests as a taxable benefit in kind, which is very unfortunate, particularly in respect of those frontline workers who may be involved. Will the Chancellor look into this matter, please, as a matter of urgency?

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Mel Stride and Lindsay Hoyle
Monday 18th May 2020

(4 years ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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We now head down to the south-west and the Chair of the Select Committee, Mel Stride.

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride (Central Devon) (Con) [V]
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Thank you, Mr Speaker.

The future fund will provide venture capital-backed businesses with vital support, but of course it excludes investments made through the enterprise investment scheme and the seed enterprise investment scheme. It is certainly the case that there is significant public subsidy within those two schemes. However, businesses supported by them still face the challenges of the virus and, where successful, still go on to generate significant numbers of jobs. Will my right hon. Friend therefore take a second look at the qualification requirements for the future fund to see whether EIS and SEIS might be accommodated in some way?