All 29 Debates between Rory Stewart and John Bercow

Thu 13th Sep 2018
Tue 4th Sep 2018
Civil Liability Bill [Lords]
Commons Chamber

2nd reading: House of Commons & Money resolution: House of Commons & Programme motion: House of Commons

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Rory Stewart and John Bercow
Wednesday 17th July 2019

(4 years, 12 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
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Order. The Secretary of State is a cerebral and intellectual fellow, of prodigious brain power, and he deserves a more respectful audience than he is being accorded. Let us hear the words , digest them and learn from them.

Rory Stewart Portrait Rory Stewart
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What needs to be heard is not my cerebral power, but the issue of Ebola in the Congo. The House needs to be serious about that. There is an Ebola outbreak now in the Congo, which has already crossed the border into Uganda. On Sunday, we had an outbreak in Goma, a city of 2 million people. If we do not get this under control, this Ebola outbreak, which is already the second biggest in history, will cause devastating problems for the region. We must invest much more in the World Health Organisation, in developing the public health services in the neighbouring countries. Above all, we must step up to the challenge and be serious as a nation about this deadly disease.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Rory Stewart and John Bercow
Thursday 6th June 2019

(5 years, 1 month ago)

Commons Chamber
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Rory Stewart Portrait The Secretary of State for International Development (Rory Stewart)
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There should be no distinction at all between work that we do—

John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
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Order. I believe the Secretary of State is going to group this question with question 3.

Rory Stewart Portrait Rory Stewart
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Indeed, Mr Speaker. Thank you very much.

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Rory Stewart Portrait The Secretary of State for International Development (Rory Stewart)
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In the end, the Department for International Development is of course spending taxpayers’ money. To work out how to spend it in a way that resonates with the British people, we must get much better at focusing on the small charities that British citizens back. The way to do that is to learn, from examples such as the lottery fund, how to provide more support for small charities. We will push ahead with that work to make sure that small charities flourish.

John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
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The Secretary of State is an extraordinarily brilliant and cerebral fellow. He has not quite yet got the hang of the rather more prosaic matter of the announcement of the desire to group, but I shall do it for him. The Secretary of State wishes to group this question with Question 12. I know that these are comparatively footling matters, but in procedural terms, they are not footling. Footling is a very good word, I think.

Philip Dunne Portrait Mr Dunne
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Would it form part of a preamble, Mr Speaker?

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the support he already gives through his Department, but many Members will have charities in their constituencies, such as Signal in Shropshire, or will individually promote charities, such as the Hotcourses Foundation. What more can my right hon. Friend do to support British charities that do excellent work in Africa?

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Rory Stewart and John Bercow
Tuesday 5th February 2019

(5 years, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Rory Stewart Portrait Rory Stewart
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This is an enormously important issue. It is fundamentally a question for the police and Crown Prosecution Service, but I absolutely agree that those people should be prosecuted and put into jail.

John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call a south-west London knight, a former Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change and, by all accounts, a cerebral denizen of the House of Commons, Sir Edward Davey.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Rory Stewart and John Bercow
Tuesday 18th December 2018

(5 years, 6 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Rory Stewart Portrait The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Rory Stewart)
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Preventing drones from going into prisons is, of course, a huge priority. First, that means working to identify and catch the criminal gangs who are flying them in; secondly, it means electronic measures to interrupt the drones and make it possible to interrogate those people; and, thirdly and most fundamentally, it means protective security. For example, Mr Speaker, if there is a good grille on the window, you cannot stick your hand out of the window and take the drugs from the drone.

John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
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That is a useful piece of practical advice from the Minister. I am deeply indebted to him.

Vicky Ford Portrait Vicky Ford
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Drug use in prisons frequently fuels serious violence, but those who fly the drones or throw the drugs over the walls often receive little more than a ticking off. What more can be done to dissuade people—especially young people— from such behaviour?

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Rory Stewart and John Bercow
Tuesday 13th November 2018

(5 years, 8 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Rory Stewart Portrait Rory Stewart
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There is a big challenge about where prisons are located, as the whole House understands. It is often very helpful to have prisoners located near the place where they are eventually going to be settled. We are not able to do that in every case, but the Under-Secretary of State for Justice, my hon. Friend the Member for Charnwood (Edward Argar), is leading an investigation into new forms of women’s centres to provide rehabilitation and resettlement for exactly those women prisoners.

John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
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A sentence from Kettering—I call Mr Philip Hollobone.

Philip Hollobone Portrait Mr Philip Hollobone (Kettering) (Con)
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Will the Minister consider introducing a Queen’s award for offender rehabilitation to encourage employers to employ ex-offenders?

Rory Stewart Portrait Rory Stewart
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I think that is a very, very good idea. We need to recognise and honour employers who do this. A Queen’s award is a fantastic idea. I would like to give credit to my hon. Friend for coming up with it and would like his permission to pursue it.

John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
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Well, that really is a quick and easy win for the hon. Gentleman. I have a feeling that it will appear in the Kettering media ere long.

I call Matt Western—not here. Where is the chappie? What is happening this morning?

Bedford Prison

Debate between Rory Stewart and John Bercow
Thursday 13th September 2018

(5 years, 10 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

Rory Stewart Portrait The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Rory Stewart)
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May I begin by paying tribute to the hon. Gentleman for bringing forward this urgent question? We spoke briefly on the telephone yesterday. I know that he is a champion of the interests of the people of Bedford and Bedford prison, and I am grateful to have the opportunity to discuss this in more detail.

I begin by setting the broader context of what is happening at Bedford prison and will then talk more specifically about what we need to do to resolve the serious issues in Bedford prison.

A number of local prisons with significant challenges have come before the House in the past six months, of which Bedford is the latest. I want to clarify a number of things before I focus specifically on the issues at Bedford. The first is that some of these issues are fundamental to any prison. Prisons are challenging places to run at the best of times. By definition, the people inside a prison do not want to be there, and we are now facing a cohort of people in prison who have multiple needs. Nearly half the people in prison have a reading age of under 11, and nearly 30% have a reading age of under six. Very large numbers are coming to prison directly out of care at the moment, and only 18% of people coming into prison had a job beforehand.

There is also a rising tide of violence in prisons. I am pleased that Royal Assent has today been given to the Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Bill introduced by the hon. Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant). The Bill clarifies that this is not just an issue in prisons. Assaults against police officers have risen to an all-time high, and assaults on ambulance workers have risen to a very disturbing level. It would have been almost inconceivable 30 years ago for someone to get into an ambulance and assault the paramedic who was trying to treat them. It was almost unheard of 30 years ago for prisoners to assault prison officers, yet last year there were more than 9,000 such assaults.

With your permission, Mr Speaker, in relation to Bedford prison, I will return to the question of how we address violence in prisons and how the new legislation brought in by the hon. Member for Rhondda, which we on this side of the House are proud to support, will help to address some of the issues.

The second thing I want to put on record is that although there are many challenges in prisons, there have been improvements. It is worth remembering in this difficult atmosphere that some things are getting better. The situation relating to escapes and security is much better than at any time in the past. Similarly, while any suicide is a tragedy, because of our understanding of the drivers of suicide and the evidence that we gather, the measures that we are taking are beginning to work. The suicide rate is now considerably lower than it was a year ago, two years ago or indeed in the historical past, because we are beginning to address that issue. We also have a much better idea about how to deal with some of the underlying issues around reoffending. Our first night reception centres are much stronger, as are the family links that we are able to promote. More prisoners are now actively in work or education than before, and the education strategy ensures that the education they receive is much more relevant to the workplace.

Nevertheless, as the hon. Member for Bedford and the chief inspector have pointed out, there are three very significant challenges in Bedford. The first is a big problem around decency and conditions in Bedford. The second is a problem around drugs in Bedford. The third is a problem around violence, particularly assaults against prison officers in Bedford. How do we deal with this? Bearing in mind that there are underlying problems in all local prisons and that the problems we are talking about—decency, drugs and violence—are familiar from inspections in other places, what is it that gives me some hope that we can turn this around? Do we have a plan to turn this around?

The answer is that there are prisons out there in the country—local prisons with similar problems to Bedford—that are already showing that we can tackle these issues. Hull is a good example, as is Preston. There has also been a significant improvement in tackling exactly these kinds of issues in Leeds over the past three months. In Bedford, we put the prison into special measures some months ago, and we are now beginning to see some key improvements. We are seeing improvements in the physical infrastructure, more investment is going into windows, the mental health provision is better than it was, areas such as the showers and the segregation unit are better than they were, and we are now bringing in a more experienced management team.

However, that still leaves those three fundamental problems to be dealt with. How do we deal with them? Addressing the issue of drugs is first a question of technology. We have done a lot to understand the criminal networks through gathering intelligence on how the drugs are getting in, but there is much more we can do to get the right scanners in place to investigate the drugs being carried in in people’s bodies, and to spend money on the scanners to investigate drugs being put in the post that is getting into the prison.

Decency is fundamentally a question of spending money, which is why we are putting an extra £40 million into addressing basic issues, such as windows. That is not just about producing decent living conditions for prisoners—

John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
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Order. It is always a pleasure to listen to the mellifluous tones of the Minister of State. I simply advise him that, in delivering his disquisition thus far, he has exceeded his allotted time by only 100%, so I hope that the hon. Gentleman is approaching his peroration.

Rory Stewart Portrait Rory Stewart
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My apologies for taking up so much of the House’s time on this issue. To return in my final minute to the serious issues that we are dealing with today, this is about decency, drugs and violence. Dealing with violence fundamentally has to be about having the right training and support for the prison officers on the landing. They need the right legitimate authority to challenge acts of violence. They need training and equipment—body-worn cameras and CCTV—to do that. They need the law that has been introduced by the hon. Member for Rhondda. Above all, however, prison officers need management support, standing with them day in, day out, to challenge the acts of violence, to take the action to punish them and to do so in a calm, legitimate fashion. Only by restoring order and control will we be able to address the many other issues, including education, rehabilitation, decency and drugs, that we need to deal with to protect the public.

Civil Liability Bill [Lords]

Debate between Rory Stewart and John Bercow
2nd reading: House of Commons & Money resolution: House of Commons & Programme motion: House of Commons
Tuesday 4th September 2018

(5 years, 10 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Civil Liability Act 2018 View all Civil Liability Act 2018 Debates Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts Amendment Paper: HL Bill 110-I Marshalled list for Third Reading (PDF, 56KB) - (26 Jun 2018)
Rory Stewart Portrait Rory Stewart
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I am very happy to take that issue offline with my hon. Friend. There is a lot to be said for PPOs.

In essence, there are three fundamental arguments that we would make in favour of the Bill. The first is that we need to ensure that the administration of justice is proportionate and sustainable. As my hon. Friend the Member for Chelmsford has pointed out, the fact that nearly 40% of the costs are currently being absorbed by legal fees is a serious issue. Secondly, we need to ensure that the system is straightforward. As my hon. Friend the Member for North Warwickshire (Craig Tracey) pointed out, the introduction of the portal will ensure that the administration becomes more straightforward. Thirdly, my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon South has pointed out that the introduction of fixed tariffs, on the French model, will make the administration of justice more predictable.

The question of fraud and morality is also at the centre of these changes. As my hon. Friend the Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Robert Neill) said, fraud does happen, and my hon. Friend the Member for South Norfolk (Mr Bacon) has pointed out that it can often be extremely flagrant. My hon. Friends the Members for Spelthorne and for Walsall North (Eddie Hughes) said that even if we cannot prove every case of fraud, it is at least true that claims are becoming more exaggerated. Indeed, as my hon. Friend the Member for Walsall North also pointed out, that can have medical consequences. To quote the polite words of the New England Journal of Medicine:

“The elimination of compensation for pain and suffering is associated with a decreased incidence and improved prognosis of whiplash injury.”

That was the point made by my hon. Friend about the situation in Greece.

The fundamental point is that the Government have a responsibility to balance the administration of justice and honesty with the broader social costs. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Chipping Barnet (Theresa Villiers) pointed out, insurance premiums have been rising, and we need to take them into account. As my hon. Friends the Members for South Norfolk and for Bexhill and Battle (Huw Merriman), premiums are rising in rural areas in particular. Again, as my hon. Friend the Member for North Warwickshire pointed out, the cost of over £1 billion to the NHS that will be addressed through this legislation is one that is borne by every taxpayer and is causing increasing concern among medical professionals.

This is a serious piece of legislation that addresses various focused points. It comes at the end of an extensive consultation, during which we have made several concessions to address the concerns expressed across the House. During the House of Lords’ consideration of the Bill, we introduced new definitions for whiplash, we involved the Lord Chief Justices in the process, and we adjusted some of the timings for the discount rate. Through this legislation we believe that we can contribute towards a more honest and proportional system that takes into account the significant social costs of exaggerated claims. Through a more simple, predictable, effective and rapid administration of justice, we can protect a range of social and economic interests while balancing the rights of road users, claimants, defendants and, ultimately, citizens as taxpayers.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read a Second time.

CIVIL LIABILITY BILL [LORDS] (PROGRAMME)

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 83A (7)),

That the following provisions shall apply to the Civil Liability Bill [Lords]:

Committal

(1) The Bill shall be committed to a Public Bill Committee.

Proceedings in Public Bill Committee

(2) Proceedings in the Public Bill Committee shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion on Tuesday 9 October.

(3) The Public Bill Committee shall have leave to sit twice on the first day on which it meets.

Proceedings on Consideration and up to and including Third Reading

(4) Proceedings on Consideration and any proceedings in legislative grand committee shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion one hour before the moment of interruption on the day on which proceedings on Consideration are commenced.

(5) Proceedings on Third Reading shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion at the moment of interruption on that day.

(6) Standing Order No. 83B (Programming committees) shall not apply to proceedings on Consideration and up to and including Third Reading.

Other proceedings

(7) Any other proceedings on the Bill may be programmed.—(Jeremy Quin.)

Question agreed to.

CIVIL LIABILITY BILL [LORDS] (MONEY)

Queen’s recommendation signified.

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 52(1)(a)),

That, for the purposes of any Act resulting from the Civil Liability Bill [Lords], it is expedient to authorise the payment out of money provided by Parliament of any expenditure incurred under or by virtue of the Act by the Lord Chancellor.—(Jeremy Quin.)

Question agreed to.

John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
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In the thitherto unimaginable scenario that Members do not wish to listen to the hon. Member for Oxford West and Abingdon (Layla Moran), they can leave the Chamber quickly and quietly, so that the rest of us can enjoy her mellifluous tones.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Rory Stewart and John Bercow
Tuesday 10th July 2018

(6 years ago)

Commons Chamber
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Johnny Mercer Portrait Johnny Mercer
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I know that my hon. Friend likes nothing more than donning his budgie smugglers and sitting in the back garden on a Sunday afternoon. Drones can be a menace in that regard. Will he confirm exactly what he is doing in some of the measures that he is putting in place to combat drones in prison?

John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
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That sounds a very rum business to me.

Rory Stewart Portrait Rory Stewart
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You are right, Mr Speaker; it does sound a pretty rum business. The serious point about drones is that, rather than flying over my back garden in Penrith and The Border, they are bringing illicit substances into prisons. Of the four methods I emphasised, the key way of dealing with that—the one that is the most important of all—is physical security. If we have the right nets and grilles, it is simply impossible for the prisoner to put their hand out of the window and take the drugs off the drones. Of the four methods, perimeter security is probably the most important.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Rory Stewart and John Bercow
Tuesday 5th June 2018

(6 years, 1 month ago)

Commons Chamber
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Julia Lopez Portrait Julia Lopez (Hornchurch and Upminster) (Con)
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A Prison Service parliamentary scheme would give prison officers an opportunity to flag directly with Members of Parliament wider law and order issues, one of which is the use of separation jail cells to hold Islamist terrorists who pose a national security threat through attempts to radicalise other inmates. Many of those cells are lying empty. What work are you doing to ensure that they are in full operation?

John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
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I am doing no work on this matter whatsoever, but the Minister may be.

Rory Stewart Portrait Rory Stewart
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My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Managing Islamist extremists in prison means that, as well as identifying them and gathering intelligence on them, it is sometimes necessary to remove them from the general population to prevent them from radicalising other people. We have therefore set up two separation units, one of which is in Frankland Prison, and a third will shortly be set up in a new high-security prison. Such units are a vital element of managing extremists.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Rory Stewart and John Bercow
Tuesday 24th April 2018

(6 years, 2 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Rory Stewart Portrait The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Rory Stewart)
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I should like to pay tribute to the hon. Gentleman for his amazingly assiduous campaign. He asked exactly the same question, with exactly the same words, at the last Justice questions, since when I have met him another half dozen times. We have had a good meeting with his constituents, and I am now aware of their individual and general concerns. However, we need prison places in Wales.

John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
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The hon. Member for Aberavon (Stephen Kinnock) is further evidence of the KBO principle. The Minister said what he said non-pejoratively, but I simply make the innocent and prosaic, but valid, point that repetition is not a novel phenomenon in the House of Commons.

Stephen Kinnock Portrait Stephen Kinnock
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Repetition can be a form of flattery, Mr Speaker. I should like to thank the Minister for meeting me and the representatives of the NPT Prison Group for a constructive discussion, and for agreeing to put plans for the Baglan prison on hold. I am sure he will also have noted the decision of the Welsh Government to put all plans on hold pending a strategic review. Can he assure me that all plans for the Baglan prison are well and truly on hold, and that the UK Government will engage in a constructive and positive manner with the Welsh Government in the strategic review?

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Rory Stewart and John Bercow
Tuesday 6th March 2018

(6 years, 4 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Barry Sheerman Portrait Mr Barry Sheerman (Huddersfield) (Lab/Co-op)
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The Secretary of State will know that I regularly write to him about unduly lenient and unduly severe sentences, but I never ever seem to get a reply. The fact is that too many women are locked up for non-violent offences for long periods of time, and that is the sort of case that I write to him about. Why do we never get any comeback?

John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
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It is reassuring to know that I am not the only person to whom the hon. Gentleman regularly writes. I am grateful to him for confirming that important fact on the Floor of the House.

Rory Stewart Portrait Rory Stewart
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To get to the nub of the hon. Gentleman’s question, there is a very serious issue here, which is that it is absolutely true that there are many more women in prison than we would like. The Under-Secretary of State for Justice, my hon. Friend the Member for Bracknell (Dr Lee), is working very hard to reduce that population for exactly the reasons that the hon. Gentleman has raised.

--- Later in debate ---
Crispin Blunt Portrait Crispin Blunt (Reigate) (Con)
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Would there be an answer to the hon. Gentleman’s question on the industrial estate if any new prison fully incorporated the work of ONE3ONE Solutions, which was designed more than six years ago to increase the productive and commercial output of prisoners? The numbers given by the Justice Secretary just now suggest that we have not made much progress in the number of prisoners who are working. Will any new prison include ONE3ONE Solutions, and how are we getting on with prisoners working overall?

John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
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Particularly if any prospect of their working is in Port Talbot, upon which the question is focused.

Rory Stewart Portrait Rory Stewart
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I look forward very much to meeting my hon. Friend to hear more about ONE3ONE Solutions.

--- Later in debate ---
Rory Stewart Portrait Rory Stewart
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As we have discussed, very significant sentences of up to 10 years can already be imposed for this kind of action, but I would be delighted to discuss the issue in more detail with the right hon. Gentleman and my hon. Friends.

John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
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And doubtless with the right hon. and learned Member for North East Hertfordshire (Sir Oliver Heald).

--- Later in debate ---
John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
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Very well done. The right hon. and learned Gentleman is obviously ahead of events. I was enjoying the family history he was educating us on just now.

Rory Stewart Portrait Rory Stewart
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My right hon. and learned Friend is a great authority on the law. There are a number of issues here, ranging from the exact sentences that can be imposed to the work my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is doing to introduce new sentences for animal cruelty. I look forward to discussing all those issues both in the House and over a cup of tea.

--- Later in debate ---
John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
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I think the Minister might be a bit confused. I have the impression that he is answering a question that would have been put if the hon. Member for Coventry South (Mr Cunningham) had not been called earlier on a different question. The question with which we are now dealing is Question 16, on levels of violence and self-harm.

Rory Stewart Portrait The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Rory Stewart)
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My apologies, Mr Speaker.

There have been worrying increases in levels of violence and self-harm. As was said earlier, a lot of that is being driven by new drugs inducing psychotic episodes. We are working hard on this issue. We have provided training to an additional 14,000 prison officers focused on issues of violence and self-harm. More staffing will help, but there is much more to do.

--- Later in debate ---
Rory Stewart Portrait Rory Stewart
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That is a brilliant question. The answer is that I am still trying to get to the bottom of it and I cannot provide an answer to the House.

John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
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May I exhort the right hon. Member for New Forest West (Sir Desmond Swayne) for the umpteenth time to circulate his textbook on succinct questions to all colleagues in the House? If he is in a generous mood, he might even offer copies to people sitting in the Public Gallery as well?

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Rory Stewart and John Bercow
Tuesday 23rd January 2018

(6 years, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Rory Stewart Portrait The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Rory Stewart)
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We have been doing three things on education: first, we have been making sure that governors are empowered to bring in their own education providers; secondly, we have been setting minimum standards, particularly on English language learning; and thirdly, through the new futures network, we have been connecting people to jobs.

John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call Michael Fabricant; get in there, man.

John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
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Not too much detail.

Rory Stewart Portrait Rory Stewart
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As the Speaker implies in his reprimand to me, the causes of offending are many and multiple. Literacy is one of them, along with many issues relating to people’s health, education, social background and, indeed, our criminal justice system as a whole. Nevertheless, literacy is key to the reduction of reoffending because it is key to getting a good job. Good education provision in prisons, driven by governors, is going to be key to addressing this issue.

John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
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It was a gentle exhortation, I would say.

Pauline Latham Portrait Mrs Latham
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Can the Minister say anything more about the steps the Government are taking further to empower governors to deliver effective education and training in prisons?

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Rory Stewart and John Bercow
Wednesday 18th October 2017

(6 years, 8 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Rory Stewart Portrait The Minister of State, Department for International Development (Rory Stewart)
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The Prime Minister and Secretary of State have made it clear that the Commonwealth is absolutely central to our future policy, and that is not just true in respect of forthcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government meetings; the 20 largest DFID recipient countries include Nigeria, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Malawi and Sierra Leone, in which our programmes extend from health and education, to economic development, without which there can be no jobs or growth.

John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
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We appreciate the power of recall of the hon. Gentleman’s exceptionally fertile mind.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Rory Stewart and John Bercow
Tuesday 11th July 2017

(7 years ago)

Commons Chamber
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Rory Stewart Portrait Rory Stewart
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It is absolutely right, of course, that in the current global situation UN peacekeeping operations are vital, but reforms can be introduced. The move in Cote d’Ivoire to close down the peacekeeping operation and the changes in Darfur are welcome. We can reduce peacekeeping costs, but it is vital that the United States and others continue to play a strong role. American financial support has been vital for the past 50 years, and we hope that it will continue to be over the next 50.

John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
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May I remind colleagues that topical questions are supposed to be short? If Members insist on asking long questions they will be cut off, as it is not fair on colleagues.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Rory Stewart and John Bercow
Wednesday 22nd February 2017

(7 years, 4 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
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Order. We are deeply grateful.

Rory Stewart Portrait Rory Stewart
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This is an issue that the hon. Gentleman and I have discussed on a number of occasions. We remain absolutely clear, as the British Government, that it is necessary both to protect the security of the Government of Israel and to ensure that the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people are protected. We will continue to work carefully to monitor illegal demolitions.

EU Referendum: Energy and Environment

Debate between Rory Stewart and John Bercow
Tuesday 12th July 2016

(8 years ago)

Commons Chamber
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Rory Stewart Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Rory Stewart)
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I apologise for intervening so early, Mr Speaker. Will the hon. Gentleman please explain the precise relationship between the European Union issue and the questions that he is raising about flooding?

John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
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The Minister is not intervening that early, although some people might think that the hon. Gentleman was approaching the conclusion of his preliminary remarks.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Rory Stewart and John Bercow
Thursday 7th July 2016

(8 years ago)

Commons Chamber
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Rory Stewart Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Rory Stewart)
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In addition to welcoming the shadow Secretary of State to her position, may I also welcome my friend the hon. Member for Newport West (Paul Flynn) to his position?

As for the flooding in Carlisle, my hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle (John Stevenson) is a great champion of his constituency. If there is an individual leasehold property, it would be covered with affordable insurance under Flood Re. Unfortunately, when there is a larger number of properties, such as the more than 60 properties that the landlord has in this case, it would be classified as commercial insurance and would require a bespoke, tailored commercial insurance product from the insurance industry. I am happy to look at the individual case, and the British Insurance Brokers Association is also coming up with tailored products exactly to address such commercial risks.

John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
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I am grateful to the Minister for his erudite treatise.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Rory Stewart and John Bercow
Thursday 5th May 2016

(8 years, 2 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Rory Stewart Portrait Rory Stewart
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I am happy to engage with my hon. Friend and indeed farmers on this issue. It is important to understand, however, that certain birds, including blackbirds, turtle doves, goldfinches, bullfinches and whitethroats, have longer breeding and rearing seasons that last through August and into the beginning of September. There are two specific derogations that could affect my hon. Friend’s constituent: one relates to the planting of oilseed rape; and the other relates to seasonal grass, which allows him to get his equipment in, in accordance with agricultural practices. I am happy to discuss the details with my hon. Friend.

John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
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The Minister is a veritable mine of information, is he not? We are deeply obliged to him, as I dare say the constituent of the hon. Member for Corby (Tom Pursglove) will be, to boot.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Rory Stewart and John Bercow
Thursday 17th March 2016

(8 years, 3 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Caroline Spelman Portrait Mrs Caroline Spelman (Meriden) (Con)
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I was litter-picking over the Clean for the Queen weekend outside a local primary school, and I was dismayed to find that most items were recyclable. What could the Government do to encourage the next generation to recycle and not to miss the opportunity to forge a circular economy?

John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
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I hope other colleagues are as virtuous as the right hon. Lady. She has set a very high and exacting standard.

Rory Stewart Portrait Rory Stewart
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I join you, Mr Speaker, in paying tribute to the virtue of my right hon. Friend. The answer is, of course, that we need to work on educating people—this is the German model—right the way from school upwards on the importance of protecting resources and of recycling. However, we could also do more to harmonise the system so that it is more straightforward, wherever people live in the country, to know exactly what needs to be recycled and where to put recycling.

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Dennis Skinner Portrait Mr Dennis Skinner (Bolsover) (Lab)
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If the Minister wants any further advice on anaerobic digester plants, he should go to see David Easom, a farmer based in the villages of Wessington and Brackenfield in the Bolsover constituency. Several years ago, I mentioned the fact that he was going to have an anaerobic digester in this House. It is now up and running. Everybody is going to visit him, and Ministers from the Department should go to see how it works. Everything is in running order, just like everything else in Bolsover.

John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
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We very much hope that the plant is in Derbyshire, rather than in this House.

Rory Stewart Portrait Rory Stewart
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I feel that that is a great compliment. It is a historic opportunity for me to spend time with the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr Skinner), whom I have long admired. I very much look forward to visiting the plant with him.

John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
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I am sure we will get a report in due course.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Rory Stewart and John Bercow
Thursday 4th February 2016

(8 years, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Rory Stewart Portrait Rory Stewart
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I cannot give every one of those figures, but, as the hon. Gentleman says, the target for chalk grassland was 1,000 hectares, and a single project achieved 1,773 hectares.

John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
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That was a wonderfully precise answer, worthy of a boffin, although the hon. Gentleman is not a boffin; he is a distinguished Minister of the Crown.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Rory Stewart and John Bercow
Thursday 17th December 2015

(8 years, 6 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Rory Stewart Portrait Rory Stewart
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I confirm my right hon. Friend’s comments. I pay tribute to WRAP, which Members on both sides of the House are proud of and which was an initiative led by the Labour Government. It has done an enormous amount of work on harmonisation and particularly the Courtauld agreement.

John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
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Colleagues will all wish to be on the right hon. Lady’s Trivial Pursuit team, I feel sure.

Philip Hollobone Portrait Mr Philip Hollobone (Kettering) (Con)
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I declare my interest as a member of Kettering Borough Council. Will the Minister congratulate Kettering Borough Council on becoming the best performer in the Association for Public Service Excellence awards for having the best recycling and refuse service in the country, following the introduction of its enhanced blue bin recycling service?

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Rory Stewart and John Bercow
Thursday 5th November 2015

(8 years, 8 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Rory Stewart Portrait Rory Stewart
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The records of Ministers and shadow Ministers walking around with strange-shaped fruit is not always very positive. However, in order to encourage this I would be delighted to be seen eating a wobbly banana.

John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
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Notably in the company of the hon. Member for Lichfield (Michael Fabricant).

David Simpson Portrait David Simpson (Upper Bann) (DUP)
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Will the Minister give the House some details of what discussions he has had with supermarkets in relation to food waste, and will he welcome the announcement by KFC who have done a deal with the Salvation Army to help hand out food so it is not wasted?

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Rory Stewart and John Bercow
Thursday 18th June 2015

(9 years ago)

Commons Chamber
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John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
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With reference to Glasgow.

Rory Stewart Portrait Rory Stewart
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I pay tribute to the Mayor of London for his work on air quality. I am unable, however, to connect directly the work of the Mayor of London to the question about Glasgow.

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Rory Stewart Portrait Rory Stewart
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As I mentioned, £5 million has been committed specifically to flood defences in York. The flood re scheme is currently on track. It is an extremely impressive but complex scheme that will provide insurance to the most vulnerable and at-risk people within your constituency.

John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
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Not mine.

Alex Cunningham Portrait Alex Cunningham (Stockton North) (Lab)
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10. What steps she is taking to reduce the cost of living in rural Britain.

Armed Forces (Service Complaints and Financial Assistance) Bill [Lords]

Debate between Rory Stewart and John Bercow
Monday 9th March 2015

(9 years, 4 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Rory Stewart Portrait Rory Stewart (Penrith and The Border) (Con)
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I beg to move amendment 24, page 1, line 9, leave out “is”

John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
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With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Amendment 25, page 1, leave out line 10 and insert—

“(a) has been a member of the regular or reserve forces in the last five years ending with the day on which the appointment is to take effect, or”

Amendment 26, page 1, line 11, after “(b)”, insert “is”

Amendment 27, page 1, line 13, at end add—

“(4A) (a) The period for which a person is appointed shall be not less than five years and not more than seven years.

(b) A person who has been appointed as Ombudsman may not be re-appointed to the office.”

Amendment 28, in clause 2, page 3, line 15, at end insert—

“(5A) Before making regulations under this section the Defence Council must consult the Service Complaints Ombudsman.”

Amendment 23, page 5, line 15, at end insert—

“(2A) Regulations made under section 340E(1)(b) must specify that in relation to any service complaint which includes allegations of discrimination, harassment, or of being victimised as a result of making such allegations—

(a) where a person is appointed by the Defence Council for the purposes of section 340C(1)(a) or 340D(2)(d) that person must have a proven understanding of discrimination and harassment;

(b) where a panel is appointed by the Defence Council for the purposes of section 340C(1)(a) or 340D(2)(d) at least one member of the panel must have a proven understanding of discrimination and harassment.”

This amendment would require that any regulations made by the Secretary of State must specify that the person, or at least one of the panel members, involved in dealing with Service complaints involving allegations of discrimination or harassment should have a proven understanding of discrimination and harassment.

Amendment 29, page 7, line 32, leave out subsection (2).

Amendment 30, page 7, line 34, leave out from “subject to subsection (2),”

Amendment 31, page 7, line 39, leave out subsection (5).

Amendment 32, page 9, line 25, leave out paragraph (c) and insert—

“(c) provision for the imposition on those to whom reports are sent of obligations of confidentiality in the interests of—

(i) national security; or

(ii) the safety of any person.”

Amendment 33, page 9, line 30, at end insert—

“(aa) accept the findings and recommendations of the Service Complaints Ombudsman.”

Amendment 34, page 9, line 32, leave out “(if any)”

Amendment 35, page 9, leave out lines 35 to 37.

Amendment 36, page 12, line 14, at end add—

“( ) The Ombudsman may report to the Secretary of State on any matter relating to service complaints and the procedure for the handling of service complaints as the Ombudsman considers appropriate.”

Rory Stewart Portrait Rory Stewart
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These very important amendments were tabled by the Defence Committee. We shall not press them to a vote, but we want to explain crisply and clearly why we believe them to be very important. They focus above all on four things: the independence, freedom, power and scope of the ombudsman. I shall briefly go through each of the amendments in turn.

The principle on which the Defence Committee has acted is the need to get the balance right with regard to the very particular needs of military law and military discipline, which we accept are completely different from those in the civilian sphere. The kinds of things that soldiers are required to do are quite different from those required by a conventional employer. It is not necessary to lay those differences out in detail, but military discipline and military law have been quite different from civilian law in a series of important respects for 400 years.

It is important that, along with preserving the independence of the military and of military discipline and military law, we ensure that the ombudsman is genuinely trusted and respected. The first ingredient of that is, of course, the ombudsman’s independence and making sure there are no conflicts of interest, which is what the first set of amendments in this group—amendments 24 to 27—seek to ensure. They would make sure that the individual had not been in the military—either in the regular or the reserves—in the previous five years. That conflict of interest is obvious, so it is not worth trying the House’s patience. Put simply, if someone had been a senior general a month before they became the ombudsman, there would be a potential conflict of interest in the relationships they might have developed, so we think that a five year gap is sensible.

The second ingredient, which is in amendment 27, is to push for the term to be non-renewable. That is also about having no conflicts of interest: as the ombudsman do their job, they should not be perpetually thinking about how to get the job again. Our focus is on ensuring that they do the job clearly and crisply, without worrying about whether they will be reappointed—that is independence.

The second set of amendments, Nos. 28 to 32, deals with the freedom of the ombudsman. The Committee is pushing to ensure that the Ministry of Defence and the Defence Council do not put regulations or procedures in the way of the defence ombudsman or the Service Complaints Commissioner for the Armed Forces that prevent them from doing their job. We are trying to ensure that although the Ministry of Defence can set the parameters within which the ombudsman operates, it is not in a position to micromanage individual procedures. We believe that the Ministry of Defence should consult the ombudsman on regulations. Finally, on the question of power, we do not believe that the Ministry of Defence should be able to use confidentiality as a reason for denying access to the ombudsman, except in two particular cases: the personal safety of the individual and national security. Except in those cases, the ombudsman should have the scope to pursue an investigation.

The third conceptual issue for the Committee is about the power of the ombudsman. In amendments 33 to 35, we argue that the ombudsman’s recommendations should be binding on the Defence Council. The final conceptual issue is about scope, and amendment 36 touches on thematic reviews. In other words, should the ombudsman find a systemic issue—say, repeated examples of bullying—it may think it necessary to conduct a thematic review of the broader issues.

The Committee will not press the amendments to a vote because the Government have so far addressed them in a constructive fashion. We very much welcome the fact that they have accepted our major amendment to allow the ombudsman to look not simply at maladministration but at the substance of cases. We note that the Government, in appointing Nicola Williams, have already taken into account in practice many of the recommendations that the Committee wanted. We note that in the contract negotiations with her the Government have already ensured that the ombudsman appointed has not been in the armed forces during the previous five years—in fact, Nicola Williams has never been in the armed forces—which deals with our amendments 24 to 26. We note that the Government have said that the appointment will be non-renewable, which is our amendment 27. In practice, the appointment deals with the conflict of interests problem, and we understand that the Government will set out measures in regulations to deal with our anxieties about freedom, power and scope.

However, the Committee will of course watch the Government’s performance on such issues very carefully. Given that the Government do not want to agree to the amendments, that they assure us we can trust them and say that we should look at the precedent set by the appointment of Nicola Williams, and that they will introduce individual regulations to achieve all the measures that the Committee want, we will watch them very carefully. The Committee reserves the right to reintroduce the amendments, particularly in the Armed Forces Bill to be introduced in the next Parliament, if we believe the Government have reneged on what at the moment appears to be a commitment made in good faith, to ensure that the ombudsman’s principles are upheld.

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Rory Stewart Portrait Rory Stewart
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I reiterate what the Defence Committee said, which is that the amendments are extremely important conceptual points relating to the independence of the ombudsman and conflict of interest; the power of the ombudsman; the freedom of the ombudsman to operate; and the scope of the ombudsman. We will not press the amendment to a vote at this time. That is a good will gesture to the Government, who have made a concession on an important amendment.

I also wish to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the hon. Member for Bridgend (Mrs Moon), who has been the guiding spirit and soul of this process from the beginning to the end. She has kept the Defence Committee focused and she has kept it honest. I hope that she feels a real sense of achievement at having got through this extremely important amendment.

John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
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For the avoidance of doubt, if the hon. Gentleman could just say the words that he seeks leave to withdraw the amendment.

Rory Stewart Portrait Rory Stewart
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I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 2

Reform of System for Redress of individual Grievances

Electoral Registration

Debate between Rory Stewart and John Bercow
Wednesday 4th February 2015

(9 years, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
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I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his point of order. He inquired whether there was a mechanism within the rules of order. As he well knows, there is, and he has just used it. It was 31 years three months ago that I first met the hon. Gentleman. All I will say about him tonight is that once a propagandist who seizes his moment, always a propagandist who seizes his moment.

Rory Stewart Portrait Rory Stewart (Penrith and The Border) (Con)
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Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. There is a serious point underlying this matter, which is that the 2% figure is indeed what the UK Government have encouraged every other NATO country to contribute of GDP to defence. This 2% figure is essential both to UK national security and to our international reputation.

John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
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The hon. Gentleman has reaffirmed the 2% point.

Speaker’s Statement

Debate between Rory Stewart and John Bercow
Wednesday 14th May 2014

(10 years, 1 month ago)

Commons Chamber
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John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
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I will now announce the result of the ballot held today for the election of a new Chair of the Select Committee on Defence: 479 votes were cast, with one spoilt ballot paper. The counting went to seven stages and 438 valid votes were cast in that round, excluding those ballot papers whose preferences had been exhausted. The quota to be reached was therefore 220 votes. Mr Rory Stewart was elected Chair, with 226 votes. The other candidate in that round was Dr Julian Lewis, who received 212 votes. Rory Stewart will take up his post immediately.

May I be the first, on behalf of all colleagues in the House, warmly to congratulate the hon. Gentleman? I am sure I speak for all colleagues when I thank all the other candidates who took part in the election. [Hon. Members: “Hear, hear.”] The results of the count under the alternative vote system will be made available as soon as possible in the Vote Office and published on both the intranet and the internet for public viewing.

Rory Stewart Portrait Rory Stewart (Penrith and The Border) (Con)
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On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I want to say a huge thank you. It has been an enormous privilege to stand alongside colleagues who have approached this in such a collegiate and kind fashion. I have so much to learn from them. I am a very young and inexperienced new Member and this is a very great honour. Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Rory Stewart and John Bercow
Wednesday 18th December 2013

(10 years, 6 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
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Last but not least, I call Mr Rory Stewart.

Rory Stewart Portrait Rory Stewart (Penrith and The Border) (Con)
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Christmas in Syria will be defined by unstopping grief and horror in sub-zero temperatures. I encourage the Prime Minister to keep a relentless focus on humanitarian relief in Syria, to encourage the rest of the international community to meet the UN’s demands for £4 billion of assistance, and to ensure that that assistance is much more imaginative and generous.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Rory Stewart and John Bercow
Tuesday 9th November 2010

(13 years, 8 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Rory Stewart Portrait Rory Stewart (Penrith and The Border) (Con)
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Will the Secretary of State please clarify the way in which foreign policy can really drive defence policy institutionally, and in particular, could you define the relationship between the National Security Council and the Joint Intelligence Committee?

John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
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Order. I cannot, but I feel sure that the Foreign Secretary can.

Strategic Defence and Security Review

Debate between Rory Stewart and John Bercow
Tuesday 19th October 2010

(13 years, 8 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
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Order. These are hugely important matters, and I should like to accommodate some more colleagues, but greater brevity is now vital.

Rory Stewart Portrait Rory Stewart (Penrith and The Border) (Con)
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One of the fundamental problems of the last eight to 10 years has been the split between foreign policy and defence. Will the Prime Minister please tell us what steps are being taken to ensure that not just the National Security Council, but the Joint Intelligence Committee and the Foreign Office, really drive us to have the right resources and the right priorities?