All 24 Debates between Yvette Cooper and Suella Braverman

Mon 19th Jun 2023
Mon 12th Jun 2023
Mon 13th Mar 2023
Wed 8th Feb 2017
European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill
Commons Chamber

3rd reading: House of Commons & Committee: 3rd sitting: House of Commons & Report stage: House of Commons

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Yvette Cooper and Suella Braverman
Monday 18th September 2023

(7 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Yvette Cooper Portrait Yvette Cooper (Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford) (Lab)
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On 7 March, the Home Secretary emailed Conservative supporters saying

“today we’re changing our laws—and bringing the small boat crossings to an end.”

Since then, 20,000 more people have arrived. She is not applying her own law, because it does not work. The use of asylum hotels is up, with no date to end their use, and foreign criminal returns are down. The independent chief inspector of borders and immigration has said:

“This is no way to run a government department.”

He is right, isn’t he? Is that why the Home Secretary is getting rid of him?

Suella Braverman Portrait Suella Braverman
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I am incredibly proud of the landmark legislation passed by this House, which was opposed by the Labour party every step of the way. This will allow us to detain those who arrive here illegally and remove them to a safe country like Rwanda.

The point is that at least we have a policy. I am not sure that anyone on the Labour Front Bench knows what Labour’s plan is for stopping the boats. Shadow Ministers certainly seem to be making it up as they go along. There were quotas and then no quotas. The EU has made it clear that we would be expected to take thousands more migrants from the EU. Will there be family reunion? We already have a scheme for family reunion. They are making it up because they do not have a plan. I think the British people can see exactly what Labour’s plan is—

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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Order. I do not think the Home Secretary understands what “topical” means. Could the Whips please explain to their Front Benchers that we have to get through the Order Paper? You are not helping me, and I do not know why.

Yvette Cooper Portrait Yvette Cooper
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What the Home Secretary said is total waffle. She has no answer on the inspector because she is afraid of scrutiny. There was no answer on her failure, just invented garbage about Labour. The Home Office’s immigration director, asylum director, borders director and accommodation director are all going or gone because the only people she removes are the people she needs to do the job. There has been a 40% increase in the use of asylum hotels since she became Home Secretary. When will she end the use of asylum hotels? When will she deal with this shambles, stop the gimmicks and get a grip?

Suella Braverman Portrait Suella Braverman
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The right hon. Lady talks about a shambles, but the last four days have been a great example of a shambles. The EU has called her party “delusional” when it comes to its grand plan for stopping the boats. Labour disagrees with the National Crime Agency on how to solve the problem. The reality is that Labour is on another planet on how to stop the boats. It is not based in reality, it is not grappling with this challenge and it is not being honest with the British people.

Prevent: Independent Review

Debate between Yvette Cooper and Suella Braverman
Thursday 7th September 2023

(7 months, 2 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Yvette Cooper Portrait Yvette Cooper (Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford) (Lab)
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I thank the Home Secretary for her statement. I join the Government in paying tribute to the work of our security services, our counter-terrorism police, the myriad different agencies—local communities, councils and education bodies—that work on the Prevent programme, and all those who work so hard to keep us safe.

Extremists try to divide us and to undermine our democratic values and our respect for one another. Extremist ideologies are a stain on our society: they feed on fear and vulnerabilities to promote hatred and violence. We have seen appalling terror attacks, from the attack on children in Manchester and the attack in Fishmongers’ Hall to the attacks on our own Jo Cox and David Amess. A strong and determined response to extremism and terror threats and threats to our national security, wherever they come from, is immensely important to our safety.

The Contest strategy rightly includes “prevent”, “pursue”, “prepare” and “protect”, and it was right for the Home Secretary to update the House on the approach to extremism and to the Prevent programme. However, on a day when there are grave unanswered questions about how a terror suspect could possibly have escaped from prison, before trial, hidden on the bottom of a food van, I am astonished that she said nothing about Prevent and prisons. We have unanswered questions about how on earth the escape could have happened, and also about staffing levels. There have been repeated warnings of 30% staff absences and shifts not being covered. Those staffing issues are a matter for Prevent as well. The independent review highlighted an issue about which countless other reports have warned: the lack of sufficient action on deradicalisation and Prevent in our prisons. Prisoners are actually leaving prison more radicalised than they were when they went in. Referring to extremism-related training for staff, Sir William said:

“it became clear during the review that this training was frequently cancelled due to staff and resource shortages…I was further told that there have been delays to staff beginning Prevent training and to extremist prisoners beginning rehabilitative programmes. These delays are attributed to staffing and resourcing issues”.

The Government have been warned repeatedly about this, and I am concerned about the complete lack of reference to it in the Home Secretary’s statement. Will she please tell us what action is being taken, and also what action is being taken for those due to be released from prison—those who are due to be deliberately released, that is, as opposed to those who escape? Contest has warned that

“four of the nine declared terrorist attacks since 2018 were perpetrated by serving or recently released prisoners.”

The joint inspectorate warned just a few months ago that there were not enough senior officials in place to oversee the 120 prisoners with terror-related convictions who are due to be released by next March. What deradicalisation and Prevent work have those 120 prisoners undergone in prison, and what provisions are in place in the community to ensure that there is no risk to the public? We cannot afford any suggestion of failure by the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice to take national security treats in prison seriously.

Today’s report from the borders inspectorate is highly critical of Border Force’s failures on insider threats, saying that organisational structures for addressing

“insider threat were found to be confused, with complex inter-relationships and unclear lines of accountability”.

What action is the Home Secretary taking to deal with insider threats?

There is also no mention of any action on online radicalisation or the use of artificial intelligence. Online radicalisation was raised by the independent review, and we know that generative AI raises further challenges and questions. We have identified potentially serious legal loopholes in our ability to take action against those who choose to use generative AI to try to radicalise people. What action is being taken on that? We have asked the Home Secretary about this before. Will she agree to Labour’s proposal to tighten the law?

The majority of the extremist threats our security agencies deal with are Islamist extremism, followed by far-right extremism. Other warped ideologies have also driven violent threats, but the main focus must continue to be on Islamist extremist threats. I welcome the emphasis on antisemitism, but the agencies, the police and the Prevent programme need to follow the threats of violence and hateful extremism wherever the evidence goes, rather than having to follow any political hierarchies that have been set.

Neil Basu, the former counter-terror chief, has said that we also need to make sure there is earlier intervention and prevention. He said:

“If we set the bar for Prevent so high that it can deal only with those who are already radicalised, we will have more terrorists, not fewer.”

Finally, what action is being taken in response to the former countering extremism commissioner’s report on hateful extremism, published some years ago? Are the Government ever going to respond to that or update the countering extremism strategy, which is now eight years out of date? We need that action. Prevent is not a whole countering extremism strategy. We need broader action if we are to keep our democratic values safe.

Suella Braverman Portrait Suella Braverman
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I thank the right hon. Lady for her response. She raised several points to which I will respond.

First, I pay tribute to all the professionals and experts in our agencies who work day and night to keep the British people safe from the evolving, changing and, indeed, increasing risk we carry when it comes to terrorism. They work in many ways of which we will not be aware, but they make huge sacrifices. I am very proud of the progress that they and this Government have made in recent years. That includes the opening of a new counter-terrorism operations centre that is now up and running and delivering state-of-the-art counter-terrorism work between all the agencies—be they the police or others—working in one place in a co-ordinated and streamlined way. I was pleased to visit CTOC recently. Our Contest strategy was relaunched earlier this year and, since 2018, 39 attacks have been disrupted by the brave men and women working in law enforcement and other agencies. That huge amount of work is going incredibly well.

Of course, the threat remains substantial, which means an attack is likely. There is no room for complacency on this issue, which is why I am wholly committed to focusing on the effective delivery of Sir William Shawcross’s recommendations. That is why I have come to update the House today.

The right hon. Lady mentioned prisons and, of course, William Shawcross referred to the threat of terrorism, extremism and radicalisation within the prison estate. In fact, recommendation 27 makes it clear that better and more training is required for prison officers, which is why I am very pleased that there has been significant progress on the roll-out of the new terrorism risks behaviour profile. This new prison-based product is led by the Ministry of Justice, building on the recommendations made by Jonathan Hall and reiterated and built on by Sir William. That roll-out will be completed by the end of the year. The value of this new tool is that prison officers will be better trained. They will have more skills and more tools at their disposal to better identify terrorism and the risk that it poses within the prison estate. That is a direct response to recommendations and concerns that have been raised.

I refer the right hon. Lady to the previous statement made by the Lord Chancellor on the broader issues. I am receiving regular briefings on the circumstances leading to the escape of Daniel Khalife yesterday and on the wide-ranging operation involving the police, Border Force and the agencies to track him down.

The right hon. Lady also mentioned resources. Let me be clear that funding for counter-terrorism is as high as it has ever been, and Prevent funding has not been cut. However, we are redirecting resources to better reflect the evolving threat picture, so that our resources are directed at the priorities informed by the intelligence picture. For example, I am very pleased that all local authorities now have a dedicated Home Office point of expertise and contact. That has been rolled out throughout England and Wales. It will properly equip those in the local authority sector to have proper training and a connection, a dialogue and a meaningful relationship with the Home Office so that they can be better tooled up to respond to radicalisation and the risks relating to Prevent in the community.

The right hon. Lady also said there should not be a hierarchy of threats. Of course, there is no such hierarchy. Prevent is ideologically agnostic, but we must always be clear about the facts. When I last updated the House, for example, 80% of live investigations by the counter-terrorism police network were Islamist in nature, and MI5 is clear that Islamist terrorism remains our predominant threat, accounting for 75% of its case load, yet only 16% of Prevent referrals in 2021 were Islamist. That is a fundamental problem that Sir William identified and that I am addressing right now through these robust and wide-ranging reforms.

Prevent is a security service, not a social service. The role of ideology in terrorism has too often been minimised, with violence attributed to vulnerabilities such as mental health or poverty and to the absence of protective factors, rather than focusing on individual responsibility and personal agency in the choices that these people are making.

I am implementing all the review’s recommendations, and I have committed to reporting back to the House on progress. I am clear that Prevent must focus solely on security, not on political correctness or appeasing campaign groups. Its first objective must be to tackle the ideological causes of terrorism. We will not be cowed by fear, and we will not be hampered by doubt. I am very grateful to the House for hearing this update.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Yvette Cooper and Suella Braverman
Monday 3rd July 2023

(9 months, 3 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Yvette Cooper Portrait Yvette Cooper (Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford) (Lab)
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The Home Secretary will be aware of the documentary last week on the relationship between Boris Johnson and others, and former KGB officer Alexander Lebedev, and about the meeting in an Italian villa, the ignoring of security advice on Lords appointments, and the decision not to sanction Alexander Lebedev. Given the importance of national security, will she tell the House whether she has any concerns about those reports? Will she set up an independent investigation into what happened, into who knew what, and into how far the security risk spreads?

Suella Braverman Portrait Suella Braverman
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At the Home Office, the Minister for Security and I take seriously the threats posed by hostile state actors. That is why the Minister for Security is chairing the Defending Democracy Taskforce, bringing together agencies and Departments in a cross-Whitehall approach to tackling the serious threats that we all face as parliamentarians and facing those in public office. I gently remind the right hon. Lady that one of her own parliamentary colleagues has a very dubious track record when it comes to working with the Chinese Communist party.

Migration and Economic Development Partnership

Debate between Yvette Cooper and Suella Braverman
Thursday 29th June 2023

(9 months, 3 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Yvette Cooper Portrait Yvette Cooper (Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford) (Lab)
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Today’s judgment shows that the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary have no plan to fix the Tories’ small boats chaos. Their only policy, to send everyone to Rwanda, is now completely unravelling. Ministers have admitted that it will cost £169,000 to send each person to Rwanda—on top of the £140 million cheques that they have already written, with more costs to come —but now the court has found that they did not even do the basic work to make sure that the Rwanda scheme was legal or safe.

Over four years, this Tory boats crisis has grown and grown, and the Government have completely broken the asylum system. They have failed to stop criminal gangs taking hold along our borders—gangs that have seen their profits soar from £3 million four years ago to more than £180 million today. They promised four years ago that they would end boat crossings in six months, but the number has increased more than twentyfold since then. Convictions for people smuggling have dropped, asylum decision making has collapsed—down by a third—but the costs of the asylum system have soared. A fivefold increase in the cost for just one person in the asylum system is no one else's fault; it is just Tory mismanagement and chaos, resulting in a backlog that has soared to a record high of 175,000. The projection of the Home Office itself is that those Tory failures will rise to a cost of £11 billion. That is the cost of the Government’s failure—and instead of getting a grip on any of that, all they can come up with are gimmicks to make things worse.

This Rwanda scheme is unworkable, unethical, extortionately expensive, and a costly and damaging distraction from the urgent practical action that we should be taking—from the plan that Labour has set out to stop wasting all this money on a failing Rwanda scheme and instead to go after the criminal gangs, and to secure a stronger agreement with France and sort out the massive backlog that is costing a fortune: action to stop the dangerous boat crossings that are undermining our border security and putting lives at risk.

The Home Secretary has defended her Rwanda plan, but this is what the judgment reveals. Not only will it cost £169,000 for each person, as well as the £140 million cheques that have been sent; according to the Lord Chief Justice, there will be substantial sums of future aid support. How much? The Government are expecting Rwanda to take asylum decisions under a memorandum of understanding, but the judgment reveals that the Rwandan asylum system takes only about 100 decisions a year at the moment, and has a 100% rejection rate for Afghanistan, Syria and Yemen. Under the Israel Rwanda deal, the Government breached the memorandum of understanding. People were routinely targeted by agents and gangs and moved clandestinely to Uganda, which has made trafficking worse.

The judgment also says that Rwanda has only one committee that takes all the asylum decisions and only one eligibility officer preparing cases. So on the idea that the Government are going to be able to deliver on their pledges, even the Lord Chief Justice, who finds that the scheme could be lawful, has said that it is only on the basis that the scheme is small—just 100 people.

The Home Secretary talks again today about thousands of people being sent. The Lord Chief Justice says that

“the talk of Rwanda, within a few years, being a destination for thousands of asylum seekers”

is “political hyperbole”. A hundred people is less than 0.5% of those who arrived in the UK, so no wonder the Home Office admits there is no evidence that it will act as a deterrent. It is a total con on the British people.

There are two questions for the Home Secretary. Does she agree with the Lord Chief Justice that “thousands” is “political hyperbole” and that, even if she succeeds, it will just be a few hundred instead? And how long is she going to keep wasting all of this taxpayers’ money on a failing policy and wasting everybody’s time on ramping up the rhetoric rather than coming up with a serious plan?

This afternoon, the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration set out a damning indictment of the Tory Home Office and its ability to pursue casework or have accurate data. It says that in the Home Office,

“there is no single version of the truth”

and concludes that

“This is no way to run a government department.”

But this Home Secretary is running it. She is running this chaos, failing to sort out the boats chaos, failing to clear the backlog or mend the broken asylum system, failing to get a grip. I do not doubt that she will now stand up and read from her pre-prepared script, blaming everyone else and making up stuff all about the Labour party rather than answering the two questions that she has been asked, rather than answering anybody’s questions about the decisions that she has made. [Interruption.] She is in charge. The Tories have been in charge for 13 years. This is their chaos—their Tory chaos, their boats chaos and their broken asylum system. We do not need more slogans; we need solutions. We do not need more gimmicks; we need a Government with a grip. She is clearly not capable of it, so why does she not move over and give way to someone else?

Suella Braverman Portrait Suella Braverman
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I thank the right hon. Lady for her pre-prepared script as well—very well delivered. I have to say, she seems unusually upbeat today, which I find, frankly, quite odd, given that today’s judgment will be frustrating for the majority of the British people who have repeatedly voted for controlled migration, for all those who want to see this Government deliver on our promise to stop the boats. I cannot help but contrast that public sentiment of disappointment with her excitement and delight today. As so many of her colleagues on the Opposition Benches are cheering this decision, we see an opposite view here.

Today is a bad day for the British people. Today is a good day for the people smugglers. It is a good day for Labour. As ever from the shadow Home Secretary, there is no regard for the will of the British people. I know she sees the will of the British people as an inconvenience and an irritation, because her statement demonstrates that she simply has no empathy for the impact of illegal migration on local communities. She fails and refuses to recognise that those crossing by small boat are doing so illegally.

As ever from Labour, there is no alternative plan, and moreover, it does not care that it has no alternative plan. The truth is that our current system is rigged against the British people. That is why we are changing the law. The Labour party is perfectly content with this rigged system. Labour Members would like to keep it in place. That is why they are opposing our Illegal Migration Bill. That is why they would scrap our partnership with Rwanda. Rather than proposing any meaningful reforms to the asylum system, Labour would keep the system as it is to enable more people to come to the country illegally so that they can be settled into local communities more quickly. That is simply open borders masquerading as humanitarianism, and she should be honest with the British people.

I wonder if the right hon. Lady has actually read the judgment, given her gleeful disposition. Let me repeat some of it to her. Although the Court of Appeal did find by majority, with a dissenting view from the Lord Chief Justice, that there are deficiencies in the Rwandan asylum system, specifically relating to the risk of refoulement, all other grounds on which the appeal was brought were unanimously dismissed. That means the policy does not breach our obligations under the UN refugee convention and does not breach our domestic laws, as she and the Opposition have consistently maintained.

As I have said, we will seek permission to appeal the disappointing aspects of the judgment, but I think the British people will see quite clearly that, while we are trying to stop the boats, Labour has simply obstructed progress time and time again and has offered no solutions. The Prime Minister and I have promised to do whatever it takes to stop the boats; Labour has apparently pledged to do whatever it takes to stop us stopping the boats.

Stop and Search

Debate between Yvette Cooper and Suella Braverman
Monday 19th June 2023

(10 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber
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Yvette Cooper Portrait Yvette Cooper (Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford) (Lab)
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Knife crime destroys lives, devastates families and creates fear and trauma in communities. Last year, too many young people lost their lives to knife crime—young people who had their whole lives ahead of them

Knife crime is up nearly 70%, compared with just seven years ago. Knife-enabled rapes and knife-enabled threats to kill are at record highs, with some of the steepest increases in the suburbs, smaller cities, towns and counties. Compared with over a decade ago, knife crime is up more than fivefold in Surrey and has almost trebled in Sussex. From Milton Keynes to Swindon to Newcastle, I have spoken to distressed parents and community leaders about rising knife crime and their devastation at young lives being lost.

The Government’s response is wholly inadequate. The serious violence strategy is more than five years out of date, the serious violence taskforce was disbanded and everyone knows, from their own communities, that too little is being done to divert young people away from violence and crime. There are just 18 violence reduction units. When the Home Secretary claims serious violence is going down, she is focusing on the covid period, because the worrying truth is that knife crime and gun crime are rising again.

Today’s statement, therefore, is wholly inadequate as a response to knife crime. Stop and search is an extremely important tool in the fight against knife crime, but it is not the whole strategy. That is why we need a much more comprehensive approach: as part of our mission, Labour has set the determination to halve knife crime and serious violent crime. As stop and search is an important tool, it also needs to be used in an effective and fair way. His Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary said that

“well-targeted stop and search is a valuable tool”,

but how the police do it is as important as the act itself, and communities have clear concerns about the fair use of stop and search. His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services had previously said:

“Unfair use of powers can be counterproductive if it leads people to think it is acceptable to not comply with the law. It may also make people unwilling to report when they are the victim of crime or come forward as witnesses.”

That is why it is important that the recommendations that the inspectorate and the police watchdog have made are taken seriously and implemented, and why best practice from forces who are doing a good job is spread across the country.

There have been reports from the inspectorate in 2015, 2017, 2021 and from the police watchdog, little of which the Home Secretary has even acknowledged. She has dismissed concerns about disproportionality. Of course, stop and search for knife crime and for dangerous weapons will likely be used most in the areas and communities where attacks have been the highest. That will affect the number of searches for weapons among young black men, but the chief inspector has said that the presence of disproportionality in crime victimisation rates does not adequately explain why there is disproportionality in stop and search rates. In her statement, the Home Secretary seems to be focusing only on young black men. I think she refers to them around six times, with only one reference to people who are white, even though her own statement recognises that young black men are still the minority of knife crime victims. Does she recognise the importance of following the evidence wherever it takes the police?

The inspectorate said that

“35 years since the introduction of stop and search, the police still cannot explain why these powers are used disproportionately.”

It points out that that is partly because the majority of searches are for drug possession, not for knife crime, and yet figures show that drug use is lower among black people than among white people. The Home Secretary has not addressed that at all in her statement. Will she address the issue of disproportionate drug possession searches?

I welcome the references to the introduction of stronger community scrutiny and better data collection. Those are vital, but they should have been mandatory for many years—they were recommended many years ago. Where is the action that has been repeatedly recommended: training on the use of force; training on de-escalation and communications skills; and proper data collection on traffic stops. None of those has been referred to in her statement. How many of the 18 recommendations by the Independent Office for Police Conduct last year have been fully implemented? How many recommendations from the inspectorate have been fully implemented?

Stop and search is a vital tool as part of a proper strategy, but we need the wider strategy, too. Why is the violence reduction unit approach being used by the Home Secretary in only 18 areas when knife crime is rising in communities across the country? Why has there been no new serious violence strategy for five years? Many people now fear a long, hot summer without swift action. Why is there still no action to bring in a new law on the criminal exploitation of young people, which we have called for? Why is there still no comprehensive action on youth mentors and support for early intervention?

We need a serious approach to tackling knife crime and supporting the police to use their tools in an effective and fair way so that they can save lives. Too many young lives are at stake. We need more than this from the Home Secretary.

Suella Braverman Portrait Suella Braverman
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I thank the right hon. Lady for her response. It is not just my view, but the view of police that stop and search is fundamentally about saving lives and keeping the public safe. Where used proportionately, stop and search works. Since 2019, more than 40,000 weapons have been seized through stop and search, and 220,000 arrests have been made. The 2021 inspectorate report concluded that the vast majority of stop and search decisions are based on reasonable grounds. That is potentially thousands of lives saved and countless violent incidents prevented.

To those who claim it is a disproportionate tool—a racist tool—I say that we must be honest about what that means for victims. The right hon. Lady, when she was Chairman of the Home Affairs Committee, stated:

“Stop & search is more disproportionate now than 22yrs ago, with no adequate explanation or justification for nature & scale of racial disparities.”

Yet again, she is on the wrong side of the argument, and yet again she is not on the side of victims.

What is disproportionate is that black people are four times more likely to be murdered than white people. What is disproportionate is that young black men are more likely to be victims of knife crime than young white men. That is the disproportionality that I am focused on stopping. It is important that we look at the matter with a cool head and on the basis of the evidence.

The emerging picture based on London suggests that when we adjust the data to consider the proportion of suspects in an area and its demographics, rather than considering the data for the country as a whole, the disproportionality of stop and search falls away hugely. I urge the right hon. Lady to consider and reflect on those facts rather than jumping to knee-jerk assumptions. Of course it is right that the powers are used in a responsible and measured way—that is why engagement with communities must be respectful—and it is right that the powers are subject to the highest levels of scrutiny. We now see very few complaints about individual stop and searches. Training on legal and procedural justice has improved and we have seen confidence levels increase.

Overall, I am very proud of this Conservative Government’s achievements: a record number of police officers ever in the history of policing, 100,000 weapons seized since 2019 and falling crime—in fact, serious violent crime has fallen by 40% since 2010. What has Labour done? Labour Members voted against our measures to strengthen the police. They voted against tougher sentences for rapists. They voted against our Bill to stop the militant protesters. Same old Labour—they never fail to miss an opportunity to be on the wrong side of the argument. This Conservative Government are on the side of common-sense policing and on the side of the British people.

Nottingham Incident

Debate between Yvette Cooper and Suella Braverman
Wednesday 14th June 2023

(10 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber
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Yvette Cooper Portrait Yvette Cooper (Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford) (Lab)
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I thank the Home Secretary for her statement and for advance sight of it. I join her and the whole House in expressing our deep sorrow and shock at this truly awful attack.

The families of those who have been killed have expressed their tributes to their lost loved ones, and I join them in paying tribute to Barnaby Webber and Grace Kumar, two young, talented students who had hugely promising futures ahead of them. We have seen the tributes from their heartbroken families and from the local and national sports clubs they played for. We also pay tribute to Ian Coates, a school caretaker. We have also seen the tributes from his family and from the school he worked for, which said he, “always went the extra mile.” Our condolences, thoughts and prayers go to their families, their loved ones, their friends and their colleagues.

Our thoughts and best wishes also go to the three other people who have been injured in the same terrible attack and to their families, who will be so deeply distressed at what has happened, worrying for their loved ones. We stand in solidarity with the people of Nottingham and the University of Nottingham, where the two young people were studying. They are all so shocked and devastated at what has happened, but also so determined to come together in the face of tragedy. People who gathered at the vigil last night heard the sober words and tributes from the council leader, local MPs and local faith and community leaders. Everyone will particularly join in thanks to the emergency services that have had to respond to this awful attack, saving lives and keeping people safe.

As the Home Secretary said, an individual has been arrested and this is still a major, ongoing investigation. It is not appropriate for us to speculate or say anything that would interfere in that investigation, but I welcome the involvement of counter-terror police at an early stage of this investigation. That does nothing to pre-empt any conclusion about the potential motive behind this attack, but I have previously raised the importance of having CT police expertise involved at an early stage while motives and circumstances are investigated, rather than being brought in at a much later stage, once relevant material has been gathered.

Can the Home Secretary confirm it is a sensible approach for the expertise and assistance of counter-terror police to be drawn on at an early stage, even before any conclusion has been reached? Can she tell us whether she has been given any timetable for updates on the issue? She will know there are wider concerns about the need for properly co-ordinated and appropriate sensitive support for the victims of major incidents, including terror attacks. Can she set out what support is available for the families and friends of those affected, and for the emergency services and people in Nottingham?

Doubtless there will be countless more questions from the community and Parliament once more is known about this dreadful attack but, for now, we send our support to Nottinghamshire police and their investigation. All our thoughts and solidarity go to those who have lost loved ones and to the people of Nottingham at this difficult time.

Suella Braverman Portrait Suella Braverman
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the right hon. Lady for her comments and for the sentiment with which she makes them. Nottinghamshire police are leading the investigation, which is at a very early stage. They have carried out a number of searches and inquiries across the city, and they will continue to gather evidence over the coming days. Police and other agencies are working flat out to establish the full facts and to provide support to everyone affected. As I said, the police have asked for time, space and patience while those inquiries continue. I am being kept regularly updated by the police and agencies on the ground.

The families of all the victims have been informed and are being supported by specialist police officers. As there are casualties and three fatalities, there is a real need for emergency care for those families, as would be imagined, and specialist support is being put on for those directly affected. I echo the sentiment of the House, as expressed by the Prime Minister: we are all saddened and shocked, and our hearts are with those affected: the victims, their families, friends and communities, and the city of Nottingham.

Public Order

Debate between Yvette Cooper and Suella Braverman
Monday 12th June 2023

(10 months, 2 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Suella Braverman Portrait Suella Braverman
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

One of the first things I did when I became Home Secretary, along with the Minister for Crime, Policing and Fire and the Prime Minister, was to meet policing leads, in the Metropolitan police and nationwide, to hear about the challenges they have been and are facing in policing protests. They have requested extra powers and extra clarity in the law.

I find it surprising and disappointing that Labour MPs are not supporting the measures before us today, given how important they are to the public and how damaging serious disruption can be to everyday life. I have been trying to think about why that would be. Has it got anything to do with the fact that the Labour party—the Leader of the Opposition and his deputy—has taken £1.5 million of donations from a businessman who bankrolls Just Stop Oil? Is it because Labour’s botched environmental policies now seem to be directed by the eco-zealots? The right hon. Member for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford (Yvette Cooper) should be embarrassed that Labour is more interested in supporting Just Stop Oil than standing up for the law-abiding majority. This Government and the police have always maintained that the powers are necessary to respond effectively to guerrilla protests.

Yvette Cooper Portrait Yvette Cooper (Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

Clearly, it is important that the Home Secretary gives accurate information to Parliament, so will she clarify her answer to my right hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull North (Dame Diana Johnson), the Home Affairs Committee Chair, as to whether the police and the National Police Chiefs’ Council have requested the precise wording that she has put forward in these regulations? She said to the Chamber a week ago that the

“asylum initial…backlog is down by 17,000”.—[Official Report, 5 June 2023; Vol. 733, c. 557.]

She knows that that is not true and that the asylum initial backlog, which includes legacy and flow, has gone up. Will she now correct the record, as she is before the House and she knows the importance of the ministerial code and correcting any errors at the first opportunity?

Suella Braverman Portrait Suella Braverman
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Sadly, we see unsurprising tactics from the Labour party. Again, Labour Members seek to distract from their woeful failure to stand up for the law-abiding majority, who want us to take these measures on protesters, and to cover up the fact that they have absolutely no policy to stop the boats. It is disappointing but unsurprising.

These regulations will ensure clarity and consistency in public order legislation in the following ways. First, they clarify that the police may take into account the cumulative impact of simultaneous and repeated protests in a specific area when considering whether there is a risk. Secondly, they permit the police to consider the absolute disruption caused by a protest—in other words, their evaluation may be irrespective of the disruption that is typical in that area. Thirdly, the regulations define the term “community” to include “any group” impacted by a protest, extending beyond those in the immediate area. That definition better reflects the cross-section of the public affected by disruptive protests in cities today. Finally, the regulations align the threshold of “serious disruption” with that in the Public Order Act 2023. This definition, proposed by Lord Hope, the former deputy president of the Supreme Court, is rooted in protest case law. It was debated at length by Parliament and deemed appropriate for use in the Public Order Act 2023. It should now be incorporated into the Public Order Act 1986 to ensure consistency across the statute book.

--- Later in debate ---
Suella Braverman Portrait Suella Braverman
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank all right hon. and hon. Members for their contributions in what has been a fruitful and lively debate. I will not spend too much time responding to Labour’s position. The response of the shadow Secretary of State was almost totally devoid of anything serious on the issue of public order. She would rather spend her time in the Chamber glued to her phone, as my hon. Friend the Member for Blackpool North and Cleveleys (Paul Maynard) remarked.

Yvette Cooper Portrait Yvette Cooper
- Hansard - -

Can the Home Secretary confirm that slow walking is already against the law and that that is how the Metropolitan police and other police forces have already managed to stop a whole series of slow-walking incidences that have caused significant disruption for communities?

Suella Braverman Portrait Suella Braverman
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The fact that the right hon. Lady has to ask that question reflects her total misunderstanding of what we are debating here today. Of course the police have powers enshrined in legislation already, but we are trying to clarify the thresholds and boundaries of where the legal limit lies, so that they can take more robust action and respond more effectively. Perhaps if she had not looked at her phone so much she would know what we were talking about. She would also rather spend her time at the Dispatch Box playing pantomime politics than engaging with the serious issue of public safety and the right to protest.

People cannot get to work. They cannot get to school. Ambulances cannot get to patients. People cannot get to funerals. Hard-working people are paying well-earned cash to attend live sporting events, public galleries and public shows not for them to be ruined by a selfish minority.

Illegal Migration

Debate between Yvette Cooper and Suella Braverman
Monday 5th June 2023

(10 months, 3 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Yvette Cooper Portrait Yvette Cooper (Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford) (Lab)
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Thank you, Mr Speaker, for your response. I thank the Home Secretary for her apology.

The Prime Minister flew to Dover today to congratulate himself and to tell us that his plan is working, even though the asylum backlog he promised to clear is at a record high, decisions are down, caseworker numbers have dropped, hotel use is up, returns are still down, only 1% of last year’s small boat cases have been processed, and seven and a half thousand people arrived on dangerous small boats in the last few months alone. The massive gap between the Tories’ rhetoric and reality shows that the Home Secretary still has no grip on the system. This Conservative chaos is letting everyone down.

The Prime Minister claimed today that he is stopping the boats, but the 7,600 people who have arrived in the last few months alone is three times more than two years ago and eight times more than before the pandemic. We all hope that the limited reduction in the winter months, compared with last year, will be sustained when the weather improves, but criminal gangs have already made an estimated £13 million in the last few months alone from putting lives at risk and undermining our border security as a result of the Conservative failure to go after the gangs and maintain that border security. The Home Secretary boasts about an increase in enforcement, but that is compared with the covid period. Compared with before the pandemic, enforcement visits are down 22% and arrests are down 17%. This is not an achievement.

The Home Secretary also says she has cut the backlog, but the backlog is at a record high of 170,000. It has gone up, not down, since December. There has been an 18% drop in asylum decisions in the last quarter, and it is no good claiming they are only clearing a so-called legacy backlog of cases from before June 2022. What about the growing backlog of 60,000 people and more who have arrived in the last 12 months? They are still in the asylum system, still in hotels and still in limbo. A backlog is a backlog, no matter how much the Government try to spin it away. The only legacy we are talking about is the legacy of Tory failure to tackle the problem. All the Home Secretary has managed to do is take a few decisions on cases that are more than a year old. That is not an achievement—that is her job.

The Prime Minister and Home Secretary promised to end hotel use, but it has gone up, to 47,000 people, which is higher than the 40,000 she told us about in December. The Prime Minister also said in December that he already got locations for accommodating 10,000 more people, but now the Home Secretary says it is only 3,000, from the end of this year. What she has not admitted is that this is not instead of hotels—it is additional, because of their failure and the consequence of their new immigration Bill, the bigger backlog Bill, which is just going to make the backlog worse. Today’s press release reveals the truth. It says that these accommodation changes

“could reduce the need to source an additional 90 hotels.”

Why are the Government in such a mess that they need to be thinking about sourcing an additional 90 hotels? Why have they so totally lost any grip that the backlog and costs are getting worse and worse?

Enforced returns are lower than they were pre-pandemic, and only 23 of the 24,000 people the Government have tried to return to safe countries they have travelled through have actually been returned. Even in the case of Albania, with which there is a return agreement in place, we find that 12,000 people arrived on small boats last year but fewer than 1% of those cases have been decided and barely a few hundred people have been returned. As for Rwanda, as my hon. Friend the Member for Aberavon (Stephen Kinnock) has said, the Government have sent more Home Secretaries there than asylum seekers, and no one expects the numbers to be high. The taxpayer is already footing the bill for Conservative failure, and now we hear reports that the new legislation will cost £6 billion. Is that true—yes or no?

The Home Office has already had to claim £2.4 billion extra from the Treasury reserve, so how much more will it claim this year? The Times reports that illegal immigration will have to fall below 10,000 a year for it even to be possible to implement the new legislation, because the Home Office says that Ministers’ plans are “based on demented assumptions”. So will the Home Secretary tell us whether the demented assumptions are hers or the Prime Minister’s?

Time and again, the Government have voted against Labour proposals to help stop dangerous crossings. They have voted against action to go after criminal gangs; against the cross-border police unit, against fast-track decisions for safe countries; and against new return agreements and legal routes with Europe. People want to see strong border security and a properly controlled and managed asylum system, so that our country does our bit, alongside others, to help those fleeing persecution and conflict. Under the Tories, we have neither of those, because the gangs have been allowed to let rip across the borders and the asylum system is in chaos. All we get is rhetoric, while the reality gets worse; we get demented assumptions, unworkable plans and empty spin. Instead of all the press conferences, we need a proper plan. The asylum system is broken, the Tories broke it and there is still no plan today to sort it out.

Suella Braverman Portrait Suella Braverman
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the right hon. Lady again for her extensive words. The theatrics get even more colourful every time we meet. I say “words” because, as ever, that is all we get from the Opposition; we get no serious alternatives and no credible plan, just empty rhetoric and endless noise.

Last December, the Prime Minister and I set out a plan to stop the boats. Since then, we have been working flat out to deliver that programme. What has the right hon. Lady been up to? It is hard to say. The question is: will Labour ever bring forward a plan of its own, a plan with details, a plan that delivers? I am sorry to say that the answer is that Labour does not have a plan and does not care that it does not have one. It is this Conservative Government and this Conservative Prime Minister who are dealing with the priorities of the British people.

So what is Labour actually doing? Labour Members are good at carping from the sidelines, but when it comes down to it, how do they actually act? They have voted against every single measure that we have put forward to stop the boats. They would scrap our world-leading plan with Rwanda, and they continue to oppose our laws to detain and remove. Contrast their opposition to our common-sense proposals with their urgent activism when it suits them. Let me tell you, Mr Speaker, more than 100 Opposition Members—over half the parliamentary Labour party—signed a letter campaigning for dangerous foreign criminals to be spared deportation. Those criminals included murderers and rapists who went on to commit further terrible crimes here in Britain. Indeed, 14 of the current shadow Cabinet campaigned to stop those vile criminals from being deported, including the shadow Foreign Secretary, the shadow Attorney General, the shadow Health Secretary and even the Leader of the Opposition. I will spare the rest. I am still waiting for an apology, Mr Speaker, but I fear that it will never come.

I know that the right hon. Lady did not sign that letter. Perhaps the Leader of the Opposition should take that into account before he decides to remove her from the Front Bench. Labour Members continue to oppose our Illegal Migration Bill, saying that it will not work. Frankly, that is totally unsurprising, because, unlike the British people, Labour wants more migration, not less; it wants open borders, not control.

I am a democrat. The British people have spoken clearly and repeatedly. They welcome genuine refugees and do not want people to come here illegally. The Opposition parties and the right hon. Lady are supremely indifferent to this problem. They are happy with the status quo that lines the pockets of the gangsters, is lethally dangerous and grossly unfair on taxpayers, and puts intolerable pressure on our local communities. We on the Conservative Benches are committed to stopping the boats. We have a plan to do so and we are delivering that plan.

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Suella Braverman Portrait Suella Braverman
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Asylum seekers, whether they are accommodated in the UK or relocated to a safe country such as Rwanda, will always receive the appropriate level of support to which they are entitled. Where we have legal duties, we abide by them; and where we have a duty of care to asylum seekers, we meet it.

Yvette Cooper Portrait Yvette Cooper
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rose

Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse: Report

Debate between Yvette Cooper and Suella Braverman
Monday 22nd May 2023

(11 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Yvette Cooper Portrait Yvette Cooper (Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford) (Lab)
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I thank the Home Secretary for advance sight of her statement, and join her in paying tribute to the victims and survivors of this hideous crime. Many of those victims and survivors have been crucial to establishing the inquiry in the first place and have been involved, working hard to make sure that voices are heard. Their strength should be recognised and their calls to action must be heeded.

There is no more hideous crime than child sexual exploitation and abuse, a crime that preys on vulnerability and leave scars that are felt for the rest of a young person’s life. The independent inquiry set up by the Home Secretary’s predecessor, the right hon. Member for Maidenhead (Mrs May), identified failings across a wide range of institutional settings, including local councils, the Anglican and Catholic Churches, and organised groups and networks. In each area, action is needed to make sure that abuse is tackled wherever it is found.

I welcome the Government’s acceptance that there needs to be a redress scheme for victims and survivors of historical abuse. I ask the Home Secretary what the timetable and next steps will be on that, as that trauma can last a lifetime and is truly devastating for those who experience it.

May I also say to the Home Secretary that the rest of the statement is inadequate as a Government response to such a serious and weighty report? I am glad that she has accepted the need to act on 19 of the 20 recommendations, but that is not the same as accepting the recommendations or as setting out what action she is actually going to take. For example, the inquiry said that victims and survivors should receive

“a guarantee of specialist therapeutic support”,

but all her statement says is:

“We will elicit views on the future of therapeutic support”.

We know that that therapeutic support is inadequate and that there are lots of views already—the whole point of the inquiry was to gather those views and that evidence. On many of the recommendations, there is little detail. All that the Home Secretary has done is simply point to what the Government are doing already. I hope that there is more in the full report to which she refers, but there is far too little in the statement today to give us any confidence.

Labour called for mandatory reporting of child sexual abuse nearly a decade ago. The Government finally agreed to do it in April, but all the Home Secretary has done today is open a call for evidence. Well, there have already been many calls for evidence. In fact, the inquiry gathered lots of evidence. At best, she could have launched her own call for evidence some time ago. Why is mandatory reporting not in the Victims and Prisoners Bill? That is our opportunity to make progress rapidly.

The Home Secretary’s response to online sexual abuse is far too weak. She has referred to the Online Safety Bill—we know that that is long delayed and watered down—but this is not just about the legislation; it is also about the action that is taken. Since then, we have had an inspectorate report on online abuse that describes the police response to online child sexual abuse and exploitation as

“too often leaving vulnerable children at risk”,

with examples of police taking up to 18 months to make an arrest after becoming aware that children were at risk of abuse. There was nothing on that in her statement. What action will she take on policing?

New evidence from the Internet Watch Foundation found that the number of web pages containing category A material has more than doubled since 2020—just in the past few years alone. Again, the response is wholly inadequate.

Charging rates have got worse and worse. Every year, approximately 500,000 children will be sexually abused, only one in five of whom is likely to report their abuse. Only 11% of the reported cases result in a charge, down from more than 30% in 2015. It has got so much worse over the past few years. That means that the overwhelming majority of child sexual abusers face no consequences—criminals are getting away with these terrible, terrible crimes. It has got even worse than the last time we discussed this topic in the House in October.

On child protection and the Disclosure and Barring Service, again, we have warned about gaps in the disclosure and barring system, and there are still problems with it. Only last year, we had unaccompanied asylum-seeking children being placed in hotels without properly trained DBS staff. What has the Home Secretary done since then even to reform child protection in her own Department?

Children and teenagers have paid the price of the country’s failure to tackle child sexual abuse and exploitation. The Home Secretary’s predecessor rightly set up this inquiry, but there is a responsibility on every single one of us, and in particular on the Home Secretary and the Government, to make sure that action takes place. This is about the victims and the survivors, but it is also about future generations of children whose safety and lives will be at risk if we do not see action.

Suella Braverman Portrait Suella Braverman
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the right hon. Lady for her questions and her response, and for the utmost seriousness with which she has approached this topic.

As I said in my statement, the report represents fundamental change to the way in which we deal with child abuse. I hope that the recommendations that we are taking forward today demonstrate the Government’s commitment to tackling this evil. The right hon. Lady asks about timetable and pace. On the speed of the report and our response, I hope she will appreciate that it is important not only that the independent assessor, Professor Jay, took the time to get the report right, but that we consider things thoroughly now so that we make the most of the recommendations and ensure that we deliver the level of reform that will make a meaningful difference on the ground to victims and survivors and that will make a difference in culture to prevent this from happening again.

This is reform on a level not seen before. It will mark a step change in our approach to child sexual abuse. We need to, and we will, get this right. If that takes time, that is time well spent. I do not want to give victims and survivors the false impression that implementing these big commitments will happen overnight. What I can promise them is that this response heralds a new start; it signifies a change in direction and it represents an acknowledgement of what they have been through, what they have testified to and the work of this inquiry.

The Government have accepted the need to act on 19 out of the 20 recommendations. We are accepting the vast majority of them. I hope that that reflects our genuine and real commitment to getting this right. I have also committed today to closely monitor police force data on child sexual abuse, not only to ensure that the police are appropriately prioritising that terrible crime, but to identify where they need partners such as tech companies to improve their response. Let me be clear: we will do whatever it takes and whatever is necessary to protect children from abuse—no ifs and no buts.

Let me issue a few thanks. I put on the record my thanks to my right hon. Friend the Member for Maidenhead (Mrs May) , one of my predecessors, for launching this inquiry, recognising the problem and starting this important work. I put on record my thanks to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education, to my right hon. and learned Friend the Lord Chancellor and to other Cabinet Ministers who have come together to support this Government response. This issue will require a whole-of-Government, multi-agency response if we are to genuinely protect the interests of children.

Above all, I thank the victims and their families for sharing their stories and for helping us to take this big step forward. I have had the honour of meeting members of the victims and survivors consultative panel; today I met professionals who are working on the frontline, members of the police force and members and employees at the Centre of Expertise on Child Sexual Abuse, hosted at Barnardo’s and funded by the Home Office. I have visited The Lighthouse in Camden, which provides therapeutic support to children who have encountered this kind of horrific abuse, and I have worked with and met the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. I thank all the professionals on the frontline.

Child sexual abuse is a complex issue and its enormity cannot be underestimated. I am enormously grateful to the victims and survivors for their courage. The abuse should never have happened, but I hope that with these changes we will make a difference and prevent future abuse from taking place. We owe that to past victims and their families.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Yvette Cooper and Suella Braverman
Monday 22nd May 2023

(11 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Yvette Cooper Portrait Yvette Cooper (Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford) (Lab)
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On a difficult anniversary, I pay tribute to the brave soldier Lee Rigby and to the innocent children, women and men who lost their lives, and the many more who were injured, at the Manchester Arena, as well as to their families, who remind us of the commitment to never let hatred win.

At the heart of the Home Secretary’s responsibility is to ensure that laws are fairly enforced for all. But when she got a speeding penalty, it seems that she sought special treatment—a private course—and asked civil servants to help. She has refused to say what she asked civil servants to do, so I ask her that again. Will she also tell us whether she authorised her special adviser to tell journalists that there was not a speeding penalty when there was?

Suella Braverman Portrait Suella Braverman
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

As I said earlier, in the summer of last year I was speeding. I regret that. I paid the fine and I accepted the points. At no time did I seek to avoid the sanction. What is serious here is the priorities of the British people. I am getting on with the job of delivering for the British people, with a record number of police officers and a plan to stop the boats, and by standing up to crime and for policing. I only wish the Labour party would focus on the priorities too.

Yvette Cooper Portrait Yvette Cooper
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

The trouble is that the Home Secretary is failing to deliver for the British people too, and everyone can see that she is not answering the basic factual questions on what she said to the civil service and to her special adviser. It matters because it is her job to show that she is abiding by the ministerial code, which she has broken before, on private and public interests, and to enforce rules fairly for everyone else. Time and again, she seems to think that she is above the normal rules: breaching security even though she is responsible for it; trying to avoid penalties even though she sets them; reappointed even after breaking the ministerial code; and criticising Home Office policies even though she is in charge of them and is failing on knife crime, on channel crossings, on immigration and more. The Prime Minister is clearly too weak to sort this out. If the Home Secretary cannot get a grip of her own rule-breaking behaviour, how can she get a grip on anything else?

Suella Braverman Portrait Suella Braverman
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I have some gentle advice for the right hon. Lady. The person who needs to get a grip here is the shadow Home Secretary and the Labour party, as they have wholly failed to represent the priorities of the British people. When, Mr Speaker, will the Labour party apologise for campaigning to block the deportation of foreign national offenders? When, Mr Speaker, will the Labour party apologise for leaving this country with a lower number of police officers—

Antisocial Behaviour Action Plan

Debate between Yvette Cooper and Suella Braverman
Monday 27th March 2023

(1 year ago)

Commons Chamber
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Yvette Cooper Portrait Yvette Cooper (Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

This plan is too weak, too little, too late. The Home Secretary says people are sick and tired of antisocial behaviour. Too right they are—because people have seen serious problems getting worse and nothing has been done. But who does she think has been in power for the last 13 years?

It is a Tory Government who have decimated neighbourhood policing. There are 10,000 fewer neighbourhood police and police community support officers on our streets today than there were seven years ago. Half the population rarely ever see the police on the beat, and that proportion has doubled since 2010. This is a Conservative Government who weakened antisocial behaviour powers 10 years ago, brought in new powers that were so useless they were barely even used, including the community trigger and getting rid of powers of arrest, even though they were warned not to.

The Government abandoned the major drug intervention program that the last Labour Government had in place, slashed youth service budgets—the YMCA says by £1 billion—and have let charges for criminal damage halve. Community penalties have halved and there is a backlog of millions of hours of community payback schemes not completed because the Government cannot even run the existing system properly. Far from punishing perpetrators of antisocial behaviour, the Government are letting more and more of them off.

As a result, criminal damage affecting our town centres is up by 30% in the last year alone. It is a total disgrace that too many people, especially women, feel they cannot even go into their own town centres any more because this Government have failed them. They do not see the police on the beat and they do not feel safe.

So what are the Government proposing now? We support some of the measures, largely because we have long called for them. We called for hotspot policing; we called for faster community payback. We support stronger powers of arrest and a ban on nitrous oxide. But let us look at the gaps. There is nothing for antisocial behaviour victims, who are still excluded from the victims code and the draft victims law. On the failing community trigger, all the Government are going to do is rename and relaunch it. They are re-announcing plans on youth support that the Levelling Up Secretary announced more than a year ago. I notice one new thing in the document: an additional 500 young people will get one-to-one support. Well, there were 1.1 million incidents of antisocial behaviour last year, so good luck with that.

The Government are not introducing neighbour respect orders. Astonishingly, neighbourhood policing is not mentioned even once in the document. How on earth do the Government think they will tackle antisocial behaviour without bringing back neighbourhood policing teams? Their recent recruitment—to try to reverse their own cuts of 20,000 police officers—is not going into neighbourhood policing. There are 10,000 fewer neighbourhood police officers and PCSOs in our teams than there were seven years ago. Labour has set out a plan for 13,000 more neighbourhood police on the streets, paid for by savings that have been identified by the Police Foundation but which Ministers are refusing to make. Will the Home Secretary now agree to back Labour’s plans to get neighbourhood police back on the beat to start taking action?

Hotspot policing is not the same as neighbourhood policing. We support hotspot policing to target key areas, but that is not the same as having neighbourhood teams who are there all the time, embedded in the community, and know what is going wrong and why. There are plenty of things that are already crimes—that are already illegal—on which the police already have the powers to act but do not. No one comes because there are not enough neighbourhood police.

Will the Home Secretary apologise to people across the country for her cuts of 10,000 neighbourhood police and PCSOs, and for taking the police off the streets, meaning that people do not see them any more? If she does not realise that having fewer police in those neighbourhood teams is causing huge damage and undermining confidence, she just does not get it. Really, after 13 years, is this the best the Conservatives can come up with?

Suella Braverman Portrait Suella Braverman
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

The more I listen to the right hon. Lady, the more confused I am about what Labour’s policy is. She criticises our plan while claiming that we have stolen Labour’s, so I am not sure which it is. In the light of the embarrassing efforts of the shadow Policing Minister, the hon. Member for Croydon Central (Sarah Jones), to explain her own policy on television last week, I am not sure that any Labour Members really know what their antisocial behaviour policy is. Let me tell the House one big difference between the right hon. Lady’s plan and ours: unlike her, we call tell the public how much ours will cost and how we will pay for it—a big question that Labour is yet to answer.

The shadow Home Secretary talks about policing cuts. Never mind that we are recruiting 20,000 extra police officers—the highest number in history. Never mind that we have increased frontline policing, which leads to more visible and effective local policing. Never mind that by the end of this month, we are on course to have more officers nationally than we had in 2010 or in any year when Labour was in government.

The shadow Home Secretary wants to talk about safer streets. Well, let us compare our records. Since 2019, this Conservative Government have removed 90,000 knives and weapons from our streets. Since 2010, violence is down 38%, neighbourhood crime is down 48%, burglary is down 56%, and overall crime, excluding fraud, is down 50%. What does Labour’s record show? That where Labour leads, crime follows. [Interruption.] I know it hurts, but it is true. Under Labour police and crime commissioners, residents are almost twice as likely to be victims of robbery, and knife crime is over 44% higher. In London, Labour’s Sadiq Khan wants to legalise cannabis. In the west midlands, a Labour PCC wants to close police stations. Labour opposed plans to expand stop and search. Labour Members voted against tougher sentences for serious criminals. They voted against the increased powers for police in our Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022. So we should not be surprised that, while this Conservative Government are working to get violent criminals off our streets, Labour is campaigning to release them. The Leader of the Opposition and some 70-odd Labour MPs signed letters—they love signing letters—to stop dangerous foreign criminals from being kicked out of Britain. One of those criminals went on to kill another man in the UK, and we learned this week that many others went on to commit further appalling crimes in the UK. Shameful! Outrageous! Labour Members should hang their heads in shame!

The truth about Labour is that they care more about the rights of criminals than about the rights of the law abiding majority. They are soft on crime and soft on the causes of crime. The Conservatives are the party of law and order. Our track record shows it, and the public know it.

Metropolitan Police: Casey Review

Debate between Yvette Cooper and Suella Braverman
Tuesday 21st March 2023

(1 year, 1 month ago)

Commons Chamber
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Yvette Cooper Portrait Yvette Cooper (Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

The report published today by Louise Casey, commissioned by the Mayor of London, into standards and culture in the Metropolitan police service is thorough, forensic and truly damning. It finds that consent is broken, management of the force has failed and frontline policing,—especially neighbourhood policing—has been deprioritised and degraded after a decade of austerity in which the Met has ended up with £0.7 billion less than at the beginning of the decade. It finds that the Met is failing women and children, and that predatory and unacceptable behaviour has been allowed to flourish. It finds institutional racism, misogyny and homophobia.

Baroness Casey pays tribute to the work that police officers do and the bravery that they show every day, as we all should, because across the country we depend on the work that police officers do to keep us all safe—catching criminals, protecting the vulnerable and saving lives. We support them in that vital work. But that is what makes it all the more important that the highest standards are maintained and the confidence of those the police serve is sustained, otherwise communities and the vital work that police officers do are let down. We support the work the new Met commissioner is doing now to start turning the Met around. He and his team must now go much further in response to the Casey review, but I am concerned that the Home Secretary’s statement is dangerously complacent. Astonishingly, there is no new action set out in her response, simply words saying that the Met must change. This is a continuation of the hands-off Home Office response that Baroness Casey criticises in her report. Some of the issues raised are particular to the Met because of its size, history and particular culture, where the Home Secretary and Mayor are jointly responsible for oversight and where the commissioner is responsible for delivering, but the report also raises serious wider issues for the Home Office.

The failure to root out officers who have been involved in domestic abuse or sexual assault also applies in other forces. The failure to tackle culture has gone wrong in other forces too, with problems in Gwent, Hampshire, Police Scotland, Sussex, Leicestershire and more. It is a disgrace that there are still not mandatory requirements on vetting and training, underpinned by law, and that misconduct systems are still too weak. I urge the Home Secretary to commit now that anyone under investigation for domestic abuse or sexual assault will be automatically suspended from their role as a police officer, and that anyone with any kind of history of domestic abuse or sexual assault will not be given any chance to become a police officer. We need an urgent overhaul, underpinned by law. Will she give us that commitment today?

The Home Office approach more widely to standards is also failing. Six police forces are in so-called special measures, but it is still too easy for forces to ignore the recommendations from the inspectorate and the intervention processes are too weak. Where is the Home Secretary’s plan to turn that around?

The report is damning about the decimation of frontline policing, but neighbourhood policing has been decimated everywhere, not just in the Met. There are 6,000 fewer police officers in neighbourhood teams and 8,000 fewer police community support officers than just in 2016, and it is worse than that because officers are routinely abstracted for other duties. So where is the plan to restore neighbourhood policing? Labour has set out a plan. We would work with the Government on this, but where is the Government’s plan?

The report is devastating on the lack of proper public protection arrangements for women and children who have been let down, but again we know that across the country prosecutions for rape and domestic abuse have plummeted and serious cases have too often been dismissed. Again, where is the national action plan to improve public protection? Where is the commitment to specialist rape investigation units in every force and specialist domestic abuse experts in 999 control rooms? It is not happening.

The findings on institutional misogyny, racism and homophobia are based on evidence and clear criteria that Baroness Casey has set out for measuring change with recommendations. The Home Secretary rightly says she wants discrimination tackled in all its forms, but she has been telling police forces the opposite in telling them not to focus on those issues. Where is her plan now to turn that around? Where is the Home Office plan in response to this, on standards, on neighbourhood policing, on violence against women and girls, and on systemic or institutional discrimination? Where are those plans?

The British policing model is precious. The Peel principles, which started in London— policing by consent—said

“that the police are the public and that the public are the police”.

They are our guardians, not our guards, but that precious policing model is in peril. The Home Office and the Home Secretary are the custodians of that tradition, but the lack of any plan to restore trust, to stand up for policing or to turn things around is letting everyone down. It is not standing up for the police; it is letting both the police and communities down. It is because we believe in policing and because we believe in those Peel principles that we know standing up for the police also means working with the police to deliver change and to restore the trust, confidence and effective policing that all police officers and communities properly deserve.

Suella Braverman Portrait Suella Braverman
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I must say that I am disappointed by the right hon. Lady’s tone. Today is not a day for crass political point scoring; it is a day for serious and sober consideration of the Met’s shortcomings and how those shortcomings have a devastating impact on people’s lives. The victims have asked for actions, not words, and I, along with the Mayor of London, have every confidence that Sir Mark Rowley and his team will deliver their plan to turn around the Met. Accepting Baroness Casey’s findings is not incompatible with supporting the institution of policing and the vast majority of brave men and women who uphold the highest professional standards. I back the police; I trust them to put their safety before ours.

On the topic of national standards, I am working with chief constables on a programme to drive up standards and improve culture across police forces at a national level. On the topic of institutional racism, I agree with Sir Mark Rowley. It is not a helpful term to use; it is an ambiguous, contested and politically charged term that is much misused and risks making it harder for officers to win back the trust of communities. Sir Mark is committed to rooting out discrimination, in all forms, from the Met. I believe that it is how the Met police respond to the issues that is important, not whether they accept a label.

Trust in the police is fundamental, and I will work to support Sir Mark Rowley in his work to change culture and provide the leadership that the Met needs, but I would point out to the shadow Home Secretary that her crass political attacks really would be more accurately directed at the person with actual and political responsibility for overseeing the performance of the Met: that is the Mayor of London, Labour’s Sadiq Khan. The Labour Mayor has been in charge of the Met for the past seven years. Baroness Casey is unflinching and unequivocal about the dysfunctional relationship between the Mayor’s office and the Met, and her recommendation that the Mayor takes a more hands-on approach. It was frankly shocking to learn that the Labour Mayor does not already chair a quarterly board meeting to exercise accountability over the Met. I trust the shadow Home Secretary will agree that the Mayor accepts Baroness Casey’s recommendation that he do so.

Londoners have been let down by the Met. The shadow Home Secretary knows who is ultimately responsible for that. She should not be looking to score political points today: it is a disappointment, and frankly she should know better.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Yvette Cooper and Suella Braverman
Monday 20th March 2023

(1 year, 1 month ago)

Commons Chamber
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Yvette Cooper Portrait Yvette Cooper (Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford) (Lab)
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We welcome the Home Secretary back from her expensive interior design tour.

The Louise Casey review will be published tomorrow and is expected to be damning, with far-reaching findings. The Home Secretary has known about failures on standards and vetting in policing for a long time, so why has she repeatedly refused to bring in mandatory vetting standards and automatic suspension for officers under investigation for domestic abuse and sexual assault?

Suella Braverman Portrait Suella Braverman
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I regret the tone that the shadow Home Secretary adopts when it comes to Rwanda. I encourage her to ditch her outdated and ignorant views on our friends in Rwanda.

When it comes to the Casey report, which I have read, it is clear that there have been failings within the Met. That is why the commissioner is right to accept those past failings, and that is why he has my total backing in moving forward to turn around performance and standards in the Met, so that every citizen in London has total confidence in those who wear the badge.

Yvette Cooper Portrait Yvette Cooper
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

The problem is that the Home Secretary’s response is too little and too late. We should all back the commissioner to take urgently needed action in the Met, but confidence in the Met has dropped sharply and confidence has also dropped nationally. The system for national standards that the Home Secretary presides over is far too weak, with no proper regulations or requirements and no proper intervention when things go wrong. Neighbourhood policing, which sustains confidence, is being hollowed out. That is damaging for communities and for the vital work that the police do. Will she now commit to urgent legislation and a full overhaul on standards? The proud British tradition of policing by consent is in peril unless the Government act urgently.

Suella Braverman Portrait Suella Braverman
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am proud of this Government’s track record on reducing crime and increasing the number of police officers. Since 2010, violent crime is down, robbery is down, neighbourhood crime is down and burglary is down. When the right hon. Lady talks about the Met, what I would gently say is that London has a Labour Mayor—as well as a Labour police and crime commissioner—who has failed to hold the Met to account properly. I am afraid I must encourage her to speak to her Labour colleague and ask him to do a better job of holding the Met to account.

Illegal Migration Bill

Debate between Yvette Cooper and Suella Braverman
2nd reading
Monday 13th March 2023

(1 year, 1 month ago)

Commons Chamber
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Suella Braverman Portrait Suella Braverman
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I am going to make some progress. A lot of Members want to contribute to this debate.

The United Nations has confirmed that, globally, there are 100 million displaced people. Our critics simultaneously pretend that the United Kingdom does not have any safe and legal routes and that these routes should also be unlimited. The small boats crisis demonstrates that countless economic migrants are willing to take a chance to come here in search of a better life. How many of them do the Opposition think we have to take to stop the boats?

The Opposition have not been able to answer that question. Those arguing for open borders via unlimited safe and legal routes are, of course, entitled to do so, but they should do so honestly. They should not try to deceive the public by dressing up what is an extreme political argument in the fake garb of humanitarianism, nor should they pretend that the UK does not have safe and legal global routes. In recent years, our country-specific routes have provided refuge for 150,000 people leaving autocracy in Hong Kong, 160,000 Ukrainians fleeing Putin’s horrific war and 25,000 Afghans escaping the Taliban. Another 50,000 people have come to the UK via routes open to people from any country, including the UK resettlement scheme, which includes community sponsorship, the mandate resettlement scheme, and, crucially, the family reunion route for those with a qualifying family member in the UK.

We are proud of those safe and legal routes. When we stop the boats, we will look to expand those routes. The Bill introduces an annual cap, determined by Parliament, on the number of refugees that the UK will resettle via safe and legal routes. This will ensure an orderly system that considers local authority capacity for housing, public services and support.

The Bill enables the detention of illegal arrivals without bail or judicial review within the first 28 days of detention. We can maintain detention thereafter under current laws, so long as we have a reasonable prospect of removal. This reflects the existing common law position, consistent with article 5 of the ECHR. The Bill places a duty on the Home Secretary to remove illegal entrants and, significantly, narrows the number of challenges and appeals that can suspend removal.

Yvette Cooper Portrait Yvette Cooper (Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford) (Lab)
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The former Home Secretary, the right hon. Member for Witham (Priti Patel), said:

“Anyone who arrives illegally will be deemed inadmissible and either returned to the country they arrived from or a safe third country.”

As a result, 18,000 people were considered inadmissible to the UK asylum system and just 21 people were returned. That is just 0.1%. What has changed with this Bill, and what percentage of those deemed inadmissible does the Home Secretary expect to be returned?

--- Later in debate ---
Suella Braverman Portrait Suella Braverman
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

What we have seen is that a large and growing proportion of modern slavery claims have been made by people who have arrived here illegally. And, as I just mentioned, there are foreign national offenders, people who have served their criminal sentences, who have upon the point of removal put in a last-minute modern slavery claim precisely to thwart their deportation. We work very closely with local authorities and other bodies to ensure that referrals are made into the mechanism. This is why the Bill will disqualify illegal entrants from using modern slavery rules in this way.

Given the mischaracterisation of the Bill by Opposition Members, I would like to make a few things clear. The Home Secretary’s duty to remove will not be applied to detain and remove unaccompanied asylum-seeking children. Consistent with current policy, only in limited circumstances, such as for the purposes of family reunion, will we remove unaccompanied asylum-seeking children from the UK. Otherwise, they will be provided with the necessary support in the UK until they reach 18.

With respect to the removal of families and pregnant women, it bears repeating that the overwhelming majority of illegal arrivals are adult men under the age of 40. Removing them will be our primary focus, but we must not create incentives for the smugglers to focus on people with particular characteristics by signposting exemptions for removal. It is right that we retain powers to adapt our policy so that we can respond to any change in tactics by the smuggling gangs.

Those critics who say that this Bill will be found to be unlawful said the same thing about our partnership with Rwanda—the High Court disagreed. Some of the nation’s finest legal minds have been and continue to be involved in the Bill’s development. The UK will always seek to uphold international law and we are confident that this Bill will deliver what is necessary, within those parameters. Section 19 of the Human Rights Act requires Ministers to give a view on the level of legal certainty on a Bill’s compliance with the European convention on human rights. That is a unique UK requirement, not part of the ECHR itself. A section 19(1)(b) statement simply means that we are unable to say decisively that this Bill is compatible with the ECHR. It is clear that there are good arguments for compatibility but that some of the Bill’s measures are novel and legally untested. Those on the Opposition Benches seem to forget that section 19(1)(b) statements were made by the Labour Government on the Communications Act 2003 and by the Lib Dems on the House of Lords Reform Bill in 2012. That did not mean that those Bills were unlawful and this statement does not mean that this one is either.

Claims that the Bill will breach our refugee convention obligations are simply fatuous. The convention obliges parties to provide protection to those seeking refuge. It does not require that this protection be in the UK. Illegal arrivals requiring protection will receive it in a safe third country such as Rwanda. Moreover, article 31 of the convention is clear that individuals may be removed if they do not come “directly” from the territory where their freedom is threatened. Denying those arriving illegally from France, or any other safe country in which they could have claimed asylum, access to the UK’s asylum system is, therefore, entirely consistent with the spirit and letter of the convention.

The Opposition say that this Bill cannot work because we lack the capacity to detain all small boat arrivals. We are expanding detention capacity, with two new immigration removal centres, but clearly we are not building capacity to detain 40,000 people, nor do we need to. The aim of the Bill is not to detain people but to swiftly remove them. Australia achieved success against a similar problem of illegal maritime migration. It reduced annual crossings from 20,000 to hundreds in a matter of months, in large part by operationalising swift third country removals. It did not need tens of thousands of detention places either. If we can demonstrate to people willing to pay thousands of pounds to illegally enter the UK that there is a reasonable prospect that they will be detained and removed, we are confident that crossings will reduce significantly.

In addition, arguments that our approach cannot work because Rwanda lacks capacity are wrong. Let me be clear: our partnership with Rwanda is uncapped. We stand ready to operationalise it at scale as soon as is legally practicable. It is understandable that Rwanda has not procured thousands of beds to accommodate arrivals while legal challenges are ongoing.

Yvette Cooper Portrait Yvette Cooper
- Hansard - -

The Home Secretary has just admitted that Rwanda does not have thousands of places. She will know that the Rwandan Government have talked about taking a few hundred people and that the Rwanda High Court agreement says that cases need to be individualised, yet she is expecting to find locations for tens of thousands of people expected to arrive this year. She has no returns agreement with France or any other European country, so where is she expecting to send the tens of thousands of people expected to arrive in the UK this year?

Suella Braverman Portrait Suella Braverman
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The right hon. Member should read our agreement with Rwanda before she makes a comment such as that. If she did read it, and if she read the judgment from the High Court, she would see both that our agreement with Rwanda is lawful, proper and compliant with our international obligations, and that it is uncapped and potentially Rwanda could accommodate high numbers of people that we seek to relocate there. Rwanda has the capacity to resettle tens of thousands of people if necessary.

Critics of this Government’s plan to stop the boats would have more credibility if they offered up a plan of their own. Let us look at what the Opposition plan is. They would increase the funding to the National Crime Agency to disrupt trafficking upstream; never mind that the Government have already doubled the funding for the NCA precisely for that purpose. The Opposition say that they would go harder on the people smugglers; never mind that Labour voted against our Nationality and Borders Act 2022, which introduced life sentences for people smugglers. The Opposition speak about establishing a cross-channel taskforce; never mind that we have already set up a small boats operational command, with more than 700 new staff working hand in hand with the French.

The Opposition say that they would get a new agreement with the French; never mind that only last week our Prime Minister struck a historic multi-year deal with the French to increase the number of gendarmes patrolling the French beaches. The Opposition say that we should do more with partners around the world; never mind that the Government have returns agreements with Albania, Georgia, Nigeria, India, Pakistan and Serbia. As for our world-leading agreement with Rwanda, we all know what the Opposition would do about that—they would scrap it.

The Opposition say that the Government cannot be trusted with our borders, but the fact is that the Leader of the Opposition and some 70-odd Labour MPs—a third of the parliamentary party—signed letters to stop dangerous foreign criminals being kicked out of Britain. Tragically, one of those criminals went on to kill another person in the UK—a shameful day for the Labour party. How easy it is for the Opposition to say, “Never mind the British public”, believing that they know better, arrogantly, dismissively. The truth is that they do not have a plan. What is even worse, they do not care that they do not have a plan. If they listened, they would hear a clear, reasonable and resounding message from the British people: we like controlled immigration, we welcome genuine refugees, but we do not want uncontrolled or illegal migration—enough is enough, stop the boats. That is the call from the British people—that is their cry for action to all of us who serve them in this place. This is a Government who listen—they listen to the people and, aided by this Bill, we will stop the boats.

Illegal Migration Bill

Debate between Yvette Cooper and Suella Braverman
Tuesday 7th March 2023

(1 year, 1 month ago)

Commons Chamber
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Yvette Cooper Portrait Yvette Cooper (Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford) (Lab)
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A record 45,000 people crossed the channel on dangerous small boats last year, up from just 280 four years ago. In that short time, the Government have allowed criminal gangs to take hold along the channel and along our border. At the same time, convictions of people smugglers have halved; Home Office asylum decisions have collapsed, down 40%; the backlog and costly, inappropriate hotel use have soared; removals of unsuccessful asylum seekers are down 80% on the last Labour Government; and legal family reunion visas for refugees are down 40%. That is deeply damaging chaos, and there is no point in Ministers trying to blame anyone else for it. They have been in power for 13 years. The asylum system is broken, and they broke it.

We need serious action to stop dangerous boat crossings, which are putting lives at risk and undermining border security. That is why Labour has put forward plans for a cross-border police unit, for fast-track decisions and returns to clear the backlog and end hotel use, and for a new agreement with France and other countries. Instead, today’s statement is groundhog day. The Home Secretary has said:

“Anyone who arrives illegally will be deemed inadmissible and either returned to the country they arrived from or a safe third country.”

[Hon. Members: “Hear, hear.”] Only that was not this Home Secretary: it was the last one. And that was not about this Bill: it was about the last one, passed only a year ago and which did not work. As part of last year’s Bill, the Home Office considered 18,000 people as inadmissible for the asylum system because they had travelled through safe third countries, but because it had no return agreements in place, just 21 of them were returned. That is 0.1%. The other 99.9% just carried on, often in hotels, at an extra cost of £500 million, and it did not deter anyone. Even more boats arrived.

What is different this time? The Government still do not have any return agreements in place. The Home Secretary has admitted that Rwanda is “failing”, and even if it gets going it will take only a few hundred people. What will happen to the other 99% under the Bill? She says that she will detain them all, perhaps for 28 days. Can she tell us how many detention centres the Government will need in total and how much they will cost? Even if she does that, what will happen when people leave 28-day detention? Will she make people destitute, so that they just wander the streets in total chaos? They will include torture victims, Afghan interpreters and families with children. Or will she put them into indefinite taxpayer-funded accommodation? Never returned anywhere because the Government do not have agreements with Europe in place, never given sanctuary, never having their case resolved—just forever in asylum accommodation and hotels. She may not call it the asylum system, but thousands of people are still going to be in it.

What will the Bill mean for the promises we made to the Afghan interpreters who served our country but who were too late to make the last flight out of Kabul as the tyranny was closing in upon them? The Government told them to flee and find another way here, and they told us to tell people that as well. But the resettlement scheme is not helping them and, if they finally arrive in this country this afternoon, perhaps by travelling through Ireland to get here, they will only ever be illegal in the eyes of a Government who relied on the sacrifices they made for us.

If the Government were serious, they would be working internationally to get a proper new agreement in place with France and Europe, including return agreements, properly controlled and managed legal routes such as family reunion, and reform of resettlement. Instead, this Bill makes that harder, unilaterally choosing to decide no asylum cases at all, but expecting every other country to carry on.

If the Government were serious, they would be working with Labour on our plan for a major new cross-border policing unit to go after the criminal gangs. Instead, the deputy chairman of the Conservative party, the hon. Member for Ashfield (Lee Anderson) said yesterday that we should not go after the gangs because they have existed for “thousands of years”. That is the disgraceful Tory attitude that has let the gangs off of the hook and let them take hold. One smuggler told Sky News yesterday that three quarters of the smugglers live in Britain, but barely any of them are being prosecuted and the Government still have not found the hundreds of children missing from asylum hotels who have been picked up by criminal gangs.

The Government could be setting out a serious plan today. We would work with them on it, and so would everyone across the country. Instead, it is just more chaos. The Government say “no ifs, no buts”, but we all know that they will spend the next year if-ing and but-ing and looking for someone else to blame when it all goes wrong. Enough is enough. We cannot afford any more of this—slogans and not solutions, government by gimmick, ramping up the rhetoric on refugees and picking fights simply to have someone else to blame when things go wrong. This Bill is not a solution. It is a con that risks making the chaos worse. Britain deserves better than this chaos. Britain is better than this.

Suella Braverman Portrait Suella Braverman
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the right hon. Lady for her remarks, but—forgive me—after five minutes of hysteria, histrionics and criticism, I am still not clear: I have no idea what Labour’s plan is. I will assume that the shadow Home Secretary is still committed to scrapping our Rwanda partnership, as she said last year, and I will assume that the Leader of the Opposition still wants to close immigration removal centres, as he promised during his leadership campaign. The shadow Home Secretary talks about safe and legal routes; I wonder what number Labour would cap that at. Would it be 500,000? A million? Five million? She should be honest with the House and with the British people: what she really means is unlimited safe and legal routes—open borders by the back door.

The right hon. Lady says get serious, so let us look at the facts. The British people want to stop the boats. It is one of the five promises the Prime Minister made to the British people, but stopping the boats did not even feature in the Leader of the Opposition’s five big missions. Is it because he does not care or because he does not know what to do? We all know why, and I think the British people know why: it is because, deep down, the Leader of the Opposition does not want to stop the boats and he thinks it is bigoted to say we have got too much illegal migration abusing our system. It is because Labour MPs would prefer to write letters stopping the removal of foreign national offenders. It is because the Labour party would prefer to vote against our measures to penalise foreign national offenders and to streamline our asylum system.

Those are the facts. Labour is against deterring people who would come here illegally, against detaining people who come here illegally and against deporting people who are here illegally. That means that Labour is for this situation getting worse and worse. Perhaps that is fine for the Leader of the Opposition and most of those on the Labour Front Bench, but it is not their schools, their GPs or their public services, housing and hotels filling up with illegal migrants.

Perhaps that is why, even before seeing the Bill and engaging on the substance, Labour has already said it will not support its passage through Parliament. Is the Leader of the Opposition committing that the Labour Lords will block it? The British people want to stop the boats. The Conservative Government have a plan to stop the boats. This Prime Minister will stop the boats. If the people want closed minds and open borders, they can rely on Labour.

Manchester Arena Inquiry: Volume 3 Report

Debate between Yvette Cooper and Suella Braverman
Monday 6th March 2023

(1 year, 1 month ago)

Commons Chamber
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Yvette Cooper Portrait Yvette Cooper (Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford) (Lab)
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On 22 May 2017, thousands of people, including children and their parents, went to watch a pop concert. Instead, they were faced with the most unimaginable horror, and 22 people lost their lives, including children, the youngest being just eight years old. Hundreds more were injured. Those families have endured the unimaginable. All our thoughts are with them today, and with the people of Manchester, who have stood and supported each other through the most difficult of times. I join the Home Secretary in thanking Sir John Saunders for his far-reaching inquiry, and for his vital work in seeking answers for the victims and their families.

The responsibility for this vile attack lies with the bomber and his brother, and with those who may have radicalised and enabled them, and we—all of us—condemn their actions in the strongest possible terms. It is right that the brother has been brought to justice. Rightly too, however, this report has looked at why it happened and at what might have prevented it, to seek the truth for families and their loved ones and to identify changes needed for the future. These are important and serious conclusions which are hard to hear: that there was, in Sir John’s words, a

“significant missed opportunity to take action that might have prevented the attack”;

that there was a failure to act swiftly enough on information; that there were failures in the sharing of information; and that the bomber should have been referred to the Prevent programme in 2015 or 2016, although Sir John says it is unclear whether that would have led to action. These are hard conclusions to hear, especially for those who have lost loved ones.

The Home Secretary has rightly said that agencies and counter-terror police work immensely hard to keep us safe every day. Sir John also says in his report that they have disrupted 27 major Islamist extremist terror plots in recent years, in addition to five right-wing and left-wing terror plots. That is a result of their immense efforts night and day. It is because they are dedicated to keeping us safe that they also recognise the importance of facing up to things going wrong, and they too have expressed their profound sorrow and apologies.

Sir John has rightly made recommendations, and everyone is rightly seeking to take them forward. We should support them in doing so, but I want to press the Home Secretary on some of the details of those measures. First, all of us support the work of Figen Murray and many of the Manchester survivors to introduce Martyn’s law, but can the right hon. Lady tell me the timetable? Will the Bill have its Second Reading before the summer recess? On the closed recommendations, which are clearly important, will the entire report be shared with the Intelligence and Security Committee so that it can oversee the changes that need to be made?

On the issues around prisons and the Prevent programme, the bomber repeatedly visited someone who was in prison for terrorist offences, but that did not trigger a further assessment despite some of the wider things that were known about the bomber and his family. That raises serious concerns. Will the Home Secretary look again at the process for monitoring prison visits, and will she accept Sir John’s recommendations about the changes in approach to visits to terrorist and extremist prisoners that need to be taken and also his recommendations on changes to the law?

Sir John also concludes that it is highly likely that the bombers used a video online to help them to make the device in 2016. It is appalling that that video was not taken down. It is also troubling that, seven years on, we do not have the Online Safety Bill on the statute. This also raises concerns about the lack of a proper strategy on online radicalisation. Can I urge the Home Secretary to urgently revise the countering extremism strategy, which is now eight years out of date despite her predecessors having received recommendations from the countering extremism commissioner in 2018 that it was already out of date then? Will she urgently revise it to address online radicalisation?

Sir John also warns about a potential indicator of extremism being violent misogyny in this case. There are patterns here affecting different kinds of extremism—Islamist extremism, far right extremism and incel extremism —so will the Home Secretary commission a review to look at what role violent misogyny may be playing and how far it should be understood as a potential indicator of extremism and radicalisation? Sir John also raises workforce pressures, particularly in the north-west. Given the new threats from hostile states, can the Home Secretary comment on what her assessment is of resources?

Finally, concerns were raised that the security services did not understand the threats from Libya sufficiently, and that that was a wake-up call. Does the Home Secretary recognise that that shows the importance for them to continually reassess different threats and not to have a hierarchy of threats or extremism but to pursue the evidence wherever it takes them? The Home Secretary mentioned the survivors, and we think of them. However, many of them still feel that they lack the support and help they need, even many years after the truly terrible things that happened. Will she meet Survivors Against Terror and look again at what further support can be provided for those who lost loved ones and those who were hurt in that terrible event?

Suella Braverman Portrait Suella Braverman
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the right hon. Lady for her questions, which I will address in due course. I agree entirely with her assessment that we must now all come together—the Government, the security services and the emergency services—to learn the lessons of this awful tragedy and work to reduce the likelihood of future attacks. It was a truly sad and terrible incident, but I want to reassure the public that our priority is to keep them safe. We must root out extremism wherever we find it, and we must give no quarter to political correctness as we do so. We must respond quickly to all criticisms, but we must also recognise the serious work that has taken place since the attack.

On Martyn’s law, the Government will publish draft legislation for scrutiny in the spring. After that, we will introduce a Bill as soon as parliamentary time allows. Its progress will depend on Parliament passing it and agreeing a date for commencement. There will be a lead-in time to allow for those captured by the Bill to prepare.

Martyn’s law is one part of our extensive efforts across Government, including by the police and security services, to combat the threat of terrorism. There remains an intensive programme of guidance, developed by security experts, counter-terrorism policing and other partners, to provide high-quality advice to stakeholders and others with responsibility for public places. I look forward to moving forward with the solution and to presenting the Bill on Martyn’s law.

We have published a new policy framework allowing for greater scrutiny of the contact between terrorist prisoners and the public. Our new approved contacts scheme, to be implemented this year, will allow greater checks on the visitors and phone contacts of those convicted of terrorism and terrorism-connected offences, regardless of the category of prison in which they are held.

A large amount of work has been done since 2017 to support and improve the consistency of local authority Prevent delivery, and to manage the risk posed by subjects of interest. This includes additional funding and support for the highest-priority areas, the publication of the Prevent duty toolkit and the development of the multi-agency centre programme. We are working across Government to mitigate the risk posed by those about whom we have concerns.

Finally, the right hon. Lady asked about support for families who are going through this unimaginable process, which is why I welcome the Deputy Prime Minister’s announcement last week on the Government’s commitment to legislating, as soon as possible, to establish an independent public advocate to support victims following a major incident. The IPA will help victims to navigate the systems and processes that may follow a major incident, such as the police investigation, the inquests and inquiries. I hope it does not have to be used, but in the event of a tragedy, we will have the resources, expertise and structures in place to support families in this unimaginable situation.

I know the whole House will agree that we must now move forward with a solution to ensure our frameworks and processes are as robust as possible so that we never again see anything like this.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Yvette Cooper and Suella Braverman
Monday 6th February 2023

(1 year, 2 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Yvette Cooper Portrait Yvette Cooper (Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford) (Lab)
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The whole House’s thoughts will be with Turkey and Syria after the terrible earthquake.

Sentencing is under way today for David Carrick’s truly appalling crimes. It is shocking that he was able to serve as an officer for so long, and we think of his victims. After Sarah Everard’s murder, Ministers said “Never again”, but barely anything changed. Can the Home Secretary confirm that, if a police officer is under investigation for rape or domestic abuse, there is still no requirement for them even to be suspended, and that many, like Carrick, are not?

Suella Braverman Portrait Suella Braverman
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

We are going through an overhaul of our processes when it comes to disciplinary procedures applying to those officers who are under investigation. That is why I have announced a review and am looking into measures over the disciplinary process, so that we make it easier for chief constables to exclude those officers who have fallen short, whether that is criminal behaviour or other professional misconduct. It is right that we change the system and, if necessary, I will act.

Yvette Cooper Portrait Yvette Cooper
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But nothing has changed in two years. Everything the Home Secretary has said is too little and too late, and far, far too weak. I have been contacted by a woman whose police officer partner was actually charged by his force with domestic abuse, but he still was not suspended and he is still a serving officer. This kind of thing is too unfair on victims and on police officers working hard. Labour will change the law to bring in compulsory standards for policing and to tackle abuse. Why won’t the Home Secretary change the law?

Crime and Neighbourhood Policing

Debate between Yvette Cooper and Suella Braverman
Tuesday 31st January 2023

(1 year, 2 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Yvette Cooper Portrait Yvette Cooper (Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford) (Lab)
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I beg to move,

That this House condemns the Government’s destruction of neighbourhood policing, noting a drop in the number of neighbourhood police officers by 6,000 and of Police Community Support Officers by 8,500; notes with concern the collapse in charges and prosecutions across all types of crime and an overall charge rate of just 5.5 per cent; is extremely concerned by the record levels of recorded rapes and knife-enabled threats to kill and that more than twenty million people witnessed or experienced antisocial behaviour last year; and calls on the Government to protect communities across the UK by increasing neighbourhood policing, including by ringfencing a proportion of the Police Uplift Programme to deliver neighbourhood officers for every local authority in England and Wales.

The motion is to restore and renew neighbourhood policing, which has been decimated by 13 years of Conservative Government. Before I talk about what is happening in our towns on policing and crime, may I first briefly say something about today’s publication of the police response to the Hillsborough inquiry? Ninety seven people lost their lives as a result of what happened at Hillsborough 34 years ago. Families had to fight for decades against smears, lies and obfuscation to get to the truth, but they still do not have justice 34 years on.

The fulsome apology from the police today is welcome, and so too is their acceptance of some of the bishop’s recommendations about a duty of candour—something the Government have previously voted against—as well as support for families at inquests. But this comes five years after the bishop’s report, and 34 years after Hillsborough. Where is the Government’s response? They promised nearly 18 months ago that we would have a response by the end of 2021, but the months and years keep rolling by. We need a commitment to a Hillsborough law to address this.

The Home Secretary’s predecessor but four, the right hon. Member for Maidenhead (Mrs May), took this matter seriously and we welcomed that. To have no response right now shows a lack of respect for the families who have endured so much and the communities who have supported and fought for them. I will happily give way to the Home Secretary if she wants to tell us when the Government response to the Hillsborough report will be published.

Suella Braverman Portrait The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Suella Braverman)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I will address that in my response to the right hon. Lady.

Yvette Cooper Portrait Yvette Cooper
- Hansard - -

I thank the Home Secretary and look forward to her response. She will know how important that is.

I turn to neighbourhood policing. The number of people who say that they never see the police on patrol on the streets has almost doubled since the Conservatives took office, from around a quarter of the population to half. Half the country say that they never or hardly ever see a police officer patrolling the streets, according to the national crime survey. That is what 13 years of the Conservatives have done.

At the same time, the number of criminals being caught or punished has plummeted. Since 2010, arrests have halved; prosecutions have almost halved; community penalties have halved; and crimes solved have halved. The proportion of cases that collapse because victims give up and drop out has trebled. More crimes are reported and recorded, but hundreds of thousands fewer crimes are solved, hundreds of thousands fewer victims are getting justice, and more criminals are getting away with it.

Every one of us will have these cases in their surgeries: the residents who have complained about drug dealers on the corner, and nothing is done; the street drinkers who make them feel unsafe, and nothing is done; the broken windows and shop break-ins that go ignored; the antisocial behaviour that escalates; the kids who have been expelled from school who just wander the streets and get drawn into gang violence instead, and nothing is done; the repeat offender back out of prison who nobody is following up on; and the domestic abuse victim who has no one to turn to because the police are overstretched and the court delays are so long. More victims are giving up on the whole thing and walking away.

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Suella Braverman Portrait Suella Braverman
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The hon. Gentleman is just not right. As of 31 December, our police uplift programme has recruited an additional 16,000 new officers, bringing us to a total of over 145,000 nationwide, with more—in a welcome sense—female and ethnic minority officers than ever before. That is no accident. That all took planning and funding by this Government. What did Labour Members do? They voted against it.

Yvette Cooper Portrait Yvette Cooper
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The Home Secretary is just sort of inventing things there. The police workforce statistics—her own workforce statistics—show that there are 6,000 fewer neighbourhood police officers, and 8,000 fewer PCSOs. Half the country say that they do not see police officers on patrol. How does she explain that shocking decimation of neighbourhood police?

Suella Braverman Portrait Suella Braverman
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I disagree with the right hon. Lady’s characterisation, but it is obviously helpful for her to play with the figures. If we look at how we are classifying roles in policing, we see that when it comes to incident and response management, numbers are up. On local policing, the 2022 figures were greater than those from 2015. She can move around the deckchairs and play with the figures all she likes, but the reality is that we are on track to have a record number of police officers.

Let me get back to the facts. Achievement No. 2: crime is down. Despite the naysayers on the Opposition Benches, since 2010, according to the Crime Survey for England and Wales—the most authoritative evidence about crime complied by the Office for National Statistics—burglary is down by 50%, robbery is down by 45%, and violence is down by 46%. That is 500,000 fewer burglaries, 180,000 fewer robberies, and 700,000 fewer victims of violence than in 2010. Crucially, overall crime, excluding fraud and online crime, is down by 48% compared with 2010. I hope that Labour Members take this chance to reflect and apologise to the British people for the disgraceful state in which they left this country, and for objecting to our measures to fix the mess that they left.

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Suella Braverman Portrait Suella Braverman
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When we speak to frontline police officers and those who are affected because family members have been victims of knife crime or violent crime, we understand that stop and search is a vital tool not only in reducing violent crime, but in saving lives. The proportionate and targeted use of stop and search is an essential tool that I support the police using.

Let us not forget London. Knife crime is a problem in London and, under Labour’s Sadiq Khan, rates are up by 11%. So, instead of carping from the sidelines, Labour MPs would be far better off using their time by encouraging their Labour man in London to demand that the police get back to getting weapons off our streets. On serious violence, the Government have backed the police with investment and support to reduce violence.

Yvette Cooper Portrait Yvette Cooper
- Hansard - -

On that point, in London, knife crime is down by 16% over the last four years, whereas on average over the rest of the country it has gone up. Will the Home Secretary withdraw the point she just made?

Suella Braverman Portrait Suella Braverman
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The data I have is that knife crime has gone up in London, and there are really serious challenges when it comes to Labour’s management of policing in London.

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Suella Braverman Portrait Suella Braverman
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I will just get back to the point I was making: the shadow Home Secretary does not have any legitimacy on fighting for the safety of women when she cannot even define one.

Rape and sexual violence are devastating crimes that can have a long-lasting impact on victims.

Yvette Cooper Portrait Yvette Cooper
- Hansard - -

I thank the Home Secretary for giving way, but she has not answered the question that my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Yardley (Jess Phillips) asked. We have been very clear: women are adult females, and when they are abused, and when they are raped, they are not getting justice. Hundreds of women every day are being denied justice and denied the protection of the courts because no rapists are being prosecuted. The Home Secretary is refusing to commit to having police officers go to the homes of those adult females, those women, who are being abused every single day. Will she now commit to saying that the police will go to every single domestic abuse case—yes or no?

Suella Braverman Portrait Suella Braverman
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Let me get on to what we are doing on rape and serious sexual offences, and on domestic abuse. I am very glad that more victims and survivors are coming forward and reporting these crimes to the police. More needs to be done by the whole of the criminal justice system. Through the rape review, the Government took a hard and honest look at how the entire criminal justice system dealt with rape. In too many instances, it simply had not been good enough. In December we published a rape review progress report, setting out the progress made in the 18 months since the publication of the action plan. The number of cases referred by the police to the Crown Prosecution Service was up by 95, the volume of cases charged was up by two thirds, and the number of cases reaching the Crown court was up 91% compared to 2019 averages.

Police Conduct and David Carrick

Debate between Yvette Cooper and Suella Braverman
Tuesday 17th January 2023

(1 year, 3 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Yvette Cooper Portrait Yvette Cooper (Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford) (Lab)
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This is a truly shocking and appalling case, and I welcome the statement today. A serving police officer has admitted to some of the most serious and devastating crimes. I join the Home Secretary in paying tribute to the bravery of the victims who have come forward, but we must face up to the further evidence that this case has brought up of appalling failures in the police’s vetting and misconduct processes, which are still not being addressed by the Government and are not addressed in this statement. Given the scale of the problems not just in this case but in previous cases, the Home Secretary’s statement is very weak and shows a serious lack of leadership on something that is so grave and that affects confidence in policing as well as serious crimes.

We have seen repeated failures by serving police officers to respond to or take seriously allegations of violence against women by a serving police officer. Allegations of domestic abuse have not been taken seriously in the vetting processes. In this case, there was a failure to suspend David Carrick when rape allegations were made in July 2021, even though the Met police knew there had been domestic abuse allegations two years previously. A misconduct process concluded that there was no case to answer, despite the repeated alarms raised. A full vetting check was not triggered, and David Carrick’s permission to carry firearms was restored.

Most shocking of all is that this happened at the height of the alarm about Wayne Couzens and the deeply disturbing murder of Sarah Everard. This undermines confidence for women and for victims but also for police officers who are working so hard—especially women police officers, who may themselves have reported misogynistic abuse, and officers who are doing excellent work every day to tackle violence against women and girls and know that confidence in that work is being undermined.

We support the new Met Commissioner’s determination to take action, but this is not just about the Met. Concerns about misogyny and culture have been raised in Sussex, Hampshire, Derbyshire, Gwent, Police Scotland and other forces. There has been a lack of leadership from the Government on police standards for years. After the truly appalling murder of Sarah Everard by a serving police officer, Home Office Ministers promised change. The then Home Secretary promised to set up processes that would prevent this from happening again, and that has badly failed.

There are still no legal requirements on vetting. Forces can effectively do what they want. They do not even have to check employment history and character references, and some do not. They do not even have to interview people beforehand. When the inspectorate came up with the damning conclusion that hundreds, if not thousands, of police officers who should have failed vetting are still in the job, including corrupt and predatory officers and officers who have committed offences of indecent exposure and domestic abuse, the Policing Minister refused to even make it a requirement for police forces to follow the recommendations of the inspectorate. They just shrugged and said that it was a matter for police forces to follow. There has been no response to make it compulsory to follow vetting guidance or to follow the reforms.

All we have in this statement is a continuation of the existing Angiolini review and a new review on dismissals. I welcome that new review, because there are concerns that the dismissals process has become more difficult and worse since well-intended reforms were introduced that have not worked as intended, but it was announced in October, and it still has not started. All the Home Secretary has done is re-announce it today. The Home Secretary has dismissed as “woke” some of the things that police forces have been doing to tackle misogyny, increase diversity and improve their response to communities and to crime, even though they are about tackling some of the most serious crimes.

It is also about how seriously Ministers take tackling violence against women and girls more broadly. We know that the charge rate for rape has dropped to a shameful 1.5%—it has dropped by two thirds over the last seven years. Again, Home Office Ministers promised that tackling violence against women and girls would become part of the compulsory strategic policing requirement. It has been reported that that has not happened. Can the Home Secretary confirm that, nine months after Ministers announced it, she has not made it a strategic policing requirement to prioritise violence against women and girls?

After the murder of Sarah Everard by a serving officer, Labour called for change. After the horrific murders of Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman, Labour called for leadership. After the shameful case of Child Q, Labour called for reform. After the shocking Charing Cross station report, Labour demanded action. After the Stephen Port inquiry, Labour called for reform. After the cases right across the country of abuse and misogyny, Labour has demanded change. Conservative Ministers promised that action would be taken, but they have failed to do so.

Labour will change the law. Labour will overhaul the vetting, misconduct and standards system, because it is time for change. We are letting down police officers across the country who do excellent work and are being let down by these failures in the system. Most of all, women are being let down. It is too late for all the warm words in the Home Secretary’s statement. What is she actually going to do to make sure that standards are raised?

Suella Braverman Portrait Suella Braverman
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

It is disappointing that the shadow Home Secretary has resorted to cheap political lines; I do not think that today is a day for political attacks. There is a human tragedy at the heart of this case, and ultimately, politics should be set aside. I am willing to work with anybody—the inspectorate; the politician with overriding responsibility for the Met police, who is a Labour politician, Sadiq Khan; all the chief constables; and everybody in the Chamber—to bring about change and safety, and to improve standards in our police forces around the country.

That is why I support the Met Commissioner’s statement yesterday, in which he accepted that there were failings. There is no question about that: there were failings in the system when it came to vetting and checking, and there were failures by the Met police. It is clear that culture and standards in the police need to change, which is why I will not shy away from challenging chief constables around the country on the standards that they uphold and instil in their individual forces.

Police constables and police leaders have all accepted the recommendations set out in the inspectorate’s comprehensive report, which was commissioned by the Government in response to Sarah Everard’s murder to look more closely at the procedures that have been put in place and how well they have been working when it comes to vetting, checking, monitoring and disciplinary processes related to policing. That report clearly identified several concerns and failings in policing, and made recommendations, the bulk of which were aimed at police constables, the College of Policing, and the National Policing Board.

All those recommendations have been accepted and we are closely monitoring the delivery of those improvements in rigour and standards when it comes to the entry processes, vetting and checking for new recruits to policing. We have also ensured that Lady Angiolini will look more closely into the culture of policing so that we can better implement and deliver systems that will root out misogyny, predatory behaviour, sexual assault or any other offensive behaviour that might lead to criminal activity within policing.

Let me be clear, however, that I am proud of the Government’s track record on supporting women and girls in the criminal justice system. We put in place the groundbreaking Operation Soteria around the country to improve practices when it comes to the police investigation of rape and serious sexual offences in the prosecution and court resolution phases. We are already seeing signs of improvement when it comes to supporting victims of those heinous crimes through our criminal justice system. We also introduced a raft of new offences, such as on upskirting, stalking, female genital mutilation and forced marriage, to better protect women and girls in society, and our landmark Domestic Abuse Act 2021, which expanded the definition and protections available to victims of domestic abuse. I am proud of the leadership and initiative that we have demonstrated when it comes to standing up for women and girls.

We will not be complacent, however, because of course we can go further and do more. I am keen to focus on the solutions and move forward, so that we do not see repeated incidents and tragedies, such as the one that we are talking about today.

Migration and Economic Development

Debate between Yvette Cooper and Suella Braverman
Monday 19th December 2022

(1 year, 4 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Yvette Cooper Portrait Yvette Cooper (Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford) (Lab)
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The Government have failed to stop criminal gangs putting lives at risk and proliferating along our borders; they have failed to prosecute or convict the gang members; and they have failed to take basic asylum decisions, which are down by 40% in the last six years. Instead of sorting out those problems, however, they have put forward an unworkable, unethical and extremely expensive Rwanda plan that risks making trafficking worse.

The Home Secretary describes today’s court judgment as a vindication, but I wonder whether she has read it, because it sets out evidence of serious problems in Home Office decision making. It also identifies the significant financial costs of the scheme and the very limited number of people who will be covered, and certainly identifies no evidence that it will act as a deterrent or address the serious problems that we face.

The court concluded that the Home Office’s decision making in each of the eight cases considered was so flawed and chaotic that those individual decisions have had to be quashed. There were cases of literally mixing up evidence and the names of individuals, so the Home Office was making decisions on the wrong people; there was confusion between teams in Glasgow and Croydon about who was deciding what and which information should be shared; and evidence of torture and trafficking was not considered. We also know that the Home Office attempted to send heavily pregnant women to Rwanda.

That is a damning indictment of the decision-making process in the Home Office, which we know is not working because no decision has been made on 98% of the small boat arrivals in the last 12 months. Ministers seem to have decided that they are so incapable of getting a grip on the asylum system and of taking asylum decisions effectively here in the UK that they want to pay a country halfway across the world to take those decisions for us.

On the lawfulness of the decision, the Court accepted that Rwanda does not have the processing capacity, including interpreters and legal support, needed to take asylum decisions, but it concluded that the agreement was still lawful because of two key points: the number of people Rwanda takes will be very limited; and lots more money will be provided by the UK Government. The Home Secretary did not tell us about any of those things. Will she now tell us, first, how many people she expects to send to Rwanda next year? Rwanda has said that it can accommodate 200 people. That is the people from 0.5% of this year’s channel crossings. The Home Office itself has said that there is no evidence that the scheme will act as a deterrent, and that the scheme is unenforceable and has a high risk of fraud.

Secondly, can the Home Secretary tell us the full cost? The Court said that significant additional funding would be provided. The Government have already written Rwanda two cheques this year: one for £120 million, and another this summer for £20 million. Millions more are promised—but how much more? How much will the scheme end up costing per person? It looks as though it will be more than £1 million per person.

Thirdly, the Court judgment says that there is no evidence that the UK Government sought to investigate either the terms of the Rwanda-Israel agreement or the way it had worked in practice. Why on earth not? That agreement was abandoned, and there is evidence that it increased trafficking and the activity of criminal gangs. Convictions for people smuggling have already dropped by 75% in two years; convictions for people trafficking are already pitifully low; and a former chief constable has warned that the Nationality and Borders Act 2022 will make that worse. Time and again, the Government have failed to tackle the criminal gangs driving the problem, and to make them pay the price. Instead of pursuing this unworkable, unethical, extortionately expensive and deeply damaging policy, the Government should use the money that they are investing in it to go after the gangs that are putting lives at risk. All that they are doing, time and again, is chasing headlines, which is a damaging distraction from the serious hard work that is needed to tackle the gangs and sort out the asylum system.

The Home Secretary has said that the Conservatives are in the last chance saloon. Their policies put them there, and have let the country down. They are always ramping up the rhetoric, and never doing the serious, hard work, or using common sense. Britain deserves better than this. Britain is better than this.

Suella Braverman Portrait Suella Braverman
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am very disappointed by the response from the shadow Home Secretary, and I am concerned that she is seeking to go against a legitimate, rigorous decision set out exhaustively by our independent judiciary, and is still suggesting that this is an illegitimate scheme. We see in the judgment that the scheme is lawful on several grounds. The judgment looked at the legislative authority for the scheme. It looked very closely at the claims that it breached articles 3 and 14 of the European convention on human rights, and article 31 of the refugee convention. It looked closely at whether it was fair, and at whether the right of access to justice was respected. It looked very closely at other public law grounds. On all those claims, the Home Office won. The Court concluded that it was and is lawful for the Government to make arrangements to relocate asylum seekers to Rwanda, and for asylum claims to be determined in Rwanda, rather than in the UK. The judgment is a comprehensive analysis of the reasons why.

The right hon. Lady asks about the eight individual cases. We accept the Court’s judgment on those cases. We have already taken steps to strengthen the caseworking process, including revising the information and guidance given to individuals during their assessment for relocation, but we have been clear throughout that no one will be relocated if that is unsafe for them, and support is offered to individuals throughout the process to ensure that it is fair and robust.

The simple truth is that Labour Members have opposed every one of our efforts to deter illegal migration. They opposed the Nationality and Borders Act 2022, life sentences for people smugglers, and the removal of foreign national offenders, including drug dealers and rapists. All they offer is obstruction, criticism, the performative politics of opposition, and magical thinking. What do they actually offer? They say that we should return to the failed Dublin scheme—no matter that it was ineffective, and no matter that the EU does not want it. Labour Members want safe and legal routes as the answer, no matter that this Government have done more than any other in recent history, offering sanctuary to more than 450,000 people by safe and legal routes. No matter that Labour Members cannot define what routes they would stand up themselves, or that our capacity is not unlimited, and that there are more than 100 million people displaced globally. Would Labour give them all a safe and legal route to the UK?

We cannot indulge in fictions. A fundamental reason why Labour Members cannot articulate a plan is that they cannot be honest with the British public about what they really want. The shadow Home Secretary could not even decide whether she would repeal illegal entry, even though she voted against it. Labour’s solution would be to turn our crisis of illegal migration into a crisis of legal migration, with open borders by the back door. Unlimited safe and legal routes are simply open borders masquerading as humanitarianism. Last week the Prime Minister and I announced our plan to tackle small boats. Today the Court affirmed the legality of a central piece of that plan, and tomorrow Labour still will not have a plan.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Yvette Cooper and Suella Braverman
Monday 19th December 2022

(1 year, 4 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Yvette Cooper Portrait Yvette Cooper (Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford) (Lab)
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In 2020, the Home Office secured just 12 convictions a month for people smuggling into the UK. In 2021, that fell to eight a month and, in the first half of 2022, it fell to just three a month. The smuggler gangs have proliferated, and the dangerous boat crossings that put lives at risk are up twentyfold, yet the number of criminals paying the price for their crime has collapsed. Why has the Home Secretary totally failed to take action against the criminal gangs?

Suella Braverman Portrait Suella Braverman
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Let me point out who has totally failed to take any action against the criminal gangs: the right hon. Lady and the Labour party. I am really enjoying the shadow Home Secretary’s reinvention over the past weeks and months, but despite her trying to sound tough on illegal migration and people smugglers, Labour voted against our new offences for prosecuting the people smugglers who are causing the problem on the channel. Labour voted against tougher sentences that enable us to deport foreign rapists and foreign drug dealers. Labour would scrap our Rwanda scheme. Yesterday, the right hon. Lady did not even know whether illegal entry was an offence. The reality is that Labour has no plan whatever on illegal migration; it is against our plan, and all it wants is open borders.

Yvette Cooper Portrait Yvette Cooper
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

The Home Secretary had no response on the total collapse in prosecutions, and she has had 12 years in charge. She says that the asylum system is broken; well, who broke it? Minsters have been running the system for the last 12 years, in which they have made things worse. Since the Nationality and Borders Act 2022 came into force, the number of people arriving by dangerous boat has reached a record high, so their legislation has not worked. The Prime Minister promised extra money for the National Crime Agency, but two days after he made that announcement, the Home Office does not know how much that money is, and the Treasury has not agreed anything. Can the Home Secretary tell us how much additional funding there will be for the National Crime Agency, and where it is coming from? On the Conservatives’ watch, a multimillion-pound criminal industry has grown along our border, and while Ministers faff around, gangs are making profit and people are drowning.

Suella Braverman Portrait Suella Braverman
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am proud of the announcement that the Prime Minister made last week, setting out a comprehensive, methodical and compassionate approach to dealing with illegal migration and stopping the boats crossing the channel, dealing with the asylum backlog, responding to the cohort of people who have come here illegally from Albania, operationalising our Rwanda agreement and ensuring that ultimately we crack down on the people smugglers through better operational command on the channel. The right hon. Lady needs to get with the programme. I invite her to reverse her opposition to our plan, come up with a methodical plan and then let us have a proper conversation.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Yvette Cooper and Suella Braverman
Monday 14th November 2022

(1 year, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Suella Braverman Portrait Suella Braverman
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Why is the Government’s action so pitifully weak? We introduced legislation—an extensive Bill designed specifically to deal with the problem occurring on our shores—and on every occasion, what did Labour Members do? They voted against it. If they were really serious about solving this problem, they would be supporting our proposals, not carping from the sidelines.

Yvette Cooper Portrait Yvette Cooper
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

That is a totally nonsense answer. The Home Secretary obviously is not aware that former chief constables have warned that her Nationality and Borders Act 2022 makes it harder to prosecute people traffickers, and that in fact it is adding six-month delays to the asylum system and pushing up the costs.

Patrols and intelligence sharing are welcome but long overdue, but will the Home Secretary match Labour’s funded policy for a major expansion of additional specialist officers in the National Crime Agency as part of a proper plan to work with other countries to investigate and crack down on those gangs? Or is she actually preparing for cuts in policing and security operations on Thursday because her party’s disastrous management of the economy has let everyone down?

Suella Braverman Portrait Suella Braverman
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Of course we need to go further and faster in the fight against illegal migration. I am very disappointed and concerned by the unprecedented numbers of people arriving here illegally. We are taking steps to fix it. The reality is, as I said, that this year alone more than 30,000 attempts have been prevented by the French. I have come back today from securing a deal that will increase the number of French patrols on the French coastline, which will reinforce our collaboration and intelligence work and strengthen our joint fight, but what do Labour Members do? They criticise. They criticise because the simple truth is that this is not about the French deal or our response, but about their abject failure to speak on behalf of the British people. They do not care about illegal migration; they want an open-doors migration policy, as they always have.

Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill

Debate between Yvette Cooper and Suella Braverman
Suella Braverman Portrait Suella Braverman
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Resourcing the agencies and organisations, such as Companies House, to better fight the threat of fraud and economic crime will be part of the equation. I am pleased to be in constant discussion with the various agencies, although, obviously, Companies House is the responsibility of other Departments. However, we have to ensure that it has the tools, operationally and from a resource point of view, to be able to carry out its legal duties.

Yvette Cooper Portrait Yvette Cooper (Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford) (Lab)
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The Home Secretary is being generous in giving way. The point about institutions being able to carry out enforcement is immensely important. As well as Companies House, there is also an issue for the National Crime Agency. She may be aware that her predecessor asked the National Crime Agency to draw up plans for 20% staffing cuts. Has the Home Secretary now ruled that out?

Suella Braverman Portrait Suella Braverman
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Last year’s spending review settlement set out that the economic crime levy would provide funding totalling approximately £400 million over the spending review period. Law enforcement activity on economic crime is conducted by a number of agencies, including the National Crime Agency, as the right hon. Lady says. I want to ensure that those agencies have the proper resources, personnel and tools to be at the forefront of fighting crime effectively.

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Yvette Cooper Portrait Yvette Cooper (Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford) (Lab)
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Let me first join in the tributes paid earlier by Members on both sides of the House to Sir David Amess. His parliamentary office was just above mine, and I know that we all remember him very fondly.

I rise to support the Bill’s Second Reading, and also to welcome the Home Secretary to her first full debate in the Chamber in her new post. It has been—what?—about five weeks since she was appointed, and I must say that she has been busy.

We have seen a series of major public disagreements between the Home Secretary and the Prime Minister: on restoring a net migration target, and then not; on leaving the European convention on human rights, and then not; on reclassifying drugs, and then not; on seasonal agricultural workers, still unresolved; on the claim that the Prime Minister did not see small boats as a priority and did not want her to talk about Rwanda; on some kind of row with the Business Secretary about florists, which nobody could follow; and on the Indian trade deal, which is something the Prime Minister had been working on for years, and which the Home Secretary seems to have single-handedly scuppered with a passing remark during an interview with The Spectator. Furthermore, according to the latest story this morning, the Home Secretary is not actually involved in immigration policy decisions at all, although they are at the heart of her Department.

We have to wonder whether there is anything that the new Home Secretary and the new Prime Minister agree on—although, to be fair to the Home Secretary, it is not clear that the Prime Minister agrees with herself from one day to the next. There have been so many U-turns that the Cabinet is spinning in circles. I have seen 11 Home Secretaries come and go, but I have never seen anything like the chaos and confusion that we are seeing now. There are disagreements from time to time, of course, but the scale of this is actually dangerous, because the Home Office is too important.

On issues of national security, crime and migration, we need the sense that there is some stability: that the people at the top are capable of self-discipline, that there is collective Cabinet responsibility, and that, at least on home affairs, they are making statements in the interests of the country, rather than behaving as if they were still in the process of a leadership campaign—although I guess that is exactly what is going on. If they are not capable of getting their act together and being a Government who are focused on those matters, they should get out of the way, and give way to someone else who can.

Yvette Cooper Portrait Yvette Cooper
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If the Home Secretary wants to respond to any of those points, I shall welcome her doing so.

Suella Braverman Portrait Suella Braverman
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I am not sure whether it has dawned on the right hon. Lady that we are here to talk about the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill, which is an important measure to tackle fraud and support victims of this heinous crime. I am not sure whether she is really focusing on that. I thank her for the party political broadcast, but let us get on with the job in hand.

Yvette Cooper Portrait Yvette Cooper
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There are plenty of aspects of the Bill that we can discuss, but I note that the Home Secretary chose not to deny any of the chaotic things that she has been saying in the papers. This is not stuff that we have made up; these are things that the new Home Secretary has been saying, which undermine her ability, and indeed the country’s ability, to deal with issues relating to national security, economic crime, fraud and migration—all the serious challenges that the country faces.

This Bill, which is long overdue, should constitute an area in which the whole country can come together and in which, across the House, there is broad agreement in the national interest. I welcome the Bill, but I am concerned that it does not go far enough. The Home Secretary will have heard the points made by Members in all parts of the House: extremely detailed work has been done by many Members with great expertise in respect of areas in which the Government need to go further. I hope that the Government will listen and will be able to go further, because the whole House will agree that action on economic crime in the UK is urgently needed.

This is a rough estimate, but the National Crime Agency says that £100 billion of dirty money flows through the UK every year, and that fraud is causing £190 billion-worth of damage. Economic crime is growing. According to the latest PwC global survey, 64% of businesses have experienced fraud, corruption or other economic or financial crime within the past two years, up from 50% just four years ago. Last year, 4.5 million frauds were perpetrated against people across the country, a 25% increase in the last few years. This is hugely damaging to families and communities, to our economy and businesses, to our international reputation, and also to our security.

The organised crime that is facilitated by weak financial systems has a deeply pernicious impact on our communities and our children, drawing young people into crime, gangs and exploitation, and fuelling the most appalling violence on our streets. It undermines our economy. It undermines legitimate businesses and financial organisations, and the thousands of people who work in them, who are standing up for high standards, are also undermined by this kind of crime and exploitation.

As I have said, economic crime is deeply damaging to our international reputation. London’s reputation as the money-laundering capital of the world is a source of national shame. Ours is a country that has long prided itself on the rule of law and on strong economic institutions, which is what traditionally made it a good place in which to invest, but that is being undermined by economic crime. United States allies have expressed frustration at the UK’s failure to tackle fully the problem of the flow of illicit Russian funds through what they have called Londongrad, and exposure to corrupt oligarchs and networks of kleptocracy means that that undermines our national security too.

European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill

Debate between Yvette Cooper and Suella Braverman
3rd reading: House of Commons & Committee: 3rd sitting: House of Commons & Report stage: House of Commons
Wednesday 8th February 2017

(7 years, 2 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Act 2017 View all European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Act 2017 Debates Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts Amendment Paper: Committee of the whole House Amendments as at 8 February 2017 - (8 Feb 2017)
Suella Braverman Portrait Suella Fernandes
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I am pleased to follow the hon. Member for Birmingham, Yardley (Jess Phillips), who speaks with passion about her cause and argues for women with much persuasion. I gently point out that only when the Labour party can claim to have elected its second lady Prime Minister can it preach to Conservatives on how to support women. I rise to speak against the entirety of the proposals tabled by Opposition Members, but particularly against the references to trade with the European Union and the rest of the world in new clauses 2, 11, 77 and 181.

I have two key points, the first of which is on trade. I am struck by the premise in the wording of, for example, new clause 181 on trade agreements, which calls on the Government to

“have regard to the value of UK membership of the EU Customs Union in maintaining tariff and barrier-free trade with the EU.”

The new clause is wrong for several reasons. It is totally misguided, and a misreading of what the British people voted for on 23 June. If we

“have regard to the value”

of the customs union, we are missing the point. Where is the call to have regard to the costs of UK membership of the EU customs union? Why does the new clause not refer to the reasons why Britain must leave the customs union, and what we stand to gain? There is simply no point to Brexit and no meaning to the result of the referendum if we do not leave the EU customs union.

Where is the acknowledgment of the restrictions and costs of the common commercial policy inherent in our membership of the EU customs union? The new clause and all those containing that reference to trade are one-sided, prejudge, and lack any objectivity or impartiality. Where is the reference to, or acknowledgment of, the simple fact that Britain can set her own rules on trade policy, and forge new and dynamic agreements with the rest of the world, only if she leaves the EU customs union? Where is the reference to the gains we stand to make by striking new trade deals with the rest of the world? The Legatum Institute special trade commission estimates a 50% increase in global world products over 15 years.

I am concerned that there is no impact assessment of the damaging effect of the EU’s trade agreements on developing countries, or of the common external tariff, which binds members of the customs union.

Yvette Cooper Portrait Yvette Cooper (Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford) (Lab)
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The hon. Lady is commenting on a proposal that is in my name and the name of three other Select Committee Chairs. Is she aware of the evidence given to the Home Affairs Committee by a series of hauliers, ports and so on? They said that if their goods from the EU were subject to the type of customs checks to which goods from outside the EU are subject, there could be delays of between one and three days.

Suella Braverman Portrait Suella Fernandes
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The right hon. Lady needs to do her research before she makes points like that. If she had attended the meeting I had with experienced trade negotiators just two days ago—they are part of the special trade commission and have led trade deals on behalf of other countries—she would know that they say that the rules to which she refers are already part of free trade agreements around the world. The problems she highlights are being blown out of all proportion, given the reality of what we stand to gain from leaving the customs union.