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  • >> Catherine McKinnell (Newcastle upon Tyne North) (Lab): Q1. If she will list her official

  • engagements for Wednesday 17 January. [903348] >> The Prime Minister (Mrs Theresa May): This

  • morning, I had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others. In addition to my duties in this

  • House, I shall have further such meetings later today.

  • >> Catherine McKinnell: The Government must take responsibility for their role in the

  • mess now left by Carillion. Thousands of staff face unemployment, and small and medium-sized

  • suppliers face going bust, but I am concerned for the 1,400 Carillion apprentices, some

  • of whom I have met locally. It is not good enough to pass the back to CITBthe Construction

  • Industry Training Boardso will the Prime Minister guarantee today that every one of

  • those apprentices will be able to complete their training and will be paid?

  • >> The Prime Minister: I recognise that this has been a difficult time for a number of

  • people, who are concerned about their jobs, public services and their pensions. I want,

  • first, to provide reassurance to all employees working on public services for Carillion that

  • they should continue to turn up to work, confident in the knowledge that they will be paid for

  • the work they are providing. But of course the Government are not running Carillion;

  • the Government are actually a customer of Carillion, and our focus has been on ensuring

  • that we are providing the public servicesthat they are continuing to be provided uninterrupted;

  • on reassuring workers in those public services that they will get paid; on reassuring the

  • pensioners and making sure the support is there for them

  • >> Ian Lavery (Wansbeck) (Lab): What about the apprentices?

  • >> The Prime Minister: Yes, I am coming on to the apprentices, but it is important that

  • government is undertaking its role to ensure that the services it provides are continuing

  • to be provided. I assure the hon. Lady that we are aware of the issues around apprentices,

  • which is why the Minister with responsibility for that will be looking very carefully at

  • what action can be taken. >> Simon Hoare (North Dorset) (Con): What

  • better way to start the Year of Engineering than by seeing manufacturing output at its

  • highest level in a decade and productivity on the up? May I invite my right hon. Friend

  • to commit her Government to securing and supporting UK manufacturing and the important exports

  • it delivers? >> The Prime Minister: I am very happy to

  • give my hon. Friend that commitment from the Government. He is absolutely right: it is

  • very pleasing to see the figures the Office for National Statistics produced last week,

  • which showed that production has now grown for eight monthsthe longest streak since

  • 1994—and manufacturing output is at its highest since February 2008. And earlier this

  • month, we saw that productivity growth has had its best quarter since 2011. That shows

  • that our economy remains strong and that we are continuing to deliver secure, better-paid

  • jobs. We will continue to do that and support our manufacturing sector.

  • >> Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab): In the last six months, the Government have

  • awarded more than £2 billion worth of contracts to Carillion. They did so even after the share

  • price was in freefall and the company had issued profit warnings. Why did the Government

  • do that? >> The Prime Minister: It might be helpful

  • if I just set out for the right hon. Gentleman that a company's profit warning means it

  • believes it will not make as much profit as it had expected to make. If the Government

  • pulled out of contracts, or indeed private sector companies pulled out of contracts,

  • whenever a profit warning was issued, that would be the best way to ensure that companies

  • failed and jobs were lost. It would also raise real issues for the Government about providing

  • continuing, uninterrupted public services. Yes, we did recognise that it was a severe

  • profit warning, which is why we took action in relation to the contracts that we issued.

  • We ensured that all but one of those contracts was a joint venture. What does that mean?

  • It means that another company is available to step in and take over the contract. I say

  • to the right hon. Gentleman that this was not just about the Government issuing contracts;

  • actually, we see that the Labour-run Welsh Government issued a contract after the profit

  • warning last July, and only last week a public sector body announced that Carillion was its

  • preferred bidder. Was that the Government? Noit was Labour-run Leeds City Council.

  • >> Jeremy Corbyn: For the record, Leeds has not signed a contract with Carillion. It is

  • the Government who have been handing out contracts. It is the Government's responsibility to

  • ensure that Carillion is properly managed. Between July and the end of last year, Carillion's

  • share price fell by 90% and three profit warnings were issued. Unbelievably, the Government

  • awarded some contracts even after the third profit warning. It looks like the Government

  • were either handing Carillion public contracts to keep the company afloat, which clearly

  • has not worked, or were just deeply negligent of the crisis that was coming down the line.

  • >> The Prime Minister: I am very happy to answer questions when the right hon. Gentleman

  • asks one. He did not. >> Jeremy Corbyn: I asked the Government whether

  • or not they had been negligent. They clearly have been very negligent. [Interruption.]

  • Tory MPs might shout, but the reality is that as of today more than 20,000 Carillion workers

  • are very worried about their future. For many of them, the only recourse tonight is to phone

  • a DWP hotline. The frailties were well known: hedge funds had been betting against Carillion

  • since 2015, and the state-owned Royal Bank of Scotland was making provision against Carillion

  • last year. The Government are supposed to protect public money through Crown representatives,

  • who are supposed to monitor these powerful corporations that get huge public contracts.

  • This is a question that the Prime Minister needs to answer: why did the position of Crown

  • representative to Carillion remain vacant during the crucial period August to November,

  • when the profit warnings were being issued, the share price was in free fall, and many

  • people were very worried? >> The Prime Minister: I am afraid I have

  • to say to the right hon. Gentleman that of course

  • >> Emily Thornberry (Islington South and Finsbury) (Lab): Just answer the question!

  • >> The Prime Minister: I will indeed answer the question, but I know that the shadow Foreign

  • Secretary has herself praised Carillion in the past for its work. To answer the right

  • hon. Gentleman, there is obviously now a Crown representative who has been fully involved

  • in the Government's response. Before the appointment of the Crown representative to

  • replace the one who had previously been in place, the Government chief commercial officer

  • and the Cabinet Office director of markets and suppliers took over those responsibilities,

  • so it was not the case that there was nobody from the Government looking at these issues.

  • That is standard procedure, and it ensured that there was oversight of Carillion's

  • contracts with the Government during the appointment process for the Crown representative.

  • >> Jeremy Corbyn: Well, they clearly were not looking very well. Carillion went into

  • liquidation with debts that we now understand to be £1.29 billion and a pension deficit

  • of £600 million. At the same time, the company was paying out ever-increasing shareholder

  • dividends and wildly excessive bonuses to directors. From today, 8,000 Carillion workers

  • on private sector contracts will no longer be paid, but the chief executive will be paid

  • for another 10 monthsone rule for the super-rich, another for everybody else. Will the Prime

  • Minister assure the House today that not a single penny more will go to the chief executive

  • or the directors of this company? >> The Prime Minister: First, I say to the

  • right hon. Gentleman that this is obviously a situation that is changing as decisions

  • are being taken, but my understanding is that a number of facilities management contractors

  • have now come to an agreement with the official receiver that means that their workers will

  • continue to be paid. It is important to say that the official receiver is doing its job

  • and working with those companies. The right hon. Gentleman raises the issue of bonuses,

  • and people are of course concerned about the issue and are rightly asking questions about

  • it. That is why we are ensuring that the official receiver's investigation into the company's

  • business dealings is fast-tracked and that it looks into not just the conduct of current

  • directors, but previous directors and their actions. In reviewing payments to executives,

  • where those payments are unlawful or unjustified, the official receiver has the powers to take

  • action to recover those payments. It is important that the official receiver is able to do its

  • job. What is also important is that the Government's job is to ensure that public services continue

  • to be provided, and that is what we are doing. The right hon. Gentleman said earlier that

  • it was the Government's job to ensure that Carillion was properly managed, but we were

  • a customer of Carillion, not the manager of Carillion—a very important difference. It

  • is also important that we have protected taxpayers from an unacceptable bail-out of a private

  • company. >> Jeremy Corbyn: When Carillion went into

  • liquidation, many contractors were still unpaid. The company was a notorious late payer, taking

  • 120 days to pay and placing a huge burden on small companies. That is four times longer

  • than the 30 days in the prompt payment code that Carillion itself had signed up to. Why

  • did the Government allow a major Government contractor to get away with that? Will the

  • Prime Minister commit to Labour's policy that abiding by the prompt payment code should

  • be a basic requirement for all future Government contracts?

  • >> The Prime Minister: Of course we look at the behaviour of companies that we contract

  • with in relation to payments. The question of prompt payments has been brought up in

  • this House for as long as I have been in this House, and work is always being done on it,

  • but the right hon. Gentleman has raised an important point about the impact of Carillion's

  • liquidation on small companies. That is why the Business Secretary and the City Minister

  • held a roundtable with the banks this morning to discuss credit lines to small and medium-sized

  • enterprises and to make it clear that SMEs are not responsible for Carillion's collapse.

  • The Business Secretary has also held further roundtables today with representatives of

  • small businesses, construction trade associations and trade unionsworkers' unionsto

  • ensure that we are on top of the potential effects on the wider supply chain. It is right

  • that we look at those very carefully and that we take action. It is also right that, through

  • the Department for Work and Pensions, we put in place support for any workers who find

  • themselves no longer employed as a result of this.

  • >> Jeremy Corbyn: It is a bit late for one subcontractor. Flora-tec, which was owed £800,000

  • by Carillion, has already had to make some of its staff redundant because of the collapse.

  • This is not one isolated case of Government negligence and corporate failure; it is a

  • broken system. Under this Government, Virgin and Stagecoach can spectacularly mismanage

  • the east coast main line and be let off a £2 billion payment, Capita and Atos can continue

  • to wreck lives through damaging disability assessments of many people with disabilities

  • and win more taxpayer-funded contracts, and G4S can promise to provide security for the

  • Olympics but fail to do so, and the Army had to step in to save the day. These corporations

  • need to be shown the door. We need our public services to be provided by public employees

  • with a public service ethos and a strong public oversight. As the ruins of Carillion lie around

  • her, will the Prime Minister act to end this costly racket of the relationship between

  • Government and some of these companies? >> The Prime Minister: I might first remind

  • the right hon. Gentleman that a third of the Carillion contracts with the Government were

  • let by the Labour Government. What we want is to provide good-quality public services

  • delivered at best value to the taxpayer. We are making sure in this case that public services

  • continue to be provided, that the workers in those public services are supported and

  • that taxpayers are protected. What Labour opposes is not just a role for private companies

  • in public services but the private sector as a whole. The vast majority of people in

  • this country in employment are employed by the private sector, but the shadow Chancellor

  • calls businesses the real enemy. Labour wants the highest taxes in our peace-time history,

  • and Labour policies would cause a run on the pound. This is a Labour party that has turned

  • its back on investment, on growth and on jobs—a Labour party that will always put politics

  • before people. >> Paul Scully (Sutton and Cheam) (Con): I

  • thank the Prime Minister for visiting Cheam on Saturday where she heard from local residents

  • about the poor services provided by the complacent Lib-Dem council. People should not have to

  • settle for second best. Does she agree that we need to unlock the potential of Sutton,

  • and indeed of London, on 3 May by giving residents across London the opportunity to get great

  • services and value for money by voting Conservative? >> The Prime Minister: I was very happy to

  • join my hon. Friend on the doorsteps in Cheam and to hear from people about the issues to

  • do with Liberal Democrat services in Sutton and Cheam, particularly those around rubbish

  • bins. I believe that there are now up to six bins per household. I am beginning to think

  • that the council is trying to go for one bin for every Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament.

  • He is absolutely right: the evidence is that Conservatives deliver better services at less

  • cost to the council tax payer. While we are talking about costs to the council tax payer,

  • only last week the then shadow Fire Minister announced that Labour policy was to put up

  • council tax on every average house and typical home by £320. People should know that a vote

  • for Labour is a vote to pay more. >> Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber)

  • (SNP): Can the Prime Minister tell the House what official advice she has had on the impact

  • of the UK economy from leaving the EU single market and when she requested any such advice?

  • >> The Prime Minister: Of course, as we go through the Brexit negotiations, we are constantly

  • looking at the impact that decisions that are taken will have on our economy. What we

  • want to ensure is that we maintain good access—a good comprehensive free trade agreementwith

  • the European Union and also, as we leave the European Union, that we get good free trade

  • agreements with other parts of the world. >> Ian Blackford: Nineteen months after the

  • EU referendum, the Prime Minister has not a shred of economic analysis on the impact

  • of leaving the single market. On Monday, the Scottish Government published their second

  • analysis paper revealing some horrifying facts: leaving the single market will cost each Scottish

  • citizen up to £2,300 a year. How many jobs have to be lost and how much of a financial

  • hit will families have to take before the Prime Minister recognises the folly of leaving

  • the single market? >> The Prime Minister: The right hon. Gentleman

  • asks me for economic analysis. Well, I will give him some economic analysis. We saw the

  • figures this morning for GDP growth in Scotland. In the third quarter, GDP in Scotland grew

  • by 0.2%. In the rest of the United Kingdom, it grew by 0.4%. Over the past year, GDP in

  • Scotlandunder a Scottish National party Government in Scotlandgrew by 0.6%. In

  • the United Kingdom as a whole, it grew by 1.7%. My economic analysis is that 1.7% is

  • higher than 0.6%; you're better off with a Conservative Government than an SNP one.

  • >> Sir Henry Bellingham (North West Norfolk) (Con): Will the Prime Minister look at the

  • case of my late constituent, Ann Banyard, who was badly injured by a fleeing shoplifter?

  • She recently died, partly because of those injuries, at the young age of 70. Her claim

  • to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority has been delayed and the family fear that

  • it may lapse completely. Will the Prime Minister join me and our local paper, the Lynn News,

  • in supporting this case, and will she make it clear that the rights of victims should

  • always be at the heart of our criminal policy? >> The Prime Minister: My hon. Friend is right

  • to put the case for the rights of victims, and he is absolutely right that we should

  • always remember victims. I am very sorry to hear the case of his late constituent, Ann

  • Banyard, and I know that the whole House will join me in offering condolences to her family

  • in this tragic case. As my hon. Friend knows, the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority

  • administers the criminal injuries compensation scheme and applies the rules independently

  • of the Government, but I am sure that the Justice Secretary would be happy to meet my

  • hon. Friend to discuss the case. >> Mr Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi (Slough) (Lab):

  • After the internationally embarrassing news of the Tory council leader from my neighbouring

  • Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead and his deplorable attitude to the homeless regarding

  • the royal wedding, and the recent put-downs to the Prime Minister and our Government by

  • President Trump, will the Prime Minister confirm whether she actually wants an invite to be

  • extended for the royal wedding and a state visit to thevery stable geniusfrom

  • the United States who, by the way, seems to be copying all the buzzwords from this not

  • sostrong and stableGovernment? >> The Prime Minister: The hon. Gentleman

  • knows that we have a special and enduring relationship with the United States. An invitation

  • for a state visit has been extended to President Trump, although I have to say that I am not

  • responsible for invitations to the royal wedding. The hon. Gentleman referenced the Royal Borough

  • of Windsor and Maidenhead Council. He should be aware that it has taken a number of actions

  • to support vulnerable residents, including those who are homeless, with the establishment

  • of an emergency night shelter that is open 365 days a year; a day service attached to

  • that, providing support services to vulnerable residents; and a comprehensive seven-day-a-week

  • service for the homeless or those at risk of homelessness. The council also applied

  • the severe weather emergency protocol and offered accommodation to, I think, 32 homeless

  • people on the streets, of whom 21 took up the accommodation and 11 did not.

  • >> Scott Mann (North Cornwall) (Con): Cancer can strike anyone, no matter where they live

  • in the UK. The Sunrise Appeal in Cornwall has raised £3 million since the year 2000

  • to fund equipment and buildings for cancer care, but proposals by the NHS could see radiotherapy

  • services move from Cornwall to Devon. This would mean many constituents having to travel

  • hundreds of miles to access treatment many times a week. These proposals are unacceptable

  • to my constituents and the vast majority of people in Cornwall. Does the Prime Minister

  • agree that travel times should be taken into account when making these decisions, and will

  • she join me in encouraging the people of Cornwall to respond to the NHS consultation?

  • >> The Prime Minister: My hon. Friend raises an important point. We want to ensure that