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  • >> David Duguid (Banff and Buchan) (Con): If she will list her official engagements

  • for Wednesday 12 September.

  • >> The Prime Minister (Mrs Theresa May): I am sure that Members across the House will

  • wish to join me in congratulating Alastair Cook on his fantastic service to English cricket.

  • As England's highest-ever-scoring batsman, his incredible career had many highlights,

  • including the magnificent 147 in his last innings, against India. We wish him the very

  • best for his future.

  • 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.

  • >> David Duguid: I know that the Prime Minister appreciates

  • the significance of fishing communities around the UK, not least my own constituency of Banff

  • and Buchan. What steps will my right hon. Friend take to support our fishing communities

  • during the implementation period? Will she look into ways to support the expansion of

  • the catching fleet, infrastructure, processing capacity and other businesses that are reliant

  • on the sector?

  • >> The Prime Minister: I fully recognise the importance of the fishing

  • industry to my hon. Friend's constituency and to other constituencies represented in

  • this House. I reassure him that we want to secure a sustainable and profitable fishing

  • industry that will regenerate coastal communities and support future generations of UK fishermen.

  • Leaving the EU means taking back control of our waters, setting our own fisheries rules

  • and exclusively determining who fishes what in our seas. It is a priority of the Government

  • to make sure that we have an innovative, productive and competitive food supply chain. Work is

  • under way to consider the long-term future of all funding programmes that are currently

  • managed by the EU.

  • >> Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab): I, too, join the Prime Minister in congratulating

  • Alastair Cook on a fantastic achievement and both teams on what has been an absolutely

  • brilliant series, which I really enjoyed.

  • The National Farmers Union, the Federation of Small Businesses, the National Audit Office,

  • the National Housing Federation, Gingerbread and the Royal Society of Artsdoes the Prime

  • Minister know what these organisations have in common?

  • >> The Prime Minister: Yes, I can tell the right hon. Gentleman that

  • what those organisations all have in common is that, across a variety of areas of activity,

  • they give excellent service, they promote the interests of those whom they represent

  • and they are bodies with which this Government interact and to which this Government listen.

  • >> Jeremy Corbyn: I am truly grateful to the Prime Minister

  • for that answer, the first part of which I wholly agree with. What they also have

  • It's all right. What they also have in common is that they are telling this Government that

  • their flagship benefits policy, universal credit, is flawed and failing hundreds of

  • thousands of people both in work and out of work. In 2010, the Government declared that

  • universal credit would lift 350,000 children out of poverty. Does the Prime Minister stand

  • by that figure?

  • >> The Prime Minister: We introduced universal credit because we

  • needed a system of welfare in this country that encouraged rather than discouraged people

  • into work, that made sure that work always pays and that was a simpler system than the

  • legacy system that we were left by the Labour partyremember the legacy system of the

  • Labour party. It meant that we had individuals being paid £100,000 a year on benefitsall

  • paid for by hard-working taxpayers earning a fraction of that sum.

  • >> Jeremy Corbyn: The Child Poverty Action Group says that,

  • far from taking children out of poverty, universal credit will now increase the number of children

  • in poverty. Since 2010, half a million more children have gone into poverty relative to

  • that time. The Government know that this policy is flawed and failing. Their own survey on

  • universal credit found that many were in debt, a third were in arrears with their rent and

  • half had fallen behind with their bills. Does the Prime Minister dispute her own Government's

  • survey, or dispute the experience of the claimants?

  • >> The Prime Minister: Let us look at the experience of some of the

  • claimants. Roberta said, “My work coach helped turn my life around. He tailored his

  • support to my situation and thanks to him I have found my dream job.” Ryan said, “I

  • am happy with the new universal credit. My work coach has been great—I didn't expect

  • to have a job so soon.” Nayim said, “Universal credit gave me the flexibility to take on

  • additional hours without the stress of thinking that this might stop my benefits straight

  • away.” We have gone from a situation under the Labour party where 1.4 million people

  • spent most of a decade trapped on benefits. We are helping get people into work, which

  • is why, earlier this week, we saw unemployment yet again at a record low.

  • >> Jeremy Corbyn: We are all constituency MPs, and I think that

  • most of us are well aware of the pain that universal credit is causing when people come

  • into our advice bureaux. Some 60% of families facing cuts owing to the two-child policy

  • are in work. Universal credit is not making work pay; it is taking money away from families

  • and putting more children into poverty. The National Audit Office report found that universal

  • credit is creating hardship, forcing people to use food banks and could end up costing

  • the system even more. Does the Prime Minister dispute the National Audit Office findings?

  • >> The Prime Minister: The right hon. Gentleman talked about constituency

  • cases. I remember

  • >> Mr Speaker: Order. We are at a very early stage of the

  • proceedings. We have got a long way to go, but questions must be heard and the answers

  • must be heard, and as usual I want to get through the Order Paper.

  • >> The Prime Minister: The right hon. Gentleman started his question

  • by talking about constituency cases. I remember the single mother who came to see me as her

  • Member of Parliament when Labour was in government who told me that she wanted to get into the

  • workplace and provide a good example to her child, but the jobcentre had told her that

  • she would be better off on benefits. That is the legacy of the Labour party.

  • >> Jeremy Corbyn: My question was about the National Audit Office.

  • The Trussell Trust backs the NAO. It says that food bank usage in areas where universal

  • credit has been rolled out is four times higher than in areas where it has not been introduced.

  • But, without resolving any of those failings in the next year, the Government propose to

  • inflict this on another 2 million people. As part of that transfer, hundreds of thousands

  • of people with disabilities and on employment and support allowance, jobseeker's allowance

  • and tax credits will receive a letter telling them that their support will be stopped. They

  • will have to make an application for universal credit. Does the Prime Minister think it is

  • the responsibility of the Government who are changing the system to ensure that people

  • retain the support that they need, or is it down to the individual, many of whom are very

  • vulnerable people who need help and support?

  • >> The Prime Minister: What the Government are doing is delivering

  • a system that does give support to vulnerable people, but encourages people to get into

  • the workplace, because we know that work is the best route out of poverty. However, if

  • the right hon. Gentleman believes that universal credit needed some change, why, when we made

  • changes such as reducing the waiting days for payment and bringing in a housing benefit

  • overlap to help people, did Labour vote against those changes?

  • >> Jeremy Corbyn: It is Labour that has been speaking up for

  • the poorest in this country. It is Labour that has been challenging this Government.

  • It is Labour that wants a decency within our society that this Government are incapable

  • of delivering.

  • >> Mr Speaker: Order. Mr Spencer, I always thought you were

  • a good natured, laid-back farmer. You seem to be a very over-excitable denizen of the

  • House today. Calm yourself, man.

  • >> Jeremy Corbyn: The mental health charity Mind says that there

  • is a real possibility

  • that many people with mental health problems could see their benefits stopped entirely”.

  • It is outrageous that vulnerable people risk losing out because of these botched changes.

  • The Government's Brexit negotiations are an abject failure. I can see that by the sullen

  • faces behind the Prime Ministerand that is not just the European Research Group; it

  • is the whole lot of them. But everywhere you look, Mr Speaker, this Government are failing—1

  • million families using food banks; 1 million workers on zero-hours contracts; 4 million

  • children in poverty; wages lower today than 10 years ago; and on top of that there is

  • the flawed and failing universal credit. Disabled people at risk of losing their homes and vital

  • support; children forced to use food banksand the Prime Minister wants to put 2 million

  • more people on to this. The Prime Minister is not challenging the burning injustices

  • in our society. She is pouring petrol on the crisis. When will she stop inflicting misery

  • on the people of this country?

  • >> The Prime Minister: The right hon. Gentleman talks about challenging

  • the burning injustices. That is about setting up the race disparity audit, which says what

  • public services do and how people from different communities in our country are treated by

  • them.

  • It means saying that nobody in this country should be stopped and searched on our streets

  • because of the colour of their skinthat was me as Home Secretary, never the Labour

  • party. We are seeing 3.3 million more people in jobs as a result of our balanced approach

  • to the economy.

  • And what have we seen from Labour over the past few days? Iranian state TV broadcasting

  • no-confidence votes against Labour Members of Parliament; police investigating anonymous

  • and threatening letters about the deselection of Labour MPs sent to Labour offices; and,

  • most shamefully of all, the hon. Member for Streatham (Chuka Umunna) saying that the Labour

  • party is now an institutionally racist party. That is what the Leader of the Opposition

  • has done to Labourjust think what he would do to this country.

  • >> Hon. Members: More!

  • >> Mr Speaker: Order.

  • >> Mr Speaker: Order. No gesticulation is required, Mr Brakecalm

  • yourself. You are a former Deputy Leader of the Housebehave in a statesmanlike manner.

  • Order. Let us hear the questions and the answers.

  • >> Nigel Huddleston: We quite rightly spend quite a lot of time

  • in this place talking about crime, criminals and prisons, but perhaps we do not spend enough

  • time talking about the victims of crime. So I warmly welcome the Government's announcement

  • this week of a victims strategy. Can the Prime Minister assure me that this will not be some

  • kind of dry document but a genuine effort to boost support for the victims?

  • >> The Prime Minister: I can give my hon. Friend that assurance.

  • We know that nothing can take away the trauma and distress of being a victim of crime, but

  • we need to ensure that people get the support they need as they rebuild their lives. This

  • is absolutely vital. It is our duty to keep people safe but it is also our duty to ensure

  • that victims are properly protected and listened to. That is why we are taking steps to enshrine

  • their entitlements in lawto strengthen the victims code. This first ever cross-Government

  • victims strategy will ensure that victims of crime receive the care and support they

  • deserve at every stage of their interaction with the justice system. I commend my right

  • hon. Friend the Justice Secretary, and also the Under-Secretary, my hon. Friend the Member

  • for Charnwood (Edward Argar), for the work they have put into the victims strategy.

  • >> Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (SNP):

  • A decade on from the financial crisis, the poorest in our society are still paying a

  • price. The bankers were bailed out, but ordinary people paid the bill. Institute for Fiscal

  • Studies analysis shows that real wages are, on average, £800 lower. A decade on and people

  • are poorer: a damning indictment of the UK Government's leadership. Tell us, Prime

  • Minister: why have you abandoned millions of familiesthose just about managing?

  • >> The Prime Minister: What we have done is created an economic environment

  • where 3.3 million people are in work. We now see the number of children in workless households

  • at the lowest level ever. We now also see, through what we have done, an increase in

  • the national living wage. We have ensured that we have taken 4 million people out of

  • paying income tax altogether. Over 30 million people have received a tax cut. That is what

  • this Government have been able to do through a balanced approach to the economy, keeping

  • taxes low, putting money into public services, and reducing our debt.

  • >> Ian Blackford: That, I am afraid, simply ignores the reality

  • that people are poorer. It has been the worst decade for wage growth in over 200 years.

  • Households are struggling, and it is reported that a no deal Brexit will increase the annual

  • cost of living for low-income households by hundreds of pounds. Yet this Prime Minister

  • still wants to walk off the Brexit cliff edge. The Prime Minister is unfit to govern. She

  • is incapable of leadership. We know it, her Back Benchers know it, and the country knows

  • it. Ten years after the economic crash, the poorest are still bearing the brunt. It is

  • as simple as this: the Prime Minister should end her austerity programme or admit that

  • her party is unfit for government.

  • >> The Prime Minister: The right hon. Gentleman mentions Brexit.

  • Of course, we are working to get a good Brexit deal for the whole of the United Kingdom,

  • including Scotland. I suggest that he might listen to the views of the Scottish National

  • Farmers Union, which said this week that the plan the Government have put forward is

  • certainly the agriculture and food and drinks sectors can work with”,

  • and that politicians from

  • all sorts of parliaments and assemblies

  • should get behind it.

  • >> Giles Watling (Clacton) (Con): My constituency is a mere 69 miles from London,

  • as I am sure my right hon. Friend remembers from her visit a few years ago. You are lucky

  • to cover that tiny journey in an hour and 40 minutes, and that is if you avoid the Network

  • Rail works. Our sunshine coast has a lot to offer economically, a lot of which remains

  • untapped. We could attract new homeowners, doctors and businesses to the area. Can my

  • right hon. Friend tell me what this Government are doing to improve our rail services and

  • speed up the journey to Clacton?

  • >> The Prime Minister: I do indeed remember the visit that I made

  • to Clacton in 2014, where I was very pleased to meet Caroline Shearer and hear about the

  • anti-knife crime work she had done and the charity she had set up in memory of her murdered

  • son, Jay Whiston.

  • On the issue of rail, Greater Anglia will indeed be introducing a whole new fleet of

  • trains, which will be delivered from the middle of next year. They will be state of the art,

  • with much improved acceleration, my hon. Friend will be pleased to hear. Greater Anglia needs

  • to work with Network Rail to ensure that it can deliver those improved journey times.

  • There are infrastructure constraints on the line, but we will engage with Network Rail

  • to understand what plans it has to renew the infrastructure, so that we can see the improvement

  • on the Clacton branch that my hon. Friend wants to see.

  • >> Melanie Onn (Great Grimsby) (Lab): The Prime Minister just said that work is

  • the best route out of poverty. Without repeating the response that she gave to the leader of

  • the SNP, can she explain why, after eight years of a Conservative Government, the Living

  • Wage Foundation reports that 40% of people in Grimsby do not earn enough to live on?

  • >> The Prime Minister: The figures show that the proportion of the

  • workforce on low pay is actually at its lowest level. That is as a result of the changes

  • we have made in relation to the economy and the balanced approach we have taken. If the

  • hon. Lady if worried about people living in Grimsby, the answer is not a Labour Government,

  • with £500 billion of extra borrowing, fewer jobs, higher taxes and people suffering the

  • cost.

  • >> John Lamont (Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk) (Con):

  • Given what we know about the Russian state's involvement in the Salisbury poisoning, does

  • the Prime Minister think it appropriate when parliamentarians, both current and former,

  • appear on Russian state television?

  • >> The Prime Minister: I am sure we all have doubts about the objectivity

  • of the reporting on Russia Today, which remains a tool of propaganda for the Russian state.

  • Decisions about appearing on Russia Today are a matter of judgment for each individual,

  • but they should be clear that they risk being used as propaganda tools by the Russian state.

  • I know that that view is shared by other Members of this House, including the right hon. Member

  • for Ross, Skye and Lochaber (Ian Blackford), who has made clear that he does not think