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  • >> Mr Virendra Sharma (Ealing, Southall) (Lab): If she will list her official engagements

  • for Wednesday 27 February. >> The Prime Minister (Mrs Theresa May): May

  • I first say that the UK is deeply concerned about rising tensions between India and Pakistan

  • and urgently calls for restraint on both sides to avoid further escalation? We are in regular

  • contact with both countries urging dialogue and diplomatic solutions to ensure regional

  • stability. We are working closely with international partners, including through the UN Security

  • Council, to de-escalate tensions and are monitoring developments closely and considering implications

  • for British nationals. Mr Speaker, I understand that Eve Griffith-Okai in your office retires

  • at the end of the week. She has worked for four Speakers and I am sure that the whole

  • House will want to join me in wishing her the very best for the 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.

  • >> Mr Sharma: I thank the Prime Minister for her initial response. In the face of her total

  • failure to secure the agreement of this House, when will the Prime Minister call time on

  • this farce, extend article 50 and put her deal versus remain back to the people?

  • >> The Prime Minister: First, I made a statement and answered 82 questions on these issues

  • in the House yesterday. We will be bringing the meaningful vote back by 12 March. As I

  • said yesterday, if that meaningful vote is rejected again by the House, we would have

  • a vote in this House on 13 March on whether the House accepts leaving without a deal on

  • 29 March. If the House rejects leaving without a deal on 29 March, there would be a vote

  • on a short, limited extension to article 50. On the hon. Gentleman's final point, I continue

  • to believe that it is right for us to deliver on the result of the referendum that took

  • place in 2016. >> Julian Knight (Solihull) (Con): The 2017

  • Birmingham bin strike led to mass fly-tipping across the borough border in my beautiful

  • town of Solihull. With the threat of another strike ever present, will the Prime Minister

  • join me in urging Birmingham City Council to do what often seems to be beyond itnamely,

  • to be a good neighbour and sort out these strikes, which seem to be just a taster of

  • what would happen under a hard-left Labour Government?

  • >> The Prime Minister: Obviously, this is a matter for Labour-controlled Birmingham

  • City Council to resolve: rubbish piling up on the streets because of the failure of the

  • Labour council to get a grip. Not only does it show what a hard-left Labour Government

  • would be like; it shows all of us that, under Labour councils, you pay more and get less.

  • >> Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab): There is an urgent question coming up on Kashmir,

  • but I will just say that from our side of the House we strongly support rapid dialogue

  • between India and Pakistan in order to reduce the tension and deal with the root causes

  • of the conflict before more lives are lost. I also join the Prime Minister in wishing

  • Eve a very happy retirement, Mr Speaker. She has been absolutely brilliant in your office

  • over the many years of people rushing in and out and making totally unreasonable demands.

  • She has always sorted it out. Could you pass on to her the thanks of lots and lots of Back

  • Benchers over many years? The Bank of England forecasts that growth for this year will be

  • the slowest in over a decade. Does the Prime Minister blame her shambolic handling of Brexit

  • or her failed austerity policies for this damaging failure?

  • >> The Prime Minister: First, I think the right hon. Gentleman should have seen the

  • report that actually showed the expectation that in this country over the coming year

  • we will have higher growth than Germany. He talks about the economy, so let us just say

  • what we see in the economy under a Conservative Government: more people in work than ever

  • before; unemployment at its lowest level since the 1970s; borrowing this year at its lowest

  • level for 17 years; and the largest monthly surplus on record. Conservatives delivering

  • more jobs, healthier finances and an economy fit for the future.

  • >> Jeremy Corbyn: I know that the Prime Minister is very busy—I understand thatand she

  • possibly has not had a chance to look at the Bank of England forecasts, which suggest that

  • there is a one in four chance of the UK economy dipping into recession. Manufacturing is already

  • in recession, car manufacturing has declined at the steepest rate for a decadedown 5%

  • in the past quarter aloneand Honda, Jaguar Land Rover and Nissan have announced cuts

  • to either jobs or investment in recent months. Does she blame her shambolic Brexit or her

  • Government's lack of an industrial strategy for this very sad state of affairs?

  • >> The Prime Minister: I have just explained to the right hon. Gentleman the positives

  • in the economy and the consistent quarter-by-quarter growth that we have seen under this Government.

  • What do we know would be the worst thing for the economy in this country? It would be a

  • run on the pound, capital flight and £1,000 billion of borrowing under a Labour Government.

  • >> Jeremy Corbyn: As manufacturing industry declines, it is skilled well-paid jobs that

  • are lost. But the Prime Minister is rightthere is something that is increasing, and that

  • is the income of the top fifth richest people in this country, which went up by 4.7% last

  • year while the incomes of the poorest fell by 1.6%. With the poorest people worse off,

  • will the Prime Minister now commit to ending the benefit freeze, or does she believe that

  • rising poverty is a price worth paying? >> The Prime Minister: Perhaps it might again

  • help to look at some of the facts. The top 1% are paying 28% of income tax, which is

  • higher than at any time under a Labour Government, income inequality is lower than that which

  • we inherited from a Labour Government, and the lowest earners saw their fastest pay rise

  • in 20 years through the national living wage. The Conservatives are building a fairer society

  • and delivering for everyone. >> Jeremy Corbyn: Some of us cannot forget

  • that it was the Conservative party that so opposed the principle of the national minimum

  • wage from the very beginning. Perhaps the Government could start by tackling the scourge

  • of low pay in their own Departments. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

  • and the Ministry of Justice pay some of their central London workers as little as £7.83

  • an hour, and they have been on strike again this week, hoping to get a London living wage.

  • Will the Prime Minister intervene and ensure that they do get the London living wage so

  • that they can continue doing their valuable work for both those Departments? Low pay means

  • that many workers have to claim universal credit just to make ends meet. This month,

  • the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions admitted that universal credit is driving

  • people to food banks. Is it not time to stop the roll-out and get it right, or does the

  • Prime Minister believe that rising poverty is a price worth paying?

  • >> The Prime Minister: No. I am not sure whether the right hon. Gentleman is repeating his

  • previous question, but he talks about universal credit. We have made changes to it as we have

  • rolled it out as we have seen how it has been operating. In my first months as Prime Minister,

  • we cut the taper rate so that people could keep more of what they earn. Since then, we

  • have increased allowances to 100% of a full monthly payment, we have scrapped the seven

  • days' wait, meaning that people get their money sooner, and we have brought in a two-week

  • overlap for people on housing benefit. When we were making all those changes to universal

  • credit to benefit the people who receive it, why did the Labour party oppose every single

  • one of them? >> Jeremy Corbyn: Can I just give one example

  • of what is happening? Take the food bank in Hastings, which is represented by the Secretary

  • of State for Work and Pensions, where demand went up by 80% after universal credit was

  • rolled out, and the Trussell Trust said that a significant proportion of referrals are

  • related to benefit changes, delays or sanctions. It is a huge increase in food bank use. Some

  • 4.1 million of our children are growing up in poverty, and the Resolution Foundation

  • said last week that UK child poverty was on course to hit record levels. Will the Prime

  • Minister act to prevent that? Will she start by ending the two-child limit? Will she end

  • the benefit cap? Will she restore the 1,000 Sure Start centres that have been lost under

  • her Government? >> The Prime Minister: We want to ensure that

  • we have a welfare system that is fair not only to those who need to use it, but to all

  • the hard-working taxpayers whose taxes actually pay for the welfare system. The right hon.

  • Gentleman talks about child poverty, but absolute child poverty is at a record low. We know

  • that a child growing up in a home where all the adults work is around five times less

  • likely to be in poverty than a child in a home where nobody works. Under this Government,

  • the number of children in workless households is at a record low. So, when the right hon.

  • Gentleman stands up, will he recognise that work is the best route out of poverty and

  • welcome the fact that we now have more people in work than ever before—3.5 million more

  • than in 2010? >> Jeremy Corbyn: It clearly is not working,

  • because so many people who are themselves working very hard, some doing two or even

  • three jobs, have to access food banks just to feed their children. The Prime Minister

  • used to talk about thejust about managing.” Well, they are not managing anymore. Income

  • inequalityup. In-work povertyup. Child povertyup. Pensioner povertyup. Homelessnessup.

  • Austerity clearly is not over. People on low incomes are getting poorer, while those at

  • the top are getting richer. The economy is slowing, manufacturing is in recession and

  • this Government's shambolic handling of Brexit

  • >> Mr Speaker: Order. The right hon. Gentleman will not be shouted down. It is not going

  • to happen. The attempt is foolish and it demeans the House. Stop it. Grow up.

  • >> Jeremy Corbyn: Austerity clearly is not over. People on low incomes are getting poorer,

  • while those at the top get richer. The economy is slowing, manufacturing is in recession

  • and this Government's shambolic handling of Brexit is compounding years of damaging

  • austerity. Their policies are driving people to food banks and poverty in the fifth richest

  • economy on this planet. Are any of these burning injustices a priority for the Prime Minister?

  • >> The Prime Minister: Manufacturing is not in recession, and what the right hon. Gentleman

  • says about the lowest earners is not the case. If he had listened to my earlier answer, he

  • would know the lowest earners have seen the highest rise in their pay for 20 years as

  • a result of the introduction of the national living wagethe national living wage introduced

  • by a Conservative-led Government. If the right hon. Gentleman is talking about actually helping

  • people who are in work, let us talk about the fact that we have cut income tax to help

  • people to keep more of what they earn. We have frozen fuel duty to help people for whom

  • a car is a necessity, not a luxury. Since 2010, those measures have saved working people

  • £6,500. From the way the right hon. Gentleman talks, one might think that he would have

  • supported those measures. But what did he do? No, he voted against them over a dozen

  • times. That is the reality: it is working people who always pay the price of Labour.

  • >> Stephen Crabb (Preseli Pembrokeshire) (Con): For rural areas, access to emergency care

  • is hugely important, with distances and journey times crucial. Does the Prime Minister therefore

  • agree with me and the 40,000 Pembrokeshire people who signed the petition against proposals

  • to remove accident and emergency services from the local hospital that the Welsh Government

  • need to look again and ensure that communities such as mine are not left with second-class

  • services that put lives at risk? >> The Prime Minister: I thank my right hon.

  • Friend for raising this issue. Obviously I recognise the concern those people feel, particularly

  • those who live furthest away from the planned new hospital. As he says, health is a devolved

  • matter for the Labour Welsh Government, but I urge them to consider fully the impact of

  • the changes on local residents. We want to ensure that people can access the services

  • they need, wherever they live in the United Kingdom.

  • >> Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (SNP): I am sure the House will want to join

  • me in welcoming the president of the Dutch Senate and the Dutch parliamentarians who

  • are with us. Goedemiddag. Hartelijk welkom, dames en heren. Some 100,000 jobs in Scotland

  • are under threat from a no-deal Brexit. The Scottish Government's top economic adviser

  • has warned that it could create a recession worse than the 2008 financial crisis. The

  • Prime Minister must rule out no deal right here, right now. Why is she still blackmailing

  • the people of this country? >> The Prime Minister: The right hon. Gentleman

  • might not be surprised if I point out to him that there are only two ways to ensure that

  • no deal is taken off the table. [Interruption.] It is no good SNP Members shaking their heads

  • or muttering from a sedentary position. They need to face up to the fact that we will not

  • revoke article 50 because we are leaving the European Union, so the only way to take no

  • deal off the table is to vote for the deal. >> Ian Blackford: I think it will be for Parliament

  • to decide, and of course there are other options: we can extend article 50 and we can have a

  • people's vote. The Prime Minister should look at the faces of her colleagues; she is

  • fooling no one. Parliament will not be bullied into a false choice between accepting her

  • very bad deal or no deal at all. MPs from Scotland must now decide: will they stand

  • up for Scotland or will they stand up with the extreme Brexiteers on the Tory Benches?

  • Today, the Scottish National party will move an amendment to rule out no deal in any and

  • all circumstances. Scottish MPs can back the SNP or betray voters in Scotland. Will the

  • Prime Minister finally end this Brexit madness and vote for the SNP amendment tonight?

  • >> The Prime Minister: The right hon. Gentleman talks about an extension to article 50 or

  • a second referendum, but that does not solve the problemit does not deal with the issue.

  • The issue is very simple: do we want to leave with a deal or without a deal? That is the

  • question that SNP MPs and every other MP will face when the time comes. He then talks about

  • betraying voters in Scotland. I will tell him what has betrayed voters in Scotland:

  • an SNP Scottish Government who have raised income tax so that people in Scotland are

  • paying more in income tax than people anywhere else in the UK; an SNP Scottish Government

  • who have broken their manifesto promise and raised the cap on annual council tax increases

  • for homeowners; and an SNP Scottish Government under whom people are facing the prospect

  • of an extra tax for parking their car at their workplace. And all of that—[Interruption.]

  • >> Mr Speaker: Order. There is a fest of undignified arm-waving, and bellowing, Mr Kerr, from a

  • sedentary position. Calm yourself, man. Take some sort of soothing medicament that you

  • will find beneficial. >> The Prime Minister

  • And all of that in a year in which the Scottish Government's block grant from Westminster

  • went up. The people betraying the people of Scotland are the SNP Scottish Government.

  • >> James Cleverly (Braintree) (Con): Yesterday, we heard of the horrific antisemitic attack

  • on an elderly Jewish gentleman in north London. Tonight, right hon. and hon. colleagues from

  • across the House will be breaking bread with the Community Security Trust, a charity that

  • exists to defend against antisemitic violence. Does my right hon. Friend agree that we can

  • never be blasé about antisemitism, we can never be tolerant of antisemitism, and the

  • Labour party can never be too apologetic about antisemitism?

  • >> The Prime Minister: First, I join my hon. Friend in recognising the work done by the

  • Community Security Trust. It does such important and valuable work throughout the year, and

  • I am pleased that the Government are able to support the work it does. He is absolutely

  • right to say that one can never be too apologetic about antisemitism, but I think what we have

  • heard sums up Labour under its leader: it loses the hon. Member for Liverpool, Wavertree

  • (Luciana Berger) and it keeps the hon. Member for Derby North (Chris Williamson). That tells

  • us all we need to know about the Labour leadership: they are present but not involved. Perhaps

  • if the Labour leader actually wants to take action against racism, he would suspend the

  • hon. Member for Derby North. >> Layla Moran (Oxford West and Abingdon)

  • (LD) One homeless person dying—[Interruption.] >> Mr Speaker: Order. The hon. Lady must be

  • heard. >> Layla Moran: One homeless person dying

  • on our streets is enough for national shame, yet the latest figures show that in 2017 nearly

  • 600 died. In that same year, the Vagrancy Act 1824 was used more than 1,000 times to

  • drag homeless people before our courts. Crisis, Centrepoint, St Mungo's and MPs on both

  • sides of this House agree that it is time to scrap this law. Will the Prime Minister

  • consider meeting us and the charities so that we can make the case for why we should not

  • wait one more day? >> The Prime Minister: As I think I indicated

  • in Prime Minister's questions last week, the number of people sleeping on our streets

  • has gone down for the first time in eight years, but of course there is more to do.

  • On the wider issue of homelessness, there is more to do in terms of building more homes,

  • and we are doing that. I will ensure that the Minister from the relevant Department

  • meets the hon. Lady to discuss the matter. >> Robert Neill (Bromley and Chislehurst)

  • (Con): Residents of Northpoint House in Bromley in my constituency have aluminium composite

  • material cladding on their building. They are paying out £5,000 a week for a waking

  • watch, repairs and remediation will cost £3 million, and their fire brigade enforcement