B1 Intermediate UK 676 Folder Collection
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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 it—namely,
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 that—and 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 decade—down 5%
in the past quarter alone—and 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 right—there 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 the “just about managing.” Well, they are not managing anymore. Income
inequality—up. In-work poverty—up. Child poverty—up. Pensioner poverty—up. Homelessness—up.
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 wage—the 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 problem—it 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
notice expires on 30 April. The flats are valueless, so the residents cannot raise the
money against them. Despite personal intervention by the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities
and Local Government, for which I am grateful, the freeholders and the developer refuse to
accept liability. Under the circumstances, will the Government accept that it may be
necessary to intervene directly to ensure that the innocent flat-owners are not out
of pocket? >> The Prime Minister: My hon. Friend raises
a very important issue. I know that, as he said, he has been in touch with the Ministry
of Housing, Communities and Local Government, as well as the Treasury. As I have said previously,
we fully expect building owners in the private sector to take action, make sure appropriate
safety measures are in place, and not pass costs on to leaseholders. We have written
to all relevant building owners to remind them of their responsibilities. They must
do the right thing; if they do not, we are not ruling anything out. I should also point
out to my hon. Friend that local authorities have the power to complete works and recover
the costs from the private owners of high-rise residential buildings. I am sure that a Minister
from MHCLG would be happy to meet my hon. Friend to continue to discuss this matter,
to ensure that the residents are given the peace of mind they need by the action being
taken. >> Caroline Lucas (Brighton, Pavilion) (Green):
The Government have just decided that in the event of a no-deal Brexit, imports of medical
supplies are to be handled by the same company that forced hundreds of restaurants to close
because it was incapable of delivering chicken to Kentucky Fried Chicken. It is horrifying
that the Prime Minister's stubbornness is literally putting people's lives at risk
through bargain-bucket supply deals. What guarantee can she give patients who are watching
us now, looking at the pantomime and farce in this House, that they will be able to get
their vital medicines when they need them in the event of that no-deal Brexit?
>> The Prime Minister: The Department of Health and Social Care is taking the steps necessary
to ensure that medicines are available. We have been clear before that it is not necessary
to stockpile and that patients should not be stockpiling medicines. Medicines will be
available. If the hon. Lady is so concerned about the impact of no deal—
>> The Prime Minister: It is no good the hon. Lady shaking her head. There is a very simple
answer: if she does not want no deal, she should support the deal.
>> Robert Halfon (Harlow) (Con): Yesterday, The Sun newspaper reported on proposals for
a £1.6 billion post-EU fund for deprived areas in the north, predominantly in seats
held by Opposition MPs. Will my right hon. Friend ensure that money from the fund is
available to constituents like mine in Harlow, where we have significant deprivation and
disadvantage? >> The Prime Minister: We will be introducing
a fund to ensure that our towns can grow and prosper. The details will be announced in
due course by the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government. I can confirm
to my right hon. Friend that Harlow, and indeed other towns across England, will be able to
propose ambitious plans to help to transform their communities. Of course, we will work
with the devolved Administrations and in Northern Ireland to ensure that towns in Wales, Scotland
and Northern Ireland also benefit from town deals.
>> Sir David Crausby (Bolton North East) (Lab): As a former shop steward and works convenor,
I completely understand the need to approach the cliff edge in order to secure a deal,
but rational negotiators never go to the edge, hold hands and jump into the abyss. When will
the Prime Minister recognise that constructive discussions should take place without the
nuclear option of mutually assured destruction? >> The Prime Minister: Constructive discussions
are taking place. This House was clear on what it wanted to be changed in relation to
the withdrawal agreement and the deal that we had brought back from the European Union,
and we are making progress and having exactly the constructive discussions the hon. Gentleman
talks about. >> George Freeman (Mid Norfolk) (Con): Public
trust in politics is dangerously low. Failing to honour and deliver the EU referendum result
cannot be an option. I campaigned to remain, but I am 100% committed to leaving; the question
is how. Most of my voters in Mid Norfolk said that they wanted to be in the Common Market,
not a political union. Given the clear warnings from the life science and agriculture sectors—key
industries in Norfolk—about the danger of no deal, I welcome the Prime Minister's
decision to give this sovereign House the vote and ask that if the House votes against,
she will consider the European Free Trade Association instead of the backstop, giving
us the Common Market 2.0 that most British voters want.
>> The Prime Minister: As I said yesterday, in answer to a question from, I think, our
right hon. Friend the Member for Harlow (Robert Halfon), the first aim of the Government and
my first aim is to bring back a deal that can command support across the House in a
meaningful vote, such that we are able to leave with a deal. The arrangements within
the political declaration have significant benefits in relation to issues such as customs,
but they also provide for us to have an independent trade policy and to bring an end to free movement.
My hon. Friend talks about trust in politics, but I believe that those were important elements
of what people voted for in 2016 and it is important that we deliver on that.
>> Helen Hayes (Dulwich and West Norwood) (Lab): The Prime Minister previously committed
to a meaningful vote on her Brexit deal but had to be forced by the courts to hold it.
She then committed to that meaningful vote in December, but pulled it at the last minute.
When her deal fell to the worst Government defeat in history, instead of listening to
MPs, she carried on regardless, so I ask her: what guarantee, other than her word, will
she give this House that we will be able to vote to stop a no-deal Brexit before 29 March?
>> The Prime Minister: I set out clearly in my statement yesterday and I have repeated
it in answer to a question today, the process that the Government will follow. The Government
policy is to leave with a deal. We are working to ensure that we can bring back that deal.
The hon. Lady talks about the rejection of the meaningful vote and not listening to Parliament,
but the constructive discussions that I am having with the European Union at the moment
are exactly about listening to Parliament—[Interruption.] It is all very well the shadow Trade Secretary,
the hon. Member for Brent North (Barry Gardiner), shouting, “Nonsense!” He might not have
noticed that on 29 January this House voted by a majority to say what it wanted to be
changed in the withdrawal agreement, and that is what we are working on.
>> Sir John Hayes (South Holland and The Deepings) (Con): Little moves us more than the death
of a child and for bereaved parents that grief is beyond words. Action speaks louder, which
is why I have championed, inspired by the hon. Member for Swansea East (Carolyn Harris),
the Children's Funeral Fund. Will the Prime Minister tell us when the good work of her
Minister, my hon. Friend the Member for Charnwood (Edward Argar), will come to fruition and
the fund will begin to bring support and solace? We cannot mend broken hearts here, but those
who have loved and lost deserve better than delay and doubt.
>> The Prime Minister: I thank my right hon. Friend for his question and for the work that
he has done on this issue with the hon. Member for Swansea East. It is accepted across the
House that it is not right that grieving parents have to worry about how to meet the funeral
costs when they have lost a child. As he knows, we have confirmed that parents will no longer
have to meet the cost of burials or cremations. Fees will be waived by local authorities and
paid for by the Government. The relevant Ministries have been working on the most effective way
to deliver this, and I can confirm that the fund will be implemented by the summer.
>> Bambos Charalambous (Enfield, Southgate) (Lab): In the past few months in my constituency,
a 98-year-old man was killed in an aggravated burglary, an Asian couple were robbed, held
hostage and beaten in their home, schoolchildren were mugged at knifepoint, and a spate of
burglaries were committed across Enfield Southgate. My constituents do not feel safe. Does the
Prime Minister recognise the severe consequences of underfunding our police service, and will
she commit to restoring funding for community policing to pre-2010 levels?
>> The Prime Minister: Of course we recognise the concerns about serious violence, which
is why my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has brought forward measures such as the Offensive
Weapons Bill and set up the serious violence taskforce. In relation to funding for the
police, the Metropolitan police will receive up to £2.5 billion in funding in 2019-20,
which is an increase of up to £172 million on 2018-19. If the hon. Gentleman also wants
to ask questions about funding for police in London perhaps he should speak to the Labour
Mayor of London. >> Justine Greening (Putney) (Con): With the
Government's review of higher education still under way, does the Prime Minister agree
that the reintroduction of maintenance grants is one outcome that could clearly aid social
mobility for more disadvantaged students? >> The Prime Minister: I recognise that my
right hon. Friend has been, and continues to be, a huge champion for social mobility.
She is asking me to provide a solution to higher education funding and student finance
before the Augar report has been received and published. All I can do is assure her
that Philip Augar and his panel are working on the report and we will look seriously at
the proposals they bring forward. >> Mr Stephen Hepburn (Jarrow) (Lab): In my
constituency of Jarrow there is a wonderful young lady, four-year-old Harriet Corr, whose
life would improve dramatically if she had access to the cystic fibrosis drug Orkambi.
It is available in Ireland and many other European countries, and is due to become available
in Scotland. Will the Prime Minister intervene personally in the negotiations between the
NHS and Vertex to ensure that Harriet's family and many other families are not forced
to leave their homes and move elsewhere? >> The Prime Minister: I am sure the whole
House will recognise the concerns of Harriet and her family. We want to ensure that patients
have access to the most effective and innovative medicines, but obviously at a price that represents
value to the NHS. NHS England has proposed its best ever offer for a drug. This offer
is the largest ever commitment of its kind in the 70-year history of the NHS, and would
guarantee immediate and expanded access both to Orkambi and the drug Kalydeco for patients
who need it. We have been closely following the discussions, and the Secretary of State
for Health and Social Care has offered a meeting with the global chief executive officer of
Vertex, NHS England and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence in an effort
to move the situation forward for the benefit of patients.
>> Mr John Whittingdale (Maldon) (Con): Is my right hon. Friend aware that five years
ago today Russian special forces seized the Government building in Crimea and raised the
Russian flag? Will she confirm that the UK Government remain committed to the restoration
of Ukrainian sovereignty over Crimea, and will she look at strengthening sanctions against
Russia until that can be achieved? >> The Prime Minister: I am happy to give
my right hon. Friend that confirmation. This was an illegal annexation of Crimea by Russia,
and we have been doing everything we can to ensure that the appropriate sanctions are
imposed that will have an impact. We have been one of the voices around the EU Council
table that has been advocating the roll-over of sanctions at every stage and ensuring that,
as we look at the actions of Russia here and elsewhere, we enhance those sanctions and
rightfully put pressure on those who are responsible. >> Angela Crawley (Lanark and Hamilton East)
(SNP): The Scottish Government have used their powers to increase carer's allowance to
the level of jobseeker's allowance, yet this top-up is being undermined because carer's
allowance is regarded as income under universal credit. If carer's allowance is meant to
help cover the extra costs incurred by providing care, why are carers on universal credit being
penalised? >> The Prime Minister: The hon. Lady knows
full way the way in which universal credit operates to encourage people into work, but
I will ask the Minister in the relevant Department to write to her on this matter.
>> Rebecca Pow (Taunton Deane) (Con): Thousands of young girls—including, sadly, some from
Taunton Deane—are purchasing so-called quick-fix diet and detox products that are often endorsed
by celebrities on social media, something for which these celebrities can be paid thousands
of pounds. NHS chiefs say that some of these products can have highly detrimental health
effects and are heaping work on our mental health services. In Eating Disorders Awareness
Week, and following this morning's excellent Westminster Hall debate secured by my hon.
Friend the Member for Angus (Kirstene Hair), will the Prime Minister agree that the irresponsible
and unsafe endorsement of such products should be addressed?
>> The Prime Minister: My hon. Friend raises an important issue. I am sure that all Members
have had constituency cases where they have seen the devastating impact that eating disorders
can have on individuals, and on their families and friends. The Government have been taking
steps over the past few years. In 2014 we announced that we were investing £150 million
to expand eating disorder community-based care for children and young people, and 70
dedicated new or extended community services offer care as a result. As my hon. Friend
said, young people may be encouraged to take products because of celebrity endorsement.
The celebrities involved should think very carefully about the impact that these products
can have in effecting eating disorders, which devastate lives.
>> Nigel Dodds (Belfast North) (DUP): The Prime Minister, and indeed the entire House,
knows the conditions under which her withdrawal agreement will have a majority. The whole
House, and indeed the country, now knows that as a result of yesterday's events the prospects
of the Prime Minister being able to achieve the necessary changes have been undermined
and her negotiating position has been weakened. That is the reality of the situation. Can
we have an assurance, in terms of any possible extension—and I would be interested to know
what the Prime Minister thinks the purpose of the extension would be—that she will
continue to focus on getting those legally binding changes? Hopefully, during any future
negotiations, she will not be undermined in the way that she has been so far.
>> The Prime Minister: First of all, we are continuing to press for those legally binding
changes. Those are the discussions we have been having with the European Commission.
It is what I have spoken to every European Union leader about over the last 10 days or
so. It is what I was speaking to people about at Sharm El Sheikh over the weekend as well.
The right hon. Gentleman talks about the extension to article 50. Can I be very clear again?
The Government do not want to extend article 50. The Government's policy is to get the
legally binding changes so a deal can be brought back to this House, and this House can support
the deal, and we can leave on 29 March with a deal.
>> Mrs Anne Main (St Albans) (Con): Unlike some Ministers who cannot normally take the
view that the Prime Minister's word is binding, I do take the Prime Minister's word as being
binding. Can I ask that she reiterates our manifesto commitment to leave with a deal
or to leave with no deal, and that is our commitment?
>> The Prime Minister: Indeed, I have always said that no deal is better than a bad deal.
I think we have actually got a good deal from the European Union. It provides for citizens'
rights; it provides certainty for business with the implementation period; it ensures
that we have, in the political declaration, the arrangements for customs in the future—for
no tariffs, no quotas and no rules of origin; and it covers a number of other areas that
I think will indeed be positive for this country. There is an issue that the House wants to
see changed. That is what we are working on in relation to the Northern Ireland backstop.
I want us to leave with a deal. I want to be able to bring back a deal that this House
can support. >> Ms Marie Rimmer (St Helens South and Whiston)
(Lab): Violet Grace Youens was walking home from nursery with her grandma on 24 March
2017. She was hit by a stolen car driven erratically and at 83 mph in a 30 mph zone. The driver
and accomplice immediately left the scene, and the driver absconded from the country.
Tragically, four-year-old Violet Grace died in her parents' arms the following day and
her grandma suffers with life-changing injuries. The offenders have since been sentenced to
tariffs that do not fit the gravity of the crimes. In October 2017, the Government published
a response to the consultation on driving offences and penalties relating to causing
death or serious injury. They confirmed proposals to increase the maximum penalty for causing
death by dangerous driving from 14 years' imprisonment to life, along with other tariffs
for serious driving offences, and stated that Government would bring forward proposals for
reform of the law as soon as parliamentary time allows. Today, after just one week, the
public petition “Violet Grace's Law” stands at more than 74,000 signatures. The
Government are repeating the same response— >> Mr Speaker: Order. This is a matter of
the utmost sensitivity. I respect that, and that is why I am allowing the hon. Lady to
go way beyond the normal length, but she must now put a question with a question mark—one
sentence to wrap it up very well. Thank you. >> Ms Rimmer: Prime Minister, when do the
Government truly intend to bring forward the changes for the reform of the law?
>> The Prime Minister: First of all, I am sure that the feelings of the whole House
will be with Violet Grace's family that this terrible tragedy has occurred. I know
from a constituency case that I had the concern that parents, family members and others have
when they see somebody who has caused a death in this way by their driving being sentenced
to a tariff which they feel is less than it should be. The Government have taken this
very seriously—that is why we have had the consultation—and we will indeed bring forward
our proposals when parliamentary time does allow. But I will ask a Minister from the
Department for Transport to meet the hon. Lady to discuss this matter with her.
>> Mr Peter Bone (Wellingborough) (Con): Mr Speaker, I do not know whether you were as
surprised as I was yesterday that, yet again, the media had verbatim reports of the Cabinet
meeting straight after it. In fact, there were references to colleagues in front of
me as kamikaze pilots. Prime Minister, to sort this issue out, would it not just be
easier to televise Cabinet meetings? [Laughter.] >> Mr Speaker: I want to hear the Prime Minister's
answer. This is a very important question. >> The Prime Minister: Mr Speaker, when you
did a thumbs-up after that question, I was not sure whether that indicated that you had
a view on the televising of Cabinet meetings. My hon. Friend has tried to approach that
issue in various ways. I seem to remember that last time he asked me about this, it
was not about televising Cabinet but sending his CV in to be a Cabinet Minister. Perhaps
these are linked—perhaps he wants to sit round the Cabinet table and be on television
all the time. >> Mr Speaker: Well, we never knew that the
hon. Member for Wellingborough (Mr Bone) had such ambitions, but maybe it lurks within
him—who knows? For my own part, I was merely acknowledging welcome and friendly visitors
to the House.
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Prime Minister's Questions: 27 February 2019 - Brexit, public spending, homelessness and more...

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frank published on March 14, 2019
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