Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.Donate to our crowdfunder
I know the whole House will join me in sending our profound sympathies to the family and friends of the 49 people who died in the horrific attack in Orlando on Sunday. This was an evil attack of terrorism and homophobic hatred, and we utterly condemn both of them. This attack, along with the callous murder of a French police couple on Monday, is a stark reminder of the challenge we face to defeat the poisonous ideology of Daesh, both online and on our streets, but I believe that, together—with our friends, with our allies and with our common values—we will prevail.
This morning I had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others, and in addition to my duties in this House, I shall have further such meetings later today.
I share the sentiments and sympathies the Prime Minister expressed to the victims and their families and friends in Orlando.
The Australian parent company of Sealite United Kingdom Ltd see Europe as a major market for expansion, but it has put on hold its plans to build a factory in the enterprise zone at the South Lowestoft industrial estate. Lowestoft has enormous potential as a centre serving the European maritime market, but does the Prime Minister share my concern that this opportunity would unnecessarily be placed at risk if the UK leaves the EU?
I certainly share my hon. Friend’s concern. I well remember visiting his constituency and seeing what a thriving business location Lowestoft is. He is right that many companies come to Britain and invest in Britain for many reasons, but one of the most important is access to the single market of 500 million customers. Next week we have the opportunity to put our place in that single market beyond doubt, and I hope that we wake up on
I concur and join with the Prime Minister in his remarks about the terrible deaths in Orlando. On Monday I joined a vigil of thousands of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Soho, in London, to mourn the deaths of those 49 people. We say thank you to all those all over this country who attended vigils on Monday night to show their concern and their horror about what happened. Quite simply, we defeat such atrocities through our love and solidarity, and we need to send that message out.
Three years ago, there was a cross-party agreement for the implementation of section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013 and to proceed with Leveson 2 once criminal prosecutions were concluded. The Prime Minister will be aware that, today, there is a lobby of Parliament by the victims of phone hacking. He said a few years ago that
“we all did too much cosying up to Rupert Murdoch”.
Well, some of his Tory Brexit colleagues are certainly cosying up to Rupert Murdoch at the moment, but will he give a commitment today that he will meet the victims of press intrusion and assure them that he will keep his promise on this?
First, let me echo what the right hon. Gentleman said about the Orlando bombings. In terms of the Leveson issue, we said that we would make a decision about the second stage of this inquiry once the criminal investigations and prosecutions were out of the way. They are still continuing, so that is the situation there. I have met victims of press intrusion, and I am happy to do so again. Right now, people can accuse me of many things, but I think that cosying up to Rupert Murdoch probably is not one of them.
My question was, “Will the Prime Minister meet the victims of phone hacking?” I hope he will, because they deserve it, and he promised that he would.
A major funder of the leave campaign has said:
“If it were up to me, I’d privatise the NHS.”
Boris Johnson has said:
“If people have to pay for”
“they will value them more.”
Both he and Michael Gove are members of a Government who have put the NHS into record deficit. These people are now masquerading as the saviours of the NHS—wolves in sheep’s clothing. Did not Dr Wollaston get it right when she rejected the duplicity of this argument in the leave campaign and decided to join the remain campaign?
I was delighted with what my hon. Friend Dr Wollaston said about changing her mind, which is a brave thing for politicians to do, and saying that she thought that the NHS would be safer if we remained inside a reformed European Union. I believe that very profoundly, because the key to a strong NHS is a strong economy. I think there cannot be any doubt, with nine out of 10 economists, the Governor of the Bank of England, the International Monetary Fund, the OECD and all these other organisations saying that our economy will be stronger, and it is a strong economy that delivers a strong NHS.
Last week, the Prime Minister gave a welcome commitment to the closing of the loophole in the posting of workers directive. We will hold him to that, but we are concerned about the exploitation of migrant workers and the undercutting of wages in this country as a result. On that issue, will he today commit to the outlawing of the practice of agencies that only advertise abroad for jobs that are, in reality, jobs in this country?
First of all, the right hon. Gentleman and I absolutely agree about the evils of modern slavery. That is why this Government passed the Modern Slavery Act 2015, with all-party support. We have doubled the fines that can be put on companies for exploiting labour in this way. We have strengthened the Gangmasters Licensing Authority, which has commenced and carried out a number of prosecutions, including in the east of England, where I was yesterday. We will continue to take action on every level to make sure that people are paid the wages that they should be paid and that protections are there on the minimum wage, and now on the national living wage. All those measures are vitally important, and we will continue with all of them. I want people to get a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.
My question was about outlawing the practice of advertising by agencies only in other countries.
Tens of thousands of EU migrants work in our public services and do a fantastic job. Many people in Britain, also, are concerned about the impact of immigration on their local communities. Surely what communities need is practical solutions such as the migrant impact fund set up Gordon Brown when he was Prime Minister to deal with extra pressure on housing, schools, and hospitals. Will the Prime Minister now concede that it was a mistake to abolish that fund, and will he work with us to reinstate it as a matter of urgency to give support to those communities that are facing problems with school places and doctors’ surgeries?
The right hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. In answer to the question about employment agencies that only advertise for overseas workers, we are looking at that to see—we have announced this already—if we can ban that practice, because we do not believe it is right. Of course, the answer to so many of these questions is to make sure that we are training, educating and employing British people and getting them the qualifications they need to take on the jobs that our economy is creating. Today’s unemployment figures are another reminder of that.
In terms of funds to help communities impacted by migration, we have a pledge in our manifesto that we are looking forward to bringing forward, which is a controlled migration fund to make sure that we put money into communities where there are pressures. Of course there are some pressures and we do need to address them, and I am happy that we will be able to work on a cross-party basis to do that. As I have said many times, there are good ways of controlling migration, and one of them is the important rules we are bringing in so that people do not get instant access to our welfare system, but there are bad ways of controlling immigration, and leaving the single market and wrecking our economy is certainly one of them.
Today a flotilla of boats is due to come along the Thames campaigning on fishing quotas not going to the domestic UK fleet. I have been looking out of the window and I have not seen them come yet, but presumably they are on their way. The Prime Minister will be very well aware that reforms that were made three years ago actually put the power back into the hands of member states, and it is the UK Government who have given nearly two thirds of English and Welsh fishing quotas to three companies, thus excluding the small fishing communities along our coasts. Will the Prime Minister stop blaming Brussels on this and tell our small-scale and sustainable fishing communities what action he will take to allow them to continue their work, and indeed go further out in collecting fish?
First, I thank the right hon. Gentleman for speaking about the reforms we carried through in the last Parliament; my hon. Friend Richard Benyon was absolutely crucial in delivering those changes. We have seen in the last five years an increase in the value of the UK fishing industry of something like 20%.
The point I would make is that we export every year about £1 billion-worth of fish to the EU. No country in the world has a trade agreement with the EU that does not involve tariffs—taxes—on the sale of its fish, so there is no way we would get a better deal from the outside than the deal we get on the inside. Working with our fishing communities, working with our fishermen, keeping that market open and making sure that we manage our fish stocks locally and appropriately are very much part of our plan.
The Prime Minister’s Government still did hand quotas over to three very large companies at the expense of small communities around Britain. I hope that he will reflect on that.
With just eight days to go before the referendum, the Labour position is that we are going to be voting to remain because we believe it is the best way to protect families, protect jobs and protect public services. We would oppose any post-Brexit austerity Budget, just as we have opposed each austerity Budget put forward by this Government. Will the Prime Minister take this opportunity to condemn the opportunism of 57 of his colleagues who are pro-leave—these are Members who backed the bedroom tax, backed cutting disability benefits and backed slashing care for the elderly—who have suddenly had a Damascene conversion to the anti-austerity movement? Does he have any message for them at all?
There are very few times when the right hon. Gentleman and I are on the same side of an argument. For people watching at home, when the leader of the Labour party—and, indeed, almost all the Labour party—a Conservative Government, the Liberal Democrats, the Greens, the official Ulster Unionists and the Scottish National party all say, “We have huge disagreements, but on this vital issue for the future of our country, the best option for Britain is to vote to remain in a reformed European Union,” that really says something.
The truth is this. This is a huge choice for our country, and choices have consequences. If we wake up on
Having recently undertaken a real ale tour of some my constituency’s finest public houses, and having sampled some of the finest ales that anyone is likely to taste —many of them brewed locally in Derby North, which is recognised as the real ale capital of the UK—may I ask the Prime Minister to join me in acknowledging the virtues and massive benefits to local economies from small and medium-sized breweries up and down the country?
I am happy to agree with my hon. Friend. Having spent last week at Shepherd Neame in Kent, and having spent yesterday at Greene King in Bury St Edmunds, I agree with her that a large quantity of real ale is one of the best ways to get through this gruelling referendum campaign, and I would recommend it to everybody. The British beer industry is in good health because of the duty cuts made by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor. Because of the micro-brewers tax regime, we have a lot of craft ale coming through in our country. It is an industry in a good state. The brewers that I am talking to and going to see want the single market open and they want us to remain in.
We are now only a week away from the biggest question that the UK has faced in a long time—continuing membership of the European Union. Exports of goods and services from the Scottish economy are massively important: hundreds of thousands of jobs depend on them. Meanwhile, our public services, including the NHS, are supported by many hard-working people from elsewhere in the European Union. Does the Prime Minister agree with me that if we want to protect jobs and if we want to protect our public services, we must vote to remain in the European Union?
I believe that the most important argument—there are many arguments people make, but the most important—is about the future of our economy. It seems obvious to me: you can listen to the experts, or you can just make a common-sense argument. Today, we have full access to a market of 500 million people. For an economy such as Scotland’s, which is such a big exporting economy, there is no way we would get a better deal on the outside of the single market than we get on the inside, so if we left we would see our economy suffer, we would see jobs suffer and we would see people’s livelihoods suffer. That is just plain common sense. I absolutely agree with the right hon. Gentleman that for jobs and for livelihoods, we should remain in. There is a consequence for the public finances, because if our economy is doing less well, our public finances would be doing less well, and that would have consequences for Scotland, too.
May I raise that issue with the Prime Minister? Today, we have learned from a Conservative Chancellor of the Exchequer and a former Labour Chancellor of the Exchequer that there would likely be £30 billion of cuts to public services or tax rises were there to be a Brexit vote. What impact would that have on public services in Scotland? Please can we learn now, before we vote, what impact that would have on the budget in Scotland, which pays for the NHS in Scotland, for our schools in Scotland, for local government and for all key public services? Is that not yet another reason why we must vote to remain in the European Union?
These figures are not based on what the Chancellor of the Exchequer is saying; they are based on what the Institute for Fiscal Studies and the National Institute of Economic and Social Research are saying. They are talking about a £20 billion to £40 billion hole in our public finances if Brexit were to go ahead. Those organisations are often quoted across this House—many times against the Government—because they are respected for their independence. Clearly, if that is the impact on the public finances, decisions to cut public spending in the UK Budget do have an impact, through Barnett, on Scotland. To anyone who says, “Well, these warnings could of course be wrong, or they could be inaccurate”, I would make the point—it is perhaps an uncomfortable one for the right hon. Gentleman—that there were of course warnings about the oil price before the Scottish referendum, and it turned out actually to be worse than the experts warned.
Since the terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels, many of my constituents are worried that remaining in the EU increases the risk of terrorism, fears exacerbated by the disgraceful comments of people such as Nigel Farage. Does my right hon. Friend agree with me that our security services are helped, not hindered, by the EU?
I would say very directly to my hon. Friend that I have done this job for six years and, working with the Home Secretary, I have seen how closely our intelligence and security services work with other services around the world. Of course we keep ourselves safe by investing in anti-terrorism policing and of course we keep ourselves safe by the way we work with the Americans and the “Five Eyes” partnership, but I am in no doubt that the increasing extent of information exchange and intelligence exchange that takes place through the European Union is of direct benefit to our country.
It is not just that you need a border; you also need information and intelligence to police that border properly. We are now seeing an enormous amount of exchange about criminal records, terrorist records and passenger name records. Of course, outside the EU, we could try to negotiate our way back into some of those agreements, but right now we are in them, we are driving them and we are making them keep people safe in our country.
Knowsley is expecting to receive £10 million in EU funding over the next three years. EU funding has helped attract businesses to the borough, including QVC, which created 2,500 jobs. Is it not the case that that important funding from the EU could be lost if we vote next week to leave the European Union?
The right hon. Gentleman makes an important point. If we look at all the independent economic reports, they say very clearly that there is no financial saving from leaving the EU. The Institute for Fiscal Studies put it like this:
“we conclude that leaving the EU would not…leave more money to spend on the NHS. Rather it would leave us spending less on public services, or taxing more, or borrowing more.”
I would argue that there is a big dividend from remaining inside the EU, which we would start to feel next Friday, as companies would be able to see that Britain had made a decision, and the job creators, wealth creators and international investors would know that Britain meant business and would invest in our country. There is no saving from leaving. That is what the experts agree.
My hon. Friend is right that the most important thing we can do for parents in our country is help them to get a job, earn a living and provide for their family. In our life chances strategy, measuring worklessness and school attainment will be really important in helping to ensure that we continue to lift children out of poverty.
Thomas and Elke Westen live and run their businesses in Kirkcaldy, but, as Germans, they are denied a vote next week. They are hurt by the portrayal of immigrants in the EU debate. They leave for France on Sunday, and are considering leaving permanently if we exit the EU. Will the Prime Minister join my call for them and others in a similar situation to stay, as they are highly valued?
Of course, there are many people who come to our country, work hard, make a contribution and help to build our communities. It is important to get the numbers into some sort of perspective. I think 5% of our population are EU nationals—Italians, Germans, Poles, Spaniards and the rest of it—so if you stop 100 people in the street, only five will be EU nationals. It is just as the hon. Gentleman said. Look at our NHS—there are 50,000 EU nationals working as doctors, nurses and care assistants. Look at our care homes—there are 60,000 EU nationals helping to look after our elderly relatives with dementia and other conditions as they come towards the end of their lives. Yes, we need to make sure that people who come here work and make a contribution, but we should celebrate the contribution they make.
The last year for which EU migration was in balance—that is between the number of EU and British nationals leaving our shores to work in Europe and the number of EU nationals coming to live and work here—was as recently as 2008. Yes, we need to do more to control migration from outside the EU, and we are doing so, with the closure of bogus colleges and other measures. We are also doing more inside the EU, not least by saying that if people who come here do not get a job after six months, they have to leave, and that if they work, they have to contribute for four years before getting full access to the welfare system. Those are big changes. They are also sensible ways of controlling immigration. A non-sensible way would be pulling out of the single market, damaging jobs and our economy, and so having to explain to our constituents why we have a self-imposed recession.
Many in my constituency of Swansea East are already struggling to make ends meet. The World Trade Organisation says that if we leave the EU we could face major tariffs on trade, and would have to renegotiate more than 160 trade agreements. Does the Prime Minister agree that leaving the EU would hit hard-working families the most by raising the cost of living, and that it is too big a risk to take?
The hon. Lady is right. It is always the poorest and those with the least who get hit hardest if an economy suffers a recession. There are two ways in which the cost of living could be impacted. She is absolutely right that if we leave the single market and go to World Trade Organisation rules, tariffs will be imposed on the goods we sell to Europe, which would make us suffer. Also, if the pound falls, as many independent experts forecast, the cost of living rises, the cost of the family shop rises and the cost of the family holiday rises. She is right that it is not worth the risk. We should not risk it—we should keep our country safe.
Following the Chancellor’s welcome announcement about the launch of the new Thames estuary 2050 growth commission, will the Prime Minister outline his hopes for how the commission’s focus will deliver the much-needed infrastructure and economic development that will allow north Kent to prosper, including in my wonderful constituency of Rochester and Strood?
Whenever I get a question from my hon. Friend, I remember how grateful I am that she is representing Rochester and Strood—happy days. For the 2050 growth commission, the key areas are skills and infrastructure. A serious amount of money is being committed to that infrastructure, and we need to look at things, including the lower Thames crossing, to ensure that the economy of that region makes the most of its potential.
Some 2,500 people are employed in the ceramics industry in my constituency. Their jobs are dependent on EU trade, their rights are protected by the EU social charter, and their town centres have been rebuilt with EU funds. With his friends in the leave campaign producing more spin than a potter’s wheel, does the Prime Minister share my fears that despite Europe’s flaws, a Brexit vote could leave us picking up the pieces of a broken economy for years to come?
I will nick that soundbite—it’s a good one. The hon. Lady is right. If we leave the single market and the European Union, the Council President has said clearly that that process probably takes two years, and after that we will have to negotiate a trade deal with the European Union. If that trade deal is like Canada’s, it could take seven years. We are looking at a decade of uncertainty for our economy.
On the ceramics industry, I am advised by my Parliamentary Private Secretary, who before coming to this House did a worthwhile job of working in that industry—[Interruption.] He may not be spinning pots any more, but he is spinning for me very effectively. Last year we exported £38 million in porcelain and china to the EU. If we were outside the EU without a trade deal and had World Trade Organisation tariffs, there would be a 12% tax. I do not want us to hit British manufacturers, car makers and aeroplane makers. We should be investing in and supporting those industries, not making their situation more difficult, which Brexit would undoubtedly do.
Thirty years ago when I was just a little lad—[ “Aah”] Thirty years ago, my parents quit their jobs and founded a small manufacturing business around our kitchen table. Today, British manufacturers—particularly small businesses—are worried because if we leave the European Union, they will continue to make their products to common European standards because they value the free market. They value the single market and want to export, but they are aware that the United Kingdom will have no say whatsoever in the formulation of those standards, and their competitive advantage will be destroyed. What advice does my right hon. Friend have for my parents, for small businesses, and for the millions of jobs that depend on them across the country?
I had always assumed that my hon. Friend was under 30, so I am shocked to get that news. He makes an important point. If we were to leave the EU, we would lose the seat around the table that sets the rules of the single market. Of course sometimes those rules can be annoying or burdensome, but at the end of the day those are the rules we have to meet. If we leave and have no say over those rules, we do not gain control, we lose it. That is a crucial argument, and it is why the majority of small businesses—as well as a very large majority of larger businesses—back staying in the EU.
I assure the Prime Minister that the SDLP is fully behind him in his efforts to secure a remain vote. The Brexit campaigners have made securing our borders their resounding war cry, but when it comes to the only land border between the UK and the rest of the EU we are dismissed and told that nothing will change there. A return to customs posts, passport checks and a hard border will be a critical economic issue for Northern Ireland’s voters in eight days’ time. Will the Prime Minister now, once and for all, clarify this point and tell the people of Northern Ireland what will become of the border if the UK votes to leave the European Union?
I thank the hon. Gentleman for his remarks about the Orlando shootings.
If we vote to stay in, we know what the situation is: we know that the common travel area works, we know it can continue and everyone can have confidence in that. If we were to leave—the leave campaigners want to make a big issue about our borders—we will have a land border between Britain outside the European Union and the Republic of Ireland inside the European Union. Therefore, you can only have new border controls between the Republic and Northern Ireland or, which I would regret hugely, you would have to have some sort of checks on people as they left Belfast or other parts of Northern Ireland to come to the rest of the United Kingdom. We can avoid these risks. There are so many risks here: risks to our children’s jobs, risks to our economic future, risks to our borders, risks to the unity of the United Kingdom. I say: avoid the risks and vote remain next Thursday.
I am very grateful for my hon. Friend’s hard work. What I would say is that, even if those people in our schools are not able to vote, this will affect their futures. I hope that, after being inspired by my hon. Friend, they will talk to their parents and their grandparents about wanting to grow up in a country with opportunity, and we are bound to have more opportunities if we remain in a reformed European Union with 27 other countries. I also think it goes to a point about what sort of country we want our children to grow up in; not just one of economic and job opportunities, but one where our country is able to effect change and get things done in the world. We do not diminish ourselves inside a European Union; we enhance the power of Britain and the greatness of our country.
Approximately 11,000 of Marks & Spencer’s most loyal employees, many with over 14 years’ service, are about to get a serious pay cut. Cuts to Sunday pay, bank holiday pay and antisocial hours pay, all made on the back of the national living wage, mean they will take home less next year than they do this year, with some losing up to £2,000. This is not just any pay cut, this is a big fat Marks & Spencer’s pay cut. Does the Prime Minister agree with his Chancellor that cutting take-home pay at M&S or anywhere else on the back of the national living wage is wrong? If so, will he move to close the loopholes that make this possible?
Obviously, we want to see the national living wage feeding through into people having higher take-home pay, not lower take-home pay. We urge all companies to make sure that that is the case. I have not seen the information about Marks & Spencer, but it knows, like any retailer, that it needs to attract, retain and motivate the staff they have. It is absolutely crucial in retail, particularly with all the competition online, that it continues to do that, and it will not do that if it cuts people’s pay.
As I said at the CBI, of course Britain can survive outside the EU—no one is questioning that. The question is: how are we going to do best? How are we going to create the most jobs and investment, how are we going to have the most opportunities for our children, how are we going to wield the greatest power in the world, how are we going to get things done? On all those issues—stronger, safer, better off—the arguments are on the remain side.
I associate myself and my party across the country with the Prime Minister’s remarks about the killings in France and the brutal homophobic murders in Florida. The killer and his vicious homophobic act do not speak for Islam.
The wealthy elite fuelling the leave campaign will be unharmed by the inevitable hike in interest rates that will follow Britain’s exit from the EU and the decline in sterling. The rate rise will, however, hit millions of ordinary British people. It will cause people to lose their homes through repossession and push low-income people further into crippling debt. Will he advise his Tory Brexit colleagues that there is a long-term economic plan on offer—one that can help hard-working families not to suffer—and it is to vote remain next Thursday?
The hon. Gentleman and I are often on opposing sides of arguments, but it says volumes about the breadth of the campaign to remain in a reformed EU that we have the Liberal Democrats as well as the Labour party, the Greens, the trade unions, business, voluntary bodies and so many others all coming from different perspectives but—crucially—all saying that our economy will be better off, and therefore families and our country will be better off, if we remain in. He is absolutely right about interest rates. The last thing that homeowners and homebuyers need—the last thing our country needs—is a hike in interest rates damaging our economy. I am glad he supports a long-term economic plan. Such a plan should include our remaining in a reformed EU.
I congratulate my right hon. Friend on honouring our manifesto pledge and delivering this historic referendum. Unfortunately, however, we have heard some hysterical scaremongering during the debate, and there are those in this House and the other place who believe that if the British people decide to leave the EU, there should be a second referendum. Will he assure the House and the country that, whatever the result on 24 June, his Government will carry out the wishes of the British people—if the vote is to remain, we remain, but if it is to leave, which I hope it is, we leave?
I am very happy to agree with my hon. Friend. “In” means we remain in a reformed EU; “out” means we come out. As the leave campaigners and others have said, “out” means out of the EU, out of the European single market, out of the Council of Ministers—out of all those things—and will then mean a process of delivering on it, which will take at least two years, and then delivering a trade deal, which could take as many as seven years. To anyone still in doubt—there are even Members in the House still thinking about how to vote—I would say: if you have not made up your mind yet, if you are still uncertain, just think about that decade of uncertainty for our economy and everything else, don’t risk it and vote remain.
I understand that this is a very busy accident and emergency unit: it received more than 13,600 patients through its doors in April alone. It manages, however, to carry out 40,000 operations and more than 62,000 diagnostic tests every year, and since 2010 the trust has recruited 120 more doctors and 280 more nurses, but the Health Secretary will continue to monitor the matter closely. This brings us back, however, to the core argument today: if we remain in, we will have a stronger economy, and then, yes, we will have to take the proceeds of that growth and continue to put them into the NHS, as I have always done as Prime Minister.
We will be strapped for cash, if we believe the Institute for Fiscal Studies or the National Institute of Economic and Social Research—both impeccably independent—who say that there would be a hole in our public finances of between £20 billion and £40 billion. You do not have to be an economic expert to see this: if the economy shrinks, and there are fewer jobs and lower wages, there will be less in tax receipts. If there is less in tax receipts, we will clearly need to make cuts, put up taxes or increase borrowing. It is a simple matter of mathematics. There is an easy way to avoid that situation—vote to stay in a reformed European Union next Thursday.