Engagements

Oral Answers to Questions — Prime Minister – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 13th September 2017.

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Photo of Louise Haigh Louise Haigh Shadow Minister (Home Office) (Policing) 12:00 am, 13th September 2017

Crime involving mopeds and bikes has soared across the country in recent years. Given that yesterday’s unfunded real-terms pay cut to the police will actually cost us more frontline officers, may I suggest to the Prime Minister that the very least she can do is to change the law to protect police officers if they are driving according to their training and experience when pursuing people and responding to blue-light situations, and send a message from this House that no force should be operating a blanket no-pursuit policy? The police protect us every day. Is it not high time that the Prime Minister protected them?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister

First, I agree that there should not be blanket no-pursuit policies in place, but obviously each chief constable will make operational decisions for their own force.

The first issue that the hon. Lady raised—crimes relating to mopeds in particular—has been recognised. She says that this is an issue of funding. It is not an issue of funding; it is an issue of how we respond to those crimes. I am pleased to say that my hon. Friend the Policing Minister held a roundtable on exactly this issue yesterday to look at how we can ensure that the police are responding fully to it.

Photo of David Morris David Morris Conservative, Morecambe and Lunesdale

I would like to thank the Prime Minister, because she put me in touch with her powerhouse Minister and we are now looking at getting an enterprise zone in Heysham in my constituency. Ever having a big wishlist, however, may I ask the Prime Minister whether she can help me in any way possible with my ongoing campaign to get the third nuclear power station in Heysham—the tentatively named Heysham 3—built more quickly?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister

Once again, my hon. Friend is campaigning tirelessly for his constituency. I welcome his efforts across a number of issues which he referred to. We do need affordable, clean energy to keep the lights on in the decades ahead, and he is absolutely right that nuclear energy is an important part of our energy mix. In regard to the particular site, I believe there is land next to the existing Heysham nuclear power station, which is one of the eight sites in the UK that has been designated for new nuclear build.

Photo of Hannah Bardell Hannah Bardell Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Trade and Investment)

The House and the Prime Minister will remember the case of my constituent, Lola Ilesamni, whose daughter is under threat of female genital mutilation from Lola’s abusive ex-partner. I want to thank “Channel 4 News” and Cathy Newman for breaking the story, and the Prime Minister for intervening and granting an 18-month reprieve. Lola now has a temporary right to work, but no recourse to public funds if she cannot find a job. That wee girl and her family need long-term certainty. Will the Prime Minister look again at that case and allow Lola and her family to stay in Livingston in the long term?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister

The hon. Lady is right. She has raised that case before, and I understand that the Immigration Minister was in touch with her. I can confirm that, following a comprehensive and rigorous review, Ms Ilesamni has now been granted leave to remain in the United Kingdom, as the hon. Lady set out.

I want to say something about the issue of female genital mutilation, which the hon. Lady raised. She talked about her concern about the threat that Lola’s daughter might be facing. FGM is an absolutely abhorrent crime. The Government have done a lot to deal with it, but we cannot tolerate that practice. Our work to tackle FGM is an integral part of our strategy on violence against women and girls, which we published in March last year. We all accept that we need to do more to ensure that young girls are not subject to this horrific abuse.

Photo of Kelly Tolhurst Kelly Tolhurst Conservative, Rochester and Strood

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the Labour party’s cynical attempt to block the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill on Monday shows that it is still interested only in playing party politics, rather than delivering the best deal for our future, which is what my constituents and the majority of this country want to see?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Most people in this country want to see the Government doing what we are doing, which is getting on with the job of delivering the best deal for Britain from Brexit. There was a certain amount of noise from the Opposition when I said earlier that the Leader of the Opposition let workers down by failing to protect their rights on Monday, but that is exactly one of the issues in the Bill. It is about bringing workers’ rights that are contained in EU legislation into the UK, and he voted against it.

Photo of Emma Lewell-Buck Emma Lewell-Buck Shadow Minister (Education) (Children and Families)

As the Prime Minister was visiting survivors of the Manchester terror attack, families who were heartbroken to have lost their children were also in the vicinity, but the Prime Minister did not visit them. Chloe Rutherford and Liam Curry from South Shields tragically lost their lives, and their parents feel ignored by the Prime Minister. I wrote to her seven weeks ago with their concerns, but she has failed to respond. When will she properly acknowledge their loss?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister

The hon. Lady raises an important issue. I am not aware of her letter, so I will of course look today to see why she has not received a response. I can only apologise to her for the fact that she has not yet received a response.

I acknowledged at the time, and I continue to acknowledge, that the attack in Manchester damaged lives in many ways. There are those who were injured and are living with the consequences of their injuries, those who lost loved ones—relatives or friends—and are affected by that, and those whose lives were sadly cut short at all too young an age. We must all ensure that we are providing support for the victims and that our authorities—police authorities and agencies—have the power to prevent attacks in the future. I will look into the issue of the letter because, as I said, the hon. Lady should have had a response already. I am sorry that seven weeks have gone by without her receiving one.

Photo of Ross Thomson Ross Thomson Conservative, Aberdeen South

Following our successful Offshore Europe exhibition last week in Aberdeen, can the Prime Minister assure me and my constituents that support for the oil and gas industry will be at the heart of the industrial strategy so that we can maximise economic recovery in the North sea? Does she agree that the biggest threat to the industry would be the instability of a second, divisive independence referendum?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. We have already given significant support to the oil and gas industry. I was pleased, some months ago, to visit Aberdeen and to visit the technology centre for the oil and gas industry. It is doing really interesting work looking not just at existing fields but at decommissioning work and how it can export its knowledge and expertise across the world. He is absolutely right that what people and businesses want is the certainty of knowing that Scotland will remain in the United Kingdom and that there will not be a second independence referendum.

Photo of Daniel Zeichner Daniel Zeichner Labour, Cambridge

Cambridge parents tell me that when young people returned to schools and colleges last week, in some cases they found that almost half the cooks and cleaners had gone. reports that pubs in the area will not be able to serve food, because they cannot find the skilled staff to do it. Is it not ironic that taking back control is a further blow to the great British pub? Will the Prime Minister tell us what plans she has put in place to help institutions deal with this chronic and acute sudden shortage of labour?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister

The hon. Gentleman talks as if there is no longer net migration into this country, whereas, of course, there is net migration into this country. People are coming here to take on work. The wider issue, which the Government are dealing with, as we have seen from some of the announcements made by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education, is making sure that young people in the United Kingdom get the training, skills and technical education they need to be able to take on the skilled jobs of the future.

Photo of Mike Wood Mike Wood Conservative, Dudley South

Today is World Sepsis Day. Sepsis claims at least 44,000 lives a year in the UK and earlier this year I almost became part of that tragic statistic. Will the Prime Minister look at what more the Government could be doing to support awareness-raising programmes, so that we can catch sepsis more quickly, treat it more effectively and save more lives?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister

I am sure I echo the feelings of everybody across the whole House in saying that we are pleased my hon. Friend managed to battle sepsis, come through and win that particular fight. I commend him for his recovery. I commend all those who supported him in that fight and in that battle, including the excellent medical staff who provided him with the care he needed. He is absolutely right. The estimate is that 10,000 deaths a year could be prevented by better and earlier diagnosis of sepsis. We need to get better at spotting it and at raising awareness. We will be publishing a new sepsis action plan for the NHS. A NICE quality standard is due to be published this week. NHS England will also publish guidance to further support frontline staff.

Photo of Kirsty Blackman Kirsty Blackman Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Economy), SNP Deputy Leader

At the last census, there were 3,000 Aberdonians who said that they were born in Nigeria. Recently, the UN human rights office reported concerns about threats to the Igbo people in northern Nigeria. The Foreign Secretary recently visited the country. Will the Prime Minister tell me what her Government are doing to encourage the communities there to live in peace?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister

We make efforts across a number of fronts and we are providing support to Nigeria in a variety of ways. As the hon. Lady says, there is a significant diaspora with Nigerian connections and heritage in the United Kingdom. She is right that the Foreign Secretary visited Nigeria. We continue to work with Nigeria. It is important to work with Nigeria on the state of its economy to ensure that communities across Nigeria can feel stability and security for the future.

Photo of Victoria Atkins Victoria Atkins Conservative, Louth and Horncastle

Yesterday, the shadow Justice Secretary refused four times to condemn illegal strike action. Labour’s biggest union paymaster seems to agree. Such illegal action would cause misery for millions of people across the country. Will my right hon. Friend join me in condemning illegal action? Does she agree that it is the Conservatives who understand that this great country was built on the principles of democracy and the rule of law?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister

I thank my hon. Friend for her question. She is absolutely right. I was struck to see this week that Len McCluskey—or perhaps Mahatma, as his friends call him—had said that if they need to act outside the law, so be it. I have to say that I join my hon. Friend. On the Conservative Benches we are very clear: we condemn illegal strikes. We condemn action outside the law. The people who suffer from illegal strikes are the ordinary working families who cannot get their children to school, who cannot access the public services they need, and who cannot get to work. Once again, the price of Labour is pain for ordinary working families.

Photo of Jamie Stone Jamie Stone Liberal Democrat, Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross

Owing to recent changes to maternity services in my constituency, a vastly increased number of pregnant mothers are having to make a more than 200-mile return trip to give birth. One can imagine how dangerous that is in the depths of a highland winter. While I recognise that this is a devolved matter, may I nevertheless ask the Prime Minister for advice about how I can help to sort out this desperate situation?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister

The hon. Gentleman, who is obviously right to speak up on behalf of his constituents in the highlands, points out that health matters are devolved to Scotland, so of course it is for the Scottish Government to make full use of their powers to deliver the healthcare services that people in Scotland deserve. People in Scotland will be sorry that their SNP Government are failing to deliver for them in relation to health services. This week we marked the 20th anniversary of the vote to create the Scottish Parliament, so it is particularly notable. I welcome him to his place in the House, however, and wish him the best in his efforts. Standing up and mentioning in this House the failure of the Scottish Government is part of the answer to his question.

Photo of Julian Lewis Julian Lewis Chair, Defence Committee

The widow of our murdered colleague Ian Gow has expressed dismay and disgust that hundreds of former soldiers face reinvestigation—yet again—over incidents that occurred 40 years ago, while her husband’s suspected killers walk free. Will the Prime Minister now introduce legislation for a statute of limitations, coupled with a truth recovery process, finally to put an end to this grotesque situation, as she is perfectly able to do?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister

I say first to my hon. Friend that the overwhelming majority of our armed forces in Northern Ireland served with great distinction, and we owe them a huge debt of gratitude for what they did. As part of our work to implement the Stormont House agreement, we will obviously ensure that the new legacy bodies are under legal obligations to be fair, balanced and proportionate. This will make sure that our veterans are not unfairly treated and will recognise the fact that 90% of the deaths in the troubles were caused by terrorists, and we should never forget that. Our focus, however, is on ensuring that the investigative bodies responsible for looking at deaths during the troubles operate in a fair, balanced and proportionate manner.

Photo of Jonathan Edwards Jonathan Edwards Shadow PC Spokesperson (Treasury), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Business, Innovation and Skills), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Transport), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Foreign Intervention)

Today is also Back Welsh Farming day, and National Farmers Union Cymru estimates that agriculture contributes 60,000 jobs in Wales and £500 million a year. How will farming be able to continue that contribution once the International Trade Secretary opens up domestic markets to lower-standard food while simultaneously losing unrestricted access to our main export market?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister

As I have said, I support Back British Farming day, and obviously I back farmers in Wales as well—I was pleased in recent months to sit down and talk to farmers in Wales. We are looking to leave the EU with a good trade deal that enables trade to continue on as friction-free and tariff-free basis as possible, and that will be good for Welsh farmers. There are opportunities, however, for Welsh farmers to export to the rest of the world, and we want to ensure those opportunities through our trade deals with the rest of the world.

Photo of Simon Hoare Simon Hoare Conservative, North Dorset

Tomorrow, I will have the great honour and privilege of hosting in this place a celebratory event marking the 50th anniversary of the Multiple Sclerosis Society. We will welcome partners from across the world who have come together over that half century to tackle and defeat that pernicious condition. May I invite my right hon. Friend, as Prime Minister, to send her good wishes to the MS Society internationally as we celebrate this important milestone and to commit the Government, as they have done over the past few years, to work across Departments to ensure that those with MS have the maximum support and encouragement to get back into work, which so many of them wish to do?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister

I thank my hon. Friend for raising this issue, and I am happy to join him in sending our best wishes to the MS Society. I know from my own family of the impact that multiple sclerosis can have. Society campaigns tirelessly for people with MS, and I am very pleased that my hon. Friend is hosting a reception to mark this important milestone.

We have seen progress over the past 15 years. The Department of Health has made funds available for neurological research, which, of course, includes research on MS. As my hon. Friend says, however, it is not an issue just for the Department of Health. It is important to try to help people with MS back into the workplace—which we are doing in the Department for Work and Pensions—because many of them want to continue to be in the workplace and to provide for themselves and their families.

Photo of Norman Lamb Norman Lamb Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Health), Chair, Science and Technology Committee (Commons)

Four years after teenager Christina Edkins was tragically killed by Philip Simelane, a man who was acutely ill with psychosis and had only recently been released from prison, the chair of the independent panel has expressed extreme concern about the fact that vulnerable prisoners are still being released without adequate support. Will the Prime Minister make it an urgent priority to ensure that we guarantee that there is proper support, proper continuity of care, and the sharing of information between prisons and mental health services to reduce the risk of another tragedy taking place?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister

The right hon. Gentleman has raised a very important matter. He has campaigned long and hard on mental health issues, and has made a huge contribution in doing so.

The issue of the relationship between health services and prisons is long-standing. Efforts have been made, and there has been some progress in improving that relationship—in the context of the responsibilities of the Department of Health and the national health service in prisons—to ensure that cross-cutting action of exactly that sort can be taken; but we will, of course, continue to look at the issue.

Photo of Nigel Huddleston Nigel Huddleston Conservative, Mid Worcestershire

It is an honour every day to work alongside some incredibly talented female Members of Parliament on both sides of the Chamber. This afternoon there will be a Westminster Hall debate on women in Parliament. What does the second female Prime Minister believe should be done to bring even more talented women into Parliament?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister

I am very pleased, because I think that my hon. Friend is playing his own role—[Interruption.]

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister

I think that my hon. Friend is playing his own role in supporting Women2Win, the organisation in the Conservative party that encourages women to see Parliament as a career and to gain the expertise and the skills that will ensure that they sit on these Benches. I am very pleased to see the increased number of Conservative MPs who are women. As a party, we will continue to support women coming into Parliament, and, through the excellent role models that we have of Conservative Members of Parliament, encourage more of them to come forward.

Photo of Vincent Cable Vincent Cable Leader of the Liberal Democrats

Can the Prime Minister explain the logic behind treating European fruit-pickers and cleaners as an economic threat, while at the same time being completely relaxed about European ownership and control of the railways, the water system and the electricity companies, and, indeed, about last week’s takeover of one of Britain’s few remaining technology companies, Aveva? Is this not a case of being biddable to big business, but paranoid about people?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister

We are very clear, in relation to immigration, that we want to welcome the brightest and best who wish to come to the United Kingdom. We have rules for people from outside the EU, and we will be able to have our own rules for people coming from inside the EU.

I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on his election to the leadership of his party. He and I, of course, worked together during the years of the coalition, although we did not always agree on absolutely everything. However, in raising the issue of our relationship with Europe, he said something with which I did agree: that a second EU referendum would be

“seriously disrespectful and politically utterly counterproductive”.

I was therefore rather disappointed to hear that he has now reversed his position and backs a second referendum; but perhaps it is not unusual for a Liberal Democrat to say one thing before an election and another after it.