Business of the House

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:33 am on 25th January 2018.

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Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons 10:33 am, 25th January 2018

I am grateful to the hon. Lady for her questions. As she mentions, I have written to her on the subject of the ministerial list to say that it will be available as soon as possible.

On the rise of the House in July, now that I am apprised of the fact that the hon. Lady needs time for her jury service—I would not dream of delaying that unduly—I will absolutely seek to ensure that we give the matter consideration and inform the House as soon as we possibly can.

The hon. Lady asks about the motions concerning the restoration and renewal of the Palace. As I said last week—I think she agrees—we want the House to be able to take a decision. I wanted to see what sort of amendments were tabled. I think that I made it clear last week that we needed some sensible alternatives for the House to discuss, and some very sensible amendments have been tabled. I commit to undertaking to ensure that they are included in the options available to the House. Nevertheless, the important point is that the House can make an informed decision next week.

The hon. Lady asks about the Swansea Bay lagoon. As we have discussed several times in the Chamber, the project is extremely expensive compared with other forms of renewable energy. It requires a careful decision, and I know that it is still under consideration. On the subject of fracking, it is clear that natural gas provided by fracking, with some of the world’s strongest and most careful regulation, is a way forward for the United Kingdom as we move towards zero-carbon targets for our electricity generation. From where we are today, we cannot simply get rid of coal from the system—we hope to do that by 2025—and move straight to lower carbon forms of energy generation. Gas will continue to be an important part of our transition towards a low-carbon future, and natural gas from fracking is one option that is open to the United Kingdom.

The hon. Lady raises the issue of teacher applications. There are 15,500 more teachers in our classrooms than there were in 2010. The number of teachers returning to the classroom has increased by 8% since 2010, which is good news. Experienced teachers who have taken career breaks are coming back into the classroom, and, vitally, there are more teachers with first-class degrees—highly qualified teachers who can impart information to our young people.

I share the hon. Lady’s disgust at what happened at the Presidents Club. There is absolutely no place for that type of activity. A men-only club effectively abusing young women, as reported in this story, is absolutely unacceptable. As she will be aware from the urgent question rightly asked yesterday, the question when we will introduce sex and relationship education in schools is still subject to consultation with young people themselves. It is vital that we do not guess what they want to learn about but ask them themselves, which is why we need to take the time to consult.

On Carillion, I can assure the House that its request will absolutely be upheld and the documents made available, but as the hon. Lady will know, the Public Accounts Commission already has the means to ask to be provided with such documents.

Finally, I completely share the hon. Lady’s desire to reflect the importance of human rights in everything we do—in remembering not just the appalling actions during the holocaust but the appalling civil wars and problems in our own lifetimes. Human rights must be upheld.