Business of the House

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 11:10 am on 8th February 2018.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons 11:10 am, 8th February 2018

I am grateful to the hon. Lady for the series of questions that she put to me. In response to her requests for letters, I will write to her on several of the points that she raised, to which I do not have the specific answers to hand.

Through the usual channels, we will, of course, as soon as possible give the summer recess dates, and, as the hon. Lady knows, a list of ministerial responsibilities will be published very soon.

The Data Protection Bill will be introduced to the House as soon as possible—as soon as parliamentary time allows.

The hon. Lady asks about county councils. She will appreciate that under this Government, since 2010, we have seen in real terms, taking into account inflation, a decrease in council taxes, and in non-real terms—in headline terms—some of the lowest council tax rises since council tax was introduced. This year, the cap has been lifted to 3% to take inflation into account, and that is important.

On my own county council, Northamptonshire, the hon. Lady will be aware that there are particular concerns around the way that budgets and finances have been managed there, and that is subject to an investigation by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, which is now in hand.

The hon. Lady invites me to celebrate the oldest language—the Welsh language. I am delighted to do that, and proud that the Under-Secretary of State for Wales is himself a Welsh speaker. We could probably drag him to the Chamber to sing to us, or something of that sort. However, he might require prior notice, and he might be very cross with me for even suggesting it.

Finally, the hon. Lady talked about “deeds, not words”. I think she should celebrate the fact that the UK was one of the first countries in the world to introduce mandatory gender pay gap reporting, which will quickly become a reputational issue for companies. McKinsey & Company, the consulting firm, estimates that closing the gap would add £150 billion to the economy by 2025. I am pleased to tell the House that the gender pay gap among full-time workers is the narrowest that it has ever been, but we are committed to eliminating it entirely.