Engagements

Oral Answers to Questions — Prime Minister – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 18th April 2018.

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Photo of Neil O'Brien Neil O'Brien Conservative, Harborough 12:00 am, 18th April 2018

If she will list her official engagements for Wednesday 18 April.

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

This week the UK plays host to the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting. I know the whole House will want to join me in welcoming to London leaders from 52 countries, who collectively represent a third of the world’s population. Over the coming days, we will discuss a range of shared priorities, from oceans and cyber-security to continuing to tackle malaria and ensuring all children have access to 12 years of quality education. With 60% of the Commonwealth under the age of 30, the summit will have a particular focus on how we revitalise the organisation to ensure its continuing relevance, especially for young people.

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.

Photo of Neil O'Brien Neil O'Brien Conservative, Harborough

The whole House will be aware of the stories of people who came to this country from the Commonwealth more than 45 years ago—people who are facing the anxiety of being asked for documents they cannot provide to prove their right to reside in the country they call home. Will the Prime Minister update the House on what she and the Government are doing to provide reassurance in these cases?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

My hon. Friend raises a very important issue which I know has caused a great deal of concern and anxiety, so I would like to update the House.

People in the Windrush generation who came here from Commonwealth countries have built a life here; they have made a massive contribution to the country. These people are British. They are part of us. I want to be absolutely clear that we have no intention of asking anyone to leave who has the right to remain here. [Interruption.] For those who have mistakenly received letters challenging them, I want to apologise to them. I want to say sorry to anyone who has felt confusion or anxiety as a result of this.

I want to be clear with the House about how this has arisen. Those Commonwealth citizens—[Interruption.]

Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Speaker of the House of Commons, Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Chair, Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Chair, Commons Reference Group on Representation and Inclusion Committee

Order. The House must calm down. The Prime Minister is responding to the question. There will be a very full opportunity for questioning of the Prime Minister on this occasion, as there is on every occasion, but the questions must be heard and the answers must be heard.

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

Thank you. Let me update the House on how this has arisen. Those Commonwealth citizens who arrived before 1973 and were settled here have a right conferred by the Immigration Act 1971 to live in the UK. They were not required to take any action with the Home Office to document their status. The overwhelming majority already have the immigration documents they need, but there are some who, through no fault of their own, do not, and those are the people we are working hard to help now. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has made clear that a new dedicated team is being set up to help these people evidence their right to be here and access services, and it will aim to resolve cases within two weeks, once the evidence has been put together.

Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn Leader of Her Majesty's Official Opposition, Leader of the Labour Party

Last month, I raised the case of Albert Thompson, a man who has lived and worked here for decades, paid his taxes, and yet been denied national health service treatment. The Prime Minister brushed it off. Will she say what she will now do to ensure that Mr Thompson gets the cancer treatment he urgently needs and is entitled to?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

The right hon. Gentleman did indeed raise the case of Albert Thompson. It was not brushed off—[Hon. Members: “It was!”] No, the Home Office has been in contact with Mr Thompson’s representatives. First of all, I want to make one point very clear: no urgent treatment should be withheld by the NHS, regardless of ability or willingness to pay——[Hon. Members: “It was!”] No, I also want to make clear that as it happens, Mr Thompson is not part of the Windrush generation that I have just spoken about in answer to the first question. And finally, clinicians have been looking at Mr Thompson’s case and he will be receiving the treatment he needs.

Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn Leader of Her Majesty's Official Opposition, Leader of the Labour Party

On 20 March, the Prime Minister wrote to me stating,

“while I sympathise with Mr Thompson...we encourage him to make the appropriate application” and provide evidence of “his settled status here.” Yesterday, we learnt that in 2010, the Home Office destroyed landing cards for a generation of Commonwealth citizens and so have told people, “We can’t find you in our system.” Did the Prime Minister, the then Home Secretary, sign off that decision?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

No, the decision to destroy the landing cards was taken in 2009 under a Labour Government.

Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Speaker of the House of Commons, Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Chair, Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Chair, Commons Reference Group on Representation and Inclusion Committee

Order. There was a lot of this yesterday—very noisy and extremely stupid barracking. It must stop now. That is the end of the matter. The public absolutely despise that type of behaviour, from wherever in the House it takes place. Cut it out and grow up!

Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn Leader of Her Majesty's Official Opposition, Leader of the Labour Party

I remind the Prime Minister that it was her Government who created “a really hostile environment” for immigrants and her Government who introduced the Immigration Act 2014.

We need absolute clarity on the question of the destruction of the landing cards. If she is trying to blame officials, I remind her that in 2004 she said she was

“sick and tired of Government Ministers…who simply blame other people when things go wrong.”

Does she stand by that advice?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

The right hon. Gentleman asked me if the decision to destroy the landing cards—the decision—had been taken in my time as Home Secretary. The decision to destroy the landing cards was taken in 2009 when, as I seem to recall, a Labour Home Secretary was in position.

Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn Leader of Her Majesty's Official Opposition, Leader of the Labour Party

It was under a Tory Government, and she was Home Secretary at that time, and that is what is causing such pain and such stress to a whole generation. On Monday, the Home Secretary told the House:

“I am concerned that the Home Office has become too concerned with policy and strategy and sometimes loses sight of the individual.”—[Official Report, 16 April 2018;
Vol. 639, c. 28.]

Who does the Prime Minister think is to blame for that—the current Home Secretary or her predecessor?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

The Home Office is a great Department of State that touches people’s lives every day in a whole variety of ways. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has been swift in responding to the unfortunate confusion and anxiety, for which we have apologised, that has arisen from the Windrush generation. The right hon. Gentleman referred earlier to action that we had taken as a Conservative Government to deal with illegal immigration. It is absolutely right that we ensure that people who access services that are paid for by taxpayers and relied on by people living in this country have the right to do so and that we take action against people here illegally. The Windrush generation are here legally—they have a right to be here; they are British. If the right hon. Gentleman wants to question the idea of taking action against illegal immigration, I suggest he has a conversation with the former shadow Home Secretary, Yvette Cooper, who in 2013 said:

“we need much stronger action from Government to bring illegal immigration down”.

Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn Leader of Her Majesty's Official Opposition, Leader of the Labour Party

This is not about illegal immigration; this is about Commonwealth citizens who had every right to be here. Cases such as Mr Thompson’s have occurred because it was Home Office policy in 2012 to create “a really hostile environment” for migrants, and the right hon. Lady was the Home Secretary who sent Home Office vans around Brent telling migrants to go home. On Monday, the Immigration Minister said that some British citizens had been “deported in error”. The Home Secretary did not know, and then asked Commonwealth high commissioners if they knew of any cases. Does the Prime Minister know how many British citizens have been wrongly deported and where to, and what provision has she made to bring them back home to Britain?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

As the Immigration Minister has made clear, we apologise unreservedly for the distress caused to anyone who has been told incorrectly that they do not have the right to be in the UK. We are not aware of any specific cases of a person being removed from the UK in these circumstances and we have absolutely no intention of asking anyone to leave who has the right to remain here, but the Home Office will work to reach out to those from the Windrush generation who do not have the necessary documentation to ensure that that is provided. There will be no cost to them; nobody will be out of pocket as a result. There is a difference between the Windrush generation, who are British, are part of us and have a right to here—we want to give them the reassurance of that right—and those other people who are here illegally. It is absolutely right that the Government make every effort to ensure that people who access our services have a right to do so and that we take action against people who are here illegally.

Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn Leader of Her Majesty's Official Opposition, Leader of the Labour Party

I am informed that Mr Albert Thompson has still not been informed when he will be getting the treatment he obviously needs as a matter of urgency. Does the Home Office not keep records? It has been months since these occasions were first brought to the Government’s attention. We know of at least two British citizens languishing in detention centres in error, and this morning the Jamaican Prime Minister has said that he knows of people who are unable to return to Britain.

This is a shameful episode, and the responsibility for it lies firmly at the Prime Minister’s door. Her pandering to bogus immigration targets led to a hostile environment for people contributing to our country, and it led to British citizens being denied NHS treatment, losing their jobs, homes and pensions, and being thrown into detention centres like criminals and even deported, with vital historical records shredded and Ministers blaming officials. The Windrush generation came to our country after the war to rebuild our nation that had been so devastated by war. Is not the truth that, under her, the Home Office became heartless and hopeless, and does not she now run a Government who are both callous and incompetent?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

As I have said, the Windrush generation did come here after the war, they did help to build this country, many of them worked in our public services and they contributed. They have a right to be here: they are British. That is why we are working with those who have no documentation to ensure that they have that provided for them. The decision was taken in 1971 not to require them to have documentation. That is what has led to the problem that we now see in relation to the anxiety of these people.

The right hon. Gentleman talks about being callous and having a disregard for people. I have to say to him that I am the Prime Minister who initiated the race disparity audit, which said: what are we doing in this country to ensure that people have equal opportunities in this country? The right hon. Gentleman talks about being callous. I say to him that I will not take that, following a debate last night where powerful contributions were made, particularly by Ruth Smeeth, Dame Margaret Hodge and Luciana Berger. I will not take an accusation of being callous from a man who allows anti-Semitism to run rife in his party.

Photo of John Stevenson John Stevenson Conservative, Carlisle

A few weeks ago, a gentleman from Islington called Jeremy visited my constituency of Carlisle and brought with him a vision of 1970s Britain. When Theresa from Maidenhead next comes to Carlisle, will she reassure the people of Carlisle that she brings a vision of 21st-century Britain, which includes the ideals of freedom, opportunity, choice, personal responsibility and, most importantly of all, national security?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

May I assure my hon. Friend that Theresa from Maidenhead would bring exactly that? I am very pleased that, in yesterday’s unemployment figures, we see employment in this country at a record high. Any visit to Carlisle will be about jobs, it will be about the future and it will be about national security—our commitment to spend 2% of our GDP on our defence, our commitment to ensure that we have the powers for our intelligence services and law enforcement agencies that they need to keep us safe—and I look forward to my visit to Carlisle.

Photo of Ian Blackford Ian Blackford SNP Westminster Leader

Does the Prime Minister agree with her Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, who is sitting just along from her, that the rape clause provides victims with “double support”?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

I know this is an issue that has been raised a number of times in this House. It is an incredibly sensitive issue, and of course I fully recognise the sensitivities that are involved for the mothers involved. We have taken great care—considerable time and care—to set up procedures, following extensive consultations, that mean that no Government staff will question these mothers about what they have experienced. The point my right hon. Friend was making was that a mother will be granted the exemption through engaging with specialist professionals, such as health and social workers, who may be able to provide them with support in those circumstances over and beyond the issue of their entitlement.

Photo of Ian Blackford Ian Blackford SNP Westminster Leader

That is not quite the point that the Secretary of State made when she seemed to offend all who were at the meeting of the Parliament in Edinburgh.

Rape Crisis Scotland has clearly stated:

“Hinging benefits on proving trauma isn’t a choice, it’s a disgrace and one which may well re-traumatise women.”

The chair of the British Medical Association in Scotland has said that the rape clause

“is fundamentally damaging for women—forcing them to disclose rape and abuse at a time and in a manner not of their choosing, at pain of financial penalty.”

This is the form, Mr Speaker, with a box for the child’s name. What kind of society do we live in?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

We live in a society in which we have taken every care to ensure that this is dealt with in as sensitive a manner as possible. That is why the Government took considerable time and engaged in extensive consultations when putting the arrangements in place. As I have said, no mother in these circumstances will be granted the exemption by dealing with jobcentre staff; mothers will be granted the exemption by dealing with specialist professionals.

Photo of Scott Mann Scott Mann Conservative, North Cornwall

May I add my support to the Prime Minister for the action that she took at the weekend regarding the use of chemical weapons in Syria?

In Cornwall there is huge disparity between average house prices and average wages. Many working families earning between £15,000 and £20,000 a year would need to earn 10 times their income to buy an open-market house, and the average salary in Cornwall is about £18,000 a year. The challenges of housing delivery in urban areas are fundamentally different from those in rural and coastal areas. I know that my right hon. Friend cares deeply about getting people on to the housing ladder. Will she therefore meet me, and a group of rural and coastal MPs, to discuss how we can tackle this vital issue?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

My hon. Friend has raised an important point, and he is absolutely right to do so. Home ownership is a dream, and, sadly, too many young people today feel that they will not be able to achieve that dream. We have been having success—last year more homes were built than in any but one of the last 30 years—but we need to ensure that we are helping people into home ownership and seeing more homes being built. I should be happy to meet my hon. Friend and others to discuss this matter.

Photo of Philippa Whitford Philippa Whitford Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Health)

I welcome the Prime Minister’s consultation on domestic abuse, and, in particular, the recognition of financial abuse. However, the Government insist on paying universal credit into just one household account, which makes women more financially vulnerable. Eighty-five per cent. of abuse survivors say that they would not have dared to request split payments as a special measure, because it would have worsened abuse. Will the Prime Minister listen to the calls from women’s charities, and make split payments of universal credit the norm?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

I understand that it is, in fact, possible for special arrangements to be made for split payments. Domestic abuse—domestic violence—is a terrible abuse, a terrible crime that we must deal with, but I understand that it is possible for those arrangements to be made.

Photo of David Tredinnick David Tredinnick Conservative, Bosworth

Is the Prime Minister aware of the proposal to build upwards of 50,000 houses and develop 2,000 acres for new businesses along the length of the A5 from the M1 junction to Staffordshire over the next 12 years? Is she further aware that parts of the road are still single carriageway, and will she discuss with the Secretary of State for Transport the possibility of releasing £10 million to get the next stage of the expressway project going?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

I am very much aware of the key role that is played by the A5 in the midlands, and of the plans for growth—the plans for new housing to which my hon. Friend has referred—along a route that is so important to him and his constituents. As he will know, we are already making investments in the A5. However, I have also heard his case promoted by Midlands Connect, as has my right hon. Friend the Transport Secretary, and it will be considered very carefully as we make decisions on further road investment.

Photo of Derek Twigg Derek Twigg Chair, Statutory Instruments (Joint Committee), Chair, Statutory Instruments (Select Committee)

A National Audit Office report today says that our armed forces are 8,200 people below the current requirement, the numbers leaving the armed forces have increased and there are significant “shortfalls in critical skills”. In their 2017 manifesto the Tory party and Prime Minister said:

“We will attract and retain the best men and women for our armed forces”.

Is this not just another broken promise? What has gone wrong?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

We do of course particularly want to ensure that we are recruiting people with the skills our armed forces need. In the modernising defence programme we are looking at the capabilities we require to defend this country against the threats we face, and that will also involve looking at the particular skills that are necessary.

Photo of Chris Davies Chris Davies Conservative, Brecon and Radnorshire

In the autumn Budget the Chancellor announced plans for a mid-Wales growth deal. In an area that has received historically low levels of investment, this vital initiative has been welcomed by everyone, especially by 90% of the small and medium-sized enterprises that are located in that region. Therefore, can my right hon. Friend tell the House what progress is being made and confirm that this welcome growth deal will not only enhance links between north and south Wales, but connect Wales to the midlands engine?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

We are actively considering the proposals for the mid-Wales growth deal. I know that my hon. Friend has put a lot of effort into this, particularly into bringing local partners together, including by making important cross-border links for this area. We believe that the best decisions and proposals for what will work for mid-Wales will come from people who live, work and do business there. We will be offering help and support, and UK Government Ministers in Wales have already met a variety of local partners to start this process off. We are ambitious for Wales and I am keen to see every part of Wales having a city or growth deal.

Photo of Jeff Smith Jeff Smith Opposition Whip (Commons)

Last month the Prime Minister met six-year-old Alfie Dingley and his family at Downing Street, so I think she understands how vital it is that he gets access to the cannabis-based medicine that treats his very rare and severe form of epilepsy. On Monday the Home Office received an application for a licence from Alfie’s GP and a leading neurologist so that he can access the medicine. Can the Prime Minister assure his family that she will do what she can to ensure that the application is granted by the Home Office as quickly as possible so that Alfie can get the help he desperately needs?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

I was very pleased to be able to meet Alfie and his family, and I know the sympathies of Members across the House are with them as he undergoes treatment. I have written to the family to reiterate our commitment to explore a range of options for finding a solution for Alfie. Of course we want to ensure that people get the treatment they need. It is also important that medicines are properly and thoroughly tested, but I will certainly ensure that the Home Office looks at this application speedily.

Photo of Stephen Kerr Stephen Kerr Conservative, Stirling

As the second largest donor to the global effort against malaria the UK has, since 2000, helped cut malaria deaths by 60%, saving nearly 7 million lives, but much more needs to be done. Will the Prime Minister give her personal commitment to maintaining the UK’s global leadership in the fight against this deadly yet preventable condition?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

I thank my hon. Friend for raising this very important issue. It is one of the issues we will be focusing on in this Commonwealth Heads of Government week, and yesterday I called on my fellow Commonwealth leaders to join the UK in committing to halving the number of malaria cases by 2023. We are the second largest donor to the fight against malaria and, as the Minister for the Middle East, my right hon. Friend Alistair Burt said in International Development questions, we remain committed to our five-year pledge to spend £500 million tackling it. Yesterday I announced that the UK will commit a further £100 million to the global fund, which has the aim of unlocking a further £100 million of investment from the private sector.

Photo of John Spellar John Spellar Labour, Warley

Three months ago, following the Carillion collapse, building works stopped on the two-thirds finished Midland Metropolitan Hospital in Smethwick. On 28 February I raised this with the Prime Minister, and she assured me that:

“The Department of Health and Social Care and NHS Improvement are working with the trust and the private finance initiative company so that work can recommence as soon as possible.”—[Official Report, 28 February 2018;
Vol. 636, c. 828.]

Six weeks later, after endless dithering by those bodies, I have to ask the Prime Minister to get a grip on her Ministers and officials and get a decision, get a deal and get this hospital built. Will she do that?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

I am aware that the right hon. Gentleman has raised this issue with me before. The contract between the trust and the private finance initiative company is still in place, so the PFI company is contractually obliged to manage the project and find another subcontractor who can continue to deliver the building work and the services. As the right hon. Gentleman may know, even before the issue arose with Carillion there were some delays to this project. The Department of Health and Social Care is working actively on it, and my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster is doing so as well and he has also been in discussions with the Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street, who has also been in discussions with the trust. We recognise the level of concern being raised on this issue and we are working to resolve it.

Photo of Caroline Spelman Caroline Spelman The Second Church Estates Commissioner

Will my right hon. Friend join me in congratulating Team England on winning the second largest tally of gold medals at an overseas Commonwealth games, as they return on Saturday to Birmingham, which will be the next host of the games?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

I am happy to congratulate Team England on coming second in the medals table—

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

Wait for it. I am also happy to congratulate Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, all of whom had a very good Commonwealth games. It was an excellent Commonwealth games; Australia put on a very good show. I was pleased to see that one of the last results was in the women’s netball, in which we beat Australia.

Photo of Ellie Reeves Ellie Reeves Labour, Lewisham West and Penge

This has been an unprecedented year for violent crime in London. Less than four months into 2018, we have already seen almost 60 murders. The Metropolitan police do a fantastic job, but Home Office documents show that there is a correlation between the reduction in police resources and the rise in violent crime. Even after the precept increase, the Met will still need to make savings of £325 million by 2021. Will the Prime Minister acknowledge that these chronic cuts are unsustainable and commit to reversing this harmful underfunding?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

More money is being made available to police forces in the 2018-19 year, and my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has taken action in relation to the serious violent strategy that she has published. Also, I have to say this to the hon. Lady:

“We do not say that there is a direct causal factor between the number of officers on the ground and the number of crimes.”

She may wave her hand at that, but those are not my words but those of the shadow policing Minister.

Photo of Iain Duncan Smith Iain Duncan Smith Conservative, Chingford and Woodford Green

My right hon. Friend has rightly made reference to yesterday’s debate on anti-Semitism. I sat in the Chamber and listened to that debate, including the two appalling testimonies from Luciana Berger and particularly from Ruth Smeeth, which were deeply moving. They were horrifying in the sense of the abuse that those hon. Members have faced, but also uplifting in the sense of the bravery that they have shown in tackling their abusers. Does my right hon. Friend agree that what came out of yesterday’s debate was that there should be absolutely no place in any political party for anyone who is an anti-Semite and that, just as importantly, any apologists for anti-Semites should be kicked out of their party as well?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

I absolutely agree with my right hon. Friend. It is incredibly important for us and for the political parties in this country to show a clear signal that we will not accept or tolerate anti-Semitism in any form. I have made reference to a number of the speeches that were made yesterday, and I also join my right hon. Friend in commending those Members, particularly the hon. Members for Stoke-on-Trent North and for Liverpool, Wavertree, who have suffered incredible abuse as a result of this anti-Semitism but who have also shown incredible bravery in being willing to stand up and set that out to the House. Theirs was a fine example of the best of this House of Commons and the best of Members of Parliament.

Photo of Afzal Khan Afzal Khan Shadow Minister (Home Office) (Immigration)

This week, the UK becomes the chair of the Commonwealth. Many of us will have walked past demonstrations outside Parliament on the issue of Kashmir, and I understand that the Prime Minister will be presented with a petition this afternoon. The stalemate in the bilateral talks between India and Pakistan has failed to deliver any solution to this major nuclear flashpoint. How will she use the UK’s new position to boldly pursue peace and human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

The hon. Gentleman raises a question that I know has been raised in the House before. I am sure that it is a matter of concern not only to him but to a number of his constituents. We continue to take the view that the best resolution of this issue is for India and Pakistan themselves to come together and resolve the matter. That will be the way to resolve it that will actually ensure the sustainability of a resolution.

Photo of Douglas Ross Douglas Ross Conservative, Moray

RBS recently announced plans to reduce the number of mobile banking visits to Dufftown in Moray. Following strong representations from myself, Dufftown and District community council, and Speyside community council, the bank confirmed yesterday that it would not go ahead with its plans. Will the Prime Minister join me in welcoming that? However, does she agree that RBS needs to engage more with local communities, because had it done so, it would have realised how unacceptable its proposals were?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

I am happy to join my hon. Friend in welcoming RBS’s decision, but I commend him for his efforts on behalf of his constituents in Dufftown. Such things are commercial issues for the banks, but we have been clear that banks need to consider carefully the impact on people and their access to services when making such decisions.

Photo of Virendra Sharma Virendra Sharma Labour, Ealing, Southall

Following the commitment by Prime Minister Modi and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to end tuberculosis in India by 2025, will the Prime Minister commit to encouraging other Commonwealth leaders at this week’s Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting to make similar commitments in advance of the UN high-level meeting on TB? Will she also attempt to show Britain’s continued support for the fight against TB?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

The hon. Gentleman raises an important issue, and we are happy to ensure through various channels that we encourage others to follow the example that India has shown in relation to TB. At one stage, it was eradicated here in the UK, but we need to ensure that action is taken in other countries around the world.

Photo of Anne Main Anne Main Conservative, St Albans

As the Prime Minister said, unemployment is at a 43-year low, and investment in UK industries, including the tech industry, is at a high. When she is on her way to Carlisle, will she come and visit Imagination Technologies? It has received an £8 billion investment, which shows the confidence that overseas technology investors have in our tech industry.

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

I think that that might be a bit of a detour on my way to Carlisle, but I certainly support what my hon. Friend says about the importance of high-tech business and of the work that companies such as Imagination Technologies are doing.

Photo of Ben Lake Ben Lake Plaid Cymru, Ceredigion

The Ceredigion coastline is among the most stunning in the British Isles, and Cardigan bay has sustained communities on the value of its beauty and bounty. For 150 years, the lifeboat station at New Quay has valiantly safeguarded those who venture out into the bay, but it is possible that Ceredigion will no longer have an all-weather lifeboat from 2020. Does the Prime Minister agree that the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, which does invaluable work, serves as a fourth emergency service and that, as such, it is essential that the coastline of Ceredigion, like every other populated coastline, has access to that service whatever the weather?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

Search and rescue at sea is provided by several organisations, including the coastguard and the RNLI. The RNLI has a proud tradition, and we should be grateful for its record on search and rescue at sea. It is obviously independent and decides where best to put its resources, but we are supporting the work of independent lifeboat charities through our rescue boat grant fund, which has allocated more than £3.5 million since 2014 to increase capacity and resilience by providing new boats and equipment.

Photo of Nigel Evans Nigel Evans Conservative, Ribble Valley

The Commonwealth is a wonderful organisation, but too many Commonwealth countries have anti-gay legislation on their statute book. Of course, a lot of that is a legacy of the colonial days, when Britain was a very different country. What message about gay rights does the Prime Minister have for Commonwealth leaders this week? More importantly, that message should go out to gay people in those countries who are suffering because of such legislation.

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

My hon. Friend raises an important point. We have a special responsibility to help to change hearts and minds on such issues within the Commonwealth. When I addressed the Commonwealth forum yesterday, I said that across the Commonwealth

“discriminatory laws made many years ago continue to affect the lives of many people, criminalising same-sex relations and failing to protect women and girls.”

Many such laws were put in place by this country, and I deeply regret the legacy of discrimination, violence and even death that persists today. As a family of Commonwealth nations, we must respect one another’s customs and traditions, but we must do so in a matter that is consistent with our common value of equality. The message that I sent yesterday is that we stand ready to support any Commonwealth member that wants to reform outdated legislation that makes such discrimination possible.

Photo of Frank Field Frank Field Chair, Work and Pensions Committee

When the Prime Minister meets Mr Modi as part of the Commonwealth gathering, might she seek to understand why India is, relatively speaking, so successful in countering child trafficking and draw lessons for this country?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

I have already met Prime Minister Modi—I did so this morning—and I raised the issue of human trafficking and the work being done in India. We will be setting up discussions between our officials.

Photo of Bob Blackman Bob Blackman Conservative, Harrow East

London welcomes our good friend Prime Minister Modi today. Will my right hon. Friend take the opportunity to condemn absolutely the mobile billboards that are going around London attacking our good friend Prime Minister Modi, and will she congratulate and thank the 1.7 million members of the Indian diaspora on their contribution to the work of this country?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

India is indeed a good friend of the United Kingdom, and the Indian diaspora here in the UK plays an enormous role and makes an enormous contribution to our society and our economy. I am very happy to join my hon. Friend in congratulating and thanking them, and indeed in encouraging the continuation of that contribution. When I spoke to Prime Minister Modi, we discussed how we can encourage and increase the links and development between our two countries.

Photo of Nigel Dodds Nigel Dodds Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Reform and Constitutional Issues), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Foreign Affairs), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Brexit), DUP Westminster Leader

The vile online and social media abuse suffered in particular by female politicians, which was movingly highlighted in yesterday’s debate and also by events at the weekend back home in Northern Ireland, is testimony to how this must be tackled head-on. Can the Prime Minister assure us that steps will be taken to bring social media companies and platforms to account so that the wild west culture of “anything goes” is brought to an end as quickly as possible?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

The right hon. Gentleman raises a very important point about how these platforms can be used for the sort of abuse that we heard about in the Chamber last night and that, as he says, has also been raised in Northern Ireland in the past few days. We are working with the social media companies. Good work has been done with them on a number of aspects, such as child abuse on those platforms, and we continue to work with them on the wider issues. We are also looking at the issue of the liability of social media companies. They are not publishers but, on the other hand, they are not just platforms. We are looking at that issue urgently.

Photo of Steve Double Steve Double Conservative, St Austell and Newquay

Free and fair elections are the foundation of our democracy. I am sure that the Prime Minister will be aware of the events that happened in the Gower constituency during last year’s election, where the Labour activist Dan Evans has admitted spreading lies and libellous accusations against our former colleague, Byron Davies, in order to influence the outcome of the election. It appears that his efforts worked. Does the Prime Minister believe that the leadership of the Labour party needs to make it very clear that our democracy has no place for this sort of behaviour? Does she believe that the honourable thing would be for the new incumbent of that seat to resign and fight a free and honest by-election?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

Of course, our former colleague Byron Davies has received an apology, and I understand that a donation has been made to charity. Of course, our former colleague lost his job as a result of the action that was taken. People across the House talk of free and fair elections—that is what we believe in as a democracy—but political parties need not just to talk about free and fair elections; they need to ensure they put it into practice.

Photo of Debbie Abrahams Debbie Abrahams Labour, Oldham East and Saddleworth

Last week, Shop Direct announced that it is closing all its Greater Manchester sites, with the loss of 2,000 jobs, including nearly 1,400 in my constituency at Shaw. That was without prior warning or discussion with staff, the unions, Oldham Council or even myself. Given that this is about the ascendance of automation, what specific measures is the Prime Minister taking to support my constituents? Will she meet me and my colleagues to discuss this and the longer-term, more general impact of automation on the labour market?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

Obviously this is a time of great concern for the Shop Direct workers and their families in Greater Manchester. The Department for Work and Pensions and Jobcentre Plus are working with the company to understand the level of support that is required for employees, and the DWP stands ready to put in place its rapid response service to support any workers who are made redundant and to help them back into employment as quickly as possible. There are a number of ways in which Jobcentre Plus can support workers, and it will ensure that it does that in this instance.

The hon. Lady raises a wider issue about the impact of automation on jobs. We are looking at the question as part of our industrial strategy, and I will ask the Business Secretary to meet her to discuss it.

Photo of Pauline Latham Pauline Latham Conservative, Mid Derbyshire

Malaria has been mentioned by several Members in the Chamber today. In her conversations with the Prime Minister of Canada this week, will the Prime Minister be discussing how the G7 can help to drive progress towards a malaria-free world?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

I thank my hon. Friend for raising that. I have not yet met Prime Minister Trudeau this week, but this is certainly an issue that we have made sure is being spoken about here at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting, and we will raise it within the G7 context.

Photo of Stella Creasy Stella Creasy Labour/Co-operative, Walthamstow

In 2009, Michelle Samaraweera was raped and murdered. Since 2012, Aman Vyas has been avoiding extradition for this and eight other charges of sexual violence against women in Walthamstow. There have been 47 hearings to date, with the judge not showing up for seven of them, and seven different judges have been appointed. When the Prime Minister talks to her good friend Prime Minister Modi while he is here in London, will she commit to raising this case with him and asking India to take it seriously so that we can finally get justice for Michelle?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

I have already met Prime Minister Modi for our bilateral discussions. There are a number of issues of extradition between the two countries—the UK and India. We raise a number of cases with the Indian Government, as I did this morning. It is important that we recognise the independence of the judiciary in both countries.