I am sure that Members from all sides of the House would like to join me in congratulating both the English and the Scottish women’s football teams on their excellent performance in qualifying for next year’s World Cup.
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.
My constituent Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was released temporarily for three days last month before being hauled back to prison in Iran. Worse still, when she was on furlough, she was contacted by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and told that if she attempted to contact the British Embassy, her family would be harmed. I find it deeply troubling that a British citizen was threatened against contacting her own embassy. Does the Prime Minister share my concern, and will she raise this specific issue with President Rouhani when she next speaks to him, perhaps in New York later this month?
I share the concerns that the hon. Lady has expressed, and I know that during this difficult time the thoughts of everyone across the whole House remain with Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and with her family and friends, who have been campaigning tirelessly for release. The hon. Lady will know, as this is her constituent, that one of the difficulties is the question of whether the Iranian Government recognise dual nationality, which they do not. They are not obliged to do so under international law. She asks me to raise this matter with President Rouhani. I regularly do so whenever I speak to him. It is an issue that the Foreign Secretary, the Foreign Office and other Ministers also consistently raise with the Iranian Government, and we will continue to do so.
Jewish people living in this country should feel safe and secure, and should not have to worry about their future in their own country. There is no place for racial hatred in our society, and it is important that we take every step to tackle it. That is why we were the first country in the world to adopt the definition of antisemitism set out by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance; we have been taking steps to provide funding to ensure that security measures can be taken in Jewish faith schools and synagogues, and we have provided funding to the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust to run events for Holocaust Memorial Day. We should all be united in our determination to tackle antisemitism, so when the leader of the Labour party stands up he should apologise for saying that Jewish people who have lived in this country their whole lives do not understand English irony.
There is no place for racism in any form within our society—on that we are all agreed—and we should tackle it wherever it arises, in our parties as well, and that includes the Conservative party.
I join the Prime Minister in congratulating the English and Scottish women’s football teams on their qualification for the World cup, and I look forward to them doing extremely well.
The International Trade Secretary said that the likelihood of no deal is now 60:40, which in betting parlance means that there is a pretty good chance that there will not be a deal—it is more likely than not. Is he right?
We are continuing to do what we have always been doing, which is working to get a good deal with the European Union for our future relationship once we have left the EU, but it is entirely right and proper that we should prepare for all eventualities, because we have not yet come to the end of the negotiations. That means that it is right that we are preparing for no deal, as indeed the EU has been doing, sending out notices in relation to no deal. We have also been publishing technical notices, so that businesses and citizens would know where they stand and how to prepare in the event of no deal. We have published over 20 such notices so far, and the final total is likely to be around 70. We are making those preparations, but, crucially, this Government are working for a good deal, preparing for every eventuality and preparing to ensure that this country makes a success of leaving the EU, regardless of the outcome of the negotiations.
The International Trade Secretary has said that he is unfazed by no deal; the new Foreign Secretary, who is here today, said over the summer that no deal would be a “huge geostrategic mistake”; and the Chancellor, who is sitting next to the Prime Minister, wrote to the Treasury Committee stating that a no deal Brexit would slash GDP by almost 8%, which is comparable with the global financial crash. Which assessment does she agree with?
The director of the World Trade Organisation said that no deal would not be a “walk in the park” but it would not be the “end of the world”. The Government are right to make the necessary preparations for no deal while working for a good deal to ensure that we deliver on the vote of the British people, that we come out of the European Union on
The Prime Minister says that no deal is better than a bad deal, the Chancellor says that no deal would cause a catastrophic collapse of our economy, and the Brexit Secretary waded in yesterday to say that there were “countervailing opportunities” to a no deal Brexit. Will the Prime Minister enlighten us as to what these “countervailing opportunities” actually are?
As I said to the right hon. Gentleman in answer to his first question, this Government is working to ensure that, whatever the outcome of the negotiations, this country makes a success of coming out of the European Union and that we see a global Britain and a brighter future for people here in this country.
Interestingly, I yet again suggested to the right hon. Gentleman that he stand up and categorically rule out a second referendum, and he refused to do so. I will give him another opportunity to do it now.
A majority of people might have voted to leave but they expected the negotiations to be handled competently, and they certainly are not. I did not hear a single one of those countervailing opportunities. I simply say to the Prime Minister that she cannot keep dancing around all the issues. It seems that Panasonic has taken the cue and decided to dance off altogether—it is relocating out of this country. Could the Prime Minister tell the House how many other companies have been in touch with her or her ministerial team and told her privately that they intend to relocate in the absence of a serious, sensible deal with the European Union?
What we have seen is businesses showing confidence in our economy. In August, Dyson announced £200 million of investment in its electric vehicle testing facility in Wiltshire, and 2 Sisters Food Group—Bernard Matthews—has won major new contracts with supermarkets, underpinning 600 new jobs. The Hut Group has announced 200 new tech jobs in Salford. We welcomed £130 million of foreign direct investment in our automotive sector from four companies in July, generating around 500 new jobs.
What we are doing is negotiating a Brexit deal that will deliver for this country and deliver on the vote of the British people, and will ensure that we do so while protecting jobs, maintaining our Union and ensuring no hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland. And what do we get from the right hon. Gentleman? He said that he wants to do new trade deals, and now he wants to be in the customs union. At one stage he was asked about his view on free movement, and he said:
“Labour is not wedded to freedom of movement for EU citizens as a point of principle, but…nor do we rule it out.”
So he cannot even agree with himself on his own position.
“would be devastating for working people.”
The EU’s chief negotiator and President Macron both seem to have categorically ruled out the Prime Minister’s Chequers proposals. We are now at a critical point. Will the Prime Minister tell the House whether she believes a deal will be reached by the agreed deadline of October? That is October 2018, not any other one.
We are working for a good deal. We are still working, as are the European Union, to the timetable of October, because we are leaving the European Union on
Yesterday the Brexit Secretary admitted there had been “some slippage”. Today Lord King condemned the “incompetence of the preparation”, saying that it “beggared belief” that the sixth biggest economy in the world should get itself into this position.
The Prime Minister has repeatedly said that no deal is better than a bad deal, but no deal is a bad deal, and everyone from the CBI to the TUC to her own Chancellor is telling her the same thing. The Chequers proposal is dead, already ripped apart by her own MPs. When will the Prime Minister publish a real plan that survives contact with her Cabinet and with reality? Those are, of course, two very separate concepts. When will we get proposals that put jobs and the economy ahead of her survival and that of her own Government?
We have published a plan, which we are discussing with the European Union, that ensures that we deliver on the vote of the British people; that we bring an end to free movement; that we come out of the common agricultural policy and the common fisheries policy; that we no longer send vast amounts of money to the EU every year; that we no longer have the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice here in this country; and that we do not have a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, and do not have a border between Northern Ireland and Great Britain. What I am doing is negotiating a Brexit deal for Britain. I am making sure that the economy works for everyone. I am building a stronger, fairer country. What is the right hon. Gentleman doing? He is trying to change his party so that antisemites can call the creation of Israel racist, and he should be ashamed of himself.
The Prime Minister will be aware of the campaign to extend the Borders railway from Tweedbank to Hawick and Newcastleton, and on to Carlisle. That will provide a huge boost to the local economy and will help demonstrate what Scotland’s two Governments can do for my region. So what will the Prime Minister do to ensure there is sufficient resource in the Borderlands growth deal to allow this project to move forward?
I understand the importance to partners across the region of the campaign and proposal to which my hon. Friend refers. I am sure he understands that this is a devolved transport issue, but I encourage all parties involved to come to a workable solution and to ensure the best outcome for the entire region, because this can bring great benefits. On his point about the Borderlands growth deal, may I assure him that the UK and Scottish Governments will continue to work in partnership to deliver that deal?
I congratulate Scotland and England on qualifying for the World cup. All of us in Scotland are immensely proud of our Scottish women’s team.
When the Tories introduced Thatcher’s poll tax in the 1980s, Scotland was used as a guinea pig and the Scottish Tories paid the price for their folly—they were wiped off the political map of Scotland. The Prime Minister’s Chequers plan is even more unpopular than the poll tax. Why is the Prime Minister gambling with Scotland’s future by taking us out of the EU against our will with her disastrous Chequers plan?
The only people gambling with Scotland’s future are those in the Scottish National party, who want to take Scotland out of the United Kingdom.
That was no answer to the question—I should remind the Prime Minister that this is Prime Minister’s questions. Michel Barnier has said that the Chequers plan is “not acceptable”. Mervyn King has called the Government’s preparations “incompetent”. Prime Minister, your Chequers plan is as dead as a dodo. With the clock ticking down, will the Prime Minister finally concede that backing the single market and customs union is the only option to protect jobs, the economy and the Good Friday agreement?
We have put forward a proposal, under the Chequers plan, that protects jobs and livelihoods, that ensures that we deliver on the vote of the British people and that ensures that we deliver on no hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland and maintain the Union of the United Kingdom. Michel Barnier has put forward another proposal, which keeps Northern Ireland in the customs union and the single market, is a free trade agreement only for Great Britain and creates a border down the Irish sea. I have said that it is unacceptable to me as Prime Minister. I believe that no British Prime Minister would find that deal acceptable. We are negotiating on the Chequers deal. It delivers for the United Kingdom—it delivers for the people of the whole United Kingdom.
Walsall Manor Hospital serves many of my constituents, and it desperately needs a new and extended accident and emergency department. With other hospitals in the Black country supporting its bid, will the Prime Minister assure me that some of the £20 billion additional funding for the NHS is coming to Walsall to improve A&E provision?
We are committed to providing the local NHS with the funding it needs. As my hon. Friend knows, we have announced more than £3.9 billion of new additional capital funding for the NHS up to 2022-23. We announced that last year. The majority is to support the implementation of plans from local communities. I understand that the Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust has resubmitted an application for the £36.2 million of funding in July for the Walsall Manor Hospital emergency department. The Department of Health and Social Care expects the successful schemes to be announced in the autumn, but my right hon. Friend the Health and Social Care Secretary will be pleased to meet my hon. Friend to discuss his campaign.
Rural Scotland, including my Argyll and Bute constituency, is facing a depopulation crisis that will be exacerbated by Brexit. Last week, Cleland Sneddon, the chief executive of Argyll and Bute Council, added his name to those calling for a more flexible, devolved and regional immigration policy and offered Argyll and Bute as a pilot area to test it. Will the Prime Minister agree to meet me and the chief executive to discuss the merits of such a proposal?
I welcome the hon. Gentleman asking a question at PMQs, but he has asked about a regional immigration policy, an issue that the Migration Advisory Committee looked at a while back. It made it very clear that that was not a situation that the Government should accept, partly because of the practical problems in implementing it. When we put forward our proposals for the immigration policy for people coming from the European Union, we will ensure that they are right for the whole United Kingdom.
SIS II, Prüm and PNR are all EU-wide databases, many of which the UK helped to shape and which keep us safe. While there is much debate here about the type of trading arrangement we will have with the EU, may I ask the Prime Minister for reassurance that there will still be the highest level of security arrangement with the EU as we leave the European Union, because any reduction would be completely unacceptable to the people of the UK?
My right hon. Friend is right to highlight the importance of our security relationship with the EU. I remember the discussions and debates that led to the establishment of the PNR directive. The White Paper provides a comprehensive and ambitious vision for that future security relationship, and that is why we propose that security partnership to protect our shared law enforcement and criminal justice capabilities, facilitate continued co-operation and support our joint working on security issues, such as counter-terrorism. Michel Barnier has recognised the progress made in our discussions on security, so our focus should be on trying to obtain and define that ambitious and unprecedented partnership that will help to keep people safe, not just here but across the whole EU.
The opening of the V&A museum of design next week in my city of Dundee is already attracting worldwide attention, is expected to have up to 500,000 visitors in its first year and will drive millions of pounds into the local economy. The Prime Minister will be aware that an announcement to confirm funding for the Tay cities deal is imminent, and improved connectivity is key to driving the prosperity of the region. As an air link to Dundee was part of Heathrow’s successful bid for the third runway, will the Prime Minister express her firm commitment to the introduction of a new direct air service to Dundee by 2021 and the associated investment required to secure it?
The hon. Gentleman is right to bring to the attention of the House both that deal and the opening of the V&A in Dundee. These are important ways in which the UK Government are working to ensure support for Scotland and those opportunities for the Scottish economy. Another one of those is the fact that this Government have taken the decision to enable the third runway to go ahead at Heathrow, and we expect that when that happens we will see better connectivity within the United Kingdom.
This September is blood cancer awareness month, and I am therefore delighted that it was announced yesterday that the NHS will provide innovative CAR-T cell immune therapy to under-25s—the first health system in Europe to do so. I seek assurances from my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister that a focus on blood cancer awareness, diagnosis and prevention will continue into the future.
I commend my hon. Friend for the work that he has done to champion the cause of blood cancer and raise a much greater awareness of the issue. I can assure him that we will continue to press on and raise awareness of the issue, and I, too, am pleased that the decision that was announced yesterday was able to be made. I congratulate him, because he has personally campaigned on this and championed this cause.
The Prime Minister and I both represent seats around Heathrow airport, and we both campaigned for years against its damaging effects on our constituents and against its expansion. But when it came to the third runway vote, she shifted. If I can understand her change of heart—because new facts emerge and it was not the same proposal as it was years ago—can she not apply the same logic and allow the electorate the final say on the final Brexit deal?
The hon. Lady makes an ingenious attempt to raise the Brexit issue. This Parliament overwhelmingly gave the British the decision on whether to remain in or leave the European Union. The British people voted. It is now up to this Government and politicians across the whole House to show our faith with the British people and deliver on their vote.
At a time when this House will inevitably be spending a lot of time discussing Brexit, it is important that we also concentrate on other issues. For many families, their children’s future is a very immediate concern. With that in mind, does the Prime Minister agree that ensuring that as many children as possible grow up in a household where someone is working is the best way not only to provide a secure economic background for children, but to ensure that future generations are prepared to play a full and productive role in society?
I absolutely agree with my right hon. Friend that work is the best route out of poverty. It is also important for the example that it gives to children in households when they see a parent or parents working. I am pleased to say that the number of children being brought up in workless households is at the lowest level that we have seen. This is very important. We know that three quarters of children move out of poverty when their parents go into full-time work. Being in work sets an example and brings benefits to children, families and our whole society, and it is important to ensure that jobs are provided so that people can be in work for the future of their children.
I believe that the responsible Minister has made an announcement about the fact that the pensions dashboard will be going ahead, and I think that there will some piloting and consultations.
The Prime Minister appreciates the plight of the poorest Britons, who, when they have loved and lost, struggle to afford to provide a dignified and decent funeral, as she established the children’s funeral fund. Nevertheless, the grant available to the poorest people for this purpose has been frozen at £700 since 2003 and 30% of people get nothing at all. The Select Committee on Work and Pensions, chaired by Frank Field, recommended changes in 2016. Will the Prime Minister meet me, him and others to discuss this matter? It is not just our task or our duty; it is our mission to help to heal the broken-hearted.
My right hon. Friend raises an important and sensitive issue. None of us wants to see a situation where people are not able to afford to do what is a terrible task, given that they have seen a loved one die, and it is important to families and individuals to be able to give their loved one a proper funeral. As he will know, the funeral expenses payments do continue to cover the necessary costs involved with funerals and cremations and up to £700 for other funeral expenses. Some changes have been made to ensure that other contributions are not deducted from the funeral expenses payment so that there is no change to that. My right hon. Friend’s position sounds like a Budget submission, which I suggest he might wish to put forward to my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
First, I think we should all pay tribute to the work that our teachers and headteachers do across the country. I am pleased that 1.9 million more children are now in good or outstanding schools. We are backing schools with an extra £1.3 billion over the next two years. Per-pupil funding is being protected in real terms. But we are doing more than that. The Department for Education is working with schools to help reduce their non-staffing costs—that includes up to £1 billion through better procurement—so teachers will be able to do what they do best, which is carry on teaching.
Last Monday in Solihull, the lives of a mother and daughter, Khaola Saleem and Raneem Oudeh, were brought to an end after a double stabbing outside their home. I have met Khaola and Raneem’s family and seen first-hand their quiet dignity, clear love for one another and desire to see something good come from their loss. Will the Prime Minister join me in sending our thoughts and prayers to Khaola and Raneem’s family and thanking our emergency services, police liaison officers and the wider community of Solihull, which has shown great stoicism and heartfelt concern as this tragedy has unfolded?
I think that the whole House will want to join me in sending our deepest sympathies to the families and loved ones of Khaola Saleem and Raneem Oudeh. This is a terrible tragedy. I am sure that my hon. Friend understands that I cannot comment on the ongoing investigation that is taking place, but he is right to draw attention to the work of the emergency services. Indeed, I join him in paying tribute not only to our emergency services but to the local community for the support that they have shown at this very difficult time.
According to the patients’ group End Our Pain, there has been a near total refusal of NHS trusts to back applications for medical cannabis. The Home Secretary has only paid lip service to two high-profile cases and has not proposed a workable solution for other desperate children and adults across the UK. The Prime Minister could show real leadership and solve this for hundreds of families—but will she?
First, I offer deepest sympathies to those who are suffering severe conditions where other treatments have not been effective and these cannabis-based medicinal products have the potential to help. That is why the Home Secretary has announced that the law will be changed so that specialist clinicians will be able to prescribe—legally prescribe—cannabis-based medicinal products to patients with an exceptional clinical need. While that change is taking place, an expert panel of clinicians has been established, as an interim, to ensure that treatment is safe and effective. So we are not just waiting for the legislation to change. We will change the law, but we have also put in place a procedure to ensure that those cases can be considered properly.
On Monday, right hon. and hon. Members from across the House will join the people of Gibraltar in celebrating their national day on
I am very happy to give my hon. Friend that reassurance and that commitment on behalf of this Government. I send best wishes to the people of Gibraltar for their celebrations on
Last year, Bedford’s maternity unit closed its doors six times due to capacity and staffing issues. This is disgraceful. Will the Prime Minister admit now that starving our NHS of funds has had very devastating consequences? Will she reinstate the nursing bursaries to address the shameful national shortage of 3,500 midwives and fund our NHS properly?
I simply point out to the hon. Gentleman that health funding in his area will be £1.5 billion this year, and thanks to our funding commitments, this is an increase of over £60 million on the previous year—a cash increase of 4.2%. The Bedfordshire clinical commissioning group will receive a cash increase of 4.34% on last year. We are putting extra money into the national health service. But more than that, we have committed future funding—a five-year funding programme —and a 10-year plan for the national health service to deliver the services that patients need.
With exit day fast approaching, will my right hon. Friend now give instructions to the whole of Government that the first priority of every Department must be domestic preparedness, whether we leave the EU with a deal or without one?
First, I commend my hon. Friend for the work he did on this issue when he was a Minister. I assure him that the Department for Exiting the European Union has indeed stepped up the work on preparations. We have 6,400 civil servants working on EU exit. There are an additional 1,850 recruits in the pipeline so that we can accelerate preparations as necessary. We have passed necessary laws in this House such as the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018—an historic Act. Obviously, there are other pieces of legislation, like the sanctions Act and the Nuclear Safeguards Bill. We are publishing the technical notices on no deal preparations. We are ensuring that our preparations are being made, and they are being made for every eventuality. We are working for a good deal; we prepare for every eventuality.
Does the Prime Minister agree with the chief constable of Greater Manchester when he says that, after losing 2,000 officers in eight years, the public have to accept that without more resources, it is impossible for the police to respond to crimes like car break-ins, antisocial behaviour and even property theft? Is that just the reality of policing under this Government, or will the Prime Minister commit to give our police the funding they need?
Obviously, we understand that the demand on policing is changing and becoming increasingly complex. That is why, after speaking to forces in England and Wales, we provided a comprehensive funding settlement that will increase total investment in the police system by over £460 million in this year, 2018-19. The hon. Gentleman might like to note that the force has a higher number of officers per head of population than the England and Wales average.
Earlier this morning, my daughter Sophie—on her own merit, along with thousands of other schoolchildren—attended her first day at grammar school. What message does the Prime Minister have for my daughter Sophie and the thousands of other children who, on their own merit, secured a place at grammar school?
First, I would say well done to my hon. Friend’s daughter Sophie and those other children. Secondly, I would say to Sophie and others that this is a country where how far you get on in life should depend on how hard you work and your talents and abilities. A good education is crucial to that, so I would say: enjoy your time at school and make the best of it, because education is the key that unlocks the door to your future.
Not only are we of course making sure that the arrangements in relation to aviation will be what they should be when we leave the European Union, but we have been working with the aerospace sector generally and with aviation to ensure that as we put in place our modern industrial strategy, we see jobs being not just maintained but created across the country, with high-skilled and well-paid jobs for people in these important sectors. Aviation is an important sector for the UK.
In this year’s local election, we elected the first Conservative councillor in my constituency—a wonderful lady called Nic—but since her election, she has been subjected to the most awful abuse by Labour and Momentum activists. Police have been called to her home several times. People have hung around her home late at night, and one has allegedly trolled her via his dead wife’s social media account. Her special needs son is now too scared to leave the house. Will the Prime Minister join me in condemning that abhorrent intimidation of elected officials? Is that supposed to be the kinder, gentler politics of the Labour party?
May I first say to my hon. Friend that I congratulate Nic, who fought the election, and that I am sorry she has been subjected to this appalling series of attacks of various sorts since that election? Across our democracy, we have different opinions about what we want to achieve and sometimes about how we achieve what we want to achieve, but it is right that we are able to put those opinions forward. The democratic process means we put our views to the public and the public choose, as they have chosen my hon. Friend’s constituent to represent them on the council. She should be able to get on with the job of representing her constituents free of hatred and free of the abuse that she appears to be getting, and I say that this should be condemned on all sides of this House.
It has been reported this morning that the Treasury and No. 10 are blocking plans for legally binding three-year tenancies for private renters. This is of great concern to private renters in my constituency, including many families sending their children back to school this week who do not know where they will be living this time next year. Will the Prime Minister make a clear promise to private tenants that they will be entitled to three-year tenancies in law?
We are keen to support tenants to access longer, more secure tenancies, while also obviously ensuring that landlords are able to recover their property when needed. The consultation on overcoming the barriers to longer tenancies in the private rented sector closed on
I know my right hon. Friend will be as concerned as me, and I am sure the whole House, to hear of and see the carcases of nearly 90 elephants near a wildlife sanctuary in Botswana. This coincides with Botswana’s anti-poaching unit being disarmed. Will she do more to tackle this scourge, including through our aid budget by funding more rangers and more training through the Ministry of Defence?
The whole issue of the illegal wildlife trade is a very important one. It was an issue that I touched on when I was in South Africa, in fact, and there was a Minister from Botswana there at the time. We are holding a major conference later this year on the illegal wildlife trade, because we see it as an important issue, and we are bringing people together across the international community to consider how we can further deal with this.
Prominent Tory Brexiteers promised that Wales would not lose out on funding if it voted to leave the EU. Wales has received £5.3 billion in European structural funds since 2000—the highest level in the UK and Europe. Will the Prime Minister guarantee, here and now, that Wales will not lose out on these funds should the UK leave the EU?
First, the hon. Gentleman says “should” the UK leave the EU. The UK is leaving the European Union, and that will happen on
Like my right hon. Friend, I have recently returned from Africa, where I visited a refugee camp in Tanzania with Plan, witnessing the transformative impact of UK aid in protecting women from sexual violence and giving children access to education. With the UN General Assembly fast approaching, will the Prime Minister outline what preparations she has made for the global compact on refugees?
Yes, we are looking at this. We are not just looking at what has been proposed for the global compact for refugees; we have actually been part of the discussions about what should be in that global compact. This partly reflects one of the speeches I gave when I was at UNGA in 2016, shortly after I became Prime Minister, about the need to look internationally at how we deal with migration and refugees. I want to see a better ability to differentiate between illegal economic migrants and refugees, because I think by doing that we will be able to ensure that we are providing the support necessary for refugees.
As the right hon. Gentleman will know, the system was launched not that long ago. It is very clear; it is an online system, and it is a simple system. We guaranteed that that would be what we provided, and it is what we have delivered.
Wilkies is a central Scotland department store. Over the years, it has become something of an institution in Stirling, and it recently announced that it was to close. While the Scottish Government continue to delay any changes to the business rate system in Scotland, which is killing our high streets, can the Prime Minister assure me that there will be some action to level the playing field between high street businesses and online sellers?
My hon. Friend is right to highlight the importance of using the tax system in a responsible way. It is right that businesses make a contribution to their local area through the business rates, but this should be as fair as possible. That is why we have improved the system and made changes worth over £10 billion to businesses, including taking 600,000 small businesses out of paying business rates altogether. Britain’s retailers, be they high street shops or independent traders, are a crucial part of our economy. They create jobs, and they inject billions into our economy. All those responsible for the tax system should deal with our retailers responsibly and recognise the impact of the decisions they make.
I think we should wrap up with a new, young Member seeking to make an early mark—Mr Geoffrey Robinson.
I am grateful, Mr Speaker.
Is the Prime Minister aware that next Wednesday,
This is an important piece of legislation and, as the hon. Gentleman says, it will make a difference to people’s lives. We have, as he says, given this legislation our backing, and we will continue to give it our backing precisely because of its importance and the impact it will have on people.
Very well. I will give the hon. Lady the benefit of the doubt while the Prime Minister consumes some water.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I seek your guidance. My constituent Kweku Adoboli is facing imminent deportation to Ghana, where he has not lived since he was four years old. Despite my constituent’s rehabilitation and reform since his release from prison, and his work for a number of UK universities and the special forces, the Prime Minister has not responded directly to the letters I have written to her and the points I have made. What can I do to ensure that she responds directly and reviews this decision?
The short and honest answer is that the hon. Lady can wait patiently and in an egalitarian spirit, like every other Member, for the opportunity to put a question to the Prime Minister at the appropriate time, rather than using the bogus device of a contrived point of order inappropriately to try to put her point on the record. Being as I am a decent and charitable soul, I am happy to admire her ingenuity on this occasion, but I would not encourage her to use this ruse too frequently.