Topical Questions

Oral Answers to Questions — Cabinet Office – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 14th November 2018.

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Photo of Ross Thomson Ross Thomson Conservative, Aberdeen South 12:00 am, 14th November 2018

If he will make a statement on his departmental responsibilities.

Photo of David Lidington David Lidington Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Minister of State (Cabinet Office)

Yesterday I chaired the Joint Ministerial Committee on EU negotiations, attended by Scottish and Welsh Government Ministers and civil servants from Northern Ireland. This, the eighth such JMC meeting that I have chaired this year, followed the significant progress made in recent months with the devolved Governments in developing UK-wide frameworks to protect the vital internal market of the United Kingdom.

Photo of Ross Thomson Ross Thomson Conservative, Aberdeen South

From policing to education, health and the environment, the approach of the Scottish National party Government is that control from Edinburgh is best, and when in doubt, centralise. Can my right hon. Friend update the House on what he is doing to ensure that the Smith commission promise to ensure decentralisation from Edinburgh is met?

Photo of David Lidington David Lidington Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Minister of State (Cabinet Office)

The Smith commission was clear that it is the responsibility of the Scottish Government to work with the Scottish Parliament, civic Scotland and local authorities to ensure that power is devolved from Holyrood to local communities. For our part, we are ready to help the Scottish Government to implement the Smith commission in full and will give them our support if and when they choose to do that.

Photo of Jon Trickett Jon Trickett Shadow Minister (Cabinet Office), Shadow Lord President of the Council

Will the Minister confirm without equivocation that the Government will fully comply with yesterday’s resolution that all information provided to the Cabinet will be made available to the House as soon as the Cabinet finishes, if it ever does?

Photo of David Lidington David Lidington Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Minister of State (Cabinet Office)

I set out the Government’s position yesterday in the debate. We will reflect upon the outcome of the vote yesterday, but at the moment, there is no agreed deal. There is a provisional agreement between negotiators, which has yet to be considered by the UK Cabinet or the 27 member states meeting in Council.

Photo of Eddie Hughes Eddie Hughes Conservative, Walsall North

In the centenary of the Parliament (Qualification of Women Act) 1918, how do we encourage greater diversity among candidates for public office, such as Amandeep Garcha, a Sikh woman in my constituency?

Photo of Brandon Lewis Brandon Lewis Minister without Portfolio , Party Chair, Conservative Party

My hon. Friend makes a good point. It is fantastic to see such wide diversity of candidates in Walsall. I remind the House that the Government Equalities Office is providing financial assistance for all MPs, to encourage female constituents to come here on 21 November, and I hope more colleagues will take up that opportunity.

Photo of John Grogan John Grogan Labour, Keighley

In addition to the register of lobbyists, in the interests of transparency, shouldn’t all think-tanks be obliged to publish their funding sources?

Photo of Chloe Smith Chloe Smith The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office, Assistant Whip

We believe that the legislation is working well, but we would be happy to look into any specific further points that the hon. Gentleman would like to make.

Photo of Maria Miller Maria Miller Chair, Women and Equalities Committee

The Government Equalities Office funding is in education, its staff are in the Home Office and its Ministers are in the Department for International Development. My Select Committee recommended a year ago the wholesale move of the GEO to the Cabinet Office. Does my right hon. Friend agree with that?

Photo of David Lidington David Lidington Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Minister of State (Cabinet Office)

My right hon. Friend and her Committee did indeed make a powerful case. It has needed a lot of cross-departmental discussion, but I hope that in the very near future, we will be in a position to give her a definitive response.