Business of the House

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:20 pm on 25th April 2019.

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Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons 12:20 pm, 25th April 2019

I thank the shadow Leader of the House for her remarks about Lyra McKee. It was a fitting tribute that all Members would agree with.

The hon. Lady asked when this parliamentary Session will end. As ever, it is subject to the progress of parliamentary business, and an announcement will be made in the usual way at the appropriate moment. She asked about Erasmus+. She will be aware that, while we remain a member of the European Union, students will continue to be part of the Erasmus arrangements. Under the withdrawal agreement and future economic partnership with the EU, new arrangements will be put in place, but it is this Government’s ambition to seize many new opportunities for young people to study overseas and form links around the world. We have Education questions on Monday 29 April, and she may wish to raise her specific question then.

The hon. Lady asked about climate change and the climate crisis. I would like to pay tribute to all those who have done so much to peacefully share their views about the importance of addressing climate change. She will be aware that it was this Government who ratified the Paris agreement in November 2016. I was proud to be part of that team when I was Energy Minister at the Department of Energy and Climate Change. It was the first truly global legally binding agreement to tackle climate change, and I know that all Members support it.

In the UK, we have reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 25% since 2010, and UK carbon dioxide emissions have fallen for six years in a row—the longest streak on record. The hon. Lady is right to mention our 25-year environment plan, which pledges to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste. I banned plastic microbeads in cosmetics and personal care products. It is important that we do everything we can to protect our marine environment. Air pollution has also been reduced significantly since 2010, and we have put in place a clean air strategy and a clean growth strategy, both of which aim to ensure that we lead the world in decarbonisation—something that matters a great deal to all of us.

The hon. Lady raised the tragic case of Stephen Smith. I have seen on social media that his was a most appalling situation. I am not aware of the exact circumstances surrounding his tragic death, but it was a very harrowing story. The Government spend £55 billion a year to support disabled people and people with health conditions, which is up £10 billion in real terms since 2010, and we do everything in our power to ensure that we prioritise the wellbeing of people with disabilities.

The hon. Lady also asked about online harms and in particular what we can do to ensure proper protection of people’s data and protection from the abuse that we see all too often. She will be aware that the Online Harms White Paper sets out our plans for world-leading legislation to make the UK the safest place in the world to be online, overseen by an independent regulator, and we will make a further announcement on that in due course.

Finally, the hon. Lady mentioned the state visit from the President of the United States. All Members will be aware that the UK has a special and enduring relationship with the United States, based on our long history and commitment to shared values. The upcoming visit will be an opportunity to strengthen our already close relationship—one based on a frank exchange of views and, where we disagree, making our disagreements frankly known. It will also be an opportunity to discuss how we can build on our close ties with the United States in the years ahead.