Business of the House

Part of Whorlton Hall – in the House of Commons at 11:03 am on 23rd May 2019.

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Photo of Mark Spencer Mark Spencer Comptroller (HM Household) (Whip, House of Commons) 11:03 am, 23rd May 2019

I welcome the hon. Lady’s comments about the former Leader of the House. They enjoyed a sparky relationship across the Dispatch Box, but I know it was one of mutual respect. My right hon. Friend has a great deal of respect for the hon. Lady, and she enjoyed her time opposing her at the Dispatch Box.

We plan to publish the withdrawal agreement Bill in the week commencing 3 June. We had hoped it would have its Second Reading on Friday 7 June, but at the moment we have not secured agreement for that through the usual channels. We will, of course, update the House when we return from recess.

The hon. Lady is right to draw the attention of the House to the steel industry. Hon. Members from across the Chamber will have listened to the urgent question and ministerial statement this week. The Business Secretary is currently engaged with Greybull and British Steel to try to find a resolution. The Government recognise the importance of that and recognise that our constituents’ jobs and livelihoods depend on it. We will do all we can to assist and try to secure a way forward.

On vulnerable children, the hon. Lady is right to draw the attention of the House to this challenge. The Government recognise that we need to find a way forward. We need to work together and continue the battle against poverty. We need to drive in the right direction as fast we can, but we can only do that if we have economic success. We need to use the economic success the Government have created to resource and move forward.

Turning to the rapporteur the hon. Lady referred to, I wholly reject that report. The report actually talks about Governments from the second world war onward, including Governments that Opposition Members were members of. I reject the notion that this country since the second world war has not made significant progress. Governments of all colours have tried to tackle these issues and move forward. This Government continue in that direction and are doing all they can to move forward.

The hon. Lady made reference to the Manchester bombing. That was a terrible event and I think that is one topic that unites the whole House. When children and young adults go out to a concert they expect to do so in safety and for someone to commit an abhorrent act, as they did on that evening, is beyond words. We should be grateful to the emergency services who have to deal with the aftermath of such events and pay tribute to them.

Before I sit down I would like to add my voice to those who have paid tribute to the retiring Principal Clerk of the Table Office, Philippa Helme. I wish Colin Lee success as he takes over the role.