Whitsun Adjournment

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:35 pm on 23rd May 2019.

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Photo of Mark Spencer Mark Spencer Comptroller (HM Household) (Whip, House of Commons) 4:35 pm, 23rd May 2019

That is a really important point. At times, we take our democracy for granted. For someone to turn up at a polling station when they have the legal right to vote but to be refused is a very serious matter that we all, across the House, should try to address. I hold my hands up and say to the hon. Member for Newport East that I could not fill a form out in Polish. We need to recognise that we need to assist people in those communities in trying to engage in the system.

The hon. Member for Poplar and Limehouse is an assiduous contributor to these events. He is also very hard-working and is involved in a number of all-party groups, and I pay tribute to him for his work. He educated me in this debate—I was not aware of the British sign language GCSE and the challenges faced by those for whom sign language is their first language. I will try to pass that on to the relevant Departments to make sure that they can see the challenges and try to support people through them.

The hon. Gentleman referred to the Elizabeth line, which we are all desperate to see open as soon as possible. It is an enormous engineering feat that is happening right below our feet as we speak. I hope that we will see it open very soon, so that we can all speed up our journey east to west across this great city. The hon. Gentleman was the first person to mention Brexit. I think he just said that we need to get on and get it done. Very few Members would disagree with that view.

The right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland is only here because of the air traffic control strike. I seriously hope that that is resolved before the end of the Whitsun holiday, or he will have quite a drive and a row to Orkney if he undertakes the journey. He made some serious points about the need for support in the fishing industry. He recognised the annoyance his constituents must feel when work on a fishing trawler is described as low skilled. I challenge any Member of this House to jump on a fishing trawler and try to operate it. It is a skilled and dangerous occupation.

Those who make decisions on the Migration Advisory Committee should take into account the challenge in that industry. I will do all I can to assist the right hon. Gentleman in making sure that the Home Office recognises the challenge and engages with him. I know that he has had a number of Adjournment debates. My advice to him, as Mr Speaker would say, is to persist and to keep pushing so that eventually the arguments he is making drip in.

Finally, I turn to the hon. Member for Glasgow North East, who started by paying tribute to the thousands of volunteers from all parties who are out there banging on doors and getting people engaged in our democratic process. I join him in congratulating and thanking people from all political parties who try, unpaid, to keep people engaged in our political process.

The hon. Gentleman paid tribute to arts centres and churches for all the work they do and the positive impact they have. We sometimes take for granted all the volunteers who work in our communities free of charge, but they do have a really positive impact. We should also pay tribute to the work that he is doing on regeneration, working with planning authorities to make sure that people feel engaged in and have ownership of their communities.

Finally, the hon. Gentleman made reference to Tennent’s brewery, to which I am enormously sympathetic—I may have sampled its products in the past. I was not aware of Springburn glasshouse before today, but it sounds absolutely fascinating. Next time I travel north via Glasgow, I may well be tempted to visit it and to see the impact it is having locally.

We have had an excellent debate and I thank all those who have stopped to participate in it. I pay tribute to you, Madam Deputy Speaker, for the work that you have done this term, as well as Mr Speaker and the other Deputy Speakers. I pay tribute to all the House staff—the catering staff, the parliamentary security team who keep us safe, the cleaners, the librarians and everybody else who assists us in our work in the Houses of Parliament. I pay my own personal tribute to the staff in the Tea Room, who make my day and lift my mood every morning when I come in for a bit of breakfast.

I wish everyone a restful Whitsun recess. I know that many Members will not be on their sun loungers; they will be out in their constituencies working hard for the communities they hold so dear. I pay tribute to all of them.