Christmas Adjournment

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:48 pm on 17th December 2020.

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Photo of Stuart Andrew Stuart Andrew Assistant Whip, The Treasurer of Her Majesty's Household 4:48 pm, 17th December 2020

Thank you very much, Mr Deputy Speaker. I am not going comment on the tie or where it may have come from.

It is always a pleasure to take part in these debates. We have heard from colleagues from across the House raising all sorts of issues whether they be international, national or local. Every one of them has clearly been heartfelt and I thank them for their contributions. I, too, want to pay tribute to those Members who are new to this House. It is always difficult getting used to this place, but in this difficult year it really has been a challenge. I think they have, on all sides of the House—I mean this sincerely—done that with great professionalism. I hope that next year we can get back to some sort of normality, so that they can enjoy the rest of what this House is really like.

I would like to comment on a couple of issues that were raised. My hon. Friend Jack Lopresti mentioned that he wants a meeting with the Prime Minister. I am not going to commit to putting a slot in the Prime Minister’s diary, but I will certainly make reference to that and inform my right hon. Friend.

Navendu Mishra quite rightly spoke about libraries and paid tribute to them. I have been quite impressed myself; I have a community library in Rawdon in my own constituency, which is now fully supported by volunteers who do tremendous amounts of work. Of course, this is a good time of year to get children in particular looking at books, with books such as “Cinderella”, “Dick Whittington”, “Snow White”, “Sleeping Beauty” and “Jack and the Beanstalk”—all the panto things that we can encourage them to start reading.

I am going to come on to my hon. Friend—or he was —Paul Holmes. He gave a very long list of things he wants. Father Christmas at the moment is preparing all his reindeer—Prancer, Dasher, Rudolph, Dancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen—to supply gifts to the children of this planet for their good behaviour; all I can say to my hon. Friend is that, if he carries on behaving well, he may be lucky in getting some of those gifts that he wants for his constituency.

However, my hon. Friend is right to raise some important issues. We have invested more than £280 billion in this very difficult year to support businesses up and down the country. It has been hugely challenging. He was right to raise the levelling-up fund, and I can assure him that it will be for all parts of the country. There is £4 billion there that is part of the wider £600 billion of infrastructure funding that we will be doing over the next five years.

My hon. Friend also quite rightly mentioned independent lifeboats. We have become dependent on charities in many walks of life and they do tremendous amounts of work. I pay tribute to all of them and the Government are doing what they can to help.

Meg Hillier raised the very important issue of cladding. I do not think any of us will ever forget the horrific scenes we saw at Grenfell. I know that Ministers are constantly working on that; 80% of the dangerous cladding has been removed, but there is more to do, and I will certainly make sure that that is raised with my ministerial colleagues.