Engagements

Prime Minister – in the House of Commons at on 15 November 2023.

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Photo of Mark Eastwood Mark Eastwood Conservative, Dewsbury

Kirklees Council has closed Dewsbury sports centre; delivered just 14% of education, health and care plans within the 20-week target; and is unable to deliver a five-year land supply. Those are just three of its many failings. Now it wants to introduce extortionate car parking charges, punishing hard-working families and destroying the high street in our towns and villages. Does my right hon. Friend agree that Labour-run Kirklees Council is no longer fit for purpose?

Photo of Rishi Sunak Rishi Sunak The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

I share my hon. Friend’s disappointment with the Labour-run council in Kirklees. Just this week we saw a Labour councillor suspended for antisemitism. As he said, it has also closed Dewsbury sports centre and is proposing to increase car parking charges, punishing local businesses and shoppers in the run-up to Christmas. Clearly, the council is no longer fit for purpose. Local residents deserve better.

Photo of Neale Hanvey Neale Hanvey Alba, Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath

Last week, Members from across the House heard testimony from a young Israeli man who lost both his peace-campaigning parents in the 7 October attack. This morning, we heard from Palestinians who have lost generations of families in the south of Gaza because of the military attacks there. This is a question of humanity and morality. The Prime Minister has an opportunity to lead the calls for peace, or to endorse death, violence and destruction. Which will he choose?

Photo of Rishi Sunak Rishi Sunak The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

I think that is an extremely naive and simplistic way of looking at the problem. The hon. Member failed to mention the fact that a proscribed terrorist organisation perpetrated an awful attack on over 1,000 individuals. Israel has every right to defend itself in those circumstances. People in that country would expect nothing less than for it to provide security for its citizens. Of course, alongside that, it must abide by international law. We will do everything we can, as I have said, to ensure that aid flows in and alleviates the suffering of the people in Gaza.

Photo of Kevin Foster Kevin Foster Conservative, Torbay

Proposals for a new rail station at Edginswell have been looked forward to for a decade, but a final funding gap exists. Will some of the funds released by the decision to scrap further phases of HS2 be used to resolve that?

Photo of Rishi Sunak Rishi Sunak The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

I can assure my hon. Friend that our decision on HS2 means that every region of the country will now receive more transport investment than it would have done before, including the south-west. I am pleased that there is funding to protect the vital rail link between Exeter and Plymouth, that there will be a £2.8 billion road resurfacing fund, and that his constituents in the south-west will continue to benefit from the £2 bus fare until the end of next year. We have previously provided almost £8 million to progress the station that he mentions. I can reassure him that the Rail Minister will have heard his representations and will continue to update him on the progress being made.

Photo of Nick Smith Nick Smith Shadow Deputy Leader of the House of Commons

David Cameron was the well-paid public face of Lex Greensill. Greensill’s companies are facing criminal investigations in Switzerland, Germany and here in the UK. David Cameron messaged Ministers and officials 62 times over Greensill’s covid loan guarantees. The Treasury Committee called that

“a significant lack of judgement”.

What does his appointment say about the Prime Minister’s own judgment?

Photo of Rishi Sunak Rishi Sunak The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

As the hon. Gentleman knows, the Government commissioned Nigel Boardman to review all those issues and strengthen the system following those recommendations. I am very confident that this nation will be well represented abroad by the former Prime Minister. He is a Prime Minister with unrivalled experience of foreign affairs and will help Britain to navigate an uncertain world in challenging times. In contrast, the Labour party would offer to the country a shadow Foreign Secretary who backed the Leader of the Opposition’s predecessor to be leader, was paid to appear on Russian television and even voted against Trident. Does that sound like a man who should represent Britain?

Photo of Greg Smith Greg Smith Conservative, Buckingham

The inflation numbers published this morning were very welcome, but the tax burden continues to bite. Will the Prime Minister agree in principle that the concept of higher rate tax was never meant to drag in police sergeants, band 8 nurses, teachers with additional responsibilities and others, and that a priority for his Treasury Ministers should be to return fairness to the tax thresholds?

Photo of Rishi Sunak Rishi Sunak The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

I agree with my hon. Friend and am pleased that the vast majority of people will continue not to pay the higher rate. I share his ambition to cut taxes for working people. Right now, inflation is falling and we are sticking to our plan, which is delivering a halving of it this year. That is the most effective tax cut we could have delivered for the British people this year, rather than making it worse, as the Labour party would do, by borrowing money irresponsibly and in a way that would just drive up inflation and interest rates. But I want to reassure him that I absolutely share his ambition to cut taxes for working people. As we stabilise the economy, that is something both the Chancellor and I are keen to deliver.

Photo of Janet Daby Janet Daby Shadow Minister (Youth Justice)

My son loves football, and I understand that the Prime Minister is a big Southampton supporter. After his latest Cabinet reshuffle, I wonder whether he can answer me this: since 2010, have we seen more Southampton managers sacked or have we seen more Housing Ministers come and go? The answer might help to explain why the Government are failing so miserably on new home ownership.

Photo of Rishi Sunak Rishi Sunak The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

I am pleased that the last figures show that actually we had a record number of first-time buyers. We are delivering 1 million homes over this Parliament, while at the same time the Labour party blocked our plans to unlock 100,000 homes. When it comes to Southampton, I am also pleased that we are on, I think, a seven or eight-game unbeaten run.

Photo of Desmond Swayne Desmond Swayne Conservative, New Forest West

If a two-state solution is to have a chance, Hamas must be defeated, but there will also first have to be a more enlightened policy of administration in the occupied west bank, mustn’t there?

Photo of Rishi Sunak Rishi Sunak The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

I thank my right hon. Friend for his question. The UK’s long-standing position on the middle east peace process is very clear: we support a negotiated settlement, leading to a safe and secure Israel alongside a viable and sovereign Palestinian state in Gaza and the west bank. I spoke about this on Monday. Both Israelis and Palestinians have a right to live in peace and security. The longer-term governance of Gaza and security needs to be looked at in the round. It is something that I have discussed repeatedly with President Abbas. We agree with the United States that Gaza should ultimately be under the control of the Palestinian Authority. We will continue to support President Abbas and his people to get to that outcome.

Photo of Kerry McCarthy Kerry McCarthy Shadow Minister (Climate Change and Net Zero)

A new generation of drugs, Orkambi, Symkevi and Kaftrio, is transforming the lives of patients with cystic fibrosis. People who would otherwise be waiting for double lung transplants are now living happy, healthy lives. However, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence is now saying that we cannot afford those drugs. Will the Prime Minister and his new Health Secretary get around the table with NICE and the drugs company to ensure that the children who are being born with cystic fibrosis today are given those life-saving drugs in the same way as the children who are currently living with cystic fibrosis?

Photo of Rishi Sunak Rishi Sunak The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

I thank the hon. Lady for raising an important issue, and I will of course ask the Health Secretary to look into it. As she will understand, NICE operates independently of Government, but if there is a conversation that can be had, I will ensure that it takes place.

Photo of David Davis David Davis Conservative, Haltemprice and Howden

In view of the events of the last six weeks, can the Prime Minister tell the House why the Government have not proscribed the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps?

Photo of Rishi Sunak Rishi Sunak The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

This Government continue to take strong action against Iran while people in the UK and around the world are under threat from the regime. We have sanctioned more than 350 Iranian individuals and entities, including the IRGC in its entirety. The National Security Act 2023 implements new measures to protect the British public, including new offences for espionage and foreign interference. While the Government keep the list of proscribed organisations under review, it is, as Members will be aware, a long-standing convention that we do not comment on whether a specific organisation is being considered for proscription.

Photo of Kevin Brennan Kevin Brennan Shadow Minister (Victims and Sentencing)

The Prime Minister has just said that David Cameron had unprecedented experience, so what would he say was his finest foreign policy achievement?

Photo of Rishi Sunak Rishi Sunak The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

There are many, many to pick from, but what I would say is that under his leadership this country hosted what was widely considered to be one of the most successful G8 summits of recent times.

Photo of Vicky Ford Vicky Ford Conservative, Chelmsford

It was great to welcome the Prime Minister to Chelmsford earlier this year, when he launched his antisocial behaviour strategy. He will be pleased to know that the local police have been consistently stepping up their activities. Last week they arrested 24 people for many crimes, and last night they took out a major county lines gang. Will the Prime Minister please join me in congratulating all those in our local police force, and would he like to come back to Chelmsford and go out on patrol, because he would be very welcome?

Photo of Rishi Sunak Rishi Sunak The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

It was great to visit my right hon. Friend and to launch the Government’s antisocial behaviour plan. I thank her for raising awareness about the important work that her local policing team are doing, and I am pleased that they have been empowered by our strategy. Antisocial behaviour makes life miserable for many, which is why the delivery of our plan is so important, and it is making a difference across the country, including in her part of the world. I was also pleased to see that under this Government, by the most recent year for which we have data, crime had decreased by 56% since 2010.

Photo of Kate Osborne Kate Osborne Labour, Jarrow

It is insulting that in the week that marks 20 years since the abolition of section 28, the Prime Minister has appointed a Minister without Portfolio who frequently attacks the LGBTQ+ community and who, with their so-called war on woke, seeks a return to those awful days, denying our human rights and attacking our very existence. Does the Prime Minister agree that he has manifestly and repeatedly failed? It is time for him to resign and to call a general election.

Photo of Rishi Sunak Rishi Sunak The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

Actually, this Government and previous Governments have a proud record in championing LGBT rights. It was this Government who introduced same-sex marriage. We will continue to ensure that everyone in our society can live with tolerance and compassion, and have every opportunity available to them. That is what we have delivered, and that is what we will continue to deliver.

Photo of Neil O'Brien Neil O'Brien Conservative, Harborough

Last year, through the Homes for Ukraine scheme, my family and I welcomed a refugee family to our home. I am proud that this country has always offered refuge to those who need it. However, it is essential that we in this country decide who comes here. The Prime Minister has rightly said that he will do whatever it takes to stop the small boats and the evil trade around them, but is it not apparent after this morning’s ruling that what it will take is a new law to override the Human Rights Act and cut through the thicket of case law built up by judicial activism, so that we can bring back control of our borders and stop the small boats?

Photo of Rishi Sunak Rishi Sunak The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

It is right that we go through the judgment carefully and properly. As I have said, the Government have already been working in advance on a new treaty with Rwanda to address the concerns that were raised previously and were raised by the Supreme Court, which also acknowledged that changes can be delivered to address those issues. Let me repeat, however, that if it becomes clear that our domestic legal frameworks, or indeed international conventions, are still frustrating plans after that point, I am prepared to change our laws and revisit those international relationships, because we are absolutely committed to stopping the boats.

Photo of Dawn Butler Dawn Butler Labour, Brent Central

I thank the Prime Minister for meeting my constituent Noam. It has been 40 days since his mum, Ada Sagi, was kidnapped by Hamas on 7 October. We all condemn Hamas’s actions and fight for the return of all hostages. Noam wants the language of love to be louder than the language of hate. Some 11,000 Palestinians have been killed, more than 4,000 of them children. International law is important. Does the Prime Minister agree that we can support Israel but also call out breaches of international law?

Photo of Rishi Sunak Rishi Sunak The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

I have been consistent from the start that while Israel has a right to defend itself, it is important that it complies with international law. It is a point I have made in every meeting or phone conversation I have had with Prime Minister Netanyahu. It was a privilege to meet the hon. Lady’s constituents and to hear of the pain they are going through, which I have enormous sympathy for. That is why we are doing everything we can to bring hostages home. We are engaged intensively in diplomatic activity in the region and working to get foreign nationals and British nationals home, and I am pleased to say that well over 200 have now left Gaza. We will continue to do everything we can to ensure that everyone can safely leave who needs to.

Photo of Holly Mumby-Croft Holly Mumby-Croft Conservative, Scunthorpe

The Prime Minister knows that I stand unapologetically with my steelmakers in Scunthorpe. He knows that I believe, as many across this House do, that the UK must retain a virgin steelmaking capability, for strategic reasons if nothing else. Will he reassure the House that he is personally following developments at British Steel and doing all he can to retain what is a vital sovereign capability?

Photo of Rishi Sunak Rishi Sunak The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

My hon. Friend is a fantastic champion for her local steelworking community. I hope she is reassured by the action that this Government have already taken to support steelmaking in our country, reaching a landmark agreement with Tata Steel to safeguard thousands of jobs there, as well as during the pandemic. I agree that it is important for our industrial base, and we will continue to have constructive conversations with all those companies to ensure that we can support them in their transition to a cleaner, greener steelmaking future.

Photo of Ian Paisley Jnr Ian Paisley Jnr Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Communities and Local Government), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Culture, Media and Sport)

According to the British Independent Retailers Association on a matter that affects every constituency across this kingdom, 82% of retailers do not even bother reporting physical attacks on their staff, and shopkeepers need to sell an additional 12 items to make up for each item that is stolen. Will the Prime Minister support the efforts being made by the association and by many Members across the House to ensure that retailers are protected, that theft against them is called out and that they are supported in every way possible? And today, at a meeting in Dining Room C, will he encourage its members from those shops in their efforts?

Photo of Rishi Sunak Rishi Sunak The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

First, I pay tribute to my hon. Friend for his work as vice-chair of the all-party parliamentary group on retail crime. He is absolutely right about the importance of this issue. I worked in my mum’s shop—her pharmacy—growing up, and I understand exactly what he is talking about when small businesses are the victims of crime. Our expectation and our agreement with police forces—we did this earlier this year—is that all shoplifting should be followed up where there is evidence such as CCTV footage and that any violent or abusive behaviour towards shopworkers, particularly those who provide a valuable service to the public, is never acceptable. That is why we introduced a statutory aggravating factor for assaults on workers who provide a service to the public. I commend my hon. Friend for everything he is doing on this issue.

Photo of Bill Cash Bill Cash Chair, European Scrutiny Committee, Chair, European Scrutiny Committee

Will my right hon. Friend give the House an assurance that he has made it clear to the new Foreign Secretary, who of course we wish well, that his policy and conduct of EU-related affairs will be consistent with the Government’s 2019 election manifesto and the referendum and that he is now fully committed to UK parliamentary sovereignty, self-government and democracy in accordance with the Government’s subsequent legislation?

Photo of Rishi Sunak Rishi Sunak The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

I am delighted to give my hon. Friend that assurance, because this Government are seizing the opportunities of Brexit, aided by his advice and support. We passed the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Act 2023 to ensure that we can regulate our growth industries more competitively, and we have signed trade deals with the fastest growing regions across the world including, most recently, the comprehensive and progressive agreement for trans-Pacific partnership. It is this Government who are delivering the benefits of Brexit to every part of our country, and long may that continue.