Engagements

Prime Minister – in the House of Commons at on 6 December 2023.

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

This morning, I had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others. In addition to my duties in this House, I shall have further such meetings later today.

Photo of Sarah Champion Sarah Champion Chair, International Development Committee, Chair, International Development Committee

The Government are set to close the household support fund in March, cutting off crucial free meals for 12,000 of Rotherham’s children in the lowest-income families. With the Government’s cost of living crisis in full swing and energy prices about to increase again, how does the Prime Minister justify taking food from the mouths of my poorest children?

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

What we are doing is ensuring that no child should grow up in poverty. That is why we have not only provided considerable cost of living support this year, worth over £3,000 to a typical household, but provided more support this winter for pensioners, a record increase in the national living wage, and a full indexation and uplifting of welfare for the next financial year. When it comes to children and food, not only do we fund free school meals for almost 2 million children, but we introduced the holiday activities and food programme. That programme provides not just food but enriching activities to deprived children up and down the entire country, including in the hon. Lady’s local authority.

Photo of Caroline Ansell Caroline Ansell Conservative, Eastbourne

If there is one place where everyone should feel safe, it is in their own home, but the reality is that for some of the most vulnerable people, home is precisely where they can be most at risk. They are terrorised by criminals who target them, move in, take control, and set up a base camp from which they sell drugs or facilitate prostitution in a horrendous form of exploitation known as cuckooing. It has happened in Eastbourne, and it is happening across the country. It is not an offence, but it should be; it was not cited in the Criminal Justice Bill that we debated last week, so will my right hon. Friend and the Home Secretary meet with me and concerned colleagues to further discuss the issue?

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

I agree with my hon. Friend that cuckooing is an abhorrent practice that often preys on the most vulnerable in society. As part of the Government’s antisocial behaviour action plan, the Home Office engaged with relevant stakeholders about whether a new criminal offence was necessary. The results of that engagement demonstrated that a range of existing powers can be used to disrupt that activity, but of course I will ensure that the relevant Minister meets with my hon. Friend and updates her on the work we are doing to share effective practice to tackle this abhorrent problem.

Photo of Keir Starmer Keir Starmer Leader of HM Official Opposition, Leader of the Labour Party

It is very good to see you in your place, Madam Deputy Speaker. We wish Mr Speaker a speedy recovery.

This week, we lost two giants of the Labour family, and I thank the Prime Minister for his comments. Alistair Darling was a man of unassuming intelligence, warmth and kindness. He brought a calm expertise and, in private, a cutting wit, and his devoted love of his family was ever present. Our thoughts are with Maggie, his wife, and Calum and Anna, whom he loved so dearly.

Glenys Kinnock was a passionate campaigner for social justice who changed lives at home and abroad. She was a loving and supportive partner and mother, and her death is a huge loss to all of us. We are thinking of Neil, Stephen, Rachel and all the family. I also echo the Prime Minister’s comments in relation to Lord Douglas-Hamilton.

In relation to the Hillsborough families, they deserve justice. In a previous capacity, I worked with the families. They waited a very long time for the findings, thanks to people in this House, and they have waited a long time for this response, but I am glad it is now coming.

If the purpose of the Rwanda gimmick was to solve a political headache of the Tories’ own making—to get people out of the country who they simply could not deal with—then it has been a resounding success. After all, they have managed to send three Home Secretaries there—an achievement for which the whole country can be grateful. Apart from members of his own Cabinet, how many people has the Prime Minister sent to Rwanda?

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

As I have been clear before, we will do everything it takes—[Interruption.] We will do everything it takes to get this scheme working so that we can indeed stop the boats. That is why this week we have signed a new legally binding treaty with Rwanda, which, together with new legislation, will address all the concerns that have been raised. Everyone should be in no doubt about our absolute commitment to stop the boats and get flights off, because—this is the crucial point that the right hon. and learned Gentleman does not understand—deterrence is critical. Even the National Crime Agency has said that

“you need an effective removals and deterrence agreement” if you truly want to break the cycle of tragedy that we see. What we heard this morning from his own shadow Ministers was that they would scrap the scheme even when it is operational and working. Once again, instead of being on the side of the British people, he finds himself on the side of the people smugglers.

Photo of Keir Starmer Keir Starmer Leader of HM Official Opposition, Leader of the Labour Party

When the Government first announced this gimmick, they claimed Rwanda would settle tens of thousands of people—tens of thousands of people. Then the former Deputy Prime Minister quickly whittled it down to mere hundreds. Then the Court of Appeal in June made it clear there is housing for just 100. The current number of people sent there remains stubbornly consistent—zero. At the same time, article 19 of the treaty says:

The Parties shall make arrangements for the United Kingdom to resettle a portion of Rwanda’s most vulnerable refugees in the United Kingdom”.

So how many refugees from Rwanda will be coming here to the UK under the treaty?

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

The treaty, as I have said, addresses all the concerns of the Supreme Court, but it is a point of pride that we are a compassionate country that does welcome people from around the world. Let me just get the right hon. and learned Gentleman up to speed on what we are doing: we have reduced the number of illegal arrivals from Albania by 90%; increased the number of illegal working raids by 50%; and because of all the action we have taken, the number of small boat arrivals is down by one third. But what is the right hon. and learned Gentleman’s plan? What it comes down to is that he simply does not have a plan to address this problem. [Interruption.] No, no, I am probably being unfair, because he does have a plan: it is to cook up a deal with the EU that would see us accept 100,000 illegal migrants.

Photo of Keir Starmer Keir Starmer Leader of HM Official Opposition, Leader of the Labour Party

Migration has trebled on the Prime Minister’s watch, and all he can do is make up numbers about the Labour party. It is really pitiful. I am not actually sure the Prime Minister can have read this thing. Article 4 says the scheme is capped at Rwanda’s capacity—that is 100. Article 5 says Rwanda can turn them away if it wants. Article 19 says we actually have to take refugees from Rwanda. How much did this “fantastic” deal cost us?

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

As the Home Secretary was crystal clear about, there is no incremental money. [Interruption.] There is no incremental money that has been provided. This is about us ensuring that the concerns of the Supreme Court have all been addressed in a legally binding treaty that will allow us to operationalise the scheme. But I am glad the right hon. and learned Gentleman raised the topic of legal migration, which I agree is absolutely far too high. That is why this week we have outlined a plan, bigger than that of any other Government before, to reduce the levels of legal migration by 300,000. It is an incredibly comprehensive plan, so if he cares so much about it, the simple question for him is: does he support the plan?

Photo of Keir Starmer Keir Starmer Leader of HM Official Opposition, Leader of the Labour Party

He clearly hasn’t read it. Annex A says that, on top of the £140 million he has already showered on Rwanda, when we send people there under this treaty, we will have to pay for their accommodation and upkeep for five years. And that is not all: a Minister admitted this morning that anyone we send to Rwanda who commits a crime can be returned to us. I am beginning to see why the Home Secretary says the Rwanda scheme is—it was something to do with bats, wasn’t it?

What does the Prime Minister think first attracted Mr Kagame to hundreds of millions of pounds for nothing in return?

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

I have slightly lost the thread of the question. The simple point is that if you believe in stopping the boats, as we on this side of the House do, you need to have effective deterrence and a returns agreement. It is as simple as that.

The right hon. and learned Gentleman is not interested in stopping the boats, which is why he is not interested in the Rwanda plan. In fact, we know they do not want to tackle this issue, because even when this Government were trying to deport foreign national offenders from this country, they opposed it. Multiple shadow Front Benchers signed a letter to me to that effect, but I do not need to tell him that, because he signed it too! [Interruption.]

Photo of Keir Starmer Keir Starmer Leader of HM Official Opposition, Leader of the Labour Party

I would say that this treaty has more holes than a Swiss cheese, but I do not want to wind up the Prime Minister by talking about a European country again.

I have to give credit to the Rwandan Government. They saw the Prime Minister coming a mile off. I can only imagine their delight and sheer disbelief when, having already banked £140 million of British taxpayers’ money without housing a single asylum seeker, the Prime Minister appeared again with another offer they cannot refuse—a gimmick will send taxpayers’ money to Rwanda and refugees from Rwanda to Britain, and will not stop the boats. There was mention of Margaret Thatcher earlier—[Hon. Members: “More!”]

Photo of Keir Starmer Keir Starmer Leader of HM Official Opposition, Leader of the Labour Party

How did the Tory party go from “Up yours Delors” to “Take our money, Kagame”?

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

When it comes to this European thing and Margaret Thatcher, this is the week that the shadow Foreign Secretary did not rule out rejoining the European Union. The Leader of the Opposition can roleplay Margaret Thatcher all he wants but, when it comes to Europe, his answer is the same: “Yes, yes, yes.”

Photo of Keir Starmer Keir Starmer Leader of HM Official Opposition, Leader of the Labour Party

Forget the private jet; the Prime Minister is obviously on a private planet of his own. Daily Mail readers learned this week that he has begun to feel sorry for himself. He has even been heard comparing his plight to his beloved Southampton football club. I think that is a bit harsh, because the Saints have been on an 11-game unbeaten run while, as the song has it, the Prime Minister gets battered everywhere he goes.

If we want the perfect example of how badly the Tories have broken the asylum system, last week the Home Office admitted that 17,000 people in the asylum system—[Interruption.]

Photo of Keir Starmer Keir Starmer Leader of HM Official Opposition, Leader of the Labour Party

Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker.

If we want the perfect example of how badly the Tories have broken the asylum system, last week the Home Office admitted that 17,000 people in the asylum system have disappeared. These are its exact words, and they are hard to believe:

“I don’t think we know where all those people are”.

Now, you might lose your car keys, you might lose your headphones, you might lose your marbles, but how do you lose 17,000 people?

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

On the topic of football teams, the right hon. and learned Gentleman used to describe the Rwanda policy as immoral, yet his football team have a “Visit Rwanda” badge on the side of their shirts. In the week when he made his big economy speech, we are still waiting to hear how he is going to borrow £28 billion and still cut taxes and reduce debt. It is the same old thing: the sums do not add up. While the Opposition are struggling with their calculator, we are getting on and delivering—a new treaty with Rwanda, the toughest ever measures to cut legal migration, our schools marching up the tables, and tax cuts for millions. Whether it is controlling our borders or lowering our taxes, just like the Saints, the Conservatives are marching on.

Photo of Tim Loughton Tim Loughton Conservative, East Worthing and Shoreham

I am getting fed up of sitting in traffic jams in my constituency caused by contractors digging up roads, involving lane closures and temporary traffic lights, often invoking utility company emergency powers when it turns out not to be an emergency and often with no sign of anybody doing any work, particularly over weekends. I set up a campaign to name and shame these inconsiderate contractors, but it turns out that when they cause all this chaos and breach the rules of their permit, the maximum penalty is an £80 fixed penalty notice. Will the Prime Minister back my campaign and support better enforcement and realistic levels of fines?

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

My hon. Friend makes an excellent point. We have set aside £8 billion as a result of our plans on HS2, which is enough to resurface over 5,000 miles of road to improve journeys—a cornerstone of our plan—but we are also introducing a range of measures, as my hon. Friend says, to reduce congestion from roadworks. Contained in the plan for drivers is a scheme for greater fines and penalties to ensure that works finish on time. I will make sure that we look at his suggestion, and I wholeheartedly back his campaign.

Photo of Stephen Flynn Stephen Flynn SNP Westminster Leader

Is the Prime Minister worried that he is projected to be the first Conservative party leader to lose a general election to a fellow Thatcherite? [Interruption.]

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

I say to the hon. Gentleman that Margaret Thatcher’s view was to cut inflation, then cut taxes and then win an election, and that is very much my plan.

Photo of Stephen Flynn Stephen Flynn SNP Westminster Leader

Of course, it is not just in relation to Margaret Thatcher that the Tory and Labour leaders appear to agree; the same is true of the Government’s latest migration policies. Those of us on these Benches are not afraid to say that we believe migration is a good thing. It enriches our communities, it enriches our economy, and it enriches our universities, our schools, our health service and, of course, our care sector. Why does the Prime Minister think it is acceptable to ask people to come to these shores to care for our family members, while we show complete disregard for theirs? What has become of this place?

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

That is completely wrong. As we have already said, we have a proud track record of welcoming those who are most vulnerable around the world—over half a million over the past few years from Syria, Afghanistan, Ukraine, Hong Kong and elsewhere—and that is what this country will always do. But at the same time, when it comes to economic migration and other forms, it is absolutely right that we take strong action to curb the levels that we have seen, because they are simply far too high and place unsustainable pressure on our public services. I make no apology for saying that or, indeed, for saying that it is important that those who come here contribute to our public services.

Photo of Chris Loder Chris Loder Conservative, West Dorset

I welcome the Government’s significant funding increase for two-year-olds’ pre-schooling in 2023, but the illustrative 2024-25 Department for Education funding to Dorset Council for two-year-olds’ pre-schooling looks to be a net 17p per hour less than it is today, and that is giving West Dorset preschools some nervousness about their sustainability. Will my right hon. Friend support me to ensure that educational funding formulas will take into account the challenges of rural living and allow excellent preschools to—

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

In a couple of years’ time, we will have increased spending to over £8 billion every year on free hours and early education, which will help working families with childcare costs; indeed, it is the single biggest investment in childcare in England ever. But my hon. Friend makes an excellent point, and that is why we will ensure that there is a discretionary supplement in the local authorities’ local funding formula for rural communities to account for the smaller economies of scale, so that they can continue to deliver their vital work.

Photo of Stephen Farry Stephen Farry Alliance, North Down

Nine months on from the Windsor framework, I thank the Prime Minister for his ongoing efforts to restore the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive. However, if and when the institutions are restored, they will still be plagued by the same structural weaknesses that have seen repeated collapses and unfairness on things such as designations. This week, the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee published a report calling for a review of the Good Friday agreement. Many architects of the agreement, such as Tony Blair, John Major and Bertie Ahern, have recognised the case for reform. Will the Prime Minister commit to an early review of the agreement to improve its stability, effectiveness and fairness?

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

I recognise the hon. Member’s campaigning on this issue and I have great respect for his position. Indeed, we have spoken on a number of occasions both here and on my visits to Northern Ireland. My focus right now is on getting the institutions up and running, and my overarching priority is to get public services in Northern Ireland back on track, which I know is an ambition that he and I share. Any reform of institutions is best dealt with with the support of all parts of the community. When it comes to restoring the current institutions, the Government are doing everything they can to support efforts, and I know that the Secretary of State will be in touch for engagement with the parties imminently on that point.

Photo of Nicholas Fletcher Nicholas Fletcher Conservative, Don Valley

Yesterday, 13 men died by suicide; today, 88 men will die of heart disease; tomorrow, and every day, 90,000 men will wake up in prison; and today we have 2.2 million boys living at home with no dad. Thankfully, we have an excellent Cabinet Minister for women, and an excellent Minister for Women. Will the Prime Minister meet me to discuss the merits of a Minister for men and boys? As Warren Farrell has said, when one sex loses, “both sexes lose”.

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

My hon. Friend should be commended for his tireless campaigning on this issue. He is particularly right to focus on suicide, and I am grateful for his engagement with the suicide prevention strategy, which sets out the actions that we will take to reduce suicides in the coming years. It was thanks in part to his campaigning that on International Men’s Day we announced that we are appointing the first men’s health ambassador and launching a men’s health taskforce. I look forward to continued collaboration with him so that we can represent his concerns adequately.

Photo of Simon Lightwood Simon Lightwood Shadow Minister (Transport)

Convicted criminals are being held in police station cells across West Yorkshire because the Government have completely failed to deliver more prison places. Two thirds of prisons are overcrowded, criminals are let out early—if sentenced at all—only 2% of rapists reach court, serious violence is up by 60%, knife crime is up by 70%, and nearly 65,000 cases are waiting to be heard. How can the Prime Minister reassure the residents of Wakefield that they are safe on our streets?

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

We have a clear plan to protect victims, punish criminals and cut crime. We are in fact investing £400 million more in prison places on top of the £4 billion that I announced as Chancellor, which is delivering 20,000 new cells. We are also making sure that rapists serve every day of their sentences and ensuring that life means life for the worst offenders—something that I hope the Labour party will be supporting soon.

Photo of Oliver Heald Oliver Heald Conservative, North East Hertfordshire

My constituents Ceri and Frances Menai-Davis, who are in the Public Gallery, lost their son after a long battle with cancer, during which they visited him in hospital every day. They have set up a charity called It’s Never You to help parents in that situation, and on Monday I intend to present a Bill that will ask the Government to report on what support can be given to those parents. I hope the Prime Minister might ask Ministers to discuss that with me so that we can find a way forward to help parents in that dreadful situation.

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

May I express my sympathies to my right hon. and learned Friend’s constituents for what they have been through, and commend them for setting up the It’s Never You charity? I will ensure that he and the organisers get the appropriate meeting with the Minister to discuss its important work. He is absolutely right that parents who are in that situation should have all the support they need, and we will make sure that that happens.

Photo of Rebecca Long-Bailey Rebecca Long-Bailey Labour, Salford and Eccles

One in five of my residents lives in fuel poverty and, according to Cornwall Insight, this winter looks to be the most brutal yet, with the current trajectory in energy prices expected to be the new norm for the rest of the decade. As the Prime Minister will know, one of the best ways to support households is through the introduction of a social tariff. He promised a consultation by summer this year, but we are still waiting. When will the consultation be released?

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

We have also provided considerable support in the here and now for households with their energy bills: £900 of direct cost of living support this financial year on top of a record increase in benefits, along with winter fuel payments of up to £300 this winter for pensioners, because they are particularly vulnerable. We will continue to look at all the support we have to ensure that those who need it are getting the help they deserve.

Photo of Andrew Selous Andrew Selous The Second Church Estates Commissioner, The Second Church Estates Commissioner

During COP28, will the Prime Minister salute South West Bedfordshire’s contribution to our nation’s energy security for having had the tallest wind turbine in England, the largest battery in Europe and now the most powerful wind turbine in England, which has local support? Can we also ensure that my constituents now get cheaper energy bills for hosting this vital infrastructure?

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

We are looking exactly at how local communities can benefit when new infrastructure is in their vicinity, as part of our new plan for increased energy security. May I commend my hon. Friend’s local area for the contribution it is making to our clean energy transition? It is a great example of this country’s fantastic track record in delivering net zero and decarbonising faster than any other major economy, not something we will hear from the Labour party, but something that those of us on the Government Benches are very proud of.

Photo of Judith Cummins Judith Cummins Labour, Bradford South

The Government failed in their legal duty to publish a report on spiking by April, stating that they were reconsidering whether their rationale for not introducing a specific offence for spiking was sound. Will the Prime Minister clarify when and if the spiking report will ever be published? Does he agree with me and colleagues right across the House that the only sound approach to this issue is to create a specific criminal offence for spiking?

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

This issue has been reviewed by legal police colleagues. My latest understanding is that existing laws did cover the offence of spiking, but I am happy, of course, to ensure that the hon. Lady gets a letter that explains the position.

Photo of Paul Holmes Paul Holmes Conservative, Eastleigh

Not content with being the third-most indebted council in England, with a debt of £670 million, Liberal Democrat Eastleigh Borough Council recently refinanced its failed One Heaton Heath housing project to the tune of £148 million, with no houses built and interest payments of £386,000 per month. Will the Prime Minister now ask the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to intervene and independently investigate the development? May I ask for a meeting with the relevant Minister to discuss this terrible decision by Eastleigh Borough Council?

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

I am aware that some local authorities, including the one my hon. Friend mentions, have taken excessive risks with borrowing and investment practices. That is why we have taken a range of measures to strengthen the regulatory framework to prevent that from happening. They include new powers that make it quicker and easier for the Government to step in when councils take on excessive risk through borrowing. I will ensure that he gets a meeting with the relevant Minister to raise his concerns, because his constituents deserve better.

Photo of Mary Glindon Mary Glindon Opposition Whip (Commons)

National Energy Action says that 13% of North Tynesiders are in fuel poverty, 3,000 homes have legacy prepayment meters and we are in the bottom 5% for energy efficiency, but the Chancellor announced no new funding to help people this winter. We are now in advent, so what Christmas message does the Prime Minister have for my constituents who are freezing in their homes?

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

As I outlined, we have provided considerable support for particularly vulnerable families this year and through this winter. We are also investing record sums in improving the energy efficiency and insulation of vulnerable homes through our home upgrade scheme and the warm home discount, which on average can save people hundreds of pounds on their energy bills when they receive that support. We are expanding those programmes across the country, including in the north-east.

Photo of Flick Drummond Flick Drummond Conservative, Meon Valley

The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Karim Khan KC, has concluded his first visit to Israel and Palestine, and has said:

“We must show that the law is there, on the front lines, and that it is capable of protecting all”.

What support will Britain offer the International Criminal Court to enable it to conduct investigations of the conduct of all parties in Israel, Gaza and the west bank before and since 7 October?

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

As is well known, we are a strong and long-standing supporter of the International Criminal Court. When it comes to the situation in Gaza, we have been consistent in saying that international humanitarian law has to be respected. All parties must take every possible step to avoid harming civilians, and I can say that I stressed that point specifically just yesterday to Prime Minister Netanyahu.

Photo of Gregory Campbell Gregory Campbell Shadow DUP Spokesperson (International Development), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Cabinet Office)

The Prime Minister is aware that the household tax known as the television licence fee is due to rise in April in line with inflation. Given the ongoing household budget constraints with which all our constituents are faced, such as increasing childcare costs, as well as ongoing unresolved staffing issues at BBC Northern Ireland, national BBC television and national BBC radio, is this really the right time to proceed with an even larger £3.7 billion licence fee budget, enhanced yet again?

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

We have already agreed a fair settlement with the BBC that will see the licence fee remain frozen until 2024. However, the hon. Member has raised an excellent point. I have been clear about the fact that the BBC needs to be realistic about what is possible in an environment like this, and the licence fee should rise only at a level that people can actually afford. The Culture Secretary has said that “we are looking at” this issue right now, and she will set out more details in due course.

Photo of Jack Brereton Jack Brereton Conservative, Stoke-on-Trent South

Longton, the largest town in my constituency, has not benefited from future high streets funding, from town deals, or from the latest long-term plan for towns. Will my right hon. Friend ensure that it can have some investment from the Government, and does he agree that some of the latest National Lottery Heritage Fund award to Stoke-on-Trent should definitely be invested there?

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

My hon. Friend is a tireless champion for his local community. I know that there has been considerable investment in his area over the past few years in plenty of ways, but he has made an excellent point about making sure that no one misses out on the considerable resources that are being invested in Stoke, and I will ensure that the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities takes his concerns very seriously.

Several hon. Members:

rose—

Photo of Eleanor Laing Eleanor Laing Deputy Speaker and Chairman of Ways and Means, Chair, Standing Orders Committee (Commons), Chair, Standing Orders Committee (Commons), Chair, Parliamentary Works Estimates Commission, Chair, Parliamentary Works Estimates Commission

Order. We are running way over time. I appreciate it would be a great disappointment to Members whose names are on the Order Paper if they were not called, so I am trying my best to call them all, but may I please make a plea for brevity?

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

When the Prime Minister is taking a dip in his pool or is on the beach at his place in California, he does not have to worry about swimming in sewage. The rest of us do not have it so good, so why will he not back Labour’s plans for criminal liability for water company bosses who fail to clean up their act?

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

We have already brought in regulations that ensure there can be unlimited fines for water companies, and there have been dozens of criminal prosecutions. I would also say, however, that when we had a debate in the House on exactly a plan that would do all this, who did not show up to vote? It was the Labour party.

Photo of James Sunderland James Sunderland Chair, Select Committee on the Armed Forces Bill

In recent weeks I have seen at first hand the extraordinary work conducted by specialist care staff in accident and emergency units. As politicians, we are often guilty of using the NHS as a political football, but when it becomes personal, one is reminded that what we have in the UK is very special. Will the Prime Minister join me in thanking our superb NHS staff in Bracknell, across Berkshire, in neighbouring Basingstoke and Frimley Park Hospitals, and beyond?

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

NHS staff are at the heart of what makes our health service work. There would not be an NHS without them—without their skill, their expertise and their dedication. I was delighted I could pay them my thanks last week in person. I join my hon. Friend in thanking NHS staff not just in his constituency but across the country for their dedicated hard work and public service.

Photo of Nia Griffith Nia Griffith Shadow Minister (International Trade), Shadow Minister (Cabinet Office)

It is now six years since Bishop James Jones published the Hillsborough report, and only today, finally, do we get the Government’s response. When will the Government introduce not just a voluntary charter, an independent public advocate or a code of ethical policing, but a full Hillsborough law to force those in public office to co-operate fully with investigations, and to guarantee fairer funding to enable those affected by a major tragedy to challenge public institutions?

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

As I have said, I am profoundly sorry for what the Hillsborough families have been through, and my right hon. Friend the Justice Secretary will be making a full statement immediately after PMQs.

Photo of Dr Caroline Johnson Dr Caroline Johnson Conservative, Sleaford and North Hykeham

I refer Members to my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests. Having worked as a junior doctor, I understand that it is a demanding job and have sympathy with the challenges they face. However, the strikes that are planned for the festive period threaten public safety and will delay treatment. Causing patients suffering in the pursuit of more money for oneself is, in my view, morally indefensible. What concrete steps is the Prime Minister taking to prevent the strikes, and will he bring forward minimum service legislation to protect patients in case they do go ahead?

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

My hon. Friend makes an excellent point and speaks from a position of experience on this issue. The Government have now reached settlements with every other part of the public sector, including, most recently, consultants, and I am grateful to them for their constructive engagement with the Government. The junior doctors are taking action in the face of a recommendation from an independent body of a 9% pay rise, on average—the highest increase across the entire public sector. The Government have gone beyond that in conversations with them, but they have still decided to take damaging strike action. It is wrong, and that is why we have introduced minimum service levels, to ensure that we can guarantee a safe level of care for patients across the NHS. It would be good to hear from the Labour party, at some point, whether they will get off the fence, condemn these strikes and back these minimum service laws.

Photo of Kate Hollern Kate Hollern Labour, Blackburn

Universal credit is broken. One constituent told me that the Department for Work and Pensions is refusing to reimburse her childcare payment because it was four days late due to a phone being broken. She is down £1,200 and is unable to pay for childcare. She has lost her job and will likely have to move house. With three weeks to go before Christmas, she is extremely anxious and distressed. Does the Prime Minister realise the real consequences for real people of this broken system?

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

I am sorry to hear about the circumstances of the hon. Lady’s constituent. If the hon. Lady writes to me, I will make sure that we get specific support in place for her constituent and ensure that she can access what she needs. When it comes to universal credit, I strongly disagree with the hon. Lady. It was only because of the actions of my right hon. Friend Sir Iain Duncan Smith that universal credit was implemented, and the only reason we were able to get support to millions of vulnerable people during the pandemic was that we had replaced the legacy system with universal credit, and that was opposed at every step by the Labour party.

Photo of Simon Baynes Simon Baynes Conservative, Clwyd South

It is always a pleasure to work closely with my right hon. Friend Craig Williams in delivering important projects, such as the Llanymynech-Pant bypass on the border with north Shropshire, and today is another example of our partnership. He is unfortunately unable to ask a question, given his role as the Prime Minister’s Parliamentary Private Secretary, so will the Prime Minister join me in highlighting my right hon. Friend’s work with the Famers Union of Wales in organising the terrific celebration of Montgomeryshire Day in the Jubilee Room straight after Question Time?

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

My hon. Friend is an excellent campaigner for his constituents, as indeed is my right hon. Friend Craig Williams. It is fantastic to see these local projects being delivered in their area—and I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for teaching me how to pronounce “Pant-Llanymynech” for my first Budget. I am delighted to declare from the Dispatch Box that today is now officially Montgomeryshire Day, and I look forward to everyone celebrating in the Jubilee Room straight after Question Time.

Photo of Gerald Jones Gerald Jones Shadow Minister (Wales), Opposition Whip (Commons), Shadow Minister (Scotland)

I beg your indulgence briefly, Madam Deputy Speaker, to wish my constituent who was attacked in yesterday’s serious incident in Aberfan a speedy recovery. I thank the emergency services and school staff for their swift and professional response.

Britain is getting smaller on the world stage on this Prime Minister’s watch. His climate failures mean that our children and grandchildren will bear the brunt of the costs. His plans are undermining Britain’s energy security and bills are still sky high for working families, yet he is hiking the tax burden and real living standards are falling by more than 3%. Tinkering with a reset just does not compensate for 13 years of failure, does it, Prime Minister?

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

First, can I say that my thoughts are with the victim and her family after the awful incident that took place on the streets of Aberfan? We wish them a full and speedy recovery, and I join the hon. Gentleman in thanking the emergency services for their immediate response.

The hon. Gentleman talked about leaving our children and grandchildren with costs. He is right to raise that because it is important that we do not do that. The question, then, for him and the Labour party is: why do they want to embark on a green borrowing spree of £28 billion a year that will just mean higher taxes for our children and grandchildren and higher mortgage rates? It is the same old story: reckless borrowing and the British people paying the price.