David Drew: Could the Secretary of State explain why Stroud District Council is the only council in Gloucestershire that has no revenue support grant promised under these proposals? Worse than that, the other three district councils in Gloucestershire get some money under the rural services delivery grant, yet Stroud gets nothing. Why does he think that is fair, and how can he defend it?
David Drew: If the West Midlands force is like Gloucestershire’s, at weekends it is almost held together with specials. Without those specials, the police could not do nearly as much as they try to do on a normal weekend. Does my hon. Friend agree?
David Drew: Will the hon. Gentleman give way very briefly?
David Drew: The hon. Gentleman is being very generous. I actually taught rural studies, although I look too young. Does he accept that the wider rural economy is crucial to the relationship between agriculture and the rural hinterland?
David Drew: Does my hon. Friend understand the frustration in places like Stroud when the number of affordable housing units needed is ratcheted up, but we are completely unable to prevent the developers from building executive houses? Does she agree that that dilemma just makes us look hopeless in terms of general residents’ interests?
David Drew: My hon. Friend will be aware—as I am, since I represent a rural area—that one of the problems with free school meals is how many parents will not claim them because of stigma. Does she agree that changing to universal credit will only make that worse?
David Drew: I apologise for arriving a little late for this debate; I was talking about the Cotswolds national park, which I know is close to the hon. Gentleman’s heart. He will be aware that, under the Government’s new methodology for housing needs, Tewkesbury is expected to take an additional 21% increase and Stroud a 39% increase. Does he share my concern? I do not know where this...
David Drew: Will the Minister give way?
David Drew: Will the Minister give way?
David Drew: I thank the Minister for giving way. What I am concerned about, as always, is the urban-rural divide. We know that many rural areas are still suffering from a lack of access to broadband. Will he assure us that the rural delivery of this project is a priority, given that a lot of people in rural areas suffer because they are off the gas grid anyway?
David Drew: I refer to my declaration in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests. Does my hon. Friend accept that another problem—I have just had a response to a written question on this issue—is that when some people, particularly in rural areas, have a smart meter installed, their boilers are condemned because they are not compatible? There is no scheme or funding to help those...
David Drew: Many older workers are not necessarily there by choice. I think in particular of the WASPI women, who are having to work because of the inadequacies of their pension provision. What are the Government going to do about this?
David Drew: Would the Minister consider a fifth piece of work? She heard my intervention on the hon. Member for East Worthing and Shoreham (Tim Loughton). I suggest a piece of work to publicise the lack of rights that co-habiting couples have if that partnership breaks down. There is just no awareness at all of that lack of rights, so anything that the Government can do to get people at least to check...
David Drew: I do not want to stop the hon. Gentleman’s flow, but he will be aware of the work of Resolution, the family solicitors group, which has a Cohabitation Awareness Week. It has drawn my attention, and I am sure that of many other hon. Members, to the lack of rights and the fact that people are totally ignorant about their lack of rights, if there is a breakdown or a loss of one of the...
David Drew: I beg to move, That the House sit in private. Question put forthwith ( Standing Order No. 163), and negatived.
David Drew: After the dreadful experience of the Rural Payments Agency’s IT system, will the Minister confirm whether the IT system to replicate REACH has already been commissioned? Will it be put out to private contractors or done in-house within government?
David Drew: I am delighted to serve under your chairing, Mr Evans. It is good to see the Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the hon. Member for Suffolk Coastal (Dr Coffey) back in her place; I fear that we may spend some time in statutory instrument Committees, including on this topic. I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Wakefield (Mary Creagh), Chair of the...
David Drew: I am delighted to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Hollobone, and I congratulate the hon. Member for Mid Norfolk (George Freeman). I will try to keep to my three minutes or less. I take a particular interest in this issue; I was a parish and town councillor for 28 years. I have taken through village appraisals and village plans, and I almost took through a neighbourhood plan. It is quite an...
David Drew: I refer to my declaration in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests. At the moment, electricity charging points at motorway service stations are separate from petrol stations. Does my hon. Friend anticipate that when we have fully accessible electricity charging point provision they will be one and the same, on the same location—or will they remain separate?
David Drew: The hon. Gentleman obviously has better eyesight than mine. The printing is often very small and sometimes in another language. The idea that people could make sense of it is somewhat arbitrary.