Sandra Osborne: I congratulate my hon. Friend on securing this important debate. When the Equality Act 2006 was passed, it was believed that voluntary pay audits would help to solve the problem. They have not, but she is illustrating how they are not the answer in any case. Does she agree that we need to take a whole new look at the law on equal pay?
Sandra Osborne: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?
Sandra Osborne: Will my hon. Friend give way?
Sandra Osborne: My hon. Friend will be aware of the thousands of people using food banks in our constituencies up and down the country—and many of the people using them are in work.
Sandra Osborne: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?
Sandra Osborne: I have raised many times the devastation caused by abandoned coal mines in my constituency. The Secretary of State will be aware of the proposal for an exemption from carbon price support, which would greatly help their restoration and create 1,000 jobs. Can we expect good news on this in the Budget, and does he agree that the Scottish Government should step up to the plate with some of their...
Sandra Osborne: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, with reference to his Department's report, Life cycle impacts of biomass electricity in 2020, what assessment he has made of the (a) reliability of evidence that the main UK biomass supplies come from North America and (b) effect of such imports on domestic industries; and if he will make a statement.
Sandra Osborne: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, what meetings he has had with stakeholders to discuss his Department's report, Life cycle impacts of biomass electricity in 2020; and if he will make a statement.
Sandra Osborne: With this it will be convenient to discuss amendment 7, in clause 1, page 66, line 29, at end add— “(c) must be made publicly available; and (d) must be provided to the Northern Ireland Assembly.”
Sandra Osborne: With this it will be convenient to discuss amendment 5, in clause 1, page 65, line 2, at end insert— ‘(3A) In this section, “Northern Ireland credit union” has the same meaning as that given in section 2(2) of the Credit Unions (Northern Ireland) Order 1985.”
Sandra Osborne: We now begin line-by-line consideration of the Bill. If Members wish, they may remove their jackets in Committee, but if anyone does I will be very surprised at this temperature. Please ensure that all your electronic devices are switched off or in silent mode. The selection list for today’s sittings is available in the room. It shows how the selected amendments have been grouped...
Sandra Osborne: The first witnesses this morning are Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, HM Treasury and the Northern Ireland Office. Good morning to our witnesses. We have until 11 am for this evidence session. Will the Ministers and their officials introduce themselves for the record?
Sandra Osborne: Two Members have indicated that they wish to speak. I urge them to be mindful of the time: I have no wish to interrupt anyone mid-sentence if it can be avoided.
Sandra Osborne: Order. I apologise for interrupting the hon. Gentleman. That brings us to the end of the time allotted for the Committee to ask questions. I thank the witnesses, on behalf of the Committee, for their evidence. We shall meet again on Thursday 5 February to begin line-by-line consideration.
Sandra Osborne: Good morning, everyone. Before we begin, I have a few preliminary announcements. Could electronic devices be switched to silent or switched off? Tea and coffee are not allowed during sittings of the Committee. The notice period for amendments is three working days. Starred amendments—those tabled with inadequate notice—will not normally be called. The Committee will now consider...
Sandra Osborne: I very much welcome the motion. Does the Secretary of State think it strange that we are saying that it is all right for 16-year-olds to vote in the referendum, but not in the general election? Surely if they are old enough to vote in one election, they are old enough to vote in every election.
Sandra Osborne: I will try my best to cut down my speech to five minutes. To be fair, I did secure a Westminster Hall debate on this subject on 6 January, so the Minister has heard it all before, but he will have to hear it again. The situation in Scotland is far worse than in the rest of the UK, and the situation in my constituency of East Ayrshire is far worse than anywhere else in Scotland. I do not need...
Sandra Osborne: My hon. Friend obviously has some knowledge of what happened in the Scottish situation. She will be aware that we have asked for some of the coal levy to be returned for restoration, but the Government have refused to do that. Does she agree that that is unreasonable?
Sandra Osborne: I am not sure whether the Minister has quite understood me. I was never under any illusion that the report would be published before the general election. My point was that we are now in the run-up to the general election. Does he not think that it is reasonable that Members of this House question the delay and ask for an indication of when we will get the report?
Sandra Osborne: I shall be brief, not least because I am anxious to take part in the next debate, which is very important to my constituency. I concur with the final comments of the hon. Member for Westmorland and Lonsdale (Tim Farron) about the sacrifices that were made and where the whole debacle leaves us in relation to legitimate intervention and our general foreign policy approach. We are here to talk...