Mark Prisk: Developers are not the only ones who do not engage with local people. In fact, the whole way in which we consult on planning is out of date and is regarded with some scepticism by many members of the public. May I urge the Secretary of State to tackle that—not least by putting in proper resources and extending the scope of neighbourhood planning, as his Minister referred to earlier?
Mark Prisk: The point I was trying to make in Committee was simply that, yes, this is a substantial investment—many billions—but, equally, if we get this right, it is a huge investment in trades and crafts right across the country. My only problem with the audit notion is that it is post decision making. If we are to make sure that there is a reasonable sharing of the procurement process, the policy...
Mark Prisk: I draw the House’s attention to my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests—namely, that I am a director of Stanfords, a travel and cartography business, and, with my sister, a joint owner of a small commercial high street property. It is a pleasure to follow the Chair of our Select Committee, the hon. Member for Sheffield South East (Mr Betts), who gave a good synopsis of...
Mark Prisk: What recent assessment his Department has made of the value of global free trade to developing countries.
Mark Prisk: I thank the Secretary of State for his answer. However, the risk of protectionism is growing and that threatens both free trade and the millions of jobs in developing countries that come with it. May I therefore urge the Secretary of State and his colleagues actively to oppose protectionism, particularly at the WTO and indeed when expressed in this Chamber, so that we can ensure that more of...
Mark Prisk: Three quarters of our economy is in services, yet over 90% of service firms export nothing. What more can be done to change this underlying culture and systemic issue, so that the majority of service firms export?
Mark Prisk: Three years ago the Mayor of London clearly promised to build 14,000 more low-cost homes every single year, but he has never touched that target. What has gone wrong and what needs to change?
Mark Prisk: UK Export Finance does some excellent work, but some of its funding capacity goes unused. What can be done to change that to raise British exports?
Mark Prisk: One of the main findings of the recent Select Committee inquiry into town centres was that strong local civic leadership is crucial. Given that, may I ask the Minister to ensure that, when judging future bids to the fund, strong local leadership is a key criterion?
Mark Prisk: I hope the Minister will take away my right hon. Friend’s point that healthcare in Harlow is important, certainly to the people of Harlow and Essex, but also to people in Hertfordshire. People in Bishop’s Stortford, Sawbridgeworth, Hertford and Ware are all looking for this investment, and we hope the Minister will listen carefully.
Mark Prisk: I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for giving way to me a second time. Does he agree that the issue, and the reason we need long-term funding, is that both our constituencies face significant pressures for additional housing? Simply coping with what we have now is difficult enough. We need long-term funding to provide healthcare to the new communities that will be built.
Mark Prisk: Homelessness is rising, and that is why we need action to stop it reaching the peak levels that we saw under the last Labour Government. What progress is being made to ensure that all councils—not some, but all councils —are taking the preventive approach envisaged in the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017?
Mark Prisk: The Select Committee looked at the Bill in detail in pre-legislative scrutiny. We all signed up to five weeks, including six distinguished Labour Members, including the Chairman, the hon. Member for Sheffield South East (Mr Betts), who knows the subject well. Why does the hon. Lady believe they are wrong?
Mark Prisk: As a member of the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee, I am delighted that the Government have adopted the recommendation of five weeks. Does my hon. Friend agree that having a three-week cap is a rather peculiar notion? I do not recall a single piece of evidence from any expert citing that cap. Does she agree that the evidence for such an amendment needs to be produced?
Mark Prisk: Give way.
Mark Prisk: Part of the Government’s policy is to enable large urban councils to establish a strategic infrastructure fund of their own, but at present this excludes smaller councils such as mine in East Herts. May I therefore urge the Secretary of State to amend his proposals so that any council with a local plan that is planning to deliver a new settlement is included in that and can establish such...
Mark Prisk: My right hon. Friend spoke about the importance of healing divisions. Many of my constituents are very concerned that a second referendum would make those divisions worse. What does she say to them?
Mark Prisk: The hon. Lady is setting out her party’s views on various issues. A number of people who are good landlords are very anxious about future rents. Would it be Labour party policy in government to cap them or index them?
Mark Prisk: I take it from that that there could be no tenancy shorter than three years.
Mark Prisk: I agree with the hon. Lady about codes of practice, and I am keen to support them. However, I have come to the conclusion that we need to be clear that someone cannot operate in this market unless they have the qualifications. It is rare for me to say something like that. Does she accept that mandating qualifications is actually a stronger move than introducing a code of practice?