Mark Prisk: I welcome the Secretary of State’s statement in terms of its content and its tone. Free trade is about being free to trade within the agreed rules; it is not about a free-for-all. May I strongly encourage him to reiterate that message both to the United States and to China?
Mark Prisk: When the then Communities and Local Government Committee adopted the Bill introduced by my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow East (Bob Blackman) that became the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017, Ministers, to their credit, engaged really positively to make that Bill work. May I urge the Minister to be just as positive about the planned joint Committee inquiry into the funding of adult care?...
Mark Prisk: As the Prime Minister’s trade envoy to Brazil, I have been immensely impressed by the UK companies already operating there, but frankly there are not enough of them. May I urge the Secretary of State to challenge business membership organisations, including the CBI, to ensure that they put exporting at the heart of their work?
Mark Prisk: What progress his Department has made on enabling the development of surplus public land for housing.
Mark Prisk: Some Labour councils, particularly in London, own hundreds of acres of surplus land. May I urge the new Minister to challenge those Labour authorities so that we can turn that land into family homes?
Mark Prisk: Exports are rising, but still only from a small proportion of British businesses. We need more exporters and a change of business culture, so may I urge the new Minister, with his colleagues, to challenge business representative bodies to ensure that exporting in Britain is the norm, not the exception?
Mark Prisk: I note your strictures, Madam Deputy Speaker, and I will do my best to keep within that timeframe. I state for the record that I am a former Business Minister and a former interim Trade Minister, and I am now the Prime Minister’s trade and investment envoy to Brazil and the Nordic and Baltic nations. I welcome the Bill and the fact that we will now have a legal structure that will...
Mark Prisk: My hon. Friend is making a very strong case. However, he is relatively new to this place. May I remind him, and the Committee, that when I was on the Opposition Benches for 10 years, the then Labour Chancellor of the Exchequer told us that he had abolished boom and bust? That is the political context in which Labour ruined the economy.
Mark Prisk: I welcome the Secretary of State’s remarks. Indeed, he has been assiduous in reporting back to Parliament. Dame Judith Hackitt, who has just spoken to the Communities and Local Government Committee, says in her report that there is a culture, to which the Secretary of State referred, of businesses “waiting to be told what to do by regulators rather than taking responsibility for...
Mark Prisk: The hon. Gentleman is right to say that the problems date all the way back to 1995 under three or more Governments. Does he agree with many of my constituents who feel that this issue is as much to do with communication as policy? Many of my constituents who are affected tell me that if they had known the effects of the changes in time, they would have been able to respond to them.
Mark Prisk: The recent National Audit Office report on this issue showed that while councils have increased their spending on tackling homelessness, they have reduced their spending on preventing it in the first place. These priorities seem to make no sense. May I urge the Secretary of State to ensure that all councils reverse this trend so that we can properly tackle the causes, not just the symptoms?
Mark Prisk: Unlike my former Secretary of State, the right hon. Member for Twickenham (Sir Vince Cable), may I welcome what the Secretary of State has said, which is both insightful and forward looking? In the light of that former relationship, I encourage him to be willing and patient in dealing with collaboration, which is something that the right hon. Gentleman and I had to deal with. May I ask my...
Mark Prisk: I welcome the Government’s plans to reform the lettings market and the estate agency market. Given, however, that most firms undertake both lettings and sales, will the Government avoid the unnecessary duplication of rules and regulators? After all, separate regulatory regimes could be expensive for business and confusing for consumers.
Mark Prisk: Does the hon. Gentleman agree that, alongside that geographical flexibility, it is also important that faith-based organisations, such as Emmaus and the Salvation Army, have flexibility about the model that they provide—very often they work alongside Shelter—so that the new system can accommodate a variety of approaches?
Mark Prisk: Thank you for your guidance, Mr Howarth. I will do my best—the best a politician ever can do—to be brief. First, may I say a huge congratulations to my parliamentary neighbour, my right hon. Friend the Member for Harlow (Robert Halfon)? He and I have worked together on a number of projects. I want to make the point to the Minister that this issue is of real concern to many of us,...
Mark Prisk: I congratulate my right hon. Friend and parliamentary neighbour on securing this important debate. Does he agree with me that in my constituency and his, ever since the previous Labour Government scrapped their plans for a new hospital at Hatfield, there has been a sense locally that somehow our area has been ignored for capital investment, and that is why his proposal is so sensible?
Mark Prisk: The White Paper sets out a strong case for free trade: it is good for growth, and it is good for jobs—but occasionally other countries will act in unfair ways, such as through the dumping of goods. Will the Secretary of State therefore confirm that it will always be the Government’s approach to respond to that in a proportionate, carefully targeted and time-limited fashion?
Mark Prisk: I will be brief. I strongly support my hon. Friend’s leadership in this area. Does he agree that many faith-based organisations such as the YMCA, the Salvation Army and Emmaus need to know from the Minister that the system will be flexible enough to accommodate not just the need for shelter but the personal support that those organisations provide?
Mark Prisk: As a taxpayer, I welcome the Secretary of State’s practical and cautious approach to the matter of money. May I therefore urge him to continue to press the EU for detailed and, preferably, independently audited numbers before he comes to any financial settlement?
Mark Prisk: I congratulate the hon. Member for Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill (Hugh Gaffney) on that speech. It was passionate and intense, and he was quite right: it was his moment to enjoy, and so it should be. I also congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen South (Ross Thomson), who was articulate and informed—that city has an excellent representative. It is a great pleasure to...