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John Stevenson: I appreciate that the next stages of the negotiations with Europe are about to start, and what we want to see is a good deal for industry, business and the service sector. Does the Chancellor agree that membership of the European Free Trade Association could offer that opportunity for us?
John Stevenson: What his diplomatic priorities are for Africa after the UK leaves the EU.
John Stevenson: Clearly there is pressure on the NHS, including on the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle. However, does the Minister agree that we must not lose sight of the positives, such as the £1.8 million investment in cancer equipment that has just gone into the hospital and the proposed £38 million investment in a proposed cancer unit, all of which are in the long-term interests of healthcare in...
John Stevenson: rose—
John Stevenson: In certain circumstances, councils can still make substantial savings. In Cumbria, the Labour leadership on the council has failed to reach a devolution deal, which was an opportunity to review local structures that could have saved millions of pounds for local services. Does the Secretary of State agree that fewer councillors and councils in Cumbria would benefit local services enormously?
John Stevenson: I very much welcome the £2 million winter allocation for the hospitals in my area. Funding is clearly important, but given the improvements in the hospitals in my area that are down to the leadership of the chief executives, the leadership team and the staff, does the Secretary of State agree that leadership is as important as funding?
John Stevenson: Does the Secretary of State agree that the borderlands initiative is a real opportunity to ensure that digital connectivity in that area is greatly improved, which will enhance the economy of the borderlands area?
John Stevenson: Will the Minister reassure me that when it comes to negotiations with the EU, the Government will pursue a flexible policy that includes the possibility of establishing a model similar to that of Norway or Switzerland, which would undoubtedly benefit the Irish issue?
John Stevenson: I very much welcome the announcement of the borderlands growth deal, which is positive news for the border area. Can the First Secretary assure me that this initiative will receive sufficient resource to ensure its success?
John Stevenson: To ask the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, whether the Government has discussed with the EU negotiating team the possibility of the UK rejoining the European Free Trade Association after the UK leaves the EU.
John Stevenson: To ask the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, whether the Government has discussed with the European Free Trade Association the UK rejoining that association.
John Stevenson: To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many primary school teaching assistants there were in (a) 2000, (b) 2005, (c) 2010 and (d) 2015.
John Stevenson: To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many secondary school teaching assistants there were in (a) 2000, (b) 2005, (c) 2010 and (d) 2015.
John Stevenson: As the Minister knows, the nuclear industry is extremely important to Cumbria. Does he agree that leaving the EU has its issues, but that it is far more important to ensure that we have a nuclear sector deal as part of the industrial strategy, which will mean real investment and growth in the sector?
John Stevenson: I congratulate the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull North (Diana Johnson) on securing this debate on an incredibly important issue, not just for our region and the whole of the north but for the whole country. It is easy to look at London and the south-east, its economic success and its levels of infrastructure investment, and simply criticise, but that would be wrong. London and the south...
John Stevenson: First, I congratulate the hon. Member for Aberavon (Stephen Kinnock) on securing this important and much needed debate. It is important because it is very relevant to our relationship with the EU. We see a lot of discussion going on in the media about the remain and leave debate, and the vote we had. In my view, that is over: the referendum decided that we should leave the EU, and that...
John Stevenson: I am going on to talk about that very issue. I fully accept that my constituency voted to leave, and I totally respect that. I also understand that many of the reasons revolved around immigration. By rejoining EFTA, we would eliminate a huge amount of the uncertainty almost immediately and we could very well turbo-charge EFTA in the future; a country of 65 million people would be coming in to...
John Stevenson: Hindsight is always a wonderful thing, but I very much sympathise with the point my hon. Friend puts forward. Continued EFTA membership does mean access to the single market. Some people have commented that we would be a rule-taker. While we are going through the transition, that is likely to be true, but one can make the argument that we are already a rule-taker, because under the EU a lot...
John Stevenson: Does the hon. Gentleman agree that if the United Kingdom became part of EFTA, that could in many respects turbocharge EFTA and make it a far more appealing organisation in respect of trade deals?
John Stevenson: Can the Secretary of State confirm that those affected directly and indirectly by the tragedy are being properly listened to? Are Ministers in regular contact both with individuals and groups?