Eddie Hughes: On the basis that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed, can my right hon. Friend assure the people of Willenhall and Bloxwich who voted overwhelmingly for Brexit that we will not pay a penny to the EU if we do not get a free trade deal?
Eddie Hughes: As an enthusiastic member of the Women and Equalities Committee, I aim to be a strong champion for the equality of women, and I aspire to the title of honorary sister, as bestowed on you, Mr Speaker, by the right hon. and learned Member for Camberwell and Peckham (Ms Harman). Will the Prime Minister join me in congratulating Ruth Cooke on her recent appointment as chief exec of Clarion...
Eddie Hughes: If the figures that I have read are correct, only 2.8% of people in employment in the UK are on zero-hours contracts, which is a very small percentage. The opportunity to take up flexible working of that nature is important to some people.
Eddie Hughes: Figures released recently by the right hon. Member for Tottenham (Mr Lammy) show that the proportion of students in my constituency who get the top grades and go to top universities is lower than in the south-east of the country. What action can the Government take to address that inequality?
Eddie Hughes: It is grossly unfair to have to follow that speech. It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Sharma. I am delighted that my right hon. Friend the Member for Basingstoke (Mrs Miller) secured this debate. I need to begin with an apology: unfortunately, I need to get to the Education Centre for 2.50 pm, because the only college in my constituency is sending a big group of students...
Eddie Hughes: Yes and no. I am absolutely not saying that women are not able to do as good a job as men. The clue to my disagreement is in the way the hon. Lady phrased the question, by saying “short term”. I do not want a short-term solution; I want a sustainable, long-term solution. I appreciate that it may seem naive and idealistic of me to view it that way. I look at the Benches opposite...
Eddie Hughes: My right hon. Friend makes a very valid point, which I was kind of coming to. I maintain my resistance to quotas, but what can we do to change the situation? Well, I can do my tiny bit. I begin early: when I visit primary schools, I encourage women—young children—by saying, “You can aspire to be whatever you want to be.” Obviously, I represent a working-class...
Eddie Hughes: Will my right hon. Friend advise me as to what steps are being taken to reduce reoffending levels among young people in the west midlands, including in my constituency?
Eddie Hughes: I, too, want to mention the work of YMCA. YMCA Black Country and Rachael Taylor in my constituency run an “Open Door” programme that places young people in family homes so that they can continue to enjoy a family life. Will the Secretary of State join me in visiting this work in my constituency?
Eddie Hughes: What assessment he has made of recent trends in UK economic growth.
Eddie Hughes: Does my hon. Friend agree that it is only by investing heavily in productivity and infrastructure, such as the new junction 10 of the M6 in Walsall, that we can truly build a Britain that is fit for the future?
Eddie Hughes: I chair the board of a housing association that has 20,000 homes, operating across 18 local authorities. I do not want those residents unnecessarily disturbed by the scare- mongering from Opposition Members. Will the Secretary of State therefore confirm that those claimants can get an emergency payment of up to 100% of their monthly entitlement within only a few days?
Eddie Hughes: Fathers also have a critical role to play in childcare, but the Women and Equalities Committee heard recently from some fathers who suggested that the take-up of paternity leave was very low. What more can the Minister to do to encourage fathers to play an active role in early childcare?
Eddie Hughes: I chair the board of a housing association in the west midlands, so fire safety is clearly at the top of my agenda. I recently met Brian Sofley of ASSA ABLOY UK to talk about his recommendations to improve fire door safety. Will my right hon. Friend update us on the progress of the independent review into building regulations and fire safety?
Eddie Hughes: It is important to note that there were 67,864 incidents against NHS staff in 2015, 67% of which took place in a mental health setting. We need to appreciate that there is a need for force, because staff working in these situations sometimes need to be protected.
Eddie Hughes: rose—
Eddie Hughes: I would welcome my hon. Friend’s thoughts about how Brexit might affect this trafficking and give us the opportunity to have greater control of our borders in this respect, too.
Eddie Hughes: Even given the fact that, as the hon. Lady said, the threshold has not increased for some time, it still covers 85% of payments made in this country. Surely that is an acceptable amount.
Eddie Hughes: I rise because it is dreadful to hear this wrong story being perpetuated in the House of Commons. It is a myth that that conversation ever took place, in my opinion—people can check it now on Google. We have in Birmingham a fine comedian called Jasper Carrott who once told that story as a joke. Such is the way that Google works these days that when someone tells a joke like that, it...
Eddie Hughes: My hon. Friend is making a great speech. Another vital factor that we must consider is the element of trust, which will come up repeatedly as we discuss further amendments. It is important that taxpayers can trust this Government to ensure that we collect the maximum amount of tax and then deploy that tax appropriately to provide excellent public services. My hon. Friend suggests that it is...