Mark Pawsey: The Minister has set out how important it is for people around the world to be vaccinated against covid-19 and reminded us about the UK’s strong record of supporting vaccination in the developing world. Is she confident that we will be able to continue to meet our international commitments on vaccination if we reduce our levels of aid from 0.7% of GDP?
Mark Pawsey: I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for the information that he has provided so far, but I wonder whether he could reassure the parents of a 13-year-old boy. They came to see me on Saturday because their son is egg allergic and also suffers from asthma, and they are concerned about the availability of a flu vaccine this year.
Mark Pawsey: Public Health England has stated that e-cigarettes are at least 95% safer than tobacco products and are now the most popular way to stop smoking. What is being done to encourage smokers to quit using this method, and what steps are being taken to ensure that e-cigarette users are not forced to share their space with people who continue to smoke?
Mark Pawsey: Over the past 12 months, unemployment in my constituency has fallen by 13%. According to the headline on the front page of the Rugby Advertiser, that is the largest fall in the country. In contrast to the picture painted by the Opposition, there are some good news stories. Does the Minister agree that in dealing with unemployment, this Government are taking the right steps?
Mark Pawsey: The hon. Lady was talking about household waste. A proportion of the household food that is thrown away is perfectly okay to eat, although it may have passed its sell-by or use-by date. Given that there is a lot of confusion in the minds of consumers about how long to keep food for consumption, would some clarification of those terms help?
Mark Pawsey: If I may bring the Secretary of State back to the importance of local plans, part of the problem has been that some local authorities have been slow in bringing forward their plans. I therefore support the Government’s moves to encourage local authorities to get their plans in place, because the Government will do the work if local authorities fail to do so.
Mark Pawsey: Thanks to the hard work of volunteers and Rugby Borough Council’s parks department, under the leadership of Chris Worman, my constituency won a prestigious gold award at the recent Britain in Bloom awards. We are hoping for further success when Caldecott Park is nominated for the UK’s Best Park awards. May we have a debate about the importance of our green open spaces?
Mark Pawsey: A construction business my constituency has alerted me to corporate mandate fraud, by which a fraudster pretends to be a company and asks its customers to change the bank account details for future payments. What steps can the Minister take to alert all businesses to such criminal behaviour? What discussions has she had with the Home Secretary about bringing the perpetrators to justice?
Mark Pawsey: Does the Secretary of State agree that a reformed packaging recovery note system could provide funds for better recycling and waste collection, particularly for on-the-go packaging; reduce litter; and increase recycling rates? Does he also agree that that is a better option than the “latte levy” scheme, under which there is no assurance that the money will go towards environmental...
Mark Pawsey: Small businesses often find themselves dictated to by larger organisations, and the last thing we want is for small businesses to be put at a disadvantage by being compelled to supply when they are not capable or it is not in their interest to do so. Will the Secretary State reassure us that small businesses in particular will be protected by these provisions?
Mark Pawsey: Constituents of mine tell me that on a new housing estate consisting of 900 homes, about 800 are about to receive the new BT Infinity fibre-optic service, but 100 will be left with a poor 0.5 to 1.5 megabit supply. Working professionals rely on an efficient service. Will the Minister make representations to ensure that all users in a community receive the same excellent service?
Mark Pawsey: I thank my neighbour for his remarks. Of course, the issue is the use of the second generation of meters—the SMETS 2 meters—and we need to get them into as many places with prepayment plans as possible, so that those households too can get the benefits of seeing when their electricity is cheapest and using their appliances when they get maximum advantage.
Mark Pawsey: I wonder whether the Secretary of State has received his invitation to the reveal of Lotus’s new electric hypercar on 16 July. It is the world’s first electric hypercar—designed, engineered and built in Britain. In a week when the motor industry has had some difficult news, does he agree that this is a great shot in the arm for the UK motor industry?
Mark Pawsey: I thank the Minister for his work to ensure that the propulsion systems for the Navy’s Type 26 frigates will continue to be built in Rugby and for the security and future opportunities that that will give much of the workforce. What steps are the Government taking to ensure that we train up the next generation of skilled engineers to continue that vital work?
Mark Pawsey: The local authority in my constituency of Rugby has been quick to recognise the benefits that come with the new homes bonus and it has ambitious proposals for new housing development. What steps is the Minister taking to ensure that planning authorities across England recognise the lead of authorities such as Rugby and allocate land for the new homes that are so badly needed?
Mark Pawsey: As someone who owned and ran a business, I welcome the reductions in corporation tax and the small profits rate already announced by my right hon. Friend, but a further area of taxation is business rates, where although the reliefs for small companies are very helpful, many businesses currently face a significant increase. Can anything further be done to help businesses in this respect?
Mark Pawsey: I compliment my hon. Friend on his Department’s excellent work in bringing a new focus to the adoption process in the interests of both children and adoptive parents. Often in the past, however, a major obstacle has been the lack of advice and information for families hoping to adopt. Will he update the House on his plans to introduce a national gateway for adoption?
Mark Pawsey: My hon. Friend is making a strong case. He has just spoken about micro-breweries. Does he agree that they provide great diversity in the beer market? We have fantastic micro-breweries such as The Atomic Brewery and Wood Farm Brewery in my constituency, and we need to support the concession necessary to provide the breadth and diversity of product that is now available.
Mark Pawsey: The Secretary of State is well aware that those most at risk on our roads are young drivers. I was pleased to see his recent positive comments about placing restrictions on young drivers—for example, on the number of passengers they may carry or the times of day they may drive. Will he indicate to the House how those proposals might be taken forward?
Mark Pawsey: To reflect on the speed-dating exercise that we did, the allowances came across as being a substantial sum of money. For someone who is very young, and perhaps not yet in their first job, it is a substantial payment, but for people in full-time work, the allowances were relatively modest. That is one reason why the analogy with reservists is particularly interesting.