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Stephen Timms: It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Hollobone. I very much support the arguments that my hon. Friend the Member for West Bromwich West (Mr Bailey) made. I share his worry about our falling market share with respect to the overseas students we support in the UK. I want to speak about one problem that has particularly hit our performance. In 2011, the Home Office gave a...
Stephen Timms: My hon. Friend is making an important case. Has he seen the figures I have seen, which suggest that the number of students coming from India in the last year for which there is data—2017-18—is about half what it was in 2010-11?
Stephen Timms: Next month, it will be three years since the referendum. Does the Minister regard the referendum choice as binding for all time? Does he not recognise that at some point it will be necessary to go back to the people and ask whether they still think leaving the EU is a good idea?
Stephen Timms: (Urgent Question): To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on his review of the cases of overseas students falsely accused of cheating in Test of English for International Communication English language tests.
Stephen Timms: I thank the Minister for her answer, and I am pleased to see the Home Secretary in his place. I congratulate him on achieving one year in his role today. On his first day in the post, I asked him to take a careful look at this issue, and he said that he would. On 1 April this year, I asked him for an update. He said: “We had a further meeting to make some final decisions just last week,...
Stephen Timms: I warmly welcome the Bishop of Truro’s review, and its importance is highlighted by this awful massacre. My constituent Councillor Lakmini Shah, who is in Sri Lanka, points out that many children have been orphaned as a result of the attacks, and there is no safety net available to help them—hospitals have been overwhelmed. What immediate relief can the Foreign Secretary’s Department...
Stephen Timms: The Offensive Weapons Public Bill Committee heard that some weapons that cannot lawfully be sold in the UK can readily be bought online on platforms such as eBay and Amazon. The Minister, in answering that debate, referred to the forthcoming White Paper. How will the proposals tackle this particular online harm?
Stephen Timms: Is it not now inconceivable to pass a meaningful vote before the EU Council next Thursday and therefore unavoidable to seek a lengthy Brexit delay and to hold European Parliament elections?
Stephen Timms: When the Home Secretary launched the immigration White Paper, I asked him about the overseas students falsely accused of cheating in the test of English for international communication. He said he was taking the matter very seriously. Can he update the House, and will he meet the officers of the new TOEIC all-party parliamentary group to discuss progress?
Stephen Timms: Britain can leave the European Union in one of two ways. It can choose to reject EU regulation altogether, and the downside to that is severe damage to our economy, as highlighted by Honda’s closure of its Swindon plant, and the cancellation of Nissan models in Sunderland. Recent votes have showed that the House rightly recognises the danger of a no-deal scenario and is not willing to go...
Stephen Timms: I welcome the Secretary of State’s new commitment to tackling child poverty, which these figures show is getting significantly worse. Will she look at the option of universal credit claimants forgoing their final benefit payment after they have got into a job, in exchange for an up-front payment to fill the five-week gap before entitlement to benefit, which is forcing so many families to...
Stephen Timms: The disability employment gap fell steadily in the years up to 2010. It has since got stuck at a level just above 30%. David Cameron, in the 2015 election campaign, promised to halve it by 2020, a pledge that was quickly abandoned after the 2015 election. What does the Minister now believe will happen to the disability employment gap over the next five years?
Stephen Timms: These are laudable regulations, and strong arguments have been set out in support of them, but as we have been reminded by a number of speakers, there are concerns among faith groups. I want to touch on those and to pick up in particular the point that my hon. Friend the Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Angela Rayner) made about concerns in the orthodox Jewish community. For 70 years,...
Stephen Timms: In his last speech in the House, the Secretary of State commended a Government motion to us and then voted against it. Will he explain to us what on earth he was doing?
Stephen Timms: I am very grateful to my right hon. and learned Friend. He is making a powerful case. The motion that the House agreed made it clear that, if there was not a deal by today, the likelihood would be that the European Council would require a longer extension. Is it his view that when the European Council meets tomorrow, they are likely to require that?
Stephen Timms: The five-week wait for universal credit assumed that everybody would have their last month’s pay cheque in the bank, but reality is not like that. Most claimants have to take an advance—a debt to the Department—the repayment of which often forces people to use food banks, as the Secretary of State has rightly acknowledged, or go into rent arrears. Will she scrap the five-week delay?
Stephen Timms: When Bright Blue surveyed claimants for its new universal credit report, it found that the five-week wait was their biggest concern. According to the report, “Only a handful of interviewees said they had enough…to cover their expenses in this period.” The Secretary of State cannot justify the five-week wait. Will she scrap it?
Stephen Timms: What assessment has the Minister made of what I think is an increasingly compelling case, which is that if the Prime Minister is able, tomorrow or subsequently, to bring forward an agreement that may be acceptable to Parliament, parliamentary approval for it should be subject to ratification in a subsequent public vote?
Stephen Timms: Is it not now beyond dispute that the Government’s cuts to police officer numbers have gone much too far?
Stephen Timms: May I add a word of appreciation for Sir Amyas’s accessibility to me and other Back Benchers who are not members of the Public Accounts Committee?