Alex Burghart: Despite record employment, only one in every 100 people in the ESA work-related activity group leaves the benefit system each month. Will the Minister tell us what more she and the Department are doing to help those people into work?
Alex Burghart: What recent progress her Department has made on reaching the Government’s superfast broadband target for the end of 2017.
Alex Burghart: I am grateful to the Secretary of State for her answer. People and businesses in my constituency are hungry for full-fibre broadband; when will they get it?
Alex Burghart: I am pleased to contribute to this debate—I have been looking at proto-plans for universal credit that go back about five years, and it is a pleasure to work with the right hon. Member for Birkenhead (Frank Field), who is also a friend, on the Work and Pensions Committee. Let us go back to where this all began and the reason why, in principle, we have cross-party agreement on universal...
Alex Burghart: I disagree with the hon. Lady. It is. We now have a system coming into being—
Alex Burghart: The hon. Lady can shake her head, but it is true. It is insulting to people to say that they will never be able to cope on monthly payments. I challenge her to have that conversation with the many people who are looking for work, because they would be insulted by it. [Interruption.] It is unfortunate that she laughs at that because it is true. [Interruption.] Look, this is a very insulting...
Alex Burghart: The hon. Lady will recognise that there are lots of people who do manage to do that. [Interruption.] I have had enough of this Opposition. I am delighted to say that under the universal credit system there is personal budgeting support. No one on the Opposition Benches has referred to it, but it offers money advice to help people with a four-week payment and offers alternative payment...
Alex Burghart: Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. We are now left with a system in which there is a six-week wait for the initial payment. It is worth reminding the House why that exists. The very model of universal credit is about having a month-long assessment period in which the system understands how much you are earning and adjusts your payments accordingly. There must then be a calculation time which works...
Alex Burghart: On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I wish to place on record my unreserved apology to the House for my conduct earlier. I was irritated by something that was said, and I allowed my irritation to get the better of me and I approached the Opposition Front Bench. I apologise unreservedly to the Opposition and to the House, and I have apologised to the Member in question. I believe he has...
Alex Burghart: I am sure the whole House will welcome the fact that more women who have been victims of domestic abuse are coming forward to report crimes. What is the Home Office doing to ensure that women are properly supported by the criminal justice system and that we get more successful prosecutions?
Alex Burghart: As a member of the Select Committee on Work and Pensions, I warmly welcome the £1.5 billion and the loss of the seven-day waiting time announced yesterday. Will the Secretary of State confirm that, as the roll-out of universal credit continues, test and learn will continue to be an essential part of the process?
Alex Burghart: What assessment he has made of the effectiveness of Operation Sophia.
Alex Burghart: I thank the Minister for that response. It is welcome that Operation Sophia has saved so many lives, but it is clearly failing to disrupt human trafficking in the way that was intended. Will he talk to our European partners to ensure that it can be recalibrated to achieve that goal?
Alex Burghart: What steps she is taking to promote value for money in aid spending.
Alex Burghart: I welcome the Minister’s comments on accountability. My constituents raise value for money in aid spending with me on a regular basis. Does he agree that accountability to people in poor countries is essential in getting value for money?
Alex Burghart: What steps he is taking to reduce the number of potholes.
Alex Burghart: We have heard some thoughtful remarks about tyre quality on both sides of the House this morning, and road quality is the flip side of that coin. Many of my constituents suffer from pothole-marked roads. In our Conservative manifesto this year we committed to improve the quality of roads and fill potholes. Will my right hon. Friend tell my constituents that we remain committed to that?
Alex Burghart: I strongly welcome the statement that the Secretary of State has made this afternoon. I also welcome the news that the disability employment rate has risen by nearly 5% since 2014. The Government are obviously a major employer of people. What are the Government doing to ensure that the civil service leads by example in this area?
Alex Burghart: Will the hon. Lady give way?
Alex Burghart: It is a pleasure to take part in this debate, and it is always good to discuss universal credit in the House. As a member of the Work and Pensions Committee, I want to make a minor point before I go on to more substantive arguments. The first I knew about the Committee’s involvement in the motion was when I saw the Order Paper this morning while I was having my breakfast. I understand that...